Legal issues related to “duty to retreat”

The Duty to Retreat in Self-Defense Law and Violence against Women  

by Aya Gruber – Jul 2017 – DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935352.013.5Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the complicated relationship between the duty to retreat in self-defense law and violence against women. It first provides an overview of self-defense law in the United States, with particular emphasis on the duty to retreat, before discussing the feminists’ position regarding self-defense law in the context of battered women who kill abusers, along with the so-called “no-retreat” rules. It then traces the history of no-retreat in U.S. law and argues that it is a complex doctrine, both liberationist and discriminatory. It also examines the tension in feminist theorizing on retreat by focusing on recent stand-your-ground controversies. The article concludes by proposing distributional analysis as a framework for feminists and other theorists to resolve the persistent tensions between the duty to retreat and gender justice.

Keywords: duty to retreat, self-defense law, violence against women, battered women, no-retreat, retreat, stand-your-ground, distributional analysis, feminists, gender justice

Introduction

The doctrine of self-defense has a complicated relationship with feminism and its anti-violence agenda. On the one hand, self-defense can be the legal savior of women who kill their intimate abusers to prevent future lethal violence. On the other, certain U.S. self-defense rules, for example the infamous “stand-your-ground” (SYG) and castle doctrines, are steeped in retrogressive conceptions of rugged individualism and masculine honor. Self-defense may encourage men’s violence and reinforce the connection between violence and male identity. Given this divergence, feminist commentary on self-defense law is often instrumental and ultimately variable. In cases involving battered women1 who kill, feminists object to doctrines that limit self-defense, such as the duty to retreat and the imminence requirement. The argument is that such doctrines exclude abused women who need to strike preemptively because a fatal attack, although not imminent, is inevitable. In cases where “no-retreat” rules help exonerate violent, racist, or unbalanced men, like George Zimmerman2 and Bernhard Goetz3―two infamous American defendants in racially charged self-defense cases―progressives, including feminists, typically regard the verdicts as proof positive that there should be a duty to retreat. Continue reading Legal issues related to “duty to retreat”

Key concept: who is responsible for proof

Self Defense and “Stand Your Ground”

5/26/2020

Gavel

The common law principle of “castle doctrine” says that individuals have the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to protect themselves against an intruder in their home. This principle has been codified and expanded by state legislatures.

In the 1980s, a handful of state laws (nicknamed “make my day” laws) addressed immunity from prosecution in the use of deadly force against another who unlawfully and forcibly enters a person’s residence. In 2005, Florida passed a law related to castle doctrine, expanding on that premise with “stand your ground” language related to self-defense and duty to retreat.   Florida’s law states “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

Laws in at least 25 states allow that there is no duty to retreat an attacker in any place in which one is lawfully present.  (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.)  At least ten of those states include language stating one may “stand his or her ground.”  (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.)

Pennsylvania’s law, amended in 2011, distinguishes the use of deadly force outside one’s home or vehicle.  It provides that in such locations one cannot use deadly force unless he has a reasonable belief of imminent death or injury, and either he or she cannot retreat in safety or the attacker displays or uses a lethal weapon. Idaho’s law, passed in 2018, expanded the definition of justifiable homicide to include not only defending one’s home against an intruder, but also defending one’s place of employment or an occupied vehicle.

Self-defense laws in at least 23 states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee West Virginia and Wisconsin) provide civil immunity under certain self- defense circumstances.

Statutes in at least six states (Hawaii, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota and Tennessee) assert that civil remedies are unaffected by criminal provisions of self-defense law.

*In 2018, the Ohio House and Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto of House Bill 228. The bill places the burden of disproving a self-defense claim on the prosecution.

Additionally, some states (including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) have replaced the common law “reasonable person” standard, which placed the burden on the defendant to show that their defensive action were reasonable, with a “presumption of reasonableness,” or “presumption of fear,” which shifts the burden of proof to the prosecutor to prove a negative.

democracy and that other thing

by Heather Cox Richardson – Nov 21, 2021

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“Yesterday, the head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency, Brigadier General Kyrylo Budanov, told Military Times that he expects Russia to attack his country in late January or early February. Russia has placed more than 92,000 troops at its border with Ukraine.

In a visit to Washington, D.C., where he met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, took a broader view of the mounting tensions in central and eastern Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin “is testing the unity of the European Union, he is testing the unity of NATO allies, he is testing our society, Ukrainians, he is testing Poland, the Baltic countries,” Reznikov said.

Indeed, although U.S. and European officials for weeks have been warning Putin to pull back from the Ukraine border, he has escalated his rhetoric against Ukraine, claiming that Russians and Ukrainians represent “one people—a single whole.” At the same time, he has backed a rising authoritarian in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin has established a joint military base in Belarus and backed Lukashenko’s use of Middle Eastern migrants to destabilize nearby Poland. Poland is a member of both the European Union and NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which joined the U.S., Canada, and Western European nations together in 1949 to oppose first the USSR and then, after the USSR crumbled, the rising threat of Russia.

