My Castile post…

After some recent Facebook conversations with a few people I’ve decided to bundle all my thoughts through all my comments and replies into one concise post.  Although most of what I say here will be my thoughts about systematic racism in our justice system in general, there will be a good focus on Castile.

The question/concern came up about a police officer’s right to protect their self and their duty to protect the public.  This was also coupled with the argument of us civilians will never fully understand/appreciate the positions that police officers get put in:

Police officers who kill unarmed people are not protecting the public. What is the point of all that training as a police officer if you’re just going to kill an unarmed person? What is the point of carrying a taser if you’re going to kill an unarmed person? Rare is it the crime is worth the death.  A lot of this boils down to having better police training.  This could be de-escalation training, training in non-lethal methods of restraint, better conditioning of officers, etc.  The main point would be to take the focus off the firearm and to turn the firearm into more of a last resort than a first option.

Police officers do get put in situations you and I will hopefully never face. Thing is, they know that going into the job. Police officers are expected to be able to operate under stress and duress. I am a teacher, I am expected to operate under stress and duress. If a child cusses me out and I cussed him or her out in return, I wouldn’t keep my job. That comes with the territory. An officer needs to be able to keep a level head when the heat is on, period. An officer shouldn’t have a light trigger finger that goes off so quickly, as in the Castile case.  Again, much of this can be fixed via better and more thorough training of officers.

With Castile, there was nothing threatening or intimidating about a man informing an officer that he was legally carrying a firearm. The officer asked him for his ID, which he then reached for. I’ve seen the video. It is disgusting.  It is so disgusting that I won’t even link it to this blog.  If you truly feel the need to view it, please do, however.  Keep in mind that you are watching a man die, however.  Nothing in Castile’s voice or demeanor appears to be threatening in the officer’s dashcam. Even after the shooting, Castile’s girlfriend remains cool, calm, and collect and still refers to the officer as “sir”.

For Yanez to go from 0-60 in literally half a second is absolutely disgusting. Yanez has no right to wear that badge. He used absolutely none of his training and recklessly fired multiple bullets into a car with at minimum two civilians, one of which was a young girl. There were bullet holes in the back seat of that vehicle, where that small girl was. Even if you firmly feel that Castile was a threat, there is no justification for emptying a firearm recklessly into a vehicle with two innocent lives, one a woman and the other a child. That child is never going to know what a “normal” life is thanks to Officer Yanez. That child had to watch a father figure be gunned down by somebody who was suppose to protect her. That is just disgusting and there is zero justification for it.

Another argument brought up was the Milwaukee case, where a black officer shot an unarmed black man:

Yes, sometimes a black officer shoots an unarmed black man. It isn’t okay, but to try and compare that case to the many cases of white officers killing unarmed black men and boys for selling cigarettes, playing with a toy gun, walking towards them, walking away from them, or even being pinned to the god damn ground is just perverse.  The larger picture shows that black males are targeted by ANY law enforcement at a much higher rate.

Even our court system does the same. Statistically, black males serve more time or have harsher punishments than their white male counterparts for the same damn crime. Doesn’t matter if its a black judge, white judge, female judge, etc.

Point is, to try and focus on just one or two cases isn’t doing justice to the larger picture.  Yes, we focus on Castile, Rice, Garner, Crawford III, etc. despite being just one case because ultimately those cases are a part of the larger picture of systematic racism.  There isn’t a system of systematic racism towards whites in this country.  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about being called a cracker?  When was the last time you heard a white man complain about not being able to get a cab?  When was the last time you heard about a white man being followed by a police officer for 5 blocks while out on a jog?  You just don’t hear it, but this is something that black people live with every day of their lives.  You might be sick of hearing about it.  You might be sick of seeing Black Lives Matter stuff around your city or social media.  If you’re so sick of hearing about it, imagine how sick some people are of living it?

