Is running the US government based too much on ‘norms’ –  and not enough on rule of law?

Vox article heading

I read the Vox article Are We In a Constitutional Crisis Yet? with a mix of interest, curiosity and concern. While all of the 13 law professionals interviewed agree that we’re in a difficult situation in regards to how the United States government is being run today, some say we’re not in a Constitutional crisis until the president refuses to obey a court order – an order which could be issued if Congress’ demands for information relating to its task of rounding up materials needed to impeach government officials are ignored. read more

‘Searing’ eyewitness account found chronicling the destruction of Black Wall Street and the Tulsa massacre

Franklin’s typewritten Tulsa massacre account

The grandson of a survivor of the Tulsa massacre is a senior program manager at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where now resides the manuscript detailing the Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre and its impact on Black Wall Street residents. It is a first person account written by attorney Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960), who survived the massacre although his law practice was burned to the ground.“I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office building. Down East Archer, I saw the old Mid-Way hotel on fire, burning from its top, and then another and another and another building began to burn from their top,” he wrote.  read more

The best chance for anti-people politicians is to discredit Bernie Sanders – and they’re trying.

Bernie talks to youth

Anti-people politicians think they can win the presidency by discrediting @BernieSanders – and they're trying #p2

Pases grátis a parques nacionales para estudiantes del 4º grado | Free passes for 4th graders to government parks

Aproveche la oportunidad para conseguir un pase gratuita a los parques nacionales - para estudiantes del 4º grado. | Get a free pass to national parks for your 4th grader and the whole family!

NJ State Senators act to end prison-based gerrymandering

Prison-based gerrymandering is destructive to the families of incarcerated individuals. The NJ State legislator is trying to end this practice #p2

Newark Mayor to Trump: Forget the wall, fix the water system

In open letter, Mayor Baraka calls on President Trump to fix nation’s failing water infrastructure rather than pursuing a manufactured border crisis #p2

Some ways the GOP tax bill will destroy the environment

Margaret Mead Quote
Source: quotefancy.com

Camila Thorndike offers a list of some ways the GOP tax scam intends to destroy the environment. She found these items less than a day after the 500+ page tax bill was released to Capitol Hill politicians for the first time last night, just an hour before the GOP began pushing for the bill to be voted on. So more horrible measures will probably be found over time.

  • Hands out a billion dollars to oil companies and preserves $14 Billion in fossil fuel subsidies, more than renewables by a 7:1 ratio.
  • Suddenly axes tax breaks for electric vehicles.
  • Eliminates the commercial solar investment credit.
  • Jeopardizes wind energy by reducing credit for future projects by a third and threatening those underway.
  • Randomly opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, making an industrial oil field of this wild land, which is sacred to the indigenous Gwich’in people and home to 250 species and migratory birds from all 50 states and 6 continents. This, after three generations of bipartisan protection.
  • Further weakens the EPA (think: drinkable water, breathable air, EJ), DOI (think: national parks and public lands
  • and NOAA (think: oceans, weather), and then all state agencies that will scramble to fill in the gaps.
  • read more

    San Juan mayor responds to 45’s genocidal tweets: without help we will die

    Mayor Cruz

    The Nation reported on October 12, “San Juan Mayor Carmen Cruz woke up to Trump’s vindictive tweets on Thursday, and she texted a long message to Representative Luis Gutierrez of Chicago, who shared it with reporters.”

    Follow Mayor Cruz on Twitter

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
    Here’s the body of the Mayor’s message:

    Puerto Ricans have suffered greatly in the past month. Two hurricanes devastated our homes and our electrical infrastructure leaving us without the essentials to survive: drinkable water, food and medicine. But perhaps more frustrating has been the devastating actions, time after time, by a President whose tweets, comments and actions seem to be taken out of a book on “how to add insult to injury” rather than a book on “how to help during a humanitarian crisis”. He is simply incapable of understanding the contributions, the sacrifices and the commitment to democratic values that Puerto Ricans have shown over decades. His actions are unbecoming of a leader of the free world.