What we have here is a proxy battle over the future of liberal democracy—a government based on individual rights, civil liberties, free enterprise, and consent of the governed. Continue reading democracy and that other thing

At trial in the modern age

Unjust but not unexpected

 – by Richard @ Flexible Reality – Nov. 21, 2012
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The previous century gave us prior examples such as Leo Frank, Emma Goldman, Sacco and Vanzetti, Rubin Carter, Gordon Hirabayashi, George Zimmerman, and now Karl Rittenhouse.
What these cases have in common is the judicial system picked the winner before the trials began. In the cases of Frank, Goldman, Sacco & Vanzetti, and Hirabayashi their ethnicity, race, or political orientation precluded a fair hearing at the onset.

Recently Zimmerman and Rittenhouse benefitted from gaps in the laws regulating homicide and the use of deadly force by cops, citizens, and vigilantes. The Arbery case in Brunswick has drawn intense scrutiny and rightfully so since the defendants knew Arbery was unarmed and not committing any legal offense when he was detained by the three defendants.

Similar to Rittenhouse’s false assertion, there was no evidence provided showing “he/they feared for his life” until after he killed Rosenbaum, the first victim. Arbery was not compelled by any legal or other authority to acquiesce to his forcible detention by the three men, and that he, Arbery correctly concluded the men fully intended to inflict bodily harm to him.

So imagine if Arbery had been armed, and after the first shot was fired by one of the three men that Arbery had returned fire and killed two of the men, and injured the other. And then the case went to trial, this time in Clayton County which has a 73% black majority population?

What do you guess would be the outcome of such a trial, and how an acquittal verdict would be treated by average citizens. We will have to await journalistic examination of the charging specifications given to the Rittenhouse jury by the judge to determine if the acquittal was mostly a result of gaps in the law, courtroom proceedings, attorney skills, or whether it was primarily a function of political or societal tribalism.

“it’s the economy stupid…”

by Heather Cox Richardson – Nov. 17th, 2021

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Today, President Joe Biden hit the road to sell the benefits of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law yesterday. In Woodstock, New Hampshire, today, standing at a bridge deemed structurally unsafe—one of the 215 unsafe bridges in New Hampshire—Biden said “Clean water, access to the internet, rebuilding bridges—everything in this bill matters to the individual lives of real people. This is not something abstract.”

The popularity of the new law was evident today when Republicans began to tout its benefits for their districts, despite their votes against it. Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL), for example, told his constituents: “Funding the Northern Beltline has consistently been one of my top priorities.” He added, “Birmingham is currently one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country without a complete beltline around it. Completing the Northern Beltline will benefit the entire region and enhance economic development and employment opportunities.” Completion of the road will create more than $2 billion in 10 years, he noted, and could create 14,000 jobs.

And yet, Palmer voted against the bill. When it passed, he tweeted: “The Democrats’ recklessly expensive infrastructure bill finally passed tonight after weeks of disarray among their caucus.”

Since Biden took office, the Democrats have used the government to help ordinary Americans. In the wake of the 2008 crash, the government badly underinvested in the economy, leaving consumers unable to recharge it. After a terribly slow recovery, the economy stabilized and then, once again, crashed during the pandemic. In spring 2020, millions of people lost their jobs, incomes plummeted, and spending fell off a cliff.

Worried we would make the same mistake twice, leaving the country to limp along, lawmakers pushed money into the economy. In spring 2020, Congress passed the $2.2 trillion bipartisan CARES Act, then in December 2020, the $900 billion bipartisan aid package. Then, in March 2021, the Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

These put more than $3 trillion into the economy, raising incomes and enabling individuals to put money into savings. Yesterday, the government sent out its fifth monthly payment to the families of around 61 million eligible children under the child tax credit that Democrats expanded under the American Rescue Plan. Yesterday’s payments were around $15 billion. So far, the program has delivered about $77 billion to families across the country which, in turn, enables them to buy household goods that pump money into the economy. Continue reading “it’s the economy stupid…”

The Last Progressive – an article by Andrew Bacevich

Andrew Bacevich, American Politics Hits the Wall

POSTED ON 
(Into by Tom…(

What a burst of attention, analysis, and fretting in the mainstream media about the election of Republican Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia! The shock was so great you might almost have thought this country had never elected Donald Trump president in 2016, nearly did so a second time in 2020, and could conceivably do so again in 2024. It was as if nothing like it had ever happened before.

