Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?

Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?

It’s remarkable, you know. I see patterns other people don’t and there are people who know me and think I’m too full of hyperbole to pay attention. Even when I’m right. Continue reading “Aftermath (Part 10): Are we really so blind we can’t see?”

Racisim: It’s baKkKed in…

Racisim: It’s baKkKed in…

This post has been brewing since the end of May, but I didn’t have the words until last night. Not until I sat through BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s new Joint. Continue reading “Racisim: It’s baKkKed in…”

Solidarity…

Solidarity…

I don’t think it’s a secret (at least not if you’ve kept up with my writing) that I am ethnically Jewish. In fact, though I don’t observe the faith of my ancestors, I am quite proud of my heritage as an Ashkenazi Jew. Continue reading “Solidarity…”

Suspicion, Confirmation, Consequences

Suspicion, Confirmation, Consequences

Sometimes the articles I write come straight from gut instinct. This isn’t one of those posts. Continue reading “Suspicion, Confirmation, Consequences”

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

Connecting the Dots, Part 8…

When you were a kid, did you ever read Dr. Seuss’ book The Sneetches and Other Stories? You know the one I’m talking about. Continue reading “Connecting the Dots, Part 8…”

Changes…

Changes…

And these children
That you spit on
As they try to change their world
Are immune from your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through…

–David Bowie

A little under two years ago, I wrote this post in reaction to Philando Castile’s murder:

Storm’s here.

In that time, nothing changed, until last February, kicked off when a series of white males took up arms against their social circle and inspired a movement in the aftermath of their destruction. Except, that’s not the whole picture.

Compare and contrast.

Four articles from The Guardian, a somewhat left-leaning source with roots in the United Kingdom:

1. Florida shooting: suspect escaped scene by hiding among students as they fled
Nikolas Cruz, 19, charged with 17 counts of murder as officials confirm the AR-15 rifle used to commit massacre was purchased legally

(Incident: February 14, 2018. Dead: 17, injured: 17)

2. Austin bomb suspect left video ‘confession’ before he died
Police say footage portrays ‘a very challenged young man,’ but nothing to show he was motivated by hate

(Incidents: March 2-20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 5)

3.  ‘They executed him’: police killing of Stephon Clark leaves family shattered
A young, unarmed black man was shot 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard. Now his brother is fighting through grief to demand justice

(Incident: March 18, 2018. Dead: 1)

4. Maryland student who shot classmate dead killed himself, officials say
Austin Rollins, 17, fired a fatal shot to his head just as he encountered the school resource officer at Great Mills high school

(Incident: March 20, 2018. Dead: 2, injured: 1)

Wait. Did I say four? I meant five.

5. Alton Sterling shooting: two police officers will not be charged with any crime
Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II won’t be charged for incident that occured [sic] in July of 2016 that sparked unrest throughout Baton Rouge

(Incident: July 7, 2016. Dead: 1)

Two of these incidents are not like the others. In fact, the victims in those two incidents stand in stark contrast to the others, even though they are connected by the way in which they died. And in how the victims were described. And in the accountability of those who perpetrated their murders.

On March 22nd, I wrote this piece, after the Associated Press put out a horrendous article describing the Great Mills murderer as a “lovesick teen.” The phrase AP used seemed completely tone deaf, wholly inappropriate given the reality that, according to the Violence Policy Center, 11 murder-suicides happen every week, and that 9 out of 10 murderers use a gun.

As the article above shows, the Resource Officer originally credited with stopping the murderer actually hit him in the hand, and that the kid died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The hand.

Think about that.

In contrast, Stephon Clark was shot twenty times in his own backyard, murdered in cold blood, and the only thing the cops could find after the dust settled was a cellphone. And nobody could explain why they had to turn off their body cameras.

When Alton Sterling was shot, he did have a gun on him. And it shouldn’t have mattered. After all, Louisiana is an Open-Carry state, and Sterling was within his legal 2A right to possess and carry the gun.

According to an eyewitness report from his friend inside the store, near where Sterling was murdered, the gun was in his waistband, not in his hands.

What Sterling and Clark, and Castile, and Brown, and all the others have in common is an abundance of melanin, which most of the cops and all of the civilian murderers listed above, lack.

People of color have been targets since the first of the slave ships landed on these shores. And cops have proven that lynching isn’t necessary as long as they feel free to pump lead into any individual they view as a threat, regardless of reality.

