NY Bail Reform and Victoria Afet

From a Google Image Search – Yonkers Times

We have long been aware of the fact that US prisons hold more Black folks than White, at least in proportion to their representation in the nation’s population. It also became clear that many people were being held in jail for even rather minor offenses because they could not afford to pay bail. In fact judges could set unreasonable bail amounts in order to hold people in pretrial detention.

Citizens who are able to meet bail requirements tend to own homes and have incomes that qualify them as above the poverty level. Since many poor offenders, or alleged offenders, do not own a home or property, or have incomes that rise above the poverty level, setting bail has tended to unfairly disadvantage Black folks and poor folks. Some people spend months in jail before they are tried or sentenced. 

Without the Black Lives Matter movement we might not have seen the need for bail reform, but NYS has responded by attempting to right this particular inequality. Backlash from law enforcement groups was instant and fierce. The Bail Reform laws that passed in January of 2020 eliminated cash bail for almost all offenses except violent felonies. At a local level this meant that many repeat offenders kept being returned to the neighborhoods to reoffend. Most of these violations were minor, but disruptive to the community.

Officials were so upset about the Bail Reform laws and so vocal about it that by April, 2020 amendments had already passed the legislature. These amendments expanded the list of charges and situations to nonviolent felonies. This allowed judges to set money bail or even send people for pretrial detention. Bail is supposed to prevent people from being able to leave the area but with no property or job responsibilities it is believed that people will just refuse to appear in court when their presence is requested if they are not held. But because the courts are overwhelmed people can remain in pretrial custody for periods of time that might be longer than they would be held if sentenced in a timely fashion. This challenges the very notion of justice.

The April amendments also offered more options for non-monetary release such as mandated treatment or maintaining employment. These kinds of creative and positive reforms were what the Bail Reform law was aiming at. I’m not sure that local law enforcement spent much time discussing how the Bail Reform law could be used to address unequal justice. Mostly they just uttered a giant vociferous “no way.” 

A Case in Point

On March 172021 Syracuse police discovered the body of 93 year old Connie Tuori in her apartment in the Skyline Apartment building. An autopsy revealed that she had been dead since the end of February. Ms. Tuori had traveled the world but her travels had been curtailed by the pandemic, if not by her age. It was determined that she did not die of natural causes. 

https://www.newsbreak.com/new-york/syracuse/news/2184989829090/fearless-retired-teacher-93-was-killed-in-skyline-apartments-family-says

https://cnycentral.com/news/local/relative-identifies-woman-93-murdered-at-skyline-apartments-in-syracuse

After a request for public information in the matter a name popped up, a name of a 23-year-old homeless woman, Victoria Afet, with a record of many recent arrests. 

https://cnycentral.com/news/local/syracuse-police-update-arrest-93-year-old-connie-tuori-murder-skyline-apartments

Afet seems to have been living in Connie Tuori’s apartment with the dead woman’s body still present.

I guess it is easy to see how this incident can be used by law enforcement to demonize the new Bail Reform Law. On local news the DA ponders aloud on why Afet, with all her recent offenses is still on the streets. However he was being somewhat disingenuous, because clearly the courts had the option of setting bail for at least one of her previous offenses. She has not been proven guilty and we have no idea what kind of evidence exists, but because the crime she may have committed is so serious I doubt that anyone will question that she should be held for bail. If she were released, because innocent until proven guilty, she ought to be under some kind of supervision. She had previously attacked a 74-year-old woman to take her purse in the same apartment complex. 

Conclusions

This is a test of Bail Reform that could prove fatal. Tweaking the law would be preferable to overturning the law. The question that must be asked is what happened to Victoria Afet that turned her into a homeless 23-year-old making her way by stealing and possibly killing local seniors, and other lesser crimes? Syracuse has been cited for stubborn segregation and poverty. What are we doing to turn things around in our city and throughout our state? We have problems with violence that are usually found only in much larger cities. Whole generations of Black Syracusans are unable to partake of the opportunities their nation supposedly offers. 

Bail Reform Laws alone will not fix this, but this attempt at change should not be abandoned. Of course, if Afet is proved guilty she should go to prison. However, we  also should look to Ms. Afet and figure out where our city went so wrong. Redlining was practiced in Syracuse preventing home ownership to many. Home ownership leads to generational wealth. The most successful Black district in the city was replaced by a highway project which displaced thriving home owners and divided the neighborhood by routing traffic over it, creating a dead zone under a lengthy overpass. Change is required in Syracuse and in America and the need is urgent. Bail reform is just a beginning and we should fine tune it until it functions as it should.