Yes, I know, I know… Virginia had indeed been trending Democratic in recent years. Still, you can’t truly be shocked to discover that all is not well in a country in which (the Pentagon budget excepted) the Republican Party is opposed to everything (and I mean, everything) and Joe Biden squeaked into the White House with just 50 Democratic senators, at least one of whom — the actual president, it’s often seemed — has been a Republican in all but name (though much of the media still refers to him as a “moderate“). You can’t be shocked to know that the 78-year-old former senator and vice-president, the oldest man ever to sit in the Oval Office, has not exactly proven the most energetic or effective leader in American history. You can’t be surprised that a Democratic Party which, in recent years, hasn’t exactly gone out of its way for the working class, even as inequality grew to Gilded Age proportions, is now being rejected by parts of the white version of that very class. You can’t… but why go on?

We’re living in a new America and, for all the idle talk about twenty-first-century New Deals and Wars on Poverty, the worlds of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson are, as TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich points out today, something for the history books. They are now the certified old deals. We, on the other hand, live in a world in which it’s estimated that almost 17 million people have already died from Covid-19 (five million of whom have been counted). Meanwhile, from a burning American West to a megadrought-ridden Southwest to a flooded Germany to a broiling Middle East to a burning Australia, this planet is changing in ways that should frighten us all, ways that no longer fit the world and the politics we once knew. But let Bacevich explain. Someone needs to. Tom

The Last Progressive

Joe Biden and Illusions of “Normalcy”

In a provocative recent essay in the New York Times, the political historian Jon Grinspan places the distemper currently afflicting American politics in a broader context. In essence, he contends that we’ve been here before.

Grinspan describes the period from the 1860s to 1900 as an “age of acrimony,” with the nation as a whole “embroiled in a generation-long, culturewide war over democracy.” Today, we find ourselves well into round two of that very war. But Grinspan urges his fellow citizens not to give up hope. A return to normalcy — boring perhaps, but tolerable — might well be right around the corner.

Mark me down as skeptical.

Party politics during the decades following the Civil War were notably raucous and contentious, Grinspan writes, with Election Day turnout “higher than in any other period in American history.” Yet, despite all the commotion, not a lot got done. “The more demands Americans put on their democracy, the less they got.”

Then sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, “Americans decided to simmer down.” Popular interest in national politics declined. So, too, did voter turnout. Rather than a participatory sport, politics became something like an insiders’ game. Yet “American lives improved more in this period than in any other,” he contends. What many today remember, fondly or not, as “normal politics,” dominated by once prominent but now forgotten white male pols, prevailed. Making this possible, according to Grinspan, was “the unusually calmed twentieth century.”

By what standard does the twentieth century qualify as unusually calm? Grinspan doesn’t say. Given that it encompassed two horrific world wars, the Great Depression, a Cold War, at least one brush with Armageddon, multiple genocides, the collapse of several empires, and the rise and fall of various revolutionary ideologies, calm hardly seems an appropriate description.

Even so, Grinspan finds in that century reason for optimism. “We’re not the first generation to worry about the death of our democracy,” he observes.

“Our deep history shows that reform is possible, that previous generations identified flaws in their politics and made deliberate changes to correct them. We’re not just helplessly hurtling toward inevitable civil war; we can be actors in this story… To move forward, we should look backward and see that we’re struggling not with a collapse but with a relapse.”

So, fretting about the possible death of democracy turns out to be a recurring phenomenon. Our impoverished political imagination misleads us into thinking that our own version of those worries is particularly daunting. If we were to peer a bit further into our own past, we’d recognize that lowering the political temperature might once more enable us to get things done. Continue reading The Last Progressive – an article by Andrew Bacevich

The bad guys are winning

 

black + white images of Maduro, Lukashenko, Putin, Xi, Erdogan walking on red background
Illustration by Oliver Munday*
ITHE BAD GUYS ARE WINNING

If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies—communism, fascism, virulent nationalism—the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.

The future of democracy may well be decided in a drab office building on the outskirts of Vilnius, alongside a highway crammed with impatient drivers heading out of town.

I met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya there this spring, in a room that held a conference table, a whiteboard, and not much else. Her team—more than a dozen young journalists, bloggers, vloggers, and activists—was in the process of changing offices. But that wasn’t the only reason the space felt stale and perfunctory. None of them, especially not Tsikhanouskaya, really wanted to be in this ugly building, or in the Lithuanian capital at all. She is there because she probably won the 2020 presidential election in Belarus, and because the Belarusian dictator she probably defeated, Alexander Lukashenko, forced her out of the country immediately afterward. Lithuania offered her asylum. Her husband, Siarhei Tsikhanouski, remains imprisoned in Belarus.<1–more–>

Here is the first thing she said to me: “My story is a little bit different from other people.” This is what she tells everyone—that hers was not the typical life of a dissident or budding politician. Before the spring of 2020, she didn’t have much time for television or newspapers. She has two children, one of whom was born deaf. On an ordinary day, she would take them to kindergarten, to the doctor, to the park.

