Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Post Trump America

So, are you a Trump supporter? Maybe you are a Super-Trumper?

Maybe you absolutely hate Trump, and think he's the new Hitler?

Well, in under 100 days we will have an election, and the nation will see how all this shakes out, or maybe not.

The Mail-in-Ballot nonsense that the states are implementing are going to cause a huge disruption in getting the results in. I am thinking it might be New Years before we actually get a declared winner, and whoever loses will be throwing a fit.

No matter who wins, half the country will be pissed.  Good times, right?

Before all that chaos hits the streets, and the nation starts to rip itself apart, I'd like to talk to some of you Trump supporters out there. Take a seat, and just listen for a minute.

Your guy has failed to do what he said he would do.

I know, I know, you guys will point to the record stock market, to the low unemployment numbers and say, if it weren't for the whole Covid-19 thing, Trump would have had the best economy in a generation.

Yeah, but that's really not true. Trump had a chance to do the right thing, the tough thing, and he chose to do the popular thing. That's what populist do, they look for a parade, and jump out in front to lead it. Doing the popular thing might get you elected, but it doesn't solve the problems we face.

I know Hillary would have been a full scale disaster on the economy, but hear me out.

Trump was the outsider. He was going to 'drain the swamp' and Make America Great Again. He did not. In fact, he added a few more acres of Swamp in DC, even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. 

You drain the swamp by cutting spending. Slashing spending if you want to know the truth. Donald J. trump didn't slow down the Gravy Train, he threw another couple of boxcars full of borrowed cash onto the train.

Don't believe me? Okay.

In 2016, the last Obama fiscal year, the Federal Deficit was 585 Billion Dollars. That's a lot, but it was better that the ones from his first few years that were a Trillion Dollars each.

The first Trump budget raised the deficit to 665 Billion in 2017. The next year, he added another 110 billion to take it to 779 Billion Dollars in 2018.  Mind you, the republicans had control of congress these first two years. The deficit for 2019 was 984 Billion Dollars, and the 2020 one was scheduled for 1.083 Trillion, but that was before Covid-19. With all the Covid-19 bailouts and giveaways, who knows what the real 2020 deficit will be?

So, he didn't 'Drain the swamp' he grew it. Because if you haven't heard, Donald Trump doesn't mind spending other people's money to make himself look good. In fact, that is his whole business plan. This time, he isn't using investor's money to go big, he's using borrowed taxpayer money. So, basically, he's just like every other politician.

What about our Trade Deficits? I know he talks a big game on trade, and he actually did tweak some of the NAFTA deals and such, but was it a game changer?

United States Balance of Trade

Well, right up until the Covid-19 crash of the market, the trade deficit was heading back to record territory. So, not so much.

Now, you can yell at me and say that the media is against him, and the democrats are working overtime to ruin everything he does, and you're right. However, he is supposed to be the guy who can fix it all, and make it better. He didn't, he was just playing around the edges, and taking the small victories that didn't cost him.

About ten years ago, I wrote a piece about how the only person who could actually fix this situation, could never get elected, and I stand by that piece. The guy, or lady, would have to call for Means-testing Social Security, Medicare, the elimination of the dozens of overlapping federal welfare systems, and a freeze in hiring and expansion of the Federal government for his/her first term in office.

There is no way that person could be elected today, or ever. Americans say they want small government, when that means cutting things they don't like.

If you're a republican, you want to cut welfare and foreign aid. Well, except Social Security and Medicare, because I worked for that money, and it's mine!

If you're a democrat, you want to cut the military, and "No more illegal wars" but that's about it.  Maybe cutting the foreign aid to Israel. The good news is Trump has been getting us out wars as fast as he can, but you weren't paying attention

The problem is we owe so damn much money right now, and just the interest we pay on our Federal Debt, standing at 26 Trillion Dollars and counting, is almost as much as spend on our entire military.

Let me say that again. Just the interest payments on our national debt is the same as we spend on our military! That federal debt will  be 30+ Trillion by next year if Joe Biden is elected and the Senate goes to the democrats.

That amount of debt is crushing our economy, and as it climbs, the interest climbs as well. Pretty soon you will be taxing your people's productivity, not to pay for the things we need today, but we'll be taxing people today to pay for the last 20 years of overspending.

It's just like the credit card companies. Once you get your debt so high that you can only make the minimum payment on your debt, you're going bankrupt. It's just a matter of time.

Cheery, right?

Could Trump have bailed us out of this? I'm not sure that anyone could have, but he could have tried.  He could have said, I don't care what you call me, or if you ever vote for me again, I am going to put this country back on a foundation that will fix this situation, and save America for our children and grandchildren.

He would have gotten creamed in the election of 2018, but he lost the House anyway. He would have lost the Senate, and so we wouldn't have gotten as many conservative judges through. That being said, if you have a bunch of conservative judges ruling over another real Great Depression, I'm not sure that's a win.

So what is coming? A Sh*t Storm like nothing we have seen in close to a century. It's not that Covid-19 brought this on, Covid-19 will have just sped up the countdown.

It may start before the election. The democrats want the worst economy possible so Trump doesn't get reelected, and that could start the ball rolling even faster.

I'm thinking in a year or two, no matter who wins, one day the stock market will drop a thousand points and the dollar will plunge. Gold and precious metals go through the roof. I say Gold is + $3,000 an ounce by 2022. The world will look for other places to store its money, and our money will be worth half of what is today. Hyperinflation will be how we pay off all that debt. It will be a terrible half decade for the US, and the world. Maybe longer.

