Depending upon your political bent, you either saw justice served or justice denied tonight when the St. Louis County Grand Jury returned their no-bill tonight. You’d like to think it’s more complicated than that, but really, sadly, it isn’t. The RWNJ© are all calling Mike Brown a thug and a rabid animal. The Libtards© are all screaming about lawless lawmen. Who’s right? Who knows, we will never know for sure what happened on that street corner. Well…we DO know that an unarmed young black man was shot by a white police officer. Again. We DO know that police officer fired twelve shots. Beyond that, eyewitness testimony is conflicting, as eyewitnesses are wont to do.

Yes, Mike Brown was walking down the middle of the street after having committed a crime (caught on tape) when confronted by Officer Wilson. Does that mean that he deserved to be shot to death? Not according to the laws of our land. It is an oft-quoted statement that a good attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if they really want to. But apparently they can’t get an indictment on a cop. There are laws that protect the work that cops do. These are necessary laws. It’s ugly work that they do. I don’t think I could do it, could you? However, that does not mean that peace officers should be above the law. In listening to DA Robert P. McCulloch, describe the evidence, one is struck by how all of those contradictory statements were only on the side of those people who thought Officer Wilson should be indicted. Seemingly all those who felt he acted in a justified manner were in lockstep. Odd that, isn’t it? McCulloch abdicated his duties by not presenting the case, but rather doing a data dump and letting the twelve citizens figure it out. We need to stop right now and write laws, at the federal level if need be, that state that anytime a police officer shoots a citizen there will be a jury trial. With a judge. And Prosecuting Attorneys who are trying to prosecute a crime and Defense Attorneys who are trying to defend their client. No more DAs who just dump and tell a grand jury to sift. Don’t like that idea? Too expensive? Fine. Put body cameras on every single police officer every single time they step out of the station house. If the NSA can watch what the citizens are doing, then the citizens have the right to watch what are police are doing.

Funny title that, “Peace Officers.” How many of them are really committed to keeping the peace? Well, I’d say a lot of them, otherwise our streets would run with blood. And it would be the kind of blood that some people would actually care about. You know,white blood. There is no denying that crime is endemic in the inner cities. The system is set up that way. Youth (of all colors) are warehoused in “schools” until they are old enough to leave, and then what? Even if they stay long enough to graduate, the “education” they receive is for shit. There are no jobs for which they are prepared that pay more than minimum wage. There is no family that can survive on minimum wage. One in three black men in this country will end up doing time in the pen. Are you seriously going to tell me that means that a third of all black men are criminals?This is the system we set up in 1619 when the first black slaves stepped off the boat in Virginia. It’s the system that we set up in 1877, when we, as a country, threw up our hands and decided to let the losers of the Civil War win Reconstruction. It’s the system that we set up in 1896 with Plessy v Ferguson. It’s the system that we DIDN’T fix in 1954. Or 1964. Or 1968. It’s the system that we gave up on trying to fix after 1968. We have allowed those who shout hatred to win. We have allowed those who would destroy this country to preserve white supremacy to win. Again.

What is it that the NRA and overcompensating gun-owners like to say? When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns? That would be your police forces, Fellow Americans©. Welcome to Amerikka.

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Burwell v Hobby Lobby (or Welcome to the New Regime)

You can read the full text of the decision here at MotherJones.com, including Justice Ginsburg’s dissent, which starts on page 60. The issues that have been raised in the dissent are crucial. This decision has literally opened the way for for-profit corporations to practice religious discrimination. You might say “Hey, we’re a Christian nation, I don’t have a problem with that.” But guess what, this ruling sets a precedent that singles out some religions, including some denominations of Christianity, as being more deserving of rights than others. Don’t forget, there are Christian women who can now be legally discriminated against because of this ruling. How long until it is your denomination that is no longer being protected?

But all that is really just a side show, this case really isn’t about religion, as is obvious from the fact that Hobby Lobby has no problem investing their employer-match 401k funds in the very companies that manufacture and market the contraceptives they claim to abhor. This case is about control. How much control over your life, and your own body, are you willing to cede to corporate entities? For everyone who has railed against ACA as a gross infringement of the government into their private health decisions, while waving the “Get your dirty government hands out of my health care!” placards about…well, Congratulations! You are now celebrating the government intrusion into health care. Just remember, it’s a double-edged sword.