Then her husband bought a house and ran into the concrete wall of Belarusian bureaucracy and corruption. Exasperated, he started making videos about his experiences, and those of others. These videos yielded a YouTube channel; the channel attracted thousands of followers. He went around the country, recording the frustrations of his fellow citizens, driving a car with the phrase “Real News plastered on the side. Siarhei Tsikhanouski held up a mirror to his society. People saw themselves in that mirror and responded with the kind of enthusiasm that opposition politicians had found hard to create in Belarus.

“At the beginning it was really difficult because people were afraid,” Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told me. “But step-by-step, slowly, they realized that Siarhei isn’t afraid.” He wasn’t afraid to speak the truth as he saw it; his absence of fear inspired others. He decided to run for president. The regime, recognizing the power of Siarhei’s mirror, would not allow him to register his candidacy, just as it had not allowed him to register the ownership of his house. It ended his campaign and arrested him.

Tsikhanouskaya ran in his place, with no motive other than “to show my love for him.” The police and bureaucrats let her. Because what harm could she do, this simple housewife, this woman with no political experience? And so, in July 2020, she registered as a candidate. Unlike her husband, she was afraid. She woke up “so scared” every morning, she told me, and sometimes she stayed scared all day long. But she kept going. Which was, though she doesn’t say so, incredibly brave. “You feel this responsibility, you wake up with this pain for those people who are in jail, you go to bed with the same feeling.”

Unexpectedly, Tsikhanouskaya was a success—not despite her inexperience, but because of it. Her campaign became a campaign about ordinary people standing up to the regime. Two other prominent opposition politicians endorsed her after their own campaigns were blocked, and when the wife of one of them and the female campaign manager of the other were photographed alongside Tsikhanouskaya, her campaign became something more: a campaign about ordinary women—women who had been neglected, women who had no voice, even just women who loved their husbands. In return, the regime targeted all three of these women. Tsikhanouskaya received an anonymous threat: Her children would be “sent to an orphanage.” She dispatched them with her mother abroad, to Vilnius, and kept campaigning.

COP26 blah blah blah

Groundtruthed

Almost everything being said by powerful governments at COP26 is a distraction from the crucial task: keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 3rd November 2021

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In some respects, preventing climate breakdown is highly complicated. But in another, it’s really simple: we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground. All the bluster and grandstanding, the extravagant promises and detailed mechanisms discussed in Glasgow this week amount to nothing if this simple and obvious thing doesn’t happen.

A recent study in the scientific journal Nature suggests that to stand a 50% chance of avoiding more than 1.5C of global heating, we need to retire 89% of proven coal reserves, 58% of oil reserves and 59% of fossil methane (“natural gas”) reserves. If we want better odds than 50-50, we’ll need to leave almost all of them untouched.

Yet most governments with major reserves are determined to make the wrong choice. As the latest production gap report by the UN and academic researchers shows, over the next two decades, unless there’s a rapid and drastic change in policy, coal is likely to decline a little, but oil and gas production will keep growing. By 2030, governments are planning to extract 110% more fossil fuels than their Paris agreement pledge (“limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”) would permit.

Even nations that claim to be leading the transition mean to keep drilling. In the US, Joe Biden promised to pause all new leases for oil and gas on public lands and in offshore waters. His government was sued by 14 Republican states. Though climate campaigners argue that Biden has many other tools for preventing such leases from being issued, he immediately folded, and his government has now begun the process of auctioning drilling rights in Alaskan waters and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s just the kind of weakness the Republicans were hoping to exploit. Continue reading COP26 blah blah blah

Topicality defined – article by George Monbiot in the Guardian

Surface Tension

Posted: 02 Nov 2021 12:31 PM PDT

Our survival depends on piercing the glassy surface of distraction, and ceasing to obey.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 30th October 2021

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There is a myth about human beings that withstands all evidence. It’s that we always put our survival first. This is true of other species. When confronted by an impending threat, such as winter, they invest great resources into avoiding or withstanding it: migrating or hibernating, for example. Humans are a different matter.

When faced with an impending or chronic threat, such as climate or ecological breakdown, we seem to go out of our way to compromise our survival. We convince ourselves that it’s not so serious, or even that it isn’t happening. We double down on destruction, swapping our ordinary cars for SUVs, jetting to Oblivia on a long-haul flight, burning it all up in a final frenzy. In the back of our minds, there’s a voice whispering, “If it were really so serious, someone would stop us.” If we attend to these issues at all, we do so in ways that are petty, tokenistic, comically ill-matched to the scale of our predicament. It is impossible to discern, in our response to what we know, the primacy of our survival instinct.

