Women’s ‘Rights’? HAH!

Way back in the beginning days of this nation, women were not allowed to own property, nor were they allowed to vote.  Women were basically considered, as were African-Americans, to be chattel, possessions. women-property-rightsGradually … and I do mean gradually, ever so s-l-o-w-l-y … women gained a few human rights, such as the right to own property (1848-1895) and the right to vote (1920 – 19th Amendment).  It would be 1963 before it was decided that women should receive equal pay for performing the same job duties as men.

Women’s rights has been every bit as much a struggle as were civil rights for African-Americans, albeit not as violent.  By the end of the 20th century, most would tell you that women were now fully equal in the eyes of the law to men, that the barriers for women’s equality had been removed.  Remember back in the 1970s, the advertisements for Virginia Slims cigarettes, whose slogan was “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!”? virginia-super-slims-advertisement1.jpgBut in this, the year 2018, I would argue that we’ve still got a long way to go.  Two issues prove my point.

The first, is whether a woman has sovereign rights over her own body, and anyone but a fool knows the answer to that is that ‘no’. There is a push today, mainly by the Republican Party on behalf of the evangelical Christians, to deny women access to both birth control and abortion.  Strange, don’t you think, that there is no hue and cry about men obtaining drugs such as Viagra, but women and birth control is a different matter.

In 1973, the issue of abortion was settled by the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v Wade, and it was ruled that a woman has the right to seek an abortion if she so chooses.  But the ruling has been the subject of much criticism by Christian churches, and in 2016, when Donald Trump was campaigning for the office of president, he appealed to the evangelicals by promising to appoint judges who would overturn Roe v Wade.

Furthermore, access to birth control has been challenged and although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that employer-sponsored health insurance must provide coverage for birth control, again the Christian groups stepped in and the courts have ruled against women’s rights.  Newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is partly to thank for that one.

There is much, much more I could say about these assaults on women’s rights, but I want to move on to my second point, which is the one prevalent in today’s news, and that is the right of women to be respected, to be taken seriously, to not be turned into a sex object and the brunt of male perversity.

The subject, of course, is Dr. Christine Blasely, the woman who came forth to tell of the time, some 30+ years ago, that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party.  I won’t re-hash the details, for you’ve heard various versions likely hundreds of times in the past week unless you’ve been in a coma.  But my point is the abysmal treatment Dr. Blasely has been afforded ever since she came forward.  She has been called a ‘liar’, it has been suggested that she made up the story at the behest of the Democratic party, and she has received death threats.

Donald Trump and the members of our not-so-illustrious congress have cast aspersion on this woman and attempted every trick in the book to browbeat and bully her.  And in so doing, they have set women’s equality back decades.  Rather than jump to claim she is lying, why didn’t those in charge of the confirmation hearings order an investigation to bring the event into the open, to put to rest any doubts?  Why?  Because they know.  Somewhere deep down, they know that she is not lying.  They know that their esteemed Brett Kavanaugh is guilty as charged.  They know that this will likely, if taken seriously, be the nail in the coffin of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  And they know the price they will pay from the ‘man’ in the Oval Office if they fail to complete their mission of confirming Kavanaugh quickly before the democrats find their voice in November.

  • Senator Scott Newman: “Even if true, teenagers! Frankly, I don’t believe her.”
  • Kavanaugh spokesperson/activist Josh Marshall says it’s not clear that the incident was attempted rape as opposed to just “rough horseplay”.

Remember in 2016 when the Access Hollywood tape came out with Donald Trump making disparaging remarks about his treatment of women?  His defenders, despite evidence that he was indeed guilty of multiple cases of sexual abuse, brushed it off as only “locker room talk”.

Tell me, folks … if the tables were turned … if a female nominee were accused by a man of having groped him, attempted to disrobe him, and clapped her hand over his mouth in order to keep him from calling for help, would the senators be so glib?  I think not.  I think they would pretend to be horrified and decide early on that she was not qualified to sit on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court.  But, the ‘good ol’ boys’ network is alive and well, and instead of horror, there is a wink-wink, a knowing smile, and ultimately a confirmation of a man with too little integrity.

But understand, please, that Dr. Blasely is not the first, nor will she be the last woman to be treated in such a manner.  Women throughout the ages have been disbelieved or expected to accept sexual abuse as their due.  Sure, we’ve “come a long way, baby”, but make no mistake … women do not have equal rights in 21st century America, and I despair that we ever will.

**  Here are links to two excellent timelines of the history of women’s rights, in case you’re interested:

Signs of the Times — The Great Divide

The ludicrous-ness of the polarized political climate came to the fore multiple times yesterday and today, but a few things stand out as being beyond belief.  These are the signs of the times we are now living in, folks.