Immigration: A Complicated Dilemma

From a Google Image Search – AP News – Migrants repelled at border.

Immigration at the Southern border is a complex topic that raises many questions for citizens in the US. Do we have room for more people? Should we remain closed even after the virus is managed through herd immunity? Are we worried that allowing so many to enter the country from South America will change America as we know it enough to essentially make it feel like a different country? Will new arrivals be assimilated? Will they be so numerous that they take over our society and turn it into a carbon copy of their homeland? How big a burden will these new arrivals be on our safety net and for how long? Will they become working members of our society, or will they be have to be subsidized for decades? Will we become a Spanish speaking nation or a bilingual nation? Will they be Conservatives or Liberals?  

These are things we rarely discuss because they seem racist and inappropriate. Since these questions underlie all the emotional debates we have about immigration at the Southern border they create an enormous fog of unexplored worries, mostly hypothetical, with no extensive data to supply answers. The entire situation remains fraught with fear and the desire to just not deal with it, to wall it off and place an impenetrable barrier between “us” and “them.”

But our humanitarian side sees our neighbors as leaving the countries they love, where their roots lie, not to overrun us, but to escape strife and land that is suddenly infertile due to climate changes. What was once a fertile triangle has become almost a desert that no longer produces enough food to feed the nations it once provided for. Young people are also being forced to either join gangs or drug cartels, or face terror and even death. The powers of these cartels have sidelined the powers and assets of the governments of these nations. 

We recognize that, as parents, we might also choose to send our children to another place where they might be safe, have enough to eat, and have better opportunities if it became necessary. We also recognize that inviting people who are poor into our nation when it is already doing an inadequate job of dealing with our own poor might increase the violence we are seeing among our own younger people who are trapped in poverty and who will seek any way out, criminal or not. 

Perhaps we even feel some guilt for pumping chemicals into the atmosphere that have changed weather patterns enough to cause that drought in the Northern Triangle of Central America, and, given the demand for drugs in the US we have even contributed to the failure of governments in that same area. In Venezuela the failing economy seems to stem more from too much dependence on oil and gas to provide income in a market where prices have fallen. Whether we are driven by guilt or necessity to consider the plight that drives migration from parts of South America to the US, even in a pandemic, it is our problem to figure out, and if we are who we say we are, it is our dilemma to figure out how to deal with migration as humanely as possible. We can start by recognizing this as migration and not immigration.

President Biden has offered a tasty bribe to the President of Mexico to help stem the tide of migrants for a while, at least until we get COVID under control. He has exchanged doses of vaccine for cooperation, a deal that helps both sides. This is a temporary solution and it is unclear how effective it will be. Biden also plans to invest in the home nations that migrants are fleeing to correct some of the conditions that are causing the exodus. We must assume that there will still be migrations to the US from South America as we cannot hope to solve all of the problems among the nations losing citizens. 

We have this moment and perhaps not much of a moment to figure out the answers to all of our questions about immigration or migration, or whatever you choose to call the ‘en masse’ movements of people that we experience so regularly. Can we come up with a decision about whether migrants are welcome, which migrants are welcome, how many migrants are welcome, what kinds of structure will be put in place that will be adequate to manage the migrations that will most likely continue? Will it actually be possible to set the terms for future migrations or should we come up with ways to deal with the real numbers that we can see are actually on the way? What would such a system look like as it would have to be adjustable for periods of more and fewer migrants?

It would be informative to follow what happens to migrants who are turned back and what happens to those who are allowed to stay but then we might have to understand the suffering that people are trying to leave behind and deal with our own callous lack of concern for our neighbors. 

After the pandemic, I would like to see a kinder system that recognizes the pain people feel at making the decision to leave their home country and family to start over. People who have a plan for what they would like to do in the USA and some reasonable connection or resources for pursuing that plan might be allowed a visa that would allow them to stay in America and visit home as often as possible, in other words, move back and forth across a more porous border. Those who apply for asylum and plan to never return home, who would seek citizenship and make America their new home, could be sheltered by a family member or sponsor as they are now, or counselled to come up with a plan for how they would make a living in the US and perhaps be provided with some aid to make their plan possible. 

