Saturday, July 4, 2020

Liberty and Justice for All?

The Pledge of Allegiance commits the USA to providing "liberty and justice for all."

It was written by a socialist and Christian, Francis Bellamy in 1892.

Yet votes for all and justice on the streets and in the courts are not really supported by many Americans, whether in 2020 or back in 1900, 1950, 2001.

It's no wonder that these Americans-- including #Trump and #StephenMiller and others-- don't really want #liberty or #justiceforall. Is #Capitalism actually compatible with #equality?

Can you have justice when billionaires can buy the presidency? ...when corporations can contribute to election campaigns? The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations can be considered to be persons and can donate in huge amounts: Citizens United v. FEC.

Can you have liberty when the police are trained to kill first and ask questions later? ...when many are military veterans trained to fight enemies? ...when used military tanks are sold to police departments?

Our police need de-escalation training. Our elections need to be free from large corporate donations.

We have a long way to go in living up to that radical pledge we adopted in 1892.

Note: Stephen Miller fought to get his high school to require students to recite the pledge at the beginning of each school day. But he doesn't seem to understand liberty or justice.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Black culture in Leimert Park

Back and front (right) of my favorite t-shirt

"Support black-owned businesses," my daughter in Oakland said. "Don't just buy things off Amazon."  

I had planned to buy The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin for a friend's birthday, so I ordered it from Eso Won Bookstore just off Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles last Sunday.  I'd seen an article by the author in the New York Times a week earlier.  

The book didn't arrive within 6 days, however, the way Amazon usually does.  At this point, the birthday was getting close, so I decided to drive to Eso Won and pick up the book.

Friday of Fourth of July weekend after three months of staying home to avoid the Covid-19 virus--it was time for a big trip to a place I'd never been. 

Within 30 minutes I was in a new world--the Leimert Park neighborhood, "center of both historical and contemporary African-American art, music, and culture in Los Angeles."  I'd  been to Baldwin Hills before but hadn't wandered off Crenshaw.

The store hours were to end at 4 pm, and it was already 2:30.  Street parking was easy, so I put on my mask and walked up to the door of Eso Won Books, only to learn that I had walked past a waiting line of ten people.  Life under Covid-19--people were being admitted to the small bookstore only after someone else left.

After retreating to the end of the line, I enjoyed watching my surroundings--restaurants with outdoor seating, shoppers, sidewalk sales of t-shirts and jewelry and other things.  I was a bit embarrassed at not dressing up a little for this visit.  Everyone else around me was nicely dressed for a summer afternoon, and everyone was African-American. 

But then a sidewalk salesman came by hawking beautiful t-shirts--one that showed George Floyd and Colin Kaepernick and said "I can't breathe--until black lives matter."  I started negotiating to buy one. "What sizes do you have?" etc. and went to an ATM to get cash.

To do all this, I had to get out of line for Eso Won, but the t-shirt was worth it.  After buying two shirts and putting them into my car, I went back to the line, but I was further from the door than when I started, and it was after 3 pm.   

I made it inside the store at 3:45 pm and they had an extra copy of The Jemima Code.  Yay!  They had lots of other fascinating books and cards too, but I didn't feel that I could just browse while people were waiting to get in.

Face masks from Sole Folks, a few doors down from Eso Won

Afterward I walked around and bought two face masks imported from Kenya with a colorful geometric pattern on them.  There were other great t-shirts too as well as cotton summer jackets and skirts--a shopper's paradise.  

I admired a high-end place just opening, half retail and half art gallery, called Sole Folks.

Sole Folks, with both art and fashion, opening soon
A framed work of art at Sole Folks
Fronts of two t-shirts
Backs of the same shirts

Order from @AndreaShopsforYou

I needed to wrap the gift and get to the post office by 5 pm, so I didn't stay long.  Walking back to my car, I asked myself: "Why did it take 34 years of living in Los Angeles before I found the Leimert Park neighborhood?"

Monday, June 29, 2020

Face Masks & Abortion Rights

Quote from Rabbi Sofer, in 19th C.
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Thank you, Justices John G.  Roberts, Jr.; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan for telling the state of Louisiana today that it can't place a heavy burden on a woman seeking to end a pregnancy.

