Drugs, history, and the Presidency.

Almost any day now, President Trump will declare a national opioid epidemic.

Or not.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Obama breaking into an amazing spontaneous cover of “Amazing Graze” at the funeral of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney. In doing so, he called down grace on the nation reminding us to look beyond our own skin. He embiggened¹ us all. (Reminder: Pinckney was killed when the terroriam² Dylann Roof shot up the prayer service at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.)

Meanwhile P.T. Rump offered solace to a grieving widow by way of an observation that the soldier, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, “must’ve known what he signed up for.” And to those horrified by Trump’s far from Presidential behavior, I would offer that unlike Sgt. Johnson, he had no idea what he signed up for. He is a displaced grifter. He didn’t know the audience watching center ring of the political circus expects results!

Aside: Gaslight, gaslight, gaslight, gaslight. Four (4) servicemen were killed in Niger on October 4 and due to the ongoing cage match between P. T. Rump and the office of the President of the US, or due to our collective lack of focus, or due to the daily deluge of <insert horror here news>, the Niger imbroglio was a passing blip in my news feed.

But back to drugs.

President Obama? Our very own Jimmy Carter on steroids.

Followed by President Trump. Our very own Ronald Reagan on meth.

And I really wish that comparison was funny.


¹Embiggen(v.)/embiggened(v.)/embiggening(n.): (a word mash-up of em-, big, and -en): The act of inflating items to be perceptibly larger. Especially useful when referring to esoteric and abstract embiggenings. (Hat Tip: Mr. Viva. Thank you.)

Em (prefix): ” ‘come into a certain state.’ Created to expand meanings. Can be used with many words to form new words.”

Big: of considerable size, extent or intensity

-En: forming verbs

Example: Sentencing terroriam² Dylann Roof to nine (9) consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole embiggens the hope in us that once in a while justice happens.

²Terroriam(s) (a pejorative adjective or noun, pronounced terror-AYE-am): a person (or persons) who uses unlawful violence and intimidation to impart extreme fear in pursuit of egotistical embiggening.²

Example: Terroriam Dylann Roof was given nine consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole.

There are all kinds of reasons Dylann Roof wasn’t called a terrorist.  The qualifier ‘in the pursuit of political aims‘ is present in the noun and adjective forms of terrorism. Even though Mr. Roof’s stated goal was a race war which to me seems political, according to legal scholars and white bullshit artists, his was a hate crime and he was not the picture of a terrorist.

However, as the definition of terror is extreme fear and Dylann Roof took a whole lot of time to inflict extreme fear, next to the definition of terroriam in the expanding Viva dictionary is a picture of Dylann Roof.

 

Sandra Bland, July 2015.

July 10, 2015, the police dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest. (After an exchange with another driver, the action starts at 1:20 mark followed by several minutes of inaction. Return to exchange with police at 8:30 mark, escalates very quickly at 9:30.)

Sandra Bland. An African-American woman stopped by police for a traffic violation. Three days later, Ms. Bland was found hanging in a police holding cell.

Dead.

Death by traffic violation. Not in a traffic accident.  A traffic violation. Let that sink in.

Ms. Bland’s auto maneuvers look like my driving.  At 8:50 when Ms. Bland explained her speeding up and pulling over, I agreed.  “Yep, that’s what I’d do too.  Get out of the way of the flashing lights on the way to catch a criminal or help someone in need somewhere or maintain the peace. This is me getting out of your way!”

And then it turns out I am the pursued. I am the violator, the target of rollers. Well, I would be incredulous too. “What!? Me? Huh?” Up to that moment, the preamble of events, I could be the driver. I could be Sandra Bland.

But the story takes a dark, unexpected turn at the 9:30 mark. Escalation to resisting arrest for a failure to signal? A failure to douse her cigarette? She was not in a posted no-smoking zone. She was in her car. Her car. Her own car.

Failure to signal. Resisting arrest. Three days in a jail cell. Dead. Sandra Bland breaks me. Sandra Bland was an African-American woman.

I am white.

Dollars to donuts that by the 9:45 mark, smoking or not, I would have been signaling to pull onto the road. Driving along my little way a little more careful.  Ticketed or not.

Alive.

Gun control, statistics, & media click-bait.