Here is what we know. We know that our lives are entirely dependent on complex natural systems: the atmosphere, ocean currents, the soil, the planet’s webs of life. People who study complex systems have discovered that they behave in consistent ways. It doesn’t matter whether the system is a banking network, a nation state, a rainforest or an Antarctic ice shelf; its behaviour follows certain mathematical rules. In normal conditions, the system regulates itself, maintaining a state of equilibrium. It can absorb stress up to a certain point. But then it suddenly flips. It passes a tipping point, then falls into a new state of equilibrium, which is often impossible to reverse.

Human civilisation relies on current equilibrium states. But, all over the world, crucial systems appear to be approaching their tipping points. If one system crashes, it is likely to drag others down, triggering a cascade of chaos known as systemic environmental collapse. This is what happened during previous mass extinctions. Continue reading Topicality defined – article by George Monbiot in the Guardian

The Complete Guide on How to be More Empathetic

How To Be More EmpatheticPin

Empathy, a skill that is required for a great deal of standard human communication. Sometimes people will hear this word and roll their eyes because they think this is a reference to people who announce themselves as empaths. This is not the same thing. Being empathetic is something entirely different, and some people do struggle to understand what empathy truly is, and how it can benefit and build our relationships with others.

Empathy exists not only in humans, but in animals too. It has been shown through research that animals are able to feel empathy for one another.

Empathy is something that enables us to have healthy and understanding relationships, and a lack of empathy can often be a relationships’ death sentence, as we all desire to be understood and empathized with.

However, this is a skill that is not only important in romantic relationships but for friendships, family, and even the relationship between employer and employee.

Contents  show 

What is Empathy?

What Is EmpathyPin

Empathy is at its very core the awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people, and animals too in some cases. It is the pinnacle point of emotional intelligence. Linking oneself to others is imperative, since humans are at their very core, social animals, understanding others benefits our growth as a whole and allows us to understand what is going on around us and manifest deeper, truer connections with those around us.

Note: Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is to ‘feel for’ someone, whereas empathy is to ‘feel with’ someone, as if we were feeling their emotions ourselves. 

So, what are the key aspects of empathy? Continue reading The Complete Guide on How to be More Empathetic

Wrap-up of a perspective on Bannon

jimK’s Opinion In Favor
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Thursday Oct 21st, 2021 – at 5:57 PM
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If Congress cannot do its Constitutional duty to provide checks on those associated with the executive branch, there will never be a means for the House to hold the Executive Branch in check, to prevent the Executive Branch from violating the public trust or not honoring the Constitution. The trump prevented the House from fully doing its Constitutional duty in both of the trump impeachments.

The DOJ which was co-opted by the trump, acted as the trump’s personal attorney, denied the Congress the services of an apolitical special prosecutor and helped the trump rope-a-dope the courts to avoid having to testify or respond to almost any legally executed subpoenas for executive branch testimony or documents.

This was only possible due to the very visible Quid-Pro-Quo relations between the trump and Republican leadership. Political favors, high paying executive branch jobs for their family members and delegation of executive branch authority to stack the courts were given to Republican leaders or family members of the more conservative Supreme Court Justices – these ‘favors’ were doled out in return for the support of the Republican Faction donor’s goals to roll back almost all of the corporate environmental protection regulations, subsidies to support donor corporate interests, and a general dismantlement of most executive agency’s missions.

This is why the framers were terrified that a political party could corrupt itself into supporting its own political interests over the county’s and our people’s interests. The were right!  The trump recognized that the functioning of our democratic governance and all of the agencies that support it depend upon the simple premise that most politicians and other high officers would interact honestly and honorably so there would be no breach of the trust that binds these agencies and institutions together – and that the inevitable few who would not, would simply be ignored.

When a highly regimented political faction marches lock-step in a regimented unison to support their self-serving political interests, the glue that binds our democratic institutions together is greatly weakened. Without honesty, honor and primary duty to their Oath of Office, a political faction cannot be trusted and the glue that holds our government together is weakened.

That is why those that would act to prevent the House from doing its duty must be held to account (and why the Supreme Court should give an immediate priority to address constitutional issues affecting the ability of co-equal branches of government to hold each other in check). The concept of ‘checks and balances is of paramount importance as it is the only Constitutional means for Congress to address issues regarding the breach of public trust by other branches of government.

Allowing the up-the-court, down-the-court multiple transits as the trump employed simply prevents the House from being able to provide even investigatory ‘checks’ in any time frame pertinent to investigate the potential abuses occurring. How long did it take for the courts to rule that McGahn had to honor his subpoena to testify- I think it took close to three years? How long did it take the courts to agree that the trump had to honor public law and turn over his tax returns – another three years?

