Vote II – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.25.2020

 

Vote     II

 

The talk continues about how Donald Trump will refuse to concede the presidency when he loses the election on November 3rd.

 

People are talking about the unconstitutional deployment of federal agents in American cities, like Portland and Seattle, Kansas City and Chicago, and the threat coming from the orange menace that he will send tens of thousands of heavily armed, agents into other cities without insignia, without unique identifiers without a lawful mandate to police those cities as a preemptive move in support of his anticipated refusal to relinquish power.

 

This cannot stand.

 

The courts must intervene, and though a federal court in Oregon has dismissed the lawsuit filed their on the erroneous basis that the city attorney and the State’s Attorney General did not have standing, action in the courts must continue, and those federal agents must be arrested.

 

More importantly, everyone must vote!

 

Do not forget to vote. Do not forget to register. Do not forget to vote.

 

Double check your registration status and vote.

 

Do more, prepare yourself with knowledge; we need a massive public education campaign, we need a crash course in civics. There is an electoral process that must play out, it is different from state to state, but every citizen should take the time to become familiar with the rules, the laws that govern your voting rights in each and every local.

 

Let’s not be confused, Donald Trump will lose the popular vote, and he will lose in the electoral college. Nevertheless, between now and then there will be a massive disinformation campaign trying to scare you into not voting, trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, or that your vote is illegitimate. The orange tyrant and his republican cronies will attempt to invalidate your vote; we cannot let them

 

Wherever republicans have the authority they will purge voter roles, close polling stations, make it more difficult to vote; our duty is to be undeterred, to insist on our rights, to cast our votes, and to have our votes counted.

 

Familiarize yourself with the laws that govern voting where you cast your vote.

 

Last week we discussed the voting rights act of 1965, which was designed to enforce the rights guaranteed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and the laws that govern elections at the federal level.

 

This week lets discuss the statutes that govern voting in my home state of Minnesota.

 

In the weeks leading up to the election we will look at the statutes that govern voting in key battleground States.

 

Knowledge is power, arm yourself with it.

 

In Minnesota you can find information on voting, the voting process and your voter rights at the Secretary of State website: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/

 

The Secretary of State in Minnesota is Steve Simon. At the web address above you can register to vote online, request an absentee ballot online, you can find out where you go to vote if you plan to vote in person based on your address, and what the hours of your polling station will be.

 

You can view a sample ballot, view candidate filings, and volunteer to get involved, participate in non-partisan voter education and even become an election judge. IN addition you can stay up to date on how COVID-19 is impacting the voting process.

 

Participate, protect both your right to vote and the rights of your neighbors.

 

On this Minnesota Secretary of State website you can learn all you need to know about how elections are managed in Minnesota: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/

 

In Minnesota, the laws governing presidential elections are clear, nevertheless it may be up to the citizenry to keep the election process in good order. It is being reported the Republican National Committee is prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars to challenge election results across the country. Their planned obfuscation may result in your vote being invalidated, or your neighbors.

 

We cannot let this happen.

 

Below is the process as articulated on the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website for electing a president. Memorize the applicable statutes, know the process, ensure that it is adhered to.

 

The state canvassing board meets on the third Tuesday after the state general election. (Minnesota Statutes 204C.33) At that meeting the board will open and canvass the returns made to the secretary of state for presidential electors and alternates, prepare a statement of the number of votes cast for the persons receiving votes for these offices, and declare the person or persons receiving the highest number of votes for each office duly elected. (Minnesota Statutes 208.05)

 

“The governor shall transmit to each person declared elected a Certificate of Election, signed by the governor, sealed with the state seal and countersigned by the secretary of state.” (Minnesota Statutes 208.05)

 

On the day before the day fixed by congress for the electors to vote for president and vice president the electors shall notify the governor that they are at the state capitol and ready to fulfill their duties as electors at the proper time.  The governor shall deliver a certificate of the names of all the electors to the electors present. (Minnesota Statutes 208.06) On the day fixed by congress to vote for President and Vice President the electors shall meet at 12:00 PM in the executive chamber of the state capitol and shall perform all the duties imposed upon them as electors by the constitution and laws of the United States and the state of Minnesota. As a condition of having been chosen under the name of the party of a presidential and vice presidential candidate the electors are obligated to vote for those candidates. (Minnesota Statutes 208.46) The day fixed by congress for the electors to vote is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. (3 U.S.C. 1)

 

This process must be fulfilled, republican interference notwithstanding.

