Category Archives: US Justice

We are Trump

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January 16, 2017 – by Gregory Franklyn

You will very rarely hear me use the term “America” when referring to The United States of America. There’s a reason for that. In reality, (not the type of reality that President Elect Donald Trump comes to us from, but the quantifiable reality that exists before it’s stars get fed a bunch of alcohol and are pitted against one another, and before the resulting entertainment gets turned over video editors) in reality, the US is not America, it’s a PART of the American continent . America refers to a continent located in the western hemisphere which includes South America, Mexico, The US and Canada.

But isn’t it just like us to claim the whole thing and refer to ourselves as if we’re the only country represented by the term? In sort of a nationalistic egocentric braggadocio? And, isn’t that just the kind of thing that Donald Trump would try to sell you? I mean, right now, Trump is taking credit for companies that are NOT moving certain parts of their manufacturing operations to foreign countries, as if he had something to do with it; as if they were actually going to move the operations to begin with.

“Make America Great Again”, he says. Kick all the Mexicans out of America! Um, Mexico is located on America! How are we supposed to transport an entire country to another continent?

But it goes far beyond just claiming that we are “America”. How about our claim of being #1. I guess we COULD say that if the measure of the #1 country in the world is by military size and weight alone. But what about education, we’re not #1. Health care? We’re #37! Infant Mortality, Nope! Happiness? Nope. Wages? #13. Economy? China and probably a few others. I admit that there WAS a time when we were #1, but aside from Military Strength, that’s no longer true.

I’m not trying to denigrate my own country, but we DO have some things to work out, and they are pretty deeply rooted in our cultural inability to accept reality. Just like Donald Trump. Here’s an example of what I mean. “American Cheese”. It’s a little thing that points to a much larger issue, but American Cheese is not cheese and it’s not American. It’s a product developed in The US and it’s,, it’s,,, OK, I don’t know WHAT it is, but it’s NOT cheese. You will notice that on your little pack of American “Cheese” slices, you will not find the word “Cheese”.

There’s a reason for that. It ISN’T cheese. It does not contain enough dairy products to legally be referred to as cheese. There are dairy derivatives in it, but the term used on the package is something like “Processed Cheese Food Product” or something. You will, however, find a glass of milk, and a round of cheese with a wedge cut out of it to give the IMPRESSION that what you’re buying is a dairy product. It’s even displayed next to actual cheese in your grocery store. It’s deceptive, and it’s just like something Donald Trump would try to sell you. While I’m thinking about it, Trump is kind of cheesy and kind of has the color and consistency of Kraft Singles,,, OMG, I’ve just made an argument for Donald Trump being “Processed Cheese Food Product”!

How about “The Patriot Act” I wrote about that in 2011. Here’s what I said:

“‘The Patriot Act’ is another good example of what I mean. This particular package of laws circumvents huge swaths of the civil rights granted to citizens of the US by The US Constitution. It is to say that denying and/or violating Constitutional rights is, in some way,  “Patriotic”. Of course that’s absurd, but it IS very American to refer to it like that. That’s how we roll! I think we should be legally compelled to stop referring to the act as “The Patriot Act” because it does not contain at least 36% acts of patriotism.” – Gregory Franklyn

We call ourselves “The Land of the Free” while we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country in the world. We maintain a prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba where we have incarcerated over 100 people for over a decade without so much as charging them with a crime, let alone due process of law. We say our police forces “Serve and Protect” while stopping citizens from exercising their right to protest and assemble, and brutalizing, and sometimes even killing, unarmed citizens for such heinous crimes as driving, walking or standing while black, and showing up to peaceful protests dressed and equipped for war. In all fairness, I guess, TECHNICALLY, it’s not an out-n-out LIE. They didn’t exactly specify WHOM they are sworn to serve and protect.

My point this morning is that we, the citizens of The United States of America are living in a state of delusion about ourselves, just like Donald Trump is. It is often said that “We have the government we deserve” and due to the similarities between what we say we are, who we’ve elected and HOW we’ve elected him, when you think about it, he’s perfect for the job. We have become, after all, Donald Trump, and we are in denial about it. Just like him! Yes, we have some issues to work. Not the least of which is that denial is not a river in Egypt at all. It’s the state of our current affairs.

