Sep 03

How are Federal Judges appointed?

How much do you know about the judicial confirmation process? When a seat on the federal court remains empty, Americans who rely on that court to resolve business disputes, Social Security claims and constitutional challenges are denied timely access to justice. Currently, the courts are experiencing the worst obstruction since 1953, meaning that justice is being delayed at an all-time high. Learn the 9 steps in the judicial confirmation process and join the fight against obstruction here: Why Courts Matter on Federal Judges.
Federal Cour System

Aug 31

Meeting minutes for August 25, 2015

Mountain Bears Democratic Club
Meeting Minutes
August 25 , 2015

In Attendance: Michele Laws, Pres., Anita Alcorn, Sec., Janet Slater, Treas. Members: Glen Thompson, Sue Walker, Diane Grady, John Grady, Patricia Hagerman, Helen Richardson. Angela Hill, Christina Barrios, Scott Markovich, Gail Hill, (Alpenhorn news). Guest Speaker Jo Bonita Rains.

1. Meeting was called to order by President, Michele Laws. Introductions were held.

2. Moved/Brian second/Diane, carried: Adoption of the agenda.

Speakers: Jo Bonita Raines, “Acceptance and Cultural Diversity”. Jo Bonita spoke about her experience teaching Diversity in extensive areas in the U.S. She helped us understand how our own cultural diversities are interwoven as we discussed our Cultural Identities. Overall, we were enthralled by the information she discussed with us. A big Thank You to Ms. Raines.

3. Janet: Gave Tres. report, Moved: Glen, Second/Brian, passed Treasurers report accepted. Treasury balance as of July 31, 2015 is $638.73.

4. Meeting minutes: Moved/Brian, second/Sue, passed, approval of June, 2015 meeting minutes.
Please notify Secretary of new email addresses and changes as soon as possible, in order to keep the email list current for receiving Secretary notices.

5. Presidents Report: Michele:
1. VP position is open. Brian nominated Glen Thompson to fill position of Vice-President. Seconded by Sue. Glen accepted nomination and is willing to serve. No other nominations were presented. Glen Thompson was elected Vice-President of MBDC. Congratulations Glen.
2. Arrowhead Ranch-Award Nominees were notified and accepted. They were honored and thrilled to have been chosen. We now need their Bios and we need to begin to publicize the event.
3. Getting Bylaws online-Michele retyped the MBDC bylaws exactly as written, to prepare for submission to San Bernardino Democratic Council approval.
4. Attendance at Strategic Planning workshop given by the SBD Council. Michele, Anita and Glen attended the workshop. Many great ideas were presented. We will begin to assimilate some ideas into our meetings.

6. Old Business: (non action items)
1. Thank you for all who participated in Blue Jay, Special Olympics parade. Especially Barbara who fell during the parade but continued to walk anyway. We had a great time.DSC01666 sm
2. 2015 Lake Arrowhead Market Night MBDC booth is concluded. Thank you to all who participated and a BIG thank you to Angela Hill who chaired the committee and who co-coordinated volunteers, reminded volunteers, and made sure supplies were ready.

7. New Business:
1. Bylaws must now be read by club members three times at three consecutive meetings. Members were given handout of original copy of bylaws and copy of retyped bylaws with the addition of line numbers only. No changes were made to bylaws. If any member wishes to read these copies please come to next meeting or contact Michele at 909-336-6888.
2. Michele will participate in the SBDC Candidate endorsement workshop to be held Sept 12. in San Bernardino.
3. High School Voter registration will be in Sept. Janet is working on developing a plan with Rim High school officials. More info will follow. Anyone willing to help with student voter registration, please contact Janet: 338-2894

8. Announcements: Anita announced the need to sign the petition for AB 700 “California Disclosure Act”. Many ballot propositions that polled, often with a 2 to 1 approval rating. Were then over turned by expensive misleading add campaigns whose funders were never reveled. Example: Increased cigarette taxes for cancer research led in the polls by two to one. It was defeated by $66 million in ads with the largest funders Phillip Morris and RJ Reynonds Tobacco. But voters saw “Paid for by Californians against Out of Control Taxes and Spending”.
Please go to to sign the petition to pass AB 700.
It only takes a few moments and it will make a great difference.