Hmmm, so okay. I read Leah Libresco’s opinion piece because of her chops and because of its catchy title. “I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.“¹

Leah Libresco is a statistician and I have invested mightily in statistics and big data these last few years in the form of college tuition for Frood.² With great interest I wondered what Ms. Libresco & her cohorts at FiveThirtyEight had uncovered in the three (3) months of analysis on the 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States.

Her conclusion that the majority of gun deaths need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis reads like an NRA apologetic-not-apologetic explainer. And I wonder at the analysis that took three months for very smart people to reach a fairly obvious conclusion, but whatevs.

Or perhaps Ms. Libresco can be given a pass for having insufficient data. Since 1996, the CDC has suspended research on gun violence since federal monies cannot be used to “advocate for or promote gun control.” Academia holds hush-hush meetings to discuss a public health problem of the same magnitude as hypertension and liver disease²  while the NRA actively puts its dollars in the pockets of pols to ensure its role as silencer for an open discussion of gun violence as a public health problem.

Meanwhile, data on gun violence for the last 21 years has gone missing. On purpose.

Or perhaps Ms. Libresco, in concert with the Washington Post and the New Hampshire Union Leader took advantage of the Las Vegas shooting to publish a paper that diverts the discussion of assault weaponry and gun control back to singular deaths due to gun violence.  Nice redirection away from the issue at hand. I hope the click-bait traffic was worth it.  You had our attention.

Yes, we’re keen on the methods that can be used to curb individual gun deaths and violence, but after the bullets raining down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino by a lone gunman armed with assault rifles and bump stock boosters, the questions we need answered look like “Isn’t it a bit too easy to procure weapons of mass destruction posing as ‘guns’?” and “Isn’t there something we could do to make it least as hard to obtain firearms and firearm swag as it is to obtain a driver’s license or buy a car?”


It is not legal for me to operate my car without insurance. Sure I can drive my car as long as I don’t get caught, but woe is me if I do.  Could the insurance industry help us out here? Perhaps gun owners need to have additional insurance to carry a gun.

I’m sending up a flare, but insurance isn’t mentioned in the 2nd amendment. Since gun violence and mass shootings are a tax on all of us, it would seem that gun owners should carry insurance to hold against the possibility of running a red-light so to speak. Accidentally breaking the law. Shooting the wrong dude. Shooting oneself in the foot.

My taxes pay for gun owners right to carry in the form of the 33,000 lives lost to gun deaths every year. Why do I have to subsidize your right to bear arms?*

Insurance to cover gun ownership. Hmmm, we’re back to statistics with dollars.

I just might be able to get behind that.


In answer to the question: Was the Las Vegas shooting the worst in US history?  the Washington Post unhelpfully posts a video with information on the East St. Louis Race Riots of 1917 and the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. The implication is that these events are analogous to, and possibly worse than Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub, the Las Vegas Rte 91 Harvest Festival shootings and all the other mass shootings. Ugh.

Shame on you Washington Post! Just stop. Just.stop.it.

These two events and the deaths cited were not due to an individual lone gunman acting alone using rapid fire assault weapons. The East St. Louis Race Riots and the Wounded Knee Massacre were clashes between groups of people.


¹Libresco, Leah. “I used to think gun control was the answer; my research told me otherwise.” New Hampshire Union Leader. 07 October 2017 11:13 PM. Web. 10 October 2017.

² Frood. Not her real name but she knows where her towel is.

² Schatz, Bryan. “Congress Gutted Researchers’ Ability to Study Gun Violence. Now They’re Fighting Back.” Mother Jones. 20 January 2017. Web. 10 October 2017.

*This is a similar argument to the mens and religious organizations who don’t want to pay for birth control for women. It’s a stoopid argument, but I’m willing to put it forth for gun control if it would get some traction and action.  Just sayin.’

Baby bump stocks.

The game show Wheel of Fortune features the category ‘Before & After.’

I’ll play. Baby bump stocks.

Baby bump is the swell of a woman’s abdomen during pregnancy.

In an effort to quash any demon spawn evidence of carnival carnal knowledge or resulting offspring requiring 18+ years of housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, love, hugs, parenting, Representative Tim Murphy, a strident anti-abortion advocate, encouraged his extramarital squeeze to terminate her pregnancy.  Evidently Rep. Murphy is unaware battle plans are great until the first encounter with the enemy. I hate that “enemy” is an unwanted pregnancy, but there you have it.

