Tuesday, June 30, 2020

When will Trump resign?

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank on Monday afternoon wrote,
If things weren’t already bad enough for President Trump — economic collapse, botched pandemic response, mass unrest — U.S. intelligence believes Trump’s “friend” Vladimir Putin paid Taliban fighters bounties to kill U.S. troops.
But the White House is ready with a defense: The president has no earthly idea what’s going on.
Totally in the dark.
Not a [freakin'] clue!
“The CIA director, NSA, national security adviser, and the chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declared at Monday afternoon’s briefing.
So, asked NBC’s Kristen Welker, Trump was kept “out of the loop by his own intelligence community?”
“It would not be elevated to the president until it was verified,” the press secretary explained.
On June 2nd, Robert Reich declared that Trump had already abdicated.

Others (the Arizona Eagletarian included) have suggested from the start of this administration that he has been completely incompetent.

Indeed, Trump's cabinet ministers have, from day one, set about to dismantle (not hyperbole) the American federal government.

Now, with Trump massively failing the country on the Covid19 Pandemic, WE come to learn that he has known (or should/would have known if only he had been paying attention) that his best buddy, Vladimir Putin has been paying bounty to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan to murder US soldiers.

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton's book reportedly mentions that Trump was briefed on the situation in March 2019.
Bolton declined to comment Monday when asked by the AP if he had briefed Trump about the matter in 2019. On Sunday, he suggested to NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump was claiming ignorance of Russia’s provocations to justify his administration’s lack of a response.
“He can disown everything if nobody ever told him about it,” Bolton said.
The revelations cast new doubt on the White House’s efforts to distance Trump from the Russian intelligence assessments. The AP reported Sunday that concerns about Russian bounties were also included in a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year and that current national security adviser Robert O’Brien had discussed the matter with Trump. O’Brien denies he did so.
Which is worse? That Trump knew and completely ignored the intelligence that was set before him that Putin had a bounty on American soldiers, or that he is claiming (implausibly) that he just never knew about it?

Ragin' Cajun James Carville, long time Democratic political consultant, in an interview recorded last week with MSNBC host Brian Williams, says there's a better chance Trump will not actually stand for re-election than that he will be re-elected.

Carville mentions Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal opinion column (published on June 25)
Something shifted this month. Donald Trump’s hold on history loosened, and may be breaking. In some new way his limitations are being seen and acknowledged, and at a moment when people are worried about the continuance of their country and their own ability to continue within it. He hasn’t been equal to the multiple crises. Good news or bad, he rarely makes any situation better. And everyone kind of knows. [...]
The latest White House memoir paints the president as ignorant, selfish and unworthy of high office. Two GOP House primary candidates the president supported lost their primaries resoundingly. Internet betting sites that long saw Mr. Trump as the front-runner now favor Mr. Biden. The president’s vaunted Tulsa, Okla., rally was a dud with low turnout. Senior officials continue to depart the administration—another economic adviser this week, the director of legislative affairs and the head of the domestic policy council before him. Why are they fleeing the ship in a crisis, in an election year?
Judgments on the president’s pandemic leadership have settled in. It was inadequate and did harm. He experienced Covid-19 not as a once-in-a-lifetime medical threat but merely a threat to his re-election argument, a gangbusters economy. He denied the scope and scale of the crisis, sent economic adviser Larry Kudlow out to say we have it “contained” and don’t forget to buy the dip. Mr. Trump essentially [repeatedly has] admitted he didn’t want more testing because it would result in more positives.
And the virus rages on, having hit blue states first and now tearing through red states in the South and West—Arizona, Florida, the Carolinas, Texas. (more)
From The Free Dictionary,
Smart (and disloyal) individuals will desert a failing enterprise before it is too late. This observation was made long ago about rats, which would remain on board devouring a ship’s stores in the hold until the ship foundered in a storm or ran aground; then they would disappear so as not to be drowned. The transfer to human desertion was made before 1600; in some cases it was a ship they abandoned, in others a house about to collapse. “It is the Wisdome of Rats that will be sure to leave a House somewhat before its fall,” wrote Francis Bacon (Essays, 1597).

Sunday, June 28, 2020

We're Rising UP with ONE Voice to DEMAND that Trump be ousted from office

Despite his specious protestations to the contrary, our weak and incompetent president has known for months that his "daddy," Vladimir Putin paid Taliban fighters bounty money to kill American soldiers.

When it will be time for Arizona's Republican Members of Congress to declare they've had enough of Trump's TRE45ON.

Arizonas must ask whether David Schweikert, Andy Biggshot, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and Martha McSally have one ounce of integrity in them at all. It's time for them to step up and fill the 1974 shoes left by Barry Goldwater and John Rhodes.

Those two stepped up and did what needed to be done when America was ready to say ENOUGH to Nixon.

We must demand that our Congressional representatives, of the same party as Trump, deliver the message. STAT.

As if Trump's coronavirus neglect and failure haven't been sufficient enough on their own to demand Trump's resignation.

We now know that tens of thousands of people with affiliation all across the political spectrum support the mission of The Lincoln Project.

We're now also seeing evidence of a certain faction of Democrats/Progressives who enthusiastically supported Sen. Bernie Sanders' run for president, coming together to speak with ONE VOICE for the eradication of the Fascist menace in the White House.

It is time to up the grassroots pressure on Republicans in Congress to force Trump to resign.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

There is NO safe way to resume in-person instruction (in schools) for Arizona children at this time

Significant spread of the disease (caused by the Covid19 virus) will occur on EVERY school campus that is opened this fall (August/Sept 2020).

So, what should be done?

Arizona's Covid19 curve as of June 27, 2020
steepest of any state in the nation at this time

The Arizona Eagletarian already posed, a couple of times, the question of whether parents will feel lucky and send their live DNA propagating mechanisms (just kidding, of course, not right away, but we who have children pretty much ALL do or will eventually want our children to give us grandchildren) into a situation like that. Can you imagine any demographic more emotionally invested in the question of whether/when to re-open schools for in-person instruction? Other than the teachers themselves, that is.

"It's hard to think of a better place for covid to spread than a classroom."