 

Hold your government accountable!

Vote – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.18.2020

 

Vote

 

I am starting to hear a lot of talk about Donald Trump refusing to concede the presidency when he loses the election on November 3rd.

 

Do not forget to vote. Do not forget to register. Do not forget to vote.

 

Double check your registration status and vote.

 

We have to do more than that, we need a massive public education campaign, civics for all. There is process that has to play out, it is different from state to state, but every citizen should take the time to become familiar with the rules, the laws that govern your voting rights in each and every local.

 

Let’s not be confused, Donald Trump will lose the popular vote, and he will lose in the electoral college, and between now and then there will be a massive disinformation campaign trying to scare you into not voting, trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

 

Wherever republicans have the authority they will purge voter roles, close polling stations, make it more difficult to vote, our duty is to be undeterred, to insist on our rights, to cast our votes, and to have our votes counted.

 

Familiarize yourself with the voting rights act of 1965 which was designed to enforce the rights guaranteed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

 

The Voting Rights Act was amended four times: 1970, 1975, 1982 and 1992, then it was reauthorized in 2006.

 

In 2013, in the case Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court gutted key provisions of section five of the voting rights act that protected the rights of citizens from the malign intentions of states with a history of voter disenfranchisement.

 

Learn this history, and learn this:

 

The procedure for a presidential election is established in the Twelfth Amendment.

 

The president and vice president are elected by the electoral college. Each state has different rules for how electors are appointed and different rules for how an electoral must handle their vote. The Supreme Court recently upheld the notion that a State can bind an elector to vote in a particular way.

 

The Twelfth Amendment stipulates that each elector must cast distinct votes for president and vice president. Electors may not vote for presidential and vice-presidential candidates who both reside in the elector’s state—at least one of them must be an inhabitant of another state.

 

If no candidate for president has a majority of the total votes, the House of Representatives, voting by states, chooses the president. The Twelfth Amendment requires the House to choose from the three highest receivers of electoral votes.

 

The Twelfth Amendment requires a person to receive a majority of the electoral votes for vice president for that person to be elected vice president by the Electoral College. If no candidate for vice president has a majority of the total votes, the Senate, with each senator having one vote, chooses the vice president.

 

The procedure for counting the votes of the electors is as follows:

 

After the nationwide presidential election, which takes place the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, each state counts its popular votes according to that state’s laws to designate presidential electors. Each state’s electors meet in their respective state capital on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December to cast their votes. The results are counted by Congress, where they are tabulated in the first week of January before a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives, presided over by the vice president, acting as president of the Senate. If a majority of votes are not cast for a candidate, the House turns itself into a presidential election session, where one vote is assigned to each of the fifty states. The elected president and vice president are inaugurated on January 20.

 

There is no way to deviate from this process.

 

Study the law and learn what rules apply to the vote and the counting of votes and the appointment of electors in your state.

 

If Donald Trump tries to steal the election or attempts to ignore the Constitution he will prove once and for all what he is, and enemy of the republic, we will demand that the law be upheld and drag him before the bar of justice.

 

Transform VII – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.11.2020

 

Transform   VII

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced a seven hundred-billion-dollar infrastructure package as a part of his presidential platform.

 

This is a good idea, and we need to get behind it.

 

America needs a multi generation infrastructure package that creates jobs in every community across America, and all of our territories.

 

And while we are at it our territories need to become states: Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, Micronesia etc…wherever our flag flies the people living under should be citizens, and those citizens should be fully enfranchised members of the country with full representation in congress.

 

America needs this transformation.

 

We need to rebuild our highways, roads and bridges; airports, seaports and spaceports; highspeed rail, commuter rail and local rail.

 

We need this, not only to bring our dilapidated country into the future, we need it for the jobs it will create and the community that will come from those jobs.

 

We need to work on this together and we need a lot more if America is going to transform itself into a just society, one that is capable of living up to its promise.

 

We need a guarantee of equal justice before the law.

 

We need universal health care, and universal education.

 

We need full voter participation, and the guarantee that every vote will be counted.

 

We need the president to represent the majority of the people.