I received a “BREAKING NEWS!!!” update yesterday afternoon from no less than three media outlets.  I thought that surely somebody must have dropped a nuke as I was folding towels and listening to my phone urgently squawking  “bzzzzt … bzzzzt … bzzzzt”.  What, you ask, was the big crisis?

“Trump feels ‘terribly’ for Kavanaugh”

That’s right, folks … Trump spoke at a news conference …

“I feel so badly for him that he is going through this, to be honest with you. This is not a man who deserves this. Honestly I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman and for his beautiful young daughters. I feel terribly for them.”

… and it was BREAKING NEWS!!!  It was so damn important that I was dragged away from my clean towels and damn near given heart failure just to hear Trump empathize with a fellow pervert!  Surely there was something more important going on in the world than this?  And today, it is on the front page of every outlet, Trump’s disparagement of Christine Ford and his empathy for poor little Brett K.  The press’ credibility wears thin when they cannot prioritize any better than this.


And then there was this one that hit my inbox no less than four times:

Ted Cruz claims Beto O’Rourke is ‘going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas’

What … did some brain-eating bacteria invade the confines of Ted Cruz’ skull cavity?  It turns out to be a tweet that Cruz apparently thought humorous …Cruz tweetI don’t find it particularly funny, but neither do I find it worthy of top billing in an email.


Andy Kim-1

Andy Kim

In New Jersey, Andy Kim is running on the democratic ticket for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, against incumbent Tom MacArthur.  MacArthur is a Trump boot-licker and the people of New Jersey may be getting tired of it, for the race is tight, with Kim having a 2% lead at present.  Oh … did I mention that Andy Kim is Asian-American?  No, I didn’t, because it shouldn’t be of any importance.  But alas, this is the year 2018 when evidently ‘race matters’.

The New Jersey Republican State Committee thought it would be cute to target Kim in an ad that can only be considered racist …

Andy KimNeed I say more?  Hopefully this perfidy will only serve to increase Kim’s lead.


I have long believed that those who have never struggled to pay the rent, put food on the table or be able to afford to take their children to the doctor cannot possibly understand what it’s like to be poor.  Unfortunately, throughout history, our lawmakers have never done without anything a day in their lives, but never has this been truer than it is today, with the wealthiest Congress and the richest administration in the history of the nation.  So, it should come as no surprise that Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce whose net worth is estimated at $2.9 billion, said this …

Confirmation Hearing Held For Trump's Pick To Become Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Somebody slap that stupid grin off his face!

“If you have a 10 percent tariff on another $200 billion, that’s $20 billion a year. That’s a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of 1 percent total inflation in the U.S. Because it’s spread over thousands and thousands of products, nobody’s gonna actually notice it at the end of the day.”

Christmas is around the corner.  Were you planning to buy your kid a new bike, or a new kitchen gadget for your mom?  Be sure to let ol’ Wilbur know how much more you paid for it than you would have last year.  Or … more likely for most of us … send him a picture of your son’s face on Christmas morning when he finds some t-shirts and underwear in lieu of the bike he asked Santa for.


Just as I finished writing this piece, an email from political analyst Larry Sabato dropped into my inbox, a portion of which I thought might interest you.

A series of new Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics polls found close races in the key Senate battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

The polls, conducted online in English from Sept. 5 to 17 with roughly 2,000 respondents per state (narrowed down to about 1,000 likely voters per state), found the following results for the Senate and gubernatorial races among likely voters in the five states surveyed:

Arizona Senate: Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47%, Martha McSally (R) 44%

Arizona Governor: Doug Ducey (R) 51%, David Garcia (D) 39%

California Senate: Dianne Feinstein (D) 44%, Kevin de León (D) 24%

California Governor: Gavin Newsom (D) 52%, John Cox (R) 40%

Florida Senate: Rick Scott (R) 46%, Bill Nelson (D) 45%

Florida Governor: Andrew Gillum (D) 50%, Ron DeSantis (R) 44%

Nevada Senate: Dean Heller (R) 46%, Jacky Rosen (D) 43%

Nevada Governor: Adam Laxalt (R) 43%, Steve Sisolak (D) 40%

Texas Senate: Beto O’Rourke (D) 47%, Ted Cruz (R) 45%

Texas Governor: Greg Abbott (R) 50%, Lupe Valdez (D) 41%

I found some of these numbers encouraging, especially the Florida governor’s race.


Okay, I could go on and on, but I have ranted enough that I’m feeling the angst and need to get up and do something physical, like punch a wall, or wash some dishes since my landlord still hasn’t fixed my bloomin’ dishwasher!  Have a great afternoon, my friends … and remember, this too shall pass … maybe.light at the end of the tunnel

Sign Of The Apocalypse?