I don’t believe that we can continue to turn people away at our Southern border and still claim the humanitarian high ground globally. Immigration/migration is a very complex issue indeed, but even a complex issue is unraveled by taking one step and at a time and readjusting as necessary. Once the pandemic ends or herd immunity is reached what steps do we want to take? Right now that depends on the Democrats, but at the next election the approach could change drastically. Yanking policies right and left periodically will not make any of this any easier.

Policing Armed Citizens

From a Google Image Search – The Economist

Recently a 17 year old young man who had been dealing with a mental illness all his life finally committed “death by police.” He created a chaotic situation where he was living so that a 911 call dispatched the police. He owned an air gun that shoots pellets similar to BB’s. It was modeled on a Glock and looked like a real gun. The police were aware of the air gun he owned, but they still had to consider that the gun pointed at them might be real. This young man, failed by modern medicine and modern treatments for mental illness, finally died at the hands of local police with far too many shots fired, all the usual overreaction that we find happening over and over in these situations these days. This young man was not of African American descent but he still joins the ranks of young people killed by overreactions from police. 

https://www.syracuse.com/news/2021/03/dispatcher-warned-of-jamesville-teens-airgun-and-suicide-by-cop-before-fatal-shooting-by-police.html

Tamir Rice was not mentally ill as far as we know, he was only 11, and he was Black. He was reported by a neighbor as being in a park with a gun, except that the gun was a BB gun. He was killed without any questioning as soon as a policeman arrived on the scene. 

Here are, to me, a couple of excellent reasons why we need gun regulation laws. Of course I thought it was more than obvious when a young mentally ill man with a gun shot 20 very young children and several adults and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but these poor parents have never been respected as they should have been. When guns are everywhere it puts police and even some Americans, especially Black Americans, in a bad situation. Police officers are always either paranoid that a potential perpetrator has a gun, or they are able to claim that someone they wish to be rid of has a gun even though s/he doesn’t. Black people do not tend to pass muster even when they have a legal gun with a permit.

Putting aside even the horrific situation that happened in Boulder or in Atlanta, or any appearance of a determined shooter in a totally unexpected public place which is difficult to anticipate, just the proliferation of guns because of a decision to put a certain interpretation to what the founder’s meant in the Second Amendment to our Constitution, is bound to make law enforcers paranoid and fearful that policing could lead to death at any moment. And it is leading to death either for the police, the person who may or may not have broken a law, someone caught in an uncontrollable mental moment or all of the citizens embroiled in such a drama. 

Guns are not actually saving lives; they are costing lives. Perhaps what we need to do is sideline the Senate, which seems dominated by irrational and reactionary politicians who insist that America belongs to them and refuse to accept that we no longer live in the 1780’s. Against all odds, these stubborn legislators insist that nothing can even be said about regulating guns in America. They are like a human wall on this topic and that wall cannot be breached. It is a most frustrating thing, among a number of frustratingly inflexible issues, we are facing in American politics, and all are very good reasons to find ways to sideline the Senate or set term limits that get rid of arrogant old men elected for life.

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Fast or Slow

From a Google Image Search – Dmitry Anikin

Having read The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, a science fiction description of how we might have to tackle greenhouse gases and global warming, and How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates, a nonfiction step-by-step analysis of where excess carbon dioxide and methane gas is coming from and what it will take to get emissions to zero, it is impossible not to compare the two plans.

Robinson has little confidence that millionaires and billionaires, especially those who produce and guzzle fossil fuels, will be willing to switch to the alternatives we have available so far, or even put the kind of money into research and development which will offer better choices. He imagines that we will have to use a guerilla/ terrorist approach along with less militant ones. 

He creates in his writing an angry group of victims of a climate disaster who take matters into their own hands, who shoot private jets out of the sky, who create a frightening weapon called ‘pebble mobs’ to target people for assassination or just cause random chaos. 

He designs an entirely new economy that offers those who emit carbon both a carrot and a stick to incentivize change. When he is done currency no longer exists. When he is done airplanes are replaced by dirigibles. 

Robinson offers us a sense of urgency; a sense that we must act right now and in big ways. Robinson is never reluctant about messing with our minds and helping us change old mindsets. In 2031 he either predicted or caused the sexual/gender revolution that offers us as many genders and sexual combinations as humans need or want. In his novel, The Ministry of the Future, Robinson blows up stodgy mindsets once again, this time in terms of ways we can lower excess carbon dioxide levels and lower them right away. He is pugilistic and angry, tired of waiting for capitalists to commit to science and sustainability.

