Repetitive.

It seems like I have covered this topic before, but I fear that I will be covering it again and again and again.

Because ‘Murica.

The mass shooting that happened in Las Vegas was horrific. 50 people lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Why? We don’t know because the coward offed himself.

Now we have talked about political vehicles that launch whenever one of these things occur. We have talked about motivation of these things. We have talked about the details of mass shootings to the point that I have forgotten what we have covered. So, my apologies if this is repetitive.

When the shooter was first identified, the media started asking what they always do (when the shooter is a white guy) and that was question his mental health. I am sure that they were shocked and amazed when the family stated that he had no issues with mental illness. Now, does that mean that he really didn’t? Of course not. There are members of my family that don’t know I struggle with mental health issues, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that mental illness gets the blame as the cause for the incident and the idea that all mentally ill people are just sitting around waiting for their moment to snap and take out a pre-school is perpetuated further.

Say this with me now:

“The Mentally Ill are not mass murderers in waiting”.

As a mentally ill person, I have N E V E R thought about, or planned a mass shooting, bombing, or anything. I am horrified by these things and I am terrified that people with a history of mental illness are always looked at when these horrific events happen. I am not stockpiling ammo, or weapons, or anything. Matter of fact there is only one gun in our house.

Nerf Maverick

That’s right, I am a mentally ill white guy living in Texas that doesn’t own a gun and is not planning a mass shooting. I am like a fucking unicorn.

So what is the root cause to all of the mass shootings? If it isn’t mental health issues; then what is it?

In my opinion, there is not a root cause for mass shootings; there are several.  One is the current gun laws that we have in this country. In Texas, it is harder to get a fucking drivers license than to get a gun in Texas. I could literally go to [Insert Name of Sporting Goods Store Here] and shell out the cash for an AR – Whatever and be out the door in a matter of minutes.  That’s right, minutes. My wife and I have been helping my niece get her drivers licence and it has literally taken months and we still haven’t gotten it, yet.

So, we make people have licenses to show that they can safely operate a vehicle, but we do not do the same for a firearm. We make people have insurance to cover their liability in case of an accident, and we make them register their vehicles with the state; however we do not do jack shit for guns. Until we have comprehensive and logical gun laws in this country, we will continue to have mass shootings.

What else do we need to fix?

We need some common sense laws regarding the modification of firearms.  The media has been reporting about the “bump-stock” that the Las Vegas shooter was using. I know that these increase the rate of fire for a semi-automatic rifle; however I didn’t realize by how much. Then I saw this video.  It shows that the semi-auto basically becomes a fully automatic weapon with the flick of a switch. These are legal because you are not altering the actual firing system, but just the stock. We need to regulate this shit and quick. Sorry, but I am not sorry, there is not a legitimate use for this type of accessory. This isn’t used for hunting, this isn’t used for home defense, and not one gun-owner is going out to stop any tyrants. This type of thing isn’t needed, period.

We have to change the way we view gun laws. No one…REPEAT…NO ONE is coming for your guns. We just want to make sure that responsible people own guns, just the way we do with automobiles, and make sure these weapons do not actually become assault weapons. Yes, you will have to go to an actual gun dealer and not a convention center to buy a gun. Yes, you will have to wait, and go through some hoops; however this will lead to less dead kids, less dead concert goers, and just less death all around.

But… but… criminals will still buy guns illegally.

Yes, they will; however most criminals have stolen their weapons, or have purchased them illegally anyway. This will still happen. My thoughts on this are that if we stiffen the penalty for gun theft, and illegal sales; then we will see less of this, too. If guns are harder to get for the bad-guys; then we should see a reduction in crime. Other countries have done this, why can’t we. Of course, until the GOP stops sucking the NRA’s dick for their campaign money shots, none of this will probably happen.

Look, I don’t have the solution (even though the gun & cheese plan I had was pretty solid), but I have ideas. Ideas lead to solutions. Hopefully, one day, I won’t have to post about this shit anymore.

Sadly, that day isn’t today.

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People Are Fucking Stupid.

If you read one of my previous posts, you know that I rejoined Facebook. I have kept it simple and only a few people are on my friends list (I think I broke into the 30’s); however I have joined a few groups for my home town. One of which is a grievance page.

Now a little history before we begin.

My home town was formed in 1846. In 1920 it had a whopping 150 residence. Now it is a “massive” 8.8 sq miles and has approximately 9,600 residents.  As of the last census, the racial makeup of the city was 95.90% White, 0.22% African American, 0.66% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.41% from other races, and 1.29% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.20% of the population.

So, basically a rural town with a bunch of white people and a Wal-Mart

Now to the point.

