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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

StopTPP[1]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a new international trade pact crafted by multinational corporations and currently being negotiated in secret by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) along with eleven other foreign governments. Over 600 corporate advisors also have access to the text, but the public and civil society are excluded. Little was known about the TPP until a series of leaked documents was published in 2011 by the Citizens Trade Campaign, revealing what many had suspected—that the TPP is not about trade at all, but is rather a corporate power grab that circumvents domestic judicial systems and undermines national sovereignty.

If ratified, the TPP would establish a system of international tribunals allowing corporations to challenge the laws, regulations and even court decisions of any member nation (including local, county and state laws) if they are deemed to adversely impact the corporation’s expected future profits. Under the TPP’s “investor-state” provision, corporations would even be allowed to file preemptive lawsuits against proposed government actions before they are undertaken, preventing, for example, New York or other states and municipalities from passing anti-fracking legislation or enacting consumer protection laws. Judges on these tribunals would consist of corporate lawyers on temporary leave from their regular jobs with multinational corporations, and because of international treaty obligations, their decisions it is alleged, would supersede those of domestic courts, possibly including the U.S. Supreme Court.

As I continue to advocate and will again here, the Constitution is NOT the problem.  In my view if our elected officials would follow the Rule of Law and honor our Constitutional Protections as their practice instead of disregarding the Constitution the way they do so many of the ills of our society would be solved.  Here is another example.  The Constitution does not authorize the execution of Secret Trade Agreements.  Further the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes it clear “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”  Now there is plenty of rhetoric that Treaties become the Supreme Law of the Land.  Rhetoric one can trace back to John Foster Dulles.  His “interpretation” was literally ridiculous but like much rhetoric and action it slithered its way into the mindset of the halls of our legal institutions. I went to t a seminar last year and a Lw Professor tried to argue that International Law and Treaties trumped Constitutional Authority.  This seminar was put on by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, acslaw.org, of which I am a member, and in a room full of lawyers, activists, judges and students my response to this lunacy was given a standing ovation.  If the Constitution Protections and Limits and Rule of Law is followed the TPP will have not teeth in our society.  Since we regularly disregard the Constitution the TPP then becomes very dangerous.  Something akin to the NDAA for example.

Provisions in the TPP specifically threaten to:

  • Undermine food safety protections by making it harder for countries to adopt regulations such as labeling laws or banning GMOs.
  • Dismantle the “Buy Local” movement by overturning government laws designed to keep taxpayer dollars in the local economy.
  • Inhibit access to lifesaving medicine by extending monopoly drug patents for big pharmaceuticals.
  • Curtail Internet freedom, spur further financial deregulation, roll back environmental laws and more.

The TPP is being negotiated under unprecedented secrecy because previous attempts to pass similar “free trade” pacts have been met with widespread public opposition. Grassroots movements in the past have successfully stopped the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the expansion of the World Trade Organization, and others. The Obama Administration therefore plans to bring the TPP to a “fast track” vote as early as the Fall of 2013, bypassing congressional review and public debate entirely. Therefore, we must act now, utilizing education, protest and civil disobedience to stop the TPP and build a broad-based movement for future battles.

The fight against the TPP is a fight that creates coalitions.  Many political groups from various ideologies advocate against the TPP.  This is an opportunity to highlight these coalition fights.

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Three Muslim Americans Killed in Chapel Hill

 February 11, 2015  Breaking News

Chapel Hill, NC – At 5:11 PM last night Chapel Hill, NC Police responded to gunshots in Summerwalk Circle and Interstate 54. Chapel Hill Police have confirmed that upon arrival there were three victims of gun shots and all three were pronounced dead at the scene. Early reports by various news agencies including WRAL News  say that it was immediately stated by the police that there was not any other danger to the community.   A call to the Chapel Hill Police Department confirms the arrest of one Craig Stephen Hicks, 46 years old. Craig Stephen Hicks turned himself in to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in Pittsboro, NC.  The crime scene location is governed by Durham County, NC. Hicks has been transferred to the Durham County Jail.