When I first began reading Hugh’s post, I inadvertently let out a primal scream, and after another paragraph, slammed the lid on my laptop, got up and reheated a small bowl of rice before I could finish reading the post. This may not sound like an endorsement for the post, but believe me, it is. Hugh has brought to light something that is happening today that has far longer reaching and outlasting consequences than any of the many abominations tied to Donald Trump. The subject? The re-writing of history, the replacing of facts with opinions. Please, please take a few minutes to read Hugh’s excellent post and think about what he is saying. Get your bowl of rice before you start, though. Thank you, dear Hugh, for bringing this to our attention, and for your generous permission to share.

hughcurtler

One of the more insidious movements in this country is that toward the rewriting of history– eliminating unpleasant facts from the history books. This movement is perhaps a part of the New History movement about which I have blogged in the past — the attempt to reduce history to a form of literature, giving special attention to minor historical figures that have been ignored in the past (probably with good reason!)

In any event, one does wonder why this sort of censorship is not only allowed, but encouraged — even by the Texas State Board of Education which has decided to erase any mention of Hillary Clinton from the history textbooks in order to “streamline” history. As a recent Yahoo news story tells us:

The Texas State Board of Education voted Friday to remove mentions of Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the state’s mandatory history curriculum . . .  The…

View original post 334 more words

NRA Takes On … Thomas & Friends???

A few days ago, several readers made the comment that the world has gone mad, and I agreed with them.  Today, I am more convinced than ever that there is something toxic in the atmosphere that is turning people into raving lunatics.  The headline in the New York Times reads …

N.R.A. Show Puts Thomas the Tank Engine in K.K.K. Hood to Criticize Diversity Move

The story begins last Friday, when the kids’ show Thomas and Friends announced that it was adding new characters in partnership with the United Nations, as part of an effort to introduce its preschool audience to new cultures and issues.  The new characters are mostly female and international characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya.

Nia

Nia

The character Thomas the Tank Engine was invented more than 70 years ago by the Rev. W. Awdry, as a story for his son. Mr. Awdry turned the story into the first of many books in 1945, and in 1984, Thomas became the star of a new British animated show that was narrated by Ringo Starr. The show made its American debut in 1989 on PBS.

Apparently, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch has a problem with Nia … or is her problem with diversity … or is her problem with non-whites?  Loesch hosts a program titled Relentless on NRA-TV (yes, for those who didn’t know, the NRA has its very own television network).  On her program last Friday she questioned the ‘need’ for diversity on Thomas’ show …

Dana Loesch“How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia’s engine? How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they’re trains? They don’t even have skin pigmentation. Was there some concern that the show had racist undertones?”

Obviously, Ms. Loesch has no understanding of ethnic diversity, the intolerance that exists in this nation today, or the need to teach children to value those of different cultures & ethnicities.  And so, Ms. Loesch, along with producers at NRA-TV, came up with this …thomas-tank-kkk

I don’t know about you, but when I first saw this image, I was speechless. This is a new low even for the NRA that, as we all know, has no values and cares not a whit about humans … only about money. But to target a very popular kids’ show??? Can anybody say “social conscience”?

What does Loesch’s grotesque distortion of a children’s cartoon have to do with gun rights? Nothing, according to the laws of common sense.  But of late, the NRA has taken its culture war cues from Trump and its segments are anti-Black Lives Matter, pro-cop, anti-media and pro-Trump.  It is no longer just guns the NRA is defending, but its way of life, its identity.  And apparently a children’s television program that promotes peace, understanding and love of others is offensive to Ms. Loesch and the NRA.

There is something ugly about all of this.  There is something vitriolic, toxic in Ms. Loesch and others such as Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter who bring the message of hate and bigotry, even to small children.  I have been engaged in a back-and-forth discussion for the past week or so with a reader concerning whether there ought to be limits to free speech. This abomination by Ms. Loesch and the NRA further cements my viewpoint that when a person or organization fails to accept the responsibility that accompanies the right to free speech, it is further proof that there need to be some limits, some constraints.  Try explaining the above picture to your 4-year-old:

“Well, you see honey, there are some people who don’t like people who don’t look like they do, and so they put white sheets on their heads and go around setting fires on people’s property and killing people.”

Doesn’t make sense even to me, and I’m not 4-years-old!

Where do we draw a line, folks?  Surely even supporters of the 1st and 2nd amendments must be incensed by this?  Surely nobody can defend Ms. Loesch’ attack on diversity?  Or … can they?  Have we gone too far?  For me, the answer is ‘yes’.  What about you?Pooh-sad

Newsworthy …

The news of the day is predominantly predictions and warnings about Hurricane Florence, expected to hit the Carolinas tomorrow.  Our friend Keith is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I’ll be thinking of him and hoping he and his family are safe.  And, Trump is running his mouth & thumbs again, falsely claiming what a “great job” he did in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, and slamming San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.  I will have more to say about that tomorrow. But a couple of other things crossed my path this morning …

And we thought the NRA was bad? 

