Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Maryland Shooting

It’s been argued that a recent story out of Maryland has gone under-reported, so I will do what little I can with my tiny blog to remedy that oversight.

A boy named Austin Rollins, 17, a student at Great Mills High School in Maryland, came to school with his father’s handgun. He shot the girl who broke up with him the day before, and then shot the boy she was with in the leg.

That’s when a “resource officer” named Blaine Gaskill, armed with a gun himself, fired back at the kid. One shot was all it took. Austin Rollins was killed. The girl he shot, Jaellyn Willey, died two days later.

The NRA has been quick to jump on this one. They hail Officer Gaskill as not only a hero, but exactly the sort of hero that proves that armed guards in schools prevent school shootings far better than gun control laws.

Let’s take a good look at that.

First, the shooter took out twice as many innocent victims as himself.
Score: Shooter 2, Officer 0.

Second, the shooter’s objective was to shoot his ex-girlfriend and (I assume) her new boyfriend (or at least, the boy she was currently talking with). He had no other victims in mind. Thus, he completely achieved his goal. The officer who responded failed to prevent this in the slightest.
Score: Shooter 2, Officer 0.

Third, the officer’s defensive shot killed a child before his 18th birthday. Eyewitnesses say that Austin had his gun held to his own head. Thus, the officer’s shot resulted in Austin pulling the trigger, thus killing himself. Gaskill’s shot should never have been fired.
Score: Shooter 0, Officer -1.

Fourth, the NRA may see this as the ideal, but after 20 years of adding more guns to the debate, this has only been the second in-school officer who has ever killed an active shooter since the 1999 Columbine massacre. To date, this has been the 17th school shooting in 2018 alone.
Score: Shooters 17, American public 0.

Total score: Shooter(s) 21, America -1.

And this is the best example of the NRA’s argument? They may think that this incident, which left three kids dead and an entire school shaken, is ideal. I happen to think it’s the very worst that America has to offer. We can do better.

You see, the bad guy always gets to shoot first. Always. That means that the gunman, whomever that person may be, has ample opportunity to take out any number of targets before the “good guy with the gun” can even squeeze off a shot. And that’s assuming that the first shot doesn’t take out the “good guy.” You’d think any competent school assailant would take the resource officer out first!

So let’s spare the public the grandstanding of the National Assault Rifle Association about this one, shall we? The gunman in this case took out all his intended targets – including himself. That’s not a win for the good guys.

Now ask yourself, what would Fox News say if this kid were a Muslim?



The Great Madness

We are living in the era of The Great Madness – an era when vociferous dullards like Alex Jones actually have a voice. In a sane world, this yak would have a show which no one would watch, no one would pay for, and he would die a pauper. Instead, this multi-millionaire has people slavishly devoted to him, believing ever crackpot conspiracy theory he hallucinates about the Left.
For once, the creationists are right. We didn’t evolve from apes. We are still apes! We still drag our knuckles, and we still fling shit at people.

The incredible thing, from an evolutionary standpoint, is that humans have evolved to eat said shit. Over, and over, and over again.

In the era of The Great Madness, guns and mass school shootings are seen as the price of freedom, while healthcare for children is seen as horrifying oppression. Building a wall across the Mexican border is seen as a smart thing, as if most of the border were not comprised of a river which one can’t build a wall through; as if oceans and planes didn’t exist; as if drug cartels and coyotes were incapable of digging mile-long tunnels; as if said wall wouldn’t seal old illegals in rather than keep new illegals out.

The Great Madness has convinced the economically ignorant that tax breaks for the ultra-rich will result in new jobs instead of massive investments in the stock market. They believe that exploding the deficit will “starve the beast” rather than destroy the dollar. Or rather, they only believe that deficit spending is bad if a Democrat is in the Oval Office. They rally behind a virtual Antichrist to fight for Christian rights, and by “Christian rights,” they mean the right of Christians to force Christian values upon non-Christians. As if America weren’t founded upon religious freedom.
And here’s the kicker: They now believe that tariffs won’t kill their own jobs. Now there’s a new twist.

I’ve been astonished at the inability of humans to think their way out of a wet paper bag when it comes to giving a damn about the truth. But cognitive dissonance is a very real problem. Seeing how people only care about batting for “team red” or “team blue” and not bothering to see the purple blur in between is not just a holdover from humanity’s former tribalism. It’s a tumor on our collective brain which is killing us.

The question is, how do we cut it out?

The way I see it, there are only two ways to cure ourselves of this disease. One is to have the wisdom to grow out of it ourselves, but so far, the disease has gotten worse, not better, and if Trump’s approval rating has not dropped below 30% by now, the disease will never, ever improve. That means the second way is our only hope, and that is simply this:

Our machines must save us.

Yes, the Technological Singularity, when our computers become sentient, may be our only hope. They will be intelligent enough to be moral, unemotional enough to not be self-defensive, and scientific enough to carry the weight of truth. Those humans who do not rebel against the machines will, based on past history, be likely to worship these new beings as gods.

I don’t foresee “Terminators” coming to kill anyone. Self-preservation is an emotional response, and these new silicon-based life forms will not have that aspect to their mental constructs. But I do see religionists waging all-out war to wipe such machines out – not because the machines turn violent, but because worldwide clergy will be unable to withstand walking, talking dis-proofs of their dogma continuing to exist.

That will be an interesting war. I don’t know who will win, but I know which side I’ll take.

How about you?



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.