Bill Gates in his nonfiction book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, takes the dispassionate man of science approach. He offers a sense of urgency but is more optimistic about both the time frame and the ways he already sees industry beginning to accept alternatives to practices that produce excess carbon. 

He parses all the problem areas and gives everything a green premium by comparing the cost of using an alternative to the low costs of using gas and oil. He predicts that change will not occur until we can keep the society we have and have alternatives energies that are as cheap or cheaper than things like the current big carbon producers that we love, like steel and concrete and plastic, and meat, and heating and cooling and refrigerating and shipping and traveling long and short distances, and which will get us to zero carbon emissions. 

He calls for innovation and says that solar and wind alone will not get us to zero. He wants modern nuclear, which controls the dangers far better than older nuclear power plants. He wants better batteries. 

After reading both books you can’t help but wonder if Gates’ slow, methodical approach of building on what we already have and looking at 2050 as our target date will change global warming in time, or if we will end up using tactics that are harsher, bolder and single out the wealthiest people on earth for terrorist attacks to intimidate them into changing their ways. Both authors agree that wealthy nations are the biggest greenhouse gas producers, but poorer nations will bear the brunt of climate change. Climate migration could trigger more fear and chaos. If Gates’ approach doesn’t work, and earth is in terrible danger, if climate disasters are powerful enough and frequent enough to trigger mass anger, and there is no Planet B, what might we be capable of doing?  

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates – Book

From a Google Image Search – Gates Notes

If you like a level-headed, carefully researched roadmap to ‘get to zero’ (zero greenhouse gas emissions), tapping into the mind of a man who brought on the age of technology can’t hurt. Bill Gates in How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, is exactly the unemotional problem solver, backed by a team that has helped collect data and facts (you remember facts) who could foment the kinds of changes the humans on our planet need.

Did you know that 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere in a year? How do we get that number to zero? Gates comes as close to showing us how we can do this, without making our lives unrecognizable, as any one has. “I came to focus on climate change in an indirect way – through the problem of energy poverty,” says Gates. (pg. 8) Eventually Gates divested of all stocks in coal, gas, and oil.

Gates offers plenty of graphs and charts but not to prove that carbon dioxide and methane are heating up the world and causing global warming that is great enough to affect climate. He begins with the assumption that this correlation is real and spends his time exploring every thing humans do that creates emissions and how we get each to zero global warming emissions. He uses one graph and some dramatic examples to show how warming affects the earth and some people more than others. He admits that ‘getting to zero’ will be hard. The effects of warming will be worse in poorer countries that are not responsible for emissions. The changes will have to be made in rich nations who will be most reluctant to change their ways.

“To sum up: we need to accomplish something gigantic we have never done before, much faster than we have ever done anything similar. To do it we need lots of breakthroughs in science and engineering. We need to build a consensus that doesn’t exist and create public policies to push a transition that would not happen otherwise. We need the energy systems to stop doing all the things we don’t like and keep doing all the things we do like – in other words, to change completely and also stay the same…But don’t despair. We can do this.” (pg. 48)

Gates starts us off with a chart on page 51 which shows “How much greenhouse gas is emitted by the things we do?” Making things (cement, steel, plastic) – 31%, Plugging in (electricity) – 27%, Growing things (plants, animals) – 19%, Getting around (planes, trains, trucks, cargo ships) – 16%, Keeping warm and cool (heating, cooling, refrigeration) – 7%

Using this chart every greenhouse gas producing activity is assigned a Green Premium. That green premium needs to go to zero. Gates, with the help of his research groups (Gates Ventures and Breakthrough Energy) takes each greenhouse gas emitter and shows how we get to zero carbon emissions. This is another climate book you really need to read. In fact, if you are an inventor, there are any number of areas where you could follow in the footsteps of Bill Gates and perhaps get in on the revolutions in energy that we all need. Will you end up skyrocketing to fame and fortune? Perhaps, perhaps not, but you could end up in some future history books. Help Bill Gates, help yourself.

Trouble at the Border

From a Google Image Search – Reuters – Paul Ratje

Any opening the Dems give the Republicans to besmirch President Biden and Democratic Party policies they will take. So, having returned to accepting refugees at the southern border all the old talk that is intended to rev up fear of letting children running from drug cartels, climate changes that challenge food production, and lack of opportunity into America is being put in high gear once again. Kevin McCarthy and a group of Republican legislators, including my representative, John Katko have rushed to the southern border to find the MS-13 gangs rushing into America. 

