Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cops Catch Crooks, Right?

It was recently pointed out to me that I seldom blog about local issues. Well, here’s one I feel strongly about. According to today’s Journal Sentinel, the heroin dealers known as the Big Money Addicts have been on trial. They testified that one thing that really helped their business was former Police Chief Ed Flynn’s “no chase” policy.

For those who don’t know what that’s about, let me recap: Police chases have often been deadly in Milwaukee’s past. A series of deadly crashes in 2010 after high-speed police pursuits, killed four innocent bystanders. This led to Ed Flynn imposing a “no chase” rule. Unless cops felt there was a deadly crime involved, they didn’t chase the crooks down. This, Flynn felt, would decrease the number of innocent deaths.

Well, it was a controversial move, and it didn’t work. The Big Money Addicts had a heroin business which was essentially mobile. They used stolen vehicles to drive around town and deal drugs directly to customers instead of operating a drug house which could be more easily found and raided. And they didn’t carry guns, because if they got pulled over, they could face both a drug and a gun charge. But in 2014, they realized that the cops weren’t chasing them anymore. Suddenly, it made more sense to carry guns all the time because they wouldn’t be caught and charged! And not only did they carry guns, they carried semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines. I mean, why not if you know your mobile operation is safe?!

As a direct result, innocent bystanders weren’t run down, but they ended up being gunned down instead.

How many were gunned down vs. run over or crashed into is tricky accounting work. Few numbers are available, and the Milwaukee Police Department has been less than forthcoming with all the statistics. Yet I think it’s fair to say that the “no chase” policy has made Milwaukee’s streets less safe in the long run. Only four deaths led to the police stopping high-speed chases. I’m quite certain that the Big Money Addicts and other gangs have killed far more than that, thanks in large part to cops simply letting crooks get away with it.

Don’t get me wrong, Ed Flynn has had his triumphs. He buried the glaring failures of former Chief Art Jones. He modernized the police force. He installed well-trained and well-disciplined officers. He brought in more minorities into the police force. But he may well be best remembered for this one, glaring failure above all others. It’s tragic, but when you make a mistake that big, people remember it.

Cops don’t let crooks go! Period! It is fundamental to their job as police officers. Some of the “no chase” rules have been lifted, but not entirely, and I for one am sick of inner city drivers blowing through traffic lights and ruthlessly using the parking shoulder as a fast-lane because they know cops don’t give a shit.

And if that behavior doesn’t kill even more innocent bystanders, I don’t know what will!



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Fiscal Apocalypse Now.

So, this is how it ends.

War with North Korea and China? That’s a real worry, but no. Cyber-attacks by Russia? Also a worry, but not that one, either. No, the real manifest destiny of America’s destruction under Trump will be the national debt.

The national debt stands right now at 20.567 trillion dollars. How much is that? A lot. Imagine a million bucks. Easy, right? Now multiply that by a thousand. Now multiply that by a thousand. Now multiply that by 21. Damn! Yeah, pretty big, right? But we have no idea how to comprehend that much. So try this: If every dollar we owed were a single grain of rice, the pile of rice would weigh 200 million pounds! In fact, if every American paid $100 towards the national debt every single day starting today until it was all paid off, it would take nearly two years to do it!

Yeah. That’s how deep in the hole we are!

And that’s if we stopped spending more than we are taking in immediately. But not only are we not doing that, Trump just proposed a budget for 2019 that could add 7 trillion more to the debt. We’re speeding towards the cliff, and Trump just hit the accelerator instead of the brake!

And remember, Trump has gone bankrupt more often than he’s fathered children! He’s not exactly good at getting out of these sort of holes.

Remember when it was such a tragedy that Obama wasn’t reducing the deficit fast enough? Remember when the 10 trillion dollar debt he inherited from Bush 43 was the worst crisis in the Western Hemisphere according to Fox News and Dinesh D’Sousa? Remember when he was projected to let the national debt hit 17 trillion by 2011, and that landmark was considered too much debt to come back from? Well, none of that happened, and meanwhile, the national debt has somehow become "no big deal," even as it threatens to swallow us whole.