The marijuana aspect gets brought up a lot, too:

First off, how would Yanez immediately know that Castile had smoked marijuana within the last 30 days?  If you smoke marijuana, it can still be detected in your system, like it was with Castile, up to 30 days afterwards.  This has been one of the largest defenses of this.  This was even used as a defense to my asking why the NRA doesn’t care about Castile’s 2nd amendment right, as he was legally carrying a firearm in an open carry state.  He was following the law.  Somebody’s rebuttal was, “if under the influence you cannot legally carry.”  Okay, that’s fine.  I’ve still seen the NRA protect the 2nd amendment rights of others, despite being under the influence.  You see pictures and videos of gun toting white guys at pro-gun/NRA rallies, beer in hand, gun in tow.  This has never been an issue.  With John Crawford III he was gunned down in a Walmart for carrying a bb gun he intended on purchasing.  Nothing illegal here but where was the NRA?

Back to marijuana.  Even if Castile had been under the influence at the time, Yanez has no way of assessing that.  To my knowledge there was no visible marijuana nor was there a smell of marijuana in the car.  Where was the perceived threat?  Nothing in Yanez’s demeanor says he felt threatened up until about 3 seconds before he starts shooting into a vehicle with innocent lives present.  Even if Castile had a joint hanging from his mouth, does this still justify the response from officer Yanez?  Castile was still being honest and informing the officer he had a legal permit to carry/had a gun in the car.  He wasn’t making any threats and was complying with Yanez’s order of producing an ID/insurance, but Yanez still shot him.

Please feel free to comment to this post or share it.  I would love to engage in some discussion if anybody has any additional points they’d like to bring up.

 

On the Paris Climate Agreement and why it is important to the USA…

So obviously the big news that we’re barely hearing about *cough* thanks covfefe *cough* is the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement.  This puts us on a grand list of countries that include Nicaragua and Syria.  Actually, scratch that, that put on on a list of countries that only include Nicaragua and Syria.

The main argument that Donald Trump has given about this agreement is that it is bad for the U.S. economy and bad for U.S. jobs, and also that the rest of the world essentially conspired against the U.S. in creating this deal to make us less competitive.  Obviously both of these are vastly incorrect, but Donald Trump will never admit to being wrong, less alone to making a simple typo.

For the sake of  you climate deniers, I am not going to even broach the subject of climate change.  If you’re still arrogant [or do I mean ignorant?] enough to believe that, then nothing I, nor any expert on the subject, can change your mind, therefore I’ll leave it firmly in the sand.

Let’s look at U.S. jobs, first, shall we?  Donald Trump & Co. try to tell us that we’re destroying the coal industry and that we’re putting coal workers out of work.  While I am not necessarily an expert in this area, I do know that coal industry isn’t in dire straights.  Coal is obviously on the decline, however, because newer, more efficient, and cleaner options are available.  Also, coal mines are becoming harder to operate, as we do believe in workers safety, therefore we’re not going to pack coal carts to the max with children and men and literally work them to death.  Some quick coal statistics can be found here and here.  So yes, the coal industry is on a slight decline.

When you look at just the coal industry, one can make an argument that jobs are being destroyed.  When you look at the U.S. job market on a macro scale, however, there is a different picture being painted for us.  What boggles me about Republicans, is how clean energy isn’t supported by their agenda.  Clean energy is one of the largest growing job creators in this nation, and truly, around the world.  Clean energy boosts the manufacturing industry.  When you are creating more solar panels, more windmills, and more hydro-electric dams (of which I am more against due to their ecological impact on the area, but again, staying out of the nature side of things here) then you obviously need manufactures for those.  If the U.S. continues to lag behind in the clean energy push, then so, too, will our manufacturers.  This will ultimately put other countries ahead of us in this game.  Later on, when we finally decide to get into the clean energy game, it’ll be harder and more expensive to manufacture these right here in the U.S., as the top clean energy manufacturers will already be established abroad.  This is obviously something that goes against a huge Trump/Republican agenda item.  Winning clean energy keeps manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A.