"If schools are opened, there WILL be significant numbers of people who will die simply because the schools are opened. And most of those people are those who have not set foot on a school grounds [any time recently]"

"When you choose to open a school this fall, what you are really doing is choosing to put at risk members of the community who have NO choice in the matter." -- Jeff Hester, ASU professor emeritus, astrophysicist.
President Trump urged the reopening of schools throughout the U.S. on Sunday, as most remain closed to limit the coronavirus spread and protect the health of students during the pandemic.
His tweet was an apparent reaction to similar comments from Fox News' Steve Hilton on his program "The Next Revolution." Trump tagged Hilton and Fox News in a tweet Sunday where he mentioned reopening schools "ASAP."
"Schools in our country should be opened ASAP. Much very good information now available. @SteveHiltonx @FoxNews," Trump wrote.
After you listen to Hester's sound and very cogent argument, please call Double Talk Doug Ducey and tell him whether you're willing to wager your school-age child's life just because his master, Donald Trump, wants to open schools as quickly as possible. 602-542-4331 or contact him in writing on his website.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Ducey is NOT "Our Leader," he is as much THE problem as Trump is

How many people in Arizona media today are hearkening back to decisions made by Double Talk Doug Ducey just a month ago regarding Arizona state government's response to the Covid19 pandemic? Well, the Washington Post did.  Ducey, very simply and plainly stated, tripped over his own dick.

It is already a given that the executive in charge of the American federal government has made gross errors of judgment, preventable and foreseen, on this subject.

Isn't it time for corporate media, including the Arizona Republic and broadcast news outlets with respectable, professional, capable journalists to call it like it is... and like it has been understood and known for more than a month?

Foolish local media for far too long have referred to Ducey as "Our Leader," or some variation on that theme. This situation is far more egregious, with dire consequences than a simple mistake. LIVES OF ARIZONANS have been jeopardized and far too many lost because of Ducey's gross errors in judgment regarding public health and safety.

It is NOT a given that a state's governor must be bowed down to, revered, or otherwise respected. He does not get free reign to put the lives of citizens at risk, especially when it has been so blatantly obvious that his decisions were made out of fear (of Trump, Glenn Hamer, and armed thugs) rather than out of care and concern for the well-being of the people of Arizona.

On May 6, the Arizona Eagletarian posted that our state's (NOT LEADER, but weak follower) governor had succumbed to the political pressure from armed right-wing protesters,
However, it seems ... reasonable to infer that the wingnuts (who have been showing up at state capitols across the nation to intimidate governors) are getting their wish granted by McDucey.
As reported in the Arizona Republic:
On Wednesday, Sinema tweeted in support of continued social distancing: "To reopen strong, we must be safe and smart. For now, that means continuing to social distance and stay home — as well as increasing testing and infection-tracking."
Arizona State University will continue to provide COVID-19 models to the public despite instructions from the Arizona Department of Health Services to "pause" the work, the university confirmed.
A tweet from U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday afternoon said that she was grateful the work would continue.
Sinema said the decision to "disregard the science that should be the basis of Arizona public health policies — and the White House's guidelines for re-opening — is concerning and disappointing." [...]
In late April, Tim Lant, a mathematical epidemiologist at ASU, said the model showed five different scenarios for how the disease could progress in Arizona, depending on how social distancing efforts were relaxed.
The slowest curve, based on if the state reopens at the end of May, is “the only one that doesn't put me immediately back on an exponential growth curve,” Lant said in April. That’s because transmission rates would be lowest at that time, he said.
“I can say, scientifically, no, it's not safe to reopen unless you're planning on, you know, shutting down again after a couple of weeks, and we can help figure out what the appropriate amount of time is to stay open before we shut down,” he said.
Beside the fact that multiple local news enterprises reported this at the time, which of them are calling out the governor now and pointing to his gross failure of imagination that has, as the Washington Post just today reported, with local Arizona Mirror associate editor Jeremy Duda sharing the byline, "How Arizona 'lost control of the epidemic.'"
Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”
But physicians, public health experts, advocates and local officials say the crisis was predictable in Arizona, where local ordinances requiring masks were forbidden until Gov. Doug Ducey (R) reversed course last week. State leaders did not take the necessary precautions or model safe behavior, these observers maintain, even in the face of compelling evidence and repeated pleas from authoritative voices.
“We have failed on so many levels,” said Dana Marie Kennedy, the Arizona director of AARP, who said her organization has yet to receive a response to four letters outlining concerns to the governor. She is working on a fifth.
Neither the governor’s office nor the state health department responded to requests for comment.
Is it any wonder the Ducey administration refused to respond to inquiries? Sure, he held a press conference this afternoon, but he controlled that. WaPo was calling him out, for what fictional National Security Advisor Saul Berenson (Showtime's Homeland) would characterize as "tripping over his dick."

From the Urban Dictionary,
When you have done something exceptionally stupid causing you to have no progress toward resolution when attempting to solve a problem.
Is it not time for Arizona voices throughout the state to tell Doug Ducey, ENOUGH? Shouldn't he resign his office already?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Every good and perfect gift is from above

If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him. -- THE FIRE NEXT TIME BY JAMES BALDWIN, 1963

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures. JAMES 1:17–18
God of every good and perfect gift, give us the strength to manifest your love and compassion in the world today.
Garrett, Greg. The Courage to See (Kindle Locations 213-214). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition. 
As far as I'm concerned, Stephen Colbert is a good and perfect gift. Not the only one, but he is one.

Can we agree that covid19 is not a good gift. And neither is, as Colbert called him, disease vector Donald Trump.
A disease vector is a living organism that can transmit infection to a succession of hosts. Most disease vectors are insects, and the mosquito is responsible for causing the most human illnesses in the world. Fleas and ticks are also common disease vectors.
Maybe Colbert was joking. Similar to how Trump "hypothetically" was joking about slowing down testing for covid19 infections?

But in a sense, Trump IS such a vector. He packed 3,000 people into a church in Phoenix on Tuesday (June 23).

The vast majority of those people were young adult white people... very few of whom wore masks to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Dozens of Secret Service officers and agents who were on site for President Trump’s rally in Tulsa last week were ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive for the novel coronavirus, part of the fallout from Trump’s insistence on holding the mass gathering over the objections of public health officials.
The Secret Service instructed employees who worked the Tulsa event to stay at home for 14 days when they returned from the weekend trip, according to two people familiar with the agency’s decision.
The order came in the wake of the discovery — hours before the president’s Saturday evening rally — that at least six advance staffers who helped organize the trip had tested positive for the virus, including two Secret Service employees. Another two advance staffers tested positive after Trump returned to Washington on Sunday.
By the way, whenever you've heard Trump talk about "The Bible" have you ever heard him pray for strength to manifest or demonstrate God's love and compassion?