 

We need universal housing, and universal basic income.

 

We need a new power grid, and a green revolution.

 

We need to throw Donald Trump out of the White House and force him to stand before the bar of justice.

 

We need to transform.

 

 

Independence Day – A Holiday Reflection

I have always loved the fourth of July; the mid-summer holiday, the nostalgic look back at the victories of the Continental Soldiers, the American revolutionaries who threw off the yoke of tyranny and the oppression of kings.

 

I loved it.

 

I loved it uncritically as a child.

 

I loved it without thought or question, and a part of me still does.

 

As I grew older and learned more about the real history of the revolutionary war, the real politics of the founders, the philosophies that drove them, the numerous ways in which they were morally and ethically compromised (compromised is too light of a word), compromised by war mongering and profiteering, compromised by slave-holding and the exclusion of women from governance; compromised by religious intolerance and a greed that drove them against the First People, as I learned more about these historical-truths it became self-evident that the nation was founded on a carefully balanced set of ideals that the founders themselves did not have the courage to live up to.

 

America was founded on a compact of lies.

 

The preamble to the constitution states that all people are created equal, that all people inherently possess rights which we cannot be separated from, the foremost of which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident that these rights are inalienable, or so we are told. We are told that these rights do not derive from government, they derive from God, the creator of the universe, God the creator of every person in it, these rights do not belong to us because we are Americans, they belong to us because we are human beings and the American purpose is to defend those rights, both within our borders and around the world.

 

We have only ever paid lip service to these ideals. It was never more than wishful thinking, and today within our own borders we are trampling all over these rights, rights which belong to everyone, including, the immigrant and the alien among us, including our black and brown skinned sisters and brothers, including the working poor, and the homeless and everyone struggling to get by.

 

Instead of welcoming and protecting and sheltering the poor and the disenfranchised who have come to us for asylum, we are imprisoning them, denying them due process, dehumanizing them, abusing them, and it is breaking my heart.

 

Instead of protecting and serving the citizenry we are paying huge sums of money to police forces that kill the people with gross prejudice and criminal discrimination.

 

We have always failed to live up to our ideals.

 

The expression of these self-evident truths in the Declaration of Independence, and its codification in law in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, did not at the same time abolish the institutions of slavery, give women the right to own land, to vote and other modes of self-determination, neither did it not outlaw wars of aggression against the sovereign nations of the First People. These self-evident truths, these inalienable rights, did not prevent the United States of America from entering a campaign of genocide and extermination against them.

 

The founders applied these principles to themselves and their “peers,” they used those principles to justify their separation from the dominion of the kings of England, they used these principles to protect their property after the War of Independence had been won, but they refused to extend these principles to everyone within the aegis of American power; we continue to live with those failures today.

 

The 4th of July is Independence Day, it is a day to celebrate our freedom, and our victory in the Revolutionary War, there is much to celebrate in that.

 

I am a veteran, I know that war and battle create many opportunities for selflessness and displays of courage that most human beings cannot help but admire and applaud, even though the antecedents of war and the causes of conflict are always unjust, morally vacant and abhorrent.

 

Always and without exception war represents a failure of human beings to live up to the purpose we were created for.

 

In my heart, I want to celebrate the revolutionaries, their courage, the flag which unifies us as a nation, but I find it difficult. The story of America, beginning on July 4th, is one that has many bright moments, but we are foolish, cold-hearted and ignorant if we do not at the same time recognize the millions of slaves who built our first cities, who farmed the plantations, who established our first industries and the millions of people belonging to sovereign nations that we crushed in our westward expansion, starving and killing them without mercy, displacing them, outlawing their religion and customs, erasing their languages.

 

I find it difficult.

 

Who among us, knowing that history, finds it easy?

 

You would have to be a monster to be unmoved by the tragedies that ensued after the signing of our Declaration.

 

Yesterday Donald Trump held a political rally at Mount Rushmore, a sacred site that was stolen from the First People and carved up into a monument to honor a group of men, who may have been brilliant and wise and courageous, but who were also deeply flawed and guilty of the worst crimes against humanity

 

Donald Trump did it to exacerbate the racial tension that has griped the country in the fourth year of his presidency. He held it there like a cartoon villain, bankrupt and with no good reason to continue, he did it to stroke his ego to cover up the blemish of his incompetence at handling the worst public health crises the country has ever seen.

