Saturday, August 2, 2014

Betty McCollum and Politics of "The Big Lie"

As I was out dropping lit for a candidate, I was engaged in a discussion with a gentleman who wanted to talk about the lack of accomplishment of Congress in this session.  While he tried to portray himself as a moderate/Republican, he continued to point toward the shortcomings of "tea partiers" as the source of the divisiveness in Washington.  His speech sounded very much like the continual referencing (with disrespect intended) of "tea-party Republicans" by Congresswoman Betty McCollum. The name calling approach is a standard tactic of those who want to dismiss and marginalize others, rather than engage in dialog and really accomplish a task. He had been swayed by the "politics of disrespect".

As I told this gentleman, the original intent of our Constitutional Republic was to create a system with "tension" (like a spring) that would make passage of poor legislation difficult.  In other words - gridlock was a decidedly good thing in the minds of the founders, because it prevented the loss of liberty for the minority.

When the Constitution was up for ratification, there was an ongoing debate, for and against, recoded in the writings of the Federalist and Anti-Federalists papers. The fears of the people for a government that disregarded the rights of the minority had to be allayed before ratification. From Federalist 10:
[Madison] thinks that "the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society". He saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy in order to protect what he viewed as individual liberty from majority rule, or from the effects of such inequality within society. He says, "A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths".
Disrespect and incivility are standards of the Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals:
5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.  In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'...
     "...any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments.... Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the 'others' come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target...'
So here is the most recent example provided by Congresswoman McCollum:

What this "politics of disrespect" accomplishes is to "poison the well" and attempt to shift the blame for a perceived "lack of progress".  Never forget that the "progress" that some may want may be a direct violation of the rights and property of others. That will get lost in the din of the ensuing flurry of accusations.  Follow the tactics of the "Big Lie"
never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
The demagogic use the "victim" politics appears to be the plan of the Democrat Party this year. The empty argument should not be believed, but history has demonstrated the effectiveness of the "Big Lie". If you want a real change in tone in Washington, those who practice the "Big Lie" are not who you should support.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

MNCD4 GOP Endorsement - Sharna Wahlgren

Minnesota Congressional District 4 (MNCD4) Republicans held their 2014 Convention April 26. They endorsed, by acclamation, an exciting first time candidate -- Sharna Wahlgren.

Sharna Wahlgren is a lifelong resident of Minnesota Congressional District 4. Attending Harding High School, graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Economics, worked with Senator Rudy Boschwitz in Washington, and spent 20 years working in the private sector with hard working, energetic, entrepreneurs.

Sharna realized that more is required if we are going to change the course our country is now set upon. Who represents our diverse communities priorities in congress? She contrasts her middle class priorities against the far left priorities of Betty McCollum (who receives a significantly divisive 93% progressive rating) in her nomination speech at MNCD4. Watch her speech to see her describe her views and plans for winning the hearts and minds of people in CD4. Responding to the demagogic claims of Betty McCollum that Republicans engage in a "War on Women", Sharna states: "We know a strong economy is the best friend any woman has. Single or married, we know that women don't want government dependency but want to live their lives free from the grasping claws of those in government who claim to know better -- they do not know better!"

Sharna's 2014 MNCD4 Convention Speech

Sharna Wahlgren is an attorney focusing in Patent, Trademark & Franchise Matters.  The processes, tools and requirements for innovative new products, businesses, and jobs are the heart of her work for 20 years.  Her experiences have been in a very diverse range "including gemstone enhancement, chemical compounds, computer software, medical devices, commercial refrigeration systems, snowmobile equipment, automotive maintenance equipment, adhesives, consumer products, and a variety of other consumer products and mechanical devices." Sharna has also worked in real estate, including condemnation and tax appeal. Giving Sharna a base and breadth of experience that will greatly benefit constituents of CD4.

Sharna has a broad depth of understanding of business, regulation, and government policy that affect you, your job, and improving the environment affecting job creation for you and your children.  Here in Congressional District 4 we have watched as businesses have diminished and jobs have left the area and the state.  Much of the reason for this is an environment of intrusive governmental regulation and obstructiveness. Current policy and policy makers are dedicated to a path that continues to disadvantage business growth and stifles job creation.  Sharna will bring enthusiasm, knowledge, and proven ability to changing that path in Congress.

