Saving America

We need to put the choice of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg in perspective. It is not about constitutional concerns, presidential obligations or prerogatives, or precedent.

The truth behind the push is infinitely simpler, and more sinister.

Three things cannot long be hidden; the sun, the moon, and the truth…

Buddha

The rush to force a vote is driven by evangelical pressure to reverse Roe V. Wade, to drag America back into the dark ages of male-dominated, Christian-centric, theologically tainted government, and to reassert the once absolute dominance of white men.

Therein lies the real danger.

Ginsburg’s entire career focused on broadening equal rights, equal access, and sharing of power for women. She was the irresistible force that overcame what was once considered unchangeable, working on some of the most important cases for women’s rights.

This is one example. Her work led to women being able to open a bank account, get a mortgage, or get a credit card without a man’s signature. (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/420/636/)  

Now think about that for a moment. Until 1974, with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the case cited above argued by Ginsburg before the United States Supreme Court in 1975, a woman, regardless of her financial position, education, or professional credentials, could not open a bank account without the signature of a man, nor enjoy most of the other financial rights of men.

This was in the United States of America in 1975, not 1575.

And let’s be perfectly clear about something, the evangelicals’ claiming the moral high ground on issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights, and religious freedom is a smokescreen. Reclaiming dominance of white heterosexual males is their true goal. Their vision of making America Great Again is not one of inclusivity.

You can spin this anyway you like, but all one has to do is look, not even an in-depth look, at their savior for reclaiming a moral America, Mr. Trump, to see the incongruities.

The Christian Right, pummeled by Roe V. Wade (which was about equal access, never about abortion. The wealthy always had access, leaving the poor to dark alleys), distraught over Gay rights and equal opportunity, and horrified that science and rationality were gaining dominance over philosophies formulated in the dark ages, is fighting for its life.

Their intransigence, and duplicity, is an effrontery to those religious adherents who embrace tolerance and understanding. Their actions are in direct contradiction to the words in the Bibles they clutch to their chests or wave in the air as evidence of the righteousness of their cause.

There actions are a mockery of Christian philosophy. They do not seek religious freedom, the seek religious dominance by their self-serving interpretation of evangelical doctrine and the suppression of those who follow other paths.

They see in Mr. Trump their opportunity to reclaim their once firm grasp on power and control over those who are different or follow a different path. That anyone could see Mr. Trump as a moral savior is an example of willful ignorance at best or total psychotic illusion at worst.

As long as he promotes their party line, his lack of character is unimportant. This is not a Republican party line; it is the party line of intolerance and domination.

In a debate stimulated by an earlier piece I wrote (https://joebroadmeadowblog.com/2020/09/18/a-simple-straightforward-question/) someone who supports Mr. Trump posted this article as illustrative of all the “good” Mr. Trump has done for black Americans.

Read the case yourself and draw your own conclusions.

https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/511551-donald-trump-has-done-more-for-african-americans-than-we-think

My reading of the case would suggest the writer argues that Mr. Trump’s implicit racism, pandering to white supremacists, and misconstruing the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issue of racism to the forefront.

A rather strange way to sing Mr. Trump’s praises.

There is a common misconception in America that widespread racism and discrimination is a thing of the past. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg spent much of her career shining a light into those dark corners of America where it still flourished, and flourishes to this day.

I recall a story told to me by a friend from the FBI. As a young agent he was sent to a rural county in Alabama to investigate a civil rights violation by a Sheriff and two deputies in the arrest of a black man.

During an interview with one of the deputies, the agent asked if race played a part in the violent arrest of the man. The deputy’s answer stuck with the agent for the rest of his career.

The deputy said, “I didn’t beat that man because he was black, sir. I beat him because he forgot he was black.”

This was in 1985. 120 years after the end of slavery. Thirty years after Brown V Board of Education. Twenty years after the Civil Rights Act. Racism may not be as overt as it was in 1865, or even 1965, but make no mistake about it, it still permeates much of our society.

And we have a President who either intentionally or out of ignorance encourages such attitudes. Or maybe he just doesn’t care.

Then, as if what amounts to promoting white supremacy isn’t enough, Mr. Trump takes it down another notch by saying the shooting of an MSNBC reporter covering a protest was “beautiful.” And the saddest part is many in the audience laughed and cheered.

The President of the United States jokes about a member of the media being wounded. This is about as dystopian as the world can get.

The Free Press, the cornerstone of American freedom, the institution that in my lifetime help end the war in Vietnam and brought down a corrupt and criminal Presidency by focusing attention on government lies, is not something we should laugh at when they suffer injuries doing their job.

But not this President.

Leaving aside for the moment the argument about whether a Supreme Court nomination should take place in an election year, this is a critical turning point in America.

To paraphrase a line from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, If Christ could see America today, he’d puke.

Those who would force us into the past are pointing a loaded gun at the heart of America and threatening to pull the trigger. If we lose focus in the fog of all the noise and distractions, they just might be emboldened enough to do it.

There is much in America’s past of which we can be proud, and equally as much for which we need be constantly vigilant against its re-emergence. But the path to American greatness does not reside in our past, it beckons from our future. A future that hangs in the balance this November.

