Monday, June 29, 2020

Fashionable Intimidation

Fashionable intimidation in St. Louis, MO
Are firearms toys to be brandished to enhance the owner's stature? Or, intimidate someone?

Is it now fashionable to walk around in public places with a loaded rifle or handgun and several magazines with ammunition at the ready?

Thank God, in most states, it's still illegal to point a weapon at someone or show "...a firearm to someone in an effort to threaten them."

In Missouri, where the recent incident shown in the photo occurred, an “unlawful use of a weapon” charge "will typically result in a class D felony. "If your weapons charge is filed as a class D felony you could be looking at 1-4 years in prison and fines up to $5000. If your charge is filed as a class B misdemeanor you could be facing up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines. If your charge is filed as a class A misdemeanor you could be facing up to 1 year in jail and up to $1000 in fines."

I guess, that's assuming the gun toter doesn't kill or seriously wound someone while pointing.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Free Your Mind

This morning I offer about four minutes of freedom to help you clear your mind with a glimmer of knowledge.

Give yourself a few moments away from the wretched state of Trumpian "government" and the COVID pandemic. Clear of the onslaught of ceaseless "alternative facts" abundantly flowing out of "mainstream media". Away from FOX News and the endless onslaught of social media misdirection and propaganda.

We have much more to learn about ourselves.

Academically Impossible "Lost Pyramid City" Found In Japan?

Friday, June 26, 2020

When Protectors Become Gangsters

Philadelphia Police Inspector Joseph Bologna Jr., a 30-year veteran, hits Temple University student Evan Gorski in the back of the head with his metal baton.*
How do we protect our  First Amendment rights of assembly and speech when the people we’ve hired to do the protecting are themselves the very bestial, racist thugs who are beating the sh** out of peaceful “protesters"?

The last few weeks have proven that beatings, gassing, and rubber-bulleting will no doubt follow when police confront protesters or, as in Washington D.C., don their blacked-out body armor and face-shielded helmets and take off their name tags, badges, and department identification.

It matters not if the sworn protectors are local police, state police, or federal officers employed by one of a myriad of federal departments, the atrocities committed arise from the opportunity to brutalize unarmed citizens utilizing fists, clubs, or tasers; teargas; mace, pepper spray or an assortment of firearms. It also doesn’t matter to the gangster “law enforcement officers” if the “protesters” are white, black, brown, male, or female, young, or old.

What does appear to matter is the opportunity to beat the sh** out of whoever is at hand. That is the moment we have witnessed our “protectors” have metastasized into Helter-Skelter-like robot gangsters, relishing unleashing violence upon their fellow citizens.

And what of the commanders and politicians who order the sworn police officers into situations in which they can morph into gangsters? Aren’t their hands bloodier than their gangster’s creations pummeling the defenseless?

House Democrats recently passed a police reform bill  - one good effort to protect citizens. But that has already been consigned to Mr. McConnell’s DOA pile, along with hundreds of other urgently need bills.

It seems that if we are to be protected from our “protectors”, well, then, we must create our own Star Trek-like Deflector Shields or an invulnerable Gort* to do the job.

*See CBSPhilly report:

How US police have responded with violence to protests against police brutality -
The Guardian - Jun 12, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Voter Suppression

Voting at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Photo credit: WLKY News Louisville
We saw it in Wisconsin, then Georgia and Arizona. Now, Kentucky - maybe.

Voter suppression accomplished by closing polling places, running out of ballots, and voting machine malfunction. All these tactics were used during the COVID epidemic, which alone was good reason not to go vote.

But the pandemic could be considered an “act of God”, like a hurricane or blizzard – no one purposely conspired with Mr. COVID to keep people from voting. At least, not like closing polling locations and forcing people to wait for hours to cast their vote does. No, those things are man made, Republican-made to keep voters from voting.

The other day in Louisville, Kentucky, anyway, voters seemed to have a positive voting experience. Jefferson County had it together at Louisville’s only polling place, the Kentucky. Exposition Center, and the turnout was less than expected for this primary election.

It is likely that many voters stayed away out of fear, lack of transportation, convenience, or employment requirement. And the vote-by-mail program was as screwed-up in Kentucky as it has proven to be in previous state's elections this year.

Still, here we are. The act of voting is not easy. It has gotten a lot harder to vote. In fact, it's a pain in the a__. And that's the whole idea, is it not?. One political party does not want people who might just vote for a Democrat to vote.

Is it not obvious that we must stop the systematic suppression of one of our most cherished “rights”, the right to vote? I believe it is.

How can that be done? it appears that another Constitutional Amendment is now required to make states ensure that the “act of voting” is facilitated by the states in a fair, honest, and timely manner in order to thwart voter suppression.

