Philosophy | Politics | Religion

Category: Uncategorized

I Have A Dream | MLK

Some might not like this speech or for that matter, like MLK but it is hard to dismiss his accomplishments and the environment they were accomplished.  If one hates him then perhaps they should ask themselves what they have done with their lives.

Full Transcript |Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.| I Have A Dream: Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check.

When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.

We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to his hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, when will you be satisfied? We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only.

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that, let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.

Winner-Take-All Electoral College

It is my position that the winner-take-all aspect of our Electoral College is at the root of our discontent with elections and has been for several decades.  I may be wrong.  Let’s explore.

Eliminating the Electoral College would require amending the Constitution.  A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds super-majority in Congress plus ratification by three-fourths of the states.  That is not going to happen in the next five years if ever.  So let’s look at the possible and leave the impossible alone.

The Constitution says nothing about how the states should allot their electoral votes. The assumption was that each elector’s vote would be counted. But over time, States passed laws to give all of their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote count. This is known as winner-take-all Electoral College system for electing the President and Vice President.

When a State’s popular vote is very close, so close that declaring only one voting district  invalid could change who won the popular vote, temptation to do so threatens what we like to think is a pillar of America — that being free and honest elections.  And even when that temptation is resisted, a losing Presidential candidate could merely just say off the top of their heads, that one or more precincts mishandled ballots to set off riots and cause voters to not accept the results of an honest and fair election.  Sound familiar? 

It’s not like the Electoral College hasn’t mostly agreed with the popular vote.  In fact, only five (5) times in history, have presidential candidates won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.  Too many?  Well considering two of those elections have occurred since 2000, I would say yes. The other three times were in 1824, 1876, and 1888.  If this trend where the winner of the popular vote looses an election continues, the divide in America will be a ticking time bomb.

Why would this trend continue?  Because the huge population shifts in the 20th century is giving small States more power and large States less power than was evident in the original 13 Colonies when the Electoral College was negotiated by our Founding Fathers.  And, because after the 2020 Presidential election, Republicans have passed over 30 laws in 17 states to facilitate partisan audits and allow state legislatures to replace previously protected election boards with partisan actors when they don’t get the results they want. Gerrymandering and mail-in ballots issues pale in significance of the elimination of protected election boards.

Prior to Republican controlled states passing new voting laws, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, almost 9 in 10 Democrats and 60% of independents said they trusted the 2020 election but only a third of Republicans agreed although among Republican and Republican leaning voters, those with a college degree trust elections more than those without.

The survey also found that most Americans feel that former President Donald Trump has continued to say the 2020 election was rigged mostly because he didn’t like the outcome.  But those results are largely because of Democrats and independents.  Many Republicans appear to have bought into Trump’s allegations about nonexistent widespread fraud in an election he lost. He often said during the 2016 and 2020 election campaigns that if he lost it would be because the election was rigged.  He was true to his word.

Let’s back up a bit and review how State’s Electoral Votes are allocated.  Every State gets two votes for its senators in the U.S. Senate plus a number of votes equal to the number of its Congressional districts.  Congressional districts in the United States are electoral divisions for the purpose of electing members of the United States House of Representatives. The number of voting seats in the House of Representatives is currently set at 435 with each one representing approximately 711,000 people. 

Each of the 50 states is given one guaranteed seat in the House of Representatives and any additional seats are based on their population as indicated in a US Census taken every 10 years.  But since the total number of Districts are set at 435, for every seat a growing state gains, another state has to lose a seat.  That is why California has 55 Electoral Votes and Wyoming has only 3 (2 for their Senators, and 1 for their Representative).  Although on the surface the allocation of Electoral College votes seems fair; in reality due to all states getting two votes for each Senator regardless of their population, a person’s vote in a small state like Wyoming is the equivalent of four (4) voters in large states like California.

A total of 538 electors form the Electoral College (100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and 3 from the District of Columbia).  Each elector casts one vote following the general election. The candidate who gets 270 votes or more wins.