Much Love,

Gregory

The Radical Activist Supreme Court

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The Radical Activist Supreme Court

July 2, 2012 by Gregory Franklyn

The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

There is so much to consider about the Supreme Court of The United States from the last week that my head is still spinning about what it all means. One thing has not changed and I guess that’s a good place to start. The Supreme Court is still a radical Right Wing activist court just like it was last month. Another thing that has not changed is that rulings from this court continue to be suspect due to the political and financial alliances of some of its Conservative Republican Justices.

Justices Thomas and Scalia are both close associates of the Koch Brothers and have been featured guests at invitation only Right Wing political retreats (plural) while at the same time, ruling on the Citizens United case which lifted any restrictions on the amount of money the Koch Brothers Foundations and PACs can contribute to political campaigns. Justice Thomas’ wife, Virginia, founded, fund-raised for, and chaired a Conservative Political Action Committee which advocates repealing the Affordable Care Act while her husband is sitting on the court deciding the constitutionality of key parts of it. He ultimately ruled congruent to his wife’s position.

Justice Scalia, a close personal friend of Vice President Dick Chaney, went hunting with him while ruling on a challenge to the Vice President’s Energy Task Force and ended up ruling in the Vice President’s favor. How these relationships, particularly the timing of these relationships, are not considered conflicts of interest is well beyond most people’s ability to reason. One of two things are true here. Either we, the people, are just too dim witted to understand the legal nuances of Conflict of Interest, or we have a Supreme Court that has them and nothing of any consequence is being done to address it.

Which brings me to my first question about the Supreme Authority on the Constitution of the United States. Isn’t it a conflict of interest that the very people who sit on the court are the same people who decide what constitutes a conflict of interest for a Supreme Court Justice? Wouldn’t they ALL have to recuse themselves as having a conflict of interests? But, even more important to me, is why this is permitted to continue as if nothing were wrong with it? In both cases I mentioned, the offending Justice ruled in favor of their allegiances and both rulings stand as I write this.

Interestingly enough, no corresponding controversies about political relationships are being leveled at liberal justices on the same court. Perhaps they, alone, understand the concept of objectivity in jurisprudence and carefully avoid the appearance of impropriety. That matches up pretty well with what we estimate the foundation of The Supreme Court was intended to produce when it was decided that they would be appointed for life. Justices who are above partisan allegiances and have graduated into an elite college of legal minds that guide the progress of our nation without such petty influences.

This specific court has ruled on strict political lines, with precious few exceptions, in nearly every case since Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito were sworn in. Being a 5 to 4 majority, gives this Court the color of an arm of the Republican Party nearly equal to FOX Views.

Granted, we’re imperfect and incomplete, but surely we can agree that Justices of The Supreme Court should not be representing partisan Political views with such regularity. We had better hope that a challenge to Roe v Wade doesn’t get presented to THIS Court. This Court has already disregarded 100 year old precedents in Citizen’s United and Montana’s challenge to it. And, let’s not forget that the foundation of this Court’s ruling on Citizen’s United hinged on a sentence that was inserted by a clerk after the fact of the ruling on anti-trust law over 100 years ago. It was a well known typo, for crying out loud!

This week, the Supremes rule, on party lines as usual, that Montana’s 100 year old elections law, designed to counteract corporate interests in electoral politics, is unconstitutional on the basis that they had just ruled that Corporations are people for the purposes of free speech and that money is speech! In Montana there were 2 Copper Barons around the turn of the 18th Century that had corrupted the political environment, there, to the point where a Congressman, who had been elected by that corrupt system, was denied a seat in that Congress because the seat had been, effectively, purchased for him by a company. The House of Representatives simply refused to seat him. The people of Montana responded by enacting laws that prevent a company or Corporation from dominating electoral politics in Montana. It worked,,, for 100 years,,, that is until this past week when the Supreme Court told Montana, and 23 other States who have similar restrictions on Corporate contributions to political candidates, that they are required to open up the political process to what effectively amounts to hostile corporate take-overs of local and State elections in the same way Citizen’s United does for National ones. They doubled down on Citizens United!

It’s clear that this Court, along with their Conservative Republican counterparts, wants the United States to be run by big business. That wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t accompanied by a concomitant wave of Republican Governors and State Legislatures pushing a huge, nationwide effort to suppress voting by enacting regulations that make it harder for a voter to identify him/herself at the poles, and purging voter rolls to fix a problem that doesn’t appear to exist, but does eliminate a lot of minority voters, mostly Black, who also have a tendency to vote Democrat.