So, this also comes down on you and me. How much money do you have in your saving right now? Enough for 6 months, of your regular bills? No? Well, you should.

How much debt do you have? How many times do you eat out a month? Did you really need to buy those new clothes, shoes, drinks, or the dozens or even hundreds of items of cheap crap you ordered from China through Amazon? How about that new car, or new house you bought when you could barely qualify for the loan?

That's on you, not the politicians.

Maybe on your parents too. I have been telling my kids that all this will someday come to an end.  But it's hard to live one way, while the rest of the world keeps spending and buying their way into enormous amounts of debt.

You Trump haters will say, "See I told you! Trump was a disaster!"  Well, that's one way to look at it.
You Trump supporters will say, "Trump would have saved us if it weren't for the Fake News and Covid!"

No matter who wins in January, (see what I did there?) the next president will be holding the reins of a runaway.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Statues, and our blind spots.

It's going to be funny when the mob comes after Barack Obama's statues, public office building, and school buildings to tear them down. Democrats are going freak out.

Remember, Barack Obama opposed Gay Marriage in his first term, and throughout his reelection into his second term.

That is a fact. And just remember, Vice President Dick Cheney, the new Hitler to these same Democrats, supported Gay Marriage.

Not to mention, FDR's forceful internment of American citizens from Japanese families into camps during WWII. I guess he gets a pass because he's a democrat?

Look, you want to take down a Confederate soldier's statue, fine. Have a city council vote, or whatever. Cities are going to take them down pretty soon, and they should.

I think Confederate statues on public land are stupid. If you want to have them on actual National Battlefields, I think there is a case to be made there.

However, no matter how well they commanded their armies, their cause was unjust at its core. The continuation of slavery in the United States.

You can talk to me about about State's Rights, and sovereignty all you like, but that's not the real reason, and you probably know that, deep down. There may have been a few folks here and there who hated slavery, but fought for their southern states. There were those people, I've read their writings. Ultimately, what their side fought for was keeping slavery legal in the south.

So why did these activists topple a statue of US Grant? You know the general who lead the Union to victory and effectively ended slavery in America?

They say he was a slave owner as a young man, and they are right, but is that what Grant's life was about?

Grant was raised by abolitionists, in Ohio, but was not a real abolitionists in his early life. While he was a young man in the Army, he married his best friend's sister from Missouri, her family owned slaves.

Grant was given a slave as a wedding gift by his father in law along with a small farm. Grant was not a good farmer, the farm was kind of on poor land, and he went broke. He could have sold the man back into slavery, and surely he could have used the money, but he didn't. He freed the man.

As the Civil War started, and then as he became more involved with the subject, he became very anti-slavery.

He understood the other side, he knew their men, knew their thinking, and knew they were wrong.

When he wrote about his meeting Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House for Lee's surrender, Grant wrote;

"What General Lee's feelings were I do not know.... Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us."

One of the worst parts of all this craziness right now is the failure to understand the thinking of the times. Past and present.

We look upon slavery with our 21st century eyes. Evil, and horrible. Absolutely.

No one is pro-slavery in the US. Well, there are 330 million people, so you could probably find a few dozen or so complete idiots, maybe.

In 1859, when Grant freed his slave, there were plenty of people who thought slaveholding was fine. It was just the way we have always done things they thought.

Thankfully, there were two thirds of Americans who saw slavery as evil and would fight to end it. Even though there were plenty of non abolitionists who didn't really care about the plight of blacks, they wanted America to remain under one central government. They did not want to see the south secede. They fought too.

As with most things, it's complicated. Tearing down statues you hate is not. It's just anarchy. You do it to make you feel good.

Now, you may look upon Barack Obama's anti Gay Marriage views, and think of them as I do.

Obama needed the mostly Christian, Democratic suburban housewife vote to win election. They were not in favor of Gay Marriage at the time, or not a majority to be sure, so he was anti Gay Marriage. As soon as he was reelected, he 'changed his thinking' and told the nation what I think he believed his whole adult life.

So, here's the lesson you are going to have learn, and quick. Things are complicated. History is complicated. People are complicated.

Just wait a few more years until the FBI files and recording of MLK Jr. come out. The left will say they are unimportant, and the work he did is what we need to recognise, not his personal failings.

I'm completely cool with that, let's just try to make that a universal thing.

Also, let's stop building statues to people.

Making it better. Not perfect, but better.

For any of you who made it through my last post without wanting me shamed out of polite society; welcome back. Thanks for reading and trying to understand some ideas you may have never thought about. ( I started this piece two weeks ago)

We talked about how crazy and vindictive the social media world is right now. Just saw a sign in my local town saying "Silence is Violence". Well, that's very productive. 

The streets have been a very mixed bag. Depending on what news channel you watch, the entire nation is coming together to stand up for justice and reform, or the entire nation is being burned to the ground by violent protesters. 

Which one is right? Well, both. 

In my last post, I spoke about the 7,000 or so back homicides in America each year, and asked, who is killing them?

About 90% of blacks being murdered are being murdered by other blacks, according to the FBI Unified Crime Report. 

I also touched on the fact that of all these 7,000 or so black homicides last year, 235 were killed by police. Mostly in shootouts of justifiable situations. Of that 7,000, only 9 unarmed black people were killed by the police. Of those 9, it is unclear how many of those were unarmed but attacking an officer. I also said, I'm sure there are some tragedies in these numbers.