Voters surprised at lack of long lines at Ky. Exposition Center - WLKY News Louisville
Jun 22, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Our Better Angel

Patrick Hutchinson carries the injured man near Waterloo station in London. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Heroes rise to the moment, doing right without personal regard. Others stand by, frozen in fear or confusion. Still others hide in their bunker.

Patrick Hutchinson was a hero the other day. He acted by carrying over his shoulder an injured white man, a counter-protester, away from danger to safety.

In my mind, Hutchinson is a living example of mankind’s “Better Angel”. He is a hero in a time overflowing with cowards, bigots and bullies.

BLM supporter speaks out after carrying counter-protester to safety, Clea Skopeliti,, 15 Jun 2020. 

“Hutchinson contrasted the intervention with the lack of action taken by the Minneapolis police officers who were involved in George Floyd’s death. “If the other three police officers that were standing around when George Floyd was murdered had thought about intervening, and stopping their colleague from doing what he was doing, like we did, George Floyd would be alive today.”

“I just want equality, equality for all of us. At the moment, the scales are unfairly balanced and I just want things to be fair for my children and my grandchildren.”

"Police said 113 people were arrested on Saturday, including a 28-year-old man detained on suspicion of urinating by a Westminster memorial dedicated to the murdered police officer Keith Palmer, after far-right activists organised a counter-protest to BLM groups. The Metropolitan police said its officers were injured after being kicked, punched or hit by missiles as they faced hundreds of angry demonstrators, who claimed they were protecting statues.

Here's the whole story....

Mariah Carey - Hero - 1993

Friday, June 12, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Swamp Creature

No, this is no 1950's grade F, sci-fi movie. Those were actually fun to watch and leave behind in the neighborhood theater. No, this one is for real.

Here is how it goes:
The list is extremely impressive. So many protections to destroy, laws to disobey or just not enforce, money to steal.

Mr. Trump’s swamp creatures have been really, really busy. Chief performer among the money stealing or at least unaccounted for, just "might be" the Treasury Secretary himself, Mr. Steven Mnuchin.

I say "might be" because Mr. Mnuchin refuses to account for the $500 billion Congress trusted him to disperse to businesses, so they’d keep their employees employed until we extricate ourselves from the COVID economic depression.

That $500 billion is a lot of dough to handle even for a guy like Mr. Mnuchin.

After all he only collected a few of his millions by illegally foreclosing on thousands of homeowners during the last Too-Big-To-Fail-Banker-Saving card trick. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) aptly described him by painting the Mnuchin picture using the words "greedy" and "unethical." She backed it up with these blunt words: "Whether illegally foreclosing on thousands of families, skirting the law with offshore tax havens or helping design tactics that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, Steve Mnuchin made a career — and millions of dollars — pioneering increasingly deceptive and predatory ways to rob hardworking Americans of their savings and homes."

Which swamp does Mr. Mnuchin presently occupy? That’s easy to answer. He is Mr. Trump’s very own swampy creation.

There. Now I get my quarter admission back from the theater. That’s great. But we still got to cipher out where the $500 billion has gone.

Creature from the Black Lagoon (4/10) Movie CLIP - Underwater Stalking (1954) HD

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Distancing From Our Racist Past

Do you share the discovery that improving life by correcting a historic wrong is often a series of baby steps?

After 71 years of discovery I have come to that conclusion.

Don’t get me wrong. Several great things have happened in my lifetime, seemingly overnight. But for the most part positive change has come about through a series of “three-steps-forward-two-steps backward” dance moves.

Still, sometimes, we do make change happen for the better. For instance, this morning I chanced upon an idea that is one of those dance routines attempting to right a terrible wrong.

Three retired military officers have asked the current Secretary of the Army to rename some U.S. Army bases which are currently named in honor of Civil War Confederate generals - and traitors of the United States of America as well as avowed racists.

The request states:

  1. The United States Army exists solely to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. America’s Soldiers are rightly proud of the sacrifices they have made to achieve this noble goal. 
  2. The Army betrays and belittles those sacrifices by honoring domestic enemies of the United States. To correct this wrong, the Army will immediately remove from any place of honor the names of Confederate officers who took up arms against the United States. Specifically, the Army will rename Forts Benning, Bragg, Hood, Lee, Polk, Gordon, Pickett, A.P. Hill, and Rucker, as well as Camp Beauregard.
The Army sent me to Ft. Polk, Louisiana, for basic training in 1971, so I’m tuned-in on this effort. I remember sweltering in the heat, rain, mosquitoes, chiggers, and keeping my distance from snakes and alligators, wondering why the Army named these bases after Confederate generals, the people who tried their best to disunite the Union, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans along the way.

Ft. Polk is named in honor of Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk. Gen Polk is not listed among the South’s best generals, to say the least, having lost every engagement in which he commanded troops, most often due to his own inaction or by directly disobeying orders, then slandering his subordinates, blaming them for battle losses.