Bump stocks. In my news feed, I read “Bump stocks are selling briskly” and my first thoughts were “am I am invested in any bump stocks? what is a bump stock? is this an accessory to bit coin?”

Then I read the entire headline.

“Bump stocks are selling briskly since attack.” The day after a gun souped up to be a weapon of mass destruction rained down terror on high from the Mandalay Bay casino into the crowd of concert goers in Las Vegas, I learned bump stocks are a gun part and not a classification of stock traded on Wall Street.

So here we are at the end of the week. In concert with the NRA the GOP has determined that bump stocks are “out” and baby bumps older than 20 weeks will also be “out” as in, “in” all the way to pregnancy end.


After the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009, Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish ran a thread on late term abortions called “It’s So Personal.”

I recommend reading the entire thread. It exposes the anguish and heartache of couples and individuals faced with a late-term pregnancy gone awry. Quoting the first reader: “It’s easy to take sides on abortion in the abstract because we only think of healthy babies.”

 

A sundry assortment of tidbits.

Credit where credit is due.  My father loved the phrase “sundry assortment” with its embedded redundancy. An assorted assortment with its, oh, I don’t know, je ne sais quoi quality to it.  This post feels like just such an assortment.

Robert Mueller: The Sartorialist

It was reported with much humor that Robert Mueller had Paul Manafort’s closet and suits photographed.  Haha!  (The Daily Show, Trevor Noah)

And I celebrate Mr. Mueller’s tenacity. A suit — especially color, texture, weave, cut — could triangulate with surveillance and other information to confirm the identify of Mr. Manafort meeting with low friends in high places.

Snap Elections & Campaign Fatigue

I am curious about and a little bit jealous of countries whose governance allows them to call for a snap election. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is the most recent example. Teresa May called for a snap election for confirmation of Brexit proceedings.

Meanwhile, stateside in the US two (2) days after inauguration, Precedense Trump started his 2020 Presidential election campaign.

And so I would posit that voters in the US suffer from campaign fatigue. Politicians should have a defined period of campaign silence after an election to focus on the work of governing.

Voters are more than hamsters on a treadmill. We need a break.

Tribalism

First, there was the boozy story that (Wisconsin) Badger fans drank the two bars in Provo, Utah dry.  Turns out the fans only hit it hard during the football game with BYU (Brigham Young University, Utah).

Ah, those Wisconsinites.  A cheerful, libatious tribe of good tippers!

And Andrew Sullivan, my favorite former social-political editor-blogger-writer, wrote a longer piece for the New York Magazine – “America Wasn’t Built for Humans.”

The entire article covers a whole lot of ground and is well worth the read if you have time but to support our ‘Tribalism’ heading above:

“One of the great attractions of tribalism is that you don’t actually have to think very much.  All you need to know on any given subject is which side you’re on.”

If you factor Citizens United and campaign fatigue in with tribalism, we will continue to get more divided.

Throwing money at the hamster voters, lets them off the treadmill.


(Aside note from me, to me): Mr. Sullivan’s commentary on Ta-Nehisi Coates is especially telling given that he left full-time blogging to pursue longer form journalism. It reads as Andrew’s justification to leave blogging before it wrecked his writing as compared to the arc of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ career who has wrecked his writing. Really? I don’t think so.

Also, Trump? Really, Andrew? You think Trump is part of the solution? I.don’t.think.so. One word: gaslighting.

And I have had a hard time forming my own opinions since Mr. Sullivan abandoned The Daily Dish. Not so much because I agreed with him, but because the variety of high-quality comments he published from his readers on topics far and wide were an education to me.)

I. Remembering …

President Carter. No, as of today, he is still with us.

I remember President James Earl Carter as the first POTUS I watched actively and avidly. During his administration, the Iranian hostage situation went on for so long, that in high school Physics class, another student wrote a problem story of Godzilla using a catapult to free the hostages for an assignment complete with equations, and solution. It was politically incorrect, but we were high school students tired of the counting of the daily counting of the days and after all, wasn’t it President Carter who brokered the Camp David Accords?

Yes, President Carter brokered the CDA. And President Carter talked of his wife Rosalyn and the other women he had looked at with thoughts and we believed that was honest, and prude, but TMI; and he talked about Amy – BTW, where is Amy now? – and if that helicopter hadn’t crashed in the desert on the way to rescue the hostages, he would have been a hero. There might have been no Reagan Administration.

