Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Ferguson Fail, A Process Run Amuck

What is prosecutorial misconduct? Is the prosecutor in the Michael Brown Ferguson, MO, police shooting case guilty of it? There are many elements that can constitute prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor in this case, Bob McCulloch, according to many renowned legal minds has crossed the line with the Michael Brown Grand Jury. Is the Grand Jury process at fault in this case and other cases across our nation? In a nutshell, recent decisions by courts and juries have left many people in America pondering the answer to these questions.

The Process Is The Issue In Ferguson!

As a rule of thumb, we pride ourselves here at the House of Public Discourse in researching our points for accuracy and with an open-mind. Our research over the last several days has concluded the Grand Jury process in Ferguson as problematic and may have come to the level of misconduct by the prosecutor overseeing this case. Much of this dysfunction stems from witness accounts of the incident. The misconduct in the case primarily revolves around the handling of these eye-witness accounts. For example, we have found stories of so-called anonymous witnesses for the officer in this case who remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the local community. Many well-respected legal minds some who identify themselves as political right thinkers claim this case was a miscarriage of justice.
Officer Darren Wilson

Another problem surrounding this issue is a low bar we have placed on the taking of a human life by a police officer. The judicial process by  court precedent has given police officers a wide latitude in situations like in Ferguson. However, " death by cop," is on the rise in our nation to the point of being an epidemic. Moreover, a large portion of these killings involves " white cop," shooting a " black male." 

As in any situation there are truisms and realities. The justice system in America is adverse. Most of the time,  a cop and a prosecutor are on the same side in this adversarial system. The reality? It is harder to convict a police officer of a crime than a civilian. In most police shooting cases, a police officer will claim his life felt threatened. Unfortunately for the victim's families, proving otherwise has been a high bar to meet. Both the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings attest to this reality. 
More importantly where do the solutions lie? First, cameras on cops make a ton of sense. Second, we need to reform our criminal justice system. Our research on many levels and for many reasons conclude "We The People," need to put a better mechanism in place to ' police the police.' 

Does Our Legal System Sanitize The Behavior Of Police Officers?    

There is one sure thing that has materialized  in the case of Michael Brown. This case has brought an awareness of the need to reform the Grand Jury process. There is no arguing the national media attention in this case created a unique set of challenges for the prosecutor.

But law professors and legal experts had sharply varying views on whether the presentation of the non-indictment and legal procedures were followed appropriately, adequately or fairly. [See Source]

Judge Scalia
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to inquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880).

The Specifics 

In our legal system, a suspect under a grand jury investigation has never been thought to have the right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.[See Source] In this case, the prosecutor McCulloch allowed officer Wilson to give evidence for hours and including every morsel of exculpatory evidence he could muster.  Knowing the basic of exculpatory evidence is vital to understanding the malfunction and misconduct that this case has presented.

The Prosecutors Instructions To The Grand Jury.  

Bob McCulloch

"And you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not act in lawful self-defense and you must find probable cause to believe that Darren Wilson did not use lawful force in making an arrest. If you find those things, which is kind of like finding a negative, you cannot return an indictment on anything or true bill unless you find both of those things. Because both are complete defenses to any offense and they both have been raised in the evidence." [See Article]
By allowing officer Williams to testify for hours and allowing exculpatory evidence to be presented in support of these above-mentioned " complete defenses," this prosecutor has ignored how grand juries have functioned historically. There were several eye-witness accounts in this matter that suggest officer Wilson did not act in self-defense. This prosecutor could have but did not present these testimonies. Many critics of McCulloch allege he should have and if he would have done so an indictment would have come with a quickness. We here at the House of Public Discourse ask the question Why? What were  McCulloch's motivations for not allowing this testimony. We are not for a second buying the notions that these citizens were not credible. Our gut feelings tell us there are  more deviate motivations behind McCulloch's action or non-action in this grand jury process.

" Lock Them up, and Throw Away The Key," Nancy Grace has a problem with this case.

What happened with this Ferguson grand jury is rare. With all the leaks coming forth from this grand jury, it was reasonable to conclude there was not going to be an indictment in this case. Missouri is known as the " show-me-state." When the National Guard was sent in days before the verdict by that state's governor, it showed this writer all I needed to know or see. Grand Juries in this country almost always indict.

Or at least they nearly always do so in cases that don’t involve police officers.

In 2010, a study was conducted. In 162,000 federal cases brought before a grand jury, only 11 failed to indict.[Federal Bureau StatisticsIn the Wilson case this matter was heard in state courts. In Missouri, like most states, the prosecutor has the option to bring a suspect before a judge as opposed to a grand jury. The fact is many routine cases never go before a grand jury. However, with that said, it is common knowledge that it is very rare for a prosecutor not to get an indictment from a grand jury. Cases involving police shootings is are exception to this factoid. First of all, there is no real good data on police involved shootings. But researching  many newspaper articles on the subject, grand juries more often than not, by an extensive margin decline to indict law-enforcement officials.   

