Category Archives: Uncategorized

STANDING UP WHILE SITTING DOWN

Kaep

#7, above, is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers during the playing of the National Anthem prior to its exhibition game vs the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 1, 2012.

Note he is kneeling and does not have his hand over his heart as all the civilians around him seem to be doing. This was also his appearance during the National Anthem at the three previous exhibition games on August 26, August 20, and Augiust 14. No complaints were registered until after the August 26 game.

But, oh, how those complaints have come in.

Kaepernick, in one interview, explained his rationale

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder

One objection to Kaepernick took this form:

Martin Halloran, the San Francisco Police Officers Association president, sent a letter Monday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York denouncing Kaepernick’s “ill-advised” statements and a “naivete” and “total lack of sensitivity” toward police, along with an “incredible lack of knowledge” about officer-involved shootings.

The police union invited Kaepernick or anyone else from the league to visit the San Francisco police academy to build communication and understanding about the profession.

“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/17418050/san-francisco-police-union-president-rips-colin-kaepernick

There are several problems with that narrative, not the least of which is that Kaepernick did not reference the San Francisco Police for misbehavior, but he well could have. The S.F.P.D. has been involved in  95 officer involved shootings in the past 15 years with 40 deaths. 18 of those shot had only knives on them and 11 were not armed at all. And since there were multiple officers with more than one shooting I’d say the emotional trauma of shooting a civilian must not be that great since there are repeat offenders and other officers do not seem to learn from the mistakes of their brethren. So spare me the sob story.

Too, Kaepernick is not the one embarrassing himself, nor should he be embarrassed but Halloran should be utterly ashamed of himself. As to “a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.” Halloran must be playing see no evil and hear no evil all by his lonesome but he forgot the speak no evil part—because his accusation that Kaepernick operates from a false narrative and nonfactual information is so obviously itself a lie.

But one phenomenon is quite apparent in the criticism. The quarterback is accused of demeaning America and denying its greatness. But so so many of the people voicing that criticism are preparing to vote for a large incandescent yam whose very campaign slogan tells Americans their country is not great.

As an interesting aside and a corollary to the Kaepernick story, read this tale by a reporter who once protested in favor of the National Anthem by sitting down for it. Same action, different rationale.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/i-stood-up-for-the-national-anthem-by-sitting-down-for-it/2016/08/30/6d08901e-6ecb-11e6-8533-6b0b0ded0253_story.html

Another curious twist is that part of  Kaepernick’s position is in total alliance with BlackLivesMatter. Protests and demonstrations have come to many cities across the country. Most have been extraordinarily peaceful but on the uncommon occasions with some violence the cry has been heard, “Hey, you black folks! You can protest better by sitting down and shutting up” So a black man decides to protest by sitting down and shutting up and that still is not good enough.

Colin Kaepernick is in excellent company.

Rosa Parks stood up against segregated buses while sitting down and her action has been immortalized as a linchpin of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ezell Blair, Jr. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond stood up against discrimination in public accommodations by sitting down on four stools at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter.

In 1776 fifty-six men stood up against the tyranny of King Goerge III by sitting down to debate and adopt the Declaration Of Independence.

Will Kaepernick’s protest eventually carry the same import? Probably not but it is very much in the spirit of the aforesaid protests.

Colin, in my apartment I have a very comfy La-Z-Boy recliner. Stop over to watch some games, any games, and feel free to fully enjoy the recliner during the National Anthem. You’ll hear not one peep out of me if you fail to stand.

KEEPING SCORE

attacks

The pie chart above depicts the percentage of terrorist attacks within the United States by groups representing various factions between 1980 and 2005 and was developed from an FBI data base. It was produced by Global Research: Centre for Research on Globalization and is dated May 1, 2013.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/non-muslims-carried-out-more-than-90-of-all-terrorist-attacks-in-america/5333619

Looks like my Jewish friends have been more active than my Arab ones though it would seem I have more to fear from my fellow lefties.

More from that report

U.S. News and World Report noted in February of this year:

Of the more than 300 American deaths from political violence and mass shootings since 9/11, only 33 have come at the hands of Muslim-Americans, according to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. The Muslim-American suspects or perpetrators in these or other attempted attacks fit no demographic profile—only 51 of more than 200 are of Arabic ethnicity. In 2012, all but one of the nine Muslim-American terrorism plots uncovered were halted in early stages. That one, an attempted bombing of a Social Security office in Arizona, caused no casualties.

And just to be clear, although the Fort Hood murders were perpetrated by a Muslim, since that attack was against U.S. military personnel I would not designate that as an act of terrorism. As one of my frequent commenters so conveniently provided on my entry, Isis In America

Further, per wiki, 22 USC 38, says, in the context of State Department country reports: “[T]he term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.”

So those unfortunate victims were combatants and I maintain justifiable targets in the U.S. declared War on Terrorism, just as troops in Iraq and Afghanistan may have been killed by clandestine means rather than during an open firefight.

The purpose of all this?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the reality that while terrorism of any nature is real and needs to be guarded against, it is far from the all-consuming danger portrayed by the rhetoric of countless politicians supported by mouth-breathing pundits whose livings depend on the number of readers/viewers they attract. And none of them will be earning their paychecks should they choose to report the truth that there is not a terrorist bomb lying in every dumpster and that every one of the 2.5 million Muslims in the United States is not intent on slitting their throat at the first opportunity.