Sticking with jobs, there are more than just manufacturing jobs to be had here!  Engineering jobs, those upper-middle class jobs, will also soar.  With a “new” energy market there is more room for innovation.  We’ve innovated coal/gas for hundreds of years.  Much of the top technology in these fields are already here.  With solar and wind power, however, we are still creating newer and more efficient ways to generate power.  If we as a nation lag behind here, other nations will fill those gaps.  We will no longer be competitive in the world of engineering, as we fall behind in innovation.

Donald Trump loves to talk about buying American steel.  He thinks that Chinese steel is crap and that the U.S. should ultimately shut down on any steel imports from China and other countries.  Clean energy would be a great way to boost the American steel market.  Obviously as you create more windmills and solar panels, you need steel in this process.  Energy independence can also go hand-in-hand with being independent in our resource production for this.  We can keep all steel, copper, aluminum, silica, etc. production right here in the U.S.A.  This again creates jobs, boosts our markets, and keeps that money here, as opposed to overseas.  (I’ll keep away from a rant about steel magnates putting away their profits in overseas banks, again, for the sake of keeping to the point.)

Continuing with jobs; who is going to construct and set-up all of these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will monitor the new power grids created by these wind generators and solar panels?  More American jobs!  Who will go out and repair and maintain these structures?  More American jobs!  Republicans who are all about creating and building American should be signed up on this, one would think.

So, I think jobs have been fairly well covered here.  How else can clean energy benefit the U.S.?  Well, if we create our power right here in the U.S.A., that means we are less dependent on foreign markets.  This is another thing Donald Trump keeps preaching to us.  He wants Chinese influence gone!  He wants Middle Eastern influence gone!  Here’s the thing though, we can’t do that without clean energy.  Even if we’re producing tons of oil, coal, and natural gas, prices are still highly dependent on the global market.  If there is a huge coal and oil demand surge in China, our prices increase.  If there is unrest in oil rich areas of the Middle East, our prices increase.  With clean energy, that helps us cut the cord of being governed by foreign powers with our prices.  As long as the sun keeps shining and the wind keeps blowing we will have steadier energy costs here in the U.S.

This leads me to my last point, the consumer.  The Republican Party champions their own selves as the savior of the common man.  Donald Trump says he cares about the lower and the middle class and helping them.  Clean energy does this!  If energy costs are lowered and less dependent on foreign powers, that cost can also be passed along to the consumer.  Also, having a steadier market and steadier prices helps the consumer.  Energy savings for Joe and Jane to keep their A/C running, as well as energy savings for the big store down the street ultimately create a whole lot of winning for all parties  involved.  So much win with such a simple idea.

Trump surrogates are telling us that we needed to get out of the Paris agreement because this was other countries imposing restrictions on the U.S.  This is a flat-out lie.  The Paris deal was largely created by the U.S. and was a mass collaboration from various global powers.  Why would the U.S. author and create our own handcuffs and give them to our competitors?

Regardless of whether you believe in or agree with climate change isn’t a factor.  The truth is that clean energy and ultimately true energy independence can be one of the biggest booms to the U.S. since the Industrial Revolution.  The only question here ultimate is do we want to be a global leader in this sector, or do we want to be left in the dust…

 

I am embarrassed to be an American…

…but I want America to be better and truly great again.

Many of those who know me, know that I don’t hide the fact that I am an atheist.  Despite this, I still consider myself to be a man of high moral standing.  I don’t steal, murder, rape, etc. not because I fear some punishment of burning in hell, but rather because I just plain know that this is wrong to do.  Morality, as we see it today, is secular in origin.  Hundreds of years ago, with societies living by biblical law, it was perfectly legal to sell you daughter, buy a human being, and stone somebody to death for premarital sex.  Secularism and godlessness told us that was wrong, despite it still being in the Bible.

