Bending the knee

 

Like the rest of America, I can’t help but think about the implications of the last several weeks or months coming to a head because a bunch of football players decide to make a stand and a President who can’t help but send his judgement across the Twittersphere, igniting an already complex conversation that America has needed to have for years, since probably the civil rights movement.

Of course, the way that this is being framed, set into context, is that is isn’t about American citizens still being judged by the color of their skin, no instead this is about disrespecting the flag, which somehow equates to additional disrespect to those who CHOOSE to fight for that flag.

We learned about this in University– Cognitive Dissonance.  The act of creating a conflict above another conflict in order to distract from the original conflict.  This is a classic rhetoric being used and its amazing that so many people are falling for it.  The President and his followers are actually creating a conflict about Veterans and the Flag in order to avoid having to discuss the real reason these people are protesting– its a cloud of dissonance.  The reality is it has nothing to do with Flag, Country or Vets, it has to do with racism and ignorance.

First of all, Veterans choose to fight for this country– there isn’t a draft, so people who heed the call to serve do so on their own volition.  If you fight for freedom, that’s great, but the American people don’t owe you anything other than what you are given in salary and benefits– its a choice you make with your own free will.  Just like I choose to go to University and I chose to be in debt for it, I don’t ask people respect me because of a choice I made when I was younger.

Second of all, read the statistics,  being black in America is rough for the vast majority of blacks– lets remember that 34% of black males are incarcerated at some point in their lives.  Most are racially profiled and accused of things, live in poverty, etc.. the data is easy to find and present.  Now we are starting to see a rise in Hate Speech and White Supremacy that was haven’t seen in decades– plus uprising in places like St. Louis over police getting acquitted again and again after killing people.

We live in a complicated society, everyone is aware of that.  We aren’t perfect and the way we protest also isn’t perfect–sitting during the national anthem is probably the most non-violent way to protest that we have seen, yet it seems to resonate more with the other side of the fence than thousands of protesters filling the streets to make their pleas heard– that’s what gets me.  We should be smarter than this as a whole, but we keep falling for the same rhetoric and propaganda.  We have to do better for equal rights and standing up for those equal rights!

…and I am not trying to be preachy here.  I get it– but what I don’t get is when celebrities use their platform to speak out injustice, people get so upset about it. I always think about when Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder spoke out against W– and people would tell him to shut up and play music and keep the politics out of it– but our politics are a fabric of our identity.  If we don’t speak out about things, how are people supposed to know that there are things out there that others don’t agree with?  How am I supposed to know that fucked up things are happening to black America?  (Well, I actually pay attention).

Now, the Vets would counter this by saying that they are victims too, right?  Vets, of all people, should be sensitive to groups of people being unfairly treated– look at how the VA treats its own, right? Instead of take a moment to acknowledge that suffering is happening, some choose to further victimize and delegitimize these people.  To me, that is a very slippery slope.

Less than 100 days

Facebook has gone noticeably numb over the political shitstorm that has endured over the last 56 days.  People are sick and tired on both ends of the debate, tired of the daily news that everything this administration has touched has had some kind of colossal fuck up attached to it.  Unless of course, you just solely watch FOX NEWS for all of your government spin-then everything has been going swimmingly.

But, most of us aren’t that dumb.

The southwestern border has seen 40% less illegal border crossings since President Trump began his tirade against the illegals.  Great work if you think illegal immigrants are the source of all the problems in this country.

This isn’t the top news of the day, no today’s top news came from the Republicans have finally released details of their replacement of ObamaCare and its not even expected to pass a Republican controlled Senate.  Its a paper that was turned in just before the deadline by a bunch of drunk frat bros just trying to get the paper in before they fail the course.

What the Republicans are quickly figuring out is that American Style healthcare is very complex system that can’t just be overhauled like a Trump hotel in a matter of a couple weeks.  This is not a project based, Apprentice style system where the only thing you need to do is make as much as possible to win the big prize– no, in most cases it’s just the opposite.  The way that people pay for insurance, the way that claims are administrated and paid out — all of it is highly complex and so little of it makes sense– its a system that had just been clicking along for years before the Affordable Care Act tried to stop the bleeding from a very deep wound.

I wrote that about two weeks ago and never published it because I wasn’t finished with the thought but ran out of time.  Now, two weeks have passed and I back to rethinking about TrumpCare and how its unlikely America is going to get anything near what it wants/needs.  Instead what we are going to get is something that worse than what everyone bitches about now.  They tried to pass something that was so terrible that even the Republicans (who voted a reality star as the leader of their party) can’t find it in the soulless voting block to pass it.  That’s saying something.

