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Who Won The Democratic Debate?

If you follow my Facebook page, my opinion was that it was too close to call, but that I thought that Bernie was going to get a bump in the polls. Why? Because a lot of viewers hadn’t been paying attention to the primaries yet, and were seeing Bernie for the first time. This was the most watched democratic debate in history with over 15 million television viewers and another million streaming it online. Bernie had nowhere to go but up. And while Hillary did a great job, her advantage up to this point becomes a disadvantage; people know her and have already formed their opinions about her.

That analysis, like my commentary the night of the debate wasn’t based on who I support or what I want to happen. It was an objective observation.

I immediately started seeing results of some very unscientific online polls indicating that Bernie crushed it. I didn’t post any of those, even though I support Bernie because again, they are very unscientific. I also didn’t post any of the nearly 100% of articles from the main stream media declaring that Hillary won decisively. Why? Because there were (and still aren’t yet) any scientific polls behind those claims. They were all basically opinion pieces.

But here’s the thing; those very unscientific polls weren’t even close.

Here’s a video of a CNN focus group. These people weren’t closely divided. Bernie clearly won with them. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s another focus group that Fusion did. It was also not close, with Bernie winning 8 to 3 with one undecided. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Frank Luntz did a focus group in Florida. Not only did Bernie win overwhelmingly, but people who started off supporting Hillary switched their support to Bernie. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s a screen shot of a very unscientific poll on Slate.com;

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Funny enough, here’s an article on Slate proclaiming that Hillary resoundingly won. And here’s a comical follow up to that article, esplainin why the original article was correct, despite the not-even-close results of the very unscientific poll.

Here’s another screenshot from a very unscientific poll from Time;

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That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s another very unscientific poll from an NBC affiliate in Colorado. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s very unscientific poll on The Street. Bernie won 80% of the vote there. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s one from Daily Kos where criticism of president Obama has been met with disdain for the past 6 years, and where Hillary is clearly the consensus candidate;

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That would be the closest one I’ve seen, but then again it’s Kos who is not without it’s significant bias. It’s still a 20 point spread in favor of Bernie.

I can post another half dozen of these, but you get the point. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”. 

Vox published a piece claiming that Hillary “is not facing first rate competition”.

Ryan Lizza from the New Yorker tweeted that “Hillary Clinton won because all of her opponents are terrible”.

CNN called it “Hillary’s Big Night”.

Again, I can go on and on but you get the point.

Why did I keep emphasizing the phrases “very unscientific” and “could not be characterized as close” in this piece? Because both points must be emphasized. While the polls aren’t scientific and not even a little close, the pattern you see when you put them all together means something.

Does it mean that Bernie is going to be our next president? Not even remotely.

The fundraising disparity between Hillary and Bernie will always make him unlikely to win. When Obama ran in 2008, he raised half a billion dollars from regular Americans and half a billion dollars from the usual big money rainmakers. Bernie has a long road to hoe, but that doesn’t mean that he has no chance. The only thing that can make the money irrelevant, is if more people engaged in paying closer attention to the candidates they have to choose from.

Does this mean that the very unscientific polls showing Bernie is the overwhelming favorite are meaningless? Contrary to what the main stream (and some left leaning) media is telling you, the answer is no. It does mean something. It means that among people who are actively paying attention to the democratic primary, Bernie Sanders is crushing it. People who answer online polls they find on pages with political content are people who are more engaged in the process than the lion’s share of the electorate.

Unfortunately, most voters base their decisions on television commercials. Sigh.

So what’s my point? My point is that we’re about a day away from getting some scientific poll results. I’m positive that Bernie is going to get a bigger bump than I anticipated. Is he going to become the front runner? Probably not, but he’s going to make some pretty solid national gains.

Don’t let the media tell you what’s going on in this race. That’s my point. Thanks to the internet, you have the power to tell them. We’re not living in an age where they have as much power to create a narrative for you to believe and therefore make true.

Keep falling in love in the primary because that’s what primaries are for. Forget the “viability” arguments. This is your time to vote your conscience. I’m completely confident that people who fall in love in the primaries have the sense to fall in line in the general and to vote for whoever gets the democratic nomination, so I’m not going to lecture about the general. We’re not there yet.

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A Good Guy With A Gun

So a “good guy with a gun” decides to save the day when he witnesses a car jacking. He fired several shots, managing to land only one shot at the victim’s head and missing the carjackers completely.

Our hero then proceeded to collect his shell casings and fled the scene. Police are still looking for our ammosexual hero.

So my question now would be, is he still a “good guy”? How do you tell the difference?

Followers of this blog and of my facebook page know that I’m not a fan of anecdotal evidence because it’s meaningless. So why am I posting this story? Because this anecdotal story lines up perfectly with the data, as well as a couple of experiments done to see how effective armed citizens are at saving the day with their binkies.

Remember when a pro-gun group repeatedly reenacted the Charlie Hebdo shootings with all of the victims armed? SPOILER ALERT: they all died in every reenactment they did. Well, except for the one time one of the armed victims chose to flee instead. That guy survived the reenactment. All of the Rambos died over and over again, but their ammosexual fantasies of being heroes were impervious to the evidence and survived.

Another simulation done by researchers at Mount St Mary’s University produced the same results.

Study after study after study (I can do this all day, but you get the point) show that owning a gun makes you much more likely to be a shooting victim. Or a perpetrator, since you’re more likely to shoot yourself or someone you know with your gun, than you are to stop crime.

The FBI reports an average of about 25o “justifiable homicides” each year. Remember, George Zimmerman was recorded as a “justifiable homicide”, but I’m willing to go with the 250 number. So for 250 instances of people defending themselves, we have the highest homicide rate in the developed world. For 250 instances of people defending themselves,we have about 1,000 children shot every year.

In order to entertain the ammosexual hero fantasies of about 35 million American households, we have a situation where those nutters are feeding the “illegal” gun market. We know that the size of the “legal” gun market and the “illegal” gun market are inextricably intertwined since all guns start out “legal”.