This rope-a-doping of the courts effectively prevents the House from fulfilling its duties to investigate abuses of the public trust by people affiliated with the executive branch. The House needs to re-assert its legal authority and hold anyone that obstructs its ability to conduct Constitutional oversight to account. Yes, Bannon must comply, Honoring a Congressional subpoena must never just be an option for anyone. Democracy itself depends upon the House being able to fulfill its Constitutional duty to provide oversight and define checks. if needed, for the other branches of government.

Should Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for not responding to a subpoena?

Thursday, Oct 21st the House had a roll call vote.

 The House Passed – October 21st, 2021

Roll Call Vote 229 Yea / 202 Nay

My “so-called” Representative in the House voted Nay…as did almost all Republicans !!!!

FYI…

Why I am a Democrat

On the school curriculum

by Heather Cox Richardson – Oct 16th, 2021

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On October 8, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, told a teacher to make sure to follow Texas’s new law requiring teachers to present opposing views on controversial subjects. The Carroll school board had recently reprimanded a fourth-grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom, and teachers wanted to know what books they could keep in their own classrooms.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” the curriculum director said. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” the director continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

The Holocaust was Nazi Germany’s systematic murder of about two thirds of Europe’s Jewish population—about six million people—during World War II.

“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said.

“Believe me,” the director said. “That’s come up.”

The Texas legislature passed another law that is going into effect in December. S.B. 3, known as the Critical Race Theory bill. It specifies what, exactly, social studies courses should teach to students. Those guidelines present a vision of how American citizens should perceive their nation.
Continue reading On the school curriculum

Take your opinion and shove it…

There may be other ways to counteract Trumpism; but we don’t have the tools to do it now…so –

by Heather Cox Richardson
Oct 11th, 2021
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Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it.

In the New York Times, Miles Taylor and Christine Todd Whitman wrote, “We are Republicans. There’s only one way to save our party from pro-Trump extremists.” Taylor served in the Department of Homeland Security and was the author of the 2018 New York Times piece by “Anonymous” criticizing former president Trump. Whitman was governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, after which she headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush.

Taylor and Whitman note that “rational Republicans” had hoped after Trump’s defeat that they might take back the party, but it is clear now, they write, that they are losing the party’s “civil war.” But while they originally hoped to form a new party, they now agree that the only way to stop Trumpism “is for us to form an alliance with Democrats to defend American institutions, defeat far-right candidates, and elect honorable representatives next year—including a strong contingent of moderate Democrats.” To defend democracy, they write, “concerned conservatives must join forces with Democrats on the most essential near-term imperative: blocking Republican leaders from regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives” and the Senate.

They call for Republicans to put country over party and back moderate Democrats, while also asking Democrats to concede that “there are certain races where progressives simply cannot win and acknowledg[e] that it makes more sense to throw their lot in with a center-right candidate who can take out a more radical conservative.”

At the Washington Post, Max Boot takes an even stronger stand: “I’m no Democrat—but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy.” Boot is a Russian-American specialist in foreign affairs who identifies as a conservative but no longer supports the Republican Party. He writes: “I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats—as I have done in every election since 2016—until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

Boot singles out the dueling reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee about the nine ways in which Trump tried to pressure then–acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to back his claims of election fraud. The Democrats on the committee established these efforts with an evidence-based report, only to have the Republicans on the committee, led by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), respond that the president was simply trying to promote confidence in the election results and that since he did not ultimately replace Rosen with another lawyer who promised to use the Justice Department to challenge the election—after the other leaders of the Justice Department threatened to resign in a mass protest—he did not actually abuse his office.

Boot writes, “It is mind-boggling that a defeated president won’t accept the election outcome…. What is even more alarming is that more than 60 percent of Republicans agree with his preposterous assertion that the election was stolen and want him to remain as the party’s leader.”

Taylor, Whitman, and Boot are hardly the first to be calling out the anti-democratic consolidation of the Republican Party. Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, managed Trump’s first impeachment trial, and sits on the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, gave an interview to CBS’s Face the Nation in which he called the Republican Party “an autocratic cult around Donald Trump” that is “not interested in governing” or “maintaining the solvency of the country.” Continue reading There may be other ways to counteract Trumpism; but we don’t have the tools to do it now…so –

Conservative commentator on WAPO: Robert Kagan 09/23/2021

“Our Constitutional Crises is Already Here”

An opinion piece in the Washington Post – by Robert Kagan – Sep 23rd 2021

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“The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the civil war, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves.

The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. but about these things, there should be no doubt: Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for president and the hope and expectation that he would fade in visibility and influence have been delusional. He enjoys mammoth leads in the polls; he is building a massive campaign war chest, and at this moment the democratic ticket looks vulnerable. Barring health problems, he is running.

Trump and his Republican allies are actively preparing to ensure his victory by whatever means necessary. Trump’s charges of fraud in the 2020 election are now primarily aimed at establishing the predicate to challenge future election results that do not go his way. Some Republican candidates have already begun preparing to declare fraud in 2022, just as Larry Elder tried meekly to do in the California recall contest.