Under Obama, the deficit went down. He was unable to eliminate the deficit and draw a surplus because Republicans blocked him. In fact, they blocked anything Obama wanted, no matter how conservative. No matter how sensible. In fact, they blocked everything Obama wanted simply because he was Obama.

Why isn’t Trump’s opposition willing to do that?

But now, the efforts Republicans did to increase deficit spending in order to try and dislodge Obama in 2012 are coming home to roost for Republicans. And they don’t care. They’ve forgotten how we got here.

Let’s be clear: If the U.S. Dollar goes, there goes most of the world’s economy with it. That, in turn, hits our own economy twice as hard. When Trump supporters say they’d rather “see it burn down” than let liberals run things, that’s what they want. A future with not only no jobs, but without any means to live, no way to survive, no way to feed one’s family, no hope. 

It isn't worth all that just to win a debate with Liberals on Facebook.

Our population is too dense to go back to scratching a living off the bark of trees in the dead of winter. Like it or not, it's either sustain the cracked government we have, or die.

I hope it doesn't take the weeping over the graves of our children to wake Trump voters up. But if it does, I hope they remember through their tears that we warned them every step of the way to their own demise.

Even neophytes to the conservative movement should remember that deficit spending was considered horrible under Clinton, it was really horrible under Obama, and it wasn't cool under Bush, but there was a war on, so that was the only reason he got a pass. So Trump deciding he wants to max out our nation's millionth credit card is stupid. Really stupid.

Fox news taught me that.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Debate Over Kaepernick Is Over

I attended the Green Bay Packer game this past Monday night. Yes, the Pack got their asses handed to them by the lowly Detroit Lions, and the Lions won their first game at Lambeau field in something like a quarter of a century. That part sucked. But otherwise, my family and I had a blast getting drunk and watching football.

The four of us, myself, my wife, my sister and her boyfriend, were all given little American flags in observance of Veterans' Day when we entered Lambeau. Fans everywhere in the stadium got to wave those little flags around for the entire game, which they did, especially in the beginning during the controversial national anthem. Players locked arms, and fans removed hats and covered hearts. With their other hands, they waved their little flags.

My wife, ever being the social justice warrior she is, was wearing a red Kaepernick jersey. In a sea of green, gold, and the occasional blue and silver, she stood out. She knelt on the bench in front of her as the anthem was played, making a stand by not standing.

No one said anything to her.

But that's not the point. The point is what happened after the game. After the Packers lost. After the Detroit fans, scattered here and there throughout the stands, were done screaming themselves hoarse. After the Packer fans started leaving with eight minutes to go on the game clock because the Lions had just scored another touchdown, and there was simply no hope of a Packer comeback.

What happened was that the little flags, handed out to every fan, were left on the concrete floors of the stands, strewn about along with spilled beer, bratwurst wrappers, cardboard drink trays, discarded tubs of pretzel-bread cheese dip, and who knows what else. Everywhere, all over the stadium, those flags of our great nation were ruthlessly disrespected by at least half the fans.

I came in with two, the ones given to my wife and myself. I left with five. Because I had the common courtesy to pick up the three that were near me that other fans had left on the goddamned ground!

I could make an argument here about the need to sign Colin Kaepernick, but I won't. I could point out that Bret Conway is not a great talent at quarterback, but I obviously shouldn't have to. I could argue for Joe Callahan to be given a shot at starting, but there was a reason he was only on the practice squad two months ago. No, instead I will simply point out that, amidst the controversy surrounding Kaepernick being the best veteran fit for the Packers system, he used to be a political liability with the fans.

That's right, I said "used to be."

Because the controversy with Colin Kaepernick is over! I saw it die along with the Packers' chances at a postseason without Kaepernick at the helm.

The fans ended it. When they left their little flags on the concrete floors of Lambeau field like so much refuse.