We accept the unacceptable because a minority of us are literally deluding ourselves. I’m sorry to break it to you ammosexual, but you’re not Rambo and you never will be. You’re much more likely to be the sad sack who shoots their toddler in the face. The studies are very clear on this.

Here’s the funny thing. When I was fact checking the story I started this post with, my search came up with another story of another carjacking, also in Houston. This one was only a little over a month before the first story. In this story, the ammosexual was the guy whose car was being jacked. He decided that it would be a good idea to open fire on the carjacker. Wanna know how it ended? With both the carjacker and the ammosexual receiving freedom bullets, and the car wrapped around a cement post. Awesome. Thankfully, no one else was caught in the crossfire.

Does pulling out your binkie and firing off rounds to save your fucking car make you a good guy? It’s a car. You’re shooting at a person, and risking the accidental shooting of other people. For a car.

We don’t have “good guys” with guns. We have delusional “dumb guys” with guns. If they were smart, they would have done unbiased research on whether owning a gun was a good idea before making that choice. The evidence is clear, and you can’t possibly hang your hat on a handful of debunked NRA “studies” because you like what they’re telling you. The ratio of studies telling you that guns are awesome are roughly in the same proportion to legitimate studies, as the “cigarettes are awesome” studies were to those legitimate studies. When the ratio is 10 or 20 studies to 1, telling you that gun ownership is a bad idea, you’re not “responsible” by definition.

That’s how you present an anecdotal story. It has to be accompanied by data, otherwise you’re doing it wrong and you’re deliberately disinformning yourself.

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My Disdain For Your Proselytizing

You may have heard about this, but the Pope is coming to town and many “Christian” politicians in the US aren’t happy about it. I’ve been posting memes and news articles over the past day or so, pointing out the irony of the fact that (some) atheists respect and revere this Pope more than (some) Catholics do.

These posts came with a slew of comments that I found irritating. Some took the opportunity to present a history lesson about the Catholic Church, as if supporting this Pope indicates an ignorance of history. Here’s the deal; if you can’t separate your feelings about the Catholic Church from your thoughts on this Pope, you need to work on your critical thinking. This Pope, in the context of the Papacy is Bernie freaking Sanders.

Here are some quotes from Pope Frank on the dreaded gay:

“If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?”

“Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.”

Pope Francis took the initiative to set up tribunals to look at that pesky pedophile problem the church has had for (at least) decades. Is anything going to come from them? I don’t know, but doing anything to address this issue is a giant leap froward from denying that the issue exists at all.

He’s spoken on women’s issues including equal pay (he’s for it) and “reconciliation and forgiveness” for women who have had abortions. Is that last part awesome? No, I personally don’t believe that making the choice to have an abortion is something that one must seek “forgiveness” for, but I acknowledge that he’s moving the church forward on this issue. Is he interested in female clergy? No but for fucks sake, he’s still a Catholic. I’ll take the baby steps.

He’s fucking awesome on the issue of unregulated capitalism and the toxicity that creates.

I don’t need to conflate the issues I agree with him on, with the areas where I vehemently disagree with him (and the church) in order to easily dismiss the obviously improved rhetoric of this Pope. He’s the first Pope in my lifetime who isn’t absolutely loathsome. He actually seems like a lovely person, embracing some of the best parts of Christianity, rather than wagging the old testament in the world’s face as all of his predecessors all did.

Acknowledging (and thereby encouraging) the fact that this Pope is moving things in the right direction isn’t the same thing as converting to Catholicism and suddenly condoning everything that makes up its colored history. If my acknowledgement of the changes that are happening today prompts you to assume that I need a history lesson, I would say that you need a lesson in critical thinking. I know that distilling everything down to black or white is easier for you, but that’s just not how I roll.

If you don’t acknowledge and encourage progress, there’s no reason for anyone to ever evolve.

The other comments I got were from militant atheists deriding and ridiculing Catholics. To you I say, stfu. I don’t need you proselytizing your lack of faith, anymore than I need anyone else proselytizing their religion to me.

The vitriol and intolerance of other people’s beliefs is as repugnant to me as any organized religion. The unmitigated arrogance of believing you have it all figured out, and that everyone else is a fool is indistinguishable between religious zealots and atheists. You’re all doing the same thing, and you see past your own zealotry.

Proselytizing is proselytizing, whether you’re proselytizing a religion or your disdain for religion.

I fall on the side of encouraging people to believe whatever the hell they choose to believe. It’s a free country, and I’m not the kind of dick who feels the need to belittle people for what they believe. Just keep it to yourself. The proselytizing is where you lose me.

Faith is personal, as should the lack of faith be.

You don’t have it all figured out anymore than a Catholic, Muslim, Jew, or Buddhist does. And I can’t tell the difference between the arrogance of foisting one’s religion on others and the arrogance of actively mocking religion. It’s all arrogance, and it’s all based on choice more than fact.

I hate to break it to you, but you can’t call yourself a liberal if you’re intolerant of people who believe something that differs from your beliefs. If it’s not effecting you in any way at all, you have no business dictating to anyone what they should or shouldn’t believe. The line is crossed when someone’s beliefs are being used to oppress or abuse anyone else. That’s when a liberal should speak up. But to chime in on a post about the Pope in order to deride all Catholics, makes you the opposite of a liberal. You are not liberal in your thought, and you’re not liberal with your heart.

All Catholics are not rubes, nor are they obsessed with beating you over the head with their faith. Wanna see an example of two inspiring and lovely people of faith? Here you go (I promise you won’t regret watching both videos all the way through);

 

If you can’t see for yourself how faith gives some people comfort and purpose, I feel sorry for you. Your mind is closed. You don’t need to have faith in anything to acknowledge that for some, there’s value in their faith.

Did you notice that I never espoused my own personal views on faith or religion in this post? That’s because I understand that the only purpose of my beliefs is to get me through this life. That’s the only purpose for anyone’s belief. My beliefs die with me, and I don’t need to get people to agree with me in order to validate my beliefs. I don’t need them validated. They serve me, and they need not serve anyone else.