9. Meeting adjourned: Moved/Sue, Second/Diane, passed. Next meeting September 22, 2015

Aug 30

George Lakoff Video: Moral Politics

Some Democrats are concerned that their efforts aren’t getting through. Perhaps watching this video will give everybody a better chance at communicating our valuable message.

Aug 30

Rules of Social Media Combat

Oh, I know – it’s not really combat. There are no “boots on the ground” and nobody even bleeds, much less dies. But it can get pretty intense out there, and this author knows that all too well.William F. Quinlivan

Copyright (c) 2013 William F. Quinlivan

A small confession, which some of you already know – My name is Bill, and I argue on social media. These are usually political arguments with conservatives or libertarians. The process has been highly educational for me.

Here are a few lessons I have learned, and general suggestions about engaging people on social media like Facebook.
1. Use your powers only for good! The goal is truth and clarity, not power, self-validation, or self-amusement.
2. Don’t insult. Respect the person in disagreement, but contest the ideas. Be frank but be fair and diplomatic. Don’t say on a thread what you wouldn’t say face-to-face. It is the ideas that are being evaluated and criticized, not the participants. Insulting an opponent is an example of an “ad hominem” attack. From Wikipedia: An ad hominem is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or unrelated belief of the person supporting it. I always interpret an ad hominem attack as surrender on the merits of the dispute. Do go ahead and declare victory. They will be more careful next time. Do not engage in ad hominem attacks.
3. Don’t take offense or even respond if you are insulted in most cases. Refute, but don’t dwell, on attacks on your credibility, fairness, character, evidence, .. it’s a short list. Exhibit, but don’t otherwise claim, knowledge of the facts. Gratefully acknowledge new facts and data.
4. Never oversell your authority. If you can state a credential in one sentence and it’s important to refute a toxic claim, go ahead and do it. Otherwise, be a mystery. Be aware that others casually drop bogus credentials and don’t be intimidated by them. Develop your radar for situations where a person is not exhibiting the expertise that would normally accompany their claimed credential. Bullshitters do this all the time. If someone claims to have written a book on something – go look it up. Claim a college degree – is it on their profile page? Consistent with the rest of their life and employment? Consistency is your friend.
5. Don’t get pulled off topic or into a side argument – just say, “that’s a different thread” and stick to it. A person trying to pull you off topic is giving you a powerful signal. Why are they doing it? If you find yourself on a bunny trail, it’s always fair and often smart to just go back to the topic of the thread; that’s what you posted or responded to in the first place.
6. Double-check their facts. Double-check your facts. If a story doesn’t smell right, see who is spreading it a) right-wing echo chamber? Left-wing? Google characteristic phrases; sometimes you will spot a screwy story when it is run verbatim on 10 different blogs, but is not mentioned at all on news sites. b) right-wing media c) known right-wing think tanks? d) Google the author and/or look up on Wikipedia. Look at their stories, and the stories of others on a referenced site to try to spot their values and any systematic bias. What stories do they run? What is their position? Who pays their bills? Are they vilifying or glorifying any person or group? Look for connections.
7. Argument patterns to consider when stuck: a) try the situation with shoe on other foot b) can’t have it both ways argument c) cui bono? Whose rights or advantage is advanced by the respective sides in an argument? d) Follow the money e) confusing cause with effect f) pot calling kettle black; sometimes both sides really are guilty of the same thing, but usually they are not.
8. A question you can’t get your head around is often a framing problem. Framing problems often use a goofy situation to ask the wrong question or investigate the wrong principle. Feel free to restate the founding question or principle and stick to it.
9. Don’t let people bias a position with unfavorable language: examples – Death Tax, ObamaCare, Pro-life, Sanctity-of-family. Neutral terms would be Inheritance tax, the Affordable Care Act, Anti-choice, and Anti-gay. Never use their terminology, but on the contrary feel free to make up your own.
10. Separate positions into secular and religious components and focus on the secular (unless your aim is to debate religion; rule 2 – don’t debate religion). Religions differences in the wild tend to cancel out, but their shared aims are usually the same – control over secular life: things Muslims want to do are no worse than what Christians want; in fact sometimes they are not even different.
11. Logical fallacies: a) understand ad hominem; don’t practice it but call it out when you see it b) watch for anecdotal evidence; but don’t hesitate to mention an anecdotal counterexample c) beware of trying to prove a negative: you can not prove the absence of something. There is a reason the accused don’t have to prove their innocence in a court of law; generally it can’t be done. There are lots of these fallacies, and it is a study unto itself. Scan and be aware of the highlights in this Wikipedia article.
12. Be fair; acknowledge valid points but move on. Exercise balance and judgement: don’t accept a whole line of reasoning because they make a few good points. Separate the good from the bad. Acknowledge the truth in an argument of an opponent. If possible, expand on it as a way to build agreement. It lends more weight when you do disagree. Beware when someone is supporting your position but with bad logic or specious argument. Sometimes you have to put distance between yourself and part of their position in order to salvage something in the rest of it.
13. Be honest, and assume that others are being honest, but call out anything questionable. If there is a weak part of your argument you are almost always better to just lead with that fact and then take a stand relative to that.
