Republican leader blows creative naming opportunities for $100, Alex

Remember the “Contract with America” where Newt Gingrich tied a ribbon on policy that was bad and made it look good? Or how the “Inheritance tax” which relatively few people were subject to- became the evil sounding “death tax”?

Well, the chance to do something right- got a bad name in a big way from the Republican Senate leader in Ohio:

Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, called for establishing a “drug prison” where inmates with drug abuse issues would receive treatment services.

“I anticipate that there would be an increase in the cost up front but I think in the long run we’re going to save money,” Faber said.

via Charter schools in spotlight.

Why a “drug prison” Keith? Why not a rehabilitation center for drug abusers who’ve turned to crime to support their habits?

Many times people begin their path to drug abuse purely by accident- an injury at work, and next thing you know they are addicted to a painkiller.  Drug abuse is a mental health issue first and foremost. The crimes committed by drug abusers are often nothing other than survival skills to feed their habits. Our prisons are overflowing with people who are more dangerous to themselves than others- glad you just figured it out.

Now, figure out a better name as well as a better solution to deal with this sad epidemic. Prisons aren’t working, nor is our “criminal justice” system built to deal with people just looking for a quick fix to an addiction.

A leader without followers…

It’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Some of you have the day off. Some march. Some go to fancy banquets and listen to stories of “back in the day” and many take for granted what King fought for.

More people don’t vote now, more than before King when people were blocked from voting. Call it apathy, call it indifference, but considering the effort that it took to change the system, the system hasn’t changed as much as King hoped.

And while King is celebrated today- many still don’t understand that at the time, he was still not recognized as a force of nature.

The beginning of the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” began with an admission by King that “Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work.”

The sum total of his response 6,921 words. Of course, he was in jail and had time to write.

Fast forward to 2015- and if the civil rights movement were getting started today. If King put up 6921 words- he’d get TL/DR (too long didn’t read) by most.

And while his goal in most protests was to create imagery of many people marching, or to bait racist police chiefs into letting loose the dogs, hoping for headlines- media today wouldn’t work the same way.  If civil rights wasn’t done then, it may not have happened, or set the groundwork for things to come like marriage equality.

The one thing that distinguished King from others, was his ability to attract followers- to have a herd to be heard. There were many detractors, but those core followers made the difference.

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations.”

He was challenged as an “outside agitator” by many. His response was clear “Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

The real question is who is going to lead the next clear battle in American Civil Rights- the one that will truly end poverty, end class inequity and bring back the ideals of “all men are created equal” and that they all have the opportunity to engage in the pursuit of life, liberty and the happiness that seems to be evading so many?

It’s time for people to take the time to read the long versions, it’s time for people to ask questions, and it’s time to find new leadership that isn’t beholden to the mighty dollar. The underlying causes of inequality are still here today.

We can celebrate King’s victories all we want, but, to think the battle has been won, is to kid yourself.

 

 

Shoot first, answer questions later?

There used to be cops who spent their entire life on the streets and never drew their service weapon. Those days are gone.

The very idea of unholstering a firearm- and pointing it at someone only means one thing- you are prepared to shoot someone. That person, has to be an immediate threat to someone’s life- an imminent danger- and then, and only then, would you be OK to shoot. At least that used to be the equation.

Guns on the streets weren’t an everyday occurrence- unless of course, you were a criminal. And despite all these people going out and getting CCW licenses- those guns aren’t out on display- they’re concealed. And since Ohio is an “Open Carry” state- it’s actually legal to walk around with your hand cannon strapped to your side- even if it does make people uncomfortable.

But lately- toy guns in black men’s hands are an instant death sentence- whether in Walmart in Beavercreek or in Cleveland on a playground.

In Dayton on Christmas eve, a 20-year-old black male was arrested for “waving a toy gun around.”

Bennie Coleman, 20, was arrested on Tuesday morning and booked in Montgomery County Jail. Police observed him in a firing stance, pointing the gun at passing motorists and waving the gun back and forth from left to right, according to a Dayton police report.

via Man arrested for pointing fake gun at drivers| Dayton, OH Crime | www.mydaytondailynews.com.

He was in jail on Christmas day- for “inducing panic” with a $2,500 bail and awaiting arraignment on a parole violation. Now on the 27th- it’s up to $5K. Apparently- toy guns are now weapons, because, well, any criminal could just paint the tip of a real gun orange to “fool police.”