While I was browsing the Facebook page for ” Grievances, bitches, moans, and complaints” I came across this post:

Redkneck_Jackass

Now, when I see shit like this, I usually just shake my head and go on with my day, but this hit me a bit differently.  While reading the comments I noticed that no one spoke up against this. Not a single person. Most of them gave “likes” and kudos in the comments. Some even gave tips where they could drive to “piss more people off”. People also encouraged one member to fly her flag outside instead of living in fear of retaliation.  I couldn’t believe the obliviousness of these people. The pure disconcern for other people and the sense of fucking entitlement. It was this that made me angry, not the flags.

If a person wants to fly these flags because they have the political ideology of a state’s rights being over the rights of a centralized government’s rights and this is how they express this, then great! Good for them! Its when the only reason that this is done is to “piss of[f] liberals” and cause further animosity between races that I find the point of this ridiculous. This guy went out and probably spent $30 – $60 for the flags, and $80 – $100 for the mounts and poles, just to piss people off and make his truck nothing more than a dick-wagon. The fact that someone would spend this much money and energy just to be an asshole astounds me.

Then again, this is Texas.

So, good for you cunt-servative flag guy! Way to use your time and money wisely. You show your support for a form of government that completely failed in its meager 4 years of existence. You support not only slavery, but overwhelming inflation, bread riots and complete economic ruin. Because that’s where the Confederacy was heading (actually it was already there during the last 2 years of the civil war) and (as most historians have found) even if it would have won the war, the Confederacy would have economically collapsed in just a few years and would have probably been taken over by  The US, Mexico or a European country. But hey, it’s your right to express your love for a fallen way of government and the degradation of an entire race of humans; however it is my right to not like it at all.

Like I have said before, you have the right to say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that people are going to like it.

Personally, I hope your truck confederate dick-wagon catches on fire.

Regarding: 2017

With Xmas behind us and NYE in sight, I keep reading articles and such regarding what 2017 will bring. With all of the celebrity deaths that have happened this year and major events that shocked the world, like the Brexit and Trump winning the election, people seem to have a “it can’t get any worse” attitude. I don’t see it that way. I see it getting “worse” because we will see the fruition of all of these bad decisions coming to light; however it is through pressure that change is made.

Sure, pressure sucks ass, but it leads to change.

I see the next year as a year of learning. I see liberals learning to be a bit more conservative and conservatives learning to be more liberal. I see the political landscape of the US changing, because Trump is going to be a learning opportunity for a lot of people (myself included). I see change in this next year and a lot of it; however not all change is good. I feel that some things will change for the worse and some will change for the better. I know that’s a broad statement; however I am not psychic.

I am not Nostradamus for fuck’s sake.

I think that people are going to lose things, mainly ideologies that they thought were sacred and have to re-think a lot of things. I see this next year as both a “dark-age” and a “renaissance”  all wrapped up in one. Meaning I think that some changes are going to be stifled and some changes are going to flourish. I think people are going to wake-up this coming year and start to think about things differently.

I see the new political climate changing things as well. I see it destroying progress while creating new progress in other areas. I see people fighting to make progress in areas that the new administrations isn’t and I see somethings progressing forward despite being denied or spoken against. I see a change in American democracy and politics in general.

I see conflict and I see change.

However, these are not necessarily bad things. I actually have a sense of hope for 2017. I think things will be hard on us, but we will see better days ahead. Believe it or not this is optimism you are reading, not my normal pessimistic musings. I think we are in for massive changes this coming year, and it may be a few changes for the better.

Or the world is going to end; however I doubt it.

Bad Words.

So, let’s talk about Political Correctness and mainly how it is absurd.

 

Still reading? OK, good.

 

I think people have blurred the line between “Being PC” and being a decent human being. I believe that we as a people have to get back to the point of “being decent” instead of being politically correct.

I hear people say this phrase all the time:

“You can’t say that!”

And, frankly, yes I can. I believe that a person can say whatever they want; however that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to applaud whatever comes out of your mouth. I believe that we need to focus on what we say. We need to weigh our words. To quote my mother: “Think before you speak”; however people should do this out of their own free will and not some form of social dogma, then the world would be a better place.

Who am I to say this? I am someone who (usually) thinks before they speak. I also keep two quotes in my mind at all times:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

– Evelyn Beatrice Hall

“No one has the right not to be offended. Just because you’re offended, it doesn’t mean you’re in the right.”

–  Ricky Gervais

If everyone just thought about what they were about to say before they said it, we wouldn’t have the issue of “Political Correctness”. We would just have people thinking, and showing genuine concern about what they say. We would also probably have a lot more silence.

But wait! Aren’t you a liberal/progressive/democrat? 

Well, yes to 2 of those things. I am liberal/progressive when it comes to most social issues and I feel that humanity should be open to new ideas and we should be moving to improve our society rather than stagnate in tradition. We need to constantly be reforming the way we act and think towards ourselves, each other and the world around us. If we just keep doing “the same old shit” then we will stop growing as a race (by race I mean humanity) and we will eventually die off. I do not consider myself a democrat, however. I don’t really see eye to eye with any political party. So, two out of 3 aint bad.