Follow Sharna's plans and efforts at: (@sharna4us)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Harry Reid on "What right do they have"

Harry Reid often says some outlandish things, sometimes bordering on libelous, but none more so than his recent response to a question from a CNN media journalist.  It was outlandish on multiple levels and points. However these two stand out as cruel, heartless, and arrogantly incorrect.  His only intent is political gain, apparently at the risk of throwing children under the bus.

Here is the video of the question and Harry Reid's scurrilous response
Her main question was "but if you could help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you want to do that".  His response: "why would we want to do that!"

To be fair, though not sure why, that response may be less about being in context to her question, than his dismissing the real questions about financing the government.  I doubt such fairness would be afforded were it a Republican who had made such a statement

The main issue in his statements for him as a constitutional officer of the U.S. Senate is his comment
"what right do they have to pick and choose what part of government is going to be funded"

Perhaps Harry Reid should review the basic document of government, the US Constitution
Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution!
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

While he tries to shift the blame and call Republicans "reckless and irresponsible" it is obvious that this is no more than a game to he and President Obama.  Their stated position and strategy of absolutely no compromise is reckless.  Their strategy of closing open air parks and staffing them with more officers than Benghazi to keep closed than existed when "open" is truly irresponsible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Playing the Debt Blame Game

From the floor of the Senate:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Is this another "horrible idea" floated by, as Betty McCollum has described, those "Tea Party Republicans" who simply want to drive the American Economy into recession and destroy the "full faith and credit" of the United States?
From Rep Betty McCollum's web site:
"Tonight's vote was nothing less than Republican game playing with our government's debt obligations. This is a dangerous game that puts our national security, the U.S. economy, and millions of jobs in jeopardy. Congress had an opportunity tonight to ensure there are funds for our troops in harm's way and to protect America's fragile economic recovery as Congress and the President work to address the long-term fiscal crisis facing our nation. Instead the House Republican majority is signaling to global markets that it is willing to gamble with the full faith and credit of the United States."
Does this meme sound familiar?  Heard it from the left, or far left ( example MSNBC) leaning mainstream media enough to make it a mantra you could recite in your sleep?  The Republicans are to blame for shutting down Government, blocking the ability to pay Government's Bills.  Perhaps this will come as news, news I am sure you might initially reject if you are of such a mind.  Clearly those of a mind with Rep Betty McCollum reject this notion, when its convenient, and would blame Rand Paul or Ted Cruz for, in her words, "National Security, U.S. Economy, and Millions of Jobs in Jeopardy".

But the initial statement above was from then Sen. Barack Obama’s Floor Speech, March 20, 2006, providing a screed against President George W Bush's request for a debt increase. However now he is on the opposite side of the debate, speaking with equal disdain in his recent speech Sep 15, 2013
“If we continue to set a precedent in which a president … is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to put — pay the bills unless you give us … what we want,’ that changes the constitutional structure of this government entirely,” Obama said.
House Republicans, seeking to defund and delay implementation of the president’s signature health care law, have sought to use the upcoming debt ceiling and government funding fights to extract concessions from the White House.
Obama says he is drawing a line in the sand.
“What has never happened in the past was the notion that in exchange for fulfilling the full faith and credit of the United States, that we are wiping away let’s say major legislation like the health care bill,” he told Stephanopoulos.
“Never in history have we used just making sure that the U.S. government is paying its bills as a lever to radically cut government at the kind of scale that they’re talking about,” he added.
At that time, 2006, our National Debt was moving to $9 Trillion, now it currently is $16.7 Trillion, nearing double.  Each citizen owed roughly $45K, now its $52,864.93.  For a family of four, that's essentially the lifetime savings for the average American.