Fooling police? Really?

The riot cops in Ferguson were shown in photos acquiring targets with military grade weaponry. This began a debate on military “technology” transfer to local police departments, not the fact that they were lining up their sights on targets- without an imminent threat.

Let’s talk about the imminent threat to a civil society- the breakdown of law and order. When the rules become so fluid, and get applied haphazardly- they begin to have no meaning. How does Bennie Coleman end up in jail for more than 48 hours for a toy gun- while my neighbor, Brandon, Demolition Derby, Crouch- is out in 48 hours when caught with a real gun? Is that one is black and the other white? Is it that our laws aren’t really laws anymore? We already assume the wealthy don’t get the same treatment from the courts that the poor do- hence people like Mike Peppel who stole millions- got 7 days in jail while a poor grocery clerk- threatened with 40 years.

Since the “war on drugs” began, we’ve taken a draconian puritanical approach- criminalizing mind-altering substances as if they are a threat to the health and welfare of every person in this country. Our heavy-handed approach to this “problem” has put record numbers of people in a very expensive prison system- at an alarmingly racially disparate rate. Yet after forty plus years, no one has stopped to ask if this program is working? Is it making us safer? Is it solving the problem? The answer to both is no.

Stand back and think about what it means to live in a country that puts incarceration over education, incarceration over health care, and ask if the fundamental problems we face aren’t our own doing?

We’re creating a permanent underclass of perpetually under-employable people with our system of mass incarceration. We’re taking away all hopes and dreams of an equitable and just future for an alarmingly large percentage of our population. If the number 1 in 32 doesn’t make you wonder- that’s the number of people who are either incarcerated, on parole or probation.

We’ve created more police apparatus to “keep us safe” since 9/11- with the entire department of Homeland Security- a multibillion-dollar operation that ostensibly is here to protect us from outside threats. Our local threats- well, we don’t really want to talk about those.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- at a self-defined target, chosen by a politician to create mass hysteria and a revision of our social engineering. While every other civilized country treats drug addiction as a mental illness- we treat is as a crime. While every other industrialized nation believes that health care is a universal right- we create a system that criminalizes not-buying insurance from a private company that’s allowed to make billions. While the costs of our “justice system” and “health care systems” exceed every other country in the world- we still continue on the same path.

We’ve been shooting first for a long time- and no one is asking if it’s the right thing to do.

Suppose we emptied our prisons, except for those who are a physically dangerous threat to others, and spent all that money we’ve spent warehousing poor people- and instead spent it on education, health care and jobs. Suppose we eliminated the health insurance companies and went to a single payer system that paid for universal care. Suppose we treated drug addiction as a mental health problem instead of a criminal one?

Would we still need so many guns pointed at people?

Isn’t the point of a civilized society to be one where you don’t have to live in the Wild West- with a six gun on your hip? Isn’t a civilized society one where we can settle our differences without killing each other? Are we really still civilized in America today? Or have we just stopped asking questions?

I think you know the answer.

 