No one can ever say again that players should be fired for disrespecting the flag. Not when fans were too lazy to bother picking up the discarded flags left behind by others. And who will fire those fans, I wonder? No one can ever say that Kaepernick committed an act that was anywhere even remotely close to that level of disrespect. And if Lambeau fans could do such a thing, it's a sure bet that the fans at all the other NFL stadiums, who doubtlessly were handed flags just like at Lambeau in honor of our nation's veterans, discarded them just as carelessly. More so, since Lambeau fans are famously more friendly, more courteous, and more patriotic.

Where are the outraged veterans who screamed assent with Donald Trump now? Where did their outrage go?

Whatever Kaepernick has done, Lambeau fans committed crimes a thousand times worse, and roughly 37,500 times over! The more so because it wasn't a statement in protest. It wasn't even a statement at all! It was simply dropping a flag and forgetting about it, discarding it, pretending it didn't count or wasn't even there. And being collectively blind to a flag lying in the trash on the floor is far worse a crime than openly protesting in front of one.

At least the kneeling NFL player is aware of the flag's goddamned presence!

So let's not pretend we can't sign Kaepernick already! And anyone who has a complaint about his protests can jolly well trample those complaints underfoot, along with the little flags they so carelessly stepped on while they were at Lambeau!

Oh, and by the way, nobody yelled at my wife during the entire game. And there were a few who congratulated her. One even said, "Represent!"

Damn straight she did!



Monday, October 16, 2017

An End To Sexual Harassment. Maybe

Okay, this one's just for the guys.

We love looking at scantily clad women, don't we? We love this sort of beauty that goes through our eyeballs and straight to the pleasure centers of our male brains, right?

So on some level, while we totally condemn the behavior of Harvey Weinstein, we can slightly relate to the thoughts that went through his sick, demented mind. I mean, we've all fantasized about doing what he's done, except in our fantasies, the women don't say, "Ewww!" No, in our fantasies, women actually want us, while in Harvey's fantasies, he fantasized that talented actresses weren't actually acting while in his presence.

And this is frustrating for the rest of us, isn't it? Because this dick, Weinstein, and everyone like him, ruin things for the rest of us. Because we're nice guys. We don't grab tits when uninvited, we don't creep women out, and we don't cross "that line."

Which means that when the Weinsteins of the world do, whether rich or poor, they make women more defensive, less approachable, less friendly, and more likely to cover their sexy selves.

But herein lies a lesson for all of us, and even the would-be Weinsteins should take note: If we want women to be more open, more approachable, and wear things that are more revealing...

We have to make them feel safe!

Women who feel safe are all those things we like most in women. And herein lies a means to ending sexual harassment: If you want to feast your eyes....

Keep your hands to yourself!

It sounds odd, but denying hands in order to improve the view is language that even the lowest pervert can understand. Don't touch, and women will feel safe. And you'll get to see more. Great deal, huh?

Starve your hands so you can feast your eyes.

Okay, did all you pervs get that?



Friday, October 13, 2017

Freedom Or Fabric?

When it comes to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the issue isn't difficult to understand. Yet some work very hard to do so anyway. During the anthem, should one honor the freedom, or the fabric?

If you believe in what the fabric stands for, the answer should be freedom. That begins with freedom of speech. But the same First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech also gives citizens the right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Which is exactly what the NFL players are doing when they kneel.

It couldn't possibly be more American. It couldn't honor our nation's freedom more. It's simple, it's pure, and it it every citizens' right.

"Wait!" says the average simpleton, "You mean the flag stands for the freedom of people to disrespect the flag?!"

You damn right it does! Not only does the flag stand for those who disrespect the flag, but the constitution guarantees such disrespect! It's part of freedom of speech, and redressing the government of grievances.

"You mean the flag stands for the freedom to burn the flag?!"

Yes! The flag especially stands for the freedom to burn the flag!

If someone marches up to the Capital steps, and lights a flag on fire because he's upset at his government, that is the truest expression of America there is. It's enshrined in the first amendment that he has the right to do this. And if you put on a uniform and fight for America, you fight to protect exactly that. If you disagree, then you oughtn't put on the uniform in the first place.