Rick Scott in Florida is the most aggressive purge in the nation and he’s currently under pressure from the Department of Justice, to knock it off. Those restrictions unfairly affect students and minorities, both of which tend to vote Democrat. This ruling plays right into the Republican strategy for dominating electoral politics with huge amounts of money, just like Montana 100 years ago, and eliminating voters who might vote for a Democrat. But, that’s a discussion for another day.

Add to that, the spate of newly elected Tea Party Republicans in both Governor’s offices and Legislatures that are enacting laws to eliminate Unions and the power of the people to defend themselves against the worst abuses by big business. Unions are the People’s version of a Corporation. It’s the only vehicle working people have for any hope of matching the money big business can use to dominate electoral politics. Taken together, all of this is a serious blow to the concept of social equality professed by our Constitution. And, this Court seems to be OK with that!

Next, we have the Arizona Bill 1070 Immigration Law which the Court struck down on the basis that Immigration Law Enforcement is not for the States to decide, but is the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. But it did leave the Racial Profiling element of the law alone to be considered later when someone objects to it and brings a case against it. Which seems weird when you consider another ruling that was handed down that same week. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act but not on the basis on which it was argued. The court held that the Mandate to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act was NOT Constitutional on the grounds of the Interstate Commerce Clause, but Chief Justice John Roberts searched the Constitution for another reason to uphold it, unlike in the Arizona 1070 case. Here, Roberts found that the Mandate can be considered a TAX, which the federal Government DOES have the power to enact and enforce. It’s a good ruling, but unlike this Court, and with the exception of the Chief Justice, it was decided on Party lines as usual

I think that Chief Justice Brown was signaling that he recognizes how polarized on party lines his Court really is and recognized how much trouble his Court is in, in the minds of the citizens on the subject of Constitutional objectivity. This Court is the most politically activist court in my lifetime and, possibly, much much longer than that. You can tell because Republicans aren’t complaining much. That speaks louder than words ever could that the Court is acting to their liking.

In stark contrast, Democrats are rightly hurling charges of judicial activism with vigor over such rulings as Citizen’s United and the Montana Elections case. Perhaps chief Justice Roberts wanted to hand one over to the Liberals in an attempt to, at least, put up some window dressing of constitutional objectivity. That remains to be seen, but there is no question that the Supreme Court of the United States is heavily colored by Conservative Republican Political Activism despite the Affordable Care Act ruling. How they rule on voter suppression and Roe v Wade in the cases that are surely headed their way, will tell us everything we need to know about that!

Republicans were so confident that this Court would uphold Republican Policy like they have in so many cases before it. We Liberals were sitting on the edge of our chairs, biting our nails waiting for the ruling to be handed down. We were equally sure this Court would rule like it usually has. I have enjoyed myself watching Republicans across the board lose their frigging minds over this ruling. They were so counting on this being Obama’s Waterloo. This could have been the last nail in the coffin of what the Republican Party has been dedicated to burying since January 20, 2009! I feel vindicated, as I waltz into my July 4th vacation, that the Republican Party knows a little bit more, today, about what it usually feels like to be a Liberal Democrat and I have no shame about enjoying what it usually feels like to be a Republican. Both are kind of nice to experience, actually!

Much Love,

Gregory

We Got It Right This Time

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October 28, 2007 – by Gregory Franklyn

 

I’m feeling a little better about justice in America today while watching the Genarlow Wilson case in Georgia unfold. You’ll remember that Genarlow Wilson was the 17 year old who had consensual oral sex with a 15 year old a few years ago and got sentenced to 10 YEARS in prison for it. It appears that while Genarlow was incarcerated, the law was changed because his case made it clear that 10 years was cruel and unusual punishment for a teenage indiscretion. Well, I guess so!

First of all, the sex was consensual AND no one in the scenario was over 18 and no one is suggesting that either party was forced against their will to participate. In addition, young Wilson isn’t a thug or a criminal type (we don ‘t know who the young woman is and I can understand that). The young man is an Honor Student and Football Hero at his High School. Of course being a Football Player or good student shouldn’t excuse anyone from accountability for criminal activity, but in this case I don ‘t understand what the crime is. Shouldn’t this have been an issue for both sets of parents or maybe a Pastor or two rather than the police, much less the Georgia Supreme Court?