A bad comedy gone wrong

I spent 12 hours in a classroom yesterday to get my CCW permit. Over and over, it was drilled into us, you can’t go shooting people over property, insults, or because you don’t like someone.
And here is President Obama saying he’s going to go after North Korea for hacking Sony Entertainment and threatening movie theaters that show a banal “comedy” about the assassination of North Korea’s boy leader.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think any of this is funny for a litany of reasons.
First- the hack. Since when is it the Federal government’s responsibility to protect the computers of an entertainment company? How is this any different than the multiple hacks that have stolen our personal information from the likes of Target or Home Depot? Because supposedly the hack came from North Korea? Is Obama channeling George W. Bush, who attacked Afghanistan for the work of 21 Saudi Nationals on 9/11?
Code knows no national boundaries- and with the simplicity of anonymizing servers- can be sent from anywhere to anywhere. Because someone used the same lines of code is hardly a smoking gun- I use the same words you do to say “I have to go to the bathroom.”
And after Edward Snowden released the vast evidence of our ability to read, analyze and filter the masses of communications all over the planet- do you really expect me to believe the NSA was asleep at the wheel when both the hack and the threat supposedly came from North Korea? Really? Because so much Internet traffic comes in and out of that walled cesspool of a country.
Then there is the “threat” to do damage to the theaters that show the film. Let’s see, trillions spent on “Homeland Security” and our military- and we’re really going to believe that if this film is shown- the North Koreans are going to nuke us?
Granted, any head of state who thinks anything worthwhile comes out of meeting Dennis Rodman isn’t exactly the sharpest crayon in the box- but, there are probably 4,000 theaters that may show this film- and he’s going to target them all? Or even one? With the telegraphed threat, the probability of success is zero.
And, really, poking the bear usually never works out well for little kimmy.
There have been movies made about dictators, kidnapping presidents, killing heads of state since, well, the early ages of film. Comedies- like Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” didn’t start WWII- and the recent Hollywood action flick “Olympus has fallen” had the North Koreans attacking the White House- where were the complaints that time?
Although the hack did a bunch of damage to Sony Entertainment- let’s be realistic- that hack did more damage to the hacks that run the company who embarrassed themselves much worse than our State Department did with crass and irresponsible statements released by Snowden.
And although Sony Entertainment is “American” it’s still owned by Sony- a Japanese company- why isn’t North Korea taking on the Japanese? Maybe it’s the fact that when the Japanese went to war there they dominated- while we stalemated..
You know that every Hollywood action film has to have two things- a good guy and a bad guy- the fact that North Korea has served as our “bad guy” for almost 70 years is getting a little old. Hell, we just decided to take Cuba out of the doghouse into the yard. They’re not quite invited in – but it’s a step in the right direction.
With the way our media is manipulated and despite access to more information than ever before- I’m half wondering if the “threat” to theaters showing “The Interview” isn’t just another Hollywood marketing department run amok. Remember how Boston shut down in 2007 in a panic over “space invader signs” that mysteriously appeared as a promo for another banal comedy?
If this was what happened, would anyone be able to wipe the egg off their faces?
If we really want to torture the North Korean leadership- print enough DVDs of the movie dubbed in Korean- and carpet bomb the country with them. Seth Rogan’s bomb of a movie can torture them instead of us.
And honestly, not showing this movie in America is probably an underappreciated Christmas gift to all of us.

Retraining America, not just the police

Photo of a taser body cam with a red circle slash on top

Body cams aren’t the answer

If you and I have similar friends on Facebook, hardly a day goes by without seeing an example of a cop behaving badly caught on film. Yet, despite film of the choke-hold killing of  Eric Garner, for what couldn’t amount to more than a misdemeanor crime, the cop walks.

There is the video of a guy turning to his car to get his ID as the cop instructed him to- and ending up with a newly perforated body- caught on film by the officer’s own dash cam.

There is the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a Cleveland playground, within 2 seconds of the cop’s arrival- all caught on film.

The president and the family of Michael Brown think that body cams will somehow solve the problem. Ask Eric Garner how the camera worked for him?

Shooting as a solution has been programmed into the mindset of Americans for the last 30 years- on camera- via television. College kids have a drinking game – drink a shot every time Jack Bauer kills someone in an episode of “24.” Long gone are the days of Sheriff Andy Griffin, who wouldn’t let his deputy have more than one bullet.

The art of diplomacy as practiced as part of the job of “peace officer” has been replaced with SWAT gear, body armor and tanks. Yes, tanks.

Take a look at how your local beat cop dresses. Thirty years ago, he wore a white shirt, a tie, jacket, shiny dress shoes and a dress cap. Now, we’re seeing cargo pants, polo shirts over a bullet proof vest and a baseball cap. The shiny shoes, replaced with combat boots. The six-shot .38 revolver, now a 13-round .40 cal. automatic, plus a taser. We’re putting soldiers on the streets to do police work. Look in the trunk of the cruiser- where there used to be a shotgun, there’s also an AR-15.

You only need these kinds of tools in war. In fact, long ago, our government saw the danger of using a military to enforce local laws.

In June of 1878, at the end of Reconstruction, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, to prevent an army from enforcing state laws. Yet, when President Nixon began his “War on Drugs” in June 1971, we declared war on our people and started putting ridiculous numbers of them in prison- tearing apart basic family structures and creating an entire subculture of perpetually underemployed people in our country. The country where “all men are created equal” began to come apart.