I also said that there are plenty of bad cops out, usually protected by their police unions. While we have close to 700,000 uniformed police in America, most of them are outstanding folks. However, even if 1% are racist or just bad cops, that's 7,000 problem officers who could be the spark to set off the next tragedy. 

So, how do we actually make things better in our communities? Especially, how do we make our minority communities a better place to live? 

I can assure you of one thing; it's not by defunding the police departments in those communities, as some of the more radical groups want to do. 

While my last post was written towards mostly white, mostly liberal, mostly middle-upper class folks, especially some of my Christian friends, this one is for everyone. 

No matter who you are, and where you live, you can do some things that will actually help. You can be the change you are demanding. 

You can volunteer. Your time, not your money. 

Sure there are good causes out there that could use some cash. However, many of them spend that money on staff, office rent, cars, meals, and meetings with politicians to get even more money. 

Some of them do good very good work, but I'm talking about you making a difference in someone's life. That's a lot harder than just sending $20 here or $100 there. 

Now many of you will say, I already am part of a woman's group, men's group, or youth group at my church, and we reach out to everyone. Great, now do more. 

Make a real difference in one, or two, or ten people's lives who you would not interact with in your daily life. People who live in the part of your town you don't go into, unless you absolutely have to. 

Maybe you live in a city that doesn't have a bad part of town. Go to the nearest high crime city or town, and find a place where they are in need of volunteers. I guarantee you, those places are out there, and they need your help. 

Now you might say, well this is about structural racism, and police brutality, can't I just march with my friends and post the right kind of things to my social media? Maybe send $20 to Black Lives Matter, and buy a cool shirt? 

You can, but you are not helping solve the real, structural, systemic problem. 

The breakdown of the black family, black fatherlessness, high poverty, and very high crime rates inside these communities are why these places are at boiling point. 

Don't believe me, some random white guy? Okay, fair enough, how about Barack Obama? Here is some of the Father's Day speech by then Sen. Barack Obama to Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.
But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
 You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.
How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom? How many are sitting in prison when they should be working, or at least looking for a job? How many in this generation are we willing to lose to poverty or violence or addiction? How many?

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more after-school programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one

I did not vote President Obama, and was a huge opponent of most of his political agenda, but he is absolutely, 100% correct here. 

I also wonder how his call for more police would go over today in the black community? 

Now, I don't want you to think that the problems in the black community are solely caused by the black community itself. They are not. We will get to police reform in a second. However, most of the real change in an individual person's life will come through that person's individual choices. 

It's called Agency. Everyone has it, and everyone should embrace it. 

Here's how agency works. Making good choices leads to good outcomes. Making bad choices leads to bad outcomes. Sometimes, bad things can just happen to you. How you respond to those situations will make or break you. That is universally true in every person's life. 

How do you help someone make better choices? It is really hard, but you can spend your time, and your give of your talent, trying to help them get that method of thinking hard wired into them. 

Volunteer, mentor a young person, help tutor at a minority school when you can. Be the change you want to see. You want to see the any community do better? This is how it works; help individuals make better decisions in their lives. 

You may not have all the answers, but you can help. Even if it's just mentoring one young person an hour a week, or helping a high school student trying to sign up for job training, or college, or helping a person trying to fill out a job application correctly. You can help. 

If the hundreds of thousands of successful, white, young people I saw marching in the streets for change did this, you would see change. If you had successful young people of all colors and views volunteering and mentoring, you would actually see a remarkable difference in the black community in a few years. 

You may say; A few years? I want change right now, we demand change right now! 

That is not how real change works. Change takes time, it is generational. Individuals can change overnight, society takes much longer. 

I know this isn't what you want to hear. I know you want to keep marching with your friends in the nice weather, and posting on social media to make yourself feel like you're doing something, but you're really not doing much at all. 

It's a lot like dieting. You want real, lasting results? You must make better choices to get those results. 

You hear the commercials for some fad diet pills, where people lost a lot of weight while still eating Double Whoppers, and you buy a bottles of those pills. 

They work for a bit, then you gain that weight back, plus a few pounds. In two years the diet company is being sued because the stimulant in the pills gave people heart attacks. 

If you want real, lasting, change, you must eat better, and exercise even when you don't want to. You must make better choices. It's hard to do, but it works every time. 

What about the police? These police killings of black men are usually what sets off the outrage. Can we, as citizens, make the police force better? I think we can, and we must. 

Like I said in my other piece, I have a few friends who are police, and they are great people. I could never do it. I don't have the temperment for it. I'm too soft, too willing to see the good in people. I'd be killed on a traffic stop, thinking everything was fine, and the guy was just reaching for his wallet. 

Being a police officer is a dangerous job. Last year, 48 police officers were killed by felonious acts in the line of duty. 41 were killed in accidents. 

So, what about the bad cops, how do we get rid of them? 

That is not easy. Mainly because of their unions. 

Much like bad teachers, and bad public employees, their unions fight for the bad ones along with the good ones. It really takes something like a video of an officer doing something clearly criminal, or against department policy, to have their union not defend them against the police department. 

Can that change? Yes, but it's not likely to. Why? 

I hate to keep bringing this up, but mainly because most big cities are run by democrats. 

Public employee unions are one of the largest political contributors to those democrat's campaigns. These unions have huge political power in democratic cities.

If you look at the news from a few weeks ago you will get an idea of why this is going to be difficult to change. 

Look at this video. It's from Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd was killed by the police officer. 

The mayor of Minneapolis is Jacob Frey. He is just the kind of mayor most of the protesters would vote for. 