Word tonight is that late night deliberations by the Republicans has still not gotten the votes, even though Trump threatened them to being removed the next election cycle.  When cronyism doesn’t work, political threats in his own party?  What’s next?

Here’s the thing:  Don’t stop talking about it.  This is our healthcare.  This is our country. Let your voice be heard.

 

Rich White Oil Men

I wish I would have had more of the kind of conversations I had last night before the election.  The fact of the matter is that for the last 18 months, we were all just making fun of the republicans because it appeared that the dark days of this country were behind us.  Obama wasn’t anything close to a good president, but he didn’t blow anything up.  Sure, the Affordible Care Act is a mess, sure he deported 2.5 million people, sure he conducted more drone strikes than other president (which really isnt saying much, given that drones just happened on the scene), but he was trying to do right by the American people.

The American people have been robbed by their own people.  While some people make millions (billions even) out of nothing, ten times the amount of wealthy are living out of their cars right now.  We have more homeless people living in America than any other country and yet we fight over what kind of health care we shouldn’t give each other.  We fight over who should run this country– so passionately that we have created Donald Trump.  We are supposed to give him the benefit of doubt, the benefit of optimism before he takes office. Well, tonight, I lost that optimism.

I just want to run through his cabinet selections for you.

tillerson-russia

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson, a Texas Oil man with a son by named Bobby Joe!  Tillerson has very close ties with Russia — he wanted to drill into the Artic space owned by the Russians.  Lovely.  He’s expected to generate 300 billion in revenue from that deal.  In 2013, he rec’d the Order of Friendship, from Putin.  No conflict of interest there, just a great partnership.

Some great quotes from Mr. Tillerson: “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”  That being said, Mr. Trump and Mr. Tillerson will be at odds on TPP– Trump has said he would abolish the TPP and NAFTA immediately upon entering office, but Tillerson says, “One of the most promising developments on this front is the ongoing effort for the Trans-Pacific Partnership… The 11 nations that have been working to lower trade barriers and end protectionist policies under this partnership are a diverse mix of developed and developing economies. But all of them understand the value of open markets to growth and progress for every nation.”

Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin Goldman Sachs executive for 17 years.  He produced Suicide Squad, American Sniper and The Lego Movie!  He has publicly noted that he wants to repeal parts of the Dodd-Frank act because its too complicated and it prevents banks from lending.  He owns two homes, one in New York and one in L.A.; each valued at $20 million.

sessions

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions, The Senator from Alabama.  He was nominated to be a Federal judge, but he couldn’t get confirmed because of his views and his alleged racist comments.  He is a staunch opponent of immigration reform.  Sessions was George W. Bush’s go to guy– voting for all the tax packages, the wars, everything in lock step with his commander in chief.  Sessions is a leader when it comes to illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration.  He voted and actively campaigned against the Affordable Care Act.  He doesn’t believe in Climate Change.  He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas.

Secretary of Energy and former Candidate for President RICK PERRY

Am I really writing this?  RICK PERRY for Energy Secretary?  One of the first people to say that Trump is a joke and here he is, in all his glory, nominated for Energy Secretary.  So… What makes Rick Perry a good energy secretary?  First of all, his presidential chances ended in 2011 when this little gem happens… He wanted to eliminate it, now he is going to be running it.  He’s most notably known recently for sitting on the board of directors for Energy Transfer Partners– you know the people that OWN THE DAKOTA PIPELINE.  Another Oil Man in the cabinet.  How do you think he is going to do for conservation?

There are even more of a cast of characters, 90% of them are all white men… No Latino’s, One Black man, Two Women, one of them Asian. I had originally thought that Kathy McMorris-Rodgers was going to get the nomination of Secretary of the Interior, but Ryan Zinke from Montana got it instead, so McMoron gets to terrorize Eastern Washington at the house level for yet another term.