Being born with dark skin isn’t inherently threatening unless one wants an excuse to pump the entire contents of a gun clip into a human being and call him a target, to exercise summary justice outside of the legal system, to shut down any possibility of accusations of police brutality or corruption.

Any excuse will do, regardless of whether the victim’s legal and civil rights say otherwise.

I’ve been writing about racism since the first few posts I wrote in this blog, way back in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the Bush family turned a blind eye to reality and cost the lives of almost 1,500 people and displaced a huge number of poor families, many of color, in New Orleans.

#BlackLivesMatter, which started as a hashtag on social media,  came into existence in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s acquittal finally drew attention to the massive disparity between being black and being white in America.

But not enough. Not nearly enough.

No, it took a major tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a privileged part of Florida’s Broward County, to focus the movement like a laser. These students are articulate, driven, privileged kids. They have finally, firmly, seized that banner of truth and anger and sadness, raised it high, and reached out to their siblings across the country who have been targets far longer.

Inclusive, determined, driven by force of will, these kids who founded the March For Our Lives movement, who have declared #NeverAgain in places across the country, are defining the future in their terms.

Now that they’re coming of age, their movement looks a lot like the Vietnam War protests of our past. And no wonder.

We ARE at war.

We are deep into Civil War, and we have no idea where it will lead, but the children…OUR children…have declared in more than a million clear, strong voices of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and cultures, that #EnoughIsEnough.

Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and their friends speak not just for the students at MSD, but for kids across the country, and they will sit in silence no longer.

It’s no surprise that they have welcomed their siblings of color, who are considered “at-risk” merely for existing. After all, they’re theatre kids. They understand diversity in ways only some of us fully understand.

In a time and place where our people of color are maimed or killed in disproportionate numbers, simply because they’re not white, these kids see only one thing: Themselves.

In our gun-saturated society, there’s a reckoning coming. It’s coming at the ballot box this year.

This is just the start.

May these children succeed where we have failed, in the ten years since the District of Columbia v. Heller  decision, to force change. I only wish David Bowie was still here to see it.

David Bowie – Changes (Olympia)

Language means something…

Language means something…

My friend on Facebook says: “This kid was a domestic abuser. His girlfriend had broken up with him, so he SHOT HER. This headline is BS.”

Boy, howdy, is it ever. Entitled asshole with access to deadly weapons. But this isn’t the first time I’ve had trouble with headlines.

What headline?

From the Associated Press via all sorts of media outlets, but notably the New York Times earlier this afternoon:

Police: Maryland School Shooter Apparently Was Lovesick Teen

Here’s a link to the original article, via Time.com, because the New York Times has updated the title and removed the above (which I suspect was a wise move on their editor’s part): Maryland High School Shooter Was Lovesick Teen, Police Say.

But that’s not all:

Select articles from multiple sources using the word “lovesick”

This afternoon, as reactions to the article’s original title lit up my FB feed, a different friend asked a question that generated the hottest post I’ve had on my wall in a long time. The post is here. It’s still active.

This article is the result of that conversation, and so here’s my take on it. Buckle up.

The cops and the press have GOT to stop painting these kids as forlorn and pitiful. If the kid had been any better at aiming, or if he’d had access to anything more deadly than Daddy’s Glock, this would have been much more than attempted murder / suicide with collateral damage.

Just stop it.

It’s a bullshit line. Imagine the headline if this wasn’t a teen: “Heartbroken man shoots ex-girlfriend and then himself.” The only difference is the age of this entitled little shit.

First off: This is domestic abuse taken to its extreme conclusion. Don’t know what I mean? Here are several places to read up:

Second, does premeditated murder get a pass because of arbitrary chronological age?

Kids as young as 16 are allowed to operate vehicles in Maryland. And while I loathe the false gun/car dichotomy, in this case it proves a point.

I was a lot younger than Austin Rollins when my dad took me to the shooting range the first time. Rollins couldn’t buy the gun he used on his own. If you’re under 21 in Maryland, it’s illegal to buy a gun like that anywhere. Instead, he used a deadly weapon that belonged to his dad when he exacted punishment on his ex-girlfriend for leaving him.

Who should be held responsible? The kid holding the weapon or the parent who bought it and left it accessible? Are the parents punished enough by losing their child? We still don’t know whether Rollins took his own life or the Deputy on the scene did the job, and now we will never know the complete motivation for the incident, because that died with Rollins.