He's young, an attorney, very liberal, and when not at an official event, or dancing the Cupid Shuffle with Black Lives Matter folks, dresses like he's going to play frisbee golf with his buddies. 

Well, poor Jacob is dealing with huge problems right now. Floyd's death has lead to peaceful protestors, along with rioters looting and burning businesses, and people calling for him to defund the police department. Funny how Blogger won't let me find this Youtube clip from it's links, but check it out. 

There is a longer one where Frey is telling this black lives activist that he wants to really change the way the city works with the police union, and their contracts, to make real changes. 

That is actually a very courageous stand by a liberal politician. The protestors are not having any of it. They want to defund the police department, and get rid of all police in their communities. 

This is one of the most absurd demands in the history of demands. 

One of the things that black activist like to call out is 'racial redlining' and other things where minorities have to pay more for the things that white people pay less for. Take insurance. 

How do insurance companies price their rates to different people? 

Where do you live? 

How many burglaries happen there? Where you park your car, how many cars are stolen, or broken into there? What is the rate of insurance claims filed there? That's how those rates are determined. 

What do activists think will happen to the crime rates if you abolished the police in your neighborhood? Will it go up or down? 

If you think the crime rate goes down, I'm not sure I can help you. 

I'd also like to point out that when the criminals and ANTIFA come into your neighborhood and smash windows, loot stores, burn buildings, destroy and overturn cars while 'protesting', this drives up the cost of everything. 

Regular folks living there will have to pay more for home insurance, car insurance, renters insurance, along with higher prices for goods and services to cover the costs. 

This also makes businesses looking to open stores in those areas reconsider, or move out, taking those jobs with them. Why would they open a new business, or remodel an existing one in an area where they have riots? 

If low wages and low job opportunities in your neighborhood lead to worse outcomes for the people who live there, do you think those opportunities will get better when you destroy the businesses there? 

What about the schools? Why do they fail to give poor kids a better education? 

Well, one part is the public schools are run by teachers unions, and teachers unions have a great deal of power in these cities. 

The other is Agency. 

If your parents don't give a damn about you doing your homework, and let you play video games and hang with your friends all day, you are not going to succeed in school. There are parents in these communities that do care, they really care, and the teachers that teach at these public schools just don't. They are doing the absolute minimum to get their nice paychecks and wait for retirement. 

If you want change, demand your city or county is pro school choice when it come to schools. 

If you want to watch a really good documentary about this watch Waiting for Superman. 

So, here are the points in a nutshell. Here is what needs to change: 

Black inner city communities have very high crime rates. 

High crime rates means a much higher police/citizen interaction rate. 

This means higher incidents of bad things happening, on both sides. 

Black communities have a very high fatherlessness rate. 

Fatherless homes have children who drop out of school, get arrested, get involved in drugs, get involved with gangs, and to go to prison at a much higher rate than homes with fathers. 

Big cities are run by democrat politicians. They give big money contracts to public employee unions, including police unions, and teachers unions, and those unions are one of the largest campaign donors back to those same democrat politicians. 

Changing these contract terms, with public methods of reviewing police activities, easier ability to fire officers who violate these terms, and having substantial community based interaction training will be very difficult. Same with schools. Being able to fire a bad teacher is almost impossible. 

Look, like I said before, I used to be one of you. 

I used to let emotion carry the day. What I felt about an issue was the most important thing. If I felt I was helping, or doing the right thing, that was all I cared about. I didn't really know how to measure results. 

I wanted something done, was that something going to actually help?  I didn't know, I just felt right wanting it done. 

That was fine was I was a teenager or in my early twenties. 

What I learned later was to stop listening to what people and politicians were saying, and started looking at what they were doing. 

Once you start asking politicians, why won't you change the systems that obviously don't work, who will not like the answers? If you are voting for the people the police unions and the public teachers unions back, you are voting for the wrong people. 

If you are marching to make some kind of change happen, you should be volunteering in the communities you want to see the most change. 

If you volunteer there, you will learn the politics of the people in charge, and you will start to understand that most of them just want the title, and the career track to a higher office. They will choose the union money, the big democratic party money, over fighting for the people they are supposed to represent. 

I'm not saying vote for Republicans either, I used to be one of them too. 

I'm saying vote, back, and walk a few precincts with someone who wants real change over the job.  

Saturday, June 06, 2020

What happens next time? Because there will be a next time.

So, first off, you are probably not going to like this piece I'm writing. That's okay. 

I am going to point some things out, some facts, that you probably don't know. You will probably dismiss these facts, because they get in the way of how you feel about certain important things. I am also going to ask some very uncomfortable questions. 

Most of the people I am writing this for are really nice, mostly white, mostly liberal people. The one thing I know about you, because I used to be one of you, is the way you feel about something is the most important thing about that topic. 

Facts, stats, laws, and real logic don't stand a chance against how you feel about something.

At this point, I'm going to layout what I am seeing. What happened, what is happening, and what will happen in the future. 

These are my views, as honestly as I know how to explain them. Please let me know where I have missed the facts I am stating. 

If you disagree with my opinion part of this, let me know yours. I am often wrong, and if you can honestly point out where I'm wrong, I can, and do, change my mind.

We are a week plus from white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin killing an unarmed and handcuffed black suspect, George Floyd. Mr. Floyd was killed by Chauvin kneeling on his neck for about 8 minutes after his arrest. 

Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and originally charged with Third Degree murder and manslaughter last Thursday. This has now been upgraded to Second Degree murder by former Democratic Congressman, now Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison. 