Every Democratic Senator in 2006 voted against the debt increase.  And in the house Betty McCollum has similarly been chameleon in her voting record:
McCollum, for example, voted against raising the debt limit every time it came up for a vote between 2002 and 2005. Since the Democrats won the House in the 2006 elections, though, she’s been a supporter of half-a-dozen measures with debt ceiling increases attached to them, including some straight increases, budget resolutions and three major economic recovery packages in 2008 and 2009 (the Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac takeover, TARP, and the stimulus package).
Were his initial statements about George W Bush hyperbole, social gaffe, lack of of leadership, or is it as as Guy Benson stated entirely self interest:
Blowing through Obama ‘red lines’ isn't typically that big of a deal if you’re a foreign butcher.  This president usually gets more animated about defeating his domestic political adversaries, so don’t worry too much about the Hitler comparisons, Bashar; the administration has likened Republicans to terrorists and segregationists, so you only rank slightly above Mitch McConnell on the rhetorical hierarchy of evil.  In any case, Obama’s definition of preserving the “constitutional structure” tends to vary, and by pure coincidence, his conclusions often align with his immediate political interests.
That was $8 trillion ago.  Obama’s decision wasn't just throw-away symbolism, either.  Democrats fell just three votes shy of defeating a debt ceiling increase to “make a point” about Bush’s (comparatively modest) spending and borrowing.  Now, 2006 Barack Obama’s actions are being lambasted by 2013 Barack Obama as reckless threats to the republic.
Under President Barack Obama and Democrat Betty McCollum we now have a much more severe threat to our Country, one might say near double the threat under their "lack of leadership". A threat fed by the continual profligate spending of those who simply denigrate opposition rather than attempt to really work on the problems.   That's "lack of leadership".

And is it not reasonable to consider the crippling impact of the unpopular Obamacare in any discussion of debt?  Even Obama's favorite go to billionaire guy Warren Buffet has said, in an article released by Money Morning;
"What we have now is untenable over time," said Buffett, an early supporter of President Obama. "That kind of a cost compared to the rest of the world is really like a tapeworm eating, you know, at our economic body."
Buffet does not believe that providing insurance for everyone is the first step to take in correcting our nation's healthcare system.
"Attack the costs first, and then worry about expanding coverage," he said.
Democrats, like Barack Obama and Betty McCollum, have never been serious about the debt.  To them it is simply a hammer to use to bludgeon opposition into following their desires, or get punished!  Yes we can do better.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria - Agreeing with Betty McCollum?

I currently find myself in agreement with the early Betty McCollum opposition to Syrian intervention. Probably not for the same reasoning, but the end result is agreed.  However will that agreement be longer than a fleeting moment?

Betty McCollum has always been consistently and vocally against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sometimes to the detriment of truth to the American people (relating to the level of the Al Qaeda threat, while Betty McCollum has stated "Al Qaeda is not longer a threat", they really still are, as Lara Logan explains the lie).  But now that it is a Democrat President, and her mentor Nancy Pelosi is solidlyhere and here acting as a war hawk, seeking authorization for War, is Betty McCollum showing signs of reversing her heretofore solidly anti-war stance?

Betty McCollum voted against authorization for use of Military Force against Iraq.  She was steadfastly against Iraq and Afghanistan actions.  This action similarly based but one of its several rationales on use of chemical weapons. Later the evidence was found lacking, but prior to that point all intelligence agencies, notably the French, were saying they were there.  However at the time there were also UN approved authorizations, world wide acknowledgement, Congress voted 296 to 133 for action, the American people were predominately for such action as well.  Several months (18 or more) were spent working with the UN and Congress to provide diplomatic efforts and sanctions to try to get Saddam Hussein to change.

So is she changing her tone now?  This action has but one rationale, the use of chemical weapons.

2/9/2013 from her website she voices strong condemnation, no hint of intervention

I strongly support President Obama's efforts to work with America's western and Arab allies to stop the bloodshed. Though China and Russia have chosen to stand with Assad, the world will not. Already, nations across the Middle East and throughout the world are expelling Syrian diplomats, tightening sanctions, and ratcheting up pressure on the Syrian government. The time has come for President Assad to step down, and for the Syrian people to determine their own future.

 from her website hints at possible escalation, though undesirable
Now is the time for measures that will bring strategic pressure to prevent an escalation of the conflict, rather than add to the wanton violence of a situation already out of control. Unilateral U.S. military action against the Syrian regime at this time would do nothing to advance American interests, but would certainly fuel extremist groups on both sides of the conflict that are determined to expand the bloodshed beyond Syria’s borders.”