Electoral College Roots

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention had to resolve how to elect the president. It took months on that issue alone.  The two choices were Congress electing the President or the popular vote should elect the President. Their compromise was the Electoral College.

In modern elections, the first candidate to get 270 of the 538 total electoral votes wins the White House.

At the time of the Philadelphia convention, no other country in the world directly elected its chief executive.

One group of delegates felt strongly that Congress shouldn’t have anything to do with picking the president due to giving them too much opportunity for chummy corruption between the executive and legislative branches.

A second group of delegates was dead set against letting the people elect the president by a straight popular vote because they thought 18th-century voters lacked the resources to be fully informed about the candidates, especially in rural outposts, and worried a populist president appealing directly to the people could command dangerous amounts of power.

For 32 of the United States’ first 36 years, a slave-holding Virginian occupied the White House (John Adams from Massachusetts was the exception).  The southern states had few white male voters than the northern states so clearly the creation of the Electoral College was in part a political workaround for the persistence of slavery in the United States.

There were no political parties in 1787. The drafters of the Constitution assumed that electors would vote according to their individual discretion, not the dictates of a state or national party. Today, most electors are bound to vote for their party’s candidate.

After the unanimous election of George Washington as the nation’s first president, the Founders figured that consequent elections would feature tons of candidates who would divide up the electoral pie into tiny chunks, giving Congress a chance to pick the winner. But as soon as national political parties formed, the number of presidential candidates shrank. Only two U.S. elections have been decided by the House and the last one was in 1824.

The Founders incorrectly assumed that most elections would ultimately be decided by the House of Representatives. According to the Constitution, if no single candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes, the decision goes to the House, where each state gets one vote.  That certainly is not representative of our nation’s political demographics. That assumption played in how States would be added to the original 13 Colonies where States allowing slavery would want to make sure future expansion would need to be one for one.

The populations in the North and South were approximately equal, but roughly one-third of those living in the South were held in bondage. Because of its considerable nonvoting slave population, that region would have less clout under a popular-vote system. The ultimate solution was an indirect method of choosing the president, one that could leverage the three-fifths compromise, the Faustian bargain they’d already made to determine how congressional seats would be apportioned.

With about 93 percent of the country’s slaves toiling in just five southern states, that region was the undoubted beneficiary of the compromise, increasing the size of the South’s congressional delegation by 42 percent. When the time came to agree on a system for choosing the president, it was all too easy for the delegates to resort to the three-fifths compromise as the foundation. The peculiar system that emerged was the Electoral College.

In 1800, the Electoral College operated as one might have expected due to the three-fifths compromise. The South’s baked-in advantages—the bonus electoral votes it received for maintaining slaves, all while not allowing those slaves to vote—made the difference in the election outcome. It gave the slaveholder Jefferson an edge over his opponent, the incumbent president and abolitionist John Adams. That election continued an almost uninterrupted trend of slave state favorites winning the White House that lasted until Abraham Lincoln’s victory in 1860.

The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, thus ridding the South of its windfall electors, sort of, meaning blacks couldn’t as easily use their newly acquired right to vote which continues today.

