So Much for the Rule of Law

'Something about this court makes me uneasy.'

I’m worrying about the powerful abusing the weak and the need to expand rights and opportunities. Them’s my rules.

The Trump regime’s goal of returning us to the days before even the Progressive Era, 1890 to 1918 or 1920, when women finally got the vote, has now given us a truly horrendous Supreme Court pick. [By the way, I’m not one of the sad sack progressives who believes this guy will automatically make it onto the court although I am very close to a state of sad sackism…]  In case you’re not familiar, watch this video for a history of the Progressive era, the good and bad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Q4zPR4G7M

Let’s circle back to the hue and cry of late from Democrats and some progressives among them that the Republicans are not obeying the “rule of law” by which I think they mostly mean, the norms of civic life more than actual laws. Okay, there are also things like the “emoluments clause” which none of us had likely heard of til now and few yet know what exactly it entails. It seems it was written for folks like Benjamin Franklin who, “for instance, had accepted a snuffbox festooned with 408 diamonds from the King of France.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/what-is-the-emoluments-clause-does-it-apply-to-president-trump/2017/01/23/12aa7808-e185-11e6-a547-5fb9411d332c_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.ca92c7adcdf6

Here’s a tweet which typically references “the rule of law” without stipulating what that means, “In the end of this debacle, there will either be a Republican Party that has joined with Putin to reform our gov.into an authoritarian state, or there will be the rule of law. There can’t be both. The Republicans have committed treason and need to be prosecuted for the crime.”

If it’s referencing colluding with a foreign state, then the law would seem to work as many already have been indicted and given prison terms but if it references the president, it’s vague. Because, by law, the Republican run congress can set aside the findings of the investigation and it’s a toss-up as to whether a sitting president may be indicted. In fact, it’s a political question, not a legal one.

But, if you’re asking whether a politician is above the law, yeah, that’s another issue and we all know the answer to that. Our system was set up to favor a certain group, a group I don’t have to describe. There have been years, even a decade here and there where laws were made to equalize the playing field, although equalize is not really fair if you were placed at a different starting block than others.

So now the Supreme Court and to a greater extent, the lower courts, which we had come to rely on, will be stacked against, hmmm, take a long lunch break while I type these-(Warning-I’m dropping the useless apostrophe here) workers rights, consumers rights, womens rights, Black folks rights, Brown folks rights, disabled folks rights, LGBTQ folks rights, immigrants rights, childrens rights, people who need healthcare rights, people who need to breathe clean air rights, endangered species rights (we should be added to that list). Hey, even most straight white males who own property actually need to preserve some of those rights.

Well, we kept saying, the system worked. The courts have stopped him/them. Yeah, good luck with that now. They will just ignore any judge who disagrees with them after ignoring any existing laws, statutes or NORMS until they get to SCOTUS where their perfidy will be upheld.

Why is any of this a surprise? For most of our history the courts have protected the Wealthy, the White and the American Aristocracy, whether it’s landed dudes who own their workers or tech dudes who, almost own their workers, and so-called Christian dudes who don’t wanna bake cakes in case they call for lavender icing.

We learned to love the Warren Court and hold it as our image of the goodness of lifetime appointments and the belief that if the same guy who proposed the internment/imprisonment of Americans of Japanese descent could turn out to oppose segregation and uphold the 4th Amendment, could evolve so could they all.

Well, good luck with that. But if it’s cause you now wanna defend the FBI, I got some movies that show even Hollywood can set the lie to that. Now I don’t mean to say that the folks who run that Republican organization are all like J Edgar, no, they are more polished than that. And should we defend them, those agents, against the GOP’s obvious partisan and personal attacks, yes, of course. We can read and chew at the same time, right?

BUT, let’s stop getting our panties or our boxers-tired of the feminine reference being used to show weakness and Warning don’t read this if you are offended by gross language-everybody knows a pussy is way more resilient and powerful than a dick-whenever a norm is broken or a law misused. It’s the American way.

