Tag Archives: politics

A Country Held Hostage?

Until the federal government takes responsibility . . . states, counties and cities need to enact EMERGENCY laws PROHIBITING GUNS IN PUBLIC. Starting now. No guns in public. Big guns, little guns, pretty guns, ugly guns, manly guns, silly guns. Guns.

Otherwise, we are held hostage by angry armed thugs. We know that without their guns they’re cowards. With their guns they’re self-righteous bullies. I like them better without their guns.

WHAT IS AN ELECTION?

An election is really a big, powerful march. A march through the streets of Everytown. A march for truth and justice.

Every ballot is a giant protest sign.

Every vote is a clear, deafening shout.

Every trip to a polling place is a proud fist in the air.

Every decision in a voting booth is an impassioned speech from the courthouse steps.

Every mail-in ballot is a cheer from a crowd filled with hope and solidarity.

Every election is a march to a better world.

I hope Thurgood Marshall would have agreed . . .

Thurgood-marshall-2.jpg

Our criminal laws are found in statutes and court decisions, and they generally reflect our shared societal values. But they are often applied or enforced unfairly or unequally.

Assault, battery and other acts of violence are crimes, whether you’re in law enforcement or just a private individual. If you are defending yourself or others from harm, you are allowed to use reasonable force. You cannot use excessive force and if you do you are guilty of a crime of violence. These concepts are extremely complicated in real life. They get especially complicated in situations like arrests or detentions. There are whole sets of laws dealing with things like resisting arrest. Do not assume that you know what is reasonable and what is excessive. This applies to both police and private individuals. You may think something is reasonable but you could be wrong, under the law. Think with your head, not  your gut.

The fundamental truth is that violence is violence and people get hurt and there is no excuse for any of that.

A CREDIBLE CLAIM

I read the New York Times article of April 12 (updated April 29), “Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden”. The writers did not express an ultimate opinion about the truth or falsity of Ms. Reade’s accusation, but the overall weight of the article seemed to raise serious questions about the veracity of her claim. The article had a link to the podcast of Ms. Reade’s interview by Katie Halper in March. So I listened to the podcast of the full interview, more than one hour. She is totally credible. I was spellbound. She describes the incident so well that I can see it in my mind’s eye as if I had been there watching. I can say that about very few of the witnesses I have questioned over the years. I can see Joe Biden saying and doing exactly what Ms. Reade describes.

There are people in the media attempting to find inconsistencies but they focus mainly on outlying and second hand facts that are largely immaterial to the alleged incident itself. And Ms. Reade herself explained why it took so many years for this allegation to evolve, and why Joe Biden still triggers self-doubt and ambivalence for her. Well, there is no doubt in my mind that the incident happened and that it happened exactly or very nearly as she describes it.

The podcast interview is not testimony, in the legal sense. It is a statement, in a loose question and answer format. Ms. Reade is a victim/witness. Because people vary so much in so many ways, witness statements can range from extremely poor to unsatisfactory to average to good to great. In her interview by Katie Halper, Ms. Reade is a great witness. She is not merely credible or plausible, she is just about as good a witness as you could ask for. That’s based on forty years spent mostly in court. To use a well-worn descriptive formula, if I’ve seen one witness I’ve seen fifty thousand. Tara Reade is perceptive and articulate. She has depth and sensibility. She reminds me of my daughter. There are details and nuances in Ms. Reade’s statement. She puts everything in the real-life context of her own personal situation and the atmosphere of Senator Biden’s office. She has insight. Insight into her reactions, as well as Senator Biden’s actions and reactions. She is responsive, she is direct. Her reluctance to answer one of the particular questions is completely appropriate, it’s understandable. It hurts. There are things that she remembers and things she doesn’t. That is also appropriate. She does not try to make up answers for what she doesn’t remember. She is testifying from real memories, for better or for worse.

So, what does Joe Biden do? I will still vote for him either way. But I hope he does what Brett Kavanaugh didn’t do. I hope Joe Biden does what he did last year and admits that he’s not a saint, that he used to take liberties with women and their bodies, that he did something in 1993 that he is very ashamed of and that caused Tara Reade a lot of pain, and that he hopes he has begun to atone by becoming a better person and a champion of women and all the other segments of humanity who really need a champion in the White House right now.

JUST DENY EVERYTHING. IT’S NEVER FAILED. . .