Right, neither have I.

This is Arizona's curve with data current as of June 21. Wouldn't it be nice, whether you're a believer or not, for Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to -- rather than complain about being victimized by critics -- be at least working to flatten the curve in our state?

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bipartisan call to protect Arizonans' Constitutional rights during ongoing pandemic

Steve Muratore, publisher of the Arizona Eagletarian is one of more than 1,200 signers of the referenced letter.

Bipartisan Call for Governor Ducey to Protect Constitutional Rights During Ongoing Health Crisis

Over 1,200 Arizona voters signed letter calling for one-time exemption for ballot initiatives

PHOENIX – Over 1,200 Arizona voters signed a letter urging Governor Ducey to grant one-time relief to petition drives disrupted by COVID-19. The signers of this letter were Outlaw Dirty Money volunteers and they are asking Governor Ducey to allow the 280,000 petition signatures collected prior to COVID-19 shutdowns to count toward signatures requirements for the 2022 statewide election. This letter was delivered to Governor Ducey in late May and the campaign has yet to receive a response.
Outlaw Dirty Money paused all person-to-person petition passing in March to help flatten Arizona’s COVID-19 curve. The campaign pledged to continue this pause in person-to-person contact until “until our public health experts and elected officials deem it prudent.”
“Even with the stay-at-home order lifted, it is nearly impossible to maintain social distance while passing a petition,” stated campaign manager Pat Barrett. Arizona law requires a petition passer to physically witness each signature and get completed forms notarized before submission. Barrett continued to state, “an overwhelming majority of our volunteers are retirees and in higher risk categories – we had to listen to public health expert’s recommendations and keep operations on pause as community spread of COVID-19 continues in Arizona.”
“We were on track to qualify for the 2020 ballot as the shutdown began,“ stated campaign consultant Chuck Coughlin. “Businesses and individuals, alike, have received relief from the devastating effects of coronavirus. Over $1.5M has been invested in this campaign. Extending similar measures to ensure Arizonans constitutional rights are protected will be a win-win, protecting constitutional rights and public health at the same time.”
Other Arizona initiative campaigns have unsuccessfully asked the court to allow Arizona residents to sign ballot initiatives online. Currently, Arizona law only allows politicians to collect signatures through the Secretary of State’s secure online portal. 
Terry Goddard, Outlaw Dirty Money campaign co-chair and former Arizona Attorney General, believes that a one-time exemption to allow signatures to remain valid is consistent with Arizona law. “Arizonans are allowed 24-months to circulate a petition before an election,” stated Goddard. “The pandemic created a scenario where our ballot initiative was denied the full 24-months. We respectfully ask that the time we lost due to COVID-19 is put back on the clock at a time that it is safe to return to collecting signatures.”
“We will continue working with elected officials and pursuing all options to ensure that Arizonan’s constitutional rights will be protected during the ongoing health crisis,” stated Chuck Coughlin. “Outlaw Dirty Money’s proposal to allow signatures to remain valid through 2022 is a fair and workable solution.”

About the Initiative
Outlaw Dirty Money establishes that:
  • Arizona voters have a right to know who is spending to influence their elections
  • Organizations spending more than $20,000 in state races or $10,000 in local races must report the original source of their funding.
  • Organizations must disclose all original contributors who gave $5,000 or more in an election cycle.
  • Original source is defined as the person or company that earned the money, thereby removing the existing practice of creating a maze of organizations to hide the original source.
  • The Citizens Clean Election Commission, a popular and effective regulatory body, is empowered to write and enforce the regulations to implement the Outlaw Dirty Money Constitutional Amendment.
  • Voters can file a complaint directly with the Clean Elections Commission to report violations of this.
  • Local governments can pass more stringent requirements than those set forth in this Amendment. 

Contact: Pat Barrett, (480) 937-8835

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Redistricting in Arizona: League of Women Voters town hall June 20

Register for this ZOOM town hall: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYkf--qqjspH9Ikk3TJXCCIJiwHczYDMQ3g?fbclid=IwAR2TJLaLFz9bH5On9EleFMEHw8awoCEY4TkbOoqIguOGU3uduJMRyAUIJns

About "our leaders"

I've recently observed that Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, especially with regard to the Covid19 pandemic and removal of a monument to the traitorous Confederacy from Wesley Bolin Plaza, is limited to being a follower.

Ducey only says and does what he is given permission by Donald Trump and local Chamber of Commerce boss Glenn Hamer.

Please reflect on this one minute video. Is this the Arizona we want?

BE the change we want to see in our state, in our communities.

Sustained nonviolent struggle works.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Who, really, are our leaders?

Or, should I ask, who is NOT a leader?

But let's begin with the question of why Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (and his role model, Donald Trump) felt compelled recently to put up barriers to prevent the People (of Arizona, and of the United States) from being able to access their government officials (not necessarily leaders). Wrote EJ Montini on June 11,
Metaphorically speaking, you could argue that Gov. Doug Ducey built a fence around himself a long time ago. Now, his administration has erected the real thing.
He’s following in the footsteps of President Donald Trump, who had a fence erected outside the White House to keep demonstrators at least 600 feet away. Some of those same demonstrators have been attaching artwork and memorial posters to the fence, urging social justice, police reform and generally transforming the barrier into a gallery of hope.
Not long ago, the Department of Public Safety erected two layers of chain-link fencing around the Arizona State Capitol. It has razor wire on top and signs that say “No Trespassing,” transforming the Capitol in something reminiscent of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city jail. [...]
Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend said, “I think putting a fence around the Capitol is a bad idea. What message are we sending? People are angry and they need to express their anger. I do not condone violence or vandalism, but people have a right to be heard by their government.”
Democratic Rep. Diego Rodriguez added, “The movement is clearly peaceful. I think it’s more about him (Ducey) being uncomfortable.”
A spokesman for the DPS said, “This was a decision by the department, in consultation with (the Arizona Department of Administration) and out of abundance of caution, to protect public property.”
We’ve been arguing about fences, nationally and within Arizona, for years.
Yeah, even Republican Kelly Townsend, she with whom I seldom agree, gave voice to concerns of the People. By the way, that's one actual function of leadership, which Ducey does NOT do.