One point to note is that the term “politically correct” is actually a Communist term.

According to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Kremlin advisers were the first to widely use the term. They did so without a trace of irony. Calling someone “politically correct” in Soviet Russia meant they toed the party line.

Now days it just means that we should not use words because of their effect on people or it’s a pejorative term that means policies or ideas are excessive. The term was used in the 90s as a pejorative term that basically meant censorship and today it is a label that conservatives like to use as a pejorative against liberals and liberal policies as an excuse to say things that are offensive. So, again it’s a blurred line of manners vs. political correctness.

And being politically correct, or promoting political correctness,  is just that: censorship.

An article by NPR had a good explanation of why “being PC” is just the wrong way to think about things.

The danger inherent in attempting to speak in a “politically correct” manner, is that in an effort to avoid offending the most sensitive members of our society or audience, we ban the use of perfectly good, accurate descriptive phrases for fear of running afoul of a small group of people with a political agenda. Hence the phrase “politically correct.”
At its worst, political correctness can be a form of Orwellian newspeak in which non-pejorative descriptions that accurately convey clear unambiguous thoughts are demonized, and banned in favor of bland replacements. A “war-lord” becomes a “faction leader.” Words are drained of their meanings.

– NPR newscaster Jamie McIntyre

So, we should be ANTI-Politically Correct then! Right?

Nope.

People that are Anti-PC (generally conservatives) find that being Anti-PC means you can say whatever hate-fueled garbage comes out of your mouth and people have to like it because of free-speech and it isn’t PC, so it’s cool if they say it (Again, manners vs. political correctness); however, like I said in the beginning: “…a person can say whatever they want; however that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to applaud whatever comes out of your mouth”. If you go around saying hateful & hurtful things, someone is eventually going to to tell you to shut the fuck up. Either in a polite respectful way, or with a punch to the face. So, go ahead and be “anti-PC” just don’t be anti-manners and expect everyone to like it.

So, what do we do?

Think before you speak, weigh your words and have some empathy; however don’t just say and think things because they are (or aren’t) politically correct. I am not PC, but I believe in things like LGBTQ+ rights, the disuse of fossil fuels, (actual) science being taught to our children in public schools, feminism, and equality. Not because it’s politically correct, but because they are good ideas. They progress us as a species and add to our general wellbeing.

Also, because I am not an asshole…Well, that big of one anyway.

I believe that a person can say or think whatever they want. That is a right that we all (should) have and no one should be able to force a way of thought or morality on you. It is my hope that one day we will all use empathy and understanding to choose our words, thoughts and actions because it is the right thing to do and not the politically correct thing to do.

I’m not going to hold my breath, however.

 

 

 

Baggage.

Now that Trump is the President-Elect, we need to look at who he is bringing with him into the White House. One of the names that has sparked a lot of controversy is his Chief Strategist:  Stephen Bannon. Mainly due to his ties with White Nationalism and the “Alt-Right”.  His publication “The Breitbart News” has been labeled as being racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted towards the LGBTQ community. After reading some of their headlines and articles, I can absolutely see why one would say that.

When you publish or say things like:

…the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.

or

There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women In Tech, They Just Suck At Interviews.

or

Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet.

or

Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy.

or

Hoist it high and proud: The Confederate flag proclaims a glorious heritage.

and also

The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off.

It’s easily seen why you and your “news” site can be considered nothing but racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted garbage. You are not printing news, you are printing your opinions and trying to back them up as facts by giving skewed data from legitimate sources.

The man himself is noted for being a fighter and a strategist. He is quoted as saying: “Fear is a good thing. Fear is going to lead you to take action.” and that is exactly how he ran the Trump campaign. He tapped into the fear and resentment of the so-called “Alt-Right” and other conservative type groups and motivated them. Now he is the power behind the throne, so-to-speak, in the oval office. His views aren’t that of the GOP and he is actually quoted as claiming to be a Leninist. He goes on to say:

Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.

To quote Lenin:

The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.

VLADIMIR LENIN

This is the man now advising Trump on his presidency. His “alt-right“, white nationalist views are going to be what drives and guides Trump. The Tea-Party insurgency into the GOP has finally won.

IMO this campaign, lead by this man, has confused the term “Nationalist” with “Patriot”. A nationalist is someone that is proud of his country no matter what it does and a patriot is proud of his country for what it does. If that is the case, there are a lot of nationalists around the GOP, and not a lot of patriots; however it’s the kind of nationalists that surround the GOP and the soon-to-be administration that concern me and that is the White Nationalist. No race is superior to another, period.