“I hardly know the lady.”
“Sir, she’s your wife, she’s the First Lady of the United States because she’s married to you.”
“Can you prove that ridiculous allegation? I don’t see any evidence.”
“Mr. President, you’ve been married to Melania for many years. You have a child together. She’s traveled all over the world with you.”
“You see, this is exactly what I’m talking about. You liberal media guys are just mouthpieces for the Democrats.”
“Mr. President, I’m with The National Review.
“Yeah? Well I don’t like smart alecks. Sit down and shut up or I’ll take your White House press pass away. You there, with the big cross and the NRA cap. What’s your question?”
“Mr. President, I interviewed you and Mrs. Trump just last month. My paper gave your campaign a big check and a special commemorative assault rifle. When Mrs. Trump said she’s afraid of guns you pulled the trigger just to show her it wasn’t loaded. The problem is, Mr. President, now you say you barely know her and, uh, it kinda, you know, makes my paper look bad.”

File:President Trump Delivers Remarks Upon Departure 2019-09-22.webm

“What the—”
“Mr. President, are you trying to distance yourself from Mrs. Trump because of—”
“I didn’t call on you, you’re very rude and out of—”

“—because of her statement today that she’s worried about you, that you’ve been talking Russian in your sleep and—”

“Security, I want that woman removed from this—”

“—and that you’ve been choking your pillow and calling out Rudy Giuliani’s name?”

“I don’t know that Giuliani guy. I think I saw him once at one of my country clubs, he was trespassing and double bogeyed the tenth hole.”
“Sir, over here Sir. In 2016 you said you would jump off your penthouse balcony if Melania asked you to, that’s how much you love and depend on her.”
“I never said that. Melania who?”
“Nice try, Mr. President. Every network has news footage of you saying that, Sir, and giving her a big sloppy kiss right afterwards.”
“It’s fake. They used computer tricks.”
“Mr. Trump, the whole world is watching this news conference as we speak. Do you realize that you are destroying any shred of credibility that you might still have had left?”
“That’s right, Mr. Trump, you can’t deny what the whole world sees and hears and what these cameras preserve for the record.”
“You guys think you’re so smart. Well how do I know that this is really me talking? How do I know that some Democratic conspiracy hasn’t built a fake me and put him up here at this podium to say things that make no sense? Maybe this whole room is a fake. Maybe all of you are hoaxes. Maybe you’re all holograms. Maybe the whole government is a hologram. Which means I’m a hologram. Which means I’m not the me that said that I’m me because I’m the me that someone else said was me before they realized that I’m a lot smarter me than that other me and I’m also twice as rich as that other me, and a hell of a lot better looking or why else would all those magazines and TV shows keep flashing my picture everywhere and why else would all those sexy broads keep flirting with me and make me do things that only a hologram could do and maybe I should ask for a better hologram, one with better hair, although really my hair is perfect, it was a perfect haircut, it was a beautiful haircut, there was nothing wrong with that haircut, there was no quid pro quo for any kind of investigation into anyone else’s haircut. Speaking of investigations, did you ever notice that it begins with the word ‘invest’? If they didn’t want rich people to own investigations and make money from them, they should have called them something else. Am I right? Any suggestions? Why do I see holograms wearing D.C. Department of Mental Health uniforms? Why are they coming towards me and smiling like Newt Gingrich? Why is Mike Pence coming towards me. Did you ever see a hologram with such a ridiculous smile?”

“Trip Wires”, a new story collection by Sandra Hunter

“She drowsed and wakened. Surely someone would find them. Was it better to be shot than to watch her child starve? In the cold, she held him close, and he slept and woke through the night, sucking at her dry breasts.”

In her new story collection Trip Wires, Sandra Hunter has an uncanny ability to get inside the heads of ordinary people caught in the widely-scattered wars that have defined, tragically, the beginning decades of this millennium. These are the ones who can get out and the ones who can’t. These are ordinary people who, in desperation to survive, do extraordinary things.

Their stories are disturbing. With harrowing realism Hunter shows us their poverty, their scars, their journeys, their nightmares, their courage. And sometimes their humanity. The above excerpt comes from the story “Borderland”. That story is a full-force punch to the gut, depicting a young mother fleeing a nameless war in a lifeless land. But the young mother discovers human kindness in places and proportions that no one could imagine.

These stories are not for the faint of heart, and it is natural for us to avoid emotional “trip wires” that unleash the shocks and horrors of war. But the suffering is real and, lying just beneath the surface of our world, we can’t avoid it forever. Maybe, with the insights of authors like Sandra Hunter, we can learn why we need to urgently defuse those senseless conflicts that have booby trapped our present and maybe our entire future.

