Thursday, September 29, 2016

On Racism...uh, oh

This post is ultimate stream of unconsciousness.  It reflects my thoughts RIGHT THIS SECOND, unedited, uncensored, and slightly influenced by alcohol.  Feel free to point out insensitivity, inaccuracy, and stupidity, but try not to hold a grudge.

If you don't think it's a hell of a lot easier being white in America than being black, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you don't think that blacks suffer indignities and obstructions on a daily basis, then you're an idiot, and can stop reading.
If you're white, and think you can accurately portray what a black person faces...
If you are white, and aren't thankful that you don't have to put up with that kind of bullshit...
If you think racism isn't alive and well...

If you think that because I'm white that I don't have a voice in this discussion, or that you can shut me up by saying, "Check your privilege", then you can join the idiots discussed above.

If you pass the above tests, read on...

If you think the government is going to solve the problems of racism in America, then let's talk.

As usual, I find many people (mostly liberals) have a keen and empathetic eye to the many ills that African Americans (and other minorities) face in this country.  It's their solutions that I have issues with.  But we'll get to that.  First, let's talk about some very current racial issues:

When a Black man (Note 1) is imprisoned for a drug crime, he is imprisoned by the government.
When a Black man is unfairly prosecuted, given inadequate representation, prosecuted for a crime a White man would not, given a harsher sentence than a White man would get, this is done by the government.
When a Black man is stopped and frisked, he is stopped by an agent of the government.
When a Black man is pulled over for DWB, he is pulled over by an agent of the government.
When a Black man lives in substandard section 8 housing, he is living their at the behest of the government.
When a Black person contributes to Social Security for 30 years, but dies before reaching 62 (as is all too common compared to Whites) it is the government that gives those contributions to a White person. (Note 2)
When a Black person can't get a job because he doesn't have the skills to earn minimum wage, it is the government preventing him from working. (Note 3)
When a Black family's property taxes are raised again and again so that he is forced to sell his property and move to allow gentrification of the neighborhood he grew up in, it is the government raising those taxes.
When a prosecutor refuses to charge (or tanks the grand jury) when a police officer murders a Black man, he is representing the government (I know not all police shootings are murder - but some are) (Note 4)
When Ferguson Missouri decided that policing for profit was a good idea and ultimately created debt slaves out of it's Black citizens, it was the government making that decision.
When a Black man is shot by a police officer, he is shot by an agent of the government.

I can go on...

This may seem anti police, but it's not.  It's anti government.  Most police are honest people put in an impossible situation by an out of control government.  When we go to war, we understand, and seem to accept, that innocent people will die.  When you go to war on drugs and crime, we should not be surprised that innocent people die.

I can't change the hearts of racist people.  Neither can the government.  I could make the argument that government actions are a major cause of racial tension, but I won't do that.  Instead, I can provide a list of pretty obvious things that may not solve racism, but will certainly make the lives of African Americans (and a lot of other Americans) a whole lot better.  I don't have all the answers, but I think it's high time we took some concrete steps to improve the lives and prospects of minorities in America, instead of making empty promises and spewing empty rhetoric.

What to do:

1.  End the War on Drugs.  Period.  This doesn't mean we have to legalize everything, but legalizing pot would be a good start.  Other drugs need to have, at a minimum, possession and use decriminalized.  (I would favor full legalization across the board.)  Take the billions saved and put it toward drug treatment and better mental health services.
2.  Work towards privatizing Social Security, at least partially, while preserving the benefits of older retirees.  Allowing African Americans who die young to pass along some of the taxes they've paid into Social Security to their families, rather than giving them to middle class whites, will help break the cycles of poverty.
3.  Freeze the minimum wage.  It was originally passed to prevent minorities from getting jobs, and it still works.
4.  Make a lot of stuff that's illegal, especially victim-less crimes, legal.  The less interaction police are forced to have with "criminals" the less fear they will have that they might be shot.
5.  Independent reviews of all police shootings.
6.  All fines, penalties and civil asset forfeitures go to independent (preferably non government charities) rather than the agency that seized the asset.
7.  LOTS more training of police officers regarding de-escalation and the sanctity of our constitutional rights.  (If we eliminate a ton of crimes we might find the time and money for this).
8.  Limit property tax increases for long standing homeowners, or some other creative method to ensure property taxes don't run poor people out of their homes.  (This is a lot more complex than a blog post can cover - so bear with me.)
9.  Reform qualified immunity for prosecutors, making them more accountable for their actions.
10.  This one's a fantasy, but bring back the 4th through 7th amendment.  Rights come first, and police, prosecutors, judges, and everything else come second.  Stop and Frisk is BULLSHIT - and it's just the start of the crap we put up with.
11.  Serious education reform, as opposed to doing the same shit over and over would be a big help.