I’ve gone to jail twice because I ignored the rule of law, minor laws, laws imposed for expediency sake, for sure. But I’ll do it again and I’d even prefer doing it for “greater” laws as we shall soon see the return of laws against free speech like we did under Woodrow Wilson, yeah, that guy. Check out the Sedition Act of 1918, https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/supremecourt/capitalism/sources_document1.html

Or the ones that go back to John Adams, sigh.

Relying on such a concept of the Rule of Law is a recipe for acquiescing to more racially punishing laws, more denigration of individual and group liberties and the complete collapse of our environment.

No, we need to coalesce around a group of principles against which we will give not an inch. It starts with preventing any of Trump’s SCOTUS picks from getting a fair hearing, Yep, I said fair. All those judges were picked by folks who oppose equal rights for the rest of us so the list is biased against us and we must act accordingly.

Anyway, please discuss, especially the legal minds, tear into this if you will but please define the rule of law before you do, cause really, I don’t know what you folks are worrying about. I’m worrying about the powerful abusing the weak and the need to expand rights and opportunities. Them’s my rules.

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Focus on Resistance

Waking up to my twitter feed in the morning, it seems we’ve all gone Russian crazy. Now.. if you can rid us of 45 by finding connections to bad Russian dudes, by all means, do it. Then I’ll stop trying to scratch the inside of my brain wondering why the old Cold War has been revived and seems to have flipped the bad guys and confounded the good guys-it’s just too confusing. Besides I don’t trust the nice folks at the FBI, CIA, etc, to tell me who my president should be.

How about that Voter Suppression?

Anyway, I’m truly sorry that we are not focusing on the more obvious villain of this shocking electoral turn-around, no skullduggery necessary-voter suppression, aided and abetted by a right leaning Supreme Court which gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act-and left us open to every kind of racist, nefarious Republican plot in which no Russian had a hand.

We’d already witnessed the first selection of George Bush after the Florida voter rolls were purged of hundreds of Black sounding names, which even then required the high court to hand him the presidency.

So, we should’ve been prepared to see a wholesale slashing of voters from the rolls, the reduction of voting hours, the removal of available polling booths, etc, to give the Republicans the edge that outright precinct gerrymandering had not been able to provide. It’s about to get much worse with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions running the DOJ like the Confederacy of old.

Instead we focus on the diabolic doings of Vladimir Putin, and I’m sure he’s worthy of the bulls eye on his pale naked back, but really, does that make it ok that many Republican governors see voting as something that the “wrong” people should be prevented from doing? Too many of us have spent hours begging people just to consider voting to believe it should be made more difficult.

Spend as much time as you can registering voters and talking to them about how they will vote.

So Much for the Environment…                    

While we are focused on the cheesy melodrama that elected Mr. Drumpf, the rest of the entire Republican controlled Congress is busy gutting the 21st century and lots of the 20th century’s advances. To (nit)wit- All kinds of protections for our waterways are being dirtied https://futurism.com/trump-aims-to-eliminate-clean-water-rule/, regulations on methane gas, 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide to hold in heat, are being eliminated.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/03/03/epa-drops-request-for-data-on-methane-emissions-that-could-cost-us-trillions/#7673485d617d

Trumpcare, too Toxic for Congress…

The “replacement” for the ACA, much like the replacements in the iconic film, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, mv5bnti4nzg5mtm4nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwotewmjg4mw-_v1_  is so dangerous to our continued health that it has to be quarantined lest even Republicans become exposed to its sickly aura. [Doesn’t it seem like many of them have already turned into robots and mannequins? Hmm, maybe we should find those pods.]

In California a single payer bill is back and it would cover all Californians including immigrants while being simpler and cheaper to administer that\an the ACA. It is SB 562.

http://www.latimes.com/business/lazarus/la-fi-lazarus-california-single-payer-healthcare-20170303-story.html

Homeland Security Police State Build Up…

And now, the ultimate in police state style governing-ICE vans parked outside courthouses, ICE police roaming the streets and hallways in unmarked jackets-why don’t they just go with long black leather coats, steel-tipped boots and hats covering their dead-Stephen-Miller eyes since they prefer the geheime staastspolizei style? Look it up. images-5                      ap_091209048890-b499337a2d9e0b713a557a3936d469d80d5cb054-s700-c85

This creepy, constitution-shredding activity is spreading. Passengers on a domestic flight to New York were asked to show ID in order to get off, not on, but off the plane, and they complied-why folks-don’t do that!