9/3/2013 from her website  hints at possibly being convinced
As I have stated previously, the U.S. should not take unilateral military action, but it is clear the Obama Administration is making significant diplomatic efforts to seek support from a host of nations, especially Arab League nations, for a limited military strike. President Obama’s plan can only be successful if the world is standing with the U.S.”

“It is my intention to return to Washington tomorrow, attend additional briefings, and consult with the Administration and Congressional colleagues.  President Obama must make the case and earn the support of the American people and Congress, including this representative, for limited and effective military action against the Syrian regime.  I applaud the President for fully engaging Congress in this critically important decision.”

So will she continue to be strident in her opposition for military action? Or will Betty McCollum follow her mentor Nancy Pelosi in now voting for Obama's Second War?  Her last statement would seem to indicate her evolution in thinking.  She also voted NO on on banning armed forces in Libya without Congressional approval. Hinting at a new openness to military action by Democrat President Obama.

But wait, the verdict is still out on the validity of the basis for the entire argument.  Intelligence sources have been mixed at best.  There was an Israeli interception of Assad communication that would imply Assad was taking such an action.  However there have been UN reports (from Huffington Press) that the syrian rebels, many if not most now are Al Qaeda terrorists, may have been the source of the sarin gas, and a Russian report to the UN where Putin claims:
Russia says a deadly March sarin attack in an Aleppo suburb was carried out by Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, and it has delivered a 100-page report laying out its evidence to the United Nations. 
The later, Aug 21, sarin gas attack does seem more likely to be an Assad forces action.  However in this chaotic environment one would want to be a little cautious about exuberant behavior here.  There are no "good guys".

Nevertheless its getting embarrassing as previously anti war liberals jump forth to support Obama's Second War, with Howard Dean being one of the most recent nonsense talking heads.

Military action is not always a bad thing, nor one that should be dogmatically opposed.  But the mission rationale for US involvement, which seems sadly lacking, planning, both the action and the followup must be carefully planned, and well executed.  And here is where we see the most damning case against military action in Syria.  The utter incompetence of this CINC and his cohorts in the State Department.  A perfect military action can be not merely wasted but turned into a complete disaster by the political mismanagement that is evidenced in Obama's First War in Libya. An outcome that has benefited no one but Al Qaeda.  More on that next time.

Perhaps Betty McCollum needs some reinforcement about constituent views, which are overwhelmingly, 60%, against action in Syria.  If you would like to send her an email contact her here.

Update: bringing new meaning to the word fleeting, as I did a final look at email I found the Betty McCollum has made the transition to supporting military action.  Who knew..  Call and tell her your displeasure.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Betty McCollum, Does she mean Open Borders?

Congressional District 4 Representative Betty McCollum held what was termed a listening session on immigration policy on July 22nd at the Minnesota State Capital.  There were two presentations that spoke to the primary message that was the "take away".
1) Betty McCollum's introductory remarks, a full court press demeaning Republican intentions
2) Hector Garcia's that let slip the mask to see the desired end point.  Open Borders, not immigration "reform".

The participants were:
US Rep Betty McCollum 
MN Sen Sandy Pappas
Matt Bostrom, Sheriff, Ramsey County
John Keller, Immigration Law Center
Michehe McKenzie, MN Advocate for Human Rights
Bruce Thao, Hmong American Partnership
Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council
Abdullah Kiatamba, African Immigrant Services
Steve Hunter, MN AFL-CIO
Bernie Hess, Local UFCW
Matt Kraemer, Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Juve Meza, Student
Rev. John Guttermann, Interfaith Coalition on Immigration
Joanne Tromczak-Neid, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

The panels were as devoid of any balance in viewpoints as they could possibly be.  Immigration is a complex subject, with many aspects that must be discussed and thought out to form good immigration policy.  Is that possible, or intended, when only one view is considered?  It works very well for partisan politics, but not for real resolution of differences.