This brings us to an observation I began making a few years ago while reading Liberal opinion columnist Laurie Roberts at the Arizona Republic. For example, in a recent column, she opined on the need for "our leaders" to listen to us.
It goes without saying that change needs to come to America.
President George W. Bush this week called on us to find our better selves and he called on our leaders to spend less time shutting down those who have taken to the streets and more time listening to what they have to say.
But Roberts isn't the only one at the Republic who routinely refers to elected government officials as "our leaders."

Why do they do that? I have a theory.

Gene Sharp, author of How Nonviolent Struggle Works, (and it DOES work) based on years of research, wrote,
The social view of power sees governments or other systems to be dependent on the people’s goodwill, decisions and support. It sees that power as continually rising from many parts of the society. It views political power as fragile, always dependent for its strength and existence upon a replenishment of its sources by the cooperation of a multitude of institutions and people—cooperation which may or may not continue. 
Is it any wonder then, that 1) Trump is understood to be weak and insecure (despite wanting to play the role of "strongman?"); and 2) he is obsessed with using the apparatus of power (i.e. military and police agencies) to counteract his weaknesses which are due to his inherent incompetence and inarticulateness?

The persons, group, or regime which occupies the highest position of command in the society and government, especially the State, are here called “the rulers.” Rulers have no power intrinsic to themselves. Such power must come from outside themselves. Their power is therefore variable. How much power they have depends on how much power society will grant them. Political power has identifiable sources.
Those sources include,
Authority: Defined by Jacques Maritain as “. . . the right to command and direct, to be heard or obeyed by others.” Authority is voluntarily accepted by the people and therefore is present without the imposition of sanctions. It is enough that the persons or group be perceived and accepted as superior. While not identical with power, authority is clearly a main source of power.
Material resources: The degree to which the rulers control property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, communication and transportation, etc., helps to determine the limits of their power.
Might THIS be the real reason Ducey and Trump put up those ominous fences around the seats of the People's power?

In 1930s Germany, a certain megalomaniacal ruler secured obedience of the vast majority of the German people to tolerate, if not enthusiastically support one of the most horrendous atrocities ever perpetrated. How did he do it? Well, beside the fact that he made promises of prosperity to Germany, that maniac had a virtual monopoly on radio broadcast of propaganda
The first Volksempfänger, an affordable and extremely popular radio, was introduced in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. This was no coincidence.
In the 1930s, everyone wanted a radio. The still-new invention brought news, music, dramas, and comedy right into the home. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels saw its potential to transmit Nazi messages into the daily lives of Germans. The only hurdle was producing and disseminating the devices on a mass scale. Under Goebbels’s direction the Volksempfänger, or “people’s receiver,” was born. “Even workers could afford the much cheaper new Volksempfänger and [later model] Kleinempfänger,” writes historian Adelheid von Saldern in the Journal of Modern History. “Step by step, radio emerged in the villages as electrification made rapid progress.”
My point is that if a credible Liberal voice and the largest newspaper in Arizona consistently says it is so, are the People of Arizona going to question it? Does anyone besides me question who Laurie Roberts is referring to when she cleverly refers to Doug Ducey as "our leader?"

Remember, in order for a regime to command obedience, the people must voluntarily accept the authority WITHOUT imposition of sanctions.

In America, and in Arizona, we don't have kings and queens who have actual authority over the People, do we?

Let's refresh. The Preamble to the US Constitution states,
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
More specifically, the Arizona Constitution, Article 2, Section 2, seems to contradict the implied meaning when the Arizona Republic refers to "our leaders."
2. Political power; purpose of government
Section 2. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.
Again, from How Nonviolent Struggle Works,
The key to habitual obedience is to reach the mind. Obedience will scarcely be habitual unless it is loyal, not forced. In essence, authority must be voluntarily accepted.
The weakening or collapse of that authority inevitably tends to loosen the subjects’ predisposition toward obedience. Then the decision to obey or not to obey will be made consciously, and obedience may be refused. This loss of authority sets in motion the disintegration of the rulers’ power. That power is reduced to the degree that they are denied authority.

Of course, my theory could be wrong.

But shouldn't conscious citizens reasonably expect the state's largest newspaper to spell out and justify its policy/practice? Otherwise perhaps it just seems like a subliminal effort to promote unconscious obedience to outdated ideas?

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Do you feel lucky now... about sending your kids back to school?

On May 13, the White House occupant called for re-opening schools as soon as possible.
President Donald Trump urged schools across the nation to reopen “as soon as possible” even as the coronavirus continues to spread, saying infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s ongoing calls for caution were “not an acceptable answer.”
That evening, the Arizona Eagletarian put up a post that included a couple of video clips illustrating the salient point, with Dirty Harry asking "Do ya feel lucky, punk?"

Yet, the issue of wearing masks in public has become heavily politicized. Even essential workers, in medical centers and grocery stores for example, though most are "required" to wear masks for protecting the public, don't. Refusing to cover one's nose with the mask renders the mask meaningless. It's like pretending to wear one but not really. In other words, a lot of people DO feel lucky.
DON'T: Wear your mask only on the tip of your nose, or leave your nose exposed
Except for one pesky detail. There, in several highly populated states, including defiantly minded states like Arizona and Texas, the "curve" had at that time not flattened. Trump could not care less about the health risk to Americans. He just wanted the economy to re-open. His mendacious rhetoric clearly was designed to fool the people into believing they'd be fine. And in large measure, it worked... Arizona's governor, Doug Ducey, took the bait. He's got Trump's great big hook firmly fixed inside his cheek.

There's not been any DATA indicating that Arizona is seeing any fewer Covid19 infections. There's been an uptick in testing. I've been tested twice in recent weeks showing that I've not been infected. Thankfully. Yet, hospital organizations in our state have been reporting that they're increasingly stressed. What does Arizona's curve look like now?


