Our Votes Are For Sale, And They’re Very Expensive 

August 1, 2017

By Leyland A.King

BlueGadfly.com/

LeylandKing@gmail.com

 

Thirty-seven strong, our extended family is no electoral powerhouse. Thirty-seven passionate activists squared (1369) are a booming voice defiant. A town hall presence that will not be ignored nor dissuaded.

Progressive Democrats for decades, we are outraged by the spectacle of musical chairs of government administration at federal, state and municipal levels. It’s  time to re-evaluate our commitment to an administrative system that has moved politically from neglectfulness to tolerable malfeasance. Erroneously thinking it couldn’t get worse   -it did.

Who would have thought that the rot we have in every institutional stratum of public administration, was possible? Therefore we are open to a third party. Even fourth or fifth. We cannot continue voting for the lesser evil.  Small, efficient government and lower taxes through progressive gradients, reforming the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and criminal codes, neighborhood schools public and private, religious and un-denominational are good. We vehemently disagree with public funds given to private or charter schools. Separation of Church and State is extremely important to us. Unfortunately, regardless of which party is the majority, even if they control all branches of government, somehow, we can’t rid ourselves misguided, unconscionable, or even immoral laws such as legislated in the war on drugs.  So, we compiled a list of our priorities.

Small, efficient government and lower taxes through progressive gradients, reforming the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and criminal codes, neighborhood schools public and private, religious and un-denominational are good. We vehemently disagree with public funds handed to private or charter schools. Separation of Church and State is extremely important to us. Unfortunately, regardless of which party is the majority, even if they control all branches of government, somehow, we can’t rid ourselves misguided, unconscionable, or even immoral laws. So, we compiled a list of our priorities.

Small, efficient government and lower taxes through progressive gradients, reforming the Department of Justice, law enforcement, and criminal codes, neighborhood schools public and private, religious and un-denominational are good. We vehemently disagree with public funds given to private or charter schools. Separation of Church and State is extremely important to us. Unfortunately, regardless of which party is the majority, even if they control all branches of government, somehow, we can’t rid ourselves misguided, unconscionable, or even immoral laws. So, we compiled a list of our priorities and welcome your input.

1. End capital punishment immediately. It is immoral. The very nature of it is cruel and unusual.

2. The right to vote is inalienable. It is incumbent on the state to encourage participation of every citizen over age 18.

3. Abolish private prisons and juvenile detention facilities in every form.

4. Decriminalize drug use and possession. That is a vice, not a crime.

5. Citizens must not be arrested for nonviolent offenses if they have valid identification. Citations are available.

6. No person elected to public office shall serve beyond eight years.

8. Elections publicly financed. Legislation necessary to end lobbying and donations to elected officials.

9. Make gerrymandering a felony. It corrupts the electoral system and undermines public trust.

10. End corporate welfare including tax breaks offered to companies to “bring jobs”.

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To Gulliver’s Surprise 

This week, more than ever, I saw America’s government.  I really hope that I’ve seen the worst of its functioning, but a whisper in my ear cautioned me not to bet on that.

The truth, as I saw it, was so much like Gulliver’s tours, except for the shocking deviation, that after leaving Lilliput and all the little people, above whom he towered, he arrived at a place called Future Washington. There, to his dismay, he discovered that the inhabitants were much smaller than the Lilliputians. Gulliver then knew that people could be so much smaller than one could ever imagine, and much more trivial too.

Donald need not worry about draining his swamp. Instead of thoughts of wrestling out huge reptiles, almost larger than himself, a kitchen sieve would do just as well. But really, the greatest danger that infests the swamp are mosquitoes larvae that mimic minuscule politicians, lobbyists, and lawyers, while spreading corrupting disease.

When Public Officials Misplace Loyalty, Institutions Collapse

Today, like many Americans, I took the time to witness the Senate Intelligence Committee at work. They did their inquiry as best they could, under the circumstances.

