The law we’ve all been waiting for…but wait! There’s more!!!

Posted August 11, 2015 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: 2nd Amendment, ALEC, GOP, Gun Control, Mental Health, Politics, Racism

Tags: , , ,

Last night I had an extended conversation on Facebook (which I do quite often, because these posts don’t tend to happen anywhere near as much as they should).

The conversation started with this article:

Raw Story: Vermont woman uses high-powered rifle to kill social services worker after losing custody of her daughter

I led with the phrase “Because guns fix everything, and there are no consequences, right?”

It didn’t take long to get the usual response.

“I wish they would focus on that, this was not a sane person. If it’s a mental hospital, or prison, she goes forever.”

In the following responses we saw laid bare the actual problem with this statement, and with the NRA’s [oops! I mean] Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn’s newly proposed gun control bill

It’s quite simple, really: If you have to be insane to shoot someone, then why are the prisons filled with insane people?

Mental illness isn’t a crime, is it? Well, yes, it is, apparently, or the prisons would be empty and there would be mental institutions everywhere.

There aren’t, are there? Why is that?

Well, the answer’s kinda complicated, see. It starts with the shutdown in the 1980s of mental facilities and President Reagan’s dismantling of a lot of the structure supporting those facilities.

Salon: Ronald Reagan’s shameful legacy: Violence, the homeless, mental illness

But that’s not a complete answer, is it? No, because people fire guns for a whole bunch of reasons, including (but not limited to) in no particular order:

  • suicide
  • anger
  • revenge
  • racial profiling
  • accident
  • crime
  • fear
  • greed

You get the idea.

If you look at the prison system today, violent offenders make up only a portion of the population. And a majority of folks who are responsible for gun-related deaths aren’t remotely mentally ill. So where does the NRA come off with claiming this will fix the problem? It’s not a cure. It’s a Band-Aid, designed to draw attention away from the actual problem and place the blame on a population that is far more likely to do nothing at all, or to self-inflict.

Statistically speaking (if you can even call it that), the vast number of certifiably mentally ill shooters who see trial are white. Why is that? Because if it isn’t a murder/suicide, they are far more likely to survive encounters with police if they are white than if they’re not. No, race isn’t a guarantee of protection, but do you suppose the case in Aurora would have seen trial if Holmes had been black? I rather think not, especially in light of Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and the rest.

We have a gun problem in this country and the NRA is pointing at a portion of the population who are under-served, blaming THEM because then we won’t actually address the problem. CDC Mental Healt FastStats show some of the picture, but not all of it.

Prisons are not remotely designed to handle the mentally ill. Rather, imprisonment is a contributing factor to mental illness.

So what’s the deal, NRA? And what makes you think you can just pass the buck?

Yeah, money.

Just remember, when you pay your dues to the NRA, what you’re supporting. And when you vote for an NRA-backed member of congress, don’t have any mental illness in your background, or you may find you’re on that list.

The law of unintended consequences works all the time.

The view from here…

Posted April 26, 2015 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Ethics, Racism

Tags: , ,

Ferguson.

Staten Island.

Cleveland.

Madison.

San Antonio.

Baltimore.

Some timeline, isn’t it?

Baltimore’s police leadership is SO out of touch that Gene Ryan, President of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, had the gall to suggest the call for jail time for the officers involved in Gray’s shooting was tantamount to a lynch mob. He later walked the comment back (sort of) in a news conference with police union attorney Mike Davey, saying  “Maybe I need to reword that.” His thoughtless comments illustrate just how out of touch our police force really is.

And we know the news isn’t good. The protests turned violent again. It’s horrible how those protesters have NO RESPECT for anything, isn’t it?

That’s what a lot of people are saying, in all these cities across America. At least, that’s what a lot of folks who aren’t black are saying. Because, you know, violence isn’t necessary. Voices get heard when protests are peaceful, and change happens when we’re quiet and polite and respectful, and we don’t run.

Only that isn’t true today, any more than it was true in 1968 or in the 1950s or, in fact, any time prior to that, including 1938, when the last man was lynched in Maryland.

So, how often do these things actually happen? In August, 2014, Mother Jones published an article written by Jaeah Lee entitled Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?

As the race begins…

Posted April 14, 2015 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: GOP, Politics, Tea Party

Tags: , , , ,

Well, folks, here we go.

It’s been a while in coming, but now that we’re finally loading the starting gate, it’s time to start paying attention to the horses in this race.

Trust me: This one’s going to be winner-take- all, unless something really bad happens in the next year and a half. This is a prediction and it’s not going to come as any sort of surprise if you’ve paid any attention at all to the things I’ve posted since I launched this blog.

There are two sites (and their articles) that I think you need to read and bookmark. First up:

PolitiFact.com from the Tampa Bay Times (http://www.politifact.com/).

If you think a statement is too good to be true (or too likely), check it here. This non-partisan site will debunk the statement to the best of its ability. Start here before visiting Snopes.com for anything that’s on the political spectrum, and that includes what the press has to say on the subject.

And second:

This specific article, from Daily Kos: What Happens if the Tea Party Patriots ever Do “Take Their Country Back”? (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/11/1377026/-Are-Tea-Party-Patriots-2015-s-John-Bircher-Clones). This study is as complete a damning of every GOP candidate as you’ll find.

Don’t know what the John Birch Society is? Here: Wikipedia: John Birch Society

Can’t stand Daily Kos? Here: The New John Birch Society

You can do the research yourself, by following the links in the Wikipedia article. There’s a ton of footnotes and links to external sites from the main Wikipedia page. You need to understand about reading between the lines.

Understand: If you support the Tea Party, you are supporting the next US Civil War, because that is what the GOP wants. And if they don’t get their way in 2016 because we elected Hillary Clinton, they’ll try again in 2020. And in 2024.

Mark my words: If the GOP takes the White House in 2016, there will be no returning to Democracy. None. Not in your lifetime or your children’s. Every bleak concept introduced in The Handmaid’s Tale, in 1984, in The Prince for that matter, that will be our reality.

If you think for one moment that we can’t have a world like we had during World War II, if you think it can’t happen here, you’re wrong. A Second American Civil War isn’t just science fiction fantasy.

Start your reading now. You have roughly nine months.

Je suis Charlie…

Posted January 8, 2015 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: 1st Amendment, Bombs, GOP, Politics, Religion, Violence

Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Yes, yes, I know. Busy, distracted. My, how time flies.

Truth is that I’ve been tied up in knots between a new job I started in August and keeping my head above water with classes in the fall. And, truthfully, it was feeling just a bit like I was shouting into the wilderness in here. So? I withdrew to FB and kept most of my ranting there.

Since then, we’ve had a sweep of the House and Senate, and now the GOP is unleashing every bit of stored up agenda against the American People for the sake of American Business and I’m counting the days until the Presidential Election to see if they take the third branch as well, or if we finally wake up in this country and do something about our so-called leaders.

It’s funny, though. Here I sit, cozy in a house full of books and movies, connected at whim to the Internet where I can write whatever I like, so long as I’m not telling lies, and nobody will come to my place and shoot me for writing these things.

Right?

Isn’t that what every journalist believes? Isn’t that the truth we all understand – that we are entitled to say what we want and to speak the truth, so long as we aren’t hurting anyone else?

Yeah.

Tell that to the ten journalists and two cops who died in Paris yesterday. Or to the journalists in the past year who’ve been beheaded. Or to those who were shot in South America. Or, in fact, anywhere else in the world, just for speaking out. Ever.

There are no links to other sources in this post. There’s no reason to link elsewhere. You want facts? You can Google them yourself and find what Google wants you to find, and present it as truth. Wikipedia? Ditto. I know. I do it all the time. And (truthfully) I’m righteously sanctimonious when I do it, too. Because I’m right and you’re wrong. Or I’m right and you’re merely uninformed.