14. Think about who might take offense at your posts and comments. Try not to offend, period, but spend the extra effort to avoid offending inadvertently.
15. Your readership is usually not just the person you are ostensibly arguing with. It’s their friends and friends of friends, many of whom might agree with you or be undecided, but not feel they are able, or want to speak out for whatever reason – jobs, family, friends who might be insulted, etc.
16. Don’t respond to people who ask for detailed evidence or rationale for your views. It is usually a delaying tactic and they will not read it anyway. Some individuals are notorious for this so learn to spot it. If you can substantiate your views with a simple fact or link, do it. If it is opinion, say it is opinion.
17. Beware of characterizing the argument of your opponent. But if you do e.g. summarize or generalize about people with those XYZ views, don’t respond to people who then say show me where I said XYZ or that I believed XYZ or did XYZ. Instead just ask them to clarify if they believe XYZ or did XYZ – or not.
18. Generally, don’t ask for explanations and don’t ask for references unless you genuinely plan to follow up on them or you suspect them to be nonexistent.
19. Never get bogged down trying to explain your argument in minute detail. You are probably the only one who cares or appreciates the thought that went into it. Remember the political adage – if you are explaining, you are losing.
20. Work on your signal-to-noise ratio. Keep comments short and to the point. And know when to shut up! Many a powerful argument gets watered-down or side-tracked by run-on comments. Always ask yourself – is it time to declare victory? Does that next comment make your overall position better? Or not? The signal-to-noise ratio usually starts declining by about the fourth comment in a thread, or sooner. Actively look for this moment – And shut up.
21. Clearly flag statements that are your opinion or your interpretation, to make a distinction with things you think are facts. Pushback on opinion is fine; pushback on fact must be countered. Likewise split what an opponent is saying into opinion, theory and fact, and deal with them appropriately. And don’t hesitate to bring up relevant facts of your own.
22. Look for patterns of bias in others and yourself too, unless you just prefer having them pointed out for you by others. Everybody is subject to confirmation bias; don’t deny that you are, but also point it out when you encounter it. Separate the facts from the interpretation.
23. Practice spotting motivated reasoning, starting with your own.
24. Many people fall back on their religion when pressed. It’s better not to respond to it. Sometimes it suffices to say “you don’t have to be a Christian to …” whatever … want fairness or justice or the right to raise your kids the way you want to. Don’t respond to someone who wants a religious frame for secular issues. There is no sense debating the saved. Do not accept that there can be no morals without religion or without God; of course there can be, and are.
25. You express a lot of control over message when considering what to respond to. Like the journalist’s prerogative of what to cover.
26. Edit your comments in a file apart from Facebook and when complete, use copy/paste to post your comment, especially if it is more than a sentence or two. This prevents you from inadvertently posting something that is not yet ready for prime time, AND, helps prevent losing your work as can happen when you click on another link before you have posted. I have lost work when I left a post pending but then forgot and went to check the weather, etc. Always consider waiting to post your answer so you can think about it more and refine it. Facebook now allows edits to comments and this is good. But I would limit the edits to fixing typos, and other minor things. Don’t wait for someone to “Like” your comment and then change its sense.
27. Write like you speak. Same voice, phrasing, dynamics. Don’t try to write in a rigid, stilted voice out of a desire to sound authoritative or educated. It doesn’t work anyway and it’s just one more bit of clank a reader has to work through.
28. Language, spelling and grammar are important. But sometimes being passionate is more important than being punctilious. Use the spelling corrector; look up words you are not sure of. If you have looked up a word and still are unsure about how it is being used, try to simplify or reword it out of your response. It is tiresome to always be looking things up, but the activity builds on itself, helps with vocabulary and word usage, and makes you a better communicator in the long run.
29. Anticipate the counterargument and preempt it, or at least don’t be blindsided by it.
30. Don’t crow victory; don’t lament defeat. Learn.
31. Use humor to defuse a tense situation or point out absurdity. Never abandon a weak argument by acting like it was just a joke. If you are tempted to do so, shut up and take your medicine.
32. There is no sense unnecessarily alienating anyone. Don’t use profanity. Don’t use obscenity. Don’t be abusive. It is possible to be highly expressive, forceful and effective without resorting to these bad habits.
33. No matter how contentious the thread, never finally alienate a person or write someone off – always allow a path for an honorable return to polite company, a reasoned stance.
34. Before interjecting satire, irony, or facetious remarks, be sure you understand Poe’s Law. Poe’s Law, named after its author Nathan Poe, is an Internet adage reflecting the idea that without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.
35. A tactic taken when you challenge people for supporting evidence or links, is for them to declare it’s not their job to do your homework for you, or that the source or concept is so ubiquitous or universally understood as to be beneath their dignity to provide a meaningful reference. This is an entirely unsatisfactory response and is not the same as having supporting evidence for one’s views. Don’t do this and don’t accept this.