Supporting Sanctuary State Legislation

We’re in California where the California Values Act, SB 54, is on its way to passage in an “urgency” vote. We hope that then we’ll be able to curb some incursions of the secret police  by attempting to prevent our local police forces, including sheriffs and high way patrol, CHP, from helping ICE to terrorize our hard working immigrants.

But we need to do more, much more. In addition to finding ways to keep the feds polluted mitts off our tax dollars-we’re a donor state, giving more than we receive-we’ve got to find ways to make “sanctuary” mean something. Right now our resolutions and laws have too many loopholes. Rather than large sweeps we can organize against, they are stealthily picking off individuals and families wherever they can trick them into answering  any questions about their status or of using the services for which they, immigrants, also pay.

What to do-a 5 Point Plan                                                20170121_122129-1       

1st– We need to make sure that our police departments are trained in how to recognize ICE, report on raids, no matter how small, and assist immigrants who may need to report crimes but are afraid of the consequences to their families.

2nd– We have to demand that sheriffs departments, notoriously filled with elected Republicans, are given clear instructions on when they can and when they cannot assist ICE in reporting who is in their jails.

Beyond that, we have to search for new candidates to run for these offices-candidates who care more about their constituents than their Trumpian ideology. This will become more obvious as the return of banking deregulation results in another crash and another massive wave of foreclosures and sheriffs are called on to assist the banks to throw people out of homes.

3rd-We have to sit down with our district attorneys and talk to them about the odious practice of plea bargaining which was almost always a bad deal for low level offenders, innocents among them, who were talked into declaring themselves guilty to avoid threatened longer sentences if they opted for a trial by their peers. The state has cut court costs so the increase in this type of “justice” is one result. But besides consigning many to jail terms with little proof of guilt, it may also consign defendants to deportation as criminals.

4th-We now have a bill which could repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, one piece of legislation which prevents municipalities from passing renter protections on buildings erected after 1995 and other restrictions on tenant protections. Wikipedia says, “The Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act (“Costa-Hawkins”) is the California state law that prohibits municipal rent increase limitations on certain kinds of exempted dwelling units, allows rent increases on subtenants following departure by tenants of rent-controlled tenancies, and prohibits “vacancy control” — the regulation of rental rates on units that have been voluntarily vacated by the previous renters at an amount other (presumably lower) than what the open market would bear.”  920x1240

Simply put, we can’t call ourselves sanctuary cities if many of our residents are living in tents, subject to immediate removal and loss of their belongings at any time. Our Assembly Member Rob Bonta is one of the co-authors of this bill and we need to mobilize if we hope to defeat the well-heeled real estate industry  which is already gunning for it.

Mr Bonta is also with us on SB54, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s bill to protect immigrants and refugees from allowing our police to help detain them for ICE [except in the case of dangerous criminals.] Bonta also sponsored AB 3, the Stronger Public Defenders Act, and supports AB 291, the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, SB 29, Dignity Not Detention, SB 30 requiring voter approval of the border wall, and of course, SB 54. Get behind these important sanctuary bills.

5th-It’s much harder to find support to make police agencies more transparent but we must insist on policies which clearly state that police are not above the law. Drumpf’s new AG Sessions has declared open season on police killings of Black and Brown people. I never knew the season had closed but it will be even more dangerous to walk, shop, or drive while Black during this regime.

IMG_20150612_212616That means ending the practice of allowing sheriffs and police departments of buying military equipment and curbing the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights which so far trumps our own. Oh yeah, pun definitely intended. California under the Copley Decision is currently one of the least transparent states concerning police misconduct.   http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/1293/copley_v._account-ability/

We have lots of work to do, the resistance must continue to build. But keep your eyes on the prize-a better state, a better world-don’t give in to the melodrama, as alluring as it is. I’ve outlined some actions we can take and reported on ones we are taking now-even more serious resistance is being considered in the halls of Sacramento. We are the 6th largest economy, remember? Ok then…

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