In her introductory remarks (shown in entirety in the video here) Betty McCollum stated:
"It is time for us to listen to the American People and pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Our communities need our Nation to provide a bill that meets the needs of our economy, keep families to gather, improves border security and interior enforcement, without compromising our values, or dividing communities. And something that will provide a pathway to earned citizenship for qualifying undocumented immigrants.  Unfortunately there are too many members in the house Republican caucus that want to block any attempt on comprehensive immigration reform.  Thats in the papers, I'm not, that's not a secret, people have heard that loud and clear.  So let me be clear, I fundamentally reject the solution by some of the Republicans in the, that the United States should just detain and deport eleven million individuals.  The opportunity to earn citizenship should not be out of reach in the Nation where immigration is such a fundamental part of our American story.  There should be a pathway for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and into the sunlight.  So that they can fully participate and investing our communities.  The Senate, US senate, should be commended for taking a concrete step to meeting this need."

While it is not a trait exclusive to her, Betty McCollum takes an extremist view of the Republican position.  Discounting completely the desire of virtually all Republicans to achieve immigration reform. Both fair and just. Just not taking the form that Rep McCollum would demand.  Yes the "papers", lead by an almost universally Democratic group of journalists (and here), do say Republicans want to block reform.  However, that is simply a canard to marginalize all but their own view.  Demagoguery will never achieve a solution to the problems they use as a wedge to stir dissatisfaction.

A key difference between the two views is that of securing the borders. Supporters of the Senate Bill, such as Rep McCollum, say that there are strict measures in the bill for border security.  However the DHS has full authority to simply say no to its implementation.  Leaving any such measures as impotent as if they were not present.

The US currently has one of the, loosest, most open enforcements of immigration.  Consider the Mexican policy  
Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.
The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

Article 27 of the Mexican constitution states: “Foreign citizens cannot own land within 100 km of the borders or 50 km of the sea; however, foreigners can have a beneficial interest in such land through a trust (fideicomiso), where the legal ownership of the land is held by a Mexican financial institution.” Of course Mexican immigrants to the United States can own land outright.

The restrictions in China are even more confusing, especially if you are Chinese

In Europe there are regions where there exists a Schegen Border Code for those Nations. There are practically open borders between them, for a period of 90 days, with proof of travel health insurance (also here).  However there is strict enforcement at the external borders.

This is essentially what the participants in the Betty McCollum listening session would appear to have really wanted.  For the United States to have completely open borders, without the limits of Schegen, with no enforceable laws to impede anyone from unfettered immigration or migration across what used to be national boundaries.  Could any national economy long survive and ultimately provide even basic services under those conditions?  Or is it intended to?

That was the clear message from Hector Garcia, Chicano Latino Affairs Council presentation on "Globalization" and immigration.  video
The context in which immigration is discussed is domestic, when it is really an international matter.  The immigrant, particularly the undocumented immigrants really are the primary social controversy in all these discussions.  Don't appear just after they cross the border, they have existence prior to that.  And I, I'm an immigrant myself from Mexico, now a citizen of the US.  I promoted the American Free Trade agreement, since before it was named as such, in 1990.  And that was the first agreement in the current stage of globalization.  And that to me is the context within which people from poorer nations are moving to more affluent nations.
And that has to be taken into account because they were not the ones who promoted globalization, it was promoted by the West, lead by the United States.  So if they end up here, it as a lot to do with the decisions that were made in Congress.  And this information is unfortunately not given out to the public as often as it should. Although academics know this quite well, there are a lot of researches throughout the country that know what the sources of undocumented migration are.  It is not publicized.  And so I think its never going to be possible for us to make appropriate decisions on immigration reform unless we understand the context.  And in that regard I believe that by acknowledging the context of globalization we will not only be able to resolve the challenging issue of undocumented migration, we will also be able to live more in keeping with the realities of globalization.
So these individuals are primarily here because they come from poverty stricken areas in their countries of origin, primarily Mexico and Central America and they have been cornered into an economic situation that does not give them many options, except to move to the United States, which is the wealthiest nation in the world.  Some others unfortunately have taken other directions which are even more dangerous, like joining the drug cartels of Mexico.  These problems will continue to mushroom until we decide that we have to manage the flows of labor that are part and parcel of international relations under globalization.
We cannot only think in terms of flows of trade, flows of capital, we need to acknowledge that people are going to go where the jobs are.  And if we change the game on them, their going to go where the new game is at. So I think by making their status official, in accordance with their countries of origin we will be better able to place them in those industries and jobs that most need their services.  Without that official status I don't think the undocumented migrants will ever be treated fairly or justly, because they don't have an official status.  They will be treated the way they are being treated now, and its not very justly.
But justice alone cannot be the only reason why they should be treated in a different way.  Economically in addition to the justice side would really make more sense of whats going on in the world that keeps changing around them and we're not helping them to understand what's going on and we're not helping them manage the consequences of those changes.  So which ever way we can help them, you [Rep McCollum] and others who are making these decisions to understand better the origins the repercussions how to better manage those flows. 

