Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Opposite of Justice

From http://www.merriam-webster.com/

Thug: noun \ˈthəg\
: a violent criminal
:  a brutal ruffian or assassin

So, according to a couple of folks on my Facebook page, here is why Officer Darren Wilson was “justified” in shooting and killing unarmed teenager, Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014

Lived a thug's life, died a thug's life.”

That kid was a thug. He attacked a police officer and tried to wrestle it away from a cop.”

However, according to Snopes.com

“Cynthia Harcourt, a lawyer for the juvenile officer of St. Louis County Family Court, said after the hearing that she could neither confirm nor deny the existence of a juvenile record for Mr. Brown. Missouri state law prohibits the records of most juvenile court proceedings from being released to the public. But she said Mr. Brown had no juvenile cases involving serious felony charges or convictions, including murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Those felony records would not be required to be confidential and would have been released, but none exist for Mr. Brown, Ms. Harcourt said. Additionally, local news sources confirmed that Mike Brown was not facing any criminal complaints at the time of his death.

By now, we all know that Grand Jury that reviewed the prosecutor’s evidence in the Michael Brown killing has determined that that is no “probable cause” to charge Officer Wilson with any crime and, therefore, hold a public trial. I have to say that I am totally baffled at this decision. I mean, after reviewing just a couple of pieces of the “evidence” I can’t imagine how the average person could not have more questions. For instance: “Brown's body was found 153 feet away from the vehicle. That suggests, as witnesses said, that Brown was fleeing from the cop when bullets cut him down.” And then there is this: ”Brown was struck six times, with some of the gunshot wounds consistent with his body being bent forward at the waist." “Brown was 6-foot-4 and 292 pounds, and Wilson said he feared for his safety — yet the cop himself is an inch taller and 210 pounds.” “Wilson told the panel that, with the charging Brown about eight to 10 feet away from him, he aimed a final shot at his head.”

Bear in mind that the final shot was fired into the top of Brown’s head; the crown of Brown’s head; the apex of Brown’s head. Not into his gazing, glaring, and wide open eyes but the top of his head; again, “…consistent with his body being bent forward at the waist."

Ten of the 12 shots fired from Wilson’s gun were fired from outside of the police car. Why is this significant? Because Wilsons says his goal was to detain Brown until the backup he had requested (by the way, there is no evidence that the radio call for backup was made because Wilson’s “walkie” was apparently on the wrong channel.) showed up and didn’t intend to shoot Brown until Brown had started punching him in the face through his open window and began to reach for his (Wilson’s) gun. If that is so, why didn’t he remain in his car and simply follow Brown until backup arrived? In fact, why didn’t Wilson simply put his running vehicle in gear when Brown reached in to punch him in the face? He could have pulled forward and gotten out of his vehicle to better confront Brown. Or, if the decision was irreversible about pursuing on foot, why didn’t his mace canister or baton become options once Wilson had exited the vehicle and had distance between himself and Brown? I guess that would depend on when the decision was made to use deadly force. Well accordingto Wilson’s own voluntary testimony before the Grand Jury:

Q:        “Ok, so if he had not grabbed your gun while he was hitting you in the face, everything was the same, but he would not have grabbed the gun, you still would have used deadly force?”

A:        “My gun was already being presented as a deadly force option while he was hitting me in the face.”

      (Officer Darren Wilson's injuries from his encounter with Michael Brown - Reuters)

Now, again, it is important to know that the purpose of this Grand Jury was to determine if there was “probable cause” to indict Officer Wilson and allow for a public trial to determine guilt or innocence. So I ask the question, if this had been two civilians, would the shooter have been indicted? In other words, if Wilson had been a homeowner who recognized Brown as someone who may have stolen some tools from his garage and had tried to detain him until police could arrive on the scene and the rest of the story unfolded as described by Officer Wilson and an unarmed Brown ended up dead in the street, would there have been an indictment. I think reasonable people know the answer to that question. But then, according to a certain segment of American society, 18 year old, unarmed Michael Brown – alleged shoplifter and jay walker – was just a thug.

While I certainly condemn the violence against persons and property and the arson and theft still occurring in the aftermath of this Grand Jury non-decision; I truly understand the frustration the leads to it.

Chad (The Left) Shue

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Walk in the Park?

With the Mid-Terms over and two years left in the presidency of Barrack Obama, could it finally be time to reveal the inner Progressive that his supporters have waited 6 long years to see? A recent article in “The Hill” proclaims, “Obama Veers Left after Red Wave” and points to the president’s call for Net Neutrality and his Climate Change agreement with China as prime examples of how “lefty” Obama has suddenly become.