So those who truly dishonor the flag are those who dishonor the freedom. Because it's all about the freedom, not the fabric. And those who honor fabric over freedom are the ones who truly dishonor America.

For example, Mike Pence walking out after the national anthem at a Colt's game as a publicity stunt.

Fuck you, Mr. Vice President. You shat on the Constitution you swore to protect and defend!

So let's honor the freedom. Never mind the fabric.

Because the NFL players who kneel are not wrong. Police officers in urban areas shoot to kill black people when a shot to the leg will do just fine. And this truly is a problem that needs a "redress of grievance."

Freedom. Not fabric. Let's try to keep our eye on the ball.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

London Bombings

Once again, a bomb has gone off in London. Once again, ISIS has claimed responsibility. Whether or not a faction of the so-called Islamic State carried out the attack almost doesn't matter anymore. People are convinced that Muslims simply do this sort of thing.

Which leads to the defining debate of our generation, especially in light of the humanitarian crisis involving Syrian refugees and others who will undoubtedly come after them from elsewhere in the Muslim world.

On the one side, how do we call ourselves civilized if we will not take in those who just want to live in freedom? How can we insist that nations like Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan embrace democracy over there when we refuse to let them get a taste of it over here in the West? Don't people have a right to flee for their very lives? Shouldn't Europe and the United States be the destinations for freedom-seekers they have always been? And isn't the granting of freedom for refugees a fundamental value?

On the flip side, how can any Western democracy accept hordes of refugees who are irreparably tainted with a small but persistent minority of those who want to destroy the very democracy they are fleeing to? How can any economy take in so many people when most of them are unskilled and don't speak the local language? Why should indigenous residents have to flee for their lives from those who are fleeing for their lives? Why should one humanitarian crisis abroad lead to a domino effect that will create even more crises at home?

At the root of all of this is religion. Specifically, Islam. Many of my fellow atheists have pointed out that Islam is inherently evil, and they are far from unjustified in this accusation. But isn't religious freedom one of our core values? Isn't tolerance towards those whose creed differs from our own the very thing which defines us? Especially for us atheists, isn't it our duty to protect others from religious-based prejudice?

There are those I used to agree with, like the British video-blogger Pat Condell, who believe that taking in Muslim refugees is killing Europe. Oddly, these left-wing warriors find themselves in agreement with radicals on the right, who want the influx of Muslims stemmed in an effort to preserve cultural identity. Yet on the other hand, there are those who take an opposing view, insisting that speaking out against Muslim terrorism is somehow tantamount to "Islamophobia," xenophobia or even outright racism. And while it is surely wise to condemn Islam while not condemning Muslims, and to embrace individual Muslims as friends while damning minority Muslims who turn out to be terrorists, we do so at our own risk. Muslims consistently fail to blame their fellow Muslims for this, and there are those on the left who play along with this touchy-feely kind of myopia.

How does one square this circle?

I think I know how. It takes a form of wisdom which we are not prepared to hear, and which we may not be mature enough for as a culture, but we must embrace it if Western democracy is to survive. And it is simply this:

Religious freedom is not an absolute.

No, really! One cannot scream "fire" in a crowded theater. One also cannot commit libel, and cost another his or her fortune by spreading untrue slander. Freedom of speech is not an absolute. We have the freedom to scorn our leaders and poke fun at them, but we cannot use curse words on family programming. In like manner, freedom of religion has its limits too. If a Satanist wanted to sacrifice a baby, he would not be allowed to do so. The baby is a non-consenting person with rights. Laws against murder would override any claim of religious freedom. If a prison inmate wanted to file a lawsuit claiming that not getting chunky peanut-butter instead of creamy is a violation of his religious freedom (as once famously happened back in the early 90's), too bad. Religious freedoms don't extend to those who invent one-member-cults in order to try to game the system. By similar reasoning, if a Muslim father wants to kill a child for becoming an apostate, tough shit! The child has its own set of rights which cannot be violated.