Aug 24

New Jim Crow laws to legalize discrimination

After the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal in the entire United States, the Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). It isn’t every day that the national party gets behind a specific law in Congress. So what is FADA?
You probably remember the national controversy over the Indiana law that allowed businesses to discriminate against gay people. FADA is that sort of law, but applies to the whole country.
Addicting Info has a concise article that summarizes the reactions of both the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union. You can read it here.
The texts of the bills can be seen by following these links:
HR 2802 and S 1598.
VOTING headline
Your Senator and Representatives need to know how you want them to handle this attack on equality. Their contact information is in the Political Contacts section. Send them an e-mail, a postcard or a hand-written letter. A recent survey indicates that a hand-written letter is the most powerful method of getting action a person can use, but anything is better than nothing.

Jul 30


Jul 30

Why local judge elections mean so much

It simply isn’t enough to vote for the President and Congresspeople you want to see in office. It’s not even enough to elect good representatives to hold offices as Governor, Assemblyperson and Senator in Sacramento. Judges, and those who elect and confirm them, have tremendous say in a number of areas you might never have considered. Why Courts Matter explains clearly:

Jul 30

RepresentUS presents the coolest VIDEO!

This may be the most educational five minutes you’ll spend this week. While you may not decide to participate in RepresentUS, please, for the sake of your future and that of your heirs, do SOMETHING.

Jul 30

CA-24 Election Update 4-30-2015

CA-24 Following redistricting, the district contains all of Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County as well the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County.
It’s not too surprising to see Roll Call report that establishment Democrats would like to see Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider drop out of the race to succeed Rep. Lois Capps (Capps announced in April 2015 that she would not seek reelection in 2016.) Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal has crushed Mayor Schneider on the fundraising and endorsement fronts, even earning the support of Rep. Capps herself, and no one wants to see a disaster in the top-two primary that involves two Republicans advancing to the fall general election. And, says Emily Cahn, operatives also think Carbajal would be better at holding this seat down in midterm years, when things can get hairy. California’s 24th District is rated a Safe Democratic contest by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
But as soon as stories like these become public, that means that private efforts have already failed. And Schneider’s pushing back in at least a semi-convincing way by releasing a poll from Lake Research that has her ahead of Carbajal. In her survey, Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadijan leads with 24 percent, while Schneider grabs 16, Carbajal 11, Republican businessman Justin Fareed 10, and Bill Ostrander, another Democrat, takes just 1.
Now, a 5-point lead isn’t all that impressive, especially when both you and your competition are both in the teens. But the point here is that Schneider has no intention of folding. Let’s see if she still feels that way, though, six months from now.

Mar 21

A Must Read Krugman Fact Check — GOP Budget Makes the Rich richer; Middle Class Poorer

Chair of Senate Finance Committee

A Must Read Paul Krugman Column from Daily Kos

The GOP (lead by the Republican Chair of the Finance Committee) wants to give more to the rich. The only way to do that is to take away benefits from the Middle Class and Poor.


Read his column how the Republicans are defrauding the government and undermining what our country was built on–the right to pursue happiness and liberty for all, not just for some.



Older posts «