The main theme is that racism in effect, as opposed to racism in the heart, requires power to truly affect peoples lives.  The government has WAY too much power, and thus, racism is exacerbated and perpetuated by the government.  Just doing 1 through 3 would have enormous positive repercussions for minorities.  Political bickering and pandering will do nothing.

NOTE 1: I use "man" a lot in this, but it isn't meant to ignore the plight of Black women.
NOTE 2: Eliminating Social Security (SS), particularly disability and survivor benefits, would be devastating to minorities, at least in their current status, but forcing minorities to contribute to Social Security, with very little potential for receiving any benefit, is about as racist in effect as it gets.  Here's a discussion from a left-leaning institution...feel free to do more research: URBAN INSTITUTE
NOTE 3: I am a vicious opponent of minimum wage increases.  I read a TON on the subject and post numerous links on my Facebook page.  It is REALLY hard to argue against because it sounds SOOOOOO Good.  But it's not.  All other things being equal, making something more expensive causes there to be less of it.  We can argue about it for days, but, fundamental laws of economics say, "minimum wage bad."  If you disagree, the burden of proof is on you.  (I don't advocate elimination because the current minimum wage is "priced in", which means elimination would cause undue disruption of the economy.  Freezing will do the trick pretty quickly.
NOTE 4: When a prosecutor takes something to a grand jury, they get an indictment...PERIOD.  A prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich (this is an accepted legal axiom.)  When a prosecutor doesn't get an indictment - he didn't want one.  Prosecutors use grand juries as cover when they don't want to take flak for not indicting a police officer.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Tit for Tat

Borowitz calling people idiots

Things I get tired of explaining to idiots (borowitz started the name calling)
1. America is not other countries, in fact, it is incredibly unlike other countries culturally, demographically, and in gun ownership levels.
2. Gun bans are unconstitutional.  If you won't acknowledge that your gun ban fantasy requires a constitutional amendment, then you are too casual about rights to even bother taking to.
3. Even if we passed a gun ban, it would take a hundred years to reduce the amount of guns in circulation sufficiently to appreciably reduce violence, and in the meantime criminals would be having a field day, since they will be the last ones to give up their guns (almost last).
FYI...I'm calling borowitz an idiot, not you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility...Accountability...not so much

This is the poster child for a Stream of Unconsciousness post.  I've had a couple drinks, I've been thinking random thoughts, and I'm going to bloviate about them with very little editing.  Nothing I write here should be taken as a firm belief or policy prescription (except about Spiderman).

I fucking LOVE Spiderman.  Been a fan since I was a kid.  I got about fifty issues away from a complete ASM collection, but you can guess the cost of those last issues.


My favorite line was his Uncle's about with great power comes great responsibility.  Spiderman really lived that line.  But why?  What if he didn't?  It occured to me that no one really had any way to make him ACCOUNTABLE for his actions...which is really the most important part.  He was internally accountable, but this was the comics for Christ's sake.  Reality doesn't work that way.  As evidence, see virtually everyone with power...ever.

Corporations have power (post coming with more detail) and theoretically are accountable to shareholders, boards, the government.  But really, what ever happens to a corporation.  First they lobby the government to self regulate, then they pull crap anyway, then they get fined, maybe, which causes them to pass on the cost to customers or shareholders.  The people responsible almost NEVER face accountability.  Obviously there are a lot of corporations that behave and do good things, but not because the system holds them accountable.  Even when the government steps in and shuts them down it's the shareholders who pay.  When they get sued - shareholders or customers...see the pattern.

Then there's politicians.  They have power.  Do voters hold them accountable?  Rarely.  Usually they represent a gerrymandered district that is solid for their party, meaning even if their voters get really pissed off, they just vote in another person of the same party.  Democrats have been counting on the Black vote for decades, while doing nothing for them.  Republicans the same with the fundamentalists.  Examples abound.