I have been giving this some thought since election night when all the predictions were proven true and the Republicans were given the keys to government. What does this mean for Obama and the Democrats in congress and how will it play out to the liberal base? Keeping in mind that all of this stopped being about the people a long time ago and has become a game of perceptions and power, I think Obama is getting ready for a nice walk in the park. With no electoral restraints ahead of him and no further obligations to a party out of power; it is all about image and legacy and Obama, if nothing else, is all about Obama.

The next couple of things to watch for are Immigration and Keystone XL. On the immigration front, Obama’s hands are now free to sign Executive Orders to stop deportation of the “Dreamers” AND their families as he was about to do before certain “vulnerable” Democrats begged him to refrain in hopes of allowing them to be re-elected. If Obama wishes to reclaim good standing for himself and his party with the steadily growing voting block that is the Hispanic community, he needs to act sooner rather than later. Obviously if he can get a more encompassing bill through the lame-duck congress, he would look even better but don’t hold your breath.

Now the very hot-button issue of the Keystone XL Pipeline is going to be even more interesting to watch. Long thought by most Progressives to be a dead deal just lingering in a do nothing congress; there is new movement by the Democrats in the senate to bring this bill to the floor for a vote where all indications are that it would pass with enough Republican and Democratic votes to move it along to Obama’s desk. Why would the Democrats do such a thing and what will Obama do? Well the Democrats believe for some really bizarre reason that they owe it to LA senator, Mary Landrieu, to let her vote on this bill to help her in her run-off election to keep her senate seat because….well just because. As for what Obama will do; this is the big question. On one hand, he could simply sign the bill (screw the environment) and show the Republicans he is really anxious to cooperate with them. His other option is to veto the bill and let Landrieu get in her vote and wait for the Republicans to bring it back in 2015 and do it all over again. My fear (based on his existing track record – China agreement notwithstanding) is that he will opt for option one in hopes of setting the tone for cooperation (capitulation?) over the next two years.

Something else to watch will be the continuing disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay.  There is a rumor going around that Obama will use an Executive Order (and his capacity as Commander in Chief) to finally shut the place down. The advantage to doing this now would be to save the Democrats in congress from having to defend the action and having to vote in the lame duck session to reestablish the facility. It would also force the Republicans in 2015 to actually pass a bill to establish a prison where we hold prisoners who are never formally accused of anything, tried by any judge, or released EVER. Of course there will be so many things that will come up over the next two years that will give Obama an opportunity to shape that legacy. Will he go out without a fight or will he be remembered as someone who left standing for a Progressive future? 

As for the new Democratic minority in the senate; Harry Reid has already indicated that the Democrats will only put up passive resistance to anything the Republicans want to pass. I am assuming that will include the repeal of Obamacare. Not being a huge fan of this homage to for-profit healthcare, I nonetheless have mixed feelings about repealing something that at least tries to do something to allow the sick an opportunity to be cared for without having to become homeless in order to pay for treatment. The fact that there is no alternative being floated is my biggest concern. I just read this morning that Senator Elizabeth Warren has been elected to a minor role in the new “Leadership” of the Democratic Caucus. Apparently there is a role called “Liaison to the Liberals.” Who knew? The bigger question; “Will this be the thing that keeps her out of the presidential race?”


Chad (The Left) Shue

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Morning After

And so the handful of Americans who make such decisions have decided it is time to return to a fully divided government with the Republicans in charge of two branches and the Clintonistas in charge of the White House. As I said in my previous post, it should be an interesting two years.

As for my home state of Washington, I am pleased to note that we are not as stupid as some would have us believe. I mean the majority was at least consistent in their votes to close the loophole in firearms registration. There was some concern at one point that we would pass I-594, requiring registration of all private gun sales and then also pass I-591; repealing existing registration laws that were more stringent than the national laws. As it turns out, there were still some folks dumb enough to do just that but not enough to affect the final outcome. Now for the court challenges ahead.

As for the legislative outcome in the state; apparently the folks where it mattered liked the idea of divided government so much (I mean look how much got accomplished in the last session), they decided to give the Republicans an even greater majority in the State Senate; big enough that it doesn’t really matter where Tim Sheldon sits this year.

From my personal point of representation, I feel pretty good. I believe my folks in the 33rd LD will continue to do what they can to promote a somewhat progressive agenda in the legislature and I even think that Adam Smith; who was finally able to come to terms with his own Progressive nature after redistricting found him in the most culturally diverse district in the state, will put up a good fight as a member of the continuing minority in the US House.

In the end, as a new member of the “Burn it Down and Rebuild” Caucus, I am ready to sit here with my can of gasoline; ready to do my part when I am called upon.


