Monday, July 15, 2013

Morning Twitter Messages -- July 15

Don't know if this is an official session or a less formal "meeting" discussing filibuster reform.
Tom Harkin's proposal is a rational adjustment. It's been around over a decade. But rational decisions are few and far between in Washington unless they have a string of amendments just short of castration. In the end, of course, the Harkin plan ends in majority rule. What a concept.
The plan he announced with Lieberman 14 years ago would have slowly scaled down the cloture threshold for legislation that had been filibustered. The first vote would require 60. If it failed to reach 60, debate would continue until a new vote, which would require 57, and so on until a simple majority could determine whether the measure lived or died. 
"You could hold something up for maybe a month, but then, finally you'd come down to 51 votes and a majority would be able to pass," Harkin said.

Calm is prevailing. For now. At least, that's something.  However, in theory, at least, here is what is now possible. Some night very soon, if he so chooses, George Zimmerman can load his piece, tuck it into the back of his pants, climb into his SUV, and drive around Sanford, Florida looking for assholes and fucking punks who are walking through neighborhoods where he, George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, doesn't think they belong. He can drive around Sanford, Florida and check out anyone who is dressed in such a manner as might frighten the average citizen who has been fed a daily diet of "Scary Black Kids" by their local news and by their favorite radio personalities, and who is dressed in such a manner as might seem inappropriate to their surroundings as determined by George Zimmerman, crimebuster. He can drive around Sanford, Florida until he spots an asshole or a fucking punk and then he can get out of his SUV, his piece tucked into the back of his pants, and he can stalk the asshole or the fucking punk, the one who is in the wrong neighborhood, or who is dressed inappropriately, at least according to George Zimmerman, protector of peace. If the asshole, or the fucking punk, turns around and objects to being stalked -- or, worse, if the asshole, or the fucking punk, decides physically to confront the person stalking him -- then George Zimmerman can whip out the piece from the back of his pants and shoot the asshole, or the fucking punk, dead right there on the spot. This can happen tonight. That is now possible. Hunting licenses are now available and it's open season on assholes, fucking punks, and kids who wear hoodies at night in neighborhoods where they do not belong, at least according to George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, crimebuster, and protector of the peace, because that is what American society has told George Zimmerman, and all the rest of us, is the just outcome of what happened on one dark and rainy night in February of 2012.
And, of course, this was not about race because nothing is ever about race. The prosecutors even told us that it wasn't about race. The defense won its case because this was not about race. The sharp guys and pundits will spend all weekend explaining how race was an element of the events that night, but that the case, ultimately, was not about race. And because this case was not about race, nothing out of our history counts, because our history, here in the land of the free, is not about race, either. Because our history is not about race, a few weeks ago, when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, what happened on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was not relevant. Because our history is not about race, last night, Emmett Till was not relevant, even though a few people inconveniently brought him up. But that was years ago, and the country has changed, and it is John Roberts' Day Of Jubilee, and this trial was not about race because nothing is about race any more.

When Gawker’s Cord Jefferson was in college in Virginia, he and his girlfriend were parked in a hotel lot eating sandwiches. The security guard drove up and asked Jefferson’s partner to step out of the vehicle. But she wasn’t in trouble. She was just being checked up on. “Are you safe right now?” The guard asked. 
It almost goes without saying that Jefferson is black and his girlfriend was white.
“It is a complicated thing to be young, black, and male in America,” writes Jefferson. “Not only are you well aware that many people are afraid of you—you can see them clutching their purses or stiffening in their subway seats when you sit across from them—you must also remain conscious of the fact that people expect you to be apologetic for their fear.” 
During the trial, Martin’s mother was asked by the defense whether she was avoiding the fact that Martin’s actions could’ve contributed to his death. Perhaps if Martin had acted differently — if he hadn’t been scared or been angry, or if he’d turned around and smiled and spoken to Zimmerman in a voice that reminded Zimmerman of kids he knew and liked rather than kids he feared — perhaps then, Martin would be alive today. Perhaps if he’d been quick enough and clearheaded enough to apologize for Zimmerman’s fear the night would have all turned out fine. We can see that now, too, and it’s an ugly thing to see.
Think about that for a moment...
You are expected to apologize for someone else's fear.