Police have been nearly immune from criminal charges in shootings in Houston and other large cities in recent years. In Harris County, Texas, for example, grand juries haven’t indicted a Houston police officer since 2004[See Source

Our research has led us to some reasons for this. One of the biggest barriers in procuring a conviction of a police officer is juror bias. No matter the evidence, jurors tend to trust the cops and seem to side with the police in their use of violence in police-related cases. There is also a prosecutorial bias. Whether their actions are conscious or unconscious, prosecutors who depend on cops in their work in criminal cases tend to present less compelling cases against police officers. Another reason is prosecutors only bring cases to the grand jury they feel they can win. There was no way the prosecutor in the Michael Brown case was going to drop the charges in this highly publicized case. There was no way this prosecutor could do that because of the many eye-witness accounts of the incident. However, as we have noted, he could change the process and tailor a sheepish grand jury to his privy. In short, there was too much evidence against the officer Wilson to not bring charges.

Beyond Ferguson, We The People Must Answer The Question, Why Are Grand Juries So Reluctant To Indict Police Officers? 

Voices From The House!

"Yes rioting is an extreme expression of anger and frustration. However, the actual issue being ignored is racism. If Michael Brown did everything he's accused of then he was wrong. However, racism is the issue being protested and is the elephant in the middle of the room. It is an issue that has never gone away.
Yes, some of the rioting is about opportunity and group mentality. Yes, I have studied it. The larger issue rears its ugly historical head as opportunity for the corporate rulers. Racism within the ruling class wants us to fight about the details.
There is an old saying that "the devil is in the details." It absolutely applies in terms of the mass media presentation of facts and or commentary. Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book." [House Mentor: Diana M Buettner]

Racism Is The Calling Card Behind The Ferguson, MO, Unrest.

Persons of color are the majority in Ferguson, MO. With one black city council member and three black cops in this town it begs the question, Why? [See:Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering?] Then when a white police officer guns down an unarmed black teen who is a suspect in a shoplifting case by putting six rounds in him, one in the head while on the ground, and there are riots in the streets, people have the audacity to ask, Why? Granted, violence and destruction of property is unproductive. But a peaceful gathering of concerned citizens to protest a perceived injustice is the American way in this writer's view. Moreover, the community reaction [outrage]  to this killing of an unarmed youth regardless of the color of his skin is a predictable outcome. Furthermore, with an ever increasing aggressive police force being fashioned from ex-military personnel all across America are, "We The People," being protected or are we seen as  game for the predatory police officer with an ax to grind?

There has been study after study that has shown inexperienced cops fearful of minorities have resorted to use of force. Often, these confrontations are between white police officers and a minority. There is a growing culture of confrontation between police and communities of color, and the problem is only getting worse.

Many experts argue that police forces that represent the community makeup can ease tensions. But the more systemic problem is the political infrastructure that creates and maintains disproportionately composed  police departments. This historical tension is most evident in towns like Ferguson, MO. When you have a population comprised of 67% blacks who have become non-factors in choosing their elected officials, what you get is Ferguson. 

There are innumerable ways a community can become so disproportionately misrepresented.

Ferguson's Mayor is white. Five of the six city councilmen are white. These members are tasked with recruiting, training, and setting parameters as to how the police functions. This white City Hall produced a 95% white police force. This disparity does not equal discrimination or prejudicial policing, but it does create an atmosphere where white elected officials seem insensitive to police brutality in these minority communities. Whatever the reasons for this dysfunction, gerrymandering, voter apathy, etc  its designers have circumvented the political process that would give people in the community the right to have a say in how that community functions. Ferguson, like many small cities, towns, and communities across this country, appear to be in an apartheid state where a small but influential group of people maintain dominion by discouraging electoral participation and creating a police state environment.

With radical-right wing courts allowing unfettered influence peddling in the form of Citizens United and  liberty being replaced by gerrymandering and U.S. Supreme Court regression of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, these factions have recreated a Jim Crow aura around this country. Ferguson is a case study of just what those policies reap. Moving forward, all Americans left or right should seek to ensure the electorate- no matter its makeup - has full participation, and the elected officials are a mirror of the community. If not, it's the view of the House of Public Discourse, "The Ferguson Fail, A Process Run Amuck," will be more and more commonplace.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Discourse Unplugged with Johnny Hill #2

The day of the bird is history. Great for us, not so great for the turkey. The House of Public Discourse has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend. I have been overwhelmed and overjoyed by the awesome, real, and quality associations I have made this year with all of you. However, as a person where the holiday season was a depressing time of year, let us not forget those who hurt inside no reason the wherefores.

Let's Be Thankful For What We Got. 

Voices From The House?

What is angering me is how many businesses are boarding up in surrounding areas of Ferguson now. I do not blame them, but what this is doing to the livelihoods of hundreds of innocent people is astounding! And of course, with the holidays upon us, timing couldn't be worse. What are people thinking? [HOPD Staff Editior Bev Cowling]

For Some, The Holiday's Are Just Another Day In Paradise.