The funny thing is that this all started happening after we got done patting ourselves on the backs for passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, where we stopped looking at blacks as some sort of sub-human underclass. Folks, note, this was only 50 years ago.

I was just reading about how MLK and his captains, planned to manipulate the media in Birmingham- how they wanted to overload the jails, how they wanted the water cannons turned on the protesters- and the dogs set loose. The use of children as protestors had some people worried- Robert Kennedy, who was the Attorney General was quoted as saying “An injured, maimed or dead child is a price that none of us can afford to pay.”

How do we reconcile that with the dead Tamir Rice? Michael Brown? Trayvon Martin? The list goes on, and we don’t even think there is a price connected to these acts anymore. We came together on Sept. 11, 2001 in horror, because a few dozen idiots managed to kill 3,000+ “innocent Americans” in an act of terrorism, yet every day in America 32 Americans die by gun violence- meaning that every 100 or so days- is the equivalent of a World Trade Center attack.

We’re numb. We’re dumb and we’re naive if we think the problem is going to be solved with body cams.

The first step has to be a re-evaluation of what constitutes a crime in America. Eric Garner was getting harassed for selling single cigarettes “illegally” on the street. He ended up dead. The Wall Street bozos put millions of people out of work, out of their homes, and collapsed our economy- yet, none of them spent a day in court.

We spend more incarcerating people involved in illegal drug sales than we spend on education in this country. What happens if we paid for college instead of paying to turn people into unemployable x-offenders? What happens if we treat drug addiction with health care professionals instead of by warehousing them in prisons?

Decriminalizing pot is long overdue. Why is methadone treatment an ok substitution for heroin, even though it barely works? If someone wants to be drunk it’s ok- but high, oh, no? If they want to smoke cigs OK- but shoot heroin no- even though nicotine is a harder drug to beat?

We put our police in impossible situations daily- asking them to do things they aren’t really supposed to do. Now, they carry narcam to save people from OD’ing on opiates- what happened to making sure people didn’t speed on the streets, or steal porch furniture?

We can’t expect better police until we have a better understanding of what their role in society is. If it’s to be engaged in a war on drugs, and we continue to militarize them- we’re going to get more of the same. If we do a reset, and get back to keeping the peace and instilling a sense of safety for all- we might get back to the time where talking first comes back in style.

I’ve purposely stayed away from talking about the John Crawford murder in Beavercreek. And while I think John Crawford was an idiot, who had no clue on how to act in public while holding something that resembled a gun, the cop, Sean Williams, had no clue on how to appraise and defuse the situation.

When he arrived, with his limited information as relayed by the dispatcher, from an unverified source (the 911 caller was a completely unreliable idiot), he entered a Wal-Mart expecting an “active shooter situation.” However, there were no crowds of people heading for the doors in a panic, there were no people screaming- that all was caused by the cop failing society and shooting a guy with a pellet gun who was talking on his phone. A woman, leaving the store in the cop-caused shooting panic, died. Two people died because of a cop operating with training that was fundamentally flawed. Training that allows us to easily “afford” to justify shooting people in the name of protecting the peace.

We’ve become so accustomed to violence in this country, that the photo of Bull Connor’s dogs and water canons barely would register as a violation of our social compact. Those images were tame compared to the video of the murder of Eric Garner- an unarmed man, choked to death by a bevy of “peace officers.”

No, a retraining of police isn’t the answer- we need to retrain our entire country. This is not how we should treat each other. This is not America the beautiful anymore, where all men are created equal, land of the free and home of the brave.

We live in a police state that’s run amok. You can watch the video anytime you want.

 

 

 

 

A prepper’s holiday season

The patches and crest of the US Army Special Forces- the "Green Berets"

The patches and crest of the US Army Special Forces- the “Green Berets”

The United States Army spends at least a million dollars on every guy (and yes- it’s still a guys-only club) they train to wear a green beret. Don’t get caught up in the Rambo fantasy- the Special Forces isn’t the same as SEAL Team 6, Delta, the Ranger Battalions or Marine Force Recon.  Sure- they can go in and do amazing damage relative to their size- since they are highly trained, well equipped and typically well supported, but direct action isn’t their main mission.

Their main mission is to train and organize others to go overturn their government, or to keep their government in power- depending on which way the political wind blows.

