Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Police Kill Toll for June

The book for June of's running tally is closed.

It was an average month with 79 Americans killed by those hired to protect and serve them. While the vast majority will killed by gunfire, five were killed by "non-lethal" Tasers and three killed by the cop's police cruiser.

The oldest was an 86 year-old male who, according to reports, was threatening to kill himself and three police officers obliged him with a "suicide by cop." The youngest was a fifteen year-old boy. He was a passenger in a pickup pulled over for a faulty headlight, the boy pulled a gun and shot the policeman who returned fire killing the boy. On June 16, a police officer murdered his ex-wife in front of their seven year-old child.

The question before the court today is whether police work is a job that attracts sociopaths or a job that creates sociopaths. The answer appears to be both.

Certainly, police work is a perfect job for someone who longs to dominate others and is incapable of feeling shame, remorse, or regret. We've all seen them in action. Officers who shoot unarmed people, plant false evidence, and laugh about it later. In fact, cops with identified sociopathic behavior do their jobs so well then earn commendations and promotions.
Police are taught to to be sociopaths. If one officer starts beating a cop, the others join in. When one officer shoots at an unarmed suspect they all empty their weapons. When a dozen officers do the shooting there is no individual to blame, no one is guilty. Police are taught to lie in court to back each other up and put the bad guys away. The police version of omerta is just as stringent as the Mafia's. Not joining in, betraying your brother cops, is a fate equivalent to death.
SWAT raided this home, terrorized the family. No arrests.

American society makes cops sociopaths. To serve American weapon manufacturers, the police have been militarized. To justify the cost of SWAT teams, no-knock raids have become unnecessarily common. And we have a society where any nut can get as many guns as he wants.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Darkest 24 Hours in American History

Ted Cruz has declared June 24-25, 2015 as "some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history." In my opinion, it doesn't rank in America's top 70,000 darkest days, but let's make some comparisons.

Battle of Antietam, Sept. 17, 1862
In one day, this Civil War battle saw more American combat deaths, 23,000 causalities and 3,700 dead, than any other day in history. More than D-Day, more than any day in any US war.

Black Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929
While not the largest decline in stock market history, that was October 19, 1987, it marked the beginning of the global economic collapse known as the Great Depression. This day's 12% market drop followed a 13% drop the previous Monday. On this Tuesday the nation's wealthiest including J. D. Rockefeller and J. P. Morgan tried to prop up the markets. They failed. Poverty, misery, fascism, genocide, and war followed.

The Night Washington Burned, Aug. 24, 1814
The War of 1812 was the first in a long line of stupid wars for the United States. President James Madison thought that, with the mighty British army and navy tied up fighting Napoleon, America could invade and capture Canada. The Canada adventure was an abject failure, then Napoleon abdicated and Britain could focus her forces on the pipsqueak nation tweaking her nose. They captured Washington D. C. without opposition, burned the U. S. Capitol to the ground and set fire to the White House.

Sept. 11, 2001
Really, Ted. Wasn't this a darker day?

Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941
This "day that will live in infamy" damaged or sunk the bulk of the American Pacific Fleet and killed over 1500 Americans.

Black Blizzard, Apr. 14, 1935
So, how about an actual dark day. On this day winds lifted millions of tons of fertile topsoil from Texas and Oklahoma, turning the day darker than the darkest night. This dust storm was so massive it obscured the sun along the Atlantic coast.
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down, We thought it was our judgement, we thought it was our doom. ~ Woody Guthrie
There are also all those assassinations - Lincoln, JFK, RFK, MLK. Continuing health care availability and allowing equal rights for a small minority hardly rank with these truly dark days. But, you know Ted, whatever sinks your boat.

Friday, June 26, 2015

It Was a Very Good Week

Not a great week. A great week would not have seen three black churches attacked by racist arsonists, acts that certainly warmed the fetid cockles of Dylann Roof's heart. Still, it was a good week.

It was a week that saw the nation finally start turning its back on a flag that symbolized a heritage of slavery, rebellion, segregation, and the Ku Klux Klan.

It saw three Supreme Court decisions - one acknowledged that health care is not just a privilege of wealth but a public right, another accepted the principle that gay couples have the same right of marriage as straights, and the most substantive decision stated that discriminatory effects of housing policies are as illegal as overt discriminatory policies. The last decision is important because its logic also applies to voting restrictions that have the clear effect of preventing minorities from voting.