In yesterday’s New Hampshire republican primary, a man named Eddie Edwards won over Andy Sanborn by just over 3,000 votes, or 6.8%.  Eddie, endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, is a big Trump fan …

“The president’s doing one hell of a job in Washington. It’s about time we had a president who understood the values of our country and stood up for our country.”

eddie edwardsThat in itself is enough to make one want to head for the nearest bathroom, but that is far from the worst of it.  Edwards is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen, not even in the most ardent gun supporters such as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.  Hold on to your hats for this one, folks.  Eddie fully supports a total repeal of the background check system.  A TOTAL repeal … no background checks … ever … for anyone.  But wait … there’s even more.

He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF). He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools, to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.  Listen to Eddie …

A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases.  Now, aside from the fact that I don’t foresee Congress, even if Mr. Eddie Edwards were to attain a seat in the House, passing laws to make any of Eddie’s dreams come true, I find it extremely disturbing that a man with these ideas could make it as far as he has in politics.  At least 21,767 people  in new Hampshire support this insanity.


Free speech runs amok … again

It’s called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).  Sounds innocuous enough, yes?  But no.  It is an anti-Semitic hate group whose main ‘claim to fame’ is in denying that the Holocaust happened, even claiming that the Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax and the gas chambers never existed.  This month, IHR has been allowed to place advertisements on San Francisco’s mass transit system, BART (Bay Area Regional Transit). BARTWhy?  Why would BART allow a blatantly, unapologetic anti-Semitic organization to advertise on its trains?  Because …

“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Anti-Semitism is on the rise … hate crimes and discrimination against Jews rose by 57% in the U.S. in 2017.  To be fair, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe also, but at least there, they have laws that curtail such abomination as hate groups advertising in public venues.  But here … anything goes under the guise of free speech.  This is not free speech … this robs people of their right to peace of mind!

In 2015, a judge ruled that New York’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) could not stop an ad from being run that read “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The ad was created by a pro-Israel organization whose president, Pamela Geller, is a well-known Islamophobe.  And just last August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to court for refusing a number of ads, including one by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am a staunch supporter of free speech, for I believe that it is the only thing keeping this nation free from a dictatorship.  Even when I don’t particularly like or agree with what is said, I support the person’s right to say it.  However, in my mind there is a line, and advertising anti-Semitism or any other form of hate on public transit crosses that line.  The divisiveness in this country today, and Donald Trump’s support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups has contributed to this madness.  What’s more, I see no end in sight, but predict an escalation to these types of hate speech.

It is quite possible to support freedom of speech without supporting speech that denigrates others and invites violence.  Think about  it.

One Person, No Vote

One Person No VoteA new book was released today.  No, I’m not talking about Bob Woodward’s Fear:  Trump in the White House, although I did start reading that last night … actually this morning around 4:00 a.m.  No, the new book I’m talking about is by Carol Anderson, and the title is One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

From Amazon …

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of White Rage, the startling–and timely–history of voter suppression in America, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin.

In her New York Times bestseller White Rage, Carol Anderson laid bare an insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.

Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans as the nation gears up for the 2018 midterm elections.

Carol AndersonMs. Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and well-qualified to write on this topic.  One example from her book is astounding, and not in any good way:

Jeff Sessions, for example, when he was Alabama U.S. attorney, referred to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as an “intrusive piece of legislation,” then “rounded up twenty elderly blacks and had Alabama state troopers drive them away from their community into a predominately white area to be fingerprinted, photographed and grilled before a grand jury” to intimidate them out of voting. – From an interview published in Kirkus Reviews

And, as if to prove the point, just yesterday the Editorial Board at The Washington Post published the following:

The GOP finds yet another way to suppress the vote

IT WAS 5 p.m. on a Friday, just as Labor Day weekend was starting, when, without warning, faxes arrived at North Carolina’s state board of elections and 44 county election boards. The faxes contained a demand so outlandish — and so blatantly in violation of state privacy laws — that several officials assumed they were a hoax. A federal subpoena demanded practically every voting document imaginable, going back years. Absentee, provisional and regular ballots. Registration applications. Early-voting applications. Absentee ballot requests. Poll books.

In fact, it was no hoax. The subpoena sought a list of items which, if satisfied, would force state and local officials to produce at least 20 million documents — in less than four weeks. Prosecutors also demanded eight years of records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles, through which voters are allowed to register to vote. No explanation was provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or federal prosecutors, who sought the documents. It is a fishing expedition by the Trump administration to support the president’s repeatedly discredited assertions that voting fraud is widespread, especially by noncitizens casting illegal ballots.