Send in an A Team of 12 guys (no, it’s not anything like the “A-Team” TV show either) and out should pop a well trained, organized and equipped group that’s anywhere from Company to Battalion size – depending on where and what the team is given to work with. Translation- give them a literate group of French young men behind German lines in WWII (pre-Special Forces example) and you could have a team easily run a battalion- give them a bunch of semi-literate dope farmers in Afghanistan- and they’ll be lucky to have a few effective squads. Garbage in- Garbage out.

We have no problem at all sending these men all over the globe to “take care of problems” in third world nations where elections are non-existent or questionable, or where “civil rights” are being violated, or where plague and famine are winning a war caused by poverty and disconnected economies. We’ll even send them on humanitarian aid missions- where SF medics do dentistry and demolition guys blow up things to make damns, or set up water purification systems.

My question to you- is at what point is some other country going to look at our country- at Ferguson MO, or the latest shooting of a black kid with a pellet gun, and decide to send their Special Forces here to organize the disowned underclass to rise up and fight? Sounds crazy right? What makes it any different when we do it in places from as far and wide as Nicaragua to Somalia? Liberia to Libya?

And, why do we think that one day, one former Green Beret isn’t going to decide to do it in his hometown?

I look at the insane peaks of the U.S. stock market- and know that the company’s values aren’t rising because of higher real wages, higher real employment, higher standards of living, a better or stronger economy- and think, didn’t we learn a damn thing since 2009- or even since 1928?

Is the real reason “Black Friday” sales were down because you could shop on Thanksgiving? Or is it that people sense something isn’t quite right- and it’s not just riots, gas prices swinging, or temp jobs pushing numbers in the right direction.

All those people who laugh at “preppers” stockpiling water, fuel, guns and ammo? Do you really want to bet on you an economy built on lies anymore than a democracy that’s elected by a minority well schooled in stupidity?

When the mountains of cash printed and shoved into the economy for the rich to use to fill their bank accounts, which then purchase the best politicians money can buy, all become semi-worthless (which is what typically has happened when money supplies grossly outstrip the actual needs by real users of it)- you end up with the only real value being in things needed to survive: clean water, fuel, food and bullets.

We are not facing a zombie apocalypse- which is made up of mindless dead people roaming the streets- we’re waiting for the mindless sleepwalking wage slaves to wake up and demand to take back the streets.

You are free to return to your holiday cheer. Don’t say you’ve not been warned.

note: For the record, I don’t think most preppers really have a clue on how to survive. I lay better odds on those who live in a tight-knit community, than any people thinking they will make it alone. Also, while I only served with Special Forces units while in the Army and the Army reserves, I never completed the Q-course. I have never served in a line unit- or with anyone who wasn’t at least a paratrooper. My official Army MOS was 05B-1A4P, which means I’m a radio operator, who knows morse code and is Airborne qualified.  I  served on an A-team for over a year in the reserves while in college. I have the utmost respect for the training, the mission and the Beret.

 

 

We once rioted over a tax on tea

Michael Brown didn’t deserve to be shot dead.

Darren Wilson shouldn’t have had a big guy tussle with him while still in his cruiser.

People taking to the streets rioting, looting and attacking cops isn’t the answer.

“Leaders” like Al Sharpton screaming injustice over this small piece of stupidity in the corner of the insane asylum shouldn’t be given a microphone.

The President should have been there to read the Grand Jury release- and continue on to talk about the real problems this country has- and not the ones that the media is turning into a circus.

If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice- it’s time to take a good long look at how Michael Brown and Darren Wilson ended up on Canfield Drive.

These two losers in the lottery of instant fame by accidental stupidity are products of a country that’s lost its moral compass and its right to call itself the land of liberty, home of the free, brave or where all men are created equal.

This country is ready for another revolution, but this won’t be it. Michael Brown isn’t Rosa Parks. Michael Brown, if not by Darren Wilson, would have probably ended up just another statistic at another time. We live in a country that thrives on fear- fear of black men, fear of drug dealers, fear of bringing a knife to a gun fight. And one in six lives in fear of keeping their home, finding their next meal, or keeping their second job, which still doesn’t provide enough for them to safely raise a family.

There is a Mark Twain quote from long ago, that’s as applicable today as when it was written: “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.”