So please stop with the proselytizing. No one wants to hear it.

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Understanding Syria

I’ve had a slew of incredibly ignorant comments on my Facebook page regarding Syria lately. The stupid has ranged from “the west started the civil war” to, “you know that Putin is helping Assad and that’s bad, right?” That last one took the cake because that was 18 layers of ignorant to not only how the war started, but what the US’s interests are at this very moment. And in each instance of ignorance, I posed one simple question which was left unanswered 100% of the time: What started the Syrian civil war?

If you can’t answer that question, you have no freaking idea what’s going on or how to deal with it. So I thought this was a good time to lay out the basics and explain how we got here. The original cause for the Syrian civil war is a pivotal point here. No, it didn’t start as a sectarian war. No, the CIA and MI6 didn’t covertly start that was because destabilizing the middle east even further is in anyone’s interest. Putin likewise, had nothing to do with starting that war.

The Syrian civil war started because of a drought. That’s right, the Syrian civil war is the first of the climate change wars we’re going to see more and more more of in the coming decades. Syria had been experiencing extreme drought conditions since 2006. It wasn’t just Syria, much of the middle east was suffering through drought conditions. As a result, wheat prices skyrocketed, leaving many people in rural areas with no food. Assad being Assad, responded to the drought with greed, rather than with practical solutions to improve irrigation methods or a focus resources in a way that would mitigate the effects of the drought. He allocated resources to growing wheat (which is a very water-intensive crop to grow) because he wanted to cash in on the skyrocketing market value of wheat. This drove Syrians out of their farms (where 75% of farmers suffered total crop failure) into the big cities. That migration represented 1.5 million Syrians moving to cities who didn’t have the resources to accommodate such a large influx of people. And remember, Syria had already been taking in large numbers of refugees from the Iraq war we started.

So we created total fucking chaos next door to Syria, and then the drought left the Syrian people starving. This was a perfect storm for ISIS and gave them the opportunity to ad an “IS” to the only “IS” they were at that point. Please take a moment to read an article I wrote detailing the genesis of ISIS before you read on. They were (at the time of the start of the Syrian civil war known as “the Islamic State”. That was not their first name, and 2006 is not when they formed. But the instability in Syria gave them an opening to add “Iraq and Syria” (the second “IS”) to the name of their terrorist group. Syria did seek help from the UN, who refused to give them a mere $60 million dollars in food aid to alleviate the starvation. Does anyone think that would have been a good investment?

The Syrian people were already very interested in removing Assad from power because he left them starving. ISIS was able to exploit that desire by providing them arms with which to fight Assad. Make no mistake about this; ISIS has money. They have very wealthy funders in Saudi Arabia and they have oil revenue from the oil fields they control in Iraq. They came into Syria with guns and food a’blazing. When you’re starving, anyone who has food and an alternative to your current situation seems to be the solution to your problems. Kind of like Hezbolla in Lebanon. Every time Israel levels Lebanon and leaves it in shambles, Hezbolla is there to “take care” of the people. When you create a vacuum, you can’t complain about whatever comes in to fill that vacuum.

So now the west is left with deciding what it can live with more: Assad or ISIS. The US has decided that Assad is preferable. Europe is on board with that assessment. No one thinks that Assad is awesome, but we can all agree that Assad is less destructive than ISIS. Turkey and some factions in Saudi Arabia disagree. I have no earthly idea why Turkey is taking this position, other than the fact that their current prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan is a fundamentalist whackadoodle who would like to take that country back 1000 years. Saudi Arabia is in it to fuck Iran. Both are being incredibly stupid, since ISIS is already operating inside Saudi Arabia and won’t stop until they take over the entire middle east. So watch out Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and eventually Israel. It won’t be long before you’re sidling up to Iran and asking their army to fight along side yours.

So Putin is now sending Russian fighter jets into Syria (in addition to the arms they’ve always been selling Assad) to help the Assad regime hold on to power. Contrary to the dullard who thought this was something to be worried about, the US wants this. Guess who else wants this? Germany. Having as many allies in there to do the heavy lifting as possible is a good thing for US interests.

That’s not to say that I believe that keeping Assad in power is a good long term strategy. It’s obviously not, since his shitty leadership skills are in great part, what got us here in the first place.

Do I have a winning long term strategy in mind? Nope. There are too many moving parts, most of which are in direct conflict with each other. And since I’m not fond of rectally generating opinions in order to sound smart, I’m going to be smart by telling you that I have no answers. I have answers to many things, including how this whole thing started and how it unfolded to get us to this place, but I don’t know how to solve this problem.

What I do know is that some of us are going to have plenty of opportunities to spit on refugees from all around the world in the coming decades. There are going to be hundreds of millions more of them from all around the world as climate change leaves them starving.

So buckle up Mike Huckabee, because millions more are on their way to get your cable, you heartless and ignorant piece of shit.

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The Cecil Outrage

I shared in it. A lot of people, particularly people who are in the #blacklivesmatter were outraged about the outrage. I’d like to discuss their outrage over the outrage, as well as everyone else’s outrage over the actual killing of Cecil.

I’m going to start with the latter, but I first want to give everyone an update; Cecil’s brother Jericho has just been killed by poachers. Jericho had been protecting Cecil’s cubs and territory since Cecil was killed, so the cubs are now in danger. UPDATE: Or not. I am now hearing conflicting reports, but I digress.