Moreover, with over 1.5 BILLION Muslims in the world, if the adherents of that religion as a whole were consumed by the need to destroy Western Civilization, one would think that much greater increments in that destruction would have been achieved than has in fact been done by the Wolves of Wall Street.

Here within our boundaries we have our own home-grown terror groups finding comfort in their Second Amendment Rights to arm themselves to the teeth for protection against homosexuals, IRS agents, and blacks. They are not content to maintain an alert defensive posture but individuals and small groups of them have deemed it necessary to be pro-active.

That is why in 2013 Mother Jones could report that between 9/11 and the end of 2012 domestic right wing terrorists had killed 29 people across the nation as opposed to 17 fatalities from Muslim terrorists…and they are including the Fort Hood deaths which should be discounted for the reasons above.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/04/charts-domestic-terrorism-jihadist-boston-tsarnaev

And perhaps potentially deadly attacks by Muslims have been thwarted? Fair enough, with a few notable instances of shoe and underwear bomber wanna-bes. Any others?

The jihadists’ record as bomb makers would probably be even worse if not for the FBI, which has reeled in dozens of would-be terrorists with its controversial informant program. Of the 203 jihadist terrorists counted by the New America Foundation, just 23 got their hands on explosives or materials to make a bomb; more than half of those obtained the components (often nonfunctioning) from federal informants or agents as part of a sting. Of the 174 nonjihadists, 51 right-wing terrorists and 5 anarchist terrorists tried making bombs. Only five of the right-wing terrorists got their bomb-making supplies via sting operations.

So it appears that

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men. Gang aft agley

And many would have gone further aft agley had the FBI simply stayed away and not provided both the inspiration and the means for terror dreams to morph into civilian nightmares.

How about abroad? While some Americans have been targeted for well-publicized killings by ISIS, and we have the four American dead in the Benghazi consulate attack, the total number of fatalities from American targeted incidents is negligible. But thousands of Iraqis have been murdered by Muslim groups during and after the war there so it would be more accurate to say that Muslims have more to fear from Islamic terrorism than do non-Muslims.

For further references I would suggest these.

http://archive.adl.org/nr/exeres/faf397e9-96e6-4a7a-89d4-1968e1a44a15,db7611a2-02cd-43af-8147-649e26813571,frameless.html

http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/our-gti-findings

If interested one can access any number of reports/analyses from both conservative and liberal organizations (Heritage Foundation included) that provide statistics about terror.

None may be exceptionally expansive and may duplicate  others’ work in some aspects. If they do not editorialize that Americans are pretty safe from that violence the facts presented easily support that conclusion. Too, there may be discrepancies in their numbers, most likely due to utilizing different sources with different time frames of reference and often with somewhat flexible definitions of terrorism.

What of ISIS or Boko Haram?

As much undeniable terror as they do spread, they are more akin to traditional armies than to Al Qaeda and consanguineous organizations. Indeed, ISIS has declared itself a state…without established borders to be sure… but truly embarking upon its version of Manifest Destiny.

Much as the threat from these foreign entities, especially Muslim centered ones, is palpable in their part of the world, it is equally impalpable in the United States or to American targets anywhere, save for rare instances.

Yet, Peter King, Lindsey Graham, and even President Obama, can be quite prone to hyperbole that exaggerates the danger in order to…when it comes right down to it…justify huge military and intelligence budgets, as well as severe security measures that protect us from the slightest of threats.

It is as if a hovering mother sends her adorable five year old outdoors to play in September wearing a complete snow suit because it once snowed on that date thirteen years ago…and mother and child reside in Phoenix.

There are numbers galore that reveal how little we have to fear from terror. The likelihood of death from driving without a seat belt or smoking cigarettes, jaywalking, owning a gun, or not having health insurance outranks your chances of dying from a terrorist attack, foreign or domestic. And these are issues of concern we address less drastically or not at all.

And you know something else? We have the same Arabs to thank for those revealing numbers that we now want to declare our enemies.

Isn’t it ironic?

THE COMEDIANS

comedians

Jamelle Bouie is a young writer for Slate. He covers policy, politics, and race. I have read many very interesting stories from his pen and our opinions are compatible more often than not.  I have quoted from his pieces and posted them on Facebook.

But I find myself at odds with him here. And it’s on a relatively simple matter. He believes Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Stewart has announced he is stepping down from his perch as host of the hit satirical cable program later this year.The liberal world that pays attention to such matters is in mourning. He has been our “spokesman” for over a decade and a half as he has torn down the facade so often erected by the right of political positions and absurdist societal ideals that are based on superstition, distortions and outright lies.

But he has not been hesitant to bring to our attention the sometimes hilarious, and, at times, equally ugly and disturbing faux pas of actual liberals and even of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, true liberals only in the worst nightmares of of those who oppose their every action or word.

But the primary function of Stewart is to make his audience laugh. And his audience mostly skews liberal. It may be the only two conservative viewers he has are Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, both digging for ammunition to maintain ongoing feuds, just as Stewart himself mines their programs for his own material, taking extra delight in tossing barbs their way.