    Mr President, you seem to want to disregard the moral imperative that your administration has been unable to fulfill. Your replacement of the FEMA Coordinator in Puerto Rico is an admission that things are not going the way they should. Your tweets and comments just show desperation and underscore the inadequacy of your government’s response to this humanitarian crisis. It is not that you do not get it, it is that you are incapable of empathy and frankly simply cannot get the job done.

    Ever since this ordeal began, San Juan has had over 300 sustained volunteers from the United States. Good, hard working people from New York, Florida, California, Texas and many others who embody the fundamental values of compassion, ingenuity and hard work that you are certainly unable to express. These men and women, most of them union workers, have literally taken care of our bodies and souls. They did not come for a photo op or to throw paper towels and insults at us. They came to help, something you seem to be unable to grasp. These volunteers have seen the horror that you continue to want to dismiss. They embody the true spirit of the American values that you dismiss with every inappropriate and derogatory action and comment.

    Tweet away your hate to mask your administration’s mishandling of this humanitarian crisis. While you are amusing yourself throwing paper towels at us, your compatriots and the world are sending love and help our way. Condemn us to a slow death of non drinkable water, lack of food, lack of medicine while you keep others eager to help from reaching us since they face the impediment of the Jones Act.

    I ask every American that has love, and not hate in their hearts, to stand with Puerto Rico and let this President know we WILL NOT BE LEFT TO DIE. I ask the United Nations, UNICEF and the world to stand with the people of Puerto Rico and stop the genocide that will result from the lack of appropriate action of a President that just does not get it because he has been incapable of looking in our eyes and seeing the pride that burns fiercely in our hearts and souls.

    No one needs an invitation to help, to feed the hungry, to cure the sick, to give a helping hand to those in need. Simply put: HELP US. WITHOUT ROBUST and CONSISTENT HELP, WE WILL DIE.

    Mr. President fulfill your moral imperative towards the people of Puerto Rico.

    Carmen Yulin Cruz
    Mayor of San Juan read more

    Sen Gill urges Secretary of State to reject Trump commission request for NJ voter data

    What Trump Commission has asked for
    Screenshot from report by Lauren Weinstein

    Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex, Passaic) today called on the New Jersey Secretary of State to reject a request by President Trump’s election commission to turn over state voter data. The commission was established to investigate unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.

    The commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Vice Chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent letters to 50 states and the District of Columbia last week asking for information, including names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. It also sought felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006, according to published reports. To date, 44 states have already refused to comply, according to a story published today on CNN.com:

    President Trump has made claims for months that millions of people voted illegally in the last election, without a shred of evidence. Now he is using those unfounded claims to justify the collection of personal information and voter data from all 50 states.

    This request is alarming. Under no circumstance should the state of New Jersey turn over our residents’ information to this commission. I am calling on the Secretary of State to protect our state’s voter information, and refuse to comply with this illegitimate request.

    No one believes this Trump-created panel is interested in protecting the right to vote. The commission was created with the goal of legitimizing Trump’s widely discredited claims of voter fraud and is headed by Kris Kobach, the politically-driven Kansas Secretary of State.

    New Jersey should not contribute to the president’s effort to undermine the integrity of the election system. The Secretary of State must inform the people of New Jersey if she intends to share the personal information of the residents of the state with this illegitimate panel – silence in not an option. read more

    Bill Maher guest talks about Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s excellent training

    Bill Maher guests
    Bill Maher guests

    If you’re still wondering whether Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is worth putting time into, here’s another testimony to mull over. On Bill Maher’s RealTime, guest Bradley Whitford talks about the high quality training CCL offers to teach Americans how to talk about climate change with Republicans. Because climate change needs to be a lobbying priority and conversations about it must take place on both sides of the aisle.

    Free Press community empowerment event in Hackensack Wed June 7 – all welcome!

    FreePress - freedomWhat: Our Voices, Our Future: What Residents and Civic Leaders Want in Local Media
    When: Wed., June 7th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
    Where: Johnson Public Library, 274 Main St, Hackensack NJ

    Here’s what you can expect at the event: Free Press members, residents, journalists, and community leaders will be gathering to share ideas on how local media can better serve the public. You’ll get a chance to meet others like you, take action to address New Jersey’s local news crisis, and brainstorm about the steps we can take together to improve coverage in your community.