But what really got me going was war.  Who starts wars?  Governments.  Presidents, Prime Ministers, dictators, kings, parliaments, congresses, etc.  Who pays the price?  Soldiers, Citizens, Children, Innocent bystanders.  Where's any accountability?  Even the loser government often stays in power, and if not, different elites take over.  Rarely are individuals held to account for the wars they start.

What really brought this home was Gerald Ford's executive order preventing targeted assassinations, and the Geneva Convention and other international agreements prohibiting targeting non combatant leaders for assassination, particularly by non-uniformed soldiers.  There are some murky areas, especially since 9/11, but, essentially, this is people who initiate and direct wars that kill thousands, if not millions of innocent people, send soldiers to their deaths, and displace millions of well as inevitable war crimes, rapes and murders...saying, "but we're off-limits."  Those who initiate the horrors of war are protected by laws and agreements from facing the consequences of wars they start.
Agreements that these SAME leaders negotiated,

There's very little in the world more ass-backward than this.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

How to Pretend You Care about Human Trafficking while Making the Problem Worse

This bugs the shit out of me.
Human trafficking is awful. It is high on my list of things I would be willing to devote resources and money to stop.
Instead, government uses the illegality of prostitution to bust willing partners and then make bold claims that they are striking a blow against sex trafficking.
This is utter bullshit. What they did and said, as well as their enforcement of prostitution laws makes it far MORE likely that women will be exploited via human trafficking.
Ending the criminalization of honest, willing participation in prostitution is the only way to allow us to focus resources on the truly exploited. When everyone's a criminal, why bother seeking out the tough ones to catch when you can pretend to and get flashy headlines and more funding.
Your government doesn't give a shit about you.
Heres' some context on how unbelievably evil these sex traffickers were. From the article linked below:
"While they're still awaiting final sentencing, the penalties Richey recommended were relatively modest: 60 days in jail for Durnal, who pleaded guilty to two counts of promoting prostitution, and 80 days in jail waived as a first-time offender, plus 30 days of community service, for Mueller, who pleaded guilty to three counts of promoting prostitution. In addition, each man would get 12 months of community custody afterward, pay a $3,000 fine, "be available for interviews and testimony as directed," and take a class on "Stopping Sexual Exploitation."

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hillary Clinton is like that bad Commanding Officer I had...

Some of you may know that I'm a former US Navy Submarine Sailor.  Also a Nuclear Operator and Master Chief.  This gives me some unique insight on the whole classified email, private server gobbledygook.  Like many of my nuke friends, I found it laughable that HC could be unaware that her emails were classified, that her private server was an incredible security risk, and that no one told her these things.

You don't get access to classified material without being briefed on it.  Period.  I thought.  Your staff should tell you the rules and make sure you understand the seriousness of what you are doing.  Should.

Then I read some more.  I'm starting to get a better picture of HC and her relations to her staff.  Seems she doesn't like being told she's wrong, doesn't like being lectured to, and FULLY understands what plausible deniability is.  One sentence (paraphrased here) was that you don't bring up the private server to HC.  You just don't.  That's what her staff knew.  Whether she fostered this environment intentionally, out of a shrewd understanding that it would protect her later, or because she's an asshole, is unclear.

I've had a Commanding Officer (CO) like that.  In fact a few and not just CO's, but we'll stick with them.  I've had each kind (simply arrogant and conniving arrogant).  One CO was so arrogant and power hungry that you just didn't tell him he was wrong.  You just didn't.  Once he made a decision, that was it.  Now I'll leave aside all the military stuff that SHOULD happen in this case, and simply point out that it didn't work out well.

I had another CO who was the shrewd type.  I can't say for sure how much was arrogance and how much was planned.  I can tell you that he had not a shred of honesty in his bones (but he sure could get mad when someone else was dishonest - we called this a double standard).  He even once sort of admitted that he was the only one who could approve lying in an official document, but he would deny ever saying it.  This CO cared about one thing - HIM.  It was all about HIS success, HIS reputation, HIS advancement and HIS power.  He would do or say anything to make sure HE advanced.