“The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons,” the chief justice wrote, as quoted by the NY Times. “Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”

May Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alioto Jr., Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch go to hell.  They supported Louisiana in requiring doctors who provide abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital--though for most of Louisiana there is no abortion-providing hospital within 15 miles of a women's clinic or women's health-care provider.  That means no safe, legal abortion without access to a car, money, perhaps a motel.  That could mean a DIY abortion.

To these four justices, women's lives don't matter.  Only the embryo matters--or even the fertilized egg.  If Chief Justice Roberts had voted with them, some women would have died. 

Twitter & Instagram personality Hayley Banu @noturwaife69 expressed it this way:

white ppl be like "it’s your choice if you want to wear a mask or not” then tell you you can’t get an abortion

Yes, I've seen a lot of white males and females on the news saying "It's my right as an American not to wear a mask."  I haven't seen any brown or black people saying this (though there may be some out there).

Many of those same "my rights" people don't think women have any right to end a pregnancy.

"I can kill someone by spreading the Covid-19 virus," they say, "but you can't end a potential life growing inside your body.  Because that's murder, in my view."  

So it goes in the United States of America in 2020.

See also:

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice -

Pro Faith. Pro Family. Pro Choice.

Abortion--My Choice, God's Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories (Pasadena: Hope Publishing House, 1994) ed. Anne Eggebroten (aka Anne Linstatter).

"Supreme Court liberals, with Roberts, strike down Louisiana abortion law" by David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Trump's Broken Promises

This wall in Nogales was here before Trump went into politics.

Back on January 22, 2016, Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post made a list of 76 of dt's campaign promises.  

It's worth remembering now.  Use this link to hear his promises in a 2-minute video or a list of all 76:

His wall that Mexico was going to be happy to pay for?  Well, he's got 2-3 miles out of 2,000.

Nogales AZ on the left,
Nogales, Mexico on the right,
built before anyone heard of Trump.
Repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better?  Senator John McCain stopped him on repealing, thank God.

Infrastructure?  Hasn't happened.

Defund Planned Parenthood?  It's had more donations than ever, but he has led some states to reduce women's access to all PPFA health care, including contraception.

Never take a vacation while serving as president?  He's had more golf days than any president ever.

Prosecute Hillary Rodham Clinton for her email server?  The FBI's verdict that "no charges are appropriate in this case" still stands.  But he managed to break enough laws to get himself jailed for a few years after his term ends.

Let Russia do whatever it wants with Syria?  Yep.  In fact, he's letting Russia do whatever it wants all around the globe, including messing with our elections.

Bring back jobs from China and other nations?  Didn't happen, but he did stop the only N-95 manufacturing in the USA, so we're dependent on China.  

Grow the nation's economy?  Our GDP is down -5%.

Fix the mental health system and prevent mass shootings?  Yeah, right.

Make sure police get more money for training?  No, his support for police violence has contributed to the call to defund the police.

Deport 11 million immigrants who came here without papers?  Thank God, he's only been able to deport a few.

On the other hand, he did these things without giving us a warning before we elected him:  

  • encourage right-wing violence, 
  • dismantle the protocols for handling outbreak of a pandemic,
  • throw racist labels around,
  • tweet up to 200 times per day
  • embarrass the US on a daily basis.

As a result of his presidency, "America Is Too Broken to Fight the Coronavirus" writes Michelle Goldberg in today's New York Times.  "No other developed country is doing so badly."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Trump Crazies in Tulsa

Who drugged these people?

There's a journalist named Cal Perry who works for NBC.  His twitter handle is @calnbc.

He went to Tulsa and videotaped a white male Trump fan singing and bouncing with six cute female Trump fans, all white.  

Cal posted his video on Twitter and commented, "Welcome to Tulsa.  People are already in line.  Also, re-election songs."  

Followers of Cal Perry tweeted various horrified responses.

It took me a while to figure out these simple facts.  I couldn't imagine why any sane person would give publicity to these supporters of the 45th and worst-ever president.  At first I thought maybe Cal Perry likes dt too.

