Sunsetting the Slave Patrols

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Sunsetting the Slave Patrols
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As they were breaking Jim out of jail, Tom Sawyer tells Huck Finn that “Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and a body ain’t got no business doing wrong when he ain’t ignorant and knows better.”

The number of videos gone viral, depicting police violence upon non-white citizens within the United States, has raised awareness of persistent failures to reform a cop-culture tracing its roots to deep within that of the slave patrols. As police unions continue to make excuses for oft repeated instances of brutality within their ranks, corrupt politicians game the system to insure that a black man or woman never amounts to more than three-fifths of a person in a vote tally.

Restoring Legitimacy

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Restoring Legitimacy
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From an early age we are admonished to “Never judge a book by its cover.” As we begin to pay attention to our participatory democracy, we quickly learn that any initiative named by a politician cannot be accepted at face value. Throughout history, we’ve been subjected to a wide variety of catch phrases that were used to deceive the general population. Most recently these range from trickle down economics to election integrity. We also suffer from the politics of destruction as childish coercive labeling is used to derail any sincere attempt to elevate the political discourse: Terms like repugs and libtards are now in common use.

One of the biggest ongoing deceptions involves simple misnomers. The term packing is generally understood to mean to fill a container of a given size. One might pack a suitcase or cram a large number of things into a given space, such as when a makeshift shelter is packed with beds jammed side by side. Of course, once a politician exerts their distorting influence upon the language of the realm, the meanings become contorted and decidedly self-serving.

Stay out of Politics!

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Stay out of Politics!
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“My advice to the corporate CEOs of America is to stay out of politics.” So said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on April 5th 2021. His aids were quick to point out that he was, in no way, referring to corporate contributions. As he warns of ‘consequences’ for exercising the same corporate free speech rights McConnell championed in the Citizens United case, Mitch is finally being seen as the unprincipled individual he has always been.

While the Kentucky Baptist alleges the CEOs are being bullied, we should definitely take note of how the Business Roundtable “redefined” the Purpose of a Corporation through a statement they published in August of 2019. In the statement, that moves, at least it’s public image, away from shareholder primacy, the organization claimed to adopt a commitment to all stakeholders. While many employees, suppliers and consumers doubted the sincerity of the Roundtable members and the PR piece, it now appears the “other stakeholders” just may be calling their bluff.

Defining the Zone

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Defining the Zone
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Prometheus is the Titan god of ancient Greece characterized by forethought. He was credited with stealing fire from the most hoity-toity of the gods and then gifting it to humanity as a cornerstone for civilization. The United States Supreme Court’s unanimous decision published on April Fool’s Day, rejected the chief cornerstone for our constitutionally grounded democratic republic in the Prometheus case, a case challenging a recent Federal Communications Commission decision ditching the ownership rules originally intended to elevate the public discourse.

By unanimously discounting the refiner’s fire of viewpoint diversity the Court has once again brought attention to its lack of intellectual rigor; for it ignores the declaration of intent, the value proposition, the mission statement, and the cardinal precepts of The United States Constitution as they were so carefully delineated in the Preamble. The front matter is, arguably, the spirit of the law.

A Net-Neutrality Win for California!

Roaring Twenties Reprise
A Net-Neutrality Win for California!
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Net-neutrality is the most important First Amendment issue of our time. It is the principle that all information, moving throughout the internet, should be unfiltered, unimpeded, and equally accessible to consumers. Broadband providers are specifically prohibited from blocking or degrading content. This includes sites and services that compete against their own services.

California enacted a law in 2017, that reinforced this principle after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Ajit Pai, a former in-house Verizon attorney, rolled back federal net-neutrality regulations. The Trump Justice Department immediately sued California to overturn its law. Broadband providers, through their trade groups, followed with a request for a preliminary injunction to stop the California law while the lawsuit wound its way through the courts.

Biting the Hand

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Biting the Hand
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As federal, state, and local governments take a new look at what companies should have access to public easements and utility rights of way, they really should consider all the angles. Especially since common carrier, public utility, or natural monopoly status may actually be in flux. One factor to consider might be the array of cases where a part of our essential communications infrastructure, specifically Internet Service Providers (ISPs), have sued municipalities that wanted to deliver their own Internet services. Two of the biggest, most self-serving ISPs, the ones that orchestrated an attack on net-neutrality, and thereby the First Amendment, should re-commit to serving the public interest as common carriers.

They should obtain this re-classification in an above board manner. Not by means of the usual political sophistries, that only serve to make our “elected representatives” even less representative. In the meantime, they should not enjoy a presumption of unfettered access to public utility easements or rights of way without the common carrier classification.

Defining Common Carriers

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Defining Common Carriers
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The first railroad chartered in the United States was the Baltimore and Ohio. Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, turned the first spadeful of earth on July 4, 1828. On May 10, 1869, the last golden spike was driven into the newly completed transcontinental railroad built by the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific.

Freedom of the Press

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Freedom of the Press
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From an early age we were taught that one of the unique values for our country is “Freedom of the Press.” Of course, from the time of this country’s inception, until very recently, freedom of the press was only available for the privileged few that own a press. The traditional understanding of what constitutes “editorializing” was, in ages past, based upon what appeared on the opinion page.

Today we understand that every decision by a publisher is an editorial decision.. Whether a story runs above the fold, at the beginning of a newscast, or if it runs at all is based upon the opinion of someone. To those of us who thrive within a world of competing ideas, this is entirely ok as we can always engage in channel surfing.

Pandemicide

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Pandemicide
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Sir Francis Galton introduced the term “eugenics,” meaning well-born, in 1883. His emphasis was on encouraging healthy and capable people, of above-average intelligence, to bear more children, with the idea of building an “improved” human race. The eugenics ideologies that are typically associated with the first half of the twentieth century are much older though they persist, even today. Now they are simply manifest in a different way.

While an individual may reasonably consider what their children might look like upon choosing a mate, a couple would likely be ostracized for using abortion for purposes of selecting a child based upon, say, hair color. In May of 2019, a Supreme Court opinion described abortion as a potential “tool of eugenic manipulation.” The opining Justice was referring to an Indiana abortion law that bans abortion motivated solely by the race, sex or disability of the fetus. He used the history of the eugenics movement to explain why “the use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical.”

Between Wishy and Washy

Roaring Twenties Reprise
Between Wishy and Washy
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On February 13th 2021, a pathetic minority of United States Senators landed decisively somewhere between wishy and washy on the question of autocracy versus democracy. As they were feigning reverence for the Constitution of the United States, they inadvertently highlighted the most fundamental problem facing the USA. It is a problem that has plagued civilization from the time of its inception and, from the looks of things, it’s not going away anytime soon.

When a democratic republic tolerates a reckless indifference to the truth by people occupying positions of honor and trust, it is hardly authentic. When we value government of, by, and for the people does it make sense to retain elected representatives who routinely engage in barratry, deceptive practices? Would an honest person take an oath as a juror and, while the trial proceeds, act as co-counsel for one side in the controversy? Would a judiciary willfully convert a whirlpool of information into a cesspool of disinformation through its lack of forethought and intellectual rigor? Would a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shrink from his constitutional obligation to preside over an impeachment trial?