This shift in nationalism vs. patriotism is what is currently fueling the civil unrest in our country and what will ultimately lead to more upheaval. We should be united because we are Americans that want to see equality and liberty spread through our nation, not because we are simply all born in the same place. If we are going to embrace nationalism, then we need to be embracing Civic-Nationalism and not the current views of White or Ethnic Nationalism that are circulating in our country.  My ultimate fear is that the views that Stephen Bannon has, along with the Communist propaganda tactics he uses, and the fear and anger it generates that do motivate groups like The KKK, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates will plunge this country back into a Jim Crow like era for both people of color and the LGBTQ community.  Maybe I am just looking at this is a pessimistic way, but (with everything that I have seen and read about the guy) it’s hard to see the silver lining. (Especially when the other guy that is in a place of power is a radicalized christian that has almost ruined the state the he was governor.)

But, what do I know. I am just some “libtard” with a blog that a handful of people read.

 

Let’s Get This Out of the Way.

Now that I am done with being depressed and anxiety ridden, let’s talk about Trump and this election outcome.

Grab a snack and soda, this may take a minute.

First, let me be clear, I didn’t vote for the guy. My initial support was with Bernie Sanders but the DNC decided to anoint a different candidate for the primary. I did flirt with voting 3rd party but decided to choose the more logical choice of backing the candidate that had a shot at actually winning (Sorry, but until 50% or more decides to become a Libertarian or a Green; they just aren’t going to win).

Now, the biggest issue with him winning is “what now?”. The Republican Party platform is filled with horrible ideas and policies that they are wanting to make into law. The NY Times has called it “The Most Extreme Republican Platform in Memory” because it includes such things as:

making no exceptions for rape or women’s health in cases of abortion

requiring the Bible to be taught in public high schools

selling coal as a “clean” energy source

demanding a return of federal lands to the states

insisting that legislators use religion as a guide in lawmaking

appointing “family values” judges

barring female soldiers from combat

rejecting the need for stronger gun controls

The platform also wants to gut Medicare. Instead of having Medicare done at the federal level, each state will receive a “block grant” and the State’s will decide on what to do with Medicare. And the entire platform is heavily Anti-LGBTQ and was even called so their own party’s LGBTQ community, The Log Cabin Republicans. Of course there are promises of walls and deportations as well. The platform also wants to make Christianity the official US Religion and English the official language, along with a few other shitty Tea-Party wish list items.

This platform and the election along with the appointment of a known “white nationalist” as an advisor and a evangelical zealot as the VP has spurned not only protests across the country (Even some here in the “deep red” state of Texas) but a rise in hate crimes not seen since the day after 9/11. To prove my point, the KKK has planned a “Trump Victory Parade”.  Now on top of all of this, you have his VP that is so radicalized by his faith that he caused a major HIV outbreak in his home state when he was the governor. He let this happen due to his “moral stance” on needle exchange programs. When he quit funding and took those programs away, the use of opioids and heroin didn’t stop as he thought they would, but the sharing of dirty needles started. It wasn’t until the caseload reached outbreak proportions and that there was so much pressure from local and national agencies (including members of his own party) that he “prayed about it” and let the program continue in affected areas. On top of this he has been quoted as saying:

“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

Now, Pence has never come out and said “I support Gay Conversion Therapy” but that is pretty much what he just defined in the quote above.  Remember, Mike Pence is the same governor that signed the 2015 Religious Freedom Act into law for the state of Indiana that started the whole “Religious Liberties” debate across the nation and almost cost Indiana thousands of jobs and millions in revenue due to boycotts and relocation threats from companies and groups like Angie’s List and The NBA. That same year, the following month actually,  a bill was passed that gave protections to LGBTQ  “customers, employees and tenants” but the original bill still stands as law in Indiana.

So, the separation of Church and State is a little foggy with VP Pence.

We also have another election that was fucked up due to our voting system. The Electoral College is outdated and needs to be abolished. It’s overdue and the system isn’t needed anymore due to the increased population and expansion across the country and also the fact we have forms of  communication that our forefathers never dreamed of. These advances in technology and social evolution have made the Electoral College irrelevant.  Even Trump says that the popular vote should prevail in his recent 60 Minutes interview when asked about the Electoral System:

“I would rather see it where you went with simple votes,” he said. “You know, you got 100 million votes, someone else gets 90 million votes…”

– President-Elect Donald J. Trump

[NOTE: To be fair, he later tried to CYA and add that he “respected the current system”, since it won him the presidency and all.]

But let’s talk about election influence.

The Trump campaign had/has ties to the Russian Government. It was found that Trump has a “secret server” of his own that was in communication with a Russian business called “Alfa Bank”. The server was shut down when investigated and then re-activated under a different server name a short time after it was found.  Now this has been “unproven”, but is still a bit sketchy since it is known that Trump has done business in Russia and has business ties to them; however, server or not, when a Russian Diplomat states that his government has been in contact with the Trump campaign, that should be a huge red flag (no pun intended), but the Russian Foreign Ministry cleared things up (or performed CYA) and stated that they:

 “…had been referring to American politicians and supporters of Mr. Trump, not members of his campaign staff.”