By under the circumstances, I mean their determined efforts to get to the truth of various, potentially criminal matters affecting the Trump Administration, only to be stymied by the four public officers who answer to the American people. It was shameful and appalling. I hope that this nation is still able to function as under previous Administrations. They, the four witnesses appeared to me that they would be prepared to suffer anything to protect what they believe to be their personal property. The Senators be damned…and the citizens too. But of the four lame witnesses, I have to give special attention to Adm. Mike Rodgers, a rude and surly person by demeanor and arrogant with regard to personality. For a member of our armed services, he was the bad kid next door, that our parents warned us never to adapt his behavior. For junior members of the services, Admiral Rodgers is surely no officer and a gentleman.

We can look at what’s happening and fight over which party to blame and make comparisons to excuse wrongdoing for only so long. I believe that if our leaders don’t come to their senses, the fight may not be between Republicans and Democrats, there just might be the third faction.

 

Law, Order, Justice and Punishment

I vehemently oppose state sanctioned murder. State torture has already been normalized and extra judicial killings quite acceptable to too many Americans. This does not portend well for human beings but, it is not immutable.

That a sizeable portion of Americans see nothing wrong with the descent to morally primitive humanity troubles me deeply. My effort here is not to judge us, but to offer a pause for contemplation of what we are prepared to live with. I expect many to give token agreement, many to disagree for a variety of religious reasons, but I also expect that in the course of today about a dozen of my fellow citizens tell me that if I don’t like our perceived regression, then I should get out of the country. 

No, you won’t find statistical information here. It’s been there for generations, updated continually. There is no paucity of peer reviewed, evidence based literature available for the taking. Neither would this be moralistic preaching. We fall asleep on that. So what’s my goal? It is to remind us of our humanity. To point to absurdity and obfuscation of the issue, that allows public officials’ inanity to prevail.

This is indisputable: murder is the unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice aforethought. These are the keywords -unlawful; killing another; premeditation.

With that in mind, all that one needs to do is re-interpret the word unlawful. There are lots of work- around.

In Oklahoma, state officials are unashamed to relate to citizens that they have to speed up the rate of executions because the drug used for lethality have approaching expiration dates. I am not sure if the proper description is callousness or plain, undiluted stupidity.

In Florida, Governor Rick Scott, in his zeal to get another dozen killings in, perhaps to out-do Oklahoma’s depravity, removed all death penalty cases from elected attorney, Aramis Ayala, because she refused to seek the death penalty in the cases affected. If anyone should know the value of expiation, Scott is he.

Now that the supreme court is in recovery of its conscience, and ruling more often on appeals relative to cruel and unusual punishment, there is dawn apparent. But what do legislators do? They spend tremendous amounts of public founds going back and forth to the courts, fixing what was the technical impediment so that a year or two later they achieve their infamous objective, that is to say, not necessarily justice, but the killing.

The governors seem to have a prediliction for killing. They behave as if the law compels them to kill convicts. It does not. They have the authority to commute death sentences to life in prison. Our governors would have none of that. And that is where one might question their humanity.

Especially Now, Why Trust U.S Government With Capital Punishment

https://bluegadfly.com/2016/02/10/get-rid-of-capital-punishment/

http://Eight%20executions%20in%2011%20days:%20Arkansas%20order%20may%20endanger%20staff’s%20mental%20health

Crush This Monster in the Egg​

“What a terrible era in which idiots govern the blind”
-William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I wonder if there is anything Trump’s followers are not willing to put up with. My own concerns are about what is evident today, and impending threats to our future.

When Trump’s surrogates express contempt for the constitution, the courts and media, yet Trump and GOP, by timidity or stupidity embraced those actions- be alarmed.

Said one: “Everyone……will have to bow down to Donald….the greatest man in the universe.”

Another surrogate: “The President’s authority will not be questioned.” That was yet another idiot needing a job. He was speaking about recent actions of the judiciary.

None, none of those chilling remarks, and other more subtle threats were ever discouraged by the President or the ruling Republican party. And by the way, don’t forget the recent photograph of Trump’s flag atop a military convoy traveling on the highway in the United States.