And when Stewart is sometimes attacked for his mainly liberal take on things and notation is made of his show’s influence and higher credibility ratings than either most mainstream or conservative media, he is wont to protest that he is “merely a comedian”.

Bouie dissents.

More often however, Stewart’s stance is frustrating. His protests to the contrary, Stewart is a pundit, and like many pundits, he’s wed to a kind of anti-politics, where genuine difference doesn’t exist (or isn’t as relevant as we think) and political problem-solving is mostly a matter of will, knowledge, and technocratic know-how.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/02/jon_stewart_stepping_down_from_the_daily_show_he_was_bad_for_liberals.html

I like this writer but have to disagree with him here. But our differences may stem more from our age disparity and the perspectives our own life experiences represent. He graduated from college in 2008, I in 1969.

Perhaps his relative youth lends him more optimism that true engagement on the issues is possible. I, on the other hand, have been witness to the deterioration of the relationship between our two major national “sides”— conservative and liberal.

I have vivid memories of my (thankfully brief) embrace of Barry Goldwater in 1964 and voting for Richard Nixon in 1968 upon my first eligibility. And though today I would not support either of these legendary Republicans based on their platforms and accomplishments in their time, today I’m not sure many conservatives would either, were they to look more closely at what they, especially, Nixon did. And that is utterly apart from Watergate which really cannot eradicate his diplomatic overtures to China or establishment of the now frenetically hated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or (GASP!) …as modern conservatives disparage the minimum wage itself…Nixon’s proposal of a Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) in 1969.

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=2194

Bouie sees Stewart as feeding into uncompromising dysfunction of the contemporary political dialogue (more accurately simultaneous monologues) and the seeming inability of Congress to pass anything other than the 3462nd attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and sponsoring bills to eliminate even more long-standing laws.

I see Stewart as providing a necessary counterpoint to…in  my own views… a far conservative right wing wanting to dismantle the great progressive improvements to America since…let’s say…the New Deal. And he makes me laugh, though much of that laughter is as attributable to his “correspondents” as it is to him.

And I need laughter. As much as I may be the beneficiary of confirmation and validation of my own opinions I am the receptor of material that tickles my funny bone. Comfort food, if you will.

In this very piece whether you agree with my views, individual or as a whole, that I express here, is irrelevant. I know some of you do not see things as I do. But this is about Stewart and what place he merits in our psyche.

As much as I admire Jon Stewart and would love to have a conversation with him over a few beers, in the end, though, whether you deem Stewart a comic or an acutely perceptive political pundit cum humor, he is simply one of the Comedians and I am not referring to characters in the Graham Greene novel of the same name.

Then again, it could be the Lords of FOX who take him much too seriously nail it, which would..I believe..make them the Tontons Macoutes 

FOLLOW THE LEADER

badge

This is part of a continuing theme of expressing concern and occasionally contempt for policing methods, attitudes, and actions that seem to be consistent across the board in instances of possible misconduct, even criminal misconduct, on the part of law enforcement agencies across the United States. There are many examples easily recalled such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner but also derived from tales of SWAT raids, traffic stops, and other varieties of police/civilian interactions.

The focus here is not on whether there is a racial element at the heart of many of these cases but rather reflects upon the role that police leadership plays where such misconduct occurs.

It has become trite to state that police officers on nearly every level and in most departments often face danger to themselves or share that danger with civilians who may be under an attack of some nature. I knew and was friends with a W.Va. State Trooper who was killed in the line of duty and I have sadly witnessed the aftermath of murdered officers in my adopted hometown of Morgantown, my original hometown of Washington, Pa., and my favorite big city (where I have family) of Pittsburgh when three city cops were victims of a cold-blooded killer who lured them with the very specific intent of committing lethal mayhem.

But, in Pittsburgh and all across the country, I have learned of actions that are offensive to my sense of justice where citizens have been needlessly and wantonly killed, or innocent people have been convicted of crimes as serious as murder, or ordinary citizens are constantly harassed for even the most minor violation…or perhaps none at all…in the name of “safe streets” or other ultimately meaningless slogans.

It is also trite to say that within any law enforcement agency there may be some bad eggs…the inevitable result of our very human nature.

Yet I have a theory  that out of control policing is a direct result of leadership at the top that lets officers know, directly or tacitly, that all but the most egregious conduct will be tolerated, all in the name of law and order.

On the other hand, I don’t believe most cops set out deliberately to be the most vicious examples of serving and protecting.

This article from Slate provides some evidence of the validity of my theory. It concerns William Bratton the former and current head of the New York Police Department (NYPD) and in the intervening years of his dual New York tenures the chief of the Los Angeles Police.

In “They Couldn’t Breathe, Either” Jason Peters highlights the consistencies of Bratton’s service wherever. The good—reductions in crime; the bad—-high levels of misconduct complaints; the ugly—death by choking of suspected offenders.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/01/_i_can_t_breathe_eric_garner_wasn_t_the_only_victim_of_excessive_force_by.single.html

Each time Bratton has been selected to lead these big city departments he has expressed to the officers under his command that he has their backs and carries that pledge through many incidents.