The FBI stated that they found no evidence of “hacking” or any “financial connections” between Russia and Trump.

Speaking of the FBI. Let’s talk about their influence on this campaign.

Director James Comey needs to be fired, at the very least. His action violated FBI Protocol and The Hatch Act. The “new evidence” found was nothing more than CC & BCC emails from the original investigation that was concluded. That should have been investigated thoroughly before making any form of an announcement. The FBI doesn’t have to give Congress updates regarding ongoing investigations. He used his position to influence this election and this was found to have seriously impacted the Clinton campaign. Don’t get me wrong, she made the mistake of setting up a private email server all for the reason of not carrying two phones and basically being lazy. This was a bad judgment call on her part. I didn’t see it as a “crisis” or anything, but it did call into question her work ethic; however I will take a person that finds ways to work smarter that maybe a bit sketchy that someone that drags a radicalized theist into one of the most powerful offices in the US and spouts off nothing but hate and ignorance on Twitter every 5 seconds any day of the week.

But now we come back to my original question: “What Now?”.

Now we let the guy try to be president. We hope that he goes with what he said in 1998 ( Not the Republicans are dumb thing, he apparently never said that) but that he was liberal on social issues. If that’s true; then when something that he doesn’t agree with comes across his desk, he should veto it.

We progressives/liberals/democrats (or whatever we are) also have to organize. We have midterm elections in 2 years. That means we have to get out and vote. We have to talk (constructively) about politics in with people that don’t agree with us. We have to find commonality with “the other side” and try to spread reason.

“But I got out and voted!”

Yeah, a little over half of us did; however the other 45% of us stayed at home and even some of the 55% that did vote jerked-off their vote and did some form of write-in or voted for a political party that no one has even heard of (and no, I am not talking about The Green or Libertarian parties); however it is up to the Electoral College to actually elect the president and not us. So, we ALL need to get organized and go vote this midterm. Why the midterm? Because enough seats for both the House and the Senate come up for grabs and we can get those put in more progressive hands. We can get more Democrats (and if you want to try to get a few Greens or Libertarians that’s fine too) in the Senate and the House that can affect policy and legislation.

For the most part, I say we see what the GOP can do and when (or if) they fail miserably then I think everyone will have learned their lesson. Right now, they have no Democrats to blame as opposition. They control the whole show.  So the what now is plan to vote in mass for the midterms and hope for the best.

Right now, I am now going to sit back and watch  “America Become Great Again”; because that’s really all I can do at this point.

 

 

(And if you didn’t vote at all, then you don’t get to say shit. STFU)

 

A Faulty Concept

Funny preface to this post: I sat down this morning to type this up and I had to stop because my AC was leaking water in a closet in my office geek lair and all over the floor. Called my HVAC Guy and he came over to check it out. The issue was that I apparently didn’t understand the effects of gravity on the movement of fluid in a hollow cylindrical tube. When I last changed the filter, I didn’t place the drain pipe back at a downward angle so that the condensation from the coils could drain. He just slanted the pipe back, smiled, and told me to have a good day.

Before all of that happened, I was watching a documentary called “The Mask You Live In“. It covers the concept of masculinity and how it can be damaging to young boys and the men that they become later in life. I kind of talked about this in a previous post and my experience with it.  It involves the concept of masculinity as far as how we teach our boys to suppress emotions. We tell boys “don’t you cry” or “men don’t cry” and it wasn’t until  I was in my mid 30s that I saw how this had damaged me as a person.

Now, let me start this off by saying that I know that I give Tumblr a lot of shit; however that is because Tumblr tends to take a concept like this and go to the farthest extreme with it. In this case, I actually owe some Tumblr users a thank you because without their rational and educational posts I would never have even thought that this was an issue and by “this” I mean the tradition that we raise our boys, if not our children in general. Another thanks to Tumblr (sort of) is that the thought of gender being a created concept had been planted; however no one on Tumblr actually ever really explained it in a way that I understood. A point that is made in this film is that, generally speaking, kids are biologically the same. You give them choices and they will make similar choices 90% of the time no matter what sex the child is, but that 10%, or 5% on each side of the spectrum, is where we get the concept of gender.

This concept is created by traditionalism, commercialism, and media. All of these create the social norm for gender. Tradition says that men are to be strong, fast, muscular, good at sports, sexualy active ( if not overly sexualy active) and they conquor/dominate. If you are not this; then you are not a man and you will never please your parents. Tradition says that a woman is to be pretty, fit, good at domestic duties, a nurturer,empathetic, not sexualy active (or at least don’t let anyone know that you are),but flirtacious and submissive. If you are not this; then you will not attract a good husband, and you will displease you parents. Commercialism supports this by advertising to these points from everything from kids toys to laptops. Media also helps with the creation of gender by the music, film and literature of the time. While traditions may be changing all over the globe, it’s still a change in progress.