See, I come at this from two directions: I have kids in high school who could be likely targets of this sort of abuse. I also have a brain that still thinks I’m only a couple of years removed from high school myself. Because of these things, I harbor an overwhelming level of empathy with the kids who are the targets of these violent offenders.

Rochester isn’t a small town, but it had plenty of places for gun shopping when I was a kid, and I can still smell the gunpowder and oil inside the last gun shop I visited with my dad. His collection included two .22s and a repro Kentucky musket for which he cast his own ammo. He had other guns that were higher caliber, which hurt to shoot. The .22 rifle was sweet, though. And I could hit the center of the target with it when I still had access to it. I’m still here. I haven’t shot anyone.

No, it’s not about the guns or the location of the individuals in question. And I’m sorry, but I have no stomach for any of this crap. I’ve seen more eyerolling article titles in the last three weeks because cops can’t figure out the motives for the Parkland shooter, or the serial bomber, or the kid down in St. Mary’s County. Why?

I have a guess: I think it’s because they’re afraid if they give any credence to the possibility that easy access to guns makes these incidents possible, they’ll get a raft of shit from the gun lobby and all those “my guns are legal so why hurt me” people who love the NRA, and you know what? They’re probably right. We can’t admit we have a problem or we’ll be forced to do something about it. And so we go another day or two, or maybe a week, and Great Mills will be old news as we turn to the next entitled asshole with access to weapons and an axe to grind.

I am truly sick to death of all this soft pedaling of white violence. All these armed snowflakes are a lot more dangerous to our society because of this crap language. We have GOT to stop protecting people just because they have a melanin deficit. Call them what they are and stop finding excuses for why we couldn’t see it coming.

Let me tell you: I listened to the hateful rhetoric against members of the Obama administration while I sat in the bleachers during a rodeo way back in 2011, in Logan, UT (with my kids in earshot). I watched a couple of guys get two wheels off the ground in their pickup as they exhibited road rage against my liberal bumper stickered car outside of Cheyenne during that same trip. And that was years ago, before Sandy Hook even happened. Years before the current administration in the White House that gives white violence a pass.

I can tell you exactly what this sounds like.

We are broken.

“But if he’d had a knife…”

Sure, Rollins could still have tried to kill his girlfriend, but it’s also possible that he might also still be alive and she might not be fighting for her life right now. Yes, it would still have been violence, but it’s far less likely that it would have been fatal.

Bottom line: The police need to change their methods and their language.

Pretending that the motive for violence is unclear–that we have no idea why a kid would do such a thing–has the effect of giving violence against women a pass. It’s the same willful ignorance that lets people describe a domestic terrorist who plants serial bombs as a troubled youth.

I’m talking about language. When we soft pedal with words like “lovesick teen” and then can’t figure out that a kid is dangerously close to murder, is it because we give kids the benefit of the doubt or because we soften the language? How is it that Trayvon Martin was a thug but these kids were just misunderstood?

The Parkland murderer was after his girlfriend and chose Valentine’s Day on purpose. And now 17 kids are dead.

When the discussion is “walk up” instead of “walk out” and women are told to be nice because otherwise they could be dead? Why is a stellar black musician with a bright future dead, blown up?   Police can’t imagine. Why is a black man shot dead in his own backyard for holding a cellphone? We have no idea. That’s what I’m talking about here. Body cameras won’t fix this.

The police can’t imagine why Rollins would do something like this? So why can all the women on the aforementioned thread come up with a reason?

You’d better believe if these kids were anything but white, there’d be different language in use and we’d be in a state of emergency trying to figure out how to get the kids and their guns off the street.

“Shooter.” Too subtle. Too polite. Let’s use a new word: Murderer. That’s what these kids are.

These kids assassinate the people they think have hurt them. The culture in which they live gives them access to the tools they use and tacit permission to use them at will by making them available and telling them they’re entitled to whatever they want. And god forbid we should try to make it harder for them to get access, or to hold their adults responsible for the aftermath.

We’re not talking about a temper tantrum. We’re talking about death.

When men stop solving their relationship problems with gunpowder, talk to me.

Connecting the Dots, Part 7…

Connecting the Dots, Part 7…

There’s a benefit to following folks I’ve never met anywhere else but FB. Occasionally, someone shows me a bit of the Internet that I’ve missed before, and because it flew under the radar, I didn’t have it available to draw connections.