Yes, Trump doesn’t have much education, but neither did Idi Amin, former President of Uganda. The latter started with mass deportation of Asians. We know how it ended. Note that the slaughter and disappearances were indiscriminate. One can never be sufficiently loyal to any dictator. What is so special about America, that would lead anyone to believe that a fascist state of White Nationalism is so remote a possibility?

There is a conjecture I might make, based on a large number​ of American citizens encountered on social media defending each and every action of the Trump administration. Do those people truly believe that their race or party affiliation would make them safe? Stalin and Mao disproved that.

Nothing is sacrosanct​ and no one is safe in autocracies.

Baiting by Police is Common,Unethical and Harmful to Society

By Leyland  A. King
Monday, July 30, 2016

Nothing impeded traffic-flow on I-4 East bound just after sunset, that late summer’s  Friday. Irving Welles, age twenty-four, college grad, was headed home after work, thinking ordinary thoughts in the midst of routine driving. His family was awaiting his arrival for dinner.  Had there been a traffic back-up, even for twenty minutes, this night might not have been lamentable for Irving. His exit through the off-ramp would have been as mundane as his stop at the traffic red-light, which he had done so often. But this time, his pause was consequential.

The young woman, loitering at the corner was alluring. What would be described as pacing for most women did not seem so. For her, it was more of a strut. Irving could not believe that she smiled, beckoned him to turn the corner,  and soon made a sexual come-on with her mouth. The red lipstick should have warned him just as the traffic light’s red told of danger. The woman approached his car, leaned into the window frame and a chat began. When she suggested what she would for him, he found the talk arousing and liked that. Irving played along, knowing the fantasy would never get real because two dollars and sixty-eight cents was all that he had. Somewhere in the web of chitchat, he might have given the wrong answer, for he could deduce no other reason why he was swarmed by four men who identified themselves as police officers, arrested and whisked him off to jail. Thus began his distress and calamitous social tumble.

His car towed, Irving spent the night in jail, appeared at court the next day and was able to obtain bond through the assistance of relatives. Distraught;  confused; unprepared; he accepted an attorney’s proffered card. Had Irving been an experienced criminal, a product of experience acquired in the criminal justice system, he would not have been so trusting of people purporting to represent his interest. People who facilitate  the court’s conveyor-belt’s smooth operation. Some players well-practiced in manipulation of gullible defendants.

On his counsel’s advice, Irving pleaded no contest, paid initial costs and was put on program that, if completed, reduced fines. He did all that was required. But no one told him about the most damning consequence, that is, the permanent criminal record created. He was shocked when, on the basis of that record of soliciting a lewd act, he was fired from his government career. Thereafter, every time he was honest on his job application, the red lips disallowed him. Soon, he figured that concealing his arrest would get him past the gate keepers. It did, but as certain as day follows night, three to five weeks later, came the familiar summon and  firing. Due to Right to Work State Law, Irving was neither owed nor given a reason for severance .

When last fired he expressed to a kindly manager how relieved he felt that he had been found out. He said that every day of the month that he came in to work, he dreaded discovery. This was also the first time that anyone told him that he might apply to have his criminal record expunged. Sensing a sympathetic ear, he divulged the details of that fateful evening.

It is unknown what became of Irving, but what happened to him, a youth with a previously spotless record, is instructive as to the ethics of police baiting practices.

Our criminal law interprets police behavior of the kind, as entrapment. It asks  the question: ‘Would the defendant have committed the crime without enticement’? Yet, the police knowingly do that with impunity.  Citizens of more vulnerable classes are most impacted, most arrested (in spite of police discretion to use citations) and most abused of their rights, once they enter the court system. The financial hardship and emotional distress brought on innocent families are incalculable. No one seems to care about the fact that something so simple devastates innocent dependents. Nor is thought given to the cost to taxpayers in training another person to replace Irving every time he is fired.
Clarence Darrow, author of Crime: Its Cause and Treatment seriously criticized the perpetual hounding by the system.