The outrage over Cecil wasn’t just about the barbarism of killing a beautiful creature, just to feel like a man for a minute. How someone can feel like a man when they sneak up on a docile (it’s true, they’re docile when they don’t see a threat coming) creature and use a mechanical instrument that someone else made for them to kill it is beyond me, but then again I’ve never had a penis to feel insecure about. I think the underlying outrage is the outrage that has been brewing over the 1% for years now. The idea that some dickless millionaire can spend the annual median household income on a “guaranteed kill” trip to Africa to kill something is just beyond the pale. That’s right, this asshole spent a whole years worth of the average American household’s (not person, but household) income to go to Africa and kill an animal for kicks. That’s why people despise this idiot so much. And then when the outrage began, he read from the millionaire fucker’s playbook and plead ignorance. He had no idea what he was doing because he was a hapless victim of the people he paid a years worth of the average household income to. He’s not an asshole. Like most rich fuckers, he’s just incompetent. Anytime there’s embezzlement, illegal trading, fraud, or any other crime being committed at a company, they CEO who insists they need to be paid the big bucks for their brilliance, suddenly pleads idiocy. Remember Angelo Mozilo from Countrywide? Here’s his sister explaining how her brother wasn’t a crook, but rather a hapless idiot.

I digress. The Cecil outrage is the 99% outrage. It’s about income inequality and the rich flaunting their wealth in the most classless and obnoxious way. Rich people spend their money on the dumbest and most pointless things on the planet. Poor and middle class people spend their money on food and on their kids. We’re tired of the Lifestyles Of The Rich Fuckers show. That’s what the Cecil outrage is about.

Now to #blacklivesmatter. I saw (and shared) this meme a couple of days ago;

 

DressLikeLion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The usual #alllivesmatter riddled the comment section of the post. Let me just clear this up once and for all because a lot of well meaning people who probably aren’t at all racist keep saying this. Let me tell you why you’re so wrong in perpetuating this. It’s a tool for diminishing and deflecting from the problem by shutting down a conversation that we should all be having every day. The fact of the matter is that black lives clearly don’t have as much value in America as white lives do. I’ve written copiously about all of the statistics demonstrating the disparity in treatment between blacks and whites by both the law enforcement and the criminal justice communities. I’m not going to go over all of that again. Just peruse the “racism” section of this blog although, you should be aware of it independently of my work if you really cared to educate yourself on what’s going on in America.

Larry Wilmore did a segment on his show that addressed the #alllivesmatter problem;

(Wilmore) “So it seems like there’s a little confusion here over this phrase. Why can’t you say ‘all lives matter? “I mean, it sounds like it makes sense.”

(Enter  Felonious Munk to answer the question) “In the parlance of the hour, if I break my legs, I do not want the doctor telling me ‘all legs should be healed, I want the doctor to fix my leg.”

(Wilmore) “OK, so you’re saying ‘Black lives matter’ is a specific cry for something, whereas ‘all lives matter’ is a just a way of shutting down that cry.”

That’s exactly right. Don’t do that. Just don’t. There is a crisis that’s been building and building in black communities all across the country for decades. Don’t diminish that by implying equality. If we had equality, we wouldn’t need a #blacklivesmatter movement.

Conflating the 1% problem with the #blacklivesmatter problem is one that I’d been guilty of for years. Not so much conflating, as combining. In my defense, I wasn’t watching daily videos of unarmed black men being beaten and killed by cop all across the country. I had a sound, but very flawed basis for conflating the two issues; OJ Simpson. What a lot of people missed about the OJ Simpson acquittal, is that there was a very important cultural message there; if you have enough money, you can buy the anything you want in America and your skin color becomes irrelevant. OJ told me that the divide really is fundamentally between rich and poor, and that black and white doesn’t matter at a certain point.

I knew that there were thousands of roadblocks set up to prevent black people from getting to the bank balance that creates equality, but I underestimated it. And I didn’t realize how many of those roadblocks were actually bullets.

My fundamental misunderstanding of the crisis is one that most liberals are suffering from. We have a detached view of the situation, and see what the problem will be, once the crisis that we severely underestimate is finally solved. This is a crisis we’re witnessing. If the cause of these high numbers of murders was some sort of disease or epidemic, we would treat it as a national crisis. It is a mistake to see this in any other way than a crisis. It is a mistake to combine this crisis with the income inequality situation.

It’s also a mistake for the #blacklivesmatter movement to talk at liberals who don’t understand the situation. I’ve seen a lot of this from black twitter. Admittedly, 140 characters doesn’t really set the stage for productive and informative conversation. But there’s a lot of anger and lashing out happening there. There’s a lot of talk about how liberals “need to learn” and how “we’re going to teach them”. I agree with both statements. I just don’t think that people are as receptive to listening to you if you come at them, rather than to speak with them. That’s just me. I don’t viscerally react well to being yelled at 140 characters at a time.

I’m concerned about this divide I see opening up. I think it’s dangerous, and ultimately going to cause damage. Robert Reich actually articulated my concerns eloquently on his blog. You should read his whole piece, but I’m going to share the last few paragraphs;

Black lives matter.

But it would be a terrible mistake for the progressive movement to split into a “Black lives matter” movement and an “economic justice” movement.

This would only play into the hands of the right.

For decades Republicans have exploited the economic frustrations of the white working and middle class to drive a wedge between races, channeling those frustrations into bigotry and resentment.

The Republican strategy has been to divide-and-conquer. They want to prevent the majority of Americans – poor, working class, and middle-class, blacks, Latinos, and whites – from uniting in common cause against the moneyed interests.

We must not let them.

Our only hope for genuine change is if poor, working class, middle class, black, Latino, and white come together in a powerful movement to take back our economy and democracy from the moneyed interests that now control both.

We have to stay united. That’s not going to happen until white liberals really start listening to what the black community is telling us. It’s a little disheartening to hear democratic presidential candidates say that “all lives matter”. They’re fucking running for president. They should have a better understanding of this issue than that. I was very disappointed by both Bernie Sander’s and Martin O’Malley’s handling of the #blacklivesmatter protest at Netroots Nation. Fortunately, that clumsy handling of the situation inspired Hillary to give a very eloquent speech (maybe the best I’ve ever seen her give) on the topic;

 

I don’t know if she just saw an opportunity, or wanted to address something that’s on her mind. I don’t care. She’s talking about it. Bernie is finally talking about it.