*****

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R.O.A.R.: Simple Rules for American Lives

If the evidence is to be believed, something that should be, well, self-evident, the US is performing like an amateur boxer facing Muhammed Ali when it comes to managing the pandemic.

At just over 4.4% of the world’s population, we hold the unenviable claim to almost 25% of the world’s cases of COVID-19. Plus 138,358 of the 577,954 who have died so far. But this is not a criticism of our response as a nation, there is plenty already written about that.

No, this is more personal.

This is a criticism of our behavior as something that transcends our status as Americans. It is our conduct as humans that requires serious attention.

Somehow, in our impatience, sense of entitlement, or just plain selfishness, we seem to have forgotten our responsibilities and covered them over with a claim to certain rights.

If we would just learn to R. O. A. R with common decency, we might rehabilitate ourselves in the eyes of the world (and perhaps save a few Americans from needless death.)

Rights carry Obligations, and Ability is tempered by Responsibilities.

Roar, you say? How does one roar and keep a semblance of rationality? Easy, like the memory aids we all learned as children, if one follows these simple steps.

Rights are inherent to all humans, they are enshrined in our Constitution, but these rights come with…

Obligations. We have an obligation to behave in a manner that does not put others at risk. These obligations may present a roadblock to certain things you wish to do. But do not confuse can with should. There is a difference. And it is defined as…

Abilities. You can do or refuse to do many things. Wearing a mask to protect your fellow humans is a simple yet effective example. You can wear a mask, or you can refuse, but wearing one implies you understand another cornerstone of mature behavior…

Responsibility. We must be responsible for our behavior toward others. And we have a reasonable expectation for them to behave responsibly in kind.

So there you have it. Remember this simple meme.

ROAR

Rights carry Obligations, and Ability is tempered by Responsibilities.

It’s not that hard.  

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A Miracle at Dachau by Laurin Haupt. An inspiring story of an ordinary man who became an extraordinary hero during one of the darkest times in the world. Click image to read more.

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Forbidden Emotions: The Key to Healing by Marti Murphy

Finding a way to a healthier, happier life by understanding and managing our “Forbidden Emotions.”

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Ennui will Destroy America

I checked the calendar today, twice, to make sure it really was the year 2020. Turns out, it is. No matter how hard that is to believe.

This is the most modern age in America so far. But despite all our technology, all our vast capabilities, all these attempts at either recovering or finding American greatness, we still cannot run an election. We fail at the most fundamental aspect of self-government; wherein the people determine the course of government.

This should happen without lengthy delays in counting votes, serious doubts over integrity, or an embarrassing level of non-participation.

We have little faith in our fellow Americans—seeing them all (or at least the ones who hold different beliefs or political philosophies) as willing to commit voter fraud—and we have no faith in our government. A government installed by VOTERS. We don’t trust the system and we see little benefit in making the effort to vote.

We are trapped between an irresistible force and an immovable object. Our own intransigence and inertia will be our demise.

A country that once challenged the greatest military power in the world on the sheer courage of our citizen-soldiers runs elections like a kindergarten class in North Korea.

A country that once put a man on the moon cannot guarantee every citizen the opportunity to vote and instill in them the obligation to exercise that right as a sacred duty.

We should be a country certain that the outcome of elections represents the will of the people. All the people.

But, alas, as the latest debacle out of Kentucky demonstrates, we may be a world leader in some things, yet we are barely competent in the most critical—supporting and fostering our Democracy.

Kentucky, in a preview of the coming national elections, reduced polling locations. One location covered almost 800,000 voters. This was ostensibly to manage exposure to COVID-19. It defies logic.  Wouldn’t MORE sites reduce numbers and the risk of exposure?  They also either failed to anticipate or exhibited just plain ‘ole stupidity in their plan for dealing with mail-in ballots.

I know the pressures on poll workers is enormous. They have to spend an entire DAY at the polls. Would it be too much to ask if we made them work, for the sake of argument, an entire week to increase opportunities for voting?  These elections only happen every two years. I would think one week of work and two years off, even if they have to add two extra days to prepare, isn’t an unreasonable request.

Perhaps working at polling sites should be akin to jury duty. Everybody required to participate. Now I know some of you are rolling your eyes. Jury duty! How awful a comparison. But jury duty, no matter how inconvenient, is the foundation of the justice system. As is staffing election operations to allow all to vote.

Perhaps we should demand that the position of Secretary of State be more than just a launch pad for the politically ambitious. As Draconian as this may sound, we should insist they actually deal with making voting accessible for all.

Of all the ills facing this country, sometimes we need to triage the most critical and put aside the others.  And I can think of nothing more important than making sure every eligible American votes. It is something we should instill as part of our education system. Not only do you have the Right to Vote, but you have a civic obligation to do so.

A truly representative government, populated with responsible individuals elected by open voter participation, is the best way to address all the other issues facing America.

Here’s another incentive for those of you who distrust government, incumbents fear large voter turnout. They understand if circumstances can drive the normally oblivious to the polls, change is in the air.

If you are serious about Making America Great Again, then vote. And demand those who manage our elections work to support that goal.