    Gerrymandering helped the GOP win big – so they seek to expand their advantage by sabotaging 2020 Census

    The Census in the Constitution

    Bill Moyers points out, “the Census is key to the work (of) researchers and journalists,” so hobbling the Census’ data collection process will hobble the ability of independent analysts to examine the realities of American life and to tell accurate and authoritative stories about it. Furthermore, funding to serve Americans is allocated according to the composition of neighborhoods and households – and these characteristics are established through the Census.

    And by the way, did you know that the U.S. Census is required in our Constitution?


    Marquette University archivist William Fliss tells how census data shows the transformation of the United States from a new republic to the nation it is today.

    Slate shares a short synopsis of the Census’ importance in terms of services for Americans:

    The decennial census is critical to ensuring that Americans are fairly represented in Washington, since it’s used as the basis for congressional redistricting. A mishandled census could undercount poor and minority populations, putting some states and many cities at a demographic disadvantage…

    The best description of the Census’ importance comes, naturally, from the Census Bureau website (at least until Trump removes it):

    The U.S. Census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the decennial census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

    The 2010 Census represented the most massive participation movement ever witnessed in our country. Approximately 74 percent of the households returned their census forms by mail; the remaining households were counted by census workers walking neighborhoods throughout the United States. National and state population totals from the 2010 Census were released on December 21, 2010. Redistricting data, which include additional state, county and local counts, will be released starting in February 2011.

    “The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of 10 years, in such manner as they shall by Law direct.”

    ~ Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States

    Gerrymandering is what has allowed elections to be skewed toward Republican control

    That bit about Census data driving the way election districts are drawn and how many Congressional Representative each state gets: is actually the reason why Republicans have recently acquired increasing control over Congress even during Democratic presidencies.

    Bill Moyers’ David Daley opened up discussion about the power of gerrymandering in August 2016.

    For all of the misleading nonsense about “rigged elections” coming from the Trump camp this summer, we haven’t talked enough about the way our electoral map really was rigged by Republicans after the 2010 census. These tilted (gerrymandered) maps make it possible for the Republicans to govern with a supermajority in Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin – despite getting less votes overall.

    The WaPo elaborates:

    How do conservative Republicans maintain so much power in the House, even though Americans reelected a liberal president and polls show that the GOP suffers from high disapproval ratings?

    Salon editor David Daley’s punchy, though overstated, new book lays the blame for Republican power in the House on partisan gerrymandering, the byzantine process through which state legislatures draw district lines to favor incumbents from one party. Challenging the claim that increased partisan polarization is a result of voters naturally sorting themselves into red and blue states, Daley argues that a group of operatives in the Republican Party did the sorting for them. The GOP poured money into an unprecedented effort to control governorships and state legislative bodies in 2010 and to then redraw congressional districts so that the party could turn the House into a firewall against the Democrats.

    While the term “gerrymander” has been around since the early years of the republic, computer technology and big money have allowed governors and legislatures to perfect the process in ways that have never before been imagined, according to Daley. The same technology that allows Amazon to figure out who buys what in any home on a given block now allows party officials to do the same with elections.

    Although his argument might not be as sexy as talking about how money corrupts politics or how the 24-hour news media leaves us all screaming, the success of Republican legislatures and governors at redrawing congressional districts is the reason, he says, House Republican incumbents have increased their power and don’t have to worry about any “wave” election that would shift control to the other party.

    So now: Why did the Census Bureau’s director quit?

    Sabotage is probably the reason Census Bureau Director John Thompson resigned today on 11 May 2017. He probably looked at the writing on the wall and understood that the Trump administration has little intention of allowing a fair, impartial and complete Census of the American people to be held this cycle. Slate share some of the ways the sabotage is being carried out:

  • To make matters worse, the administration has reportedly toyed with the idea of adding a question to the once-a-decade survey about immigration status, which some experts believe could scare many households out of responding.
  • Congress (just) handed the census an appropriation “that critics say is woefully inadequate.”
  • Thompson also testified to Congress last week that a snazzy new electronic data collection system that was meant to save expenses would cost 50 percent more than expected.
  • read more

    Spend 2 minutes to learn why net neutrality is more important than you think

    Website throttling
    Your favorite website will be in the “Everyone Else” lane if Net Neutrality is lost Source: Iowa State Daily

    Washington Post gives a neat synopsis of what The People stand to lose if Trump appointed Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gets his wish and finds a way to reverse the Obama era protections establishing net neutrality, which WaPo defines as, “the regulations that forbid Internet providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic.”