One way to garner the support of your underlings is to shield them from external criticism. And Bratton has a record of resisting transparency in his police departments. Overzealous civilian oversight or the threat of being held accountable for their actions causes cops to be tentative, which makes them less effective at maintaining order. Throughout his managerial career, Bratton has consistently advocated for policies that give police officers latitude to enforce the law free from outside scrutiny and discipline.

Now Peters is not an unrelenting critic of Bratton. He offers high praise in some areas.

… the one thing that Bratton’s supporters and detractors agree on is that he is a fantastic manager and communicator, someone who cuts through bureaucracy and inspires loyalty in his officers.

I would question that shielding police officers from outside scrutiny and discipline is necessarily a good thing. Remember that all police departments are subject to civilian control and they exist to serve the public, not as a vehicle for individual or a collective of officers to enforce the law according to their personal whims.

Surely there are police departments in this land in which it is made clear that enforcing the law is the utmost priority but, under our Constitutional form of government and the precepts of human decency there is a right way and a wrong way to proceed with that enforcement. And…with proper training…cops will be as prepared as possible to deal with the nebulous situations where the right way is not crystal clear but exigencies require split second decisions.

The better training is (and part of that is the selection of the highest possibly quality of candidates for training) the greater likelihood that the correct decision will be made in these split second situations.

Part of the training also need be that officers inclined to and committing misconduct are in violation of the ideals of law enforcement and that misconduct will not be tolerated.

Too often cops stand together even when blatant misconduct or outright corrupt criminality is present because they are “brothers in uniform”.

It may be painful to call out a brother for his  misbehavior but in a good family the parents have demonstrated that doing so is the ideal.

In a police department the chief is, in effect, in loco parentis.

It

2014—THE GOP’S TOGA PARTY

animal

“…that a Roman toga party was held from which we have received two dozen reports of individual acts of perversion so profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.”

So said Omega Doug Neidermeyer at the sham trial for the Deltas in Animal House.

I was reminded of this quote when reading about some of the Republican pledges about to become active members of that wild and crazy institution, commonly referred to as Congress. It is about to become wilder and crazier.

The Daily Kos, something I read only when a friend posts a link on Facebook, has come up with a list of the most extreme newly elected members of that once august, but now February, body—you know, cold, dark, and foreboding, and bound to feel much longer than it’s official length.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/05/1342284/-Meet-your-new-Craziest-Republicans?detail=facebook

The collective grade point average of these Congresspersons to be, and possibly their collective IQ, is farther south of the Mason-Dixon Line of grade point averages and IQ’s than is the South Pole from the geographical one.

They are an aggravating aggregation of Muslim hating, science denying, gun-toting, Biblical nonsense spewing, gay bashing, border closing, ISIS/Mexican drug cartel conspiracy theorizing, wanna be impeaching, UN mischaracterizing, Obamacare repealing  rivals to the already sitting preternaturally stupid Louie Gohmert and repugnantly craven Ted Cruz. (What IS in the water in Texas, anyhow?)

Many of their and their colleagues actions almost inevitably will be in a virtual food fight in their respective but not respectable Chambers in the Capitol. Just as their current nutjob counterparts are an assimilation of Bluto clones, the incoming class can be called Flounder. Why Flounder? Why not?

The voting public themselves need to become Dean Wormer, putting these Republicans on double secret probation, standing ready to expel them at the first opportunity when they commit their next offense, not against Faber but against the United States.

I can envision their Homecoming Parade through the legislative process in which they are reluctant participants at all but which they will utilize to disrupt the enjoyment of the other participants as well as all the observers. I guarantee that someone will lose their marbles and the Death Machine will emerge from the smoke.

Unfortunately the electorate that put them in office is most comparable to Omega pledge, Chip. Faced with the ignorance and mis, mal and non feasance of their present representatives they chose to add to that.

It’s the equivalent of “Thank you, Sir, may I have another.”

THE WAR ON RUBBER STAMPS

rub

I want to call your attention to a dreadful strategy being employed all over this great nation of ours.

We are accustomed to our politicians debating about and then even legislating against various perceived enemies

Drugs? We have a war on them.

Poverty? We have a war on it.

Terror? Check, another war.

Women? We have far more women than we do any of the rest and a war on them to match.

But there is one inexplicable innocent victim. A victim that has been derided and used as a pawn for political gain, A victim of politicians everywhere with no regard for party. A victim with no ideology of its own. A victim with no history of endangering a soul, though on occasion it has been involuntarily made into a weapon.

That victim…that target of opprobrium…that scapegoat sacrificed to the whims and impure agendas of those seeking our votes…is the formerly lowly rubber stamp.

Oh, sure, you argue that the rubber stamp is capable of making you angry. Many a writer has received a response to submission of a manuscript with nothing but the word REJECTED boldly imprinted.

Your bank may send an ominous looking envelope your way and, once opened and the check you just sent for the payment on your Lamborghini is stamped INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. (Better get that raise from McDonalds, huh?)

And then you have the notice from the electric company that tells you your bill is OVERDUE.