If you don’t think it matters, you have only to look at what happened in 2016. The time for Americans to reclaim our destiny, self-respect, and standing as a beacon of Democracy is upon us.

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Rights, Responsibilities, and Obligations

There is much talk about the rights of people to go about their daily lives free from government directives and restrictions. No one who understands the Constitution disagrees with such a position. But discussing rights without including the responsibilities and obligations such rights include obscures the point.

The final evaluation of the success or necessity of the social distancing, business closings, and other measures put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 will be a long time coming. Our knowledge of the virulence, infection rates, mortality rates, and recovery rates will take time to correlate as we gather data.

Responding to pandemics require judgment calls. These decisions impact lives. Failing to implement a reasonable plan to minimize the impact on people and medical resources can lead to disasters.

Overreaction can have the effect of the “boy who cried wolf” as people discount what they perceive as a draconian and unnecessary intrusion on their lives. When a genuine crisis arises—such as the one we face now— past poor experiences would cause people to ignore it.

We need to base the decision to relax restrictions on several factors.

  1. Our best and considered analysis of the risk of a renewed spike in exposures and infections.
  2. Our experience in treatment options learned throughout the pandemic so far and the demand capacity available in our medical facilities, including equipment stockpiles.
  3. A scientifically valid projection of the availability of improved drugs to treat and a vaccine to prevent the virus.
  4. The long-term economic impact on the country, businesses, and those forced onto the unemployment rolls.
  5. The rights of individuals to live their lives without restrictions.

These are not simple matters. They require a well thought out strategy that takes each factor into consideration in crafting a path back to normalcy.

Yet the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—the famous words from the Declaration of Independence—also come with obligations and responsibilities.

You have a right to live your life, and no one can deny it. But this right does not come without an obligation to allow others the same right.

You have the right to liberty but cannot deny others the same.

You may pursue whatever makes you happy, but not if it denies others the same joy.

No one can predict what the effect of relaxing restrictions will bring. It is one of the most critical judgment calls we will ever make. But we should remember almost eighty thousand Americans have died during this pandemic. Arguing over how we tally those deaths and whether it was underlying conditions or the virus itself that were the cause is an exercise in futility.

People died after contracting the virus. We need respond now, with the best information available, and re-evaluate once all the data is in. Then use that information to plan for the inevitable next one. Assuming facts not in evidence is dangerous.

The reality is, it won’t matter to those who may yet die what was the primary cause until we control this virus. Something has changed in the world and we need be very smart about how we deal with it.

Reasonable expectation of fulfilling your obligations to others does not infringe on your rights, it is a guarantee that others meet the same obligations.

The fact is we do not have a clear picture of the course, level of contagion, or proven method of controlling, treating, or preventing this virus. Until we do, focusing on your obligations to ensuring the rights of others is as important as insisting on exercising your own.

______________________________________________________________________________

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Miranda Warnings: Why do we name monumental USSC decisions after the perpetrators, rather than the victims?

On March 13, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested. The arrest was primarily based on circumstantial evidence linking him to the kidnapping and rape of a 17-year-old woman 10 days earlier.

After a prolonged interrogation he confessed. The conviction was reversed by the United States Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona. The “confession” was ruled inadmissible. A little known fact is he was retried and convicted again.

Every Lawyer, Police Officer, Law & Order fan, convict, and criminal alive knows the “Miranda warning”, no one knows the victim’s name.

Many probably think it was Congressional Legislation that created the “Miranda” Warning. It even became a verb in the form of “Mirandized”

“Did you Mirandize him?”

The name of a (twice) convicted rapist of a 17 year old girl became a cloak of protection, or a manner of invoking the protection.

“Hey man, I know my Miranda rights”

Ernesto Miranda himself died of stab wounds after an alcohol fueled bar fight a few years after his release from prison. On his body the police found “Miranda Warning” cards that Miranda would autograph for money.

Perhaps naming it for the perpetrators is the right thing to do, it reminds the government of their failure to exercise due care in the protection of their citizens rights.

Perhaps, by perpetuating the names of criminals, we as a people will demand better from our Police Officers, Prosecutors, and Judges.

It serves as a reminder of our failures, not a tribute to the defendant.

My original thought was to complain about the naming of decisions for perpetrators rather than the victims.

Then I realized that naming it for the perpetrators was correct, we need to be reminded of the names of evil and the benefit of living in a country that values justice for all.

And why would we want criminals to invoke the name of a Victim to insulate themselves.

My daughter aspires to a job wherein the fundamental tenet is everyone, regardless of the depravity of their act, is entitled to all the protections of justice.

Proud doesn’t even come close.

It is truly a wonderful commentary on a society that can raise individuals who can devote their lives to protecting all.

Those that can separate the person from the principle.

Justice from Justifiability

The ends from justifying the means.

So that is why I know decisions like Miranda v. Arizona and Escobedo v. Illinois are not an indication of a weakness in our system of justice.

It is not a fault that perpetrators names live on while the victims are long forgotten, but rather a reminder of the greatness of our system.

Leave the victims in peace and let the bad guys invoke other bad guys for protection.

If it ever stops, well, then we are truly in decline.