We all need to talk about racism early and often. We don’t need to shut the conversation down with #alllivesmatter. We also don’t need to be talking at each other.

We all just need to try harder. Even if you think you’re tying hard, try harder. I am.

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Sandra Bland Was “Resisting Arrest”

So we finally got the dascham footage for the incident that led to Sandra Bland’s arrest. Well, sort of but not exactly.

 

As Crooks And Liars reported, the video is heavily edited. Here’s what they noticed (from the article);

In the video, which is more than 52 minutes long, there are several spots where cars and people disappear and reappear. When it released the video, the department did not mention any editing. The audio ends more than a minute before the video images do.

One of the more conspicuous spots comes 25 minutes and 5 seconds into the video, when a man walks from a truck off screen and then reappears suddenly at the spot where he began walking. The image flutters for a moment before resuming.

There are no breaks in the audio during this time. People are heard talking through the video gaps.

In another spot, at 32:37, a white car appears on the right side of the screen and then disappears. A moment later, what appears to be the same car comes back into the frame and turns left. During this time, Encinia is talking about what occurred during the arrest. There are no breaks in his speech.

What look like the same cars keep appear in the same locations, following their same paths, beginning at 33:04.

Again, the audio continues uninterrupted.

I noticed several more things. First, let’s just start with the video and the editing. In the first part of the video, the sound is crystal clear. You can hear officer dickhead opening Bland’s car door clearly at the 9:32 point in the video. Oddly, at 19:32 when the female officer is opening the doors and the trunk and closing the doors, all you get is white noise. White noise which, by the way, appears to be exponentially louder than it was in the beginning of the video. Just go from 4:00 straight to 18:30. You can hear how white noise has inartfully been dubbed into the tape. There are so many gaps of the audio where you can only hear white noise, it’s almost comical the way they edited it. At one point, officer dickhead’s conversation ends in mid sentence and all you can hear is white noise for several minutes. You can’t hear officer dickhead moving Bland from the ground and putting her in the car. There’s no sound of the car door opening or closing. Strange, since (as I already pointed out) the sound of Bland’s car door was clearly picked up by the dashcam microphone.

I think that we can all agree that the missing parts of the audio did not contain sounds that would incriminate Bland and bolster officer dickhead’s story. Speaking of which, here’s his affidavit;

I had Bland exit the vehicle to further conduct a safe traffic investigation. Bland became combative and uncooperative. Numerous commands were given to Bland ordering her to exit the vehicle. Bland was removed from the ear but became more combative. Bland was placed in handcuffs for officer safety. Bland began swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin. I had a pain in my right leg and suffered small cuts on my right hand. Force was used to subdue Bland to the ground to which Bland continued to fight back. Bland was placed under arrest for Assault on Public Servant (TXPC 22.91 (B)) The vehicie was inventoried and reieased to Crown Towing. Bland was transported and booked into the Walter County Jail for Assault on Public Servant (TXPC 22.01)

Bullshit. He demanded that she step out of the vehicle because he didn’t like her tone.

Now to the substance of the video.

At 25:42, you hear him start to try and work on what the charge will be with (I assume) his boss. That’s the fucking problem with the tape. There was no assault. Wanna know how I know? Officer dickhead described what the legal definition of assault is at 25:38 (his words);

“Assault is if a person commits an (couldn’t make out the next few words) intentionally knowing they are causing bodily injury to another.”

She never did anything remotely resembling assault at the time he was attempting to pull her out of the car. She pushed his hands off her. That doesn’t sound to me like she was intending to cause him harm. After he pulls his taser on her, she voluntarily gets out of the car. There are no punches, kicks, slaps, or anything coming from her that would fall under his stated definition of assault. In fact, none of those things happen before we can see that he has her in handcuffs. We see no evidence of any of these things after she’s in handcuffs.

At 12:36, officer dickhead calls in saying that he has her under control. She’s in fucking handcuffs, wearing a summer dress and sandals. You never hear him say anything to her other than “stop moving” before she says, “you’re about to break my wrist”. So who is being combative? Who is committing assault? Then she starts crying out. That’s when you hear the female cop. At 14:19, you hear officer dickhead tell the bystander who taped the event that they had to leave so we know that she’s on the ground with his back on her knee at that point.

At 14:51, he says, “…you’re going to jail for resisting arrest”.

And there’s the problem. Cops incessantly use “resisting arrest” as a reason to arrest people. There needs to be an underlying charge in order for there to be an arrest to resist. There was no underlying charge. In fact, he and his boss are clearly heard pulling a charge of “assault” out of their collective asses in order to figure out a reason for why this woman is in handcuffs for not using her turn signal and smoking a cigarette in her own damned car.

There should never be “resisting arrest” charges without an underlying reason for the arrest. No arrest; no resisting arrest. I don’t even know why they’re allowed to bring someone in on just a “resisting arrest” charge. That’s complete bullshit. It enables any asshole cop whose ego has been bruised by someone exercising their first amendment rights to call them a motherfucker to make an arrest, just to prove a point. And that’s how they use “resisting arrest” charges. Yes, you do have a first amendment right to be as profane as your little heart desires with a cop.

“Resisting arrest” enables cops to abuse their power and flush taxpayer money down the toilet because they got their fee fees hurt.

That’s the biggest problem I see in this video, and anyone focusing on anything else has missed the most important part of this incident.

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Donald Trump Is Andy Kaufman

He has to be. There’s no other explanation. Every time the Donald opens his mouth and deep throats his foot, I become more and more convinced of this.

He’s running for president as Tony Clifton, and he’s going to leave the republican party in ruins before he’s done not becoming president. Tony Clifton is the ID of the republican party. That’s why the establishment can’t stop him. He is the center of the republican onion after you’ve peeled off the layers of Luntz.

Trump doesn’t do Luntz. So when the rest of the party refers to Obama as “the food stamp president”, Trump just goes for the gold by insisting that he’s Kenyan. Trump can’t be bothered to veil himself in the “anti colonialism” pretense. He’s Tony Clifton. He’s the republican party in its truest form.