The amateurish “stop the steal” efforts of 2020 have given way to an organized nationwide campaign to ensure that Trump and his supporters will have control over state and local election officials that they lacked in 2020. Those recalcitrant Republican state officials who effectively saved the country from calamity by refusing to falsely declare fraud or to “find” more votes for trump are being systematically removed or hounded from office.

Republican legislatures are giving themselves greater control over the election certification process. as of this spring, republicans have proposed or passed measures in at least 16 states that would shift certain election authorities from the purview of the governor, secretary of state or other executive-branch officers to the legislature.

An Arizona bill flatly states that the legislature may “revoke the secretary of state’s issuance or certification of a presidential elector’s certificate of election” by a simple majority vote. Some state legislatures seek to impose criminal penalties on local election officials alleged to have committed technical infractions, including obstructing the view of poll watchers

We are looking at a possible fascist takeover because Donald Trump is the kind of charismatic authoritarian that gets put into office in a fascist coup.

He has been consistently underestimated and he is also consistently under polled. There is great power in what he has to bring to politics, which is that he is the grievance candidate, much as Hitler was. Nobody loves him for his great ideas or incredible competence. they love him because he hates the same people they do. Trump knows how to tap into the wells of fear and rage in this country. That’s his “gift.” and it was enough to put him in the white house once and it may be enough to help him, along with a crippled and absentee GOP, to destroy democracy outright. Continue reading Conservative commentator on WAPO: Robert Kagan 09/23/2021

We need to clean up the rules of engagement on drone strikes

September 19, 2021

Last Friday, Marine Corps General Frank McKenzie of U.S. Central Command admitted that the August 29 drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that the U.S. had claimed hit ISIS-K fighters had instead killed 10 civilians, including seven children. This “tragic mistake,” as he called it, at the very end of the country’s 20-year engagement in Afghanistan, opens up the larger question of the growing U.S. use of unmanned aerial systems—drones—in warfare.

Drones are a relatively new technology, and we have not yet had a national discussion about what it means to use them.

The U.S. began to develop armed drones in the early 21st century and has used them against terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. President George W. Bush used them experimentally, launching 9 drone strikes between 2004 and 2007. In 2008, he launched 34 strikes, illustrating an increasing reliance on the unmanned weapons that spared U.S. lives while disrupting terrorist camps.

When he took office, President Barack Obama followed the trend toward drone strikes, dramatically increasing their use in the war on terror. S. E. Cupp of the Chicago Sun-Times notes that compiling numbers of drone strikes is difficult but that in 2018, The Daily Beast attributed 186 drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia to Obama in his first two years and that the Associated Press and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism counted 154 strikes in Yemen during the eight years of Obama’s tenure. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-based think tank, noted 1,878 drone strikes during the eight years of Obama’s presidency.

Obama did add bureaucratic restraints to the use of drones, permitting strikes only against terrorist targets that pose a “continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons.” His administration also provided that “[a]bsent extraordinary circumstances, direct action against an identified high-value terrorist (HVT) will be taken only when there is near certainty that the individual being targeted is in fact the lawful target and located at the place where the action will occur. Also absent extraordinary circumstances, direct action will be taken only if there is near certainty that the action can be taken without injuring or killing non-combatants.” In 2016, under pressure for more transparency on his use of drones, the Obama administration began to publish the number of civilian casualties associated with drone strikes.
Continue reading We need to clean up the rules of engagement on drone strikes

A compendium of the past twenty years

September 11, 2021

On the twentieth anniversary of the day terrorists from the al-Qaeda network used four civilian airplanes as weapons against the United States, the weather was eerily similar to the bright, clear blue sky of what has come to be known as 9/11. George W. Bush, who was president on that horrific day, spoke in Pennsylvania at a memorial for the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who, on September 11, 2001, stormed the cockpit and brought their airplane down in a field, killing everyone on board but denying the terrorists a fourth American trophy.

Former President Bush said: “Twenty years ago, terrorists chose a random group of Americans, on a routine flight, to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and 7 crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all.” And, Bush continued, “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil.”

Recalling his experience that day, Bush talked of “the America I know.”

“On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another…. At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith…. At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees…. At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action.”

Today’s commemorations of that tragic day almost a generation ago seemed to celebrate exactly what Bush did: the selfless heroism and care for others shown by those like Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana, who helped others out of danger before succumbing himself; the airplane passengers who called their loved ones to say goodbye; neighbors; firefighters; law enforcement officers; the men and women who volunteered for military service after the attack.

That day, and our memories of it, show American democracy at its best: ordinary Americans putting in the work, even at its dirtiest and most dangerous, to take care of each other.