Once Again, Entirely too Soon

We’ve lost another tremendous talent to a horrific disease. Whitney Houston died much too soon. And though the official cause of death may not be listed as “Addiction”, one cannot help but speculate that it will prove to be a contributing factor. This, of course, becomes fodder for the would-be comedians again. As someone posted on facebook today, “Whitney Houston picked a good time to die. This seems like the only was she would get mentioned at the Grammys again.” (sic).

You probably know by now that I won’t join in the chuckles. I won’t laugh, though I can’t imagine that I’ll shed many tears, either. I’ve done enough of that over the years, though to what purpose, I’ll never really know. It’s not as though I have known any of these superstars that have died too young. I have known others that shared the same fate, however.

I don’t think it’s funny when someone dies. Period. I certainly don’t think it amusing when they die of addiction.  Of course, there but for the grace of Bob, and all that…so yes, I take it to heart. The only difference between someone like Whitney and someone like me is that I didn’t have millions of people watching every time I stumbled. (Well, income differential might indicate that she had access to better drugs, but that’s neither here nor there) And I did stumble. I fell. I constantly failed to live up to any standards or resolutions that I laid down. Quit? Sure! Absolutely. Hundreds. Of. Times. What did I do to finally succeed? How did I earn the right to keep on living, when those who have so much more to give die one after another? Fuck if I know.

I also don’t know if it will ever be enough. This disease, and yes, it is a disease, so quit your morality-laden willpower bullshitting already, is never cured. I may never use again. I may never drink again. But I will ALWAYS be an addict. And if some future use doesn’t get me, it’s always entirely possible that some past use will rear its head and wipe me out in some other fashion. Don’t believe me? Ask United Health Care. I told them I went to rehab and they said “No, no, no.” As in “Your stint in rehab makes you too much of a risk for us to provide life insurance at this time.” I didn’t bother to ask when might be a better time.

Want to know the truth? Want to know how we know we have truly succeeded at staying sober? We die of something else.

He Best Come on with It

I’m not one who generally likes to pile on, but I’m beginning to get the urge. Like many who feel we got stiffed after asking for our change, I would like some accountability. One of the reasons I don’t wish to pile on is that, even though I’ve never done the job personally, I imagine it’s a lot harder to do well than it looks. And the level of intractibility that has been shown by the opposition these last two and a half years surpasses anything that any President has had to face this side of Abraham Lincoln. One should also make allowances for the situation in which the new President found himself: two wars and a global economic meltdown in full swing.

As I am not one to pile on, neither am I one to suggest that the Dems run someone else to ‘shake Obama up’. Yes, in hindsight, there are a lot of decisions that could have been made differently. However, that doesn’t mean that we throw the baby out with the bath water. All a second candidate will shake up is the Democratic Party. We’ve seen what a fractured party looks like, it’s called the GOP.

This does not mean that President Obama gets a free pass, however. He needs to get moving, and he needs to do so BEFORE the election. If he waits until his second term to enact the change he promised, that makes him no better than the people he sought to replace. That makes him just another political hack whose only goal is reelection.

Tornadoes and Torpedoes

It’s been an odd Spring as we head into Summer. Killer tornadoes all over, and I do mean ALL over, the country. And, as if the natural disasters weren’t enough, powerful men seem intent on destroying themselves.

Why do we insist on living where we do?

I see these comments on all the news sites, you know the ones: ‘well THOSE people insist on living there, they get what they ask for’…I think this week’s tornadoes in Massachusetts put the lie to that theory. There is literally no corner of this country that does not live with the threat of geo- or meteorological events of an unbecoming nature, as well as the actual ramifications thereof.

Likewise, it seems there’s not one corner of the globe where powerful men don’t think themselves above the laws of nature, what some call ethics or morality. As I have been nowhere near DSK, John Edwards or Ratko Mladic (or even Anthony Weiner for that matter), I cannot possibly speak to their guilt or innocence (and yes, by all means, I DO realize that Mladic is in a category beyond compare to the others).

All I can do is offer one simple observation: Men with even a little power sure do seem to find themselves in these situations with alarming frequency. Why is that? Is it as inevitable as it seems? Is this some force of nature which has yet to be classified and studied properly? I realize that this phenomenon is not exclusive to men, but for women, it’s like that tornado in Massachusetts: something that logically you know is possible, but your eyes are always gonna be on the Midwest anyway…Peace.

–s