According to the press release from the Chapel Hill Police Department, the three victims were Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill, Yusor Mohammad, 21, of Chapel Hill, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh The victims were shot in the head.  More information will be available later today.  It is reported that Hicks has been charged with three counts of First Degree Murder.

    Hicks

Upon a search I was able to find a Facebook post about the victims.

 

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“Fixing” No Child Left Behind or Reauthorizing ESEA: Questioning The Federal Role in Education by Victoria Young

Originally Published by The Daily Kos on February 10, 2015 

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the first federal “accountability” law (2001) ever set for the whole K-12 public education system. The laws’ foundation is the idea that standards and testing for math and reading/language arts produces test scores by which we can judge our schools. The belief is that by making a school’s scores known that “competition” will improve schools because the law also provides “choice.”

The “accountability” piece sets the federal government’s role as monitoring the quality of standards and tests as well as compliance with all elements of the law. The “choice” provided gives the federal government another new role in education — “start-up costs” for charter schools.

The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is unrecognizable as the law of origin for NCLB. ESEA is the first federal law aimed at “strengthen this nation’s elementary and secondary schools” by focusing on the needs of “educationally deprived children.”

ESEA’s foundational belief is that by improving the education of the poor and disadvantaged, the country would be taking a big step forward, as a national goal, in ensuring equal access to quality education. The mechanism was to identify and address unmet needs in instructional materials and student supports while encouraging overall improvements through dissemination of useful information for leaders, teachers, counselors, parents, and communities.

Here is a one-page chart for comparing NCLB to our first federal K-12 education law, the 1965 ESEA.

With our representatives working to “fix” NCLB, there are many questions this nation ought to be asking.

After five decades of changes and additions to ESEA, what do we now need in our federal education law?

Should No Child Left Behind be salvaged and continue as our educational law of the land? Or, is it time to revisit the foundation of federal education law and review both our progress and our missteps?

Reviewing the missteps of No Child Left Behind is fairly easy; there is much agreement about what is wrong. To grasp where we began 50 years ago with the 1965 ESEA is a bit more of a problem because very few people are bringing its history forward. We should.

There are a multitude of studies and opinions written about why No Child Left Behind did not “work.”

Gary Ratner from Citizens for Effective Schools provides us with this insight.

Screen_Shot_2015-02-09_at_4.43.48_PM

It’s unscientific…The annual “progress” percentages are arbitrary and unfounded.

It’s not fact-based… NCLB’s punishment scheme presumes that “failing” schools and districts know what to do to dramatically improve learning for their children and have the capacity to do it.

It induces manipulation… NCLB does not recognize that an approach that puts overwhelming emphasis on producing “high” test scores…will induce widespread manipulation of state/local testing criteria and concentration on “drill and kill” techniques to raise test scores.

It’s ineffective… [NCLB’s approach] will not cause widespread enhancement of teachers’ and administrators’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, raise the level of the curriculum or increase the extent of family support.

It’s unrealistic. … [Demands] all states’ departments of education must provide [Title I schools and districts] with technical assistance and support to enable them to [achieve the goal.] [The reality is that many] states are a long way from having the capacity to carry out [NCLB’s] mandates.

It’s unworkable…If NCLB could sustain the same improvement rates of 3% and 10% per decade in the future, it would take about 280 more years to raise the remaining 85% of poor and minority students to “proficiency” in reading and eighty-five more years to do so in math.

In “Flawed Assumptions: How No Child Left Behind Fails Principals” James Kim, Associate Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, stated the problem this way:

“The law is based on the assumption that external accountability and the imposition of sanctions will force schools to improve and motivate teachers to change their instructional practices, resulting in better school performance.”

And Ellen Forte from edCount, LLC, provided us with visuals along with her analysis in “Examining the Assumptions Underlying the NCLB Federal Accountability Policy on School Improvement” (EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST 45(2), 76–88, 2010):

Screen_Shot_2015-02-08_at_11.40.49_AM
“The assumptions underlying the NCLB policy logic hold that schools in need of improvement can be identified via a large-scale algorithm, that pre-established sanctions applied to these schools will lead to their improvement and that these improvements in identified schools will yield increases in student achievement. This argument is compelling for its simplicity and apparent rationality, but its assumptions seem to lack merit.”