But now I am doing the same thing. I want the world to know how bad things are in Tulsa and in the USA.

The bouncy people all wear matching Trump caps and Trump t-shirts.  They look crazed.  They look like a man and his harem.  Maybe a man and wife with their five Barbie-doll daughters.  

I've never seen anything so alarming.  After Trump's mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the midst of his cold indifference to the black men lynched by police, these people are singing cute songs about giving him four more years.  

Do they know that Black Lives Matter?  Do they care about the protests rocking the US?

Did they invite a Black or Latin-x Trump fan to join them?

Maybe they couldn't find anyone who would say yes.

Maybe they don't know anyone who is of another race.

Maybe it didn't occur to them to invite anyone else.  

We'll find out in November if they represent the majority of Americans, or at least enough to win the Electoral College.

Somebody give them a small sign that says "Tulsa supports black lives too!" just to acknowledge which decade they are living in.  

Oh wait, the Tulsa massacre of  1921.  Maybe the majority in Tulsa today don't care about black lives. 

"Violation of oath by public officer"

Photo courtesy of The Houston Chronicle

We've all heard that the duty of a police officer is "to protect and serve."  

Two police officers in Fulton County were each charged with four counts of "violation of oath by public officer."  

Garrett Rolfe, who fired three shots at the chest of Brooks, is in jail facing 11 charges total.  He already had 12 previous complaints on his record.  His partner Devin Brosnan has offered to testify against him.

See the article in today's Wall Street Journal as well as the article in the Los Angeles Times.

One of the charges against Rolfe is "violation of oath by public officer for kicking Brooks as he lay on the ground."  Brosnan is charged with "violation of oath by public officer for standing with his boot on Brooks."

Rolfe's kick could show malice and earn him a life sentence or even the death sentence.

Good.  He deserves it and will become a cautionary tale for other officers... if justice is served.

Here is the Oath of Honor endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police:

On my honor, I will never 
betray my badge, my integrity, 
my character or the public trust.
I will always have the courage to hold
myself and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the Constitution,
my community, and the agency I serve.

Rolfe and Brosnan, you each betrayed your badge, your integrity if you have any, the character you should have had, and the public trust.  

We will hold you accountable for your actions, whether you do it or not.  

You undermined the Constitution of the USA.  

You killed a man who politely cooperated with you for 40 minutes; you wounded your community and the nation.  

You brought shame on the agency you serve, causing the resignation of your chief.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A government that does its job?

Can't we just have a government that does its job?

We wouldn't be in such a mess if we had elected Hillary Clinton.
I'm so tired of having to worry about the president blocking Obamacare, pulling back environmental protections, and imprisoning asylum seekers.

I'm so angry that he withdrew the protocols for handling a pandemic and didn't do anything to stop the spread of covid-19.  Tens of thousands more people are dying than would have if any competent adult had been in the White House.

I'm so disappointed that the president can't wear a mask or utter the words "Black lives matter" or make a compassionate, inspiring speech providing leadership on either the corona virus or the systemic racism virus.

I'm sick and tired of listening to MSNBC 12 hours a day to keep track of the president's latest outrageous tweets and lies and claims and to keep track of the latest efforts to get him out of the White House.

I want to get back to my own work, my own life.  

But I need to work hard to make sure he's not re-elected.

I look back to President Obama's eight years and remember how I didn't have to worry.  He made a few mistakes, notably on handling Iran and Russia's aggression in Syria, but they were honest mistakes.  They weren't part of a pattern of lying and cheating to retain his party's power.

Today there are 139 days left until the election on November 3, 2020.

I hope and pray that after that day, all Americans can relax a little bit. 

At ease, folks!   

"the police keep us safe"??

I heard the president say it in front of tv cameras:

Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe. 

Keep us safe?  Keep us white people safe?

The police sure don't keep African-American men safe.  

The president said this on Tuesday, June 16, four days after Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed on Friday, June 12.  

Four days after the officer who shot Rayshard then kicked him in the side as he lay on the ground bleeding to death.  The officer talked to him and made him take tests for 20 minutes before suddenly attempting to snap handcuffs on him--without saying "You are now under arrest for...."