And Reagan. I became an independent adult during the Reagan Administration. Life was more complicated due to many factors.

But I remember Carter and his decency toward … human beings and the human condition.

II. Remembering …

President Obama.  And no, as of today, he is still with us too!

And my heart is warmed knowing that there were many children, teenagers, young adults whose formative memory of national politics was made during the Obama Administration.

And in the slow arc of history, I hope those children, teenagers, young adults remember to bend toward decency and justice for all … human beings.

Hmmm, Part III. Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Climate model changes. Well, this is good news.¹

Or not.²

It seems a group of scientists have found more time in their studies for humans to respond to global warming/climate change.

Hmmm, really?  For your consideration, I’m going to drop some thoughts, ponderances, and questions on global climate change and science here:

  • The recent discovery that Mars has unexpected weather.³ The nights are cold, cold, cold. While this information might ‘help future explorers colonizing the planet’, may I suggest that it could be useful in understanding the colonization we have on Earth already?

“It’s a bit like a Russian doll,” planetary scientist Paul Hayne from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who wasn’t involved with the study, told Nature, “with each successively higher-resolution model fitting inside the other.”³

I like this quote. It illustrates that climate scientists have a very difficult job. Peeling away the layers, uncovering the next doll. They are working with a very complex system and small changes in modeling, make measurable differences in projected results.

  • I’m totally gobsmacked when I read ” … we have more than 700 billion tons left to emit to keep warming within 1.5°C. ‘That’s about 20 years at present-day emissions,’ Millar said.” ¹

Well, hold the phone even though it’s ringing, statements like this released into the wild give us permission to continue bad habits that harm the environment. My individual contribution to 700 billion tons is just puny. I could jump up and down on that scale and it wouldn’t register so not my fault, right?²

I’ll be as cold, cold, cold as Mars at night here, but human life on earth may be a passing age regardless of any action we take. Regardless of any scientists, politicians, soothsayers, sooth-nay-sayers, we may all be doomed regardless of any action we take.

As evidence, the K-Pg event which sounds like a children’s show was actually a cosmic collision of the earth with an asteroid or comet. It extincted the dinosaurs.  “In the geologic record, the K-Pg event is marked by a thin layer of sediment.” Whoa! Big dinosaurs time left a geologic thin layer. Humans en masse? A geologic smudgy smear. Maybe. Who will know?

So regardless, let’s do the right thing.  Governments will argue, politicians will posture, manufacturers will whine about fairness, et cetera et al ad nauseum.

Let’s bring back “pollution”, the word, not actual pollution. Individuals can identify pollution and change pollutive habits and consumption. Personal actions and changes done by the millions have a HUGE measurable impact on the environment. (See also, plastic continent at the bottom of the ocean.)

And as we start environmentally hygienic habits and start trends designed to leave a smaller footprint, we unwittingly become consumer activists. (See also Hmmm, Part II. Remeber the Aerosol!) Rather than wait for government regulation and limits, dirty manufacturing cleans up due to market demand, clean-up happens because consumers require it.

And we remain the enthusiastically skeptic gardener.


¹Mooney, Chris. “New climate change calculations could buy the Earth some time — if they’re right.” Washington Post. 18 September 2017. Web. 19 September 2017

²Viva Nostradamus predicts that any time humans have gained by this news is just another distraction for politicians, governments, businesses, et al to argue about cause, effect and blame.  So, if you’ve read this far, just do what you can do today.  Stop polluting as you know it to the extent possible.  Trust me.  Micro actions in macro numbers makes a difference. To the planet.

³ Dockrill, Peter. “We Have First-Ever Evidence That Mars Gets Intense Snowstorms in The Dead of Night.” Science Alert. 22 August 2017. Web. 19 September 2017.

A sundry assortment of snapshots.

Here’s a sundry assortment of snapshot thoughts taken over the last week. Enjoy!

Or not.

Where I was on 2001.09.11.

The radio announced the plane hitting the first World Trade Center tower on the drive to drop my Kindergartner off at school.  And I thought ‘how could a plane not miss the one of the towers?’ what a tragic failure of air-traffic control? How …’ and I tried not to think of it further. The school drop-off zone can be brutal and requires focus and safety.

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