Look, I don’t have to live by any journalist integrity here and this is my own opinion, so whatever, but I mean look at these people. These are the absolute worst that America has to offer– none of these people care about anyone except for the elite 1% of this country, they don’t give a shit about the environment, they care about money and making more of it.  They want to drill our natural resources, they want to ignore science and build a government that is going to further separate the top from the bottom.  All of these people I have put before you today have no place in government – their whole purpose is to destroy government and what little regulation there is and make more money for the corporations that they own and control.  Trump is turning the Federal Branch into the best country club in the world.  All these people that want jobs back here, all those people that blame the immigrants for taking what little jobs there are here– all the meanwhile killing off the government, cutting spending, not paying for airplanes, twittering at 2am, all of that is going to come together so nicely for the American people.  Before todays nomination, I was still trying to be at the very least, optimistic.  Now tho– now that I see what he is at least trying to put forward– I see that all along he was just watching to see who was by his side and of course his closest alley was big oil– and here we go again– make friends with Russia so they can buy our oil, make everyone rich while cause economic calamity… It’s neverending, pathetic and sad.  If this is making America great again, I love it when it totally sucks.

 

Our Dumb Country is at it again

What have I brought two wonderful children into?

This weeks news is just going to rip us further apart from one another– much like the presidential election we are all being forced into.  We are all encouraged, if not forced, to take a side– pick one or the other– and we REALLY don’t like either– we tolerate them, they are a part of our story as a nation– even through it’s a story that sounds better as a fable than a reality.  Wait, am I still talking about the Presidential race or am I now talking about the PO-Lice vs the Black Man?

We are again back to the difficult time that we never quite fix– the old issue of race and power.  Last week, another two black males are gunned down — lethal shots that kill both of these people.  Both were carrying, you guessed it, guns.  Because they are black, its automatically a race thing, but the Police Officer who shot the guy in St. Paul was Asian.  He said he fired because he knew the guy had a gun on him– the guy also had a traffic citation sheet with over 2 dozen infractions– but nothing more serious than petty driving citations.  He told the Police he had permit and a gun and the guy shoots him multiple times when he is looking for his wallet.

We all know these stories and we all know how often they happen– and keep happening.  The difference with these two is that they were caught on camera and immediately sent out before a sensor would stop them– the public at large is already laying down the verdict of guilty before the courts even get the paperwork in order– and I am not saying that they are right or wrong, but I am saying that the game is changing significantly.

People keep asking what can do we do… How do we get past this?  What happens next?

There is no good answer– and the macro problem– police trained to use lethal force– race relations between law enforcement– prejudice — these are all things that are so heavily engrained in our American fabric that it seems impossible to think about fixing on a national scale.  We have to start local– in our communities– we have to start going out there and making sure that our leaders aren’t just hearing the need for change from Black Lives Matter or the Police Guild– but that we the people want change– but what kind of change do we want?  How much sweat equity are we all willing to put into it all for the greater good?

I used to be engaged in the race conversation– I used to care a lot more than I have lately because I grew up seeing the racial inequality, I grew up seeing the racism– I grew up seeing people blaming people of other color for their own problems– that blacks got more chances than a white person does.  I went to college and I read and listened to Cornel West and Marabel Manning and Bell Hooks who talked about the deck being stacked against blacks and other people of color — and overtime, I began to forget about all I have learned because I live in a city like Seattle that doesn’t have a black problem that is right in front of your face– its much more subtle, much more of the focus of what you see everyday– but you don’t have to look very hard and you see it all over again.

and the Police.

The Police have their own issues as well– again, Seattle doesn’t have the same issues, but you don’t have to look too hard and you see the same patterns– profiling.  Pulling the same people over and over and over and over again, pulling over older cars because they are usually driven by younger people or people just trying to get to their shitty minimum wage jobs– they get a ticket they can’t pay for, they get their license suspended, they still have to get to work– its a never ending cycle– and once you are in the system, it is very hard to get back out of it.  When I saw that guy in Saint Paul get shot, it reminded me of the last summer I spent in Pullman, driving a beat up old Volvo around town and the cops would pull me over all the time– and once I didn’t pay one ticket– I totally forget to pay one — and they suspended my licenese– so they pulled me over, knowing I had a suspended license.  When I was surprised, the guy just laughed at me and told me I couldn’t drive– so I had to walk home.  When I went back the next day to get the car, they had towed it.  TOWED IT!!! In the goddamn wheatfields.  I got another ticket for car abandonment!  So when we drove to pick it up out of impound, the same cop was waiting for me at the base of the hill I lived on, waiting to see me driving the car home the 2 miles from the tow yard.  Wrote me another ticket!  This time he was nice enough to let me park it in my driveway…. So sometimes it isn’t always the color of your skin — sometimes its just a power thing– sometimes a cop just likes to be a dick– but the game is changing.