The effect of this expedition, led by Robert J. Higdon Jr., the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, is easy to foresee: This is one more in a long line of GOP efforts to suppress the vote. Members of the state board of elections, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously to fight the subpoena, which would overwhelm local boards’ administrative capacity. It also would intimidate voters who, with good reason, would fear their votes and other sensitive information were being handed over to federal officials.

Faced with an outcry from state and local officials, prosecutors dropped their initial, preposterous demand that the records be handed over by Sept. 25, a deadline that would have played havoc with preparations for the fall elections. They also said state officials could redact voters’ choices on some 2.2 million early and absentee ballots — a clerical task that would consume untold hours of work. (More than 3.3 million regular ballots cannot be traced to the voters who cast them.)

The absurdity of the document demand, and the president’s broader assertion that the U.S. voting system is “rigged” and marred by massive fraudulent voting and the participation of illegal immigrants, was underscored by indictments announced last month, also in the Eastern District of North Carolina. The indictments charged 19 foreign nationals — from Japan, Italy, South Korea, Germany, Poland, Mexico, Haiti, Grenada and several other countries — with voting illegally in the 2016 elections.

Nineteen illegal votes, out of more than 4.5 million ballots cast in North Carolina that year, is minuscule. Far from justifying a demand for millions of documents, it underscores the conclusion by dozens of reputable scholars and other investigators that illegal voting is exceedingly rare. That the administration pursues its crusade to show otherwise is an exercise in unicorn-spotting, but it is also something far more sinister. The real agenda is to discredit American democracy and to scare away Democratic-leaning voters. It represents an abominable misuse of law enforcement powers.

It would seem that the GOP is fairly certain they cannot maintain their majority in Congress in a fair and honest election, so the next best thing is to stifle the voters’ voices.  Trump’s claim of the system being rigged may be prophetic, rather than historical.  The North Carolina subpoena reeks of corruption, but it also appears to signal panic within the GOP.

Anderson’s advice for overcoming the challenges is to “Be engaged. Register and vote. Get the people around you to register and vote. Really engage with the issues. Understand the position of the Secretary of State in your state who sits over election machinery. Donate to the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who are fighting to open up the ballot box, to rid the nation of unequal democracy.”

The election on November 6th is our last best hope to curtail the rampant corruption that defines the Trump administration.  Spread the word …

Beyond Words …

The Headline:

Ohio cop faces pre-disciplinary hearing after tasering 11-year-old girl at grocery store

The Story from ThinkProgress:

A Cincinnati police officer who used a Taser on an 11-year-old Black girl at a grocery store last month was placed on restricted duty and will face a pre-disciplinary hearing.

Although the Cincinnati Police Department says officers are allowed to use a Taser on children over the age of 7 and adults under the age of 70, an internal review found that Officer Kevin Brown violated the department’s use of force policy in using the Taser. The department is currently considering revisions to the policy, with Chief Elliott Isaac telling local media this week that “A lot of places have moved to, instead of specifying age specifically, that they talk about small children. Considering the stature and size of the individual you’re using force against.”

The officer was doing off-duty security work at a Kroger’s grocery store when he spotted the girl, Donesha Gowdy, attempting to leave with her friends. The officer said that he asked her to stop and she ignored him. Gowdy told NBC News that she was not “aggressive” to the officer and did not try to fight him. Again, she is 11 years old.

Gowdy said she stole items from the grocery store, including soda, chips, candy, and baby clothes, according to NBC News New York. She was charged with theft and obstructing official business, but the charges were eventually dropped.

By Brown’s own admission, the girl did not pose a threat to the officer, who violated department policy by failing to warn Gowdy before using the Taser. His body camera was turned off as he Tased her, which also violated department policy, and he turned it back on afterward.

“It hit my back real fast and then I stopped, then I fell and I was shaking and I couldn’t really breathe,” Gowdy told NBC News.

After the incident, Brown told Gowdy, “You know what, sweetheart, this is why there’s no grocery stores in the black community, because of all this going on.”

As NBC News New York reported, Brown defended his statement to investigators and defended his behavior during the incident, telling Gowdy, “When I say stop, you stop. You know [you’re] caught, just stop. That hurt my heart to do that to you. Then I got to listen to all these idiots out here in the parking lot telling me how I was wrong for tasing you.”

Incidents of officers using force and handcuffs on Black children occur all too often.  Last month, an 11 year-old Black boy was handcuffed by a Florida police officer for continuing to bounce a basketball after he was asked to stop. Last year, an 11-year-old Black girl was held at gunpoint, handcuffed, and put in the backseat of a squad car by officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department during an incident in which police were looking for her relative. In 2016, a mother sued the Chicago Board of Education and a security guard because a guard handcuffed her 6 year-old Black daughter at school.