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

Advice offered as from a wise old uncle

Listen, Judge Kavanaugh, I know where that anger is coming from. It’s pain, man, and you don’t need that, nobody needs that. You gotta let it go, man, it’s time. You don’t wanna suffer the rest of your life, it’s not worth it.

Don Grady William Demarest My Three Sons 1969.JPG

Whether you’re on the Supreme Court or not, you don’t wanna be bitter and angry the rest of your life. That’s no life. There’s only one thing to do, you gotta do this: You gotta face up and let it out. You gotta come to terms with what you did and you gotta let it out. You gotta get some therapy, man, and come to realize that kids do dumb things because they’re kids. Drinking, peer pressure, total immaturity, all those factors. But 98% of them grow up and grow out of it and that’s exactly what you did. You matured, you left those behaviors behind. I know, I worked in Juvenile Court for a number of years and I learned that kids are kids and they do a lot of rotten things because they’re kids and their brains and hormones are like refried beans and hot sauce and nearly all of them grow out of it when that magical thing called maturity (or indigestion) takes hold. You are a perfect case in point.

Sometimes, though, character becomes an issue and the memories are still there and the pain is there and you gotta deal with it. That’s where therapy comes in. And honesty, including honesty with yourself. It’s the only way. The only way to peace of mind. Life is too short, man, nobody needs that kind of thing hanging over their head. The guilt. It’s not too late. It’s the perfect time. Take a deep breath. It’s not too late for Justice Thomas, either. With all due respect, he could finally find some happiness, some peace of mind, some joy even, if he just opened up and finally came to grips with what he did, and what he denied. You don’t wanna be a bitter, angry judge for all those years, nothing could be worse. I have a feeling that, if you face up to your past with courage and honesty and come to terms with it, you could be a pretty decent Supreme Court Judge. Way too conservative, of course, but decent and reasonable and compassionate.

And you might be surprised at how forgiving people can be. Forgiving to those who have hurt them and forgiving to themselves. Boy, it’s the best thing. But you can’t force it.

I wish you luck.

May the Farce be with you

Now we know what Trump and Putin were talking about in their private meeting in Helsinki. Space Wars. Maybe they already have a board game designed and the whole summit was set up so they could try it out without anyone looking over their shoulders. Maybe they had a couple of those lightsabers from last year’s Star Wars convention and were jousting all over Gothic Hall in Helsinki’s Presidential Palace while their highly-paid advisors were standing outside in the hallways looking lost.

Because if Trump is so gung-ho about creating a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military, you better believe Putin is just as gung-ho about the plan. What better way for the two bullies to distract attention from real issues, award giant contracts to their friends in the military arms industry, and, at the same time, have a heck of a lot of fun acting out their science fiction fantasies.

Nevermind that our space programs already have cost billons and billions of dollars with little real benefit to our struggling species here on earth. Nevermind that we already have plenty of terrestrial wars and genocides and terrorist attacks to keep us busy day and night just adding up the number of deaths of innocent victims.

Maybe Trump will appoint William Shatner as Commander of the Space Force and Harrison Ford as Chief of Star Battles. On second thought, he’ll probably appoint his sons. Their birthdays are coming up.

Sleepless in San Ysidro

If only I could sleep. Tomorrow is too important. That’s why I can’t sleep. If I’m too tired tomorrow how can I be strong for myself and for my kids. By tomorrow this time where will I be, where will my children be? I don’t want to think about it. But I can’t help it. I can’t help thinking that I have done this to my children. That I have put them through so much danger, that I don’t know what kind of dangers are ahead for them. What will happen if we are separated? How can they speak for themselves, they don’t know English, not enough to explain our situation. Neither do I, but at least if we were together—

Look at the way Antonio is sleeping, hugging his backpack like it was his old stuffed dinosaur. Jacklyn, thank god, she’s asleep, poor thing. I hope she doesn’t remember that nightmare when she wakes up. But how will she ever lose the memory of what happened to her after we left Durango. Molested by that gang member who carried drugs, while I was throwing up in the brush from the bad food. Her clothes torn and she had thrown up, too, from the things that monster did to her. Even now, look at the way that man sleeping near her keeps inching closer every time he turns over. In a minute I am going to wake her and trade places with her. She didn’t deserve any of this cruelty.

I really wish to god I had turned back before we got to the border of Mexico. But the farther we went the harder it was to turn back. How can I ever forget this living nightmare? This thing I have done, listening to false promises and lies and giving all our money to these bastard smugglers, these “coyotes”, who tell you they will keep you safe and get you to the U.S. and you will have a job there and a place to live. I was a fool, just like all these other people. And now look what I’ve done to my children. I suppose that’s the real reason why I can’t sleep.