Why change now

  1. Voter suppression — subtle laws that make it harder for people to vote.
  2. Voting administration — substituting partisan people for nonpartisan administrators, purging voter election boards, allowing election boards to eliminate polling places.
  3. Population shifts– Due to technology the family farm is giving way to large corporate farming and today only 1.3% of those employed in the United States work directly in agriculture now feed the entire country and beyond.  This has resulted in people migrating to other states mostly to the coasts and large States continue to get bigger and small States continue to get smaller.  The Electoral College hasn’t kept up.
  4. The winner-take-all Electoral College — creates Red States and Blue States and about five (5) States that are swing States.  That means basically the winner of the Presidential election is decided by five States.
  5. The winner-take-all system — also makes it tempting for some States where the winner may be decided by less than 1000 votes to toss out the votes from some precincts to change who would get the entire State’s Electoral College vote.  That temptation will be easier now that many States in 2021 have given their legislatures the final say in which votes/precincts get ratified.  But, eliminate the winner-take-all element of the Electoral College and the tossing out of a precinct’s votes would not have the same impact.
    1. In 2020, despite the 7 million-vote victory that Joe Biden won in the popular vote, three (3) battleground states could have caved to pressure from President Trump to “find” 45,000 more votes  for Donald Trump to have won a second term. 
    1. The same could have happened in 2016 when about the same number of Electoral votes could have been “found” to have elected Hilary Clinton who had more than four million popular votes than Trump.
    1. Al Gore had over a half million more popular votes than George Bush and they were basically tied in the Electoral College requiring the Supreme Court to get involved.
  6. Section 5, Voting Rights Act — On June 25, 2013, when the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
    1. Due to a history of discriminatory practices, section 5 of the 1965 Voters Rights Act was enacted to freeze changes in election practices or procedures in some States until the new procedures have been determined, either after administrative review by the Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to have neither discriminatory purpose or effect. Section 5 was designed to ensure that voting changes in covered jurisdictions could not be implemented until a favorable determination has been obtained.  Those States have since been able to make it easier or harder for selected people to vote.

Yes, I realize eliminating the winner-take-all system will be fought by Republicans as their presidential candidates have only won the national popular vote once in the last 32 years.  The Electoral College would still exist and small states would still have their votes count more than the votes from larger states.  It would still take 270 Electoral Votes to win the election regardless of the final popular vote.

A political Party can decide to if they want to appeal to a larger group to be competitive for the popular vote or just take advantage of voting structure like the winner-take-all Electoral College and allowing small States to have their votes weighted.

Alternatives that keeps the Electoral College but fixes the most glaring problems

Alternative 1:

  • Two electoral votes to national popular vote winner; remainder apportioned by congressional district.

Alternative 2:

  • Two electoral votes to national popular vote winner; state winner-take-all for the remainder

Alternative 3:

  • The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). Started in the mid-2000s, the compact requires states to pass laws that would award their electoral votes to the candidate who wins the popular vote nationally. Under the current plan, states that join will not activate the compact until enough states have joined to total 270 electoral votes. That is, the compact does not go into effect until there is a critical mass of states for it to be effective.
  • Currently, 15 states and DC have approved the NPVIC. These states currently total 196 electoral votes and progress is being made to increase the number of States to join in.

Hello, Black Lives Matter

I’m an old white guy in my early 70s.  I have lived my life in lower middle class neighborhoods and school districts that were over 90% white.  My parents were raised in Arkansas but they moved to California before I was born and didn’t bring any racism with them to our home. I did visit my grandparents when I was 12 and 15 in Arkansas and saw white and black only drinking fountains that blew my mind. I saw an uncle who had two grocery items step in front of a black lady with quite a few items at the checkout line with neither one saying a word. Again, blew my mind. As an adult, I was in a prison factory in Arizona and approached a few black inmates and quickly found myself surrounded by about 30 black inmates. We talked and laughed a little and one said and they all agreed that I must have some black blood in me somewhere. We laughed at that as well, me being with light red hair.

A simple slogan like Black Lives Matter upsets too many people.  One would be too many, but I’m afraid there are millions that don’t like it.  They are racists and that group can’t help themselves.  A second group tended to immediately reply that all lives mattered. Those are the ones who should be the most ashamed. They were willing to include black lives as a real life but failed to grasp the reason the Black Lives Mattered slogan needed to stand on its own.

Black lives have been extinguished by those that believed black lives were not real, that they didn’t have a soul, that no one would miss them.  They had zero tolerance for black lives and the space they took up unless it was to serve and only then if they knew their place.  Oh, the south was willing to count them at something a little less that a whole person for census purposes to get more representation in Washington DC but didn’t want blacks to be seen or to vote.