In one particularly tragic incident, a Black teenager, Damon Grimes, died after he crashed an ATV last year. According to ABC News, a combination of dashcam, bodycam, and surveillance video showed that, before the crash, an officer Tased the teenager. Grimes’ family’s attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, said that the officers involved in the incident “killed [Grimes] when they shot him with a Taser and electrocuted him and he ran into another vehicle and broke his neck.”

Research shows that people, including cops, often see Black kids as less innocent than white children. As a result Black boys as young as 10 are more likely to face police violence, according to 2014 American Psychological Association study. A 2017 report from Georgetown University found that Black girls were considered less innocent than white girls. One of the report’s authors, Rebecca Epstein, told The Washington Post that adults see Black girls as “less in need of protection as white girls of the same age.”

There have been cases in which police have Tased and used other kinds of force against the elderly, as well as children, such as the case in Georgia last month when police Tasered an 87-year-old woman. Police were called to the scene by a Boys & Girls Club employee who found the woman cutting dandelions with a knife at the club. Officers did not attempt to take the knife from her, but instead, immediately resorted to Tasing her after she did not respond to their requests to drop the knife. The woman was later found to have dementia and only speaks Arabic. As The Root reported, the police failed to call emergency medical personnel or tell her family that she had been Tased.

This article speaks for itself.  I am beyond words.sad

 

Ramblings from a Bouncing Mind …

I came across an OpEd in The Washington Post a few days ago, the title of which intrigued me, so I read on.

People Don’t Vote for What They Want. They Vote for Who They Are.

Kwame

Kwame Appiah

The article, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, was interesting and well worth the read, but merely served as a springboard for the ideas that form this post.    It speaks of and attempts to explain the concept of ‘identity politics’ and ‘tribalism’.  Not being an anthropologist, psychologist nor philosopher, I don’t attempt to pick apart the concepts of the article.  But what struck me most, I think, is the title.  Is it true that we have set aside ideologies and instead vote based on … for the lack of a more apt word … tribes?

I really dislike the word ‘tribes’, for the first thing it brings to mind is killing, and the next thing it brings to mind is exclusivity.  Neither are positive images.  But to get to the point (yes, I saw you rolling your eyes and wondering if I actually had a point!), I question whether we … and by ‘we’ I mean all of us who are old enough to be even remotely political animals … republican, democrat or independent … have forgotten or set aside our ideology, our platforms, our very beliefs in favour of political party.

As I often do, I settled in for a conversation between me, myself and I.  I, of course, pooh-pooh-ed the idea, thinking that no, the whole point is the ideology, the things that I believe are right, such as protection of the environment, global cooperation, taking care of the poor, eliminating bigotry, support of diversity, etc.  But then ‘me’ popped up and asked a question that made me think:

“Isn’t everything you write these days simply a reaction to something Trump or his cronies has done?  Do you look at candidates’ platforms to see what they support and whether you agree with them?  Are you operating on an intellectual basis, or an emotional one?”

Doggone it … sometimes ‘me’ is smarter than I am.  This reminded me of a snippet from the article …

“… political cleavages are not so much “I disagree with your views” as “I hate your stupid face.” You can be an ideologue without ideology.”

Have we devolved to “I hate your stupid face”, or were we always this way?  When I voted on 08 November 2016, did I vote for Hillary Clinton, or against Donald Trump?  I had studied Hillary’s platform and agreed with about 99% of it, so it wasn’t as if I were an uneducated voter, taking my opinions from some Facebook meme.  But, myself asks, “Would you have voted even for Attila the Hun rather than Donald Trump?”  And that is a question I cannot seem to answer.

But perhaps the answer is less important than the question.  Perhaps the important thing is that we question ourselves, hold our own feet to the fire, search our own souls, as it were.  I can’t say that I would have voted for Attila, but would I have voted for a lesser candidate than Hillary?  Yes, I would have voted for almost anybody other than Trump.  And now comes the tough question:

Did I vote against Trump because he is an arrogant and obnoxious person, or because I disliked his political ideas?  In this case, I think I can answer clearly:  both.  But if he were the same obnoxious character he is, but had political ideas that I agreed with?  Then I don’t know, and that is the question, I think, that supersedes all others in this conversation with me and myself.  In that case, would I have voted for a lesser candidate who was more sophisticated, more … acceptable?