Ethical questions might be framed in many different ways for every person or agency that contributed to Irving’s tribulations. When attempting to answer questions of ethical dilemmas, philosophers simplify resolution by looking to the law and social mores. In this case did Irving, of his own volition set out to commit a crime? Emphatically, no! There was no action that he initiated.
Did the overt actions of the decoy cause Irving’s travail? Absolutely! And we shall revisit this later on.
Florida Law as to entrapment, cited herein is unambiguous:

777.201 Entrapment
(1) A law enforcement officer, a person engaged in cooperation with a law enforcement officer, or a person acting as an agent of a law enforcement officer perpetrates an entrapment if, for the purpose of obtaining evidence of the commission of a crime, he or she induces or encourages and, as a direct result, causes another person(2) A person prosecuted for a crime shall be acquitted if the person proves by a preponderance of the evidence that his or her criminal conduct occurred as a result of an entrapment. The issue of entrapment shall be tried by the Trier of fact.
History.—s. 42, ch. 87-243; s. 1196, ch. 97-102.

Of course there are case laws that emerged through challenges. Those intricacies, I defer to legal professionals, but as to the ethics of police conduct of ensnaring innocent persons, as Irvin’s life altering experience shows, there is no ethical dilemma. In deciding the issue of entrapment courts use either ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’ tests. The former focuses on the defendant’s state of mind, his personality and his predisposition to commit a crime. In more progressive and popular examination, objective test, the focus is on police conduct. The question is, whether the police actions would induce a law-abiding individual to criminal behavior. Is the trap for the unwary innocent or the unwary criminal.

Reference  similar actions where a few hapless, some of them homeless, people were unjustly netted.  A team of several police officers leaned an unlocked bicycle beside the pavement, near a bus stop. An open ladies’ handbag with exposed cash hung from the handle. How convenient? How irresistible? How immoral! To tempt anyone, especially that poorer, needy population, is wrong! Creating crimes is not the mission of the police nor the state.

Some may counter that police have to do as they did, to maintain public order and decency; that prostitution harms the serenity of communities by attracting more serious crimes to the area.
That is not true. Sex purveyors tend to follow potential business and fulfill needs. They don’t lead.  Most sale of sex do not take place on street corners. But even if it were so, as police allege, the desired result might be attained by maintaining an uniformed presence in the affected pockets of licentious activity. The agency’s core duties are maintenance of public order, prevention and detection of crime. Not sweeping up the innocent along with the guilty on specious pretensions.

The problem before us seems to be management failure by the police, both in resource allocation and maintaining the agency’s  mission focus. Luring the citizen to do what, ordinarily, he would not have done, impugns the integrity of the organization and deleterious in affect to stakeholder trust.
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Compounding the concern as to the outcome for citizens, is what appears to be a systemic indifference by officers of the court. It has to be said, that they have a duty to the state and citizenry, to reject a plea bargain where on the face of it the prosecutor, or the judge, sees that the defendant is not fully informed or that there seems to be unjust circumstances of the arrest.

Two examples have been presented for the readers’ consideration. It is hoped that they are sufficiently persuasive for the reader to seek more information on the issue. Awareness of improper police behavior, and for whatever reason allowing its continuance, is also unethical. Knowing of the outcomes for citizens and still continue inaction is egregiously unethical and immoral. We must do better.

Citizens’ United Ruling A Mistake

The issue I have with Hon. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s statement is this. She concludes that Citizens’ United ruling was “a mistake”. An error. 
I quite understand that the court, like all other institutions, is fallible. Had the ruling been unanimous, one might allow for interpreting it a mistake.
But there are some troubling facts. The court ruled along very predictably, ideological lines. Second any person, just applying minor problem-solving skills or good old common sense, could foresee the consequences.
 My fear, frankly, is that we all have already been bought and sold to a roomful of extremely wealthy individuals. They are secretly writing laws, policies-whatever they wish and having them executed by individuals who gutlessly comply on pain of losing gerrymandered elections. Mistake? I don’t think so.