So, if you have seen the video of George Floyd pleading with Chauvin that he can't breathe, while having his neck pinned down by Chauvin's knee, it is very upsetting. Really upsetting. 

Bystanders asking him to get off Mr. Floyd's neck as they feared he was dying..... 

My first impression when I saw it was damn, that is cold blooded murder.

Of the three other officers who were at the scene and involved in the arrest, two were rookie police officers. Thomas k. Lang,  and J Alexander Kueng, along with veteran officer Tou Thao. They have all been fired, and have now been criminally charged with aiding and abetting murder.

Before they were charged, trying to look up these other officers was quite difficult, and I'm not sure why. Not sure why those three other faces have been kept so low in the coverage of this case.

It looks as though Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene and would have probably been in charge. So who were these officers? Do they have a history of abuse? 

The two rookie cops have had no disciplinary charges filed against them in their careers, which sounds about right for rookie officers. Thao has had six complaints filed against him for his conduct, five being dismissed, and one where he was disciplined.  Chauvin has has 18 complaints filed against him, all but two were dismissed.

So, as damning as that video is, I want to ask a difficult question; 

Was Derek Chauvin using a City of Minneapolis Police Department approved neck restraint? 

If so, it doesn't seem to be making the news very much.

Please hear me, I'm not saying Chauvin didn't perform the neck restraint too long, or incorrectly, or with too much force, I'm asking was he following his department's restraint procedure? 

If he was, even if he did it 100% wrong, or with criminal intent, is this a common restraint technique in the city of Minneapolis? It appears so. This restraint has been used hundreds of times, many of those to the point of unconsciousness, and mostly on black suspects. (updated today, the City of Minneapolis just banned it)

This is going to be the only question that really matters when the criminal trial comes. Chauvin is going to say he was following department procedure. His attorney will say he thought George Floyd was just unconscious, not dying.

Murder means you must 'intend' for the victim to die. Second degree murder in Minnesota means “causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation." If Chauvin had used this restraint procedure before, or had seen it done before, and the suspects survived, then it would be up to the District Attorney to prove Chauvin purposely intended for Floyd to die. That's going to be a hard sell for any jury.  

Unless the trial takes place in a part of the city where the jury wants him found guilty no matter what the law says, I think Chauvin will not be found guilty on the Second Degree Murder charge. That's just my opinion, and I'm afraid the nation is going to go into a full tilt riot when this happens. It will be a tragedy. 

One of the reasons this will probably happen is something civil rights activists seem to hate; prosecutorial overcharging. 

As much as you want to see Chauvin convicted, as much as you want to see justice done for George Floyd, you prosecute people with the charge you can convict them with. 

Manslaughter, or maybe even the third degree murder charge is going to be much more viable charge from what I have seen. If proven guilty of manslaughter, Chauvin will go to jail for years, and more than likely be killed while in jail. Yet, that will not be enough for some folks. 

We will see how this plays out, but I don't like what I'm seeing with the prosecution from Attorney General Ellison.

The medical examination and toxicology report, along with what looks like Floyd's heart condition, seems to have been a factor. Again people, not excusing the cop here, just putting out the facts the defense will use. His attorney will say that Floyd had a medical condition, and Chauvin did not expect Floyd to die when he was being restrained. Like I said, we will see. 

There's another really uncomfortable question I would like to ask; 

What do you want me to do about George Floyd's death?

Protest? Make my Instagram profile a black square? Wear a Black Lives Matter t-shirt? Make sure my friends who don't do these things feel like absolute racists for not doing that?
Even if you don't want anything from me, what do you want other people to do? What do you want the nation to do?

I'm serious, because I hear people in the protests, and all over social media saying that we have to "do something" to stop this. We must reach out, we must make sure this never happens again. I hear, we need to rally and understand what is happening, to support our black citizens, to help stamp out racism, to make justice work for all people. 

Okay, but how? Specifically, what do you want to have happen?

I get it, I feel your emotion on this, and I feel the same emotion too, but what exactly is that something?

I've looked all over the Black Lives Matter websites, and all their affiliated groups, and I don't see a lot of legislation, or striking down the police union's power. It's seems to be full of slogans and hashtags like defunding the police, close down the prisons, and open the borders. They certainly do want your email, your money, and to sell you some 'dope official gear'. 

Let's get back to how change happens. If we are anything, we are a nation of laws, and some of them in our past have been racist as hell. 

Our laws were written an a way to ensure blacks were enslaved in large portions of our nation at our founding. An absolute atrocity in our history. A Civil War and 600,000 Americans dead was the price our nation paid to free African Americans from that chattel slavery. We also passed new laws and new Constitutional Amendments during and after the Civil War to make sure slavery stopped. 

New laws were how African Americans were granted the same rights as every other citizen through the Civil Rights laws in the 1960s. It took another three decades to make sure these laws were being followed by states, cities, counties, and businesses, through criminal and civil cases. The rule of law is who we are as a nation. 

So, if we are a nation of laws, who writes these laws? Maybe more importantly, who enforces these laws?

Most people want to look to Washington DC and the feds, but what happens in your city or town comes from your local government. The people you elect to represent the place where you live, and those they hire to manage the law's enforcement. 

Almost every case that has been thrust upon the scene by our news media in the past decade has dealt with city police officers, or county sheriff's deputies. So let's look at Mr. Floyd's city, since it's in the news right now: Minneapolis Minnesota.