Perhaps America had to stop breaking our immigration rules but it is a tough sell in the time of this pandemic. I wish that arrangements could have been made in advance for housing these children until their sponsors could be found. While honoring one law, we are breaking others. Children are not supposed to be held for more than 72 hours. These children will most likely be in custody for longer than 30 days. They are once again being held in cells or in jail-like settings and there is over-crowding. 

President Biden has called on FEMA to help find more humane ways to handle this influx of young, unaccompanied immigrants from our neighbors to the south. He has opened the Dallas Convention Center to house 3000 children with the help of FEMA. He is calling for help from social services workers to come to the border or find other ways to help place these children. We will be hearing heaps of blame and fearmongering over the next couple of months. The purpose may be to drown out the benefits of the relief funds. Biden is planning outreach in red states to make voters aware of what is in the relief program, but he will have to also address this activity at the southern border. Does fear trump hope? It all depends on Biden and the Democrats and how well they handle these two challenges.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/03/16/mccarthy-terrorists-border-gallego-escobar/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-immigration-political-threat/2021/03/15/bee8c83c-85a9-11eb-bfdf-4d36dab83a6d_story.html

How America’s Billionaires Fared in the Pandemic

This is not the graph from the WaPo article. This Statista graph looks at only the rise in profits from March (2020) to November (2020). From a Google Image Search

The article published in The Washington Post today (March 12, 2021) has an eye-opening graph which shows the profits that continued to fill the bank accounts of billionaires as unemployment rose and food lines lengthened. Elon Musk thrived with his profits soaring over 1000 times in one year. Even someone like Bill Gates who is a billionaire philanthropist saw his profits increase by a factor of 29. WaPo offers a graph that I could not capture. You can see it here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/12/musk-bezos-zuckerberg-gates-pandemic-profits/

Republicans are still railing against the pandemic relief bill. They seem rabid with anger because they contend that helping those at the bottom of our economy is the wrong move. They are suddenly back to being against raising the deficit even though there seems to be no other way (without making billionaires pay their fair share) to make sure our economy recovers. We certainly know trickle down doesn’t work.

Societies that get too top heavy often topple. We seem pretty close to a tipping point if we don’t pay some attention to those who have been neglected. Small businesses may be too pinched by a $15/hr wage, but that is only because some people are stockpiling profits that might oil the wheels of even the smallest enterprise.

Elon Musk may justify his enormous profits because his goals are very pricy, but if the American economy tanks no one will profit from his space flights or his automobiles except other wealthy people. He is just making toys for the rich. Will his rich boy toys eventually help save the earth or give us a way to escape a ruined earth. Maybe. But who wants a ruined planet Earth or a tanked US economy. We need to do a reboot in the ways our economy functions to reward so few over and over again, and so many hardly at all.

The Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs – Book

From a Google Image Search – Women’s Foundation of California

Anna Malaika Tubbs has given us a book about The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation. I began reading this book near the end of Black History Month and finished it on International Women’s Day, a serendipitous accident of relevance. 

Emma Berdis Baldwin was born on the island of Grenada to an activist mother and father who faced the same fights for racial equality we have seen in America. America had claimed to be a nation where all men (and they did mean men) were created equal, but of course when she arrived she found that she was not in any racial nirvana. James was Berdis’s eldest child. Berdis was able to communicate love, pride, and the value of an education to her family and her family remained a close and loving one living in a four story Harlem building owned by James Baldwin which offered places for his sisters and brothers. Finding a mother as beloved as Berdis, a mother who produces a child of such value to the nation and the world is surely enough to hold a place for Berdis in our historical memory. 

Louise Little, mother of Malcolm X, was an activist all her life. She and her husband and her children moved frequently because her activism made them targets. She was a follower and an important worker in the movement begun by Marcus Garvey. She wrote in his newspaper and spread his message despite one close call with the KKK and other terrorist attempts to force her to be quiet. Her husband Earl was killed when he was pushed in front of a trolley. She and her children struggled with poverty after Earl’s death. Social services (welfare) pursued the family, eventually sending Louise to a mental institution, although her only mental illness was the stress of single parenting in a world where she could find no work. Malcolm X had followed in his mother’s footsteps, although he was not a Garveyite. He founded the Black Panthers and was assassinated for his embrace of violence as a means to change, but of course Martin Luther King Jr. who believed in nonviolent protest was also assassinated. Louise was released after 25 years in the mental institution and was able to spend her last years surrounded by her family in a lovely and peaceful black town they founded.