And our country is starving. For food, for substance, for leadership – that knows the difference between right and wrong. That understands what true equality means. We’re headed to a throwdown where many think that those with the most ammo think they will win. Yes, a real live shooting war on the streets. The people rioting in Ferguson when the first riots broke out, didn’t take the hint when that they were seriously under-armed and over-confident.

The real crimes in this country are being driven by less than 200 extremely rich people who are buying elections. The real crimes are taking place daily on Wall Street where legalized theft is legitimizing the theft of trillions out of retirement funds, real estate mortgages, and through funny money pyramid schemes where the Federal Reserve keeps printing money- and rich people keep stockpiling it- while the dumb maybe-voters go out for a smack down by the cops in Ferguson.

Our prisons hold more black men, indited for stupid petty theft, that cost us billions to keep away from their families- while Wall Street invests in private prisons, private armies and lives in a world so far removed from Canfield Drive that you need NASA to build a rocket to bridge the gap.

Michael Brown and Darren Wilson aren’t even pawns in the game of chess that’s long been played out in this country. Big money could care less what happens to justice because they already own it. Didn’t you get the hint when OJ got off? The only person who’s managed to give them a scare was Bernie Madoff who made off with a bunch of stupid rich people’s money.

Injustice is happening all over this country, but the people rioting don’t know who their real enemy is.

Remember this is a country that once revolted over a tax on tea.

Ignorance is the enemy, and he won long ago.

note: I’ve been avoiding this and the WalMart shooting of John Crawford in Beavercreek for a while. I’ve been waiting to spend more time to write an analysis of what went wrong here- not in Ferguson. As I sat at dinner with a friend, watching the reading of the Grand Jury findings on a phone, in the Spaghetti Warehouse, the question came up- “what is the trigger for a revolution” and how far off it would be. Only history will know, because while it’s happening, it’s never that obvious.
This may not be my best writing- or the most coherent essay- but it’s what I’m thinking now- and it may evolve over time. I ask that you go easy on me- and stick to the ideas that you are having as this mess unfolds into the pages of the history books- or not. Many better people have died for a cause, the President just awarded the presidential freedom medal to the “Mississippi Burning” heroes, 50 years later.
I look forward to your thoughts.

The nadir of American “politics”?

This election, Nov. 4, 2014, may have been where America hit political rock bottom. At least I hope so. Estimates of $3.6 billion wasted on what amounted to an auction of elected office. Voters, disgusted with the lack of respectable and credible candidates stayed home for the most part. Those who voted often felt dirty.

If you need proof that those running this clown show have lost touch with reality, from this morning’s N.Y. Times:

“Barack Obama has our country in a ditch, and many of his lieutenants running for the Senate were right there with him,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee. “The punishment is going to be broad, and it’s going to be pretty serious.”

via Election Results: Republicans Win Senate Control With at Least 7 New Seats – NYTimes.com.

“The punishment” for serving our country? The punishment for trying to work in a system that’s been derailed by dirty money and gerrymandered districts? Where our government actually shut down because of the lack of the most basic skills critical to civilized society- compromise?

I was once chided by none other than former Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin for talking about politicians- when she corrected me with her definition of herself as an elected representative. When will our “elected representatives” start acting like representatives again? What happened to the statesman?

In the city of Dayton- less than 24,000 people voted- of the approximately 100,000 registered voters. Granted I believe the total to be inflated as much as 25,000- but that still says more than half stayed home.

As to our country being “in a ditch” and placing blame unilaterally on Democrats- I truly wonder what we were in when Barack Obama took office? The economy had just disintegrated thanks to Wall Street being run like a casino. We’re still at war, with zero end in sight- even though we still are pretending we’re not. And, while numbers of unemployed are low- we’ve taken so many people off the rolls- and accepted the fact that most workers are now woefully underemployed in sub-living wage hell, that our economy is nothing but a house of cards, ready to implode once again.

The stock market is near record highs- just waiting for a “correction” that will wipe trillions off our general net worth- and yet, the chairman of the Republican party is doing a happy dance with his new-found power.

For the first time in 22 years- the idea of running for office, to make a difference, turns my stomach. If this is the way the game will be played from here on out- it’s one that disgusts me.

If anyone who was elected yesterday, truly believes that it’s because of their skill and merit- other than perhaps Fred Strahorn and Jim Butler, who both faced hapless opposition, they should be ashamed of themselves.