Our traditions are moving away from the heteronormativity that mainly was focused by religion; however now we have new concepts that are still flawed. These concepts (again, I have talked about this in the past) like “Alpha” types and those are usually assigned to a gender (Alpha Male, Alpha Female) and even still when we look at the definitions ( of which there are many) you see these old traditions still deeply entrenched in them. You see words like “enterprising” , “Assertive”, “Superior”, “seeking all avenues of fulfillment, including the sexual”, dominant, physically fit, rarely get emotional and these were taken from sites that gave traits of both “Alpha” Males & Females. So, in our great step forward we have learned that masculinity is not a gender, but a trait; however it is a trait that we still are fucking up six ways to sunday. You also apparently cannot be “Alpha” and be feminine. Every trait that is generally described as feminine, is used to describe the “Beta” type. So, again, having empathy, emotions, being sensitive, nurturing, sexually submissive/inactive is all seen as weaker.  So really, we haven’t changed anything, we just allowed females to become masculine and men to become feminine and we still ridicule them for “switching teams” (no matter what that person’s orientation is) because it is still entrenched in our brains that boys do Y and girls do X.

My problem with this is that kids don’t need this shit. If little Billy is crying; then go find out why he is crying. Why is he sad? Let him talk about it. If little Jenny wants to take karate and play with robots, let her. So what if all of the other girls have dolls and are playing with a giant fake plastic oven that comes with fake pans and food? So what if Bill likes art and doesn’t want to play football?  Let Jenny have Optimus Prime and become a black belt! Let Billy talk it out and draw unicorns fighting dragons! Because if you don’t, later in life, your holidays will be awkward and your kids will be in therapy.

Trust me on that one.

Because I know if that I had heard a lot less of “if you don’t stop crying; then I will give you something to cry about!” and was allowed to express my feelings and emotions then I may not be in a few places that I am now. I know that if I had kids, I wouldn’t be pigeonholing them into these gender roles and stereotypes that come along with their sex. I would be letting them make their own choices, and guiding them as they went along. Last time I checked that’s what parents did.

Or so I have heard.

Start Talking.

I have come to a conclusion today: People do not like conversations.

Like actual conversations, ones that matter and have substance. Not the shitty, empty ones that are about how the latest [insert current popular trendy band/pop-star name here] album is a “religious experience” or how the new [insert name of latest trendy food and/or beverage] at [insert name of eating establishment or franchise here] is “SOOOOO GOOD”, but ones that actually make you think. Ones that challenge you. Ones that actually may make you a little mad; however you still want to hear what the opposing view is because you want to learn.

We had house guests over the other night and a conversation was started. The topic: politics and economics. In a nutshell: How the corporate world would handle it if the US Federal Government would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The conversation never got to an argument, voices may have gotten a bit raised (because people get passionate about these things), but never to the point of yelling (One guy’s voice is just low and booming, not his fault) and the discussion was very intelligent; however it was broken up because others were too uncomfortable and they decided that we should play a game instead.

Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot and isn’t just a one time occurrence.

Today I was watching The Green Party Town Hall that was on CNN last night and there was a comment made that we are afraid to have these type of conversations. I was also watching Chelsea  on Netflix and Zelda Williams was a guest. She also made this comment on how we, as a society, are afraid of having conversations that have differing opinions. How we are afraid of hearing other views that may challenge our own ideologies and actually learning from differing opinions. I am not saying you have to agree with the other person, and their views, but at least listen and maybe understand why they think that way. I have listened to people with theological views, differing political views, differing technological views and even though I don’t agree with them (Hell, some I think are batshit crazy or even fucking stupid), I still listen and give a differing opinion; however when the conversation turns into an argument, that’s when you break out the games, change the subject or tell the person that this topic is escalating and that you no longer want to talk about it.

In my opinion an argument is where the conversation goes from sharing ideas, to forcing ideas upon the other person (ie; here’s what I think  vs. I will make you think like me) and I think that’s what everyone fears. I think we have gotten to the point where we cannot differentiate between the two different forms of communication or we are so afraid of a conversation escalating that we try to stomp out an intelligent conversation because we think it’s an argument waiting to happen. This is something that needs to stop. We need to have these discussions. It’s how we learn and how we grow as a society and it’s how you grow as a person. Again, in my opinion, you can’t grow as a person by talking about the weather, or looking at funny cat videos with people all the damn time, just as you can’t live off of potato chips and twinkies. Eventually, you are going to need to get some real food in you.

I hope that we all overcome this fear soon, because people need to start talking.

Like in real life.

Preferably over coffee, but not Starsucks.

Real coffee. Real conversation.

Actually, at this point it doesn’t matter; just start having intelligent conversations.

Just start talking.

An Ongoing Issue.

I know that I have posted on this subject before and I will keep posting about it because, well this is my blog and I can.