Before that situation came to light, on June 2, the Arizona Republic reported on the possibility of re-opening schools.
The state guidance is the product of a task force Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman convened. More than 100 people participated, according to the document. Many of the participants work for the state's public district and charter schools.
The suggestions include requiring students and staff to wear masks, when possible; lowering class sizes; daily temperature checks; and contact tracing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But the document offers no guidance on how district and charter schools should do these things while already faced with some of the largest class sizes in the nation, a statewide teacher shortage, and an ongoing battle over adequate school funding.
And, they're a moving target. The guidelines could change as the pandemic and infection numbers evolve.
But just try to get those same people to gamble with the lives of their children. What do you think their response will be?
Yeah, that was the question I was asking myself weeks before AzCentral published this story.

May I suggest a CALL to ACTION?

Call your school district administration office (find the phone number here) and give them your thoughts. Assertively, but politely, of course.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Is the Trump regime going down or not?

The internal stability of a regime can be measured by the ratio between the strength of the social forces that it controls and the strength of the social forces that it has against it.
Sharp, Gene. How Nonviolent Struggle Works (Kindle Locations 228-230). The Albert Einstein Institution. Kindle Edition. 
What have you observed this week about social forces the Trump regime tries to control and the strength of the social forces working against it?

The Arizona Eagletarian began well before 2019 to declare that the Trump administration is going down. The typical response to the declaration? "I hope so."

Hope, of course, won't get the job done on its own. But the voters, despite increasing cacophony from the regime at the White House, can indeed get the job done, as a whole.

DC pundits are starting to come around. Exhibit A, recent piece by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Democrats, stop worrying about losing. Focus on how you're likely to win.
If you’re a president running for reelection, and 8 out of 10 voters believe “things in the country are out of control,” you are losing. Bigly.
The question now is how much uglier and more divisive President Trump’s campaign will become as his desperation mounts — and how many of Trump’s Republican enablers choose to go down with what is beginning to look like the Titanic. The band that gets hired for the GOP convention, wherever it eventually takes place, might want to start practicing “Nearer My God to Thee.”

Here I must insert the standard warning against taking anything for granted — not that anyone possibly could, after 2016. There will be constant worrying, fretting, handwringing and second-guessing until Election Day, because that’s what Democrats do. But the objective reality, near as anyone can tell, is that Trump looks very likely to lose to Joe Biden and that Republicans may well lose the Senate as well.
Exhibit B -- Chris Wallace Breaks Down ‘Very Bad Week’ For Trump’s Reelection Prospects
During an appearance on ABC’s “The View,” Wallace was asked by co-host Sunny Hostin to comment on the president’s tone as protests against racism and police brutality have erupted across the country.
“Well, I’m not going to talk about it in terms of right or wrong. The president has his base and he has his beliefs, and he’s entitled to them,” Wallace said. “Let me talk about it in terms of politics. I would say that the last week was a very bad week for the president in terms of politics, in terms of his potential reelection prospects.”
Wallace noted criticisms Trump has faced over the past week from religious and military leaders over his divisive and inflammatory responses to the unrest, including his decision to deploy riot police on protesters in the capital, threats to militarize the government’s nationwide response and move to aggressively clear peaceful demonstrators near the White House so he could get photos taken with a Bible outside a nearby church. [Reflect back to the quote at the top of this blog post and consider that in every one of those actions, Trump -- when confronted with blowback criticism -- he backed down]
“When you’re getting called out by the Episcopal bishop of Washington and the archbishop of the Catholic Church of Washington, when you’re getting called out by everybody from [former Secretary of Defense] Jim Mattis to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen, and even your own current Secretary of Defense [Mark] Esper breaks with you, that’s not a good week,” Wallace said.
Exhibit C -- Trump lashes out at reporters asking him questions (as if that's an isolated incident?)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander asked President Donald Trump Friday what he had to say to Americans who are scared by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, instead, used the opportunity to attack the reporter.
“I say you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say,” Trump said, after Alexander accurately pointed out COVID-19 has caused 200 deaths and made 14,000 people sick in the U.S. [This was back in March. NOW, the number of Americans killed by Covid19 exceeds 111,000 humans]
“I think it’s a very nasty question and a very bad signal you’re putting out there to the American people. The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope and you’re doing sensationalism,” the president said.
Because of the Firehose of Falsehoods effect, I don't see news outlets making that particular comparison these days. Think Whack-a-Mole.

Exhibit D -- Behavioral Science, Alpha Males, TED talk by Emory University primatologist Frans de Waal

Prof de Waal deftly describes that successful Alpha Males are not bullies. They elicit cooperation because they are talented in the use and demonstration of competency and compassion. Not qualities found in either the Occupant or in his regime at all.

Look at the way the chimpanzees display unity as a demonstration of power/authority. The only person in Trump's regime right now who is unified with him is his rogue Attorney General, Bill Barr. How well is he regarded among the American tribe?

Friends, there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth between now and November 3.  Yet, there is no way, given what we have witnessed of Trump's behavior since he began his campaign for office in 2015 and after he took the oath on January 20, 2017, that Trump will turn his presidency around and win the hearts of the American people.

Period. End of discussion.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Matter is the Minimum

It is my earnest and sincere hope that every one of you take the 33 minutes to watch this very moving, and hopefully culture changing message.

My commentary wouldn't mean a damn thing next to this.

All I really can say is that I know that Black Lives Matter and the PEOPLE protesting this week have every right to be angry.

There is effective nonviolent action that can be taken and it will, with sustained effort, produce fruitful and meaningful change.

U.S. History has for well more than two centuries documented that we have not yet approached those ideals yet. We can make it so the darkness we now see is the that of the womb, not the tomb.

The United States of America is a nation waiting to be born to a life willing and able to manifest the ideals rightfully and eloquently articulated by the Founders.

If you want this country to be the greatest one on Earth, we must change the culture.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Colin Powell will vote for Joe Biden, explains his position

THIS is a monumentally important interview, from CNN's State of the Union Sunday broadcast today, June 7, 2020.

Please watch the video. I hope you agree with me that it is worth your time.

The Obstacle is the Way. It won't be easy. But it IS available. Yes, there are people afraid that Trump will TRY to steal the election. It is clear, to those paying attention to how the White House occupant conducts himself, that contrary to the image he tries to project, he is WEAK. He is a complainer. He has NO solutions. He has abdicated his office and has NO ability to address any of the crises he is responsible to address.