We’re all losing when political office is bought- not won, when campaigns are about mud, not ability and when choices are almost always the lesser of two evils.

Why Dayton politics are like a game of hockey with bad referees

Saturday night I went to see the Dayton Demonz play a game of hockey at Hara Arena. Very early in the game an obvious icing call was screwed up and the faceoff was held in neutral ice instead of back in the defensive zone (for those of you who don’t understand hockey- bear with me, but the reason for the icing call is to keep the game moving- stopping the defending team from tossing the puck all the way down the ice every time they feel pressured). My friend and I were bewildered- the fans who know the game were bewildered, how does someone referee a professional hockey game and not know the most basic call in hockey?

But it got worse. A period in hockey is 20 minutes long of stop time. The purpose of referees is to keep the game moving, only blowing the whistle when something happens that gives a team an unfair advantage or tries to slow the action. Typically, without a whole lot of penalties, a period takes, even with time outs, less than 45 minutes. This game- the first period took over 70- and I seem to remember only one penalty being called.

Typically referees only talk, and are officially only allowed to talk to players wearing either a C or an A on their sweater (hockey jersey for the unindoctrinated) – they don’t talk to the bench or the coaches, unless giving the coach a warning or a penalty. These refs seemed to have never learned that part- talking to both benches and each other way more than is customary. As the players became more and more frustrated with bad calls- and missed calls, things got chippy on the ice. Predictions for a brawl or two were being made as the game continued to get out of hand.

Kinsella got a little pissy!!! #demonz #goalieprobs

A major fight in the second period got the fans going- where a Demonz player beat the living crap out of a much bigger opponent. The Federal League was supposed to be making a real effort at cutting down on the brawling this season. Apparently the refs didn’t get the memo- nor did they try to break it up. By the third, they gave the Demonz captain a 10-minute misconduct. The missed calls had the players making bad decisions left and right- not knowing what was going to fly or not fly. With about 10 minutes left to go in regulation, the Demonz goalie got beat on a good goal, and turned around and flipped the net over. This is an automatic penalty for either “unsportsmanlike conduct” or “delay of game.” No call. Nothing.

By the end of the game it was tied- with both teams having guys in the box. Overtime is 4 on 4 and five minutes of sudden death play. It’s well after 11 pm at this point- a full hour, to hour and a half later than the game should have been over. The Demonz captain came back to sit in the box- since as soon as the first whistle after his ten minutes was up- he could re-enter the game. The moment he re-enters another fight starts up- despite the Demonz having a man advantage at the time. A quick goal by the visitor ends the game and as the teams are heading off the ice a brawl breaks out- with one of the refs getting hit and going to his knees. A total failure of controlling the game- and a poor example of what the game of hockey is all about.

WTF does this have to do with politics in Dayton you may rightly ask? Has Esrati lost it?

The beauty of hockey is that the rules are pretty simple, and everyone who plays the game understands them. While there are some nuances that it takes a while to learn, and some penalties are judgment calls- good referees and good players know that things usually have a way of balancing out, and that when the rules are followed- the game works.

In Dayton, our political players have bent the rules, ignored the rules and lied about the rules for so long, the game no longer resembles the game at all. It’s how we end up with a building owned by the people, being the leading tax scofflaw downtown. (The Port Authority is a public slush fund for building buildings for people who don’t like to pay their way- examples being the headquarters for MCSi- which is now the headquarters for Mead School Supplies, the parking garage for the former Relizon/WorkFlow One/Deloitte/CareSource building.

Our politicians are so confused at whon they report to, they run for office because they are told to, even though they have no real interest to continue, and money is thrown their way. Instead of spending our money on public safety and infrastructure- we funnel into pseudo-government organizations like CityWide Development, the Downtown Dayton Partnership and the Dayton Development Coalition where our money gets handed out like candy to congressmen’s wives’ firms on a no-bid contract.

We’ve forgotten what our objectives are, what the rules are and how to keep score properly. It’s a total farce at the game of government, just as was the “hockey game” on Saturday night.

Lucky for hockey fans, there are referees and league officials who will review that game and sort things out.

For dealing with Dayton’s clusterduck of a game, you only have me and my blog-  since the paper’s publisher is in bed with the Dayton Development Coalition and the owners of the media love the money from the auctions we call elections.