That’s why we haven’t seen the republican establishment say a peep about any of his outrageous comments over the past decade. They didn’t say anything when he called our president a Kenyan for the better part of a year (most republicans “weren’t sure” if he was born in America). They didn’t say anything when he called black people lazy ( but he does have a great relationship with “the blacks”). They didn’t say anything when he referred to most Mexicans as rapists (except for the few who he thinks may be decent people). They didn’t say anything when Trump shared the idea that Jeb didn’t cosign the “Mexicans are rapists” idea because he has a Mexican wife.

But now they’re finally saying something. What is is that finally has republicans pushing back on Trump? A comment he made about John McCain;

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

They’re outraged that he would denigrate a war veteran in such a disrespectful way! OUTRAGED, I tell you! Here’s the problem the republicans attacking Trump on this are going to have; they built a presidential convention on denigrating a vet eleven years ago. Remember how John Kerry wasn’t a real war hero? Remember all the purple band aids the crowd were wearing with delight at the convention?

When Andy Kaufman pretended he knew nothing of Tony Clifton, it was high-larious, and it still is. Here’s the thing; the republican base like Tony Clifton way more than they like Andy Kaufman. Sure, Andy makes them feel good, but Tony gives them multiple orgasms on a daily basis. Attacking Tony Clifton is not a winning strategy for republicans, since they created him.

They can’t lay a finger on Trump because they created Trump. And I have some very sad news for the republican establishment; Tony Clifton is just getting warmed up. He’s going to leave the republican party bruised, battered, and burned before he’s done. Because of Trump, we’re finally getting around to talking about how outrageous the swiftboating of John Kerry was. Finally.

Trump is everything the republican base adores because the republican establishment taught them to adore this. He’s a straight talking republican, and the Luntzian language is no longer acceptable to the base. They’re tired of the veneer and the coded language. Trump calls it like they’ve all been conditioned to see it.

Trump is Andy Kaufman. And like Andy Kaufman, he’s not dead until enough people believe he’s dead. That’s not going to happen for a few months.

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Hillary Derangement Syndrome

It’s already happening. To be more accurate, I should say that the volume is already being turned up to 11. There’s always been a faction of people in this country who suffer from derangement when it comes to the Clintons. People forget what it was like in the 90s because of what we’ve had to endure in regard to the right wing’s treatment of president Obama, but it was bad. I’m not sure that the derangement toward Obama is any worse than it is toward the Clintons. It’s just lazier since he’s black, and blowing a racist dog whistle is easier than concocting a murder conspiracy. They had to get more creative with Bubba. They called him a rapist, drug dealer, murder, and a slew of other things that were too stupid to be stored in my memory banks. The attacks were relentless against both Bill and Hillary.

Yes, they despised Hillary for being married to Bill, but they also despised her for having a brain and using it to help her husband and his presidency. They were enraged when Bill put Hillary in charge of coming up with a health insurance reform plan. Republicans like first ladies to be of the stepford variety. Laura Bush was everything that a first lady should be. Nancy Reagan got a pass because they loved everything that Ronnie was. Randi Rhodes used to refer to Laura Bush as “crazy eyes Lala”. I refer to her as “Pfizer Lala”. She always looks like she’s one Xanax away from an overdose. I digress.

When Hillary referred to the “vast right wing conspiracy” against her husband, the media treated her as if she was paranoid. And then a few years later, David Brock (who went on to found Media Matters) wrote a book about the conspiracy and his part in it.

I’m not going to list the accusations of scandal that have been lobbed at both Bill and Hillary. You can find plenty of right wing whackadoodle sites for that. I will say that precisely none of those accusations have any merit to them. I can’t think of two people who have been investigated by congress more than the Clintons. American taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars investigating the Clintons, to no avail. There’s no corruption. There’s no scandal, and there’s no trace of improper or illegal actions by either Clinton. That’s just a fact.

There are no congressional reports that even suggest that a Clinton acted improperly, other than Ken Starr’s soft core porn report about the Lewinsky situation. That’s all there is. There’s no evidence that Hillary has ever done anything wrong as a senator, Secretary of State, first lady, or private citizen.

And yet, I hear insane accusations against her coming from both liberals and conservatives. The right doesn’t need evidence for anything they believe, so that part isn’t confusing. But the allegations of corruption from Bernie Sanders supporters is thoroughly confusing to me.

I do not support Hillary in the primary. I’ve said this repeatedly on my various social media sites; I’m with Bernie for as long as Bernie is in this race. I do not need to make shit up in order to rationalize my reasons for not supporting Hillary. I don’t need to throw out accusations of corruption in order to support Bernie. She’s never been proven to be corrupt. All that crap about the donors to the Clinton Foundation concluded a quid pro quo, based on the rich and powerful donor list. They found the “quid” and just assumed the “pro quo” even though no one ever found it. Of course the donor list to The Clinton Foundation includes rich and powerful people from all around the world. It’s probably nearly identical to the Gates Foundation donor list. That in itself is not a smoking gun, and anyone who believes it does, needs to go back to high school to take a debate class and learn some critical thinking.

I don’t need to make the comical assertion that she’s not qualified to be president to rationalize why I don’t support her. She’s as qualified to be president as Barack Obama + Thomas Jefferson and then some. She’s the most qualified candidate who has ever sought the presidency. No other candidate has ever held the offices she’s held and already spent eight years in the white house. I’m sorry, but she’s empirically and objectively more than qualified to be president.

She definitely has a deeper understanding of foreign policy nuances than Bernie Sanders could possibly have. That’s also a fact. I happen to align with Bernie’s foreign policy stance more than Hillary’s even though I know that she knows more than he does. She’s too hawkish for me, and I’m aware that a certain shift toward hawkishness is the inevitable result of actually being in the trenches. I just prefer for someone to start off from a position where they’re less prone toward military intervention so that their inevitable pull toward intervention still leaves them less hawkish than someone who starts off more prone to war. That’s a calculation I’ve made without having to underestimate or dismiss her experience in foreign policy.