Voices From The House. 

If you are a Christian and you don’t like the “separation of church and state,” then that means that you are unhappy with the Constitution that you so vehemently defend when it aligns with your beliefs. So let me ask you this: what other parts of the Constitution do you want to change? What else doesn’t align with your beliefs? Because if we start changing it to accommodate you, you can no longer claim that you’re working from the mindset of Constitutionalism and patriotism.
Indeed, the Constitution was created as a living document that could be amended. So when you “take our country back,” what else are you going to change about the fundamental basis upon which our nation was founded?[ Friend of House: Pauline Polly Risteau]

From The Streets Of The House

Everyone meet Marty. He just a man on the streets in my neighborhood. Marty is a proud man. Marty is a smart man. Marty has issues. Marty needs medical attention both physically and mentally. Marty is homeless. But mostly, Marty is a person.
Hi my name is Marty and I am somebody

We Are  Only  Humans Born To Make Mistakes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fiasco In Ferguson, Makes Ya Wanna Hollar!

Grateful Dead Banjo Player T-Shirt

As an old disc-jockey of mostly classic rock and funky ole soul, I have a tendency to relate current news events with music. As I sit here looking at the live feed [see above] of the unfolding events of the Fiasco In Ferguson, I, m reminded of the Marvin Gaye classic, Makes Me Wanna Hollar! What is ever so shocking is how fore-sighted our musical artist can be.

Violence Is Not The Answer, Make Ya Want To Hollar!!!

Voices From The House

 My heart is bleeding for those business owners who have lost their businesses, and for those who now will have no jobs.  They did nothing to earn this burden.  It was no choice they made, yet the price they have to pay is far higher than most others.
My heart bleeds for those who sincerely wish to silently protest the injustice they feel, without committing a violent act, because the acts of stupidity and vandalism are overshadowing them and their message.My heart bleeds for a town that is being set back when it could have been catapulted forward into a world of understanding, compassion and mutual respect.
And yes, my heart is bleeding for our nation, so caught up in teaching and learning hatred, bigotry and judgment that we can't see the world through the eyes of another.
My heart bleeds for a people that have still not learned that what we really need in this world is, quite simply, love.[HOPD Staff Writer & Editor Bev Cowling] 


Children Of The Ghetto, Keep Your Heads To The Stars!

Can We Imagine Peace??

What If Michael Brown Was Your Child??

Voices From The House!

Today my heart breaks for the Brown family and friends. My heart breaks for all the business owners who will have to start over. Its Thanksgiving but as for us we will be so thankful for the little we have that others don't have. How I wish I could just save the world. I'm saddened by the racism, hate and greed in this Country, saddened by the children and adults dying by the hands of those who are supposed to protect us. Our police are out of control, and it saddens me that today in this day and time that we must fear the police as if we were back in the 50's and 60's again. This country is not moving forward, but it is moving backwards. We must stand hand in hand together united to beat this system and work as one. We all bleed red, have the same bodies and hearts. I'm begging for equal justice for all color and origins. Its time for a change, time to fight back and use our minds without violence. I am sad today; I hurt for all who have lost their lives at the hands of haters and racist, ignorant people who have no souls. May God comfort your hearts Mr. and Mrs. Brown and people of Ferguson ......We will never forget Mike Browns life mattered!!! [Susan Collins: Friend of the House]

Be A Ribbon In The Sky

What Does The Law Say In The Matters of Police Shootings, and Moreover Should It Be Revisited By The Courts?

Current law gives police wide latitude to use deadly force.

Here is the Heart of the Matter from a legal standpoint.

Justice Bryon White
“It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape,” wrote Justice Byron White for the majority. “Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. …A police officer may not seize an unarmed, non-dangerous suspect by shooting him dead.”

But the court added that police could use deadly force if the suspect had threatened the life of a police officer.

“If the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape, and if, where feasible, some warning has been given,” said Justice White.

Voices From The House.

The ignorance of reality runs deeply throughout this country. Just as far as the massive corporate owned government and media will allow. Wouldn't it be something if the people actually had a voice that was recognized? You know like the voice of reason.It's called racism.

When our institutions use profiling based on skin color it creates fear on the part of the officers. They act from a place of fear rather than a desire to protect. Thereby supporting the premise that blacks commit more crimes. The poor and the oppressed populations are in fact more likely to steal, but the reasons aren't greed driven like those of the corporate owned government.
 Racism is an absolute reality in the present situation regardless of whether or not the officer Darren Wilson is charged. The idea that one incident has created this situation is in itself ridiculous. This country has work to do. I wish to state proudly that I would like to be a part of the solution and not a problem. One People One LOVE![Mentor of the House: Diana Buettner]

Voices From The House!
Omg!!!! Protest in Greenville* can I go get my groceries & shopping done* I am against racism!! The jury was Not a jury of peers- was NOT equal* I do BELIEVE in fairness & I don't believe in violent riots* I do believe in protest in& rallies & standing up for your beliefs if it can be done in a non- violent fashion* WE ALL DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH KINDNESS & EQUALITY!!! POLICE SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE-THEY GET AWAY WITH TOO MUCH SHIT!!
[Lisa Peacock: House Political Administrator & Social Worker]

Voices From The House.