The level of police violence in the U.S. is at a level has been on an increase. It has increased 25% between 1999 and 2008 and I am willing to bet that the number is even higher now. While between 1960 and 2014 our population has almost doubled and crime has been trending down. It seems that the population is getting larger and more civil, while the police, recently, have been getting more violent.

Why?

I had a good discussion with a nurse during one of my wife’s ER visits and he put something into perspective. I mentioned that police had changed in the past 25-30 years and I couldn’t figure out why. He finally gave me the missing piece of the puzzle that I had looked at but didn’t want to acknowledge. A lot of police today are ex-military. He told me that he was a vet and that he almost went into law-enforcement; however he became an RN instead because he had seen enough combat. He talked about that the training that the military provides and that the police training that a lot of vets receive probably doesn’t mesh. In the military, you pull out a gun to kill an enemy. In the police force you use it to enforce compliance. Sometimes, that may get a bit confusing for some vets.

My question is: “When did a gun become a compliance tool?”

When I was growing up, I was always told by the cops at the PD where my mom was an officer that their gun was a last resort. You only pulled it if your life was in danger and you were about to use it. You didn’t pull it to make a point or show dominance.

With this latest shooting of a therapist laying in a submissive position in the middle of the street and now the Dade County Police Benevolent Association explanation of the shooting as “The officer had intended to shoot the patient, whom he thought posed a danger” (Because apparently an autistic man with a toy truck is a menace to society), I have started wondering about this issue again.

So, I started doing some digging and I found that unemployment amongst returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is 7.7% and out of those returning vets, the majority go into the police force because it is viewed as “a marriage of convenience”.  In 2014, the Army alone proposed to cut 80,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next 4 years.  Generally about 20% of returning vets go into law-enforcement. So, that’s 16,000 soldiers going into law-enforcement over the next four years from just the Army. The market is currently flooded with ex-military personnel looking for work and the police force is looking to hire them.

There’s only one problem with this. (source)

Combat veterans seeking police careers may do poorly on entrance exams, they may lack confidence in their skill sets, or they may have had some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that come out in psychological screenings. Any of these issues can keep returning military personnel from a police job, but all can be remedied. More importantly, there are people and programs in and out of the military that can help.

A lot of vets come home with issues that they need to work through. PTSD is a major mental health issue that affects a large percentage of returning veterans and takes medication and therapy that a lot of vets don’t get or just they only rely on the medication because they believe that the therapy aspect is unneeded or they fear that they will lose some of their rights (mainly gun ownership) if their condition is on record.

…not every veteran returning home from military service has PTSD. Some studies suggest that it affects between 10% and 20% of veterans returning from active duty. …that PTSD is becoming more diagnosed in police officers and some departments are getting the message that the condition doesn’t mean they have to throw away the officer or the officer candidate.

There is evidence that police departments are understanding PTSD better these days, not only in their own ranks, but in the pool of prospective candidates. A recent study conducted by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control examined law enforcement agencies’ hiring practices regarding PTSD. The study found that a PTSD diagnosis is not necessarily a disqualifier for a police job. Most agencies studied reported that every candidate is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and it depends on the severity of the diagnosis whether PTSD is a disqualifier.

While I agree that PTSD may not be a disqualifier and should be done on a case – by- case basis, the issue is that PTSD leads to other issues such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory, cognition and even other mental health issues. So, if this candidate is getting treatment, on proper medication and this is all being monitored by the agency that they are working for, then I don’t see an issue; however when I looked for this study done mentioned that was done by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, I couldn’t find it. I did find these two:

http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/nccosc/healthProfessionalsV2/researchQuarterly/Documents/winter2014ResearchQuarterly.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010956/

Both studies stress that mental health assistance such as medication and therapy in either a one-on-one or group setting is key to treating PTSD and overcoming its effects on the person’s life  & mental well-being.

Now, the majority of these viewpoints were from the law-enforcement community’s side of things. I dug to see what the military and veteran’s take on this was and I was actually surprised by some of what I found.

The gist of what I read was that even though there is a huge comfort level for vets in law-enforcement and many veterans feel that law enforcement is a natural fit, some former service members resent being typecast. Others say the profession is the least suitable career choice for veterans who are still working out emotional issues from deployments. And some veterans only consider a career in law enforcement because they consider it one of the few viable options in a challenging job market. (source)

“I could see how somebody would think that would be an easy transition,” he said at a recent jobs fair at the Concord Hilton. “It’s familiar. I work with guns, I know how to use them, why not get a job that uses the same equipment? But I’ve spoken with vets. And, myself, I think I’ve experienced enough of that, so I wouldn’t want to relive that type of experience.”

“A lot of them get out, they’re intelligent, they use the G.I. Bill to get a degree,” he said. “It’s like, ‘I can do more than pull a trigger.'”