Now I'll say this was arguably the most successful boat I was on - at least on paper.  Submarines are ideally suited to a CO with a ton of brains, and no scruples.  I would even have to say that his leadership style was effective in other ways, we never failed a mission and never missed an underway.  This is a big deal in the submarine world.  That said, it was a miserable place to work.  We ground up people and spit them out.  Senior staff called it quits (some retiring and some tapping out medically) and our retention of junior sailors was abysmal (though the reports were tweaked to make it look better.)  The ship also fell apart toward the end, and the new CO was crippled by a lot of the prior CO's methods.

It "worked" temporarily, on a submarine.  It MIGHT be okay in a President, but I doubt we'll enjoy it, and it will have serious long term repercussions.

For those I know and worked with, you might think you know who I'm talking about, I will say that I took a LOT of poetic license (for obvious reasons), and blended a few personalities together.  The principle of the story is true, and will ring that way with many a Submariner, but don't think you can dredge up a specific violation or person from the story.  A lot of the framework for this occurred when I was junior, and I only put the pieces together later as I gained experience.  I of course never saw any confirmable integrity violation that wasn't dealt with appropriately.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Divided Nation

By Ray Zen

When did our nation divide itself on such a great scale?

I'd argue that we've supressed minority dissent prior to the last, say 30 years, buy beyond the scope of the (unarguable disenfranchisement of huge sections of the population), how is that we have one nation that barks so much at one another.... that there is no course for compromise.

I've rejected temptation to moderate my threads as of late other than to mediate name calling and just plain old calling out of absolute malarkey and bafoonary because, well, #1 it's absolutely exhausting.

And #2 I've watched nonfact be attacked by nonfact and I felt that taking a side would be.. I don't know...almost discrediting...

How is it that we lost sight of the truth?

The Right... for all its crude language and Memes (which I'm sorry guys sometimes just comes off as uber racist [and I'm looking objectively] combined with an over nationalistic sense of country that can't seem to terms with....

The Left... which comes off at times as defending criminal behavior...OMG whiney and is so far opposite of the over nationalists that it comes off as border line seditious...

Now let me be clear in my thoughts here.. I'm really citing EXTREME cases and some dialogue is actually quite intelligent and interesting.. some of it just a loop of the same old false narrative... as if you cut and paste I'll start seeing your point...(which by the way... negates some valid points and ends otherwise intellectual discourse)... which after all... if you're seeing this post...

You are wicked smart.

You're really bright.

I don't have dumb friends...

I think I've lived my life devoted to finding meaning and truth to it... to answer to a higher calling...

To be passionate and well thought out about the function and purpose of my existence.

To question.... regularly.

I've tried very hard to be a good husband and father... I've tried to be a good American.. I often fail as a good Christian but I try so very much to understand God and the mystery of everything...

I've always wanted to be known as a good man.

I wanted people to tell my children when they met them "your father is a good man."

And the way I've approached this goal is by taking emotional knee jerk responses and tucking them away... and I've governed the reactionary by devoting myself to being informed, educated and empathetic to those who do not see the world the way I see it.

To those who do not share my view of our country... I've exposed myself to mockery and being... how did that one guy put it?

"Over educated"

Which I view as a compliment by the way...

You'd be surprised by how many private messages I get...

One recently stands out.. it was concerned...

And I share that concern and it's taken me a few days to really form that emotion into a cognitive  statement...

It is clear to you all that I have friends of all walks...

I can list on and on the full spectrum of the political, religous, social, social class, sexual preferences, gender... I should have listed the ladies...but frankly I'm exhausted..

Exhausted because how can you be friends with me... and not with one another...

trust me we are all friends.. the people I've just listed... I love.

Really... love and would give have they a need.

How can we have gone to school together, served together, shared beers and intimate talk together and, some of you are a HUGE part of my own understanding of myself and yet I watch you...




So unnecessarily...

In that journey to find good things in this life I've learned this...

There is one version of the truth...

And then there is another....

And in the middle of those paradigms and perspectives... there indeed you will find it.

And this will set you free from fear; from political or religous dogma, from cynicism or disgust...

Oh yes you will vote Johnson.

You will #feelthejohnson

*Shameless plug*

BTW, Kirk Taylor is the only person out of my 1600+ friends who haven't found one disagreement with yet.. there is your gold sticky of approval..

(Thanks for gaffing my nuke card)

*submarine joke*

But I felt compelled to challenge each of you, tagged and untagged in this post, why don't you do a tad more bit listening and a little less typing...

You might learn something...

About yourself.