It is this America we commemorate today.

But even in 2001, that America was under siege by those who distrusted the same democracy today’s events commemorated. Those people, concentrated in the Republican Party, worried that permitting all Americans to have a say in their government would lead to “socialism”: minorities and women would demand government programs paid for with tax dollars collected from hardworking people—usually, white men. They wanted to slash taxes and government regulations, giving individuals the “freedom” to do as they wished.

In 1986, they had begun to talk about purifying the vote; when the Democrats in 1993 passed the so-called Motor Voter law permitting people to register to vote at certain government offices, they claimed that Democrats were buying votes. The next year, Republicans began to claim that Democrats won elections through fraud, and in 1998, the Florida legislature passed a voter ID law that led to a purge of as many as 100,000 voters from the system before the election of 2000, resulting in what the United States Commission on Civil Rights called “an extraordinarily high and inexcusable level of disenfranchisement,” particularly of African American voters.

It was that election that put George W. Bush in the White House, despite his losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore by more than a half a million votes.

Bush had run on the promise he would be “a uniter, not a divider,” but as soon as he took office, he advanced the worldview of those who distrusted democracy. He slashed government programs and in June pushed a $1.3 trillion cut through Congress. These measures increased the deficit without spurring the economy, and voters were beginning to sour on a presidency that had been precarious since its controversial beginnings.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, hours before the planes hit the Twin Towers, a New York Times editorial announced: “There is a whiff of panic in the air.”

And then the planes hit.

“In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment,” Bush said. America had seemed to drift since the Cold War had ended twelve years before, but now the country was in a new death struggle, against an even more implacable foe. To defeat the nation’s enemies, America must defend free enterprise and Christianity at all costs.

In the wake of the attacks, Bush’s popularity soared to 90 percent. He and his advisers saw that popularity as a mandate to change America, and the world, according to their own ideology. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” he announced.

Infrastructure rules

Ground Rules

Posted: 06 Sep 2021 04:23 AM PDT

We cannot build our way out of the environmental crisis.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st September 2021

Dig for victory: this, repurposed from the Second World War, could be the slogan of our times. All over the world, governments are using the pandemic and the environmental crisis to justify a new splurge of infrastructure spending. In the US, Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework “will make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” In the UK, Boris Johnson’s Build Back Better programme will “unite and level up the country”, under the banner of “green growth”. China’s Belt and Road project will bring the world together in hyper-connected harmony and prosperity.

Sure, we need some new infrastructure. If people are to drive less, we need new public transport links and safe cycling routes. We need better water treatment plants and recycling centres, new wind and solar plants, and the powerlines required to connect them to the grid. But we can no more build our way out of the environmental crisis than we can consume our way out of it. Why? Because new building is subject to the eight Golden Rules of Infrastructure Procurement.

Rule 1 is that the primary purpose of new infrastructure is to enrich the people who commission or build it. Even when a public authority plans a new scheme for sensible reasons, first it must pass through a filter: will this make money for existing businesses? This is how, for example, plans to build a new hydrogen infrastructure in the UK appear to have been hijacked. In August, the head of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, Chris Jackson, resigned in protest at the government’s plans to promote hydrogen made from fossil methane, rather than producing it only from renewable electricity. He explained that the government’s strategy locks the nation into fossil fuel use. It seems to have the gas industry’s fingerprints all over it.

For the same reason, many of the beneficial projects in Biden’s infrastructure framework and American Jobs Plan have been cut down or stripped out by Congress, leaving behind a catalogue of porkbarrel pointlessness.

Much of the time, schemes are created and driven not by a well-intentioned public authority, but by the demands of industry. Their main purpose – making money – is fulfilled before anyone uses them. Only some projects have the secondary purpose of providing a public service.

Worldwide, construction is the most corrupt of all industries, often dominated by local mafias and driven by massive kickbacks for politicians. If infrastructure is to create any public benefit, it needs to be tightly and transparently regulated. Boris Johnson’s plans to deregulate the planning system and to build a series of free ports, where businesses will be able to escape many labour, customs and environmental rules, will ensure that the link between new building and public need becomes even more tenuous.

Rule 2 is that there’s an inherent bias towards selecting projects with the worst possible value for money. As the economic geographer Bent Flyvbjerg points out, “the projects that are made to look best on paper are the projects that amass the highest cost overruns and benefit shortfalls in reality.” Decisions are routinely based on misinformation and “delusional optimism”. HS2, whose nominal costs have risen from £37.5bn in 2009 to somewhere between £72bn and £110bn today, while its alleged financial benefits have fallen, is not the exception; it’s the global rule. By contrast, for £3bn a year, all bus tickets in the UK could be issued without charge, a policy that would take more cars off the road and reduce emissions much faster than this gigantic white elephant. Continue reading Infrastructure rules