Further examination of the term "globalization" was given in a paper on the topic of Population, Migration, and Globalization.  Spelling out in more concise and explicit detail what this is really about:
Globalization, considered by many to be the inevitable wave of the future, is frequently confused with internationalization, but is in fact something totally different. Internationalization refers to the increasing importance of international trade, international relations, treaties, alliances, etc. Inter-national, of course, means between or among nations. The basic unit remains the nation, even as relations among nations become increasingly necessary and important. Globalization refers to the global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, mainly by free trade and free capital mobility, but also by somewhat easier or uncontrolled migration. It is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. What was international becomes interregional.
The word "integration" derives from "integer," meaning one, complete, or whole. Integration is the act of combining into one whole. Since there can be only one whole, it follows that global economic integration logically implies national economic disintegration. As the saying goes, to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. The dis-integration of the national egg is necessary to integrate the global omelette. It is dishonest to celebrate the benefits of global integration without counting the consequent costs of national disintegration. 

So if the goal of your view is open borders, it was an exciting discussion.  If you desire both fair and manageable immigration policy, while maintaining the ideals of American Exceptionalism as the greatest entity for good in the world, it was far more troubling!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Misrepresentation of Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground is a legal concept that is being too often deliberately misrepresented. Charles Cooke at National Review  states it even more clearly: "By dint of an unholy marriage between genuine ignorance and political opportunism, the Zimmerman trial has this week led to a peculiar dispute as to the propriety of so-called Stand Your Ground rules."  Mr Cooke goes on with a very thorough and excellent analysis of stand your ground.  See also the review at Hot Air.

It is part of and an extension to the Castle Doctrine.
The legal concept of the inviolability of the home has been known in Western Civilization since the age of the Roman Republic. The term derives from the historic English common law dictum that "an Englishman's home is his castle." This concept was established as English law by 17th century jurist Sir Edward Coke, in his The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628. The dictum was carried by colonists to the New World, who later removed "English" from the phrase, making it "a man's home is his castle", which thereby became simply the Castle Doctrine. The term has been used in England to imply a person's absolute right to exclude anyone from his home, although this has always had restrictions, and since the late twentieth century bailiffs have also had increasing powers of entry.
What SYG does is add two key components to self defense legal definition.
1) That the right to defend yourself, without having to first retreat, where ever you have a right to be.  It is not lost simply because you are not on your home/property.  The lack of that right gave tremendous advantage to criminals.
2) Extension of statutes that shielded people from any criminal/civil suits for using force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. Without that, people were too often driven to penury to provide their own legal defense by unreasonable prosecutions.

One of the misrepresentations is the deliberate misapplication of the Fourth Amendment "The right of the people to be secure in their persons" is often where they stop in their protestations.  However the application is evident from the reading of the entire amendment. It is protection from the government partaking in unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause.