Army veteran Mike Magpusao – Project Hired

What I am seeing between these two articles, the conversation that I have with the ex-vet nurse, and the current events in our country is that our police departments are changing their hiring processes. They are hiring tons of ex-soldiers that are used to dealing with a combative enemy and now trying to train them to deal with a civilian population. We are taking Rangers, SEALS and Marines and asking them to write traffic tickets. This is vastly different from the hiring processes of about 20+ years ago.

A generation or so ago in policing, departments were giving preference to college graduates when looking for qualified officer candidates. Education still remains an important factor for police hiring, but many agencies have learned that the education gained in military service may have a greater value to a police officer than a formal college education.

The soldier has led a squad from point A to point B and had to decide the safest way to get there. The college student has had to complete a class assignment in time to attend a frat party on Friday night. Some departments have recognized this and taken a more global approach to the candidate’s qualifications to be a police officer.

We used to take educated civilians and train them to become police officers. Now we take high school or some college educated ex-military personnel and try to give them additional training to handle a civilian population. Mind you, I am not against hiring veterans, but maybe we should start the old hiring process as well and find a healthy mix. Both for the civilian population and the veterans that are returning from combat.

“You’re going to continue to expose yourself to violence, tension, stress, anxiety. You come back and become a police officer, the potential for retraumatizing is very high.”

– Jason Deitch – Army Ranger who served multiple deployments to Africa and the Middle East.

There is no logical link between the two professions, and he urges caution.

Veterans come home and then go into a career that puts them into almost the same level of anxiety that they just left and in my opinion, law-enforcement agencies are preying on the fact that these men and women are returning home and pushing them towards a career that does feel familiar and that they feel that they can excel in quickly, but will ultimately lead them to the same levels of stress that they just left and cause nothing but harm to themselves or someone else.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police was concerned enough about “transitional obstacles” veterans might face if they pursued a career in law enforcement that three years ago it published guidebooks for veterans and any agencies that might consider hiring them.
But those concerns didn’t stop Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), an office of the Department of Justice, from offering 220 cities $114.6 million in incentive grants to hire post-9/11 veterans to fill 800 law enforcement positions.

With programs like these and the dumping of surplus military equipment into our police agencies hands, it’s no wonder why see small town police departments with APVs and grenade launchers and the people who know how to use them. Our police are becoming a domestic army, a garrison in each town. Not because of some crazy conspiracy involving taking away our guns, Walmart concentration camps for christans, or the illuminati, but because law-enforcement is hiring out of work vets in droves. With incentives and a pension, why wouldn’t you sign up?

streamlining or fast-tracking your applications
waiving education requirements
adding preference points to exam scores
offering incentive pay
offering service credit toward retirement

So, who’s to blame?

Well, not the vets. They need to work just like everyone. You could look at the predatory hiring processes of the law-enforcement agencies around the country and the DOJ for enabling and/or encouraging these processes to continue. You could take a look at the demand that we put on our law-enforcement officers and see that we really put too much on them. There’s a lot of different directions to point fingers. I don’t even know where to start.

I just know that all of this shit needs to stop.

 

We want to be Superman…

Today I watched a Q&A with Dallas Police Chief David Brown. He brought up a good point during this broadcast. When we have an issue that we cannot handle, we expect the police to be able to handle it. I watched this on periscope, but it was also covered by the local (and possibly the national) media.

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country” said Brown.

“Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve” said Brown. He listed mental health, drug addiction, loose dogs, failing schools as problems the public expects ‘cops to solve.’

When he said this part of his speech, it did almost feel like he was going off script. Like he was being frank and candid. I can honestly say that we do expect more from our police than we should. Police shouldn’t have to handle school disciplinary action, they shouldn’t need to worry about addiction and mental health issues, and  honestly we shouldn’t expect them to. We should expect our school administrators to carry out disciplinary actions at our schools and parents should be involved in their kids schools. State and Federal funding should be allocated for mental health and addiction treatment and it made more accessible.  Because making on average of $52,810 really isn’t worth being hated, yelled at or worse… killed. (FYI: I made roughly that amount when I was working for BlackBerry sitting on my ass playing Plants VS. Zombies half the time, you would think that police would make more than a mobile phone/tablet tech.)

Maybe this is why I have the viewpoint that cops aren’t like what they were when I was around them all the time. Maybe it’s because they weren’t having to do as much. Cops now apparently have a lot of things on their plate. None of the cops that I grew up with had to patrol schools, handle mental health calls (they did have to deal with drug related issues), and the only cop that dealt with stray dogs was the animal control officer. Maybe today’s cops are just too damn stressed out.

However, this doesn’t justify the murder of unarmed people that are in their custody, or being detained for questioning, or just being asked for their ID and the acts of a few jackass cops doesn’t give the right to murder anyone wearing a badge. If “An Eye for An Eye” is the law of the land; then we are all eventually going to be blind. Look, I don’t know how to fix the divide between the police and people of color in America. I just know that killing each other isn’t a logical or viable solution.

It rarely ever is.