...most Americans make up their minds about cases like Trayvon Martin’s not because they have a strong opinion about how to interpret Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but because they have a strong opinion about race in America.
This is what the debate over Saturday’s verdict is really about. It’s another skirmish between those black and white Democrats who believe racism remains a grave problem and those white Republicans who think political correctness is a bigger one. It’s not just that most Republicans don’t worry much about discrimination against blacks. They’re increasingly worried about discrimination against whites. According to a 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, almost two thirds of Tea Party supporters consider discrimination against whites as big a problem as discrimination against blacks. People who consider Fox News their most trusted news source are almost twice as likely to consider “reverse discrimination” a “critical” issue as they are to feel that way about the old-fashioned, white-on-black kind.
He goes on to put lipstick on this pig by advancing the marginally nutty idea that "white victimology is a sign of racial progress." The reader can go to the link for more details.  It's like saying that addressing black people by using Mister and Miss instead of calling them by first names only was a sign of progress during the era of segregation. 

We should be well past that by now. I'm white and I get it and I'm no youngster. 
My parents got it before they died. 
If WE EVERYBODY can learn to use seatbelts and quit smoking in public places, then it's not too much to expect that WE WHITE PEOPLE who are supposed to set an example of civility and understanding can stop being bigots. All of us. Including that ignorant, defensive, self-righteous subset that is quick to throw stones at the ignorance of others while in denial of their own. 

Ta-Nehesi Coates has the most comprehensive, coherent column on the Trayvon Martin killing that I have come across thus far. Go to the link and read it carefully, checking the links with which you may not already be familiar.'s important to take a very hard look at the qualifications allowed for aggressors by Florida's self-defense statute... 
[...]   Effectively, I can bait you into a fight and if I start losing I can can legally kill you, provided I "believe" myself to be subject to "great bodily harm." It is then the state's job to prove--beyond a reasonable doubt--that I either did not actually fear for my life, or my fear was unreasonable. In the case of George Zimmerman, even if the state proved that he baited an encounter (and I am not sure they did) they still must prove that he had no reasonable justification to fear for his life.
...I have seen nothing within the actual case presented by the prosecution that would allow for a stable and unvacillating belief that George Zimmerman was guilty.
That conclusion should not offer you security or comfort. It should not leave you secure in the wisdom of our laws. On the contrary, it should greatly trouble you. But if you are simply focusing on what happened in the court-room, then you have been head-faked by history and bought into a idea of fairness which can not possibly exist. 
The injustice inherent in the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was not authored by jury given a weak case. The jury's performance may be the least disturbing aspect of this entire affair. The injustice was authored by a country which has taken as its policy, for lionshare of its history, to erect a pariah class. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is not an error in programming. It is the correct result of forces we set in motion years ago and have done very little to arrest.
When you have society which takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging. 
It is painful to say this: Trayvon Martin is not a miscarriage of American justice, but American justice itself. This is not our system malfunctioning. It is our system working as intended. To expect our juries, our schools, our police to single-handedly correct for this, is to look at the final play in the final minute of the final quarter and wonder why we couldn't come back from twenty-four down. 
To paraphrase a great man--We are what our record says we are. How can we sensibly expect different?


Washington, DC, July 14, 2013 - We are extremely disappointed by the verdict in the case of State of Florida v. George Zimmerman. As lawyers we respect the rule of law, but in this instance the Zimmerman verdict sadly highlights the continued injustices Black Americans face in the U.S. legal system.

"The verdict," stated NBA President John E. Page "says an unarmed college-bound Black teen can be profiled, stalked, confronted and killed by an armed neighborhood watchman with hollow tip point bullets. We express our heartfelt condolences to Trayvon Martin's family on this tragic verdict. We also say 'Enough is Enough - It is NOT OK to kill our youth'."

The fact is the jury delivered a not guilty verdict. The TRUTH is justice has not been served. In these most challenging of times, we are called upon to act. We must move from outrage to action. It starts today with the NBA and YOU!

"Injustice anywhere," as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said "is a threat to justice everywhere." We have work to do to achieve justice for Trayvon Martin. As social agitators, the members of the NBA are continuing the struggle for "equal justice under the law" for Trayvon Martin. At the forefront of this struggle are NBA members Daryl Parks (Past NBA President) and Ben Crump, of the Tallahassee, Florida law firm Parks & Crump, LLC, that are representing Trayvon's family in advocating for "equal justice under the law." We proudly stand with them.

We urge the Department of Justice to act. The Department can still address the violation of Trayvon's most fundamental civil right - the right to life. Upon a thorough investigation of the matter, we expect the Department to vigorously pursue all appropriate claims.

We urge all lawyers to act. Join us in Miami, Florida on Saturday, July 27 and Monday, July 29 in a CALL TO ACTION to collectively address the affront to and devaluing of civil rights of all men and women regardless of race who have been unfairly served by the justice system. We must not allow anyone to succumb to violence at the hands of vigilantes who ferment the devaluing of human life. It is now time to stand up.

ABOUT THE NBA: The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation's oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges. It represents approximately 44,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students and has over 80 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and around the world. For additional information about the National Bar Association, visit

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