And, because humor is an important component of any good week, we have the delightful sight of Donald Trump rising to the top tier of Republican candidates. The Kenneth Parcell of politics, Bobby Jindal, has officially announced he is a candidate for president while the Fatty Arbuckle of politics, Chris Christie, has announced that he will squeeze into the clown car this coming Monday.
Arbuckle or Christie?
All in all, it was a very good week. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ACA Decision: Laughter Is the Best Medicine

After Charleston I've needed a good public laugh. The right-wing reaction to the 6-3 SCOTUS decision upholding ObamaCare subsidies is a hoot and a half.

Collectively, wingnuts believe the continuation of marginally less expensive health insurance is Götterdämmerung, the end of civilization. Adding in removing the Rebel flag from public spaces and gay marriage brings them to bemoan that all is lost. Some rank and file comments from various rightwing websites.
  • We can't win any more. The IRS is after us. They destroy evidence. No one is punished. They laugh at us and ridicule us.
  • There is no stopping this mad rush into our utopian socialist America.
    The republic is dead.
  • It feels like living in Germany in the mid 1930s.
  • I’m moving to Mexico. (I love this one. They won't let him bring his guns with him and Mexico's public healthcare system serves 55 million people. Not to mention the country is full of brown-skinned Mexicans who speak Spanish.) 
But not all are doom and gloom. Some are again calling for armed rebellion.
  • Civil War II is the answer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Confederate Flag and Me

A couple months ago an asshole neighbor of mine erected a large Confederate flag in his back yard. My first reaction was, "Oh shit!" My second reaction was acknowledging that he was exactly the kind of insensitive jerk who would do something that disgusting. Then I started thinking about another family living farther down the street - an African-American couple with two teenaged children and I became sick at the message that asshole neighbor was sending. He took it down a few days later because he got tired of everybody telling him how repugnant it was.

Defenders of the flag say it is about heritage, not racism, and if you are offended you just don't know history. Well, I do know history. That flag began its retched existence in 1861 as the battle ensign of the Army of Northern Virginia. The design was so popular it was incorporated as the canton on the official flag of the Confederacy in 1863, the so called "White Man's Flag." The designer of the flag, William Thompson, explained the white field,
"As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause....As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism. Another merit in the new flag is, that it bears no resemblance to the now infamous banner of the Yankee vandals."

After the South surrendered and Reconstruction began, a movement began among white Southerners to free the South from the rule of carpetbaggers (Yankees), freedmen (former slaves), and scalawags (liberal Southerners who supported racial integration). These "Redeemers" worked to return the South to the days of white rule and black servitude. The Confederate flag became the standard for Rebel reunions and a symbol of the Redeemers. In 1894, after Jim Crow segregation was firmly established, the state of Mississippi incorporated the Confederate ensign into the state flag.

The flag went to sleep at this point only to be reborn when Yankees started "imposing" the hated concept of Civil Rights on the nation. In 1956, Georgia added the Confederate flag to its state flag. Also around this time the Ku Klux Klan replaced the American flag in their marches with the Rebel flag.

And so it is that, except for about eighteen months at the beginning of the Civil War, the Confederate flag has always been a loud and proud symbol of racial hatred in America. The heritage it recalls is one of hatred and racial divide.
Selma, 1965

Saturday, June 20, 2015

On the Church Shooting

I've spent the past few days on a desert island (Catalina), willfully unaware of the evils of the world. I come back to discover that pure evil in the form of a young white man with an unnatural love of guns and an unholy hatred of black people had decided to express his politics by murdering innocent people in a South Carolina church.
I got back in time to read all the reactions of Conservatives pretending that deadly attacks on black churches are not a time honored tradition in the Old South.
As always after a mass shooting, many people worry that laws allowing any wackadoodle with a grievance to buy a gun might be changed. Others are concerned that the shooting is bringing condemnation down on the Confederate battle flag
"Stars and Bars"
that for a century and a half has been a symbol of rebellion, segregation, and hate.

All this is making me want to go back to some island, maybe this time even one without WiFi.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Thoughts of Rachel Dolezal

I'm not Jewish. Never been in a synagogue, never spoken to a rabbi on religious matters. In fact, I am not at all religious. But, if I were forced to choose a religion by some thug wearing a brown shirt with an armband showing a broken cross, I'd like to think I tell him, "As far as you are concerned, I am a Jew."

I prefer to see Rachel through that lens. She chose to identify with a people who are belabored by generations of racial animus, to see life through their eyes, and to help as best she can. I won't say it was a wise choice (I doubt telling a black-blooded Sturmabteilung I'm Jewish would be a wise choice either) but it is a choice I can respect.