Robbed twice, then arrested by Mexican immigration, they separated me and my children for two days. Then they finally let us go and told us not to stop until we reach the U.S. border. I was almost raped by that bastard smuggler but those two men from my country were nearby and saw I was in trouble and scared him off.

I miss the baby so much. But how could I bring her? You can’t take a three year old on this kind of travel. Some people do, but—. Will I ever see her again? Will I ever see Grandma? Sometimes I wonder if I ever really will.

In the morning I have to be sure the children remember those two words: Asilo Politico. The coyotes tell us that the Americans have nice hotels for families like us, we will get our own room, food, everything we need while they listen to our case. I don’t really believe any of that. I don’t know where they will put us. I don’t know if they will take my children from me. But I know they will not harm my children, they have compassion, they will give them plenty of food and a safe place to sleep with other children. Maybe they will let me visit them. That is all I care about. Maybe I will be able to sleep at night then. If I could only sleep now. But first I must move Jacklyn to the middle, between me and Antonio. I don’t want to wake him. He needs these few hours of peace. Before tomorrow comes.

No such law

I’ve been away from immigration law for six months now, but I can tell you this: There is no law that requires undocumented children and parents to be separated. If there were such an absurd law, you would have known about it long ago. Family unity is a fundamental principle of our immigration laws. You find it written into all aspects of our laws.

There are various laws and regulations that require certain removable aliens to be detained. Some criminals and those who pose a terrorist or security threat must be detained. Others may be detained or have a reasonable bond set if they are a danger to the community and/or are a flight risk. A lack of strong ties to the U.S. or the lack of any legally valid basis for remaining here generally indicate that the individual may be a flight risk.

If a parent is detained for one of the above reasons, then obviously the child cannot be kept with the parent in an adult detention facility and must be placed elsewhere. Undocumented children are not kept in immigration jails. Under the Flores v. Reno class action settlement, such children must be placed in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and needs. This might be a licensed group home or foster home, if no other relative is available. They go to school, receive medical care, counseling, etc.

Homeland Security has built family detention centers with family living units, but there are tens of thousands more families than can be accommodated. And other class action lawsuits have caused some of these centers to be shut down.

Family separations are thus an unfortunate, albeit temporary, situation that comes with immigration enforcement. Such separation should never be used as a deliberate policy.

Do you want good government or don’t you?

I’m Faith Wellernd and I approve this ad. . .

I believe I am qualified to be Governor of California because I have worked in all the branches of California government for many years, in leadership positions. Most recently I have been Lieutenant Governor and was Acting Governor for nine months while the Governor was recovering from heart surgery.

The problems we face are complicated and there are no simple answers or guarantees that we will overcome them. I can only promise that I will work hard and do my best to find those answers. I would like to lower taxes but only if we can meet the needs of the people of this State without spending as much as we spend now.

My opponent, Ernest Phelluh, would also make a good Governor. He has a great deal of experience and always does a good job. He is honest and sincere. He believes that California should meet its clean energy goals by emphasizing wind power over solar power. I believe that the emphasis should be more on solar power. So while I fundamentally disagree with him, I understand and respect his point of view.

Here’s some moderately-flattering footage of me digging the first shovelful at the groundbreaking for a new school. Here’s some moderately-flattering footage of Ernest cutting the ribbon on a new transit line.

Please consider both of our records and our platforms and vote for the candidate who you feel would best govern this State. Thank you.

PAID FOR BY THE CALIFORNIA MONEYLESS AND SLIME-FREE PUBLIC CAMPAIGN REFORM FUND

Uniformly qualified

     Yesterday, another free-wheeling random-style revenge shooting. Besides all the other things that ought to be said, I want to say something about the local police chiefs and sheriffs whom we see on television briefing the press after these horrific shootings. Whether they’re heads of large urban police forces or small town sheriffs, these men and women are, without exception, well-spoken, responsive, professional and eminently competent. And this is under extremely stress-filled circumstances.

     They choose their words carefully, they don’t twist facts, they don’t exhibit bias. They are candid yet cautious. This is not to say that these local officials are heroes or saints. This just makes me wonder why so many of our senators, governors, cabinet members, White House officials, and especially White House occupants, have none of these qualities. Why are there so many good people in government, and so few really good ones at the very top?

“Going once, going twice, sold!”

It hasn’t sunk in yet. Even after four months. That the Presidency of our nation is now just a piece of property. That can be acquired. That can be acquired through dealings and leveraging. Through bids and transactions, proffers and presents.  In other words, the Office of President has finally been privatized.