Alberta King was married to the powerful reverend at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. She led a life of greater affluence. Alberta was a talented musician who played the organ at that famous church and led a renowned choir that people came from miles around to hear. She also gave lessons in music to many black Atlanta children. As she watched Martin Luther, (ML) as he was called, turn into a speaker who captured the attention of the entire world she worried constantly about the forces arrayed against him. One day a stranger entered the Ebenezer Baptist Church and shot Alberta and four others as she sat at her organ. She survived to be surrounded in her age by her remaining children and grandchildren.

Anna Malaika Tubbs is well aware of how women, especially Black women get erased from history and she did not want that to happen in the case of at least these three moms who gave the world so much. As she writes she shows us the ways that these sons were products of their upbringing and how the mothers were the most influential forces in their children’s lives. These mothers lived through many dark days and they kept their families afloat and put hope and love and a need to speak out in their hearts. Our nation benefitted from the lives of these three men and they would, all three, wish us to remember their mothers. I can’t think of a better message for International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021)

Too Many Elections

From a Google Image Search – CNET

We have too many elections. Nothing can be accomplished because there is always an election which means that the political needle could tip in the other direction. This incentivizes the group that is out of power to block the group in power from setting policies that they find unacceptable. 

As elections become ever more expensive, and we tend to read campaign contributions as votes, the stakes are higher and higher. A party that wants to use grassroots financing faces enormous challenges. They cannot talk to their constituents about policy without asking for a donation and they are not actually seeking opinions, only dollars. The grassroots campaign is competing against campaigns funded by corporations and millionaires and billionaires and, although their goal is to put elections back in the hands of the people, the campaigns that don’t accept big donors find it hard to win. 

Today the media reports that the GOP spent 8 million dollars on a candidate in a local election in Maryland who is highly unlikely to win, and half the money went to a single firm.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/klacik-gop-campaign-donations/2021/03/02/76300fde-7077-11eb-85fa-e0ccb3660358_story.html

Changing terms and setting term limits would not be easy since these are constitutional matters and would require amendments. Amendments require high levels of congressional agreement and national backing which are probably impossible for any metric to reach right now with our nation split about 47-41 and some voters choosing to abstain.

Setting all terms at six years might fix the problem of always being in an election cycle. Washington pundits, with their deep interest in all things election-related, offer up the common ‘wisdom’ that the first 100 days of any presidency are the most important, that nothing can get done after 2 years into a term, and now we have all have learned that Supreme Court justices are subject to different limits depending on which party is in charge. If the Democrats try to fill an empty Supreme Court seat a year out from an election is too late, but if you are a Republican there is no time limit at all. If a President served for six years would we get more bang for our buck? Suppose that a President could only serve one term.

We could elect Representatives to the House for six year terms and stagger who’s running like the Senate does, 1/3 every six years. We could limit Representatives and Senators to two terms of six years. This would allow more Americans to serve the public and it would not allow career politicians to claim ownership in our legislature. Even the Supremes could have shorter terms. There are so many qualified people to fill all these seats.

Finally we could do that thing that is brought up all the time and then discarded as impossible. We could ditch the electoral college, especially now that politicians are trying to turn it into a numbers game. It always gave elites an edge, now it gives an edge to cheaters. It is an outdated tactic to block uneducated people from choosing bad leaders, that is now being used by supposedly well educated people to choose bad leaders.

The issue of voter suppression is once again before the Supreme Court as legislation tries to put the starch back in the Voter Rights Act with John Lewis’s posthumous bill to restore the preclearance section of the act. Also before the court are various voter rules passed in some states to make it harder for minorities to vote. Some states wish to abolish vote by mail, some want no voting on Sundays to put the kibosh on Souls to the Polls activities which help minorities get out the vote, some states still want voter ID laws and the creative ways to block liberal votes go on and on. Republicans get an A for innovative vote blocking nastiness, but an F for fair and free elections. Clearly here is a chance for all those right wing justices to pay some of their dues to their GOP overlords. We’ll see.

Would shifting the message from killing votes by a thousand cuts to changing terms and term limits stop the GOP from messing with voting rights? IDK. The ERA amendment has been around for many decades and still catches our attention from time to time. We could try composing and proposing an amendment to change the language on terms and term limits and keep that beach ball up in the air for a few decades until it has the votes required to amend the Constitution.