I’m delighted that our legal system recognized how utterly insane this whole thing is and I sincerely hope that young Wilson doesn’t have to live with what goes with having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, for this youthful indiscretion. Since the statute of limitations on my own indiscretions is long since expired I can admit to having sex before I was 18. Can I have a show of hands here?

Not only was I not traumatized by it, I believe I may be a better, more balanced, person for having had the experience. In my case it was consensual too, and it was with another boy who was also not 18 yet. Looking back, if I had to make the same decision under the same circumstances, I would!

But our “Mature Adult” response to this incident is pointing up an issue that we, in the US, steadfastly refuse to have an informed, intelligent and rational discussion about. The idea of young people having sex is a discussion we seem to ONLY have with a knee-jerk emotionally charged sense of fear, loathing and often even shame.

Let me say, for the record, right here that I believe pedophilia is a bad thing! It’s predatory and almost universally results in serious damage on a number of levels for the victims and predators alike. I’m not talking about 30 year old people coercing 12 year olds into sexual situations.

I feel that we disrespect our young people when it comes to the subject of sex and, because of our own fear and shame about sex, refuse to equip them to make informed decisions about sex at a time when they are called upon, by nature, to make them.

If we educate our young people about sex at all it rarely begins before the onset of puberty when it would be of the most use. Most school districts that have any sex education at all start Sex education with 15-17 year olds. That s about 2, and sometimes as many as 3, years after young boys are already having very natural sensations and feelings of a sexual nature.

In those few school districts where sex education IS part of the curriculum, the education is sorely incomplete because of the things teachers are NOT allowed to talk about! A perfect example is “Abstinence Only” sex education models.

You might remember what happened to US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders when she suggested that masturbation should be part of a balanced sex education model and so should the use of condoms. You and I know that the use of condoms can prevent unwanted pregnancy and can prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS!

Right Wing Morality Thugs had a textbook MELTDOWN at the very suggestion. They claim that by teaching them about the use of condoms we encourage teenagers to have sex rather than wait until they’re married.

Jocelyn Elders was humiliated out of a job for suggesting that we equip our young people with what they’ll need for their very survival should they decide to disagree with us and have sex anyway! Teenagers truly aren’t ready to have sex, but not because all young people are too irresponsible at that age to make such a decision, but rather because we are too twisted up and polarized about sex to equip them with what they need at a time when it could make the most difference.

Here’s a little shocker for you in case you didn’t already know. Check my facts with any well-respected biblical scholar about this one. You might want to sit down for a minute! …Ready?

The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the teenager chosen by God Himself, to deliver His only Son was a mere 14 years old when she gave birth to Jesus! God Almighty chose a 14 year-old girl!

Exactly who do we think we are by disrespecting young women’s choices when God Himself felt a 14 year-old girl was ready to be the mother of his only child. She could have said no, but she made the decision to do so and GOD respected her decision!

I m not suggesting that we lower the age of consent to 14 because God thinks it s appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that he clearly does! I’m suggesting that some young people are going to make that decision one way or another whether we like it or not. I just don’t think they should have to die from AIDS for making a choice that you and I wish they wouldn’t.

So far, all studies that I m aware of say that “Abstinence Only” sex education has the opposite effect to what is intended; increased teen pregnancy and increased sexually transmitted diseases including HIV! When we teach our youth that abstinence is the ONLY option, when they make ANY other choice, we have left them hanging out there twisting in the wind. That simply does not make sense and disrespects them as people!

Which brings me back to young Genarlow Wilson. He got his sexual education the hard way because we didn’t give him the proper options to make informed decisions when he was called upon to make one. Whose fault is that?

So, God Bless America, our system of Justice got it right this time. young Genarlow Wilson is not going to spend the next 10 years behind bars because someone in our system of justice did their job with courage, with honesty and WITHOUT political partisanship! And, God Bless young Genarlow Wilson for helping us open a RATIONAL discussion about our responsibilities to the education of our young people. Let’s continue on this roll of getting it right for once. Let’s talk about this and have a little faith in how we have raised our children and respect their choices a little more.

It has always puzzled me that it’s technically a FELONY SEX OFFENSE, carrying a life sentence of registering as a sex offender and all that goes with it, when a person who is 18 years and one minute old has consensual sex with another person who is 17 years, 11 months, thirty days, 23 hours and 59 minutes old! Yet it’s completely legal if they do the very same thing 61 seconds later! Maybe we can start to look at this issue on a case-by-case basis and make decisions in the same way we expect our kids to!

Much Love,

Gregory