If this is true then this matter MUST be investigated by the National Bar Association, the State of Missouri Bar Association, and the Department of Justice, and other related government agencies!!!!!
In addition to his duties as the county prosecutor, Robert McCulloch is also the president of The Backstoppers, Inc., an organization used to fund-raise for the men and women in uniform in both Missouri and Illinois. And, in August, his organization was affiliated with a t-shirt drive featuring a picture of Missouri and the statement “I SUPPORT OFFICER D. WILSON” which was set up to raise money for the Darren Wilson Defense Fund as well as The Backstoppers." [ See Source Sharon McGowan Willicome: Friend of the House]

People Do Make This World Go Round.

Final Voice From The House!

Something that has been bothering me lately about the grand jury report, and the statements that have been made from officer Wilson, and various reports made about this shooting. When the shooting first occurred, they did an autopsy, and released the animated drawings with the autopsy report done by Dr. Michael M. Baden, Forensic Examiner for New York State Police. Nothing in the grand jury report, or any media coverage lately, has even mentioned, or shown how the autopsy completely shreds officer Wilsons accounting of the shooting. On the pictures of the autopsy, they show two bullets entering his wrist from his palm side, with an upward trajectory. He would of had his arm raised somewhat to have the bullets travel in that manner. From the autopsy report, they give officer Wilsons height as 6' and Michael Browns height as 6'5. The two bullets that entered his abdomen were in a downward trajectory. The only way those bullets could of entered in that manner, would be if Wilson was above Brown, which would mean that Brown had to be at least falling, and fairly close to Wilson when those bullets entered his body. The two bullets to his head, went in at the very top of his head, and went almost straight down, which again from the trajectory, would mean that Wilson would of had to be practically standing right over him. This wasn't just the report from Dr. Baden, but also Dr. Cyril Wecht, world reknown forensic Pathologist, who also reviewed the autopsy. Why hasn't this been brought up? Furthermore,

 The Civil Rights Federal Investigation will gather all their investigative reports and the findings and actions that were taken, as well as the information from the grand jury. It will be interesting to say the least, what comes of it. After all is said and done, I'm sure that there will be a civil trial, and that should prove to be interesting as well. There are a few people that aren't happy about the questions that I have raised, and think that I am defending what ever Michael Brown did. I'm not defending what ever he may have done, or the way he did it. I just think from what all the evidence and the autopsy report shows, it isn't matching up at all with what the different reports that officer Wilson has said, or the grand jury, and I don't think that what Michael Brown did, warranted lethal action. Especially the way the autopsy shows it. [House Contributor: Edythe Redmann]

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymanding?

Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering? 

Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering?  In continuance to seeking an answer to the question, Where Do Democrats Go from Here, we find ourselves faced with another one, Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering?  Like influence peddling, the practice of redistricting called today gerrymandering has a long history. 

Late in 1788, just after Virginia voted to ratify the Constitution and join the union, former Governor Patrick Henry persuaded the state legislature to remake the 5th Congressional District, forcing Henry’s political enemy James Madison to run against the formidable James Monroe. The ploy failed, and Madison won, eventually becoming the nation’s fourth president. Monroe’s career wasn’t over, though: He succeeded Madison as president.[Library of Congress

Where Did the Phrase Gerrymandering Originate? 

The origin of the word “gerrymander” was a combination of “salamander” and the last name of Elbridge Gerry, who as governor of Massachusetts in 1812 signed into law a redistricting plan designed to benefit his political party. The term was put into print for the first time by the Federalist-leaningBoston Gazette on March 26, 1812. Printed alongside this cartoon, it described a newly formed district in Essex County, said to resemble the shape of a salamander. The portmanteau stuck. [Library of Congress

Shortly after the Voting Rights of 1965 passed, in Congress,  some states created black and white voting districts. This creation of congressional districts  was mostly achieved by evaluating Census data.  This type of redistricting got the name " affirmative gerrymandering." Its intent was to curtail discrimination and promote minority politicians. This brief overview of the origins of gerrymandering is valuable. Why? Because the redrawing of voting districts lines based on race or ideological criteria was not the intent of our founders or does, it represent a balance for Democracy as a whole. What is concerning to many is its use in these modern political times. Our research has found a shifting precedent regarding the redrawing of voting district lines.

The whole business of political redistricting [gerrymandering] can get ugly. Moreover, often at the taxpayers expense. 