Another, and one of the more egregious, misrepresentation comes from President Barack Obama.  As one that lays claim to the title "Constitutional Lawyer" should know his statement is incorrect, said in a recent Nationally televised speech:
From American Thinker
And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened?
It is instructive to compare what Mr. Obama said to the facts, as stated by Florida's criminal code (emphasis is added):
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

"Stand your ground" does not, therefore, entitle you to shoot somebody just because he makes you uncomfortable.  That's unless the discomfort is the physical kind that results from a violent assault.

The best study of Stand Your Ground cases in Florida was done by the Tampa Bay Times, in reviewing the almost 200 cases that they have documented in Florida.   Their diffusive analysis looks at a variety of situations and "explanations" of the application of the law in cases, some inconsistent, some unexpected like drug deals gone wrong.  A variety of weapons, other than guns, were evident in about one third of the cases.

The paper did a series of articles on their research.  The most significant for purposes of the current discussion dominated by Al Sharpton (who brought us the Tawana Brawley scandal revisited by the NYTimes ) and many people active in the progressive movement against the Constitutional 2nd Amendment, is an article reviewing racial aspects of the data.

They made two key observations, the rest mainly speculations and simple discussion
Point 1 ) Whites who invoked the law were charged at the same rate as blacks.
Point 2 ) Whites who went to trial were convicted at the same rate as blacks.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of nearly 200 cases — the first to examine the role of race in "stand your ground" — found that people who killed a black person walked free 73 percent of the time, while those who killed a white person went free 59 percent of the time.
Overall, black defendants went free 66 percent of the time in fatal cases compared to 61 percent for white defendants — a difference explained, in part, by the fact blacks were more likely to kill another black.
"Let's be clear,'' said Alfreda Coward, a black Fort Lauderdale lawyer whose clients are mostly black men. "This law was not designed for the protection of young black males, but it's benefiting them in certain cases.''
The Times analysis does not prove that race caused the disparity between cases with black and white victims. Other factors may be at play.
The analysis, for example, found that black victims were more likely to be carrying a weapon when they were killed. They also were more likely than whites to be committing a crime, such as burglary, at the time.
The use of "per cent" typically implies the use of statistical treatment, which is not really present.  There is no discussion of "standard error" in the statements or descriptions.  The further discussion that shows the myriad reasons and situations found, demonstrate that any reasonable statistic for error would be so large as to dwarf the differences they report. Hence their basic 2 statements. That would run counter to the ability to make any but a personal emotional statement about what it means.  Many are more than eager to make their emotional accusations for a variety of reasons.  Chief among them is the desire for political gain.

From Wikipedia another study that diminishes the racial argument
Another analysis of stand-your-ground laws by economists at Georgia State, using monthly data from the U.S. Vital Statistics, found a significant increase in homicide and injury of whites, especially white males.[8] They also analyzed data from the Health Care Utilization Project, which revealed significantly increased rates of emergency room visits and hospital discharges related to gun injuries in states which enacted these laws.
The perplexing cases in application of the law is by no means limited to Florida.  Many states have cases where information is murky and defendants can do some strange things.  In Texas a black woman was clearly threatened by a black male with a knife.  After taking out her gun and shooting him, she then takes pictures.  None of which lessens her right to protect herself from deadly force.  The whole thing was recorded by a surveillance camera.  Perhaps she did not know that, and thought pictures might protect her.

Another case that closely parallels Zimmerman - Martin is that of a black man who killed a white teenager when the teenager charged him.  Mr Roderick Scott was acquitted.  The best summary of this case that I have seen is at Snopes.  However another site which calls everyone comparing the cases "racist", a common theme amongst those misrepresenting the Stand Your Ground laws, states:
Scott, we must remember, was on his own property, defending his own property originally, from three individuals – not one – who were actively engaged in undisputed criminal behavior.
There are two reasons why the racist site is wrong.  The most important is, the action of the other committing a crime often means little as a defense against manslaughter.  If Mr Scott had simply walked up and shot the criminal, he would have been convicted.  The other is that, as Snopes stated, Scott heard a disturbance on his property, told his girlfriend to call the police, but left his property to confront two people rummaging through his neighbors car.  The third was walking away.  And finally, calling people racist or accusing them of being complicit of murder because they analytically review reports and disagree with the Al Sharpton's of the world is more about defamation than fair discussion.