B8YiLCLCUAAvKNU.png_large

NCLB has a very wide range of flaws and “unintended consequences” including the detrimental effects resulting from narrowing what is taught. More times than not, detractors of NCLB place the blame on the heavy emphasis on educational “outcomes” (scores) while ignoring the fact that we have never adequately documented and addressed our failure to offer equal opportunities to learn.

Educational opportunity is as important now as it was 50 years ago.

Writers of the 1965 ESEA attempted to establish social justice in the public education system by:

(1) deeming it imperative to put in place within the system the dissemination of “promising educational practices” to better ensure their use;
(2) designating funds for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials; and
(3) funding supplementary educational centers and services making sure to use the existing “cultural and educational resources of the areas to be served” (1965 ESEA).

In other words, ESEA set out to improve educational opportunities by:
★ increasing access to information,
★ increasing access to essential educational resources, and
★ providing the necessary community services where they were lacking.

And less than a year later, the 1966 National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children issued the first review on the law’s implementation.

They noted successes in identifying problems that interfere with learning. This was accomplished by having local school officials identify their students needs and address those neglected needs. It wasn’t a “program” or “model” so much as a true improvement process focused on students. It wasn’t about offering “wraparound services”; it was a process aimed at determining a school and community’s unique gaps in services and resources and filling the gaps in a targeted and effective way by first using existing, but often underutilized, community resources before adding anything “new” in the way of “programs.” Here’s how it looked after almost a year.

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attribution: 1966 National Advisory Council on the Education of Disadvantaged Children
Were there problems? Of course! Much like today, the council emphasized the need for better trained leadership. Leaders needed to understand the underlying concept in ESEA. In a country that had condoned and practiced legal discrimination, this was asking people to make a huge leap.

Screen_Shot_2015-02-08_at_6.35.48_PM

And the writers of ESEA asked for something more from communities. They asked for cooperation and a coordination of “projects” to center on the needs of the poor.

Screen_Shot_2015-02-08_at_7.57.12_PM

The implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act occurred while schools were under orders to desegregate. It was not an easy task.
But within a decade of this 1965 education law being put in place, “effective schools” were being studied. These were schools with high numbers of poor and “minority” children yet the students that may once have been labeled “educationally-deprived” were now called “high-achieving” in spite of the schools demographics. And in the 70’s and 80’s, the nation saw a significant narrowing of the achievement gap.

Was this cause and effect? Was it just a casual relationship of policies and practices? Or, did federal education law shine a light on practices that proved to be the right things for poor students and all students in schools in impoverished communities?

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This Guy was Almost President of the United States. Let that Sink In

 

Bobby Rodrigo
February 2, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) They say hindsight is 20/20. In the case of john McCain one would have to agree.  Thursday morning the Senate Armed Services’ Committee welcomed to their chamber Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Schultz. They called this gathering the National Security Strategy.

Sitting in the audience were members of the peace activist organization Code Pink. Code Pink’s Twitter account was live with planning for making sure their voices were heard when these Secretaries of State made their appearance.

C-Span covered the appearance of the three Secretaries and as a result we got a front row seat to Code Pink’s comments and protest prior the start of the discussion.  When Kissinger started to speak, you will notice that the protestors peacefully voiced their comments and fully cooperated with any policing that was done by Capitol Police.  They held up signs, there was the reading of a criminal complaint warrant at Mr. Kissinger, and a few protestors were asked to leave the Committee Chamber.

“Arrest Henry Kissinger”, chants were the most common among the protestors. Eleanor Goldfield , Activist and Founder/Lead Singer of Rooftop Revolutionaries, told me on the phone just after participating in the protest, “There were about 15 of us and twice members of the protest were asked to leave the Chamber.”

Then Senator John McCain decided it was time for him to welcome his guests.  The Senator then decided to voice his disdain for the protestors while a few of them were being removed.  “Get out of here you low life scum.”

