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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Inciting Violence? Nah...Not Exactly

Question: Did Bernard Goldberg's book "100 People Who are Screwing Up America" provide inspiration for Jim David Adkisson, who shot up a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee last July?

Answer: Yes.

In case you can't read that scrawl, it says this:
Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book.
This is old news and I mention it only because I've been bagging on Bernie Goldberg lately.

I have no doubt that Goldberg did not intend for his book to become a hitlist for a psychotic rampage killer. But...

He did write a book so ludicrous, so glaringly stupid and petty, that it was only going to appeal to naked partisans, thoughtless idiots, or psychotics. Unfortunately, Jim David Adkisson was all three.

Misplaced Priorities

Unless you're a big deftones fan like I am, you probably don't care, but Chi Cheng, their bassist, is STILL in a coma.
Chi Cheng is said to be "in semi-conscious state" following a November car accident. He was gravely injured in a November 3 car crash in northern California and has "started tracking with eyes and saying words" but he is not yet fully awake.
I hope he recovers, and I fear he won't. That makes me sad.

This makes me angry.
Cheng's brother recently wrote in an online post that Chi's insurance company had stopped paying for his treatment in mid-January. His mother posted that Cheng's house was returned to the bank and his dog was given away.
This is our health"care" system and our banking system at work. Or in other words...it's not working.

The guy has a traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma but his insurance company is only going to pay for three months of treatment? Ask yourself cui bono on that one. It ain't gonna be Chi!

And the bank is still doing the whole "Fuck you, pay me" thing when the guy is in a coma??? Jesus Christ, man. Don't worry about your fucking money for a minute. It's only money! Money's all good and great, but you know what's better? People.

And I bet you the shelter gave his Mom a rash of shit about the dog, too.

Random Thought

I just saw a commercial for that show Whale Wars, wherein good intentioned environmentalists literally try to save the whales from the evil Japanese.

I wonder...would these well-intentioned whale-lovers even think about treating whales the way they treat these Japanese fishermen?

I consider myself to be somewhat sensitive to environmental concerns, but I also consider myself to be someone who thinks his way through things.

Throwing paint on some socialite's fur coat will not convince her that Fur is Murder. It will convince her to buy another fur coat. To which mink(s?) everywhere say to PETA, "You're not helping! Stop!"

Burning down a ski resort will make ELF arsonists into fugitives, but it will just ensure that the ski resort is rebuilt with more wood, more glass, more steel. Instead of freeing up resources, ELF is just ensuring that the real estate developers use twice as much.

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Perhaps they should add that it's not the good intentions, but the unintended consequences.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Seeds of Destruction

I had this idea for a sci-fi/space opera-y story involving time travel. Some future historians travel back in time to convince Gavrilo Princip NOT to assassinate the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo. They don't torture him or anything, they just kind of convince him that his actions will set off World War I, which will set off World War II, which will set off the Cold War, which will set off the War on Terror, and so on.

They could take him through history a bit like the ghosts do for Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The trenches along the Somme. D-Day. The concentration camps. The firestorm in Dresden. Nagasaki. Later, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq. War after war after war, all threaded together by a bullet from Gavrilo's pistol.

See what you have wrought, Gavrilo? Don't do it. Put down the gun, pick up a shovel. Get yourself a piece of land, grow yourself some crops.

And perhaps they're successful. War is averted and society becomes the utopia we only see in cartoons. But perhaps Gavrilo Princip ignores the Time Travelers and carries out the assassination anyway. The dominoes of war fall through history all over again...

Except there's another team working with a young Hitler, encouraging his art, providing him money and a warm loving home. They arrange for Polish Jews to be his biggest patrons, endearing him to them so much that he writes a book in favor of establishing a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land...

And so on.

But then, before I even worked it out in my head, I realized that...bah, it's been done before. It's not a new idea. And the science? Well, it wouldn't be science; it would be fantasy.

Time travel? Yeah, right. Changing history would change the circumstances under which the time traveler was born, and so he might not have even been born, and then what? How would that work on a quantum level? Nobody knows, but it probably don't.

And then I remembered that Gavrilo Princip wasn't working alone. There was a whole crew of assassins. Gavrilo was just the lucky shot.

So as a story, it ain't gonna work. But as a blog post...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wasn't Me

Man, I got ripped a new one by Uncle Jim the day that DHS report on right-wing extremism (ie, mostly white supremacist stuff) came out. He lashed into me like I wrote the damn thing.

And here we are, not even two weeks after an abortion doctor is assassinated, some white supremacist takes a rifle into the Holocaust museum and kills a black security guard.

I'm not saying the DHS report was accurate. I'm just saying it was kind of truthy.

Updated: I should clarify. Uncle Jim was upset about the DHS report, not because he has sympathies with white supremacists - he doesn't - but because he has sympathies with veterans. Unfortunately, the media reports discussing the issue that day were more interested in hyping the "Homeland