Good luck voting tomorrow. Even if you do the right thing, the refs in charge won’t get the score right.

 

Time to change the national anthem and chuck the constitution: Police militarization

Photo by Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

Ferguson MO militarized police photo- Whitney Curtis for The New York Times

It’s this photo that makes my stomach turn. This is not a police force to “Serve and protect”- but a police force to deny free speech, the right to peaceably assemble and to protest.

We are no longer the home of the brave and land of the free.

When gun nuts talk about needing to own an assault rifle, because they are afraid of the government overstepping its bounds, they now have the poster photo to prove the crazies are right.

Let me count the ways that this is wrong. The idiot on the top of the “Urban Assault Vehicle” is actively sighting a target. If he had a legitimate reason to do this, all those “riot police” should be on the deck- with their weapons pointed at an imminent threat. If anyone else held a fully automatic assault rifle like that, they would be shot by the police with the excuse that they were inciting panic. In Beavercreek Ohio, you can get killed for talking on a cell phone with a BB gun in a Walmart- this is an order of magnitude worse.

The mismatched uniforms- with desert boots and woodland camouflage also make these “police officers” look more like extras on a low-budget Hollywood war movie. Why wear BDU’s at all? Are they police- or soldiers? Police officers work for us- have pride in their community, and represent us- soldiers are here to repress us. The moment you don a military uniform, you are no longer serving and protecting me, at least that’s the way this former soldier sees it.

No matter how much police forces train to use this gear, it’s not suited for police work. Good cops know their first and most effective tool, is talking to people, trying to establish rapport and common ground. Note to cops: the moment you don your GI Joe gear you throw all that “one of us rapport” out the window. If we really need an MRAP on the scene, you’d do better to let it be the National Guard in it, because after the shit storm is over, they go home outside the community- and you, well, you’ve permanently distanced yourself by actively taking arms against our citizenry.

SWAT was a bad TV show- that forever changed the idea of what cops should and shouldn’t do. It probably did as much or more damage to the idea of “community based policing” than Jack Bauer on 24 did to interrogation techniques. No, physical torture doesn’t get you good intel or accurate intel- it just makes you guilty of war crimes. Want a lesson in the Geneva Convention- ask Senator John McCain, don’t ask “John McClane”- the cop character in the Die Hard movies which also distorted the reality of what happens when most people shoot other people- even highly trained people shooting other people. The reality is, most cops don’t shoot very often, and this kind of BS isn’t why they got into policing. Any chief who orders his officers to go out with automatic weapons and point them as if to shoot- should be relieved of command.

For those who need a refresher- the United States is probably the only country that glorifies a war battle in its national anthem, and not even the revolutionary war, but the war of 1812. We seem to still be confused as to what a “land of the free and the home of the brave” means. Are we now brave, to walk in protest, facing our fellow countrymen armed to the teeth, to protect our freedoms which have been slipping away from us since September 11, 2001?

The Constitution, starts with this preamble. Read it. Then look at the photo above. Do the two go together?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Habeas Corpus- the right not to be be unlawfully detained, and to have a judge and jury determine your fate:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

When police show up with the firepower to go to war, our collective rights are being stripped from us. Those which are guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the Constitution).

They read in brief (from this post)

  1. Freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition.
  2. Right to bear arms.
  3. Right not to quarter soldiers.
  4. Freedom from unnecessary search or seizure.
  5. Due process of laws.
  6. The right to a speedy trial.
  7. The right to a trial by jury.
  8. No cruel or unusual punishment.
  9. Constitutional rights do not deny other rights.
  10. States rights

Look again at the photo above. The Third amendment specifically applies to this-

“the Third Amendment subordinates military authority to civilian control and safeguards against abuses that can be perpetrated by standing armies and professional soldiers.” via The legal dictionary/free dictionary.

Do those cops look like cops, or professional soldiers to you? They do to me.

We have a constitutional law expert as our president. Now is not the time for him to be on vacation. What is happening in Ferguson MO is a danger to the state of our union, and demands his attention. It’s time for a come-to-Jesus meeting about police militarization, because if this is how my police serve and protect, I say they are doing neither.

Right after I posted this- Butler Township Trustee Nick Brusky tweeted the following: