Sunday, July 03, 2022

Hold the fireworks.

 



I regret to announce that the 4th of July will be canceled this year as the American experiment has been hijacked by Christofascist forces. 

Maybe next year.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

More guns.


As the Supremes continue to take America closer to being a Christofascist state, it is important to read articles like the following from Tom Nichols ----writing for The Atlantic, to get a grasp of where we are heading as a country. I am afraid this trend will continue for awhile, because these Justices are still relatively young, and they have lifetime appointments. 

Just remember to vote next time. Elections have consequences. 

"I used to think of myself as a gun-control conservative—I supported both the right to own firearms and the interest of the state to limit that right—but America’s gun culture isn’t about rights. It’s about performative insecurity.

Back in 1959, the country singer Marty Robbins wrote a ballad about a murderous outlaw who met his well-deserved end at the hands of a handsome young Arizona Ranger who was carrying the “Big Iron on his hip.” (The song was supposedly inspired by a weapon Robbins saw in a shop, but there is some question about whether the Big Iron was a real gun.)

It’s a great song. But it wasn’t supposed to be a guide to life in modern America.

I don’t have the energy or expertise to debate whether the Supreme Court should have taken on the case of a New York State law that limited the ability to carry weapons around in public. Honestly, I just assume that many declines in the quality of American life for the foreseeable future will be announced with “In a 6–3 decision …” Elections have consequences, and with the current composition of the Court, this decision was inevitable.

The problem is not the Court’s decision. The problem is an adolescent, drama-laden gun culture, a romance with weapons that became extreme only in the past quarter century.

It didn’t used to be this way. I grew up around guns; my father had been a police officer, and we had two of them. My older half-brother, who lived a few streets away, was a police officer. Our next-door neighbor was a police officer. My hometown was a military town, and almost all of the men I knew were veterans who owned weapons and knew how to handle them. (There were some female veterans too. My mother, for one.)

What I remember about guns is that I remember almost nothing about guns. People owned them; they didn’t talk about them. They didn’t cover their cars in bumper stickers about them, they didn’t fly flags about them, they didn’t pose for dumb pictures with them. (I’ll plead one personal exemption: When I was a little boy, relatives in Greece once posed me in a Greek Evzone-soldier costume with my uncle’s hunting shotgun. I could barely lift it.)

Today, there is a neediness in the gun culture that speaks to deep insecurities among a certain kind of American citizen. The gun owners I knew—cops, veterans, hunters, sportsmen—owned guns as part of their life, sometimes as tools, sometimes for recreation. Gun ownership was not the central and defining feature of their life.

Don’t take my word for it that things have changed. Here’s Ryan Busse, a former gun-company executive who has now taken on his former industry, talking about the day someone showed up to a hunting party with an AR-15:

The unwritten rules of decency were enforced by firearm-industry leaders … I witnessed how this worked many times, including one occasion when a young writer brought his own AR-15 to a hunting event I was hosting in 2004. The senior figures there responded immediately. “That’s not the kind of thing we want to be promoting,” they said. The newcomer was shamed into locking the gun up for the rest of the event.

This kind of affirmation of cultural norms can be a lot more powerful than any law, and I suspect that the gun-culture extremists know it. They head off expressions of this kind of social disapproval by being aggressive and performative, daring anyone to criticize them for feeling the need to be armed while getting milk and eggs at the supermarket.

I have always trusted my fellow citizens with weapons. Now the most vocal advocates for unfettered gun ownership are men sitting in their cars in sunglasses and baseball caps, recording themselves as they dump unhinged rants into their phones about their rights and conspiracies and socialism.

The Supreme Court has now affirmed that all these guys can be the handsome ranger with the Big Iron on their hip. You can be angry with the Court for furthering and enabling this weirdness, but it’s not the Court’s fault. It is, as usual, our fault, as voters and citizens, for tolerating a culture that is endangering our fellow Americans instead of insisting that all of us exercise our constitutional rights like responsible adults." [Source] 

I have a slightly different take than Mr. Nichols, as I do put a little  more blame on the folks making the laws.  But I agree with his overall sentiment: This pseudo macho culture (mostly angry white men who want to make up for deficiencies in other areas, and young urban terrorist who measure their worth by the weapons they use) that has enveloped our society, will only cause things to get worse from here.  

 



 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Add climate change to our list of problems.


Still don't believe that climate change is real? 

Well, if you have been living in the FOX NEWS bubble over the past few years, you might still believe that it's all just a hoax. 

I hate to break it to you, but  if you do, you're in for a big surprise. 

The following is portions of an article from the Zinn Education Project: 

"If you have been reading the news or watching Democracy Now!, you have seen how climate chaos is crashing through the world:

Over 100 million people are under heat advisories in the United States as an early-season heat wave continues to break records from the Southwest to the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, firefighters are battling more than three dozen uncontained fires.

In Iraq, a massive dust storm hospitalized more than 5,000 people with respiratory ailments, in the latest of seven terrible dust storms to hit that country in just the last month. Temperatures in the Middle East and Central Asia have already soared to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

In Montana, record flooding has forced the closing of all five entrances to Yellowstone National Park. Roads and bridges in the area have been washed away. Flood levels on the Yellowstone River are now beyond record levels.

Pakistan and India just suffered through their hottest April in a century of record-keeping, with temperatures reaching more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of South Asia, resulting in misery for millions in that region.[Source]   

As if we don't have enough to worry about. 

Thoughts? 


Image from the University of Exeter. 





Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Just in case.


 I practiced criminal law in Philly for a long time, and during that time I represented some... let's just say... people who who most of us would consider less than upstanding citizens. 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about some of my experiences. 

One particular memory has been standing out more than most. The time I went into a "rough" neighborhood--- even by Philly's standards--- to see a client and collect some cash from him. I never worried about how dangerous the neighborhoods I visited  were, because somehow I always thought that the people I represented, and the cred of being a criminal lawyer, would protect me. This time, though, I felt uneasy. It probably had something to do with how much cash I had on me at the time. A youngster (who couldn't have been more than sixteen) and his pal approached me before I got into my car. They didn't look particularly threatening, and, as it turned out, they knew who I was and just wanted to make small talk. "You a "lawyer, right?" He looked even younger up close. I told him I was. " You got your  fire with you?" I knew he was referring to a gun, and I told him no. I told him something to the effect that I didn't think that I needed one among my own people. He laughed and flashed what looked like a 9mm Glock so I could see it. "I always keep mine Mr Lawyer, just in case". He laughed again and walked off with his friend. I didn't even want to think about where his life was heading. I am pretty sure that he is either dead or in jail now.

The more I read and hear about the carnage on the streets of Philadelphia and other major American cities, the more I think about that encounter with that youngster in North Philadelphia some fifteen years ago. Guns are still everywhere, and every sixteen year old in North Philadelphia who wants a gun can get one. And not just any gun, a really powerful one; like a 9mm Glock.

There are a lot of reasons for these urban terrorists terrorizing each other and law abiding citizens. I could could go on and on about their broken homes, poor school systems, toxic masculinity, and societal failures that have done nothing to address the root causes of poverty. But the quickest way to reduce gun violence in the streets is to make guns less available. It's really not rocket science. And  I know that it's easier said than done, but we have to say it so that we can at least start somewhere. 

Philly made national news again for all the wrong reasons this past weekend.  Knuckleheads on South Street started brawling, and rather than fight with their fists, they chose to settle their differences with their guns. And of course, they all had their guns, because every young punk in Philly either has one, or knows how to get one. They are not in the NRA, and they were not trained in proper gun safety or how to shoot. So when they start beefing amongst  each other and reach for their "fire",  people die, and chaos ensues. 

"I always keep mine Mr. Lawyer, just in case".

*Image from www inquirer.com 




Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Where are our "allies"?

 


And now I bring you the following article from Candice McDuffie, writing for The Root. 

It's still relevant, although you would never know it, because it seems that Buffalo happened so long ago.

"It’s been nine days since 13 people were gunned down—10 of them fatally—at the Buffalo supermarket Tops in the heart of a Black community. The white male terrorist behind it, Payton Gendron, published a manifesto online outlining his hatred of Black people and every step of his plan to kill them just days before the massacre.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

AGAIN!

 

 


How do we stop this madness?  

Thoughts? 


Sunday, May 15, 2022

There will be more replacement theory killers. And no one will be held accountable.


One common theme throughout my blogging career has been well meaning people who read my blog admonishing me because I allow the most hateful and vile white supremacists to post comments after my posts. 

Frankly, it's something that I have struggled with as well: Should I even allow comments? Should I block all comments, or just the offensive ones? At the end of the day, I always follow my strong First Amendment instincts and allow everyone to comment. I also allow it, because it's important that folks who read this blog realize what's lurking out there. They need to know how the landscape has changed, and how white supremacists--- and the hatred that they have for folks who look like me---- have become emboldened.

We all know by now what happened in Buffalo, New York, yesterday. A lone eighteen year old gunman took it upon himself to drive hours to find a black neighborhood and kill as many black folks as he could (eight is the latest count) before surrendering to law enforcement and being taken alive (Of course he was.) I am not sure if they took him to get a happy meal or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

His name is Payton Gendron, and his manifesto on white replacement , as someone stated on twitter, reads like a job application to be a producer on one of those FOX nightly news shows. 

There will be more Payton Gendrons in the days to come, because the right-wing hate machine that profits off white fear and resentment of others will not stop cranking out their hatred for profit. And gullible poor and undereducated white people will continue to think that folks who look like I do are the root of all of their problems. 

In the coming days the main stream media will tell us what a "troubled" and "unstable" teen Gendron is, and how he was simply suffering from mental issues. We won't hear that he is a vehicle for hate that was used and weaponized by the right-wing hate machine to take out his hatred on the people they tell us are trying to replace them. We won't hear that he is the product of a climate of fear and hatred that has emboldened racists and xenophobes thanks to the actions of the former president and his sycophants on the right. These are the people who praise Kyle Rittenhouse, but vilify Colin Kaepernick. 

 The blood of those thirteen people who were shot in Buffalo yesterday are on their hands.  

*Image from WTVD television. 





 

  


Friday, May 06, 2022

Samuel Alito's tale.


 I feel very comfortable saying as a man, that if men could get pregnant there would be more drive-through abortion clinics than Chick-fil-A restaurants in every town in America. 

So here we are. Fifty years of stare decisis  is about to be shot down by five conservative Judges on the Supreme Court. Why? Because only women get pregnant, and men don't have to give up control of their bodies for nine months to bring us our little bundles of joy. 

Forgot social stability and order in society, forget legal precedent, and forget respect for long settled law. These are different times we are living in. Justice Alito cites Sir Matthew Hale for crying out loud! The same Matthew Hale who said that husbands can't be prosecuted for raping their wives, and who sentenced women to death for being "witches".  Yikes!

Sadly, we should all have seen this coming when we elected the former guy to the highest office in the land. Now, anything is possible. We thought hat the highest court in the land was beyond reproach and could not be compromised. Boy were we wrong. 

Liberals and folks on the left are going crazy with rage. They can't believe that America has morphed into something out of The Handmaid's Tale.  And, quite frankly, some of them should be upset. I say some, because some of these same liberals and left-wing purists refused to vote for Her. ----You know, the e-mails lady--- Now, looking back, they are having regrets. 

But how could they have not seen this coming? It takes incredible political naivety the likes of which is reserved for the Susan Collins of the world to believe that these Justices were not going to get on the Supreme Court and do exactly what they are apparently going to do. When they all sat there lying to those Senators during their confirmation hearings about respecting precedent and Roe being settled law, we all knew they were lying. But the political game is so rigged in America, and the feckless and inept democrats in congress are so powerless, that we all knew that there was nothing that was going to be done to stop the inevitable. 

Now we will see how committed folks in this country are to making sure that we don't go backwards when it comes to our individual rights. If a woman can be prosecuted and jailed for a choice she makes when it comes to her own body, just imagine what could come next. 

I recently saw the following quote from an article written for cnn.com back in November. 

"Here's the best-kept secret about the so-called abortion "debate" in the United States: It's actually not that much of a debate at all. A majority of Americans believe that the decision to end or continue a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, not the state. Most Americans oppose laws that make it more difficult for reproductive health clinics to operate. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next month challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, but fewer than a third of Americans want Roe to be overturned. "

When you have autocratic and fascist leanings, the will of the people does not matter. Only those who are in power get the final word. 