The Senator doubled down on Sunday and said, “I think they’re (protesters) terrible people,”

As I watched this over again the first thought that came to my mind was that this man was almost President of the United States.  Perhaps he never heard of the Constitutional protections for Freedom of Speech and the Right to Peaceful Assembly.  Perhaps he has forgotten his Oath of Office.  Maybe he is just a bitter old neo-con that doesn’t care about the Constitution.

When elected officials behave this way, in my view, it shows how much the corporate media has allowed them to advance a rhetoric without making them answer the for their behavior.


This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Bobby Rodrigo and TheAntiMedia.org. Tune-in to The Anti-Media radio show Monday-Friday @ 11pm EST, 8pm PST. Image credit: Gage Skidmore

About the author: Bobby Rodrigo is a long time activist, Coffee Party USA Newsroom Editor & Radio Host on “I Take LIBERTY With My Coffee” on Coffee Party USA Radio every Sunday Morning at 8:30AM. Bobby is a business Owner, Veteran, Oath Keeper and Parent.

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Liberty Needs to Join the Conversation About Race

Racism
When the people who live Ferguson first reacted to Michael Brown’s death by protesting against the police action that resulted in his death, and, demanded accountability, in my opinion the Ferguson Police immediately starting violating the Constitutional protections afforded to those Ferguson residents and anyone else is in this country.  As an activist and citizen/journalist with a relationship with a number of activist organizations, media outlets and other activists I wanted to help the people of Ferguson and to also shine a light on how the Ferguson Police were treating those who were protesting.  Fellow activist and friend, Dan Johnson who I have worked with these past few years, decided to go to Ferguson to offer organization assistance and to also video record his entire time there.  I planned on going myself but could not get away.

As an advocate for Liberty and for a government that behaves Constitutionally I was first dumbfounded that would escalate to annoyance and then, anger, due to the lack of a response from those Liberty and Constitutional Organizations I had grown to respect, interact and work with.  Where were they?  Why weren’t those who openly advocate that when they see the “state” behave the way it was in Ferguson, would stand with the people whose rights were being trampled on openly?

I discussed it as much as possible. I went on many broadcasts including my own show and called them out.  Asked where they were.  Only a few would actually wind up going to Ferguson. During the post Grand Jury Decision Protests they were virtually non existent and it turned my stomach.  Dan decided to write an article about it and presented to the Voices of Liberty Media Outlet.  He has a relationship with them and he was invited to present his article to them. After presenting it the article was never published.  No communication. Only silence.

I was not happy.  I continue to call out these so called Advocates of Liberty and anyone else who fails to speak up when rights are being violated.  The only requirement anyone has to have in order to make me speak up and stand up with them when their rights are being trampled on is to be a human being.  With these thoughts in mind I decided to share this article written by my friend and fellow activist Dan Johnson.

“Three Skype conversations. Numerous Facebook messages. Some shouting, even. These were all hallmarks of the heated arguments I had with a good friend about the release of his video “Economic Collapse and the Rise of Fascist and Racist Elements,” a video diving into the virulent strain of racism taking over corners of the liberty movement, last year.

I argued that it wasn’t necessary. Why bring up the topic of race? We want to unite, not divide, and that topic divides as easily as gay marriage and abortion. In the video he argues, not censorship, but complete disassociation from anyone spouting racism. Further, that we should actively fight it and the people who spout it, publicly, at every turn, and refuse to allow the word liberty to be even loosely associated with a racist element. Respectfully but fiercely, we argued over several weeks. In the end, he decided to release it, and I cringed.

But I was wrong.

Experts say something about internet comments brings a sense of anonymity, and something about that anonymity causes us to leave our filters behind and say what we really feel. With the inhibitions of our real life no longer in effect, the boundary of civility between the mind and the written word is cast off. The thousands of comments on his video spewing hate, for jews, for blacks, for Arabs, yet flying the colors of popular liberty symbols, at once shocked, stunned, and saddened me. With over 4,000 comments within 24 hours, comments were closed.