But though you have received bad news is that really the fault of the rubber stamp? It just had the misfortune of being employed by some ham-fisted, faceless bureaucrat working for uncaring corporations who probably purchased that stamp as simply one of many, with no regard for its individuality.

Now, viewing campaign ads, we are inundated with admonitions to vote for a Republican because the Democratic opponent will be a “rubber stamp for Obama”. That’s even true in the race for Pacoima Dog Catcher.

Or, if not a rubber stamp for Obama and, depending on which House is at issue, It seems Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have plenty of rubber stamps in their arsenals.

It happens on both sides. Democratic House and Senate candidates warn that their election rivals will be rubber stamps for John Boehner or Mitch McConnell. At least in Boehner’s case the rubber stamps come with a gift certificate to a tanning salon.

In Pennsylvania Pat Stefano is seeking a place in the state Senate as a Republican.He is facing off against Deb Kula, a Democrat who warns Stefano will be a rubber stamp for Republican Governor Tom Corbett. However,looking at the polls, if Stefano is such a rubber stamp it will read “EX-GOVERNOR”

Why can’t we promote the peaceful and benevolent uses of rubber stamps? “APPROVED”, “PAID IN FULL”, ACCEPTED AT HARVARD”, TAYLOR SWIFT’S NEXT BOYFRIEND” are just a few of the good, positive, and pleasing messages rubber stamps deliver every day.

Maybe we can restore sanity to the issue of rubber stamps when the candidates promoting this shallow, simplistic, and deceptive practice by ensuring that, on the day after the election, this stamp appears next to their names:

LOSER

FOOLS PARADE

fools-parade-77

You may be familiar with this title from the Davis Grubb novel and the movie adaptation starring Jimmy Stewart. You may also be familiar with another Grubb novel, Night of The Hunter, and its subsequent big screen depiction starring Robert Mitchum.

While both stories are set in Depression era West Virginia (Grubb was born in Moundsville) Fools is somewhat lighter hearted and has a happy ending. Hunter, on the other hand, is downright scary as ex-con Mitchum tries to get his hands on some hidden loot and threatens the lives of two children, among others, to fulfill his money lust.

But I’m not speaking here of fiction and made-up characters. I’m presenting, sadly, real life characters eminently qualified for mockery but who are also eminently scary for what they want to do to children AND adults, consenting or not.

This is a parade of fools masquerading as serious candidates for public office. Coincidentally they are all Republicans. Or maybe there is no coincidence. As a character in Anthony Horowitz’s Point Blank observes

Where some
people see coincidence, I see conspiracy. That’s my job

Considering the commonality of the statements and actions of these GOP office seekers I see no coincidence. I see conspiracy.

Kicking off the parade, merrily making his way down Main Street as Drum Major, is one Thom Tillis, hoping to unseat Kay Hagan as Senator from North Carolina. In a recent debate with Hagan he claimed “By voting for Obamacare, Sen. Kay Hagan ‘voted to kill the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs.’ ” That’s false information presented in a distorted manner.

Scott Walker is campaigning to be re-elected governor of Wisconsin. He doesn’t like the minimum wage. “Jobs that involve the minimum wage are overwhelmingly jobs for young people starting out in the workforce.” Now, if overwhelmingly means slightly more than 50% he’s right. But any dictionary definition of “overwhelmingly” will reveal that is not what it means.

Next down the street in a flaming red convertible is Scott Brown, the peripatetic Senate candidate who may soon show up on your doorstep soliciting votes. He combine his worries about our Mexican border with the current unwarranted Ebola hysteria into this, “One of the reasons why I’ve been so adamant about closing our border because if people are coming through normal channels, can you imagine what they can do through a porous border,”

Yes, cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers from Ebola ravaged West Africa are docking in Cancun every day and discharging their infectees to wend their way to Laredo where they intend to immediately discharge their rotten bodily fluids into the local water supply.

(What is it with these guys named Scott, and whatever happened to Randolph Scott?)

Riding on The Conspiracy Theory Float is one Joni Ernst.”All of us agreed that Agenda 21 is a horrible idea. One of those implications to Americans, again, going back to what did it does do to the individual family here in the state of Iowa, and what I’ve seen, the implications that it has here is moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers, and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore. These are all things that the UN is behind, and it’s bad for the United States and bad for families here in the state of Iowa.”

Agenda 21 is a United Nations sustainability program, voluntary and non-binding on the U.S. and signed by that well-known Commie, President George H.W. Bush in 1992. I can tell you exactly how many Iowa farm families have been forced to move to urban areas. ZERO! Field of Dreams is less fantasy than her Agenda 21 silliness.

Arriving next on the Koch brothers float …actually a train of fifty floats because, well because they have the money to do anything they want, buying parades and elections and countries alike…we have Mitch McConnell who is fighting for his political life in Kentucky with Alison Lundergan Grimes mounting a strong challenge for his Senate seat.

“Kentucky Kynect is a Web site. It was paid for by a $200-and-some-odd-million grant from the federal government. The Web site can continue. But in my view, the best interest of the country would be achieved by pulling out Obamacare, root and branch…. Now, with regard to Kynect, it’s a state exchange. They can continue it if they’d like to. They’ll have to pay for it because the grant will be over. And with regard to the Medicaid expansion, that’s a state decision. The states can decide whether to expand Medicaid or not. In our state, the governor decided to expand Medicaid.