 

The 4th of July should be a time of soul searching and deep reflection and community, forget about the flag waving and jingoism.

 

Ask yourself what it means to be an American; immigrant, refugee, stolen people, enslaved people, conquered people, vanquished people, and the revolutionary. We are the descendants of them all, the immigrant, the refugee, the stolen, the enslaved, the conquered, the vanquished; we are their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren…we are one people with a common history, and a common set of ideals we should be continuously striving to live up to.

 

We are a great nation, if and only if we remember it all.

 

4th of July

 

Given – 2020.07.04

Given 1st – 2016.07.04

Transform VI – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

07.04.2020

 

Transform   VI

 

 

Change the names.

 

Take down the monuments and memorials.

 

Do it now.

 

There is plenty to be proud of in the American tradition, and much to be ashamed of. If we want to transform our culture into one of enduring justice then it is time for us to stop elevating what is reprehensible in our collective story and time for us to promote what is truly good and beautiful, the things that unite all of us and speak to our common humanity.

 

We must stop fetishizing the flag, the national anthem, the military, war.

 

Bravery is good. It is good that men and women are willing to put their lives on the line and even die for their brothers and sisters in arms, but war itself is reprehensible and always marks a failure of human beings to navigate the maze of their self-interest.

 

Slave holders, including men like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson presented in history as the men that they were: brave, brilliant, despotic.

 

There was much to be admired in them, but also much to be abhorred and we should not shirk from our responsibility to tell their story in full.

 

What I was taught to admire in human beings was the quality of perseverance we see in human beings who have to struggle to overcome adversity, what we find in and women who rise to the challenge of their circumstances, when the world is set against them and they triumph as the underdog, while demonstrating grace in victory, humility and love for their fellow human beings.

 

Our memorials and monuments should be dedicated to men and women who display those characteristics, and it is the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised who possess those qualities in seemingly infinite capacities.

 

Just look at our “essential workers” our minimum wage-earning heroes and heroines who are keeping the economy running, the hospital cleaning staff, just as much as the doctors and nurses, all risking their lives to fight the pandemic.

 

We do no need monuments dedicated to men who broke treaties, enslaved their fellow human beings, justified that slavery with ridiculous arguments that were only intended to cover up their otherwise naked greed.

 

We do not need memorials dedicated to traitors the traitors that took our country to civil war, in order to defend their “right” to buy and sell human beings as property.

 

We do not need men and women holding office who cannot understand this, they should step down, and not run again.

 

Let’s begin the transformation of America now.

 

 

 

 

Transform, Part V – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.13.2020

Transform, Part V

Let freedom ring.

Stop the over policing of America, stop the over policing of people of color.

The police cannot prey on the people, their primary functions are to protect and serve, to protect and serve the people, to uphold the rights of the people even against the particular interests of individual police or police departments.

Let us begin with this:

1. Legalize and or de-criminalize the drug markets, regulate and tax it.
a) Treat drug addiction for what it is, a crisis of physical and mental health
b) Allow people involved in this trade the same tools to protect their business and their market share as any other store keeper.

2. Legalize or de-criminalize and sex-workers industry, regulate and tax it.
c) Stop human trafficking and give the people working in this industry the standing to go to court when they are aggrieved, with recourse to the law.

3. If and until we are able to keep America at full employment, we must provide a Universal Basic Income, this will keep people from turning to crime when they are unemployed and unable to find work.
d) Reform the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps

4. Provide Universal Higher Education, whether this is at a public or private institution, whether it is at a four year college, a two year college, a graduate degree program or a trade school.
e) Invest in the American people, help them discover their purpose and the meaning for their lives.
f) Sign a national infrastructure bill that transforms the entire country: roads and bridges, ports and rail, national and local rebuild America for a green economy.

5. Enjoin ever citizen in a program of National Service, in the United States Military or National Guard, Peace Corps or its equivalent operating in the United Sates.

6. End the injustice of detaining citizens in jail, if they have been charged with a crime and are awaiting their trial, unless they have been charged with a violent crime.

7. Empty Prisons of non-violent offenders. Pardon and or commute the sentences, expunge the records of people who are serving time for their participation in markets that will become legalized and or decriminalized.