Slavery has existed for thousands of years.  It was brought to America by colonists that established and settled in the Southern colonies that came from Barbados.  Barbados was an English colony itself that was well known for its cruelty to their slaves.  Barbadians were in to aristocracy and believed only the wealthy and privileged should vote and control government. The northern colonies were established and settled by those coming mostly from England, France, and The Netherlands and tended to be more accepting of the Native Americans and for creating democracies. United we gained our freedom from England, divided we fought a civil war.

20% of black men have spent time in prison.

03% of white men have spent time in prison.

27% of black men between the ages of 25 and 54, their prime income producing years, had zero earnings in 2014 and incarceration and its aftereffects were the main reason.

The Roots of Blacks and Police Interactions

“In 1866 a year after the 13 Amendment was ratified (the amendment that ended slavery), Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, and South Carolina began to lease out convicts for labor (peonage). This made the business of arresting Blacks very lucrative, which is why hundreds of White men were hired by these states as police officers. Their primary responsibility was to search out and arrest Blacks who were in violation of Black Codes. Once arrested, these men, women and children would be leased to plantations where they would harvest cotton, tobacco, sugar cane. Or they would be leased to work at coal mines, or railroad companies. The owners of these businesses would pay the state for every prisoner who worked for them; prison labor.

It is believed that after the passing of the 13th Amendment, more than 800,000 Blacks were part of the system of peonage, or re-enslavement through the prison system. Peonage didn’t end until after World War II began, around 1940.

This is how it happened.

The 13th Amendment declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” (Ratified in 1865)

Did you catch that? It says, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude could occur except as a punishment for a crime.” Lawmakers used this phrase to make petty offenses crimes. When Blacks were found guilty of committing these crimes, they were imprisoned and then leased out to the same businesses that lost slaves after the passing of the 13th Amendment.

This system of convict labor is called peonage. The majority of White Southern farmers and business owners hated the 13th Amendment because it took away slave labor. As a way to appease them, the federal government turned a blind eye when southern states used this clause in the 13th Amendment to establish laws called Black Codes.

Here are some examples of Black Codes:

In Louisiana, it was illegal for a Black man to preach to Black congregations without special permission in writing from the president of the police. If caught, he could be arrested and fined. If he could not pay the fines, which were unbelievably high, he would be forced to work for an individual, or go to jail or prison where he would work until his debt was paid off.

If a Black person did not have a job, he or she could be arrested and imprisoned on the charge of vagrancy or loitering.

This next Black Code will make you cringe. In South Carolina, if the parent of a Black child was considered vagrant, the judicial system allowed the police and/or other government agencies to “apprentice” the child to an “employer”. Males could be held until the age of 21, and females could be held until they were 18. Their owner had the legal right to inflict punishment on the child for disobedience, and to recapture them if they ran away.

This (peonage) is an example of systemic racism – Racism established and perpetuated by government systems.

Slavery was made legal by the U.S. Government.

Segregation, Black Codes, Jim Crow and peonage were all made legal by the government, and upheld by the judicial system.

These acts of racism were built into the system, which is where the term “Systemic Racism” is derived. This is the part of “Black History” that most of us were never told about.”

Damon K. Roberts | June 17, 2020 | #damonkrobertsrealtor

Hope’s Role In Politics

We need to help developing countries raise their standard of living and quality of life.  There should be hope everywhere.  Our businesses should stop trying to merely maximize profits off the backs of fellow souls in third world countries or from the natural resources of third world countries.  A fair share of profits gained from workers or resources should by invested back into those countries to build infrastructure, schools, and hospitals and resources should never be taken without protecting the environment and beauty of those third world countries.

We can help create more global hope because hope is America’s unique national quality.  It is its outlook for a better and promising future.  Americans approach challenges as opportunities and not as obstacles.  Most Americans look ahead toward aspirations and do not dwell on current circumstance.  Americans do this because that is its history.  Everywhere else in the world there is a history of struggle that has had to be overcome–a history where populations have not benefited from the power of optimism.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén