Saturday, March 28, 2020

Repubicans Have Abandoned Democracy Part V

The earliest expression of the concept of the free press conveyed  in pre-America were the pamphleteers, so well represented by Thomas Paine.  The concept was codified in the Constitution as a key component of a functioning democracy.

Our free press, with all its flaws, misuses, and inaccuracies has saved our democracy over the generations on countless occasions. Truth and facts are durable and  more often than not survive numerous attempts at subverting them in our history.

The current era of Trump lies, distortions and suppression of truth and facts in favor of his fiction is, in my view, the most threatening assault on our free press.  Sadly, early coverage of his fascist rallies in the name of opaque journalism laid the groundwork for his abuse of a free press.  Remember those scenes at his rallies where he ridiculed the press present to cover his events, causing his audiences to erupt in mindless jeering and threatening behaviors toward those journalists?  Remember his calling their work "fake news?"

This was only the beginning of his assault on free speech.   As his campaign ensued he banned some journalists and outlets from his campaign coverage because they had the temerity to be critical of him, or worse, report the truth of what he and his admirers were saying or doing.  The latter press work became the object of his wrath as soon as he was elected.

His spin-meisters populating his press staff immediately began promulgating outright untruths on such matters as the size of his inauguration crowds.  Photographic evidence of their small size were rejected at fake news.  Press spokespersons began a turnover in personnel unprecedented in Presidential history because of their being called out by our free press as liars and fabricators.

Little opinion media is needed in the Trump era as all the media has to report is Trump's own words, more often than not expressed in over 15,000 statements in a little over three years fact checked as outright untruths.  He is largely doing the media's work for them as a result of his compulsive need for public attention.  Tragically, his untruths as related to the current pandemic crisis is creating more than distrust and consternation; it is resulting in putting people in danger of losing their lives.  His lies are documented as having caused at least one death due to improper use of a medication recklessly  mischaracterized by Trump in a public statement.  Countless Lupus patients have been denied this life saving mediction as a result of shortages of this same medicine caused by his statement.

The suppression of factual and truthful reporting soon resulted in the abandonment of White House press briefings as a routine.  This too is unprecedented.

His early pronouncements about creating a "state media," a technique used for generations by dictators and authoritarian rulers around the globe are truly bone chilling. Trump is also on record threatening licenses of broadcast outlets airing statements critical of him.   This is a complete outrage.

The fact is that our free press has provided invaluable insight into his criminal background, abuse of power and use of government action to enrich his family. It is the only source of factual information on what he is doing to our democracy.  This has been an unequaled period of frank disclosure about public crimes committed by Trump and his allies dedicated to dismantling both our government and our democracy to enrich the already rich.

Up to this very moment, Trump has turned press briefings of the Corona Virus pandemic into campaign events led by Trump expounding on untruths regarding the extent of the crisis and infection rates,  untruths about testing regimes, untruths about vaccine initiatives and untruths about the incompetent Federal response to getting this pandemic under control.

So, thank you New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, McClatchy News Services, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC as well as, yes, some in the news division of Fox News for shining your light on the most anti-democracy President in our history.  Thank you, the investigative reporters at work out there risking your careers in bringing the truth to an often ungrateful America.  Some of you too have given your lives in delivering the truth and we as a nation owe you our support and to the degree possible, protection.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Republicans Have Abandoned Democracy Part IV

One of the hallmarks of Republicanism in the modern era is their persistent and pervasive effort to suppress the voting rights of minorities, soon to be a majority of citizens.  This endeavor is sometimes bluntly concealed in an insistence that it really just to suppress the "Democrat" vote, thinking this somehow absolves them of the crime of voter interference of persons of color, though blatantly admitting to the suppression part.  They also masquerade these practices as measures to protect voting rights.  Their history is clear in opposing legislation to assure voting rights and undermining its implementation.

This takes the form of passing legislation requiring a voter ID, with the rationale of protecting against a nearly non-existent problem of imposters trying to vote in someone else's name.  The result is denying very poor, or mobility challenged or remotely rural voters from both access to these ID's and their right to vote.  This initiative started about 20 years ago at the state level and is rampant in denying millions their voting rights.

Another technique is to purge voter rolls, as if they want to clear the voter rolls of ineligible voters who have long since moved out of the jurisdiction or passed on.  It is true, many voters fail to inform their voting departments of a move or family death.  But there is ample evidence that such database updating seems to be focused on minority neighborhoods or persons with Hispanic names.  The net result is voters showing up to vote to find their names removed from the rolls and their vote denied, excepting perhaps a provisional ballot only counted in a very close election.

