Kübler-Ross and IMPOTUS defeat

 Remembering RBG

Fraud
My daughter keeps track of GOP tropes. This design is available on sweatshirts.

You know, this political season has made me exhausted. I hoped the election would settle things, though I had my doubts.

Sure enough, Attorney General Barr is acting like IMPOTUS’ personal attorney. The future ex-President removes the scientist from overseeing a key climate assessment report. The grift continues. He seems to be engaged in a scorched earth policy. If he doesn’t concede, the GSA head won’t release the mechanism for Joe Biden to be a part of an orderly transition.

But it’s more than that. The vitriol is still strong. And, as people saw on my Facebook feed that Saturday, some guy came around to attack me personally for being pleased that Biden had won. It wasn’t some random guy either, but a fellow who had been my next-door neighbor when I was growing up in Binghamton, NY. Let’s call him Greg because that’s his name.

Greg had been around trolling me in the past. But I had found him useful. It’s important, I think, to understand how others think. This time, he was hyper-critical and fairly nasty at that. He said that I didn’t vote for the man because IMPOTUS had hurt my feelings?

Well, no, I objected to him trying to wreck the very fabric of the country: the postal service, the Census, the CDC, the Justice Department (see above), the EPA, etc, etc, etc.

Greg also seemed to be offended because I was a fool not to recognize that I’m financially better off under the regime. He never used the term directly. But I sensed that he was suggesting that since black people’s unemployment was down, pre-pandemic, I was oblivious to the regime’s “greatness.”

cf RBG’s death

Here’s the thing. I don’t agree with the premise. The tax cut helped the rich far more than regular folks. But even if I had concurred, I still thought his policies, toward COVID, immigration, the environment, and so much more, plus his constant lying, were disqualifying attributes. But why pick on me? There were plenty of people who are happy that the reign of error was over.

Then I saw Remembering RBG: A Nation Ugly Cries with Desi Lydic. It was a special program from The Daily Show folks. Desi was going through the five stages of grief as described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Although, instead of acceptance, the fifth stage is action. Not incidentally, Elizabeth Warren, as usual, offered wise counsel.

So Greg, I recognize, was grieving. He dumped on me because he sort of knew me, though I haven’t seen him in a half-century. I get it.

In my recollection, when Hillary lost in 2016, the reaction was mostly utter shock and depression, not rage. As my teenage daughter noted, in 2016, we were saying, “That can’t be true!” even as we grudgingly knew, unfortunately, it was. The losing side in 2020 has been fed the notion “It IS NOT TRUE!” (See John Oliver.) That’s a harder bridge to cross.

BTW, I remain infuriated by the continued voter suppression, particularly in Florida. The GOP won the state by about 340,000. More than twice as many released felons were disenfranchised. Maybe the Sunshine State COULD have gone the other way…

Voter suppression, 2020 edition

The ballot goes in the envelope which goes into the mailing envelope

elon-voting-bars-buttonVoter suppression is alive and well in 2020 America. Some of it is systemic, some intentional.

You may recall that the good voters of Florida – I write that without irony – decided that they would do the right thing in 2018. They reinstated the voting rights of felons who had served their time, except for murderers and sex offenders. Constitutional Amendment 4 was passed overwhelmingly, to my surprise.

But wait! The state legislature almost immediately added a provision that if felons owed fines and court costs, they STILL couldn’t vote. To no one’s surprise, many of the felons are poor. So the extra requirement amounts to a poll tax, which is a violation of the 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964.

To make things more complicated, it is also difficult for felons to determine what they owe. The Florida Division of Elections web site says:

Seriously?

If a person is still unsure about fines, fees, costs, and restitution, and the impact upon restoration of voting rights, the person can ask for an advisory opinion from the Florida Division of Elections. Please review section 106.23(2), Florida Statutes, and Florida Administrative Code Rule 1S-2.010 for how to ask for an advisory opinion and what information is required.

Meanwhile, former New York City mayor and rich guy Michael Bloomberg, with others, is trying to clear the financial debt of the freed felons. Naturally, Florida’s attorney general Ashley Moody has an issue.She requested that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate Bloomberg’s efforts, as “potential violations of election laws.”

Bloomberg and his political operation “have raised more than $16 million from supporters and foundations.” The goal is “to pay the court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.” Ya know, Florida, if you didn’t violate the will of your populace by instituting a poll tax, Mike and his colleagues wouldn’t NEED to pay off the felons’ tabs.