Well the web site, which he adores, does not exist without the Affordable Care Act, and neither does the Medicaid expansion which he feels is all right because it’s a state choice. If the law is repealed the health insurance for over 400,000 Kentuckians goes in the crapper.

And now occupying the esteemed position of Grand Marshal of the Fools Parade is the truly amazing Louie Gohmert of Texas, looking to retain the seat in the House of Representatives on which he has parked his brain since 2005.

Befitting Gohmert’s superiority, his place as a Fool among fools, his spoken inanities are so frequent and so numerous, that to list them here would take more time than I have since I need to see my urologist for followup on December 18. However, I do have one collection of them judged to be his worst. Like favorite Baroque composers, or rock guitarists, or home run hitters you may have your own favorites. And like those categories there are many possible choices that you must sort through to come up with your own rankings.

But check out the ones to be found here. http://blogs.houstonpress.com/news/2013/05/gohmert_muslim_brotherhood_ter.php?page=2

I won’t spoil all the fun but one has to do with nominating Allen West for Speaker of the House AFTER he had lost his bid for re-election.

Time to go home and let the cleanup begin.While it has been fun and joyous to witness this spectacular, our next entry for this biennial event is not due until 2016. Who will be the Grand Marshal then? Christie? Cruz? Walker? Santorum?

Tune in then and hope there is no cause to turn on and drop out prior to then.

YEAH, HOBBY LOBBY IS HARMLESS

KJV_Bible

The recent Supreme Court decision allowing Hobby Lobby to opt out of providing contraceptive insurance coverage for its female employees is so wrong on so many levels and it thoroughly shocked me when it was handed down.

My primary objection to it, aside from the fact it was in no way about religious freedom, is that it allowed Hobby Lobby (or more precisely the human beings who are its major shareholders) to declare that their religious beliefs trumped a federal law but their “religious” belief was, in the end, an utterly wrong scientific belief. Or I should say a belief that is not supported by science. That is, the company did not want to cover contraceptive devices and drugs which it deemed to be abortifacients when all available scientific knowledge disputes this, with a few outliers most definitely among a minute minority.

I stated from when I first heard of the ruling that the barn door was now open and all kinds of mischief would ensue. That echoed the eloquent and biting dissent issued by Justive Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (the entire 35 page dissent is reproduced here) http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/06/read-justice-ginsburgs-passionate-35-page-dissent-in-the-hobby-lobby-decision/373703/

Two things about the decision disturb me.

First, though the Supreme Court’s opinion limits its effect to closely held corporations, in practice 90% of American corporations are closely held. That does not mean they are small. As Ginsburg pointed out such giants as Cargill and Mars are closely held. She did not mention Koch Industries but it is in that category, too. These corporations employ millions of people. The potential for any or all of them to invoke “religious beliefs” as a wedge…nay a cudgel…to exempt themselves from laws is immense.

Two, even if the ruling is narrowly applied a plethora of lawsuits are sure to follow asserting some form of exemption or other which may effectively overburden the federal court system so much that real life cases with real life issues involving real life facts instead of mythical fantasies will bring unwieldy delays in resolving important matters.

Now I will admit what I foresee in the previous paragraph is very speculative. I have read opinions by those of far greater legal scholarship than I whose forecast is nearly identical. But perhaps beyond an initial flurry of litigation the issue may cool off. Only time will tell. (Oh, what a grand old cliche, eh?)

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has written that Hobby Lobby is a company liberals should love. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/06/opinion/sunday/ross-douthat-a-company-liberals-could-love-.html?_r=0

There are, however, exceptions: companies that still have a sense of business as a moral calling, which can be held up as examples to shame the bottom-liners.

One such company was hailed last year by the left-wing policy website Demos “for thumbing its nose at the conventional wisdom that success in the retail industry” requires paying “bargain-basement wages.” A retail chain with nearly 600 stores and 13,000 workers, this business sets its lowest full-time wage at $15 an hour, and raised wages steadily through the stagnant postrecession years. (Its do-gooder policies also include donating 10 percent of its profits to charity and giving all employees Sunday off.) And the chain is thriving commercially — offering, as Demos put it, a clear example of how “doing good for workers can also mean doing good for business.”

Of course I’m talking about Hobby Lobby, the Christian-owned craft store…

While I cannot dispute the good aspects of Hobby Lobby’s business as laid out by Douthat, he conveniently fails to distinguish that the setting of pay, store hours and the like is within the natural realm of any business. On the other hand interference with the private sex lives of its employees (interestingly only the female ones) by denying them the access to some parts of health care that should be of concern only between them and their doctors does not fit within this “moral” base of business practices.

Of import the positive qualities of which Douthat speaks affect 100% of the company’s employees, whereas the contraceptive issue affects only some of them.

But lest you want to say “Hey, cool it. Hobby Lobby may not be perfect but its heart is in the right place” I would reply, Hold your tongue.

For you see the company and its president, Steve Green, have a more complete and dangerous agenda than  mere denial of access to some forms of birth control.