60 Days in (a month ago), he still has NO plan to address the Covid19 Pandemic.

His plan to address legitimate nonviolent protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder was to violate the US Constitution by claiming he intended to send federal law enforcement officials into the States to suppress them. He was soundly rebuked by former and current senior military officials and the Mayor of the District of Columbia. In case you didn't notice, he backed down and sent the troops home.

Don't obsess over Trump. Obsess over what we can and must do to oust him on November 3.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Why Tom Cotton's Fascist NYT op-ed was totally inappropriate

The following letter, by Shawn Conway, was published in an e-newsletter I received today from Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark. A month or two ago, I started following The Bulwark because I sensed it had a more balanced perspective than some left leaning publications. Shawn Conway is a common enough name that without a geographic location, it's impossible to say which Shawn Conway wrote this piece. Nevertheless, it's worth a read.
So I've seen a lot of debate about the civil war at the times, of furious liberals on twitter fighting furious conservatives, and honestly, I think they're all wrong because no one seems to be debating the actual reason it should or should not have been published.
Unlike the debates about Twitter being a publisher or a platform or whatever, the Times is a publisher. And the opinion section is a place for opinions. However, the question that arises is 'why should the Times have published Senator Cotton's opinion?' [Michelle Goldberg's column (linked and excerpted further down on this post) is titled, Tom Cotton's Fascist Op-ed]
Because he's a senator? Him being in government makes his word no more valuable than anyone else's on the matter he's talking about. Because it's a situation that requires views from both sides? On the issue at hand, there really isn't a both sides debate; just about everyone agrees that police brutality is wrong. Even the people trying to defend the cops as Senator Cotton did frame everything as being about the looters and violent protesters and not the peaceful ones. Is it because the writing is particularly good or insightful? Having read it, I would say that it's not.
But most importantly, I think the question has to be asked, 'does this opinion piece add or subtract from the discourse?' And I think it's fair to say that it subtracts from it.
We can come to this conclusion based on a number of factors. First, Senator Cotton is not arguing in good faith. He says that peaceful protest should be allowed, but has been just as harsh and demeaning towards similar peaceful protests. We can see this sort of bait and switch everywhere, though the recent contrast between how the right treats views from white people on race versus black people on race makes this clear. The truth is, there is no such 'peaceful' way to protest that Senator Cotton or his boosters would agree with; they were just as aghast and violent sounding towards the protests in the NFL as they are now. In truth, what they aim to do is shut down the debate; if you're in the streets you're violent, if you're protesting at a sporting event you should stick to sports.
I generally prefer not to make such a blanket statement at the outset (though my readers may disagree with me). But Conway does make a solid argument to support this claim about Cotton's lack of good faith.
Secondly, we must ask what the purpose of the published opinion is. Senator Cotton can put out press statements, he can publish videos online, he can tweet just like everyone else. So why is he publishing his work in the New York Times? Surely there is no end to the conservative publications that would run his articles.
It's not as though publishing in the Times gives him some gigantic new base of readers. No matter where he published his work, people likely would be talking about it based on how incendiary it is. So we must ask if publishing it there serves some other purpose.
And to that effect, we can establish that yes, yes it does. His opinion is not really about the protest, because as I've mentioned, he's arguing in bad faith. Like others in the conservative news sphere, the idea is to link two ideas together: peaceful protesters and violent looters. To Cotton, these are the same. And because they are the same, this then justifies the use of overwhelming force.
But even that isn't really the point. Senator Cotton knows that by publishing in the Times, that people will be outraged by it. That it would create a backlash, where he can claim to be a martyr for his views, that the left is against other opinions, that the elites are trying to bring him down. Which is exactly what happened. Senator Cotton could have written nearly anything, and it wouldn't have mattered to him, because he was seeking to shift the discussion from separating protesters and looters to a discussion about how the left is all about mob violence to force their beliefs on people. It's an old and tired argument, one with racial undertones about masses of minorities forcing their strange ways upon good white folk. That's the world Senator Cotton lives in, and thus framing it that way serves his purposes.
But this brings us to the third point, which is that the Times has no business publishing obviously disingenuous articles or opinions. We would not accept them publishing the opinion that the Holocaust didn't happen. We would not accept them publishing the opinion that, actually, racism is good. We would not accept them publishing the opinion that women's natural place is that they're subservient to men. We would not accept this because there are some views that do not deserve to be boosted in a platform.
I do understand that de-platforming and shutting down speech is a slippery slope. However, if one does not have at least some standards, then the people who will be there are the people with no standards, the people who cannot go anywhere else.
We logically should oppose those standards being decided based on things such as gender, sex, race, or age. But standards of speech must apply. Standards of decency must apply. And as adults, we must be willing to draw the line somewhere, or else there is no line at all. It's not a matter of criminalizing speech. It's a matter of whether or not the speech warrants being placed on a platform for others to see.
The fundamental flaw in the argument of 'bad speech should be fought with good speech' is that it gives a moral and academic balance between the two, as though not gassing protesters is of equal weight to having the military gun down Americans. In most places, we understand that bad speech is not equal to good speech. Flat Earthers are not the equals of people who believe in science. There is no equivalency between saying the holocaust didn't happen and that nazis are evil people.
What Senator Cotton is trying to do is create this equivalency, to say that yes, sending the troops into American cities to violate constitutional rights is equivalent to the opinion that we have rights in the first place. In the aim of being 'fair and balanced' we are instead boosting views that have no business being boosted at all. If we are fair, and balanced, then not all things are equal. Not all speech is equal. Not all views deserve the same weight being given to them.
If we were being fair, and thus evaluating all speech based on the merits, and balanced, in that we are viewing all speech through the same lens, then it is plain to see that not all speech is equal. To claim it as such, and to claim that not publishing bad faith arguments meant to boost false moral and intellectual equivalences is somehow akin to censorship, is to completely jettison the notion that there is good speech at all.
Senator Cotton is not a fool. He knows this, and he knows how to get what he wants. His article is not anything different than would have been seen or written by any number of pro-trump individuals. But he leverages his status as a Senator to give his opinion more weight, and thus muddy the waters so that he can justify his bad faith arguments. We wouldn't have let the now primaried Steve King run opinion pieces saying that black Americans are inferior to whites, just because he was in congress.
It's a shell game, a Trojan horse, effective against those that prefer facts and reason to emotional arguments. It's meant to draw you into a fight over things that have nothing to do with the real issue. It's a distraction, to take advantage of your desire to fight over each issue and miss the real one. Meanwhile, men like Senator Cotton will say 'the American people support the use of the military to stop violence' without mentioning that this does not mean the American people support designating other Americans as enemy combatants.
In the case of his op-ed, liberals have spent time trying to refute what he says rather than what he means. Lost in his false equivalency about using the troops during desegregation and the demand to protect people's property is the assertion that, according to Senator Cotton, peaceful protesters using their constitutional rights is an act of insurrection, warranting the use of force on par with a rebellion against the United States. Hidden by his omission that the California governor was the one to ask for federal help in the 1992 riots, is the notion that protesting brutality is akin to armed uprisings against constitutional government.
While people spend time arguing why he's reading the Insurrection Act wrong or willfully omitting details from his examples, we're missing the point that Cotton's reasoning doesn't matter. The act of designating Americans as enemies is wrong. It will always be wrong. There is no moment where it would be acceptable to use the American military as an occupying force on American soil. We do not need to hear Senator Cotton's reasoning, because it is based on a false assumption that we can refute.
To publish his op-ed, the New York Times did not endorse him. It did however, place his assertions on par with those made by civil rights activists. We would refute on its face the notion that Cotton's asserted beliefs are equal in moral or academic weight to Martin Luther King's belief in civil rights. Yet the NYT is placing such things side by side, as though the point and counterpoint are both valid points of view, as though believing that it's okay to deprive people of civil rights is just a logical counterpoint that deserves to be treated with respect.
As we saw in Charlottesville, the goal of men like Cotton is to legitimize their views. They wish to rehabilitate their image, so that we no longer see them as being men in Klan hoods. Instead, they wear polo shirts and look acceptable in public. But this attempt to seem legitimate and benign is a con and a lie. It's an attempt to make racism, police brutality, authoritarianism, and white nationalism just another point of view, as though these things are of equal weight morally or ethically to the thoughts of men like Martin Luther King Jr.
We would not show people his 'I Have a Dream' speech and then show them a speech from George Wallace and ask them to compare and contrast the pros and cons of each argument, and the New York Times shouldn't either.
Shawn Conway

Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming, about the rise of Dominionism, or Christian Nationalism, now writes opinion columns for the New York Times. Kingdom Coming was published in 2007. It demands attention now because of how an obviously anti-Christ (as a description, if not necessarily "the" one) Trump has co-opted the Christian Nationalist movement. I have (formerly close) friends who in 2016 explicitly articulated their believe that Trump would bring about God's Kingdom on Earth.
Clemson University sociologist Andrew Whitehead and his colleagues Samuel Perry of the University of Oklahoma and Joseph Baker of East Tennessee State University say that religious support for Trump is driven by Christian nationalism, which is not so much about moral purity as it is about power––the kind of power to defend and to deliver the Christian nation that never was.

Those friends still embrace that cultic magical thinking.

Goldberg rebukes Cotton and NYTimes editors in a column published on Thursday, Tom Cotton's Fascist op-ed.
Before Donald Trump became president, most newspaper op-ed pages sought to present a spectrum of politically significant opinion and argument, which they could largely do while walling off extremist propaganda and incitement. The Trump presidency has undermined that model, because there’s generally no way to defend the administration without being either bigoted or dishonest.
Opinion sections, eager to maintain ideological diversity without publishing lies or stuff that belongs in Breitbart, have therefore filled up with anti-Trump conservatives. As a result, newspapers like this one have often been criticized for elevating an intellectual clique that has little mass base or political influence.
So I can sort of appreciate my bosses’ decision on Wednesday to run Senator Tom Cotton’s screed arguing that the military should be sent to American cities to “restore order,” which has caused a rebellion inside The New York Times. The Times Opinion section wants to include the views of people who support Trump, and the very qualities that make Cotton’s Op-Ed revolting — his strongman pretensions, his sneering apocalypticism — make him an important figure in Trump’s Republican Party. (He might someday come to lead it.)
Readers should grasp what people like Cotton are arguing, not because it’s worth taking seriously but because it is being taken seriously, particularly by our mad and decomposing president. Cotton has made an even more extreme version of the case for military occupation of American cities on Twitter, but most Americans aren’t on Twitter. The paper could convey his views by reporting on them, but for the Opinion section, letting him express them himself is more direct. [...]
A similar case could be made for hearing from Cotton, an enemy of liberal democracy who has the president’s ear. He is relevant, whether we like it or not. (Soon after his piece was published, Trump retweeted it.)
Thus when I first saw the Cotton Op-Ed I wasn’t as horrified as perhaps I should have been; I figured he’d helpfully revealed himself as a dangerous authoritarian. But as I’ve seen my colleagues’ anguished reaction, I’ve started to doubt my debating-club approach to the question of when to air proto-fascist opinions. [...]
In a racist inversion, he equates his fantasy of soldiers putting down an uprising triggered by police brutality against black people with previous presidents using the military to enforce desegregation.
His argument is frequently slippery and dishonest. The claim that police officers “bore the brunt of the violence” is hard to square with countless videos of police instigation. (So far, more civilians than police officers have been reported killed during the uprising.)
Cotton notes that President George H.W. Bush sent federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 to quell the riots that broke out after the police who beat Rodney King were acquitted. But he doesn’t tell readers that Bush did so at the invitation of California’s governor.
That’s very different from the federal government overriding local elected authorities and occupying their states and cities, which seems to be what Cotton is proposing. It’s an idea that appalls many military leaders.
How ANY believer in the 10th Amendment can stomach any of this is beyond me.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This amendment to the US Constitution is, by the way, the reason our Tinpot Dictator has tried to get away with militarizing the District of Columbia, and only THREATENED to do so in any of the States in the Union. And at the request (demand) of the Mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, Trump backed down and sent home National Guard troops days ago deployed to DC from states governed by Republicans. Bowser also designated an area of DC as Black Lives Matter Plaza.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