The president said the police "keep us safe" as he signed a "Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities."  And he signed it safely.  So you all are safe, right?

Except if you have darker skin.  

The president never said the name George Floyd or the name Rayshard Brooks.  

He recited the names of nine other African-Americans killed by the police (except in the case of Ahmaud Arbery).  

He mentioned that 89 officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019.  

He did not say that black lives matter.

Some of us will survive the Trump presidency--we must work hard to make sure he is beaten in the election on November 3, 2020.

Hate crime 4 days after Floyd murder

Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2020

On May 29, four days after George Floyd was murdered, two white supremacists drove to a protest march in Oakland and killed a security officer who was guarding a federal building, David Patrick Underwood.  They injured another officer.

The shooter used a gun that had been silenced.  He was apprehended on June 6--Steven Carrillo, age 32, white.  

"Carrillo used a privately made, unmarked machine gun--a so-called ghost gun--with a silencer," said FBI agent Jack Bennett.  
The security officers were shot while guarding a federal building in downtown Oakland during a Floyd protest. The pair used the protest as a cover for their plans to attack law enforcement, said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jack Bennett.
“There is no evidence that these men had any intention to join the demonstration in Oakland,” Bennett said at a Tuesday news conference. “They came to Oakland to kill cops.”
Carrillo lived in Ben Lomond, near Santa Cruz, and on June 6 he opened fire on the deputies who arrived to investigate his home, killing Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller.
Carrillo and his accomplice were part of a loosely organized "boogaloo" movement whose online presence increased after shutdowns for the Covid-19 pandemic.  
Followers of this movement want to start a "second civil war," according to the three reporters who wrote this article, Maura Dolan, Anita Chabria, and Richard Winton.  

Brian Levin at Cal State San Bernardino followed Carrillo's posts on social media as part of his work for the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism there.   

Three fans of that movement were arrested in Nevada recently and "charged with inciting violence with the use of Molotov cocktails at protests."

Devin Burghart researches far-right extremist activity at the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.  He noticed "an uptick in alt-right participation in Floyd rallies" after Trump tweeted in response to the May 30 protests in front of the White House: "Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???"

My daughter Marie considered going out to demonstrate that Friday night in Oakland, four days after the lynching of George Floyd, but she researched online to see who was organizing the march.  She found that white supremacists were posting about the march, but black organizations didn't seem to be behind it.

The Anti Police-Terror Project advised against going to the protest in Oakland, so Marie decided not to go.  She persuaded 3 other friends that this was not an event to be part of, though they all wanted to do their part to protest the murder of Floyd.  

"Should I go?" she asked herself.  "But I can't find a single Tweet from a person of color endorsing it. There's no evidence that this is organized by black leaders.  I just don't have a good feeling about it."

She also noticed that the protest was to start at 8:30 pm, dusk.  Responsible groups organize protests to start at 5 pm, she says.  

As it turned out, a white van with an armed white supremacist was driving up to Oakland from the Santa Cruz area.  At a BART station, Carrillo picked up another man he had met on social media, Robert A. Justus, Jr., and told him to drive the van.  They drove through the streets of Oakland looking for a target and noticed two officers guarding a federal building.

Then "Surveillance video showed that Carrillo slid open the van’s side door to fire his weapon, officials said, as Justus acted as the getaway driver."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Euphemisms in a scary time

fuzzy thinking  
fuzzy speaking  

Because of "the ongoing global health event," UPS says deliveries will take longer.  

It's not a global health crisis or a pandemic.  It's an event.

Just like the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis.  It's not a lynching or a murder.  It's just an incident.

Euphemisms!  They drive me crazy.

If we choose our words carefully, we can pretend these things are not happening.

People don't die from Covid-19, they pass away.  Gently...  floating up like a balloon?  

Actually, they die because they can't breathe.  It's not an easy death. 

"George Floyd experienced the global health event, but he did not pass away.  He was taken in an incident in Minneapolis...."  

George Orwell hated this kind of talk and writing.  He called it Doublespeak.  

Truth hides in subterfuges like this.