I don’t know all the answers, but my conclusion is that I think we need to be careful about falling into the trap of voting simply because a person is a democrat or republican, black or white, Christian, Muslim or atheist, or shares some other “tribal trait” that we admire.  I think this was the mentality that enabled Donald Trump to win in 2016 … too many saw Hillary as “not of [their] tribe”, as being ‘other’.  Why?  I mean, she is white, Christian, all those things some people seem to place so much value on these days.  But … she had the misfortune of being … woman.  Just as I believe that the majority of the hatred toward President Obama was race-based, I believe the hatred toward Hillary was primarily gender-based.  It made it easy for Trump to accuse her, unjustly, of being responsible for Benghazi, and even blaming her for her husband’s affairs, all the while screeching “Lock her up!”  And the masses quickly believed, for they were only looking for an excuse to hate her, and Trump gave them one.

As you have likely figured out by now, I have no idea where I was going with this post.  I started it a few nights ago, and every time I re-visit it, I realize that it lacks focus.  This is simply how my mind works when it’s under duress and decides to break loose from its moorings and bounce for a bit.  I can only hope that some part of this rambling post made sense.

Mind Bounce & Snarky Snippets

Good Monday Tuesday morning!  Somehow it feels like Monday … I suppose because yesterday was a holiday and other than 4 loads of laundry and mopping up pineapple juice from the kitchen floor, I didn’t do so much as a smidge of housework!  Anyway, I had mind bounce yesterday that carried over into last night, so I started multiple posts, then couldn’t figure out how to wrap them up … in one case, couldn’t even figure out where I was going with it, what my point was.  So, instead I am opting for some bits ‘n pieces, this ‘n that, with just a bit of my usual snarkiness added in for fun.


Bannon Gets Bounced …bannon-2Last week it was announced that white supremacist and former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon would be featured during The New Yorker Festival that is scheduled to run from October 5th thru 7th. He was to be interviewed by the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, who is a frequent critic of the Trump administration.  The response to the announcement was rapid and served as a potential death knell for the festival, with prominent participants saying they would not attend if Bannon were there.

Sometimes, voices truly are heard.  In a note to his staff yesterday evening, Mr. Remnick said, “I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues—and I’ve re-considered. I’ve changed my mind.”  Jim Carrey, Judd Apatow and Patton Oswald were among the celebrities who said they would not participate in the event if Bannon were to attend.

Bannon was miffed: “In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob.”  Oh well, Stevie … sorry ‘bout your luck!  Score one for good sense, eh?


Thumbs Up For Nike …

Having written a rather lengthy post about the latest regarding Colin Kaepernick, I had no plans for writing about him again so soon.  But, in the comments section of yesterday’s post, two readers, Ellen & Larry, gave me the heads up about Nike’s announcement to feature Colin in a new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” motto. Colin KaepernickNow, you may not think this is a huge deal … Colin Kaepernick is a big football star, Nike sells athletic clothing & shoes … this is what they do, right?  But, given the controversy over the past two years, given that some 53% of the nation, including the ‘man’ in the Oval Office think what Mr. Kaepernick is doing is terrible, Nike is taking a huge risk.  It could go either way … people might, like myself and some of my readers, plan to start buying more Nike products, or Donald Trump and others such as conservative news sites may call on their fans & followers to boycott Nike.  My instinct says the latter is the more likely scenario.

Nonetheless, I give Nike a 👍 👍 for having the courage to stand by their convictions.  According to Nike executive Gino Fisanotti, “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward. We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce ‘Just Do It’ to a new generation of athletes.”


What … Again??? 💤

baby-trumpIf your favourite brand of coffee changes the taste just a bit, you may grumble and grouse for a bit, but after a few days you are used to it and you don’t even notice anymore.  This is how we are becoming in certain areas … complacent, immune.  One such area is the threat of a government {yawn} shutdown.  How many times now since Trump took office have we been threatened with it?  Three, I think?  💤 Who knows … I’ve lost count.  The one constant here is … the bloomin’ wall!  Wah, wah, wah … da baby isn’t gonna play nice if he cannot have his multi-billion-dollar toy.  It’s old, folks … it’s well beyond old and tiresome.

One might think that with a republican president, a republican majority in both chambers of Congress, and an administration that is filled to the rafters with boot-lickers and sycophants, they could likely agree on a compromise early on so that we wouldn’t have to be threatened.  Oh, but wait … he likes to threaten … it’s how he feeds his mighty ego.

This time, the threat of a shutdown has another layer of intrigue, for the deadline to pass a budget comes a short 36 days before the all-important mid-term elections.  It must be tough on the republicans tasked with soothing and cajoling Trump.  I understand that Pence, McConnell, Ryan and McCarthy have all been handling him with kid gloves, trying to talk him into postponing the border wall issue until next time, for they fear the additional damage a shutdown will cause at the polls.

On the other side, however, are the hardliners who are encouraging Trump to stand firm.  My, oh my … what’s a man to do? trump-golf


Stay tuned, folks … never a dull moment these days!