However, by some accounts, Polk did own upwards of 500 slaves and was also a West Point classmate of Jefferson Davis, the confederate president.

The recommendation includes renaming Fort Polk, Louisiana, as Fort Forney, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Douglas B. Fournet, of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Personally, I think that move would be a great improvement helping distance our nation from our racist past and focusing the spotlight of honor on, “America’s soldiers (who) have left us a rich legacy of honorable service… (and) risked and sacrificed so much to support and defend the Constitution.”

The Army I served in was in many ways the embodiment of the fabled “American melting pot” - multiracial, multi-religious, multi-everything except privileged. As the song goes, “I ain’t no favorite son...”. And there weren’t. Not at Ft. Polk.

Here’s the story…

Dear Mr. Secretary, You Can Rename Army Bases Right Now, Col Michael Jason, Lt Col John Nagl, Lt Col Paul Yingling,, 9 June 2020.

Colonel Michael Jason, U.S. Army (Retired)
Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl, U.S. Army (Retired)
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling, U.S. Army (Retired)

MEMORANDUM FOR The United States Army
SUBJECT: Eliminating Racism in the U.S. Army

  1. The United States Army exists solely to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. America’s Soldiers are rightly proud of the sacrifices they have made to achieve this noble goal. 
  2. The Army betrays and belittles those sacrifices by honoring domestic enemies of the United States. To correct this wrong, the Army will immediately remove from any place of honor the names of Confederate officers who took up arms against the United States. Specifically, the Army will rename Forts Benning, Bragg, Hood, Lee, Polk, Gordon, Pickett, A.P. Hill, and Rucker, as well as Camp Beauregard (see Enclosure 1).
  3. Those who fought for the Confederacy committed treason in defense of slavery. Let us be clear-eyed about the crimes of the Confederacy. Our Constitution states, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Let us be equally clear-eyed about the Confederacy’s motives, described in this passage from Confederate Vice President Alexander M. Stephens’ speech in Savannah in 1861, “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”
  4. The practice of naming U.S. Army facilities after those who waged war against the United States was wrong and correcting this wrong is long overdue. The Army named the bases above in the early 20th century, as part of a national effort to whitewash the Confederacy’s defense of slavery. The Army is the only armed service to lend support to this disgraceful and dishonest “Lost Cause” revisionist history. No American Soldier would be required to serve at Fort Hitler or Camp Benedict Arnold; requiring our soldiers to serve at Fort Lee or Fort Hood is no different.
  5. We dismiss any claim that this effort “erases history.” We derive our history from studying archives and scholarly works, and not signs and statues. The Army will continue to develop leaders by teaching the best available historical scholarship. We will teach Lee’s brilliance at Chancellorsville, his blunders at Gettysburg, and his brutality in enslaving, torturing, and murdering African Americans.
  6. We also dismiss any claim that purging racist iconography from the Army dishonors Soldiers past or present. Millions of American Soldiers served honorably at Forts Benning, Bragg, etc. However, these Soldiers pledged their loyalty to our Constitution, and not to the name of a base, camp, or barracks. We take special pride in the service of African American soldiers who served honorably and stoically in bases named after men who would have treated them as property and kept them in chains.
  7. In addition to changing the base names cited in Enclosure 1, Army commanders will remove ALL names of Confederate leaders from any place of honor not later than December 31, 2020. Such places of honor include but are not limited to barracks, streets, libraries, and other facilities under Army jurisdiction.
  8. Redesignating the names of Army facilities lies clearly within my authority as Secretary of the Army. While I welcome Congressional affirmation of these changes, no such action is required. I am not debating this change; I am directing it. These Army bases currently honor traitors to our nation who killed American soldiers to preserve chattel slavery; beginning today, and for all time, they will honor genuine heroes to our great nation, Soldiers who have sacrificed their last breath in service of our nation or who have earned our nation’s highest awards for valor.

Ryan D. McCarthy
Secretary of the Army

Enclosure 1
America’s soldiers have left us a rich legacy of honorable service. We will name our bases after those who have risked and sacrificed so much to support and defend the Constitution:

Fort Benning, Georgia, is redesignated Fort Cache, in honor of Silver Star recipient Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe, of Thompson, Georgia.
Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is redesignated Fort Johnson, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Henry Johnson, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Fort Hood, Texas, is redesignated Fort Benavidez, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, of Lindinau, Texas.
Fort Lee, Virginia, is redesignated Fort Carney, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant William Henry Carney, of Norfolk, Virginia.
Fort Polk, Louisiana, is redesignated Fort Forney, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Douglas B. Fournet, of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Fort Gordon, Georgia, is redesignated Fort Johnston, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Specialist Four Donald R. Johnston, of Columbus, Georgia.
Fort Pickett, Virginia, is redesignated Fort Garner, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Private James Daniel Garner of Gouchester, Virginia.
Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, is redesignated Fort Sargent, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Ruppert Leon Sargent, of Hampton, Virginia.
Fort Rucker, Alabama, is redesignated Fort Thomas, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Charles L. Thomas, of Birmingham, Alabama.
Camp Beauregard, Louisiana, is redesignated Fort Johnson, in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Leroy Johnson, of Allen Parish, Louisiana.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son - 1969