8. Provide Universal Health. Every American citizen should have access to health care, from birth to death and every step in between.

9. Provide basic housing to every citizen, get people off the streets, give them shelter, food clothing and the care they need.

We can do all of these things, we can transform America, and if we do we will eliminate the need for much of what passes for police work today. We will refine the scope of their mission in a way that allows for the community to properly support their police, and for the police to properly protect and serve the community.

Transform, Part IV – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
06.06.2020

Transform, Part IV
From all across the nation we are hearing stories of police corruption. The stories are coming from the victims of police brutality, the victims of wrongful prosecution, they are accompanied by live footage of police in our communities beating up protesters, and doing it with a smile, pushing an old man down on the concrete and not stopping to help while he bleeds from the head.

This has to stop.

We need to transform policing in America and we cannot do it soon enough.

America needs to examine its conscience, all of us members of the white majority need to do it in the worst way.

We need criminal justice reform, no incarceration for non-violent crimes, we need to bring an end to the war on drugs, which only promotes illegal markets, and extra judicial gang-warfare to protect those markets.

We need to stop putting our brothers and sisters in prison.

Every hospital in America must undergo inspection and review of its policies and procedures, its best practices, by an Inspector General style investigation conducted by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospitals (JCAOH), every single police force and Sheriffs department must undergo the same thing.

Police cannot be immune to prosecution, in fact or in practice.

Police must fulfill their mandate, to protect and to serve, they cannot run around acting like the biggest gang in town, but all to often that is what they are, criminals in uniform preying on the communities they are supposed to serve.

Change cannot come soon enough.

We must transform the police, their mission, criminal justice and the courts. We transform them now!

Observation – June 5th, 2020, Friday

The city is green

It is summer and it is quiet—right now, at 4:00 pm

If I think about it

I can recall the sounds of gunfire

That woke me up in the middle of the night

The quiet lays on Minneapolis like a green veil

The city is restive

The demand for justice is simmering, now

Seven days ago, we were at a roiling-boil

I can smell the ashes lingering—still

The chemical scent of unnatural fire

Scratching in my throat

The Greatest of All Time – A Hero for the Ages

Muhammad Ali left us, and departed from the world four years ago, the greatest of all time is gone

Muhammad Ali held the world in his hands, the greatest of all time lives on.

I heard the news of his passing, waking in the middle of the night
I heard the news of his passing, I listened to the stories and cried

Ali, the greatest of all had died

Of all the heroes I ever fell for, he was the only one that was truly alive
The only one I ever prayed for, the only one I thought could make a difference in our time.

Ali spoke to the heart, he spoke for justice and freedom, he told the truth and he spoke of love.

He spoke to the world in the same way that he fought, he spoke to and fought for everyone.

He spoke in rhythms that dazzled and he spoke in words that hurt.

He floated past us
He struck us with his sting
As beautiful as the butterfly
As ominous as the bee

With the symbols of his fame he took on the powers of the world

Bumaye, Ali…Bumaye

He was a prophet in our time, he praised us as he scolded us, sharp tongued and pretty.

Ask him, he was the prettiest.

I remember the day in 1980 when I heard the news that he had lost the championship.

Muhammad Ali lost! They said Ali would never fight again!

All the kids on the school bus murmured, Ali was not the greatest after all, and the world stopped making sense.

Muhammad Ali gave my generation permission to be ourselves, be bold and to brag, to be good and do right.

Muhammad Ali taught us to question, to challenge authority, to shun war. Muhammed Ali was right.

He taught us to risk the things you desire most, to give up titles and money and fame

He let them go for the things that matter most to him, to serve the truth, seeking justice, to work on behalf of the poor and the outcast as he drew breath.

Ali handcuffed lightning and put the thunder in jail

His star rose like the sun.
Four years ago it set.

ali-1
Given First (as an essay) – 2016.06.04

Witness

Taken by my dreams
Transported to the heavens
Like the Apostle

Filled with promises
Chaos, blowing in the wind
All my work, refuse

We can have justice
We are entitled to it
We are called to it

Make it if you can
In the shadow of heaven
Parched prayers, hanging limp

Visions of flowers
Sterile seeds falling. withered
Promises, broken

The divine embrace
Amid the ashes, thirsting
Immanuel comes