Colin Kaepernick vs The Nation

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” — Colin Kaepernick, August 2016

I am, once again, going to wade into this controversy with my own semi-humble opinion.  It is a topic I have dealt with at least once or twice before, but people are losing their grip on reality here and it has set my radar to ticking.

To start, there is not a single word in the U.S. Constitution about kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.  The national anthem wasn’t even thought of in 1787 when the Constitution was signed and ratified.  The lyrics to the song were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, but the song was only adopted as the national anthem in March 1931.  Additionally, there is no federal or state law making it a requirement to stand when the song is sung or played.

Last October, former judge and then-senatorial candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore claimed …

“It’s against the law, you know that? It was a act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”

Judge Moore lied.  There is no such law.  Congress indeed passed a law dealing with decorum during the national anthem. But the etiquette is merely a suggestion, not a legal obligation.  It is a song, folks … only a song.  Hardly worth people threatening other people’s livelihoods over.

There is a legal precedent that protects people’s rights in such cases.  In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs. Barnette that the First Amendment protects people from being forced to participate in patriotic ceremonies that offend their conscience or beliefs.  And more recently, in the 1989 case of Texas vs. Johnson, the court protected the the right to burn the American flag as a form of symbolic speech.  Just as the national anthem is but a song, the flag is but a piece of cloth.  People matter more!

Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in First Amendment law, said “If the Constitution protects the right to burn the flag and the right not to participate in the pledge as aspects of free speech, it must also protect the right to kneel respectfully during the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance.”  I strongly suspect that is how the courts would rule.

Colin Kaepernick used to play for the San Francisco 49ers.  From what I understand, he was one of the league’s best quarterbacks.  As such, he has a voice, a presence, a public persona and in August 2016, he used his voice to call attention to the atrocities being committed against African-Americans in this nation by police.  After a spate of police killing unarmed black men, it was time for somebody to take a stand … or, in this case, a knee, for Mr. Kaepernick took a knee when the national anthem was played.  And, based on the uproar, you might have thought he murdered a room full of babies.

Kaepernick began receiving death threats, one NFL official referred to him as a ‘traitor’, and worst of all, he was black-balled from the NFL and no team would sign him in 2017.  He lost his livelihood for a peaceful protest against proven injustices by law enforcement in this country.

Pause here for just a moment, if you will.  After the rally by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Donald Trump claimed that among those hate groups there were some “fine people”.  Lives were lost that day, murder was committed, and the most abominable form of hatred was on display by those “fine people”.  And yet, a man engages in a peaceful protest that hurts no one, simply goes down on one knee to remind people that this country is losing its values, and here’s what Donald Trump had to say about him …

“I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.” – 30 August 2016

And more recently …

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” – 23 September 2017

“You have to stand proudly for national anthem, or shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. And the NFL owners did the right thing.” – 24 May 2018

Why did the president of the country feel a need to involve himself to start with, and why the Sam Heck is he still, two years later, injecting his hateful and uneducated opinion?  This, folks, is the piece of work we have sitting in the highest seat of government in this country.  But back to Mr. Kaepernick …

In May of this year, the NFL, presumably under pressure from Donald Trump, approved a policy that forbids players from kneeling during the playing of the anthem.  As a compromise, they may stay in the locker room, but if they are on the field, they must stand.  The decision was made without input from or negotiation with the players union, which is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.  It might behoove them to remember that it is the players, not the team owners nor NFL officials, who make the money that supports the NFL and the teams.

What I find equally, if not more disappointing is that the majority of people in this country do not support players’ right to protest peacefully by kneeling during the anthem.  43% of voters believe kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest racial inequality, while the majority, 54%, say it is not appropriate.  The other 3% were asleep.  Predictably, though sadly, the results fell along political and racial lines.  We are no better than we were 200 years ago, my friends.

Meanwhile … Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of work since March 2017, was made privy to leaked audiotapes of an NFL meeting held in October where, in response to players questioning whether Kaepernick had, in fact, been blackballed, the team owners expressed their fears about further aggravating Trump.  Patriots owner Robert Kraft—a supporter of Trump—worried that “the problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America.”

Colin Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, asserting that the league conspired to deprive him of his right to sign with any team.  The burden of proof is on Kaepernick, and collusion is not easy to prove.  The NFL had high hopes that Kaepernick would not be able to convince arbitrator (and University of Pennsylvania law professor) Stephen Burbank that there is sufficient evidence of collusion.  However, last week those hopes were dashed when Burbank, who was appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association, said lawyers for Kaepernick had unearthed enough information in the past year for the case to proceed to a full hearing.  It is a preliminary step, but an important one.

For the record, this writer fully supports Colin Kaepernick and any other players who have the courage to stand by their convictions, who are not afraid of the bullies in government, the NFL and society.  The flag and the anthem ought to stand for something, but more and more these days, they stand for hypocrisy rather than values.