"The opportunity to control the drawing of electoral boundaries through the legislative process of apportionment is a critical and traditional part of politics in the United States, and one that plays no small role in fostering active participation in the political parties at every level." Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U.S. 109, 145 (1986)(O’Connor, J., concurring in the judgment)
In short, the state of North Carolina was found in violation of the Constitution in its 12th Congressional District by drawing the lines using race as the predominant factor in 1993 However, the court shifted in the 1999 case Hunt v. Cromartie (99-1864),

Gerrymandering Created An Uphill Battle For Democrats in 2014!

This all centers around the 2010 Census. The Republicans through political design and lack of democratic voter participation were able to be successful in gaining control of state legislatures especially in the Red States. Their apparent first order of the day were to gerrymander their prospective districts. Create the now coined phrase " political safe-zones." 

Why this is, a problem for Democrats is as clear as a bell. These districts have been drawn with a partisan mindset which introduces us to another type of redistricting call partisan-gerrymandering. In states like Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina we have witnessed Democratic voters being packed into the fewest voting districts possible.[See Article] This activity is gerrymandering in its purest form. We have a situation where Republicans voters have been systematically placed to provide a win-win no matter the issues or the qualifications of the participants.  Granted geography had a role to play in some cases, but, by and large these areas were designed with partisanship in mind. 

Let's Be Clear Here! 

The practice of gerrymandering is not sovereign to the Republican Party. Democrats have been willing partakers of gerrymandering as well. With the way, the House and Senate have shaped up and with the next census not due to be taken soon Democrats have a significant issue to solve. Gerrymandering is one of those issues that many Americans feel there isn't much difference between the parties, in terms of how they use it.  

Regarding our focus at House of Public Discourse we hold the position that next to unbridled influence peddling made legal by Citizen United. The haphazard, and wholly undemocratic practice of redistricting based on race, and other social factors hampers our nations democracy. This dangerous ingredient in our political system has helped this country slip into something less that a Republic. In fact, gerrymandering is a total undermining of Democracy. 

Many in America, this writer being one feels that gerrymandering should be banned period. There is a better way. No question there has been criminal behavior associated with the practice of gerrymandering. Many have given up hope on changing a system that the very people we would ask to do so benefit. From a Progressive Liberal point of view, we contend we can overcome this disadvantage by doing what Liberals do, thinking outside the box. We need to fight in the courts, in the state capitals, and on the front steps of City Hall, and anywhere the fight takes us to overcome these corrosive elements in our governance. I want us[ liberals] to answer the question, Has Liberty Given Way To Gerrymandering, a no, but, hell no answer.

However, Did Liberty Give Way To Gerrymandering In The 2014 Mid-Term Elections?

Fresh off, Republicans winning their largest House majority since the Hoover Administration, Where do the Democrats go from here? Democrats lost of their second straight mid-term election has many in the party pointing fingers. There are the normal scapegoats, weak candidates, bad money allocation choices, dismal narrative to inspire the Democratic base.

The GOP benefited from the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.

Backed by the likes of ALEC state lawmakers were on the take from big lobbyist, advocating state-wide redistricting or gerrymandering. Redrawing congressional lines was the paramount focus of this enterprise. Due to the poor Democratic participation in 2010 and the emergence of the Tea Party, right-wing radical state Governors and Legislators carved out huge chunks of political real-estate based on partisan gerrymandering. This tactic paid huge dividends for the Republicans in  Ohio, Pennsylvania Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee and beyond.[The Nation]

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Discourse Unplugged with Johnny Hill #1

The House 

May The House Come To Order. 

Hello friends,  I finally have time to share and be with you fine peeps. It may be getting cold outside, but we are turning up the heat in the House of Public Discourse. Johnny Hill makes no bones about his passion for covering politics. We all have a shot being at least a drop in the bucket, and collectively these drops could become a flood to perfect positive change. When you peel back all the rhetoric, we find that nobody knows the answers, nobody has a solution, it's the makings of a bloody revolution to our troubled evolution. As One Nation Under A Groove we find melody and music to convey our message of just get down for the funk of it attitude and mindset. And, just like Sting sang about many of us were at one time Englishmen In New York. 

But, right now, I find a message in this classic jam by the group Chicago simply entitled: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? 

 then came : The Police

We Were All Immigrants At Some Point Except Those Brought Here Against Their Will!!!!!

Something from Tom

Where Do Democrats Go from Here? (Part 1)

Now that the 2014 mid-term election dust has settled, where do Democrats go from here? With the Republicans celebrating their commanding victory and winning control of the Senate, this reality has led to finger-pointing and excuses from status-quo Democrats.Some have blamed the voting machines, while others have blamed the questionable voter ID laws and voter suppression gimmicks enacted by red-state controlled legislatures and right-wing appointed Judges. Of course, the gerrymandering of voting districts undoubtedly played a huge factor in the election. Many Democrats who did vote were angered by the fact that 75% of qualified eligible voters stayed home..See Article

Shortly, after taking this political butt-kicking Senate Democrats assembled to hash out and take an assessment with what went wrong. 