Moving on to the point of why I am so ashamed of being an American, and trying to leave Donald Trump out of this as best as I can, however.  In a special election in Montana there were two candidates.  One candidate was a Democrat with a clean criminal record, the other candidate has a very recent assault charge filed against him.  Guess which candidate won?  That’s right, the guy with the assault charge.  This is the Republican candidate, you know, the party of Christian ideals.

Greg Gianforte successfully kept a red seat shining crimson by defeating Democrat runner Rob Quist in what was a closer than expected race.  There isn’t much debate as to why this seat in Montana has been historically Republican, but to have it only be “close” because this man assaulted a reporter really should make people question their values.  Put the shoe on the other foot and this is a Democrat assaulting a reporter, I wouldn’t vote for the Democrat.  I still don’t know if I could vote for the Republican opposition, but I’d have to make that call upon looking at that candidate’s plan they hope to set forth if elected.  Put the shoe on the other foot, if this were the Democrat who had assaulted a reporter, how many of those same citizens who voted for Gianforte would start crying foul and demand that Quist step down from the election?  It isn’t much of an assumption to assume the pitchforks would be out, potentially even in a literal sense.

This all goes into a bigger point.  That point being, how morally corrupt are our values?  We clamored over emails but didn’t give a f**k about a pussy grabbing, disability mocking, jerk who told a new lie every week.  What is wrong with America?  Where have our values gone?  The GOP tells the public that they are the party of family values and that they are the party of Christian values but when you look at the facts, I see a different story.

This is the party trying to take healthcare away from millions.  This is the party that would rather give tax breaks to corporations and millionaires, and tell us that money will eventually trickle down to the working class, if it ever leaves the Caymans.  This is the party that still continues to defend a POTUS that is obviously not even close to being qualified to holding such an office.  A POTUS that doesn’t have the slightest clue about how to handle a nation’s foreign affairs, or even public relations.  What is wrong with you?

Honestly, if Christian values means that you cannot call out a disgusting man, who mistreats women, homosexuals, Muslims, non-whites, disabled people, etc. then please, keep those values to yourself and don’t force them upon the rest of us.  I am embarrassed to be an American right now.  I hope one day that I can be a part of making American better, and once again a great nation.

Special Kind of Fool…

Recently saw on Facebook a meme stating, “Hillary lost because she was a piss poor candidate with no message, that no one respected, who committed multiple counts of treason!”

Obviously this is pretty crazy to think about.  A small fragment of this is true, the part about respect, otherwise this is out in left field.  The thing about respect, however, is that the group that didn’t respect this, I doubt the creator of this image is specifically referring to.  Obviously approximately 99% of Trump voters (basis that number on no actual data) didn’t respect Hillary.  It was obvious at any Trump rally, disgustingly so.  Even Trump didn’t respect his opponent.  We saw a new, disgusting, side of America in this election.  In the past, by the end of the election much of the divisiveness could be put aside, and both candidates could shake hands, look each other in the eye, and say, “Well done!”  Not this time, however.

Anyways, below is my response to this gentlemen.  Thoughts and opinions?

You’re a special kind of fool, sir. If Hillary were a criminal, she would make O.J. blush. Hillary has been one of them most investigated politicians in the past few decades. Being investigated doesn’t show who is good or bad. It merely shows who has power. Hell, a lady might be spending a year in prison for laughing during the Jeff Sessions Congressional hearing. That is more time that Brock Turner got for raping a woman, mind you.
 
Point is, the treatment of Hillary Clinton this election says a lot more about our political system and government than it does about Hillary Clinton. She has been one of the most qualified people in recent history to run for POTUS but many in power fear her for political reasons. Many of those are the same people who were against Barack Obama and said “no” to literally anything he was for. Could be racism? Perhaps a bit. Could be that Hillary was a woman? Perhaps a bit.
 
The FBI (James Comey) intentionally tried to sway this election. A few emails that had nothing to do with Hillary turned up in a separate investigation and Comey announced a week before the election to the country and the voters that they were re-opening the investigation. For nearly 6 months before the election the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for their potential Russian ties. Not a f**king word was said to the media or public. You tell me what should be taken more seriously, cooperating with Russia to win an election or using your personal phone/email to conduct government business, like the previous 3 Secretaries of State also all did… none of which had an investigation into them.
 