So, who runs this Minneapolis? Is it the Klan, or a bunch of crazy Neo Nazis? Some of Donald Trump's family members?  It doesn't appear to be the case. The City of Minneapolis is run entirely by Democrats. 

Their two US Senators for Minnesota are Democrats, the city is represented in the US House by Ilhan Omar, one of the most leftist members of Congress.

That is not a big surprise. Most big cities, and every huge metropolis, is run by Democrats, and have been for decades. 

So a valid question might be, if racism is the problem, why do these large democrat strongholds have such a problem with it? 

Maybe it's not the politicians you say, maybe its the head of the police? So, who is in charge of this racist Minneapolis Police Department? 

The Police Chief, Medaria Arradondo. Now, Arradondo seems like a nice guy, and he was appointed by the previous Democrat Mayor, Betsy Hodges. 

Hodges has a master's degree in sociology, and says all the right things when it comes to race, climate change, affordable housing, immigration, the Me Too movement. She's a solid Democrat.

So how did the four city police officers, who showed up to arrest George Floyd in Minneapolis, all happen to be vile racists? 

Why would a solidly Democratic Mayor, and an all-democrat City Council be cool with hiring four racist cops? Another questions is why would all these democrats allow a neck restraint of this type be used on an overwhelming majority of black citizens for decades? Why wouldn't they fight the police unions to change the way their city, and its black citizens, are being treated? 

Yeah, I know. Structural racism....... in the Democratic Party right? I guess progressive democrats are just filled to the top with racists or something, right? 

That may seem a bit harsh, but if I went down to the protests in my area, and asked the protesters what kind of people they want leading our cities towards real, meaningful change, the people in charge of Minneapolis are exactly the kind of people most of them would vote for. 

Think about it, you are actually demanding change from the people you put in charge.....

Look, if you haven't figured out this truth yet, let me give you a key thought to always have running in the back of your mind: When Democrats use terms like 'structural racism', 'gun violence' and 'racial inequality' it's because they need to have something to blame for their own failures. 

Hey, Republicans, don't get too smug over there, you should read some of my posts talking about how the GOP establishment blames illegal immigration, and societal failures to hide the fact that they want cheap, illegal labor, and cheap free-trade items from China that have killed so many US manufacturing jobs over the years.  They do that so they can make more money for themselves and their shareholders. Okay, back to the problems at hand. 

If you want to try to find out how big a problem black people dying at the hands of police officers is, you need the data.  

I'm going to show you some facts, but you are probably not going to like it. Like most everything I've laid out here, it's complicated. 

First, let's look at the numbers. 

How many black people were killed in America in by the police in 2019? 

According to the Washington Post Fatal Force data, that number was 235. That sounds like a lot, but many of those may have been criminals in shootouts with police, or people with guns and knives charging at a police officer. 

So, how many unarmed black people were killed by police in 2019? 


Now, we don't know the stories behind these nine deaths, and I'm sure there are some tragedies in there. Then again, there are about 330,000,000 people in the US, and about 43,000,000 black people. There were also about 7,000 black homicide victims last year, and again, 90% of them are killed by blacks. When you look inside the 7,000 black homicides, nine is a very small number.

Unless one of those nine happens to be someone you know and love. Like I said, I'm sure there are some absolute tragedies in that number. 

But if you remember the Michael Brown shooting a few years back, the 'Hands up, don't shoot'  person, he was also considered 'unarmed'. 

He was also attacking a police officer inside the officer's car, and struggling to get the officer's pistol. 

Many of today's protesters still think Brown was killed by a white cop, while he had his hands up, and was begging not be shot. 

President Obama's FBI report concluded that was not how it happened, and in fact, the officer was justified in the shooting of Brown. I would guess most people still believe the 'Hands up, don't shoot' story. Remember, we had riots for a week all across America following that shooting.

Well, 'Hands up, don't shoot' makes a better headline than 'Man assaults police and is killed'.  It gets people more stirred up and clicking on your story. Understand, that is what what the media sells. Riots be damned, we have advertisements for coffee and shoes to sell, and money to be made......

Here is maybe the most important question; What are we, as a nation, going to do when this happens again? Because it is going to happen again.....

You might say, hey now, we are protesting to stop this from ever happening again! Okay,,,,,

You are out in the streets, demanding change from the people you put in charge! All the while criminals, and 20 year old Antifa members who live at home with their parents, are smashing windows, setting fires to building, and violently beating members of your community who are trying to protect their life's investment in a small business. 

You peaceful protesters are marching and chanting, 'this is what democracy looks like' and then 'no justice, no peace'.  Look, you may not have realized this, but you can't be peacefully protesting for 'no peace'.....

You have convinced yourself, that you and your friends, are 'not going to let this happen again'. Well, it's going to happen again, as sure as the earth turns. Then you can sit back and watch an even more violent mob of people burn your city, and murder more innocent people for your cause. 

If you are concerned with black people being murdered, a logical question to ask might be, just who is murdering them, and how can we stop it?  

Well, like all races, you are most likely to be killed by someone of your same race. The numbers from an FBI study in the mid 2000s hovers between 89% to 91% of blacks are killed by other blacks. Not by cops, or the Klan, or rednecks, it's probably some guy who lives a few blocks over.

This last weekend, like many others in Chicago, 85 people were shot, 24 of them killed. 17 people killed on Sunday alone. Most of them were black, and if their murders are solved, the people who killed them will be black if the statistics hold true. 