Chad (The Left) Shue    

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

After the House Burns

And so the media has awarded control of Congress to the Republicans to begin in January, 2015. I have no doubt that they are correct in their assessment and so I have a few thought on the subject.

For the Republicans, this now affords them the opportunity to follow through on their red meat promises like repealing Obamacare, eliminating (through defunding) Social Security, Medicare, the Departments of Education, Health and Social Services, Labor, the EPA and the rest of the programs they have labeled “government overreach” for years. They will control the purse strings to the Pentagon and, under the guidance of the war hawks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, push us even further into an endless war setting around the world.

And what does this mean for the Democrats? Well if history is our guide, it will become a fundraising bonanza as they will now become the party on the defensive with the freedom to run around the country and tell progressives and liberals what they will do if they can only regain control.
The sad reality is that little will change.  You see, the Republicans can’t afford to do away with the very things that keep their base voting for them. Oh, they will blame it on Obama’s veto pen but, in reality, it will be a well-orchestrated failure in the form of a bait and switch scheme. As for the Democrats, we've been down this road in the not distant past when, after giving Nancy Pelosi the Speaker’s Gavel, we found the major resistance to the promised progressive change from within the Democratic Caucus and, even most disheartening, a Democratic POTUS.

Of course there is even a more scary scenario where President Obama finally gets his most longed for opportunity to “compromise” with the Republicans; by which I mean he “loses” his veto pen on a couple of things here and there…but even I don’t want to go there. Let’s hope he doesn't either.
As the saying goes, “It is always darkest just before the dawn.” And so I am a bit more hopeful that it may be time to truly recapture that spark of liberalism that swept through the country with FDR and the New Deal. If the Republicans, under the rallying cry of their Tea Party masters, don’t completely burn the house to the ground, we will have an opportunity to rebuild based on a foundation of compassion for our fellow citizens and the belief that the purpose of government is the security and prosperity of the individual over the corporate overseers.

Maybe, just maybe, out of this looming period of darkness will come more beacons of light like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Allan Grayson, Dennis Kucinich, name your personal progressive hero that can bring the people together to rebuild a country united for the common good.  A country where roads and bridges aren't the last thing we should spend our tax dollars on; where education is not denied to anyone based on their social status; and, most importantly, where healthcare is a right not a privilege.  It’s sad to think we have to let the house burn down to achieve the home we all deserve but sometimes that’s just the way it is. Hopefully I’ll see you on the other side.


Chad (The Left) Shue 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Required Viewing

I spent the past weekend doing a marathon viewing of the 7 episode Ken Burns documentary, "The Roosevelts - an Intimate History" on PBS on Demand. First off, Ken Burns is an American treasure and deserves every accolade which can be bestowed upon him. More importantly in this case, this documentary should be required viewing for every Democratic Party organization and by every group that would claim to represent progressives in this country. Every county organization should purchase the entire documentary and set up viewings during the run-up to every election cycle. Local progressive organizations should acquire a copy and set up viewing nights.

As much as I believed I remembered from my history and government classes, the Burns style of story telling - with access to the writings and speeches of not only the primary subjects but also their friends, families, and contemporaries, brought me so much more clarity of and appreciation for the Roosevelt legacy. It reminded me of why I have always been a Democrat and reinforced my disdain for the current cabal that would call itself  Democratic leadership.

It is Ken Burns' methodology to place you in the time and space of the people he is bringing to you through photos, video, and narration of expertly selected actors and, where possible, actual players in the story you are being told. In the case of the Roosevelts, he (and therefore, we) was blessed by the fact that Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor were prolific diarists. Watching this documentary, you learn about Teddy's love and appreciation for our shared natural resources and how he fought to preserve and protect them from the corporations who would chop and drill and dig and pave over the vast wilderness and plains and mountain ranges and the politicians who served those interests. You feel the pain of average Americans who are being devastated by the greed of banks and corporations and austerity policies of a pro-business Republican Party. Yes, we are also reminded of the global interventionist bent of the Presidents Roosevelt, however, in the case of Franklin Roosevelt at least, it can be argued that he did wait for a congressional declaration of war before he simply sent troops around the world on a whim.

Now so many Democratic Party "leaders" will tell you that they are firm believers in the progressive reforms the Roosevelts brought us; yet when we ask today's candidates where they stand on single payer healthcare for all and income inequality, we are often reprimanded by these same leaders for demanding "purity."

I think Burns has done us all a great service by bringing us this story before the mid-term elections and, certainly before 2016. If you care about progressive ideals, demand that your party organization schedule a viewing of this excellent documentary.


Chad (The Left) Shue