Let me pause the Hillary talk for a minute to address my fellow Bernie supporters. He’s not perfect, and he’s not going to save the world if we can just get him into the white house. Stop lionizing him. That’s a childish approach to politics, and it needs to end. I don’t like Bernie’s record on guns. I actually despise his record on guns. Cliff Schecter, for whom gun policy is a top priority, lays out in great detail, Bernie’s rhetoric and record on guns here. Let me give you some of what most bothers me.

In 2005, he voted to indemnify gun manufacturers and dealers from being sued by people who were killed by their product. In 2009, he voted to allow Amtrak passengers to have firearms in their checked bags. That just makes it easier for people from Philadelphia to bring guns into NYC, where we have stricter laws. I love it when the ammosexuals bring up Chicago as an example of how gun laws don’t work. Chicago is literally just a few miles away from Indiana, or as I like to refer to it; ammosexualpalooza. Last time I checked, I’ve never shown ID or been searched when crossing state lines. If you want to have an intellectually honest discussion about the efficacy of strict gun laws, you need to talk about Hawaii, where your binkie would need to go through a metal detector to get into the state. At any rate, Bernie thinks it’s swell to help guns travel from state to state.

But as Cliff points out in his piece, Bernie’s rhetoric is worse than his voting record. I’m not going to excerpt it because it’s a great piece and you should take a minute (it’s short) to read it. My point is that Bernie’s record on guns does not make me happy. Cliff got pummeled by Bernie supporters over that piece. Those people would be idiots. You should not need to create a perfect candidate for yourself, in order to feel good about your choice.

Let me add something for the Hillary supporters. Her strategy of not taking questions from journalists, or from average citizens should have you seriously concerned, given her performance in 2007. If her strategists have decided that not talking is the way to go, you need to be very concerned about her past implosion on the campaign trail. You should want to see proof that she’s upped her game before the general election. Remaining silent and only doing negotiated interviews should not give you confidence in her campaign. Think. Bernie is taking questions from any random journalist or citizens who ask them. You should need for Hillary to do the same. Reverse Hillary derangement syndrome isn’t a good thing either.

Think. Make informed decisions. Don’t be children. Critical thinking is the most valuable skill you can teach yourselves. I support Bernie knowing that I vehemently disagree with him on guns, and knowing that Hillary is infinitely more versed on foreign policy than Bernie is. These are calculations I’ve made like a grown up.

Back to Hillary, and why I don’t support her despite all of the strengths I’ve listed here. I don’t like where her campaign funds are coming from. I just don’t. I’m not a child. I know that you need at least one planet-and-people-raping industry to win the presidency in the US. I now that. I know that the next president of the United States will likely have received at least 50% of their funding from Wall Street, big pharma, or the energy industry. I’m aware of this. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it, and it doesn’t mean that I have to passively accept it. You can’t acknowledge how corrosive Citizen’s United was for out system and be totally comfortable with Hillary’s funding sources. These two things are diametrically opposed to each other, and it’s not possible to be intellectually honest while holding both thoughts in your head

Regular readers of this blog know that I believe that we need to change our campaign funding system before we can hope to get anything resembling good and effective government. You also know that I believe there’s only one way to do this; by amending the constitution to get corporate money (and personhood) out of the system. I don’t trust congress to get it done, so I’ve been working with Wolf PAC on an Article V amendment. I lay out my case here.

I believe that supporting Bernie in the primaries helps to send the message that we don’t like corporate money buying out our politicians, but not if we suffer from Hillary derangement syndrome. The single biggest reason why I don’t support Hillary is to reinforce my disdain for Citizen’s United and any candidate who’s good at negotiating a Citizen’s United political climate. But that message doesn’t work if everyone else who doesn’t support her is focused in on fabricating bullshit for why she’s awful and Bernie’s awesome. Neither of these things are true, and they’re both diluting our ability to send a real message here.

Approaching politics like a simpleton is destructive in ways that you can’t even imagine (probably cause people who do it, haven’t learned to think critically). The Hillary derangement syndrome that is taking hold in this election is destructive, and it squanders an opportunity to send a message about a real issue that really effects you. These lionizers and demonizers are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. These efforts to make decisions simple in the short term, are making everything worse in the long term.

We all need to start weighing information again. In politics, there’s always something to weigh. People who support Bernie and are for stricter gun control need to stop abdicating their duty to weigh issues because nuance is just too hard. If thinking about the politician you’ve chosen to vote for doesn’t hurt your brain a little, you’re doing it wrong.

I know why I’ve made my choice. I wish I could say that about the electorate at large.

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Background Check Loophole In SC

That’s how the South Carolina shooter was able to obtain his gun. Contrary to the way the story is being reported, the FBI didn’t screw up. The system was set up with a loophole that the shooter was able to exploit.

Here’s what happened. The shooter went to buy the gun on a Saturday (April 11th). According to South Carolina law, if you go to a legal gun dealer and they instigate a background check (as they’re legally required to do), you get a gun in three days unless the FBI comes up with a felony that would prevent you from getting one. Three days. You must get your gun in three days, whether the FBI has released you to get a gun or not. In other words, if they don’t have all of the information they need, and don’t explicitly tell the dealer that the applicant isn’t allowed to purchase a gun, the applicant gets the gun. An incomplete background check means that an applicant gets their gun. The FBI never explicitly told the dealer to release the gun to the shooter, so the dealer was perfectly in his legal (not so much moral) right to make a dollar and sell the gun. The dealer doesn’t have to sell the gun, but can if they want. This gun dealer is a giant piece of ammosexual crap. Big gun dealers like WalMart won’t sell the gun until the background check process is complete.

What type of person has to get a gun in three days? The paranoid, or the crazy who intend to kill a lot of people. That’s who. Normal people can wait 30 days.