Other measures to suppress votes is to move or remove polling sites in heavily populated minority neighborhoods.  This has been observed in 2018 and 2019 elections.  This is routinely practiced in Republican dominated voting jurisdictions.  A further iteration of this is to limit the number of voting booths/machines at these same minority polling places, causing long waits for people often with hourly wage employment and very limited time to depart work to cast a vote.

These same voters are often denied extended voting time frames such as so called early voting available in more voter encouraging jurisdictions.  And restricted absentee voting rules and regulations designed to limit rather than encourage voting by elderly and disabled voters.

Likewise, vote discouraging Republicans practice limiting voter registration opportunities to more affluent neighborhoods and vigorously oppose legislation to simplify registration with such opportunities as same day registration and automatic voter registration when the qualifying age is reached.  Similarly, even motor voter registration created under a Democratic President is deliberately sabotaged with complex bureaucracy and deliberately inconveniencing license appliers with long lines or onerous documentation requirements as well as conveniently losing or failing to process applications is commonly practiced.

Further, there is ample evidence of non-government interference with minority voting.  I have seen with my own eyes vote suppression flyer sheets circulated in minority neighborhoods giving the wrong dates for election day.  Harassment of voters waiting in line.  Intimidation of voters at polling sites.  These techniques are particularly rampant in areas of strong Tea Party organization.  Yes, the Tea Party is an adjunct to the Republican party and strongly encouraged.

These common practices of  voter suppression are systematic with both Republican voting policy makers, Republican election officials and those leading their local party organizations.  It is decidedly un-American and even worse, undemocratic.  Republicans, you own this behavior.

This is systematic and deliberate undermining the rights of others also entitled to the privilege you asshole Republicans think you and you alone are granted by your brilliance and success.  I reject you who call yourselves Republicans.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Republicans Have Abandoned Democracy Part III

Republicans have abandoned a key element found in our amazing Constitution.....the separation of powers..  They have been at this change since the debates found in the Federalist papers posited by those who leaned toward continuing the role of a King as the ultimate authority in government.  Authoritarian dictators grasp all of the governing powers, Executive, Judicial and Legislative.

The Federalist Society has for decades argued for a change in our governance they call a Unitary Executive, giving the Executive branch authority over both our judiciary and legislative branches.  You've heard the argument; the President is above the law.  It was frequently argued during the Nixon administration.  It is even more prevalent today with Attorney General Barr being its most vocal proponent.

The concept of three coequal government branches is unique to the USA and is largely credited with our success or at least continuation as a functioning democratic republic.  Yet even Republicans in the majority of our Legislative bodies have, since the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader McConnell supported their Republican Executive's power grab by diminishing their own legislative initiatives in favor of inaction while also supporting the nomination of extremist conservative jurists in judicial appointments. Bipartisanship as a working norm has virtually disappeared in favor of the activist comportment of the Executive and inactivist comportment of your legislators and unjust judicial rulings in support of this abuse of our Constitution by extremist jurists.

So you say, so what?  It doesn't effect my life or family.  Oh, yes it does.  As a result of Republican led legislative gridlock, legislation impacting your protections from an abusive employer, protections from abuses by companies providing you vital services such as safe food, drugs, health services, banking, investment services and fair prices have significantly eroded since the 1960's .   Free public education has been steadily de-funded by both federal and state governing administrations.  But it is important to note that the separation of powers under our system have carefully guarded the separation of duties of our States from federal intrusion.  Public education and the administration of elections and the taxation by our local jurisdictions are prime examples of that separation advocated by both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives.  It is only when the rights of minorities are impeded unfairly by states that federal law can intervene or augment funding to protect the rights of all citizens.

Civil and voting rights have been neglected over several decades of Republican administrations due to the absence of legislative action and funding.  Even your very public protections from violence such as mass shootings are the result of stonewalling legislative action and failure to live up to legislators oaths to protect you and your family.

Republicans, aided by Trumpites have recently grossly violated the rights of local municipalities by both cutting funding to them and injecting federal immigration authorities in to the removal of undocumented immigrants in those local jurisdictions who  have chosen to offer humane protections to them, in the absence of a coherent federal policy on immigration.  This is happening in your neighborhood right now.

So, those of you who say "Fuck politics, I'm ignoring it," are simply committing malfeasance of your own responsibilities as a citizen and provider for your family and permitting a fascist, authoritarian President Trump and his legislator toadies to screw you and yours.  

Republicans have abandoned both the concept of co-equal and separate governing branches solely to advance their own power, not our rights as citizens protected by our Constitution.