I think it’s completely ironic that in the Islamic State’s desire to silence its critics, it has chosen the one industry that will say what it pleases, dig in its heels and cry out for more truth, even in the face of guns, bombs or knives.

In taking on journalism, they have created a hydra all their own. We ARE all Charlie.

Every Blogger. Every Twitter user. Every FB and LJ and WordPress and Pinterest user. Every last one of us who puts a finger to a keyboard – we are all capable of crying out TRUTH. In a radical version of a religion that supposedly values martyrdom, what on earth were they thinking when they took on journalism and free speech? Did they somehow think they would silence the voices simply by killing the cartoonists?

I haven’t been posting because life overwhelmed me for a bit. I may not post again for a while because next week classes start all over again, and I’ll be busy. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking and observing, even as I have to turn the input devices off so I can concentrate on my work.

Tune in and pay attention. That’s all I’ve ever asked. Look around at what they’re saying to you.

Is it truth? How do you know?

And when you figure it out, say something about it. BE Charlie.

Keeping it to yourself doesn’t help anyone else.

See you soon.

Context

Posted December 6, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Civil Liberties, Ethics, Racism, Violence

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m going to explore this a little more fully when I have some time to go find references, which I don’t have time to do this morning, but you better pay attention to this because it may explain some things about the posts I’m making here and why I’m so very, very appalled not just at what’s happening to people across the country but why I can’t believe what some of the people I’ve known for decades are saying.

I attended the School Without Walls (SWW) from 1977 to 1981. The school, part of a movement that came about in 1968, was very different from traditional high schools. Some of the people reading this note attended the school with me, and I’m shocked to hear what some of them are saying. Shocked because they clearly did NOT understand why SWW existed in the first place, and I’m frustrated because they’re not listening now.

Teachers, students and parents from Monroe High School founded SWW because they needed a place to learn, in an environment that was exploding after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. That core group came from a mix of backgrounds and the student population was diverse, too. It was an intense four-year journey for me, that launched a career of writing, even if I haven’t been paid for much of it.

I’m not going to pretend or idealize the experience I had while I was there, but I can count at least 40 people on my Facebook Flist who attended or graduated from SWW. So here’s the thing. Check it out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Rochester_race_riot

And you thought Rochester wasn’t part of that?

You want to know where SWW derived? Look up the Free School Movement.

I’m not saying folks aren’t paying attention. I’m saying they’re not applying an empathy filter. Put your own kids in the place where Michael Brown was, and imagine what this would be like for you. If you can’t put yourself in that place, examine WHY you can’t do that. Is it because you don’t get it, or because you simply can’t imagine your kid being shot just for being big and belligerent? Not your kid’s style? So what? USE YOUR IMAGINATION! Put yourself or your son or daughter or their friends in that place.

The core problem with today’s world, with all the arguments about money, guns, race, equality, sexuality? They are happening because people (some of them on my own Flist) canNOT imagine what this is like and because they don’t get it, they think it’s okay, what’s going on with the cops today.

I’m telling you, that’s wrong.

If you still want to know what’s wrong with this country, maybe it’s because you can’t imagine what it’s like to be Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Tamir Rice or their siblings or their parents or their friends. And you can’t imagine that cops could possibly be corrupt or that the system does fail.

And to those of you who find yourselves wondering how this could possibly be happening, I say it’s time you woke UP!

You’re being set up. Educate yourself.

The court case I got called for over the summer? It had eerie overtones and I’m glad I wasn’t on the jury because I don’t think in hindsight that I could be impartial. Here’s how it shook out:

http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/2014/11/12/ex–cop-johnnie-riley-to-be-sentenced-for-shooting-handcuffed-suspect/18915647/

Now the thing is, would he have gotten jail time if the cop had been white? Would he even have been indicted? We will never, never know.