Individual freedom outranks religious freedom.

In short, is there room for Islam within democracy? Yes. But is there also room for Sharia? Hell, no!

Sharia runs contrary to everything freedom stands for. It insists upon enforcing what is thought to be "God's laws" over and above laws which protect an individual's rights. To be perfectly blunt, fuck that bullshit!

It's a tricky line to take for an atheist, because here in the U.S., most Christians still struggle with the stupidly simple concept that putting up a nativity scene in front of a city hall is a clear-cut case of religious favoritism. When confronted with this sort of common sense, Christians actually still dare to scream "oppression!" What, then, will we do when the day comes where we must say the same sort of thing to Muslims? Where will we find the fortitude? What will we do when some of them want to force girls who are not their own daughters to stop wearing tight clothes in public schools? Or only serve halal meat in the cafeteria? What will we say when they threaten violence if they don't get their way? When they want to interrupt their work schedules five times per day when their secular coworkers must continue working until their regular break times? How will we have the strength to deny them undue favoritism if we cannot even understand the concept of denying undue favoritism to the relatively more benign and pacifist religion of Christianity?

We'd better figure it out soon. Because if we don't, Europe and the U.S. really are in trouble.

Am I saying Islam must water itself down or be outlawed? You bet your ass I am! Because religion is a drug, and drugs should be regulated. The softer drugs, alcohol or cannabis, can and should be legal. People need their recreational toxins.

But the hard shit can kill you.



Monday, August 14, 2017

Change. Now!

Everyone is shocked and horrified at the terrible realities taking place in Charlottesville, North Carolina. Yes, people are actually defending a statue of Robert E. Lee which is being moved, not destroyed, to a location which no longer endorses our nations Antebellum slavery past. People are actually marching in KKK rallies, openly. And our president is actually being mute on how wrong all this is.

And yes, these neo-Nazis have just killed a counter-protester with a vehicle. Yes, Nazis have just killed an American on American soil.

In the midst of this is Peter Cvjetanovic, an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who got identified as one of the attendees there.

"I am not the racist you see in the images," he is telling the world. After all, he wants the world to know that just because he marched and yelled and screamed racist shit, that doesn't mean he's a racist.

No, really.

Well, here's a thought, Peter. You're trying to put your ideas out there, and are frustrated that people won't listen. You want the world to understand your point of view, but people just aren't interested in seeing your side of things.

Frustrating, isn't it?

And maybe this underscores what I've been saying for years, that when one is confronted with contrary evidence, the thing to do is change one's own position first. Don't like that the overwhelming majority hates you? Maybe the overwhelming majority is right, for once!

Maybe, the person whose mind needs changing is you!

Don't get me wrong, it's hard to change one's ways, believe me, I know. I lost everything when I gave up my faith in Christianity. My career, my circle of friends, my standing among those in my community. It was a rough patch. So I can relate to you feeling daunted about the prospect of you giving up your bigotry. I can understand how you might pale (pardon the pun) at possibly losing your fellow David-Duke-supporting friends. I can see why you would want to retain your rank as a junior lieutenant in a small (very small!) army, rather than become a mere private in the army of what you mistakenly presume to be your (much larger!) enemy. Yeah, I get why you hesitate to throw that away.

But likewise, I can also not understand why you don't! I did it, and I'm a wuss. What the hell's your excuse?

However, I'm not just talking about you. I'm talking about everyone. Yes, everyone. We all, ALL, hold onto beliefs which we shouldn't, myself included. (Okay, I've gotten the major ones out of the way, but the minor ones I'm still working on.) We all do stupid shit, like mistake real news for fake, listen to Alex Jones (instead of me!), prefer the evil to the good, and attack people for exercising their own private freedom in a way that we don't like, as if that were at all our business. We all have our pet demons.

Well, I say kill your pet. Because it's not a pet, it's a leech. And it's sucking your brain dry.

This doesn't excuse you. Just because we're all in the same boat doesn't mean you and your misguided buddies aren't drilling holes in the bottom.

Knock it off!