This discussion took place in the old Senate chamber room which led long-time Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein from California to remark,

Old Senate Chamber Room
“One of the things about the old Senate chamber is, you don’t need a microphone. People speak very frankly and very much from the heart, and it was really kind of a heartrending three hours of discussion of what happened and why it happened and where we should go now in the minority.” [See Source]

According to our source, no agreement was identified that pinpointed the problems that have led many Republicans to claim a mandate from the election results. Moreover, there was no plan reached on how the party should respond to this elections outcome. Some Democrats blame the outcome on the unpopularity of President Obama., while others like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) blamed it on the lack of trust in government that is prominent in today's society.
Sen.Chris Murphy (D-CT)

“And when you have a country that has a deep distrust of government, it creates a problem for those of us who think there are some good things that government can do if efficiently run,” Murphy said.
“That is a real challenge for us going forward,” Murphy added. “How does our party communicate in an era where millions of voters don’t believe that government has a positive effect in their lives? I don’t have the answer to that question. I don’t.”

Progressive referendums win across the country even as Republicans beat Democrats in major races..

The House of Public Discourse would take issue, however, with that premise. The Republicans' victories in the 2014 mid-term elections are evidence of a right-wing ideological mandate for America. This past month's election outcome doesn't reflect public opinion or reflect the public sphere.

In fact, it was the results with strong evidence to back up the GOP's efforts to change the rules of government that gave ridiculous advantages to big business, with the advocacy of many conservative "special interests," throwing vast sums of money at politicians 'gone wild.' Sprinkle in a taste of voter suppression and you have the chemistry for a nightmare come true for Democrats. But while the left was getting a stomping in the election results, Progressive referendum issues won in all regions of the country. This storyline has been vastly unreported by the mainstream media. Some of these referendum issues represent significant victories for Progressive support in all areas of our nation. Impressive!

What should be encouraging for progressives is the place where these victories were won. 

Red and Purple states which indicate the citizens are not as conservative as Fox News might have one think. See Source

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

For starters, 'Dark Money' must go. The Constitutionality of Citizens United must be challenged whenever and wherever a court and Judge will listen. Our research found that 31% of money donated to political candidates and Causes where " under the table," secret money. What is being lost in this debate is that the business of influence peddling in our nations' capital is nothing new. There is a long history of corruption in political campaigning in America. One of the major push backs we often hear is the comment " makes no difference," " both parties are the same." No matter how simplistic, that comment may seem, it has some validity.

What Have Lobbyist Done To My Country?

The Citizens Untied case has given fresh "red-meat" to an already wolfish bunch. However, my research has found that surprising amounts of people do not know just what Lobbying is much less how it functions. On a personal level we all lobby for things.One of the first examples of how lobbying found its way into our public discourse revolves around President Grant. [See Source]
With modern day capitalism in vulture mode, it was the same mindsets back in President Grants' day that set the tone. They[Lobbyist] "bird-dog" President Grant learned his habits and the rest is history, though some dispute this version. Legend would have it that he[Grant] called them Lobbyists. . There is no doubt that President Grant was " spot-on," with this reference. Lobbyists "hang out " in the halls of the Congress and other venues as well.

Lobbyist Are Advocates.

Here are some facts. In the realm in which lobbyists roam, they see themselves as mediators. Lobbying by no means is a new endeavor. The term lobbyist was used in pre-America Europe. The term lobbyist has been very slippery to define. It was not until the Lobby and Disclosure Act of 1995 passed did any real oversight or definitions come into place. This Act was later amended and updated in 2007.
The purpose of this legal instrument was for the government to define lobbyists. This law is necessary because next to lawyers, lobbyists, and the Lobby Industry, have an atrocious image. The lobbyists will get paid from the groups or factions or maybe a Corporation or two. Their goal is to make friends with elected officials who could write favorable legislation for the groups' interest. We The People have been powerless to stop this activity. Moreover, controversial rulings by the Supreme Court have determined corporations as people. Is there even need for further example, for there are many? Over the years, we have seen scandal and a sense of poshness from lobbyists. These stories are legend and too numerous to name. Unfortunately, the operation of the Lobby industry has reached criminal proportions. In fact, one of the very few bipartisan views when polled in this country held by members of both Democrat and Republican parties, is their disdain for lobbyists.

What's dangerous is the Lobbyist is often the writer of the legislation to be presented by an elected official after enormous amounts of money have been spent. This factor is a perfect mix for the perfect political storm. And we have the aforementioned " distrust in government," to show proof thereof. The Corporate Lobby spends billions to ensure their preferred arrangements become U.S. law.

Should We Ban Lobbying? 

Here's where it gets crazy. For a practice so often associated with corruption, it may surprise many that it's a Constitutional right. Within the 1st Amendment, we are allowed to "petition the government for a redress of grievances."  Every large corporation in America has lobbyist pushing their agendas. The Pharmaceutical Lobby is an example. Private Insurance Corporations are heavily involved  in the practice. Big Oil and Gas are mainstays. Defense Contractors like Halliburton have been greasing palms in Washington for decades. Largely unabated There is profit in active lobbying. Don't fool yourself. The money these corporations recoup from actively written law in their favor is " biblical" in terms of greed.  However, the way jurisprudence is constructed around controlling lobbyist it lends itself to loopholes. 