No, not all cops, not all lawyers, not all courts, but if there’s even one that’s practicing the law as if some people aren’t worth the same as others, that cop or lawyer needs to GO!

And if we don’t try these people in a court of law, we will never know what happened.

Where’s the justice in that?

Race is fiction. Racism is very, very real.

#blacklivesmatter #justiceisbroken

It’s time for a NEW Equal Rights Amendment.

Posted July 3, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: Civil Liberties, Constitution, LGBTQ, Politics, Women

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is not a link share, but my own opinion and you’re welcome to do with it what you will.

In the last two days I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion. If the Equal Rights Amendment as originally written is dead, then it’s time for a new and improved Equal Rights For ALL Amendment, that covers everyone, with no exceptions for race, gender or ability.

The amendment MUST make clear that this right transcends due process and extends to every individual person in the country. And by person, I am specifically excluding corporations, which are not now and never have been people.

To wit:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of gender, race or ability.

Section 2. Rights shall extend to every individual within the borders of the United States and its territories, regardless of nationality.

Section 3. The word “individual” shall not be construed to mean property held by an individual in the form of a corporation.

Section 4. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 5. This amendment shall take effect one year after the date of ratification.

I’ll make an appointment to see Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Barbara A. Mikulski and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer if I have to.

If certain members of the Supreme Court can decide to ignore the 14th Amendment, because it’s not specific to equality and equity (which are similar but not the same), that’s proof enough for me that the states made a bad decision and that this needs to be addressed.

No riders, no “must ratify by” date limitation.

It’s long past time.

If you agree, spread the word: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pass-equal-rights-all-act-amendment-us-constitution/4TdbChJP

Second class citizens…

Posted July 2, 2014 by Betsy Marks Delaney
Categories: 14th Amendment, 2nd Amendment, ALEC, Choice, Civil Liberties, Constitution, GOP, Politics, Women

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

On Monday, the US Supreme Court, by a 5-4 margin (which divided itself by conservative and religious lines), declared that employers who object to contraception as a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs do NOT have to cover their employees, one of the most important points of the Affordable Care Act.

Read that sentence again. It doesn’t indicate some methods. It refers to ALL contraception.

From the second article:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings in favor of businesses that object to covering all 20 methods of government-approved contraception.

I’ve heard and read plenty on the subject, and I’m certain that you can do all the same homework I can, to find views that support your contention (for or against).

Whatever.

The ramifications of the decision are farther reaching than the right cares to admit. Aside from the question of violating the 14th Amendment (which Scalia declares is not applicable for everyone), there’s the larger issue of cherry-picking the Constitution to suit whichever political organization has the most money.

See, here’s the thing. The term “closely-held” belies the truth. 90% of corporations in the US are “closely held” – and any one of them can pick and choose not to cover contraception or any other thing they don’t like, simply because of their personal, deeply-held beliefs.

So let me put this into different terms, especially if you’re a guy who thinks there’s no war on women and it’s just a fantasy cooked up by liberals.

1. Are you a guy who’s interested in women?

2. Do you like having sex with women who won’t likely get pregnant because they’re on the pill?

3. Can the women you see and sleep with afford to pay for that birth control if it’s not covered by their insurance?

4. Are you ready for parenthood?

Not all pills are taken to prevent pregnancy. Women take the pill to control other conditions, as well as preventing pregnancy.

If you think this decision doesn’t affect you or your girlfriend(s), think again. And if you believe this applies only to Christian faith-owned companies, you’ve got another thing coming.

This decision isn’t about birth control. It’s about destroying the ACA, piecemeal, starting with the first, best hope for giving women control over their own bodies. And if you’re arguing that this is okay, then you need to go back and reread the Constitution, past the second amendment, because you missed some things.

Now, about that Constitution, well, here’s the thing, and this is where I get a little twitchy, so you’re just going to have to bear with me, because I’ll get there:

When the Constitution was originally written, it lacked a few things, and it was written in a context that doesn’t fit well with today’s society. Let’s take that tricky Second Amendment problem, which I’ll call “The Comma.”