President of Law & Order, or Chaos and Disorder

President of Law & Order, or Chaos & Disorder

Trump’s threats to deploy troops move America closer to anarchy
ATTORNEY GENERAL William P. Barr on Monday ordered federal police and National Guard forces to disperse protesters who were peacefully gathered in front of the White House. As flash munitions exploded and tear gas swirled, President Trump delivered a Rose Garden rant denouncing “acts of domestic terror” he said had taken place in Washington and other U.S. cities, and threatened to “deploy the United States military” to those that fail to “dominate the streets.”
The president then walked across Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible in front of a church. The clearing of the square — carried out without the involvement of D.C. police, who were not told about it until moments before it occurred — enabled this cheap political theater, and we suspect the same term can be applied to Mr. Trump’s vow to deploy active-duty Army units. But military and congressional leaders ought to be telling him that any such action would be unacceptable.
As it is, Mr. Trump appears to be mobilizing federal forces to Washington, where he has the authority to take over the National Guard and deploy other troops without consulting local authorities. According to the New York Times, the Army has been ordered to transfer a military police unit from Fort Bragg, N.C., and 600 to 800 National Guard troops from other states will reinforce the 1,200-member D.C. National Guard. One military official told the Times Mr. Trump was creating his own “palace guard.” Mr. Trump said he was “dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement officers” to the District “to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and wanton destruction of property.”
Then there's today's angry statement by former Marine General and Trump's first Secretary of Defense, James Mattis as reported the Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of TheAtlantic,
James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis writes. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
He goes on to contrast the American ethos of unity with Nazi ideology. “Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was “Divide and Conquer.” Our American answer is “In Union there is Strength.”’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.”
Mattis’s dissatisfaction with Trump was no secret inside the Pentagon. But after his resignation, he argued publicly—and to great criticism—that it would be inappropriate and counterproductive for a former general, and a former Cabinet official, to criticize a sitting president. Doing so, he said, would threaten the apolitical nature of the military. When I interviewed him last year on this subject, he said, “When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours.” He did add, however: “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”
That period is now definitively over. Mattis reached the conclusion this past weekend that the American experiment is directly threatened by the actions of the president he once served. In his statement, Mattis makes it clear that the president’s response to the police killing of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests, triggered this public condemnation.
That is exactly the role of elder statesmen, of which Mattis would surely qualify. Here's the entire statement, as quoted in the story linked and excerpted above:


I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.
James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.
Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.
We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.
Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Insurrection Act? Really Donald?

From NPR:
President Trump threatened Monday to take military action in American cities if the violent demonstrations that have been taking place in recent days aren't stamped out.
"If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said in a short statement in the Rose Garden at the White House.
To do that, the president would need to invoke what's known as the Insurrection Act of 1807. The original text of the act, which has been amended several times since it was first passed, reads as follows:
An Act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States, in cases of insurrections
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.
APPROVED, March 3, 1807.
From Danielle Crockett, U C Berkeley School of Law,
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Congress amended the Insurrection Act of 1807. The Act enables the President to deploy the military “to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The amended Act expands the language of the original Act to include natural disasters, epidemics, or other serious public health emergencies, terrorist attacks or incidents, or other conditions. Opponents of the amendment, most notably all fifty governors, criticize the amendment as a presidential power grab aimed at suppressing the power of the states and increasing the role of the military in domestic affairs. [...]
Isn't it quite conspicuous that the president did NOT seek to invoke the Insurrection Act to protect (ANYONE) as a result of plainly obvious worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic?
“It was never the purpose of the Constitution . . . that the militia should be sent to execute the laws, merely because they are not being at all times diligently executed or perfectly enforced in the particular area in question.” Despite critics’ fears, however, the amended Insurrection Act does not demonstrate any dangerous intent on the part of Congress or of the Bush Administration. Nonetheless, the amendment does indicate a general misunderstanding of the Insurrection Act’s historical meaning and application. While this failure reflects poorly on Congress, the Act’s amendment was not, in the words of one critic, “a stealth maneuver . . . [that] will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law.
Ms. Crockett [Ginty], who now appears to be in private practice, may well have correctly assessed motives at work in Congress when amending the Insurrection Act in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But more than a decade before the 2016 election which put a madman in the White House, she does appear to have suffered a failure of imagination as to whether the Act NOW "will actually encourage the President..." to do the equivalent whether he calls it martial law or not.

In a most profound and timely essay, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, Admiral Mike Mullin wrote this, as published on TheAtlantic.com today (June 2, 2020):
It sickened me yesterday to see security personnel—including members of the National Guard—forcibly and violently clear a path through Lafayette Square to accommodate the president's visit outside St. John's Church. I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump's leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent.
Whatever Trump's goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.
There was little good in the stunt.
While no one should ever condone the violence, vandalism, and looting that has exploded across our city streets, neither should anyone lose sight of the larger and deeper concerns about institutional racism that have ignited this rage.
As a white man, I cannot claim perfect understanding of the fear and anger that African Americans feel today. But as someone who has been around for a while, I know enough—and I’ve seen enough—to understand that those feelings are real and that they are all too painfully founded.
We must, as citizens, address head-on the issue of police brutality and sustained injustices against the African American community. We must, as citizens, support and defend the right—indeed, the solemn obligation—to peacefully assemble and to be heard. These are not mutually exclusive pursuits.
And neither of these pursuits will be made easier or safer by an overly aggressive use of our military, active duty or National Guard. The United States has a long and, to be fair, sometimes troubled history of using the armed forces to enforce domestic laws. The issue for us today is not whether this authority exists, but whether it will be wisely administered.
I remain confident in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform. They will serve with skill and with compassion.
Whether or not any reader agrees with that declaration, there is immense power in a leader of Admiral Mullin's experience laying down a reputation for the men and women of the Armed Forces to live up to [see #28 under Principles to Live By].
They will obey lawful orders. But I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops. Certainly, we have not crossed the threshold that would make it appropriate to invoke the provisions of the Insurrection Act.
Furthermore, I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes.
Even in the midst of the carnage we are witnessing, we must endeavor to see American cities and towns as our homes and our neighborhoods. They are not “battle spaces to be dominated, and must never become so.
We must ensure that African Americans—indeed, all Americans—are given the same rights under the Constitution, the same justice under the law, and the same consideration we give to members of our own family. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so.
Too many foreign and domestic policy choices have become militarized; too many military missions have become politicized.
This is not the time for stunts. This is the time for leadership.
This is the time for YOU and I to Rise UP with One Voice to eradicate the orange menace.