It's a damn tragedy, and it happens with repetitive certainty, month after month in America's inner cities. No one knows their names, no one, or at least no one outside their neighborhoods marches for them. Chicago did have a march to end the violence in their inner city awhile back, but that doesn't make the news, and certainly not your Facebook or Instagram feed. 

Do their lives matter to anyone besides their friends and families?

So, where am I going with this? 

I want people to know what is actually going on. I want you to know that 'doing something' has consequences, and some of those 'somethings' do exactly the opposite of what you intend. 

Voting for people who say the things you want to hear doesn't usually work, it just makes you feel better. You feel better because you are voting for the 'right side' in this struggle. If things don't get better, you can vote for someone even more outrageous who wants to 'tear it all down' or 'eat the rich' or some other feel good socialist slogan that won't work either. 

As far as you mostly young, very compassionate, progressive people, let me just say this again; I get it. I was once like you. 

I once thought, if I could just change the minds of those damn dinosaur old people, we would have peace, prosperity, and justice for all. Then I grew a bit older, experienced some things, and began to understand that what I thought was happening, really wasn't happening for the reasons I thought. I started to get passed the emotion, and look at the reality. That is where real change come from. 

When I hear from progressives that we need to work together to defeat racism, and to allow for civil discourse, and to start admitting your white privilege, to begin to heal our nation, and other such bumper sticker type of sloganeering, I actually get a little angry.

Why? Because of who this is actually helping.


You may not understand this unless you step back a bit and take a hard look, but what you are really trying to do is make yourself feel better about being you.

You want to post things on social media, maybe you want to go to a peaceful protest with all of your friends, then meet up to talk about how bad things are in the black community, and how righteous you feel because you are 'doing something'. When the riots and looting start, you will feel you understand why this is happening, but you will be wrong. 

You will look at the violence and rioting and think, this is all the police's fault, America's fault, and maybe even my fault. Well, not my fault, but other white people's fault. Probably republicans. 

Back to the cops and the killing of George Floyd. 

I do not know, or have even heard of a single person who thinks the Minneapolis cop was justified in his actions. Not one. No one is on his side! Maybe the Police Union he belongs to, but no one is marching to defend Chauvin. 

So, like I said before, this is going to happen again. There are 680,000 full time police officers in America. If just 1% are closet racists, just waiting to harm minorities while hiding behind a badge, that's about 6,800 bad cops. They should be kicked off the police force, or not hired in the first place, but how can you tell? 

I want to go back to the 9 unarmed black men who were killed by police last year, I want to honestly ask you, how do we get that number to zero? 

I don't think it's possible, no matter how many protests you hold, how many new laws are passed, how many millions are raised, and how many t-shirts are sold. 

We can can try to make it better by focusing on police training, tactics, methods and hiring practices, and I'm all for that. Police training is woefully inadequate in most cities. Mainly because so much of the police budget goes towards police pensions. Most city managers will tell you they are paying for two police forces, the one on duty, and the one who is retired. Again, that's a whole other story. 

Maybe this is all new to you. You, who doesn't live a black community, or a high crime community, and has no idea what it's like to be pulled over because you 'match the description of a subject'. Maybe you haven't been pulled over for some other made up reason, just to check to see if you have anything suspicious going on. 

These kinds of police overreach are real. They happen all the time. Mainly in high-crime inner city areas, but also in nice neighborhoods. Ask black Republican US Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He was pulled over by the police 7 times in one year. Twice for speeding, the rest probably because he was black man driving a really nice car. 

I would also say that these kind of random, no-reason stops happen all the time in high-crime white areas too. If you haven't lived in one of those areas, like I have, just watch Live PD some times. 

I understand that I am not black, and could not possibly know how it feels to be black. I get it. I'm also not Hispanic, well unless you count half Portuguese, not a woman, not Asian, not a member of the LGBT community, or about thousand other identity groups that people tend identify with these days. But I want the laws to be for everyone; no matter the identity, creed, color, or wealth group you belong to. 

I have all kinds of friends, and know all kinds of people. From a few pastors of churches, former felons, farmers, teachers, loggers, construction workers, more than a few cops, some actual biker gang members, and some of the sweetest community volunteer members. Some are very wealthy, some just scraping by. Some Republicans, some Democrats, some have never been pulled over in their lives, some have had some pretty intense interactions with police.

I have a friend who is covered in tattoos, and looks like the kind of guy who is up to no good. Seriously, I would give him a wide berth if I passed him on a dimly lit street. He was felony stopped by our local Sheriff's Deputies for rolling through a stop sign. At gunpoint, in the middle of the day, with three other car racing in for backup, all with guns aimed at him, with his wife in the passenger seat. 

Scary as hell for both of them. Thankfully, they remained calm, and followed the deputy's instructions. Even when they thought they might get shot. This could have gone horribly wrong in an instant. That one deputy completely overreacted. Why? I'm not certain, but I would bet my house it was because of how my friend looked. He's Italian. 

What I'm saying is there are good cops, bad cops, good reactions, bad reactions and everything in between. There are also good people, bad people, good reactions, bad reactions and everything in between. When all these things come together, millions of times a year, there will be mistakes made. 

There will be police shot and killed, there will be citizens shot and killed. 

So what can you do? What could actually stop this kind of thing from happening more frequently? 

I will answer that question in my next piece. 


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

How many people are dying?

So, one thing I want you all to think about today, a question really. How big is America, and how many people dying is a huge number?

Maybe you are freaking out by the idea of 100,000 and 200,000 Covid19 deaths here in the US. I'm thinking its because this is the first pandemic in the 24/7 cable news, and social media era.