See, if you read the sentence the way it’s written, with, you know, grammar and stuff, you’ll see it says this (from Wikipedia, because it’s convenient):

Text

There are several versions of the text of the Second Amendment, each with capitalization or punctuation differences. Differences exist between the drafted and ratified copies, the signed copies on display, and various published transcriptions.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] The importance (or lack thereof) of these differences has been the source of debate regarding the meaning and interpretation of the amendment, particularly regarding the importance of the prefatory clause.

One version was passed by the Congress,[24][25][26][27][28]

As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives:[29]

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[30]

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights, approved by the House and Senate, was prepared by scribeWilliam Lambert and resides in the National Archives.

Well-regulated militia back then meant individuals serving in militias, carrying muskets, not individuals on their own, carrying AK-47s. Today’s version would be the National Guard, but back then there were neither the Guard nor the police, and the standing army was specifically disbanded as soon as possible. So who is today’s well-regulated militia and why do people still have guns if they don’t belong to this mysterious organization?

Who wrote the opinion for the majority in that case? Why, our old friend Scalia.

Now let’s take the comments he made above, regarding the 14th Amendment:

Text

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.[1]

And Scalia’s opinion, from the California Lawyer article (linked above):

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

Notice in Section 1 of the text, the following words: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Do you see anywhere in that sentence the words “except women?” Nah, me neither.

And yet, this is precisely what Scalia and his four cohorts have decided regarding the Hobby Lobby case.

I had a closely-held corporation of my own until I dissolved it, back in 2006. It included a small number of employees (all of whom were contractors, including me). Corporations are not unique. And the benefits accorded to Hobby Lobby’s employees are not a gift, but access to a group discount paid for by the employees themselves.

But wait, there’s more!

More?

Yep.

Because when you consider for a moment how tenuous our grip is on the current set of Constitutional rights, you fail to remember a couple of things that go back a bit. Let me remind you of them:

1. The Moral Majority were the foundation of today’s conservative groups. They spawned virtually ALL of the groups under which ALEC operates, that are working hard to restrict rights based solely on Christian values, and to expand religious protection whenever and wherever they think it will suit them, forgetting that there are other religious people in this country until someone reminds them.

2. There was a lot of noise about holding a Constitutional Convention to do away with the current Constitution, back in the 1970s and 1980s. Think that discussion has gone away? Nope. The Tea Party has grasped hold of it and if they manage to get control of the House and Senate this year (2014) this is precisely what is in store for the United States.

If you think freedom is at risk now, if you think all the talk of Sharia law in the states is just blowing smoke, you’re not paying attention to the agenda. And if there’s no war on women, how is it that the decision handed down on Monday affects ONLY women? If you’re a single-issue voter, you’re missing the point. If you have daughters, you should be scared to death on their behalf. If you’re a woman, you need to protect the freedom you have, or you’re likely to lose your ability to do anything that isn’t controlled by the patriarchy.

[edited to add]

And if you think this is just restricted to birth control, let Clarence Thomas settle that question for you. Pray tell me, if the Supreme Court is not intended to uphold the Constitution, and if states are not required to abide by the binding document, exactly *what* is holding the USA together?

From Patheos.com: Constitutional horror: Clarence Thomas argues states can establish official religion

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas argues states may establish an official state religion, and sees no problem with an individual state making Christianity the official state religion.

Thomas believes the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not apply to the states. The Establishment Clause is that part of the First Amendment that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.

So what can you do?

WRITE. Write to your local congressional representatives, Senate and House alike, and tell them you want to pass the Equal Rights For All Act. Flood their offices with letters and show them you do care. Make them pay attention.

VOTE. November 4 is just a hair over four months away. The House of Representatives is replaced every two years, as long as enough people vote. Here’s the Senate situation, for midterms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2014.

PS: Don’t forget: I told you so.

 


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