So here is the obligatory review of some of the facts about Stand Your Ground and the Zimmerman - Martin case, from Hot Air
Had he chose, Zimmerman could have demanded a “Stand Your Ground” hearing in the pre-trial phase. If the judge had ruled in his favor, the charges would have been thrown out. He waived his right to that hearing, which means the media obsession with SYG is a total non sequitur, sort of like their obsession with gun laws post-Newtown that would have done zip to stop Adam Lanza. Right? Not exactly. The concept of standing your ground, i.e. having no duty to retreat when force is being used against you, is also part of the general self-defense law that Zimmerman did successfully invoke in being acquitted.
Don’t take any of this too seriously, though. Like I said yesterday, the SYG outcry is less about the particulars of the Zimmerman case and more about giving liberals something to rally around for the midterms when the DOJ inevitably decides not to prosecute Zimmerman. This is politics. 
Since President Obama has inserted himself in this case, as he did in the "Beer Summit", what views has he held on Stand Your Ground in his political life.
President Obama may currently be calling on the states to review their respective “stand your ground” gun laws, but he wasn’t always so opposed to the right-to-carry rule.
In 2004, while a senator in Illinois, he co-sponsored legislation that allowed for the same rights.
The text summary read: “Provides that it is an affirmative defense to a violation of a municipal ordinance that prohibits, regulates or restricts the private ownership of firearms if the individual who is charged with the violation used the firearm in an act of self-defense or defense of another. Effective immediately.”
The Illinois General Assembly website indicates then-Sen. Obama signed on as a co-sponsor on March 25, 2004.
As is usually the case with any legislation, there are several aspects that lead to a politician to vote for legislation. From they examine some of the "nuances" in Obama's positions.
Before one examines the validity of that claim, perhaps it’s best to revisit what the president said last Friday about SYG.
“It may be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations, confrontations, and tragedies as we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations,” Obama said.
Obama went on to acknowledge that SYG was not explicitly mentioned during the Zimmerman trial, which ended with the acquittal of the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, but said that the self-defense law should still be examined because the message it sends to society.
“If we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed has a right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from the situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?”
He then posed the question of whether Martin would have been justified in shooting Zimmerman if he had felt threatened when Zimmerman followed him in a car, concluding that  “if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
So, it’s pretty clear that Obama has a problem with the SYG law, which would make him a hypocrite if he did vote to expand Illinois’s “Stand Your Ground” law — so, did he?
The short answer is: yes.  But there’s way more to the story, so it’s not a clear-cut case of hypocrisy and/or flip-flopping.
. . .
S.B. 2386 went on to clear both Democratically controlled chambers, the state House and Senate, by a near unanimous votes.  As the National Review noted, at that time Stand Your Ground laws weren’t a partisan issue.  They were merely viewed as common sense self-defense laws by both Democrats and Republicans.

National Review reviews that there was much less partisan issue when Florida passed the SYG law, nor since, until the opportune moment.
There was little outcry about the change from minority communities. Perhaps that’s because, as The Daily Caller discovered, “African Americans benefit from Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing ’stand your ground’ would help African Americans.”
A third of Florida’s Stand Your Ground claims in homicide cases are made by African-Americans, a rate nearly double the black percentage of the state’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that of Florida whites.
The "racist site" I discussed before, also claims that Zimmerman is being used as a poster child by racists and bigots.  They are projecting their own prejudices.  It would never have been brought to national prominence, had it not been that it fit the political meme they were looking for. They continually bring up Zimmerman to force their agenda and to force response within the context of Zimmerman.  The real issue should be a discussion about treatment of individuals in the judicial system. There are so many other cases that really should be receiving focus to achieve real "social justice", or the more preferable, simply justice.  But that's not the goal of Zimmerman baiters.

There are two cases here in Minnesota that really should be the focus.

First: Police brutality in Brooklyn Park.  An inadequate treatment is shown here.

Second: The case of Mrs Dorothy Dunning.  It is an egregious case of the use of "best interest of the child" in keeping a grandmother from adopting her grand children.