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, showcased this hatred more than ever before. Just look at the front cover of the Missouri State University Student Newspaper in October:

MSU-Standard[1]

If you need more, look here, here, here, here, here, and here. Look in the comment sections of any story about Ferguson, even this well-written piece by one of the few liberty leaders to address the race issue.

“Mobs.” “Animals.” “Thugs.” ”Get a job.” “Dogs.” If you dare, look at the comments on any live-stream of the grand jury verdict and the ensuing chaos. It’s even expanded beyond Ferguson and Michael brown. Look at the comments when a car runs over protesters at a march, or look at this guy bragging about running them over himself. Look at the smear campaign on the family of Tamir Rice, a black 12-year old in Cleveland killed by police in a drive-up shooting .

One comment does not make a trend. A hundred isn’t even close. A thousand is getting there. But go ahead and look at hundreds of thousands until you’re sick. Pull up any major story until you see them, until the screen names start to blend together, find a mainstream story where they don’t grace among the top rated.

And then ask yourself why we are so scared to talk about race.

Facts don’t have a race. 86% of traffic stops made around Ferguson involved African Americans. Stop and frisk targets blacks and latinos. A black man is 21 times more likely to be killed by police than a white man. Someone who is convicted of killing a white female is 14x more likely to be sentenced to death than someone convicted of killing a black male.  Around 13% of the U.S. population is African-American, yet they make up over 40% of the prison population, mostly for victimless crimes.

The three biggest stories of police abuse, stories that captured the corporate media (and thus, the nation) have all had a racial element to them: Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Tamir Rice. The police response in Ferguson, not the police response in the Boston Bombing, brought an anti-militarization bill to the floor of the U.S. Congress, and conversations about over militarization to the living rooms of America. #blacklivesmatter and the focused oppression of minorities got America talking about police brutality.

Yet few liberty advocates want to talk about it.

In fact, no one has been more disenfranchised by the state than African-Americans. Nowhere has big government’s destructive force been seen easier than in the inner cities, and nowhere are its effects more felt than in its war on drugs in those communities. This group shares a place with Muslim-Americans as few other groups have had massive 4th amendment violations, such as stop and frisk, targeted towards them.

African American, Arab-American, and political minorities, those who already feel the boot of the system on their backs, can use liberty the most, and yet the response they’ve seen is as simple as the liberty movement’s response to the Bundy Ranch v. that in Ferguson. In the first, backing a wealthy, white, ranch owner against Federal tyranny, and in the second, a predominantly black city placed under militarized police occupation, occupation bad enough to cause the Huffington Post and Washington Post to condemn treating journalists as “enemy combatants,” refusing to show up.

If liberty is important to all, where were the liberty advocates in Ferguson? If liberty is important to all, where were the nationwide Revolution protests over the deaths of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice?  Why can armed white Americans face off against a Federal bureau unscathed, while black Americans can’t so much as carry a airsoft gun without getting killed? How come a white man who merely vowed to stand off against a rogue Federal government gets outpourings of support, while a black community that had live rifles pointed at them in broad daylight can find nothing but whispers?

These aren’t hypothetical questions. They were all, in different ways, questions asked of me over the two weeks I spent in Ferguson, and they are the same questions in the hearts, minds, and twitter feeds of African-Americans across the country.

It matters little how the majority of us feel. Liberty advocates have no answer to these questions, right now, because we cut out the race piece of the puzzle as if we could wish the tensions away. As if we just ignore the issue enough, it will disappear. As if the state treats all its subjects equally.

Yet the longer we stay silent, the more our position is defined for us by the only groups willing to have the conversation: hardline racists and white supremacists.

Freedom and liberty is what Martin Luther King Jr. and thousands of protesters marched for in Selma, AL at the height of the civil rights movement. Freedom and liberty were in the writings of northern abolitionists, and emblazoned on signs urging escaped slaves to avoid the police. Freedom is at the heart of humanity’s struggle against oppression. We must not allow the racists, bigots, and white supremacists to redefine it.

Racism is divisive. As are all social issues. But if liberty advocates don’t start looking at the roots of racial oppression in America, the group that needs liberty the most will be the same group that trusts it the least.