I fail to see how you’re still harping on this into May. Who is currently a bigger threat to our country? Hillary Clinton, the woman who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million, or Donald Trump, the man making the USA the laughing stock of the free world?

Snoop Dogg Activist

So I recently had an interesting comment/response on my Facebook about the recent Snoop Dogg video, which has him pointing a gun at a clown depicting Donald Trump.  I made a comment opining where the GOP outrage was when people disrespected our last sitting POTUS, as opposed to why it is there now.  Even more so, how they had outrage over those who publicly were opposed to our previous POTUS, G.W. Bush, yet openly disrespected the man who followed.

Snoop

Ultimately my question goes into why was it acceptable for the GOP to be outraged at those who spoke out against G.W. Bush and those who speak out against Trump.  Also, it goes in to where is that anger coming from?  People disliked policies that G.W. Bush had.  People disliked how G.W. Bush handled Katrina, 9/11, the two wars, etc.  People dislike Trump’s comments about Hispanics, gays, blacks, Muslims, etc.  What was the main thing people hated about Obama?  That he was black and that he gave them healthcare (but believed the lies about the Affordable Care Act, which is becoming more and more evident as the GOP realizes what would happen if they repeal such a great piece of our country).

So yes.  Snoop Dogg is doing something very distasteful.  Where was your outrage for the last 8 years, however?

The questions…

Ever have one of those days where you can’t get the past off your mind?
The good, the bad, everything?
What was within your control, what wasn’t?
Where you should have been more patient?
Where you should have practiced restraint?
Where you should have forgiven?
Where you should have forgot?
What would change now?
Where would you be now?
Throughout all of that, what do you have to show for yourself?

All the reasons…

I recently read an interesting post on Facebook that a friend shared about “the reasons to unfriend me on Facebook” which was essentially a list of reasons I support a political candidate.  I wanted to take a moment to expound upon that list, so bear in mind that this post isn’t an original idea from me, but I did take many of these points in order to paraphrase as well as elaborate upon.

Anyways, below I have listed out all the reasons I support the Democratic agenda.  Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to leave a comment.