Case In Point.
Politician turn Lobbyist 

    One of the major trends we see are politicians turning lobbyist after their days in Washington. Newt Gingrich  is not considered a lobbyist because of these loopholes. Gingrich has been getting paid to push private agendas forever. We see all too often [in writer's view], politicians who have received undisclosed amounts of money take position with said Lobby firm after their careers in Washington are over. Critics of lobbying fault the system as a reason for the corruption and abuse. The problem we here at House of Public Discourse identify is that current laws are ambiguous. We must recognize and put parameters on activity that can evolve from an honest campaign contribution into a bribe.
The Obama administration have taken steps to curtail this abuse.[See SourceOne thing is for certain; the bills U.S. Senators are passing into law are not being written by the elected officials in many cases, but, by Lobbyists paid to push a particular agenda. Our research tells us that is one truth Lobbyists don't want John Q Public to know.

In closing, Citizens United has just thrown gas on an already blazing wildfire. The mere fact that elected officials recently voted down efforts to do away with Citizens United, against the interest of their own constituents provides prima facie evidence beyond any reasonable doubt for the answers to the question, Where Do Democrats Go From Here? 1. Repeal Citizen United!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Untied States Of Corruption, What Happen To We The People?

" We The People Losing Its Luster Around the World."

America's Constitution has seen better days. We have enacted legislation that suggest corporations are people and that a dollar bill represents 'free-speech.' We have seen the Supreme Court rule on issues that are in complete violation of the ' church and state.' doctrine.[See Article]
The Constitution is the founding document of this country and the oldest written and still valid set of laws and precepts still in force anywhere in the world.[See Source]

“Of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.” [Time]

According to a recent study,  conducted in 2012 by David Law of Washington University in St.Louis and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virgina. The U.S. Constitution seems to have lost its luster as a model for constitutional drafters.

Mila Versteeg
“Among the world’s democracies,” Professors Law and Versteeg concluded, “constitutional similarity to the United States has clearly gone into free fall. Over the 1960s and 1970s, democratic constitutions as a whole became more similar to the U.S. Constitution, only to reverse course in the 1980s and 1990s.”

The United States of Corruption! 

There are several factors that can be attributed to this decline of influence. Our research here at the House of Public Discourse has identified these factors as follows.

  1. Instead of having short publicly funded political campaigns with limited or free advertising like many European countries. Here in  America we have long drawn out affairs in which those running for office have their palms greased with money by a particular interest. [Special Interest] Therefore they spend much of their time fund-raising. The general view of most Americans is that those running for political office are on the take. For example, House Majority leader John Boehner recently passed out cash on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to other House members. The Citizens Untied case is the grand-daddy example of all time of how money has influenced American politics and given it a black-eye from other countries perspectives.

American politicians don't represent " We The People," they represent the 1%. American democracy is being corrupted out of existence. [See Source]

2. Politicians in America are being bribed by capitalistic lobbyist to reduce regulation of their prospective industries. This political corruption, for example, has led to the financial corruption that is so apparent in our society today. In some cases, this corruption has been legalized. Without oversight, regulations, and government auditing, Wall Street went wild and actuated corrupt policies that led to the 2008 stock market crash.

3. Let's reflect for a moment. 90% of Americans still have not recovered from the 2008 Wall Street crash under then President George Bush II. Any valid thinking mind knows there were malfeasance and criminal behaviors undertook with a conscience. The mere fact that not one person has gone to jail is the epitome of corruption.[See Article

4. The United States spends more money on the military than the next twelve countries combined.[See Source]  What goes unreported is that about half of this spending goes for outsourced services, not on the military. This spending is nothing more than a prime example of corporate welfare on the grandest of scales.

Grand Theft Pentagon :Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror

5. There has been a concerted effort among venture capitalist in American to privatize prisons. The results of making a business of criminal activity is evident in the swelling prison population of American citizens to the tune of 2.2 million and growing daily. It is the view of the House of Public Discourse that it's wrong for corporations to profit from putting and keeping people behind bars. This wrongful trend is  even more aggravated by the move in the justice system spurred on by the aforementioned lobbyist to give over-the-top sentences for minor, non-violent crime. Then deny parole and "void"  people from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.[See Article]

6. The growing inequality gap in America has reached epidemic proportions. With the narrative of the Republican Party, to cut taxes for the wealthy, with a view, that miraculously there will be this " invisible hand" to trickle money down to the minion. Has been a complete policy failure by the Republicans.[See Article] As a writer, one of my most fundamental beliefs is that history does repeat itself. This difference we see in these modern times is very much like the times in our nations past when the Robber Barons roamed the earth. Both of these periods are marked with corruption.