How would you like your local public schools to force Christian education, with a Bible based curriculum, on your children (or really anyone’s children)?

That is what Green has proposed and gotten at least partially passed in Mustang, Oklahoma. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/07/10/1313048/–Hobby-Lobby-long-term-goal-Mandate-4-Year-Bible-Curriculum-that-HL-writes-in-Public-Schools?detail=facebook

As of right now the course is an elective but per Steve Green…

We’re working on 4 year public school bible curriculum.  The first year will be a summary of all three of those section. It’s history, it’s impact and it’s story.  Then the next 3 years is going in depth in each of those — a year for the history, a year for the impact and a year for the story — in some order… The nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught. . . . If we don’t know it, our future is going to be very scary … We were looking – uh- we — we were talking – – discussed a college curriculum but it’s no — we really want to get — be into the – um – high school level because we want to reach as many as possible.  Someday, I would argue, it should be mandated.  Here’s a book that’s impacted our world, unlike any other, and you’re not gonna teach it? There’s — there’s something wrong with that.”

Too, at the urging of Green and his spokesman “Ashleigh” when the School Board met to consider the proposal it may not have had a proper quorum and definitely not all members attended the meeting was private. This may be illegal under Oklahoma’s Sunshine Law.

The Oklahoma County prosecutor said the move — which involved the board leaving its base in Canadian County and traveling to Oklahoma City — could create a potential violation if it is proven to be a deliberate attempt to go around laws that require government bodies to meet openly. “Even if there’s an out-of-county board, if they come here and meet in an attempt to circumvent the Open Meetings Act, just because they’ve met in a place that’s not routine, doesn’t mean they circumvent their requirements for meetings,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said. ”If someone is going to that great of length to avoid quorum, it sounds like they’re being pretty darn careful.” Boards can meet without a quorum present, Prater said, but no one at one meeting can be present at the other to give information to the other members, and no action can be taken by the members. Green was present at both meetings April 14, as was McDaniel. Others present for both include members of the curriculum design team and curators from the Green-backed Museum of the Bible. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20140521-oklahoma-school-board-members-met-privately-with-hobby-lobby-president-on-bible-class.ece

Mustang Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel had this to say about the wayward meeting.

“This was something that we wanted to be able to have conversation about and ask questions. If we have the media and the public coming into Hobby Lobby headquarters with us, that can just be confusing and awkward since we’re all seeing it for the first time,” McDaniel said in an interview. “My thought was, ‘Hey, let’s hold off on having a public meeting until we see a little more.”

That is a crock. A public meeting is required precisely so the media and public can be present. It should be clear from this news and Hobby Lobby’s actions that they are not undertaken as a matter of conscience but as steps towards a theocracy.

Can we trust Oklahomans to resist the urge to create a religious state, or at least a quasi religious state? I’d Sooner guess “No” though the voters in the state were quick to approve a constitutional amendment in 2010 that banned Shariah law.

Looks like it depends on which side  your ritual bread is buttered.

And I am speaking my conscience.

RACISM?—WHAT RACISM?

I have white friends, or know of white commenters on web sites, who insist there’s no institutional racism remaining in America despite tons and tons of evidence to the contrary.

Take the case of a young black man, Jordan Miles, in Pittsburgh who was walking home one winter evening when three undercover cops accosted him and beat the crap out of him, alleging he showed signs of having a weapon. Of course he was charged with resisting arrest, though he disputed whether they had identified themselves as cops.

Many Pittsburgh Post-Gazette readers express the view that he should simply have yielded to the cops and further trouble would have been avoided.

But what of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, both young black men shot and killed in Florida, Martin by a self-appointed neighborhood watch zealot suspicious of Trayvon cutting through yards in the housing development where his father lived, even after his call to 911 produced a response that he should cease his pursuit, real cops were on their way. Jordan Davis had the temerity of playing music in his car that was exceedingly loud, or was deemed so by a white man parked near him at a convenience store.

There are far more incidences of young black men being shot while not discernibly breaking the law and the hell of it is that if the shooters are faced with prosecution at all, they are almost inevitably found to be not guilty.

These cases most often have as  victims young black men acting like a young men of any color who suddenly find that their insouciance has betrayed them. Being abruptly confronted by accusations or suspicions of wrongdoing by someone who has pegged them as “trouble” and who has  aggressively approached them, their instinct in reaction to the interruption of their innocent reverie is to act offended.

No one has made a simple request or treated them like the young adults they are. Rather they are faced with presumptions and assumptions that result in no future consumption of anything….all because of the color of their skin.

Today the story emerged of former major league baseball player Doug Glanville whose right to be where he was while shoveling snow in the driveway of his own home in Hartford, Connecticut this past February was disputed by a police officer out of his own jurisdiction.

Although I knew of Glanville when he played, I’v become somewhat more familiar with him the past few years due to his column on ESPN.com. His writing is intelligent and polished and thoughtful as befits a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who holds an engineering degree. His words are not the usual rah rah one might expect from an ex-jock or biting barbs directed at any and all athletes whom he is now entitled to harshly judge as a sports commentator.

His story appears in the new edition of The Atlantic and I’ll let him describe the essence of what happened.