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

This Story Has Just Begun

D.C. protesters zip tied and waiting to be loaded into police vans to be taken to jail... so Mr. Trump can have his photo op. (Photo credit: Jay Newton-Small)
Last night there were many heroes in D.C. – all of them citizens, like the rest of us.

Among them were the people who opened their homes to protesters.

Police forced protesters to leave their peaceful protest location near the White House and trapped them on nearby residential streets as they tried to leave. One was Swann Street NW in Washington, D.C.

All were trying to leave the scene after the police started teargassing them. But the police refused to allow them to leave, tapping them, boxing them in at every turn.

Seeing this happening before their eyes, residents opened their homes and helped move people out of harm’s way... only to have police illegally enter their homes and continue teargassing.

Why did this happen. Well, Mr. Trump needed a path cleared of possible protesters, so he could courageously hold his photo op, Bible prop in hand, in front of the closed St. John’s Episcopal Church backdrop.

“All I wanna say is that… The government don't wanna see…”*

This story has just begun, and the days ahead are not going to be pleasant.

— Jay Newton-Small (@JNSmall) June 2, 2020

"All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us."*

“Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, no
I'm tired of being the victim of shame
They're throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can't believe this is the land from which I came
You know I really do hate to say it
The government don't wanna see
But if Roosevelt was living
He wouldn't let this be, no, no”*

*They Don't Care About Us - Michael Jackson – 1995

Monday, June 1, 2020

Words Reveal the Man

Bill Hudson's image of Parker High School student Walter Gadsden being attacked by dogs was published in The New York Times on May 4, 1963. (Associated Press)

It is 29 May 2020 and the President of the United States is cowering in the White House basement bunker, guarded by a bevy of Secret Service Officers. Outside the White House, more Secret Service stood guard along with D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers, and U.S. Park Police Officers. Additionally, all 1,200 D.C. National Guardsmen were waiting in readiness to defend the cowering leader of our nation, who was hiding from unarmed citizen protesters, located across the street from the White House.

Like thousands around the nation, the Lafayette Park protesters were demanding that something be done to protect Americans from unbridled police brutality, the likes of which stole George Floyd’s life from him.

Floyd was murdered a few days earlier by a Minneapolis officer while fellow officers stood by, bystanders pleading for the murderer to take his knee off Floyd’s neck, and cellphones recording it all. Floyd, pleaded for his life, desperately calling out that he could not breathe, until he had no breath at all, a full eight minutes later.

When the cellphone video of the murder surfaced on the Internet, people throughout the nation took to the streets, demanding, in effect, protection from those sworn to protect them – not murder them in cold blood.

Mr. Trump labeled them thugs and tweeted that, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” “It was the same language a Miami police chief used in 1967 when threatening violence against Black males.” Twitter veiled Trump’s message for “glorifying violence.” Still, Mr. Trump’s fingers could not resist spewing out even more violence inciting rhetoric. Protesters at the White House Friday night, he tweeted, “would have been met with the “most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” if they had managed to breach the fence.”

Now we have it, Mr. Trump, President of the United States. Your words - not one person can misunderstand - words of racial hatred and your call for mayhem and racial war.

Instantly, your call for the dogs, brought to mind a vision I have tried to hideaway for nearly 57 years. One that not only frightened me then, but the man then occupying the White House, too, along with millions of others.

I vividly remember the Birmingham police dogs ferociously tearing at a black boy. It was May then, too, 3 May 1963.

Associated Press (AP) photographer, Bill Hudson, captured the photo of Parker High School student Walter Gadsden, an innocent bystander, who had been grabbed by the sunglasses-wearing police officer, while a German Shepherd lunged and ripped at his chest.

“The photo appeared above the fold, covering three columns in the next day's issue of The New York Times, as well as in other newspapers nationwide. Author Diane McWhorter wrote in her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 book, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, that Hudson's photo that day drove "international opinion to the side of the civil rights revolution."

Hudson’s photo became seared into my memory. I have never forgotten it. Another person saw the photo, too. President Kennedy told a group of people at the White House that The New York Times photo made him "sick." Kennedy called the scenes "shameful".”

What you say matters, Mr. Trump, not just to me, but to millions of people around the world.

This November, I know many American voters will remember your words.