Happy Mother's Day everybody.    

  

Sunday, May 01, 2022

You never know when those corn flakes might attack.

 

I'm going to need some of you to help me understand this trend with some of my gun loving friends. I mean  has it really become this dangerous to visit your local Target? 

What motivates a mother to bring her kids shopping with a long-gun strapped to her back? Spats over parking spaces can get rough sometimes. I get it, those minivans are big. But is Karen really going to go Rambo on someone for beating her to a spot? 

This trend, I must say, is troubling. I am not sure I feel comfortable in a public space with someone who just wants to show off that fact that they can exercise their Second Amendment right in the most open of ways. Especially when I see guys like this.  Of course we all know what his problem is. (Hey buddy, I guess you gotta find a way to make up for what you're lacking in other areas. Just saying..)

Some of you in Red States might have a totally different view about this. But personally, I don't think this good guy with a gun thing is a good idea. 

We pay law enforcement officers for that. Let them do their jobs. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Swinging back.


Like many of you, I watched the speech by Michigan state senator, Mallory McMorrow, and I must say that it's good to have allies like her in the struggle against ignorance and bigotry. 

If you haven't watched it,  you are missing out on real classic. It's political speech at its finest. She touched all the right themes, and she was honest and unflinching in her delivery. More importantly, she was speaking directly to the person who smeared her in the first place, and it was everything you expected it to be. 

Watch it and give me your thoughts.   

Personally, I think that it's about time that some of these cowardly pols start "swinging back." I mean you can't let the right control the narrative and label you as a pedophile and you do or say nothing. 

That has gone on long enough, and finally someone is saying, enough.


*Image from wxyz.com

 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Will, I know you're from Philly, but you're not ROCKY.


 I didn't want to blog about the slap heard around the world, but since everyone else has given their opinion I will throw in my two cents worth as well.

First, I am not a fan of Chris Rock, never have been. There is a houseish (my word) element to his comedy and to him that I have always found to be a bit disconcerting. He is the kind of brother that comes to the cookout and tells those other folks all of our secrets.  But I digress. 

On to Sunday night, and my homie, Will Smith, doing the unthinkable. (At least for someone in his position.) My first thought was that it was all an act, but then I saw Smith going on about "keep my wife's name out of your f****g mouth", and it hit me that it was all very real.

The commentary from various sectors of society has been interesting. Listening to right-wingers, for instance, condemn the violence at the Oscars, but refusing to condemn the insurrectionist on January 6th who tried to overthrow the government was rich. The hypocrisy of it all. But shame on Will Smith for acting out in such a manner and allowing certain folks in society to say: "See, I told you so, that's how they are". 

Look, I get wanting to defend your wife's honor (Pay attention Ted Cruz) but there were other ways that he could have handled that. Back stage comes to mind. The show of toxic masculinity was not a good look. Sadly, that is what a lot of people have come to expect from black men, and Smith played right into that stereotype. He did it in primetime no less, for all the world to see. I would hope that Will is way past the trying to impress Jada phase of their relationship, but apparently not. 

There is a reason that a look or a verbal diss can get you killed in many of our neighborhoods. As a criminal defense attorney, I have had to defend a countless number of young men who let their emotions get the better of them at the wrong time. Many of them were from poor broken homes, and they were raised by the streets, so striking out was all they knew. Will Smith is worth millions of dollars, and he  was living his best OJ life (when white folks don't see you as black) so he had no excuse for acting out in such a manner. I say was, because that has changed. Now, to folks in the majority population, he is black again. 

Will Smith should dedicate the rest of his life to helping young black men keep their emotions in check and checking their toxic masculinity at the door. 

One night at the Oscars that went sideways might actually end up being a teachable moment. 

I know who is already over it: Chris Rock. His upcoming tour has already sold out all the cities he is playing in, and tickets are going for double what they were before he felt Smith's pimp hand.

"My behavior at last night's Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable," Smith wrote. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong."

Everybody doesn't hate Chris now. He can thank Will Smith for that.