Police have become more heavily armed now– they are much more likely to pull a weapon than before I think– I still have yet to see an officer pull his weapon on me, but I expect at some point it will be the norm– and that is not really the America I wanted to raise my sons in– I understand that there are bad people out there, but a gun escalates a situation 1000X– it forces someone to do something and a lot of times that isn’t the best outcome.  I will remain unarmed for the rest of my life– and if a gun takes my life– I hope that a broken judicial system find justice in shooting an unarmed man– it certainly should– and that is part of the sadness of this story– these 2 men that were killed will more than likely not see justice served because they were both carrying — Alton Sterling, killed in Lousiana the day after he purchased the handgun for protection after other guys selling CD’s were recently robbed– Alton Sterling had been tazed TWICE before the officers tackled him and shot him point blank.  It’s just sad.

We can do better– we have the technology, we have the time– we can do better.  Our future depends on us taking the time to make a difference– not just wait for an organization to make things better.

What can we do?

Heavy on my mind…

I felt the same way that Obama did when he gave the speech this past week– here was our president again, saying how senseless the violence is, how it should be different.. and then he gives the examples that we all know– we have a congress that is split and because of that split, nothing gets accomplished.  This country doesn’t get to move forward, we stay in the same place, neutral.  Neutral isn’t safe, its not progressive and its not liberal, its status quo and status quo is killing people– its killing people in daily gun shootings, its killing people in mass shootings, its killing small children.  It’s not something anyone wants to talk about.  I don’t want to be blogging about it right now, but I am going to because I can’t stop thinking about it.

I don’t live in violent America.  I have fired a gun four times in my life.  If I don’t ever do again, I am totally fine with it.  Guns are not necessary is any format, the only reason that police need guns is because they are out powered on the streets– there are way too many weapons on the street for police to not have to use lethal force when necessary, I get it.

What I don’t get, what I have never gotten, is people’s need to defend the 2nd Amendment so feverishly.  I don’t get how you can look time and time again at someone mowing down innocent lives (and don’t tell me that those kids in New Town weren’t innocent) and everyone not want legislation to make this country safer.  (We have terrible accidents on the road, we fix the road.)  I think that more than half the people in this country want less guns, have no need for guns, don’t own guns, etc.  I think 20% of the population want guns, for hunting, for home protection, whatever.  One gun, maybe a rifle, etc.  I think 10% want to own more weapons, find weapons cool and interesting, want to own power, want to collect power, etc.  Even that, I think is fine in moderation and control.  You want high powered weapons, you can have them, but you need to pay a lot of money to own them and you have to go through a background check every couple of years, you have to register firearms and notify a registry when the weapons are taken.  Essentially, you have to pay to play.

Again, I think the majority of Americans would approve this if they were allowed to actually vote on this– cigarettes, when I was 21 were $2.40 a pack.  20 years later, they are $9.40 a pack.  You pay to play.  Same should go with weapons.  The choice to tax the shit out of cigarettes came from the states and gun control legislation has to come from the states — and it does.  Oregon has a new law in place where everyone has to get a background check– so the shooter from last week should have had to pass a background check in order to obtain those weapons (14 WEAPONS).  All of these were obtained legally, so the rhetoric is that these background checks don’t stop these “insane people” from killing people.

So the gun advocate then changes the conversation on how we should be dealing with mental health– in essence gun advocates find a deeper rabbit hole of social concern to divert our attention.  If we simple locked up the crazies, we would all live in a fair and protected, well armed society– after all, an armed society is a polite society, right?

The solution lies in the middle.  Our government can’t find the middle and this is directly due to the impact of the lobby of this country– and with gun control, it sits directly with the NRA.  Over the coming weeks, we will hear more rhetoric from the NRA, just like they did right after Columbine– after all, their national convention was the next week in downtown Denver– where Charlton Heston famously held the rifle and proclaimed that they will only take his gun “From his cold dead hands”.  Since that tragedy in the early 90’s, the right has been smearing anyone who advocates stricter gun legislation and it’s been very successful.

But all of this is short lived, according to ABC news:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/mass-shootings-umpqua-lift-support-gun-control-long/story?id=34202609

But the more we see these killings, the more it will prompt us to act– but we can only vote on legislation if our leaders put it in front of the people for a vote.

Here’s the list, to refresh your memory:

April 1999 – Two teenage schoolboys shot and killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.

July 1999 – A stock exchange trader in Atlanta, Georgia, killed 12 people including his wife and two children before taking his own life.