Because the shooter triggered the background check on a Saturday, the FBI effectively had one business day to determine if he was a felon. The FBI were able to determine, within the three day waiting period, that the shooter had been arrested on a felony drug charge this year but an arrest isn’t enough (under federal gun laws) to prevent someone from getting a gun. The arrest prompted the FBI to reach out to the the county where he was arrested, but didn’t get a reply from that court house before the three days were up. They didn’t get the information that the shooter had plead guilty to felony drug possession in time.

When the law says that “we haven’t completed the background check” means “go ahead and release the gun”, that’s not a bug. That’s a feature. A clean record comes back quickly. “No arrests” can be determined in minutes. So anytime the FBI can’t beat the three day clock, it’s always because there’s something that warrants obtaining further information. And that’s precisely when a rational system of gun laws would slow the process down.

But not in Ammosexamerica. In America, “we can’t give you the thumbs up to sell a gun” means “sell the gun”. That is batshit crazy.

Don’t let anyone tell you that this instance of the South Carolina shooter obtaining a gun was just a fuck up, and that the laws don’t need to be changed. That’s just pure bullshit. But I’m sure that felons all over South Carolina are delighted to hear that some people think the current system is just swell. Do you think some of them don’t now know how to beat the system?

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Retrograde Republicans

So we’ve watched republican pundits and politicians support the confederate flag for a week now. The obvious motivation is that the republican party is home to the lion’s share of racists in America. But I think there’s actually a more dominant motivator here beyond racism.

Watch this Bill O’Reilly clip (via The Young Turks);

 

I love The Turks, but I think they missed an important part of that clip. At one point, O’Reilly says, “We don’t have a system where racism is acceptable at all. We don’t.” Then he goes on to say, “The world is being told by anti-American haters, that we are a rank racist society, and that is a lie”.

This is about exceptionalism and the glory days (in his mind), when America was the envy of the world.

Conservatives by definition, hate it when things change. It doesn’t matter what the change is. Change in and unto itself is viscerally abhorrent to conservatives. They like for things to stay the way they are, regardless of how they are. I think that people like Bill O’Reilly genuinely don’t see themselves as racist. I think O’Reilly sees himself as a “traditionalist” who has great regard for the traditions established in the glory days of the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Bill O’Reilly is a giant bigot, but that’s how he sees himself.

We’re in a time now when things are changing at lightning speed so conservatives are more frustrated than ever. No one was talking about marriage equality in 2000. In fact, that push didn’t really start until after the hate-the-gays platform of the 2004 elections. In ten short years, we have marriage equality in more states than not, and hateful bakers are chained to their kitchens and forced to bake gay wedding cakes for twelve hours a day, seven days a week. By next week, we will have equality in all fifty states (yes, I have confidence in how Kennedy is going to go on this one).

Conservative heads are exploding. They’re being left behind by the country whose traditions they so love.

And now the flag tornado. In one short week, that flag has come down in Alabama and been pulled from several retail outlets. Eight days. And it’s going to come down in several more statehouses. Yes, losing a symbol of racism is painful to republicans, but not as painful as so much change in so short a period of time.

That fucking flag didn’t start going up in statehouses in the south until one hundred years after the confederates surrendered to the United States and ended their quest for a treasonous exit from this country. Why one hundred years later? Because it was a racist middle finger to the civil rights movement, which was winning. This isn’t a time honored tradition. It’s a fifty year old tradition of resisting change.

To rub salt in the tradition-loving conservatives’ wounds, every single change they’ve resisted was a positive change for the country. From ending slavery, to labor laws to women’s suffrage, implementing social security and medicare, taxing the fuck out of the rich to end the depression, and marriage equality. Liberals have always won, and liberals have always been right. The one and only “idea” conservatives have ever had, beyond leaving things the way they are, is going down inflames because Americans largely understand that trickle down economics is complete bullshit. The being wrong part doesn’t much seem to bother conservatives, but the constant (and now rapid) change is causing them great consternation.

Bill Kristol, the wrongiest republican ever, is pissed off that retailers are kowtowing to liberals and removing their confederate hate merchandise. That’s the free market, baby. But he (and a lot of other republicans) can’t stand it. They despise a Pope who actually espouses Christian values, rather than the bastardized version they worked so hard to create. He’s breaking with right wing Pope tradition, and they can’t stand that he’s on the same page with Jesus when it comes to the rich and when it comes to consuming the resources on this planet. They hate their own ideals and institutions when those ideals and institutions help to bring about change.

This is just too much change for them to deal with, and it’s coming in rapid fire. We have cell phone cameras finally showing America what black people have been telling us for decades about the brutality that police have been inflicting on them. Republicans hate that. They like things the way they were, when they didn’t have to be confronted with the institutional racism that produces the privilege they enjoy, and used to be able to deny they had.

This is about more than racism. This is about losing the country they once had to an ideology they’ve always despised. They see the desire to force change by taking action and criticizing injustice as being unpatriotic to the country. If you don’t love the United States just the way it is, then you hate it and you’re unpatriotic. That’s why they hate liberals, and that’s why they get irrationally pissed off over something as trivial as “liberal light bulbs”.

Bill O’Reilly said it in the clip I shared above:

“The world is being told by anti-American haters, that we are a rank racist society, and that is a lie”.

Implying that the US is imperfect is unacceptable to republicans and to a lesser degree, conservatives. In my opinion, that’s what the heart of this hate flag controversy is about for them. No rational person honors losers, not even if they had enough courage in their unjust and fucked up convictions to die for them. The confederacy was on the wrong side of history but beyond that, they were losers, wholly undeserving of any respect. Republicans don’t like losers. But they like these losers. Why?

Yes, it’s about racism but I don’t think that’s the heart of the issue here. Al Franken nailed the heart of this issue  twelve years ago in his book, “Lies And The Lying Liars That Tell Them” when he said the following;

“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world. That’s why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well.”

That’s the issue. And no matter how fucked up the wrongs liberals want to change are, conservatives will fight against us tooth and nail. And they will continue to lose 100% of the time.

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