A police officer from West Hartford had pulled up across the street, exited his vehicle, and begun walking in my direction. I noted the strangeness of his being in Hartford—an entirely separate town with its own police force—so I thought he needed help. He approached me with purpose, and then, without any introduction or explanation he asked, “So, you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/04/i-was-racially-profiled-in-my-own-driveway/360615/

He had the presence of mind to not let his resentment and offense at this line of questioning cause him to do anything in the least that might prompt the officer to place him in handcuffs or worse.

The officer left but this incident ended up in opening dialogue between Glanville, his wife who is an Ivy League educated lawyer, his next door neighbor, also a lawyer, and various officials of both Hartford and West Hartford. Instead of pursuing recriminations against the particular officer who insulted him, he expressed hope that with age and experience the officer would grow and develop better understanding.

However, it would not be surprising for you or me to make a federal case of this. Of course I am white and probably most of my readers are white so we could get away with a little defiance. Just look at the idiot rancher in Nevada, illegally grazing his cattle on federal land for TWENTY YEARS, who pitched a hissy fit and generated enough publicity to persuade a bunch of fellow gun nuts to join him in his resistance to obeying the law The federal government backed down, not wanting any unnecessary blood to be shed. And shed blood is what these illegal protestors were willing to do and have done to them in defending a plain violation of law. Oh, yeah, they are white.

But let them darken their skin and stroll through a neighbor’s yard after sundown and their ass would be grass, and not the type  cattle graze on.

If a black, educated, unemotional man such as Glanville is accosted like this on his own property what chance does a younger immature black man have?

TRIBUTE OR LAMENT?

Today is November 11, Veterans’ Day. What began as the marking of the armistice to end World War I on 11-11-1918 at 11 a.m. evolved into Armistice Day to commemorate that occasion. Later the observance was changed to Veterans’ Day to honor all who have served in the armed forces of the United States,

Today you probably have viewed on TV or read in local papers any number of tributes to those veterans, thanking them for their service and offering encomiums to them in appreciation of their hard fight to preserve the American way of life and our precious freedoms. 

However, what is wrong with this picture is that, since the end of World War II, not one American military person has been sent overseas and performed any act to “preserve our freedom”. We have dispatched millions to Korea and Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and who knows how many lands operating openly but often in secret. Not one has protected me and mine or you and yours no matter what blather is spread about their missions and accomplishments.

Not one has sacrificed  life or limb for his or her country to spare us from invading hordes.

Whose fault is that? Well it most certainly is not the fault of those very veterans upon whom praise is heaped. It is the fault of the craven political leaders, Presidents and Congress alike, who have seen fit to deploy our uniformed services where they are not needed and generally not wanted and falsely justified their actions by invoking some nebulous threat to democracy.

There is no doubt that in some instances our armies forestalled other aggressors who had designs on those relatively primitive nations, but at what cost?

Korea (South of course) has managed quite well even though that police action resulted in a stalemate at the price of over 38.000 American lives, despite the succession of pint sized despots inhabiting and ruling north of the 38th Parallel.

Vietnam is a pretty thriving nation at present, a highly desirable tourist destination, reunited after our humiliating departure, having shed blood from over 58,000 dead during our presence. The inevitability of our defeat was foreshadowed by the words of the North Vietnamese Regular Army officer at the end of the Movie We Were Soldiers whose observation was that the American victory at Ia Drang would make not a whit of difference in the long run.

Our recent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have added several thousand more names to the honor roles of our esteemed dead and many times more patients needing enough long term care to support battalions of doctors treating their wounds.

All of these wars have arisen from dubious rationales. The past two are notable in addition because they involved all volunteer armies…not draftees…making it far easier for politicians to promote these invasions without possible blowback from charges they escaped duty by evading the draft, however legal.

Now it is difficult to turn around without seeing another group of blowhards speak of their pride in our veterans and  acting high and mighty patriotically. But these blowhards didn’t have to serve and remained comfortably at home while our troops served, often with multiple deployments.

It is so easy to hide behind the American flag or the playing of God Bless America and pretend you have done your part to demonstrate appreciation for the hard sacrifices our troops have made. It is also obscene and scandalous to do so while proclaiming your “support” for those same troops, who far too often have come home from war with physical and mental injuries, often unseen, and who suffer disproportionate rates of joblessness and homelessness and alcohol and drug abuse and even episodes of violence when none of these consequences of war would have occurred if they weren’t sent off to fucking useless wars initially.

To me, true support of our troops, past and present, is best manifested by refusing to force them to be placed in harm’s way save under the most extraordinary of circumstances.

I do applaud the members of our armed forces for their service as they are not the ones who make the idiot decisions putting them in danger. Even if never in battle, since WW II untold numbers of them have faced having to uproot their families multiple times during their careers while operating under that Sword of Damocles which could drop and send them into danger at any time, supposedly no questions asked.

I respect those troops and obviously will never fully understand what they have faced. I despise the hypocrites who prefer to endlessly involve those troops in battle utilizing the flimsiest of guises.

I offer my tribute to our veterans while lamenting the fact their nation has devised so many false premises that create veterans.

Tribute or lament?

The empiness of many tributes appalls me and the necessary lamentations deeply sadden me.

I would prefer none of the above.