September 1999 – A gunman opened fire at a prayer service in Fort Worth, Texas, killing six people before committing suicide.

October 2002 – A series of sniper-style shootings occurred in Washington DC, leaving 10 dead.

August 2003 – In Chicago, a laid-off worker shot and killed six of his former workmates.

November 2004 – In Birchwood, Wisconsin, a hunter killed six other hunters and wounded two others after an argument with them.

March 2005 – A man opened fire at a church service in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven people.

October 2006 – A truck driver killed five schoolgirls and seriously wounded six others in a school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania before taking his own life.

April 2007 – Student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 15 others at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, before shooting himself, making it the deadliest mass shooting in the United States after 2000.

August 2007 – Three Delaware State University students were shot and killed in “execution style” by a 28-year-old and two 15-year-old boys. A fourth student was shot and stabbed.

December 2007 – A 20-year-old man killed nine people and injured five others in a shopping centre in Omaha, Nebraska.

December 2007 – A woman and her boyfriend shot dead six members of her family on Christmas Eve in Carnation, Washington.

February 2008 – A shooter who is still at large tied up and shot six women at a suburban clothing store in Chicago, leaving five of them dead and the remaining one injured.

February 2008 – A man opened fire in a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, killing five students and wounding 16 others before laying down his weapon and surrendering.

July 2008 – A former student shot three people in a computer lab at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona.

September 2008 – a mentally ill man who was released from jail one month earlier shot eight people in Alger, Washington, leaving six of them dead and the rest two wounded.

October 2008 – Several men in a car drove up to a dormitory at the University of Central Arkansas and opened fire, killing two students and injuring a third person.

December 2008 – A man dressed in a Santa Claus suit opened fire at a family Christmas party in Covina, California, then set fire on the house and killed himself. Police later found nine people dead in the debris of the house.

March 2009 – A 28-year-old laid-off worker opened fire while driving a car through several towns in Alabama, killing 10 people.

March 2009 – A heavily-armed gunman shot dead eight people, many of them elderly and sick people, in a private-owned nursing home in North Carolina.

March 2009 – Six people were shot dead in a high-grade apartment building in Santa Clara, California.

April 2009 – An 18-year-old former student followed a pizza deliveryman into his old dormitory, and shot the deliveryman, a dorm monitor, and himself at Hampton University, Virginia.

April 2009 – A man shot dead 13 people at a civic center in Binghamton, New York.

July 2009 – Six people, including one student, were shot in a drive-by shooting at a community rally on the campus of Texas Southern University, Houston.

November 2009 – US army psychologist Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, leaving 13 dead and 42 others wounded.

February 2010 – A professor opened fire 50 minutes into at a Biological Sciences Department faculty meeting at the University of Alabama, killing three colleagues and wounding three others

January 2011 – a gunman opened fire at a public gathering outside a grocery in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six people including a nine-year-old girl and wounding at least 12 others. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured with a gunshot to the head.

July 2012 – Masked gunman James Holmes opens fire at midnight cinema screen of new Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring 58.

August 2012 Gunman kills six people at SIkh temple in Wisconsin before being shot dead by police. Suspect is named as white supremacists Wade Michael Page.

December 2012 – Adam Lanza, 20, forces his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He kills 20 first-graders and six adults. Before arriving at the school, he had killed his mother at their home.

June 2013 – John Zawahri, an unemployed 23-year-old, kills five people in a rampage which begins at his father home and ends in Santa Monica College’s library.

September 2013 – Aaron Alexis, a Navy contractor and former Navy man, engages police in a running firefight in the Washington D.C. industrial complex before being shot and killed. Thirteen people were killed and three injured.

May 2014 – Elliot Rodger opens fire in the campus town of Isla Vista, California from inside a black BMW, killing seven people. Rodgers acted alone and written and video evidence suggest the attack is premeditated.

June 2015 – White supremacist, Dylann Roof, begins shooting in a historic black church in an attempt to start a race-war. He kills nine people.

August 2015 – Vester Lee Flanagan II aka Bryce Williams shoots dead two former colleagues from the WDBJ7 news team.

August 2015 – Chris Harper-Mercer kills 9 people and injured 20 at Umpqua Community College.

We must do better.

One last thing:  Here’s a “Safety” law in Georgia:

https://www.yahoo.com/travel/is-it-ok-to-bring-a-loaded-gun-into-an-airport-120692240587.html

The question is:  How do we change this rut we have dug ourselves into?  How do we change government so that We The People means something again?  Comments are welcome.