We've had these types of pandemics before. The last big one was the H3N2 virus that killed 100,000 here in the US in 1968. Never heard of that one? I hadn't until I started looking into this. The 1918 Spanish Flu killed over 600,000 in the US. That's more deaths than the Civil War. Pandemics happen, and we should be prepared, both as a nation and as individuals.

So, let's look at the most recent prediction of 100 to 200,000 people dying. Is this a lot of people? Yep, it sure is. If one of those deaths happens to someone you know, and especially someone you love, it will be even more tragic to you personally.

One hundred thousand, or two hundred thousand people is a big number, but how many people is that as far as a percentage of all Americans? Let's do the math.

America has about three hundred, twenty seven million people. 327,000,000 people is a very large number.

So, lets say people don't do social distancing, shelter in place, and stay at home like they should, and we have more than the 1-200,000 people die. Let's say 327,000 Americans die, that's almost double the amount they are predicting now. What percentage of the population is that?

Is that 10%, or one in ten, Americans dying? Nope. If 10% of Americans died, that would be 32.7 million dead.

How about 1% of Americans dying, what would that look like? That would be 3.27 million people dying. So, were still quite a ways off that.

How about 1/10th of 1%? That would be the three hundred twenty seven thousand people dead. That's the 327,000 number I used.

So, I'm not giving you this number to make you think you should blow off the social distancing orders, and go back to your regular life. Not at all. This 1-200,000 number the administration is using relies on people limiting contact for the next few weeks. This social distancing works, it really does.

Maybe the fear of these numbers is actually working to make people follow the social distancing orders. So, maybe I should just be quiet.

What I am trying to point out is we are going to get through this. No doubt, this is going to be rough. People are dying now, and many more will be dying before this is over. This is serious, so do your part. Understand your risks and minimize them.

When this is over, I want us to look at how we deal with actual crisis in the age of cable news and social media. We need to start looking at how this new social media world is really amplifying fear, and making things worse.  Our news media and social media companies will get terrible reviews when this is over. They will deserve it.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The currency of Cool.

At 54 years old, and I am painfully uncool.

That's okay, I gave up trying to be cool somewhere in my twenties when my life turned upside down, and cool was a luxury I could no longer afford. In fact, there were a few necessities I couldn't afford at that point in time. Poverty and reality have the effect of smashing everything that is not true or essential. Being cool is not important when you have a newborn and $80 in your savings account.

But wait, don't you wear skate shoes, play music, and have an Instagram account? You must a little cool, right?

Not really. Any coolness I enjoy is accidental at best. Any of the semi-cool things I wear; skate shoes, concert t-shirts, or 501s are just out of habit. I wear these because that's what I wore in high school, and they are still what I find comfortable.

I'm not sure when we first discovered cool. For me, maybe seventh or eighth grade, but certainly not in early elementary school. Back in my day, especially out in the tiny rural town I lived in, fashion and brand names didn't exist. Or at least they were not at the center of popularity and 'coolness'.

My family, depending on what economic cycle we were in, was well pretty well off as those things go. Not that you would know it by what I wore to school. My mom shopped at Sears like everyone else, and I wore t-shirts and Toughskin jeans, just like most of the kids in our K-8 school.

Today, it seems like kids, even little kids, are very aware of fashion, brand names, and the latest trends. From Nike, Hollister, H&M, Hilfiger, to iPhones, Galaxy, Airpods, and Beats headphones, most of the kids in school understand exactly what they have, or don't have, and what the cool kids have.

It's crazy to think a seven year old should be concerned she will be ridiculed for not having the 'right' kind of (fill in the blank). If you wonder why child anxiety and depression rates are climbing to alarming rates, I would say you need to factor this consumerism and comparative mindset into the equation.

I'm sure another one of the factors is our all-encompassing digital age.

Out on the ranch, I didn't know what cool people wore, or what cool people did.  That was up until a family from southern California moved up to our tiny town. I remember the first time I saw Skateboarder Magazine at my friend Tim's house. I went home and begged for a skateboard. Keep in mind we only had twenty feet of concrete sidewalk at our house on our cattle ranch, and the only place I could ride it was at school. Well, that was until they outlawed them. Skateboarding is not a crime Mr. Boris!

The plain fact was, aside from television, I knew very little of what was happening outside my zip code. Which is probably for the best.

Today, the kids in Pine River Wisconsin can see what the Kardashians wear, how they talk, and keep up with the latest pop music star's life and romances. They can check out the celebrity and sports icons shaping the culture, and compare their lives to the 'cool people'. This is a recipe for disaster.

This trend will continue, and probably get worse as the comparative/coolness mindset gets driven downward to younger and younger kids.

I'm not sure when we grow out of this pursuit of coolness. Maybe we never do. It's like a currency we all want. Although, some are happy without it, others will go to almost any length to get it.

One thing is for sure, your parents might be able to buy you the uniform of cool, but if you're not a genuinely good person, kids will only hang out with you to get what they can from you. Paying for friendship is pretty sad.

I find the more years I mark off the calendar, the less coolness concerns me. If you've ever seen me walking to the mailbox on Saturday in basketball shorts, slippers with wool socks, and a Carhartt hat, you can see how obvious this is.

I don't know what we can do as individuals, or as parents. We can explain the difference between our 'wants' and our 'needs' for sure. However, what we really need to do if reinforce our definition of worth and value to our children. That comes through what you do, the way you think, and how you treat others, not through what you wear, drive, or the kind of lifestyle you can finance.