The naked ballot

Pennsylvania’s ‘naked ballots’ are 2020’s hanging chads. “Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ordered state officials… to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner ‘secrecy’ envelope in November’s election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports… Pennsylvania requires voters to place their ballots in an unmarked ‘secrecy’ envelope before placing that inside another mailing envelope.”

With far more people likely to vote by mail in the Keystone State than ever before, this decision literally could decide the presidential election in November. Know also that a total of 16 states are required to provide secrecy sleeves for absentee/mail ballots. That includes New York. Whether those votes will be disregarded without following the correct procedure, I honestly do not know.

The phenomenon of Florida Man

around since 2013

florida man beerI’m not convinced that men in Florida are, per capita, any weirder than fellows in Oklahoma or Maryland or New York. Yet the notion of the Florida Man has been around since 2013. The meme calls attention to Florida’s supposed notoriety for strange and unusual events.

This narrative is explained HERE. “On May 12th, 2015, the Miami New Times published an article titled How Florida’s Proud Open Government Laws Lead to the Shame of ‘Florida Man’ News Stories, which cited the state’s Sunshine Act as a possible cause for the bevy of ‘Florida Man’ news stories.”

The paper “noted that freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier for journalists to obtain information about arrests from the police than in other states and that this is responsible for the large number of news articles.

“All we have to do in most cases is call the police department and ask for an arrest report, and the cops are required to give it to us. Nowadays a lot of cops simply email the reports, and some departments even post arrest records online. Some of the more dedicated weird-Florida-news reporters go through batches of arrest reports at a time.”

For instance, here are 60 examples posted in 2018:
Florida Man attacked during selfie with squirrel
thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to “shoot down” Hurricane Irma
Florida Man gets tired of waiting at hospital, steals ambulance, drives home
Florida Man breaks INTO jail to hang with friends
Florida Man denies drinking and driving, says he only swigged bourbon at stop signs

Here’s a list from Huffington Post and a description in the Urban Dictionary.

In fact, the phenomenon has engendered some reflections. It turns out that people from Florida are (slightly) better at guessing if a ‘Florida Man’ story really happened in Florida.

I’ve been to Florida twice, both to conferences in the 1990s. Once, I was in Miami during a muggy October. The other time was in Orlando, but no, I never went to Disneyworld or Universal Studios.

FL Florida – first two letter. The traditional abbreviation was Fla. Capital: Tallahassee. Largest city: Miami.

FM Federated States of Micronesia. Capital: Palikir. Largest town: Weno. It is “a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States of America, which is wholly responsible for its defense.”

For ABC Wednesday

Is Stand Your Ground bad law?

I could have sworn I had written about my concerns about the Stand Your Ground laws after Florida passed it, long before the shooting and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Can’t find it. So I’ll cheat, and expand on this document from the government of the state of Connecticut.


The Castle Doctrine and “stand-your-ground” laws are affirmative defenses for individuals charged with criminal homicide. The Castle Doctrine is a common law doctrine [going back to English common law] stating that an individual has no duty to retreat when in his or her home, or “castle,” and may use reasonable force, including deadly force, to defend his or her property, person, or another. [There was a case a few years ago where some drunk guy wandered into someone’s home in western New York at 1 a.m. The intruder was shot and killed, and no charges were filled.] Outside of the “castle,” however, an individual has a duty to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.

Stand-your-ground laws, by comparison, remove the common law requirement to retreat outside of one’s “castle,” allowing an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat. [Note this important distinction; one does not have to walk away from the conflict.] Deadly force is reasonable under stand-your-ground laws in certain circumstances, such as imminent great bodily harm or death.

Forty-six states… have incorporated the Castle Doctrine into law. Connecticut law justifies the use of reasonable physical force, including deadly force, in defense of premises. Connecticut courts have recognized the common law privilege to challenge an unlawful entry into one’s home, to the extent that a person’s conduct does not rise to the level of a crime. Deadly force is justified in defense of one’s property by a person who is privileged to be on the premises and who reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent an attempt by the criminal trespasser to commit any crime of violence.

Twenty states have stand-your-ground laws. Generally, these laws allow an individual to use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without an obligation to retreat first if the individual (1) has a legal right to be at the location and (2) is not engaged in an unlawful activity. Connecticut does not have a stand-your-ground law. Connecticut law specifically requires an individual to retreat, if able to do so, before using reasonable force.
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The idea that one should be able to defend oneself, or another, in case of a reasonable threat is always true. The question in Stand Your Ground is how much effort one needs to use to try to extract oneself from the situation.

My concern is not people with guns, but rather short-tempered people with guns who take advantage of the notion of a perceived threat. At the absurdist end of the spectrum, I’m thinking of that Tennessee woman who shot at a car full of kids for turning in her driveway; fortunately, no one was hurt.

Is there a racial component in the perception of a “reasonable threat”? [Research John Roman] “found that Stand Your Ground laws tend to track the existing racial disparities in homicide convictions across the U.S. — with one significant exception: Whites who kill blacks in Stand Your Ground states are far more likely to be found justified in their killings.”

I’m uncomfortable with Stand Your Ground because I believe it has led to avoidable deaths and will continue to do so.

Florida: race, murder, self-defense

“The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty.”

After George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin death in Florida, the New York Daily News did a piece When will it end? Deadly racial targeting of black men and teens is hardly ancient history.

So I find it difficult to look at the case as a singular event but in the context of a social pattern. Black-on-black murder doesn’t make headlines, unless it hits an epic proportion, as it has in Chicago recently. Black-on-white murders statistically draw tougher sentences. So there is always uneasiness when a white-on-black killing takes place.

In the “good old days”, there were often no consequences, and in these days, laws such as Stand Your Ground can justify the same result.

Jelani Cobb has covered the Zimmerman trial for the New Yorker. Her stories are all worth reading. George Zimmerman, Not Guilty: Blood on the Leaves has some quotable pieces.
“The most damning element here is not that George Zimmerman was found not guilty: it’s the bitter knowledge that Trayvon Martin was found guilty.”
“Yet the problem is not that this case marks a low point in this country’s racial history—it’s that, after two centuries of common history, we’re still obligated to chart high points and low ones. To be black at times like this is to see current events on a real-time ticker, a Dow Jones average measuring the quality of one’s citizenship… That [Trayvon’s shooting] occurred in a country that elected and reëlected a black President doesn’t diminish the despair this verdict inspires, it intensifies it.”
*”Perhaps history does not repeat itself exactly, but it is certainly prone to extended paraphrases. Long before the jury announced its decision, many people had seen what the outcome would be, had known that it would be a strange echo of the words Zimmerman uttered that rainy night in central Florida: they always get away.”

Of course, the case may have hinged on the judge’s jury instruction, which was appallingly incomplete.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the review of the newly-released movie Fruitvale Station,- the true story of Oscar Julius Grant III, a young black man unjustly killed in California in 2009, notes how that story echoes the Martin case. “The film’s portrayal of a young black man as a complex human being– [not that] you’re either a thug or a saint, good or bad, black or white (sometimes literally), with no shades of grey between…. [T]he eagerness with which the pro-Zimmerman faction of the populace and media leapt breathlessly upon any scrap of negative information about his 17-year-old victim–he smoked pot! He talked like a thug on Twitter! He flipped off the camera in pictures! He may have stolen jewelry!… But even if every vile posthumous rumor that attached itself to Martin was true, even if he was a pot-dealing, thugged-out thief, what then? Is tweeting like Tupac a death-penalty offense?” Supporters of Trayvon have suggested he was a good son, someone who did well in school, who went to church, who did community service; assuming that’s true, that’s fine, but it’s just the “saint” side of the portrayal, and, for me, doesn’t materially affect the tragedy of the situation.

Another Florida case in which Stand Your Ground may be invoked is the first-degree murder case in which Michael Dunn, who is white, is charged with shooting into a car, killing 17-year old Jordan Davis, who was black, after an argument over loud music. (Sidebar: someone on Facebook complained about a person mentioning this case on FB, because the original story came out back in November 2012, as though it were old news, or resolved. Just this month, 2nd judge leaves the Michael Dunn/Jordan Davis case.)

Meanwhile, I came across this bizarre story from May 2013: Fla. mom gets 20 years for firing warning shots. “Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville had said the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law should apply to her because she was defending herself against her allegedly abusive husband when she fired warning shots inside her home in August 2010. She told police it was to escape a brutal beating by her husband, against whom she had already taken out a protective order.” One is left wondering if she had instead killed her husband, she would be walking the streets, or whether her race (she’s black) or gender would have played into the case.
***
Related: this week is the 150th anniversary of the New York City Draft Riots. “With the ludicrous Newt Gingrich (who claims to be a historian) insisting the peaceful Trayvon Martin protesters were ‘prepared to be a lynch mob,’ it’s worth remembering that devastating eruption of white mob violence 150 years earlier when at least 11 black men were actually lynched.”

Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers Assaulted on Stage Dedicating Set to Trayvon Martin, with link to “Time has Come Today.”

Kids Who Die by Langston Hughes.