It’s time to join the conversation.”  Dan Johnson is President and Founder of the Solutions Institute and adviser and Founder of People Against the NDAA.

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The Constitution is NOT the Problem

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 I just finished being part of a radio show created and hosted by my friend and fellow Coffee Party Member Egberto Willies.  He does very good work and he is so concerned about our society I am happy he is out there fighting.  During the show, as I usually do, I included the Constitution as part of my question to the guest on the show Carl Gibson.  Carl Gibson appears to be another person fighting the good fight.   In answering my question though he and Egberto both left me very frustrated and it once again made me think of what I am writing about here.  My question to Carl essentially asked him how he viewed the Democratic Party in relation to the Constitution.  He asked for clarification and I mentioned my own personal history briefly.  I mentioned that it was my hatred for the things I witnessed happen under Reagan that made me an activist and how the left was the supporter of no war, and  supported free speech and how the left was always first to stand with people who were wronged by the police.  Things like that. I also mentioned how I could not support someone like Elizabeth Warren due to her unconstitutional voting record, (among a few other hypocrisies she has committed).  The way Carl answered the question initially frustrated me.  He stated that the Constitution was written by 55 white men who were land owners.  I interrupted. I state regardless of that analysis it is the Rule of Law for our country.  Egberto then made a statement about the Supreme Court’s interpretation actions.

Thus my frustrations.

                        Since the discussion did not go any further I can only make an assumption that what Carl was speaking of is that the Constitution does not matter or is fundamentally flawed.  I do not need to make any assumptions about what Egberto meant by his comments.  We interact enough for me to know exactly what he meant.  I am very frustrated.  How can people dismiss our Rule of Law so easily?  Why do so many people think that because the Constitution can have Amendments added and taken off that this somehow makes the “Rule of Law” abstract?  How does a conversation about a Constitutional Government somehow put me in bed with Republicans or elitists?  Yes I am very frustrated.

                       First allow me to put something to rest right now.  Republican elected officials are in no way supporters of the Constitution. Their voting record, the laws they write and/or support, their support of voting suppression laws and ballot access restrictions and their disregard for equality are glaring examples of just a few of the ways they violate the Constitution on a daily basis. The problem I have is that DEMOCRAT ELECTED OFFICIALS DO IT AS WELL.  With so many Elected Officials violating the Constitution so callously and with a populace that just does not make them pay for those actions we wind up with well what we now are dealing with in our society.  A corrupt government so tied to money and power that all they care about is to be reelected rather than work for the people.

                          I say we kick the tires and take the Constitution out for a spin.  I say we repeal unconstitutional laws like the Patriot Act, The Indefinite Detention Provision of the N.D.A.A. and the War Powers Act.  I say we stop letting the Dems and the GOP from using our tax dollars to run their primaries.  How many of you truly know or realize that the Democratic and Republican Parties are PRIVATE CORPORATIONS?????  The very first Amendment to the Constitution starts out with the words “Congress shall make no law…..”  This is not some ambiguous statement or law.  Shall not!!  Has Congress made laws…?  Yes it has.  Have we let them?  Yes we have.  Would we be better served if these laws were not there?  Yes we would.  When we look at how our elected officials continue to create law and policy that clearly does not follow our Rule of Law what it does, at least for me, is show how being far away from our Rule of Law is hurting us.  What difference does it make what the makeup of the men who wrote the Constitution was if the document itself makes how we are able to live in this country better?  Would you rather not have your rights protected?  Would you rather your child not have access to bail if arrested for possession of marijuana?  Would you rather be arrested for peaceful assembly?  Would you rather be told that you have to follow this religion and nothing else?  Would you rather we continue to allow our Supreme Court to tell us that corporations are people?  I don’t know about you but I cannot find that corporations are people in the Constitution.  I just looked again just to make sure.

                              I ask you to consider demanding our elected officials follow the Constitution.  I ask you to familiarize yourself with it again.  I ask you when you hear a politician speak about you make sure they are right about what they are saying. I ask you to hold our elected officials accountable.