    The rules, approved by the FCC during the Obama administration, classified Internet providers as “common carriers” — a move that allowed the agency to regulate those companies more strictly than before. In addition to banning the blocking or slowing of Internet traffic, the regulations also gave the FCC the ability to investigate business practices among Internet providers that it deemed potentially anticompetitive.

    Supporters of the regulations argue that they are a vital consumer protection that prevents Internet providers from abusing their strategic position between Internet users and the rest of the Web. Without strong regulations, they say, Internet providers will be free to raise costs for consumers — such as charging customers extra to keep their personal data private, or to be able to view certain websites or use certain apps. Meanwhile, advocates say, ISPs could be allowed to charge website owners extra fees to reach consumers’ screens, and determine what apps and services may flourish online. read more

    NJ Sen. Loretta Weinberg hailed as champion of a free press and gov’t transparency

    Press freedom via freepress.net
    Press Freedom source: freepress.net

    Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg received the National Newspaper Association Open Government Award for her legislative advocacy to promote government transparency and accountability. The award was presented to the senator Thursday by NNA President Matt Paxton during the 2017 Community Newspaper Leadership Summit at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

    “Whether at the state or national level, an attack on the media is an attack on our democracy. Particularly during these uncertain times, we have to stand in support of a free and independent press. I am committed to continuing the fight for government transparency and accountability and am honored to receive this award from the National Newspaper Association,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “I am also dedicated to continuing the work that I’ve done over the last several years to reform the state’s open government laws to make government more accessible to the public. A strong press and transparent government are the best safeguards for truth in our state and our country.”

    Senator Weinberg led the fight against legislation that would have eliminated the requirement that public notices are published in newspapers, and was successful in blocking the bill from advancing late last year. The senator has also championed reforms to New Jersey’s open government laws, the Open Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act, that would update and modernize the state’s decades-old laws.

    Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association (NNA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing the owners, publishers and editors of America’s community newspapers. NNA’s mission is to protect, promote and enhance America’s community newspapers. Today, NNA’s 2,200 members make it the largest national newspaper association.

    In addition to Senator Weinberg, those speaking at the event included Martin “Marty” Baron, executive editor of the Washington Post, who previously served as editor of The Boston Globe which, under his leadership, won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into clergy sex abuse and was the basis for the movie Spotlight.

    Trump shut down NPS for climate change tweets but can’t block new unofficial Twitter account

    @AltNatParkSer
    Over at the Palmer Report, Bill Palmer tells us the way National Park employees found to stand up to Trump, who is blocking federal employees from commenting on climate change to the extent that he has issued a gag order to prevent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from mentioning it and has deleted tweets made by the National Park Service (NPS) and even suspended the Twitter account of one park account that tweeted about climate change. An anonymous group of individuals has created an unofficial Twitter account for park and climate change news that Trump can’t touch.

    The anonymous Park Service account is @AltNatParkSer, which bills itself as The Unofficial “Resistance” team of U.S. National Park Service. Not taxpayer subsidised!

    Here are the details of what happened:

    In his first days in office, Donald Trump has made a point of censoring and restricting what the National Park Service can and cannot say on its various official Twitter accounts. After the NPS tweeted photos of Trump’s small inauguration crowd, he temporarily suspended its Twitter privileges. And when the Badlands tweeted about climate change today, those tweets were then deleted. But now some unnamed individuals within the National Park Service have created an unofficial Twitter account that Trump can’t touch.

    Trump doesn’t have the ability to shut down a Twitter account, or to suspend it from being usable; only Twitter the company would be able to do that. Instead he’s been sabotaging the National Park Service Twitter accounts by presumably threatening to fire people if they dare to tweet things he doesn’t like, or if they tweet during times when he’s put them in the penalty box. But he can only do that if he knows who’s tweeting. read more