It’s no longer regulated. It can make its own rules. It can do, say, decree, undecree, prioritize, deprioritize, reveal, conceal, validate or invalidate whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and however it wants. It now owns us, we don’t own it.

I hear it’s planning on selling off the Constitution, one Article at a time. The Bill of Rights will be sold at auction. Cash or letters of credit only.

The H-word

Never has one man been called so many names by so many people. Never before has any man deserved to be called so many names by so many people. Demagogue, bully, fascist, misogynist, lummox. Lummox?

I have called him quite a few myself. I think I’ve finally decided which one is the most fitting. But nevermind that.

Here’s what’s bothering me: Doesn’t it feel good to attach colorful epithets to someone we consider so malicious? Why is that? Why do we enjoy making it personal? The question I’m really asking is: Is it OK to attack hateful ideas or hurtful rhetoric with hurt and hate? Is it OK to hate hate?

That’s a moral question, or maybe psychological. I’m not sure I want to know the answer, even if there is one. I sort of hope it is OK, because I can’t help it. I do hate hate. But only hateful hate, not the unhateful hate that only hates hateful hate.

Maybe the best we can ask of ourselves is that we keep careful track of our emotions and our reasons. Why we do or say the things we do. And judge ourselves as we do the people we call names. It’s a work in progress. Kind of like democracy.

 

It Can’t Happen Here — Sinclair Lewis

“Aw, shoot, Dad—and you too, Julian, you young paranoiac—you’re monomaniacs! Dictatorship? Better come into the office and let me examine your heads! Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”

I just read the most amazing book I’ve read since 1984 (the book, not the year). Possibly the most amazing since 1973 (the year, not the book). Actually, Sinclair Lewis’s novel It Can’t Happen Here, which was published in 1935, predated 1984 (the book, not the year) by fourteen years. Which means that Lewis did not have the benefit of hindsight when he recognized what too few people seemed to recognize around the middle of the Great Depression. Sinclair Lewis saw what was happening in Europe. He also heard frighteningly similar rumblings in this country. His book, written half a decade before the true magnitude of European fascism could be witnessed and understood, was a chillingly accurate forecast.

So did Lewis also predict what we in the U.S. have just witnessed and are struggling to understand: the election as President of a populist demagogue, in the mold of Senator Buzz Windrip in the novel? Well, Lewis’s protagonist, liberal journalist Doremus Jessup, listens only half-concerned to the national radio broadcast of the nominating convention, but the similarity is striking:

. . . every delegate knew that Mr. Roosevelt and Miss Perkins were far too lacking in circus tinsel and general clownishness to succeed at this critical hour of the nation’s hysteria, when the electorate wanted a ringmaster-revolutionist like Senator Windrip.

Though Lewis begins his book in satirical tone, we’re not too many chapters in before we realize, along with Doremus, that this story—the rise of a political movement based on anger, hate and false rhetoric—is no joke. It is nearly, in fact, as powerful and sobering as Orwell’s 1984. Here is how Doremus saw Senator/President Windrip’s quasi-official partisans, the “Minute Men”, or “M.M.”, which protected Windrip’s surging popularity by terrorizing the general population and appealing to its basest impulses:

They had the Jews and the Negroes to look down on, more and more. The M.M.’s saw to that. Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on. . . . Their mutter became louder, less human, more like the snap of burning rafters. Their glances joined in one. He was, frankly, scared.

Could Lewis have had the Nazi SS in mind? Seems likely.

I just realized that, for better or for worse, many of my favorite books are about the oppression of large segments of society by vindictive, self-righteous governments or ruling classes. A Tale of Two Cities, The Grapes of Wrath, In Dubious Battle, Mother, Doctor Zhivago, Homage To Catalonia, Fahrenheit 451, and the two brave books discussed above. You should probably read these books, all of these books, while they’re still on our shelves. Before they start hurling them into big piles in our city squares and torching them. Which is what happened to Doremus Jessup’s personal collection of books. Which could happen here.

 

Oh say can you see . . . ?

It’s one thing to burn the flag with a cigarette lighter. That’s a sad thing to see, but it illuminates the fact that someone feels very desperate about the choices our country seems to be making.

But to burn the flag with hateful rhetoric, personal attacks on anyone with opposing views, and Presidential threats which would shred the Bill of Rights: that’s a real act of destruction. That’s the kind of burning that actually hurts people, scars them, chars our society.

If there’s any kind of flag-burning that needs to be punished, it’s that kind.