Today, someone revealed a tiny tip of a much larger iceberg, and now I’ve got the first Dots post in almost seven months.

This could have been an Aftermath post, but it’s not, because it’s a train wreck in progress and it’s likely already too late to stop it from taking our country down.

It annoys me that people still have the guts to complain about Hillary Clinton, who still think she just made things up when she said there was a vast Right Wing conspiracy. That’s where the first Dots post derived, and this is actually no different.

I woke up this morning to a typical political argument on FB between a handful of people who, like the characters in Into the Woods singing about whose fault it was that the Giant “Trump” was ruining their lives, want to assign blame over how we got here.

Sondheim is a musical genius. The number “Your Fault” in Act Two is a perfect illustration of that argument I walked into this morning, and others I’ve seen since Trump has blossomed into the full blown conman cum tin pot dictator he’s always wanted to be.

Don’t know the show? Here’s the Disney version. You might recognize a couple of the faces here. Or not:

But see, that’s why I blog. Because it helps me collect my thoughts so that the next time I wander into one of these He Said/She Said/They Said arguments, I have the ability to narrow down the argument to a single point.

In a lot of ways, I fulfill that role of the Witch: Pragmatic to a fault, trying too hard to protect the thing she loves, afraid of what will happen if she loses control of the situation. I relate to that character far more than I should. And yet…

Tonight I discovered that I missed something really REALLY important about the 2010 election that other folks having a similar argument just pointed out to me. The starting point is here, in a source I only sort of like, because Salon often reproduces other people’s articles without attribution or linking to the original source.

I try very hard not to plagiarize, and I want to give credit where credit is due. I’m also keenly aware that this medium is Orwell’s Memory Hole.

In the time it took for the Salon article to hit, the source of its postulations has already vanished. Fortunately, though, there are other sources, so I’ll post the article and then I’ll follow the rest of the leads.

And never fear: I have local copies of the things I think matter, and I’ve already archived some of the site material as well, because sooner or later the folks who started this will make it disappear again, as if it never happened. Because that’s what the Ministry of Truth is all about.

It starts here:

Salon: How the Republicans rigged Congress — new documents reveal an untold story

The title is misleading (as is a lot of what Salon publishes, but that’s a different subject). Fact is, someone FINALLY noticed that the Republicans laid the roadmap (or rather REDMAP) out a long time ago.

I was just as clueless about what happened in 2010 as the next Democrat, after President Obama won in 2008. I was THRILLED to see the back side of President Bush. And I was busy with my kids, trying to stay afloat with a part-time job while I looked for something full time in a truly awful job market, living in a house that was upside down on it’s mortgage.

Distracted. Missed the details, didn’t look where I needed to look, and then BANG! New congress, Republican sweep, so many Red States and Tea Party EVERYTHING. I started paying attention, but I still wasn’t looking where I needed to look.

So when today’s Politico post dropped, I spent an hour poking around trying to locate the offending PowerPoint that showed us everything we need to know. And I got…nowhere.

The link to that PowerPoint is gone.

But…but…that’s not the end of the story.

The analysis I just finished aggregates the empirical data that shows how well the plan worked. It gives an insight into WHY the polls were wrong, and it proves out what the GOP already know.

They’re counting on low Democratic voter turnout this year. Folks are looking at Doug Jones like he’s the Blue Messiah and I can’t begin to tell you how dangerous that narrative is, because it’s based on a LIE.

Let’s back up for a moment, though.

This site seems innocent enough. It’s ancient news, in fact. http://www.redistrictingmajorityproject.com/.

According to the site’s About page:

What is redistricting and why does it matter?
At the conclusion of the 2010 national census, congressional seats will be reapportioned to each state. The states with a shrinking population will lose congressional seats and states with a population boom will gain seats. A massive effort to redraw state legislative and congressional lines will take place according to each state’s laws. The party controlling that effort controls the drawing of the maps – shaping the political landscape for the next 10 years. In 38 states, governors and state legislators play a determining role in the redistricting process.

What is REDMAP?
REDMAP (REDistricting Majority Project) is a program of the RSLC dedicated to winning state legislative seats that will have a critical impact on congressional redistricting in 2011.

How can REDMAP succeed?
REDMAP succeeds with your help. Only by staying up-to-date on the latest news, and engaging your friends and family about the importance of our effort, can we succeed.

How can I help?
REDMAP is a grassroots effort. We are funded solely through contributions from commonsense conservatives throughout the country – and we rely on grassroots conservatives as our best means of alerting fellow conservatives across the country to our efforts.

Grassroots my ass.

The Tea Party started out as a Grassroots organization, until the Koch brothers took it over and helped sweep in the ultra conservative Freedom Party Republicans in office today. And now Rand Paul, one of its founders, is bound and determined to shut down government rather than sign off on a budget bill that addresses all sorts of long term issues.

NY Times: Government Shutdown Looms as Rand Paul Protests Budget Deal

So really, HOW DID WE GET HERE?

I mean, I’ve laid out a lot of the groundwork for how we got to the mess we’re in, but I mean the GOP majority that has us so screwed we can’t actually produce a budget, and even if we could, would make it impossible to balance without taking a hacksaw to what’s left of our shredded safety net.

Well, there’s a clue right here. It came out before the end of the Primary season, and folks might have noticed, but like I said, a lot of us were distracted with trying to find work and keep our houses, and we weren’t spending a lot of time idly reading articles on an election process that would clearly take care of itself.

After all, we had our first African American president! What could possibly go wrong?

Politico: GOP could gain redistricting powers

And

New Yorker Magazine: State for Sale A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012’s top battlegrounds.

These reporters were on to something, but nobody wanted to listen because we couldn’t lose. Why worry when we’d just waste our time. Of COURSE we’d keep all those seats.

Only…that’s not what happened, was it?

No.

Why?

Because the moment President Obama took his first oath of office, the Republican billionaires knew they had to stop the progress Democrats made, the movement President Obama inspired, and the progress toward a more liberal landscape. And that’s when REDMAP was born.

Here’s what it looked like, in July of 2015, one month after Trump declared his candidacy,

The following June, just as the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence started to heat up for both Clinton (publicly) and Trump (in silence), New Yorker Magazine featured a story that highlighted David Daley’s book “Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy” (Liveright).

Daley tried to tell us, but we were too busy making fun of Trump and being horrified that Cruz might win, we didn’t pay attention then, either.

Little by little, piece by piece, as the GOP realized Trump was the key to everything, they all lined up behind the grifter, the demagogue of Mar-a-Lago whose failed businesses let him deduct almost a BILLION dollars in bankruptcy claims, screwing every contractor he encountered, and seated him at the desk in the Oval Office.

Hindsight, as they say, is crystal clear. We got here because we failed to connect enough of the dots early enough in the process to stop this grassroots takeover. Like a virus, the GOP have sucked the Blue out of most of the US. There are islands, pockets of liberalism, and they’ve all been neatly tied up with a big red bow, designed to ensure that those seats will never turn blue again, no matter how many angry Democrats turn out.

There is no guarantee the GOP will run candidates like Roy Moore. There’s no guarantee that a million voters will blow off the Midterm elections because they hate all the candidates.

On the contrary, the majority of Republicans will seem to be almost okay, just enough different from the Democrats that those people who adore false equivalency will tell themselves again that it makes no difference, and they’ll vote for the guy at the top of the ballot, because he’s already got the seat and what could possibly go wrong?

It’ll be that way all the way down the ticket. Just look at what happened in Virginia. With the race down to the very last legitimate ballots, the GOP were able to pull out that one last ballot, put two names inside film canisters, and draw lots. That’s where we are today. An entire state legislature decided on a single solitary ballot. And we have people like Ed Gillespie to thank for this.

The Washington Post: Gillespie took partisan mapmaking to a new level. Try turning that into a bumper sticker.

Here’s what the goal is, for 2020. Feel free to drag that line to the left and right, to see what the GOP expects the landscape to look like after 2018. Go ahead. Check it out. It’s what I’m predicting will happen.

https://rslc.gop/map-center/

Democrats still think we can play by the rules. Greens think their high moral ground will protect and insulate them from the damage this country has already suffered and will continue to suffer under Republican rule.

They don’t understand that our country’s election process has become a game of political Calvinball, where the rules change from moment to moment, to suit the needs of the GOP.

If we keep having these blame-storming arguments that revolve around purity tests, we’ll be the rest of the way back to the Gilded age, with all the gains after 1900 just plain gone.

Back to the days of billionaire robber barons, landed gentry, slavery, and feudalism.

You think we’re there now? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

Theme: Elation by Kaira.