7. The National Security Agency[NSA] domestically spying on American citizens in the House of Public Discourse view is a violation of the very basic principles of  American democracy. The Patriot Act itself the way it was written and implemented lends itself to corruption. This practice could be the grand wizard of all present day crime. So many of the already modern-day Robber Barons[1%] and corporations masking themselves as human beings "legally " mind you have violated the rights of citizens to unwarranted search and seizure of many fronts. This Constitutional imbalance and moreover contradiction created a server lack of trust and paranoia in the American populist. 

We could go on for hours, days and years about the corruption in the Untied States government today. This factual presence of corruption alone has created many qualified eligible voters to disenfranchise themselves from voting and engaging in our countries governance. The larger questions that linger to the people who still care is how do " We The People,"  overcome this corruption. No matter your political identification it is a given that most Americans feel our government is corrupted. The question we here at the House of Public Discourse raise are you one to surrender or fight? Because, this country without  a doubt is in a severe state of polarization and overall malcontent. Which begs the question, " What Happen To, "We The People."

Don't Vote Don't Bitch, Why Americans Fail To Vote!

Two-Thirds Say Special Interests Control Elections.

 Why do so many registered voters in America fail to vote? In California, a survey was conducted by the California Voter Foundation.[CVF] In a statewide study attitudes on infrequent voters and citizens eligible but unregistered was undertaken. This study was one of the first to shed light on the voter apathy in America.

Voting Takes To Long And I Hate Standing In Long Lines.

Is it not ironic how people will camp overnight to buy a pair of Jordon's or a new IPhone but to exercise one right to vote is too cumbersome.  These same people will not wait 30 minutes to express their vote for prospective government leaders. Does it take to long to vote? What is too long? Based on the House of Public Discourse research into this question revealed this is more an excuse than a reality. [See Article ] 

Just Don't Have The Time.  

The CVF study found that 28% of  "once an awhile." voters and 23% of qualified unregistered voters  claimed they were just too busy to engage in the voting process. CVF President Kim Alexander elaborates,
Kim Alexander

“This tells us that many Californians may benefit from more information about the time-saving advantages of early voting and voting by absentee ballot,” Alexander said. Voter registration forms are available in post offices, libraries and DMV offices."[See Source]
Alexander went on to say that the finding of the CVF study could assist campaigns trying to reach sometimes and no-time voters alike. There is a national opinion that our political process has been overwhelmed by special interest. This perception right or wrong has led to a major barrier regarding voter turn-outs.

Moreover, many participants in this study expressed the view that politicians are corrupt and don't care or speak to their needs. What was a bit jolting for this writer is that these same groups of non-voters to the tune of 93% acknowledged that voting was important.

“Civic duty and self-expression provide strong incentives to get potential voters to the polls, despite pervasive cynicism about the influence of special interests,” said Alexander.

The report also indicated that a friend and more so family dictate and influenced  how many infrequent voters decide their choice.[See ArticleNot the daily newspaper, cable news, or political ads.  The family indoctrination more than any other factor was a major reason in determining how a person votes to the tune of 68%. The CVF study also brought to light that door to door political campaigning had little to no effect on these non-voters. 51% of non-voters stated that they grew up in families where politics was seldom discussed. 

Non-Voters are young, single, less educated and likely to be of a minority.[See Source]

  • 40% of non-voters are under the age of 30.
  • Infrequent voters are much more likely to be married than nonvoters, with 50 percent of infrequent voters married compared to only 34 percent of nonvoters.
  • 76% of nonvoters have less than a college degree, compared to 61 percent of infrequent voters and 50 percent of frequent voters.
  • Among nonvoters, 54 percent are white or Caucasian compared to 60 percent of infrequent voters and 70 percent of frequent voters.

In closing, fresh off a historic low voter participation election in 2014. Where some agencies report 75% of registered Democratic voters failed to cast a ballot one who did vote could make a point, don't vote, don't bitch. When the Republican legislation starts to unravel Obamacare, and millions lose their health coverage don't bitch. When Republicans and the aforementioned special interest groups reduce welfare, and other social safety net programs don't bitch. When the vulture capitalist does away with regulatory safeguards to our environment don't bitch. When Republicans cut the taxes of the wealthy off the backs of the middle-class, don't bitch. When right-wing radical extremist Christian zealots dumb down our education by denying scientific facts don't bitch. When Republicans cut your medicare, and social security benefits don't bitch. When the right-wing military industrial complex pushes for wars around the globe and your son and daughters and grandchildren are killed and wounded by the thousands don't bitch. Lastly, when the Republican Party's economic policies drives this country back into the ditch bank, it was in the last time they held power if you did not vote which is  your only real  means of meaningful direct protest to these issues don't bitch. [Source: Johnny Hill, Author of House of Public Discourse]

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

Journalist Chris Hedges interviews political philosopher Sheldon Wolin, who says democracy requires continuous opposition and vigilance by the citizenry.