  • I believe President-Elect Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobe, liar, and overall hate-filled man.  I say this not because of something the “liberal media” told me, rather because of the first hand accounts given by Mr. Trump.  When he first had his disgusting rant about a disabled reporter, openly mocking this man, I thought that would have been the end of Donald J. Trump.  I remember a time when Howard Dean’s overly excited “Yaaah!” disqualified him from being POTUS.  From there, Mr. Trump went on to be exposed for sexual assault with his pussy comments, put down the Hispanic community with his talk about rapists and criminals, put down African-Americans, and truthfully, put down everybody who was against him.  He went on to say if he lost, it was because the system is rigged.  He went on to speak out against the Electoral College, which is the very reason he was elected.  He has yet to even speak out against his supporters who have been harassing and even abusing various minority groups that Trump has spoken out against.  At the same time, however, he certainly does have the ability to Tweet that the cast of a play must apologize to Mike Pence, for speaking out against the Trump/Pence administration.
  • I believe that President Obama is the greatest POTUS so far in my lifetime.  When you look at so many economic statistics (GDP, Dow Jones Industrial Average, the unemployment rate, the number of uninsured Americans, and even the price of gasoline, to name a few) you are seeing numbers greater than during his predecessor, and even greater than during the Clinton administration previously.  Where do Republicans get off saying that President Obama has failed?  President Obama was able to be an instrumental part of this, all while having just about every single Republican in D.C. actively and openly working against him.  You had a GOP, lead by Mitch McConnell, openly saying their goal was to make President Obama a one term President.  Obviously they failed.  I am glad they did.  You also had POTUS in Obama that took the high road every-single-time he was faced with hateful, slanderous attacks from the GOP.  From elected officials.  He ran a scandal free administration.  He always held his head high.  He has been the standard bearer of being a class act.
  • I do not believe that those who need public assistance are lazy and don’t want to work.  Yes, are there some people who cheat and game the system?  Absolutely!  To try to say that even the majority of those who receive public assistance are trying to game the system is just abhorrent.  I was let go from a full-time job in my young 20’s.  For a while, I received unemployment benefits because of this.  I used this time wisely to not only look for new work, but to also reevaluate my life, which lead me to the greatest decision I’ve ever made, which was to go back to school to pursue my dream of being a teacher.  That could not have been possible without public assistance.  This leads me to the next point of…
  • I believe that government safety nets are a necessary part of our country because somebody who gets sick, or becomes old, should not have to struggle to make ends meet.  Healthcare is too high.  Hospital visits cost too much.  There, I said it.  I will also say that I have a hard time believing that this is due to the Affordable Care Act.  Wouldn’t you think, for a moment, that this is due to corporate greed instead?  In a nutshell, the Affordable Care Act seeks to have everybody in an insurance plan.  If everybody is in an insurance plan, then everybody covers the costs for us all.  “But I am healthy!  I shouldn’t have to!”  You never know when you might fall ill, have an accident, etc.  Making sure that everybody is covered, despite a pre-existing condition, prevents those with unforeseen circumstances from going bankrupt paying for healthcare.  Nobody should have to set up a GoFundMe page because they got cancer or were in an accident.  Making sure that every single person has to have health insurance keeps premiums down, too, because everybody helps to pay.  It prevents somebody from not paying their whole life, then quickly jumping onto an insurance plan the moment something goes bad.  This ensures that everybody is covered for when the worst happens.
  • I don’t believe everybody should have military/assault style weapons.  This is something I’ve gone over time after time with others.  I’ve even written posts, in length about that issue here and here, and originally started here.  I don’t need to go over this anymore.
  • I believe women have a right to choose what happens to their bodies in terms of all aspects, including birth control and pregnancy.  This is pretty self explanatory.  The majority of laws pertaining to women’s health have been made by a majority of older, white males.  Just think about this for a second.  What gives an older, white male any sort of reason to make a law regarding women’s reproductive rights?  There just flat out is no reason.  Ruth Bader Gingburg stated it best when asked when there will be enough women on the Supreme Court when she state it will be enough when it is all women.  I agree with this.  For how long was the Supreme Court nothing but white males?  I’m not going to look this up, but I feel comfortable saying that the majority of the time the Supreme Court has been around it has been 100% white males.  If you’d like to look this up and provide specifics, please do so and leave a comment.
  • I believe in a fair tax system that asks more of those at the top of the wealth chain.  I am not saying that those at the top don’t deserve to be at the top.  Yes, they are there because they’ve done something right in life.  They are also there because of what this country has done for them.  Would they still be at the top if it wasn’t for the interstate highway system?  Would they still be at the top if it wasn’t for the U.S. Postal Service?  Would they still be at the top if they didn’t have highly educated workers who have at least graduated public school?  You see the point I am making.  They are wealthy, not only of their own doing, but because they have received numerous benefits from our government programs, which are funded by American tax dollars.  It is insulting to see those wealthy Americans stash this money overseas, game the tax system for every loop-hole they can find, and ultimately then to say (either explicitly or implied) that they don’t have to pay their fair share.  It is because of government programs they were able to succeed in the first place!  Period.
  • Finally, I believe in a country that accepts all races, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, etc. to be a stronger country.  This one doesn’t even need an explanation.  Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.  Just because your beliefs tell you something is wrong does NOT give you the right to force that belief upon others.

So there you have it.  Those of you who read this blog regularly should not have any surprises.  I do encourage you to leave a comment, whether you’re for or against this.  I do reserve the right to delete rude and disrespectful comments, and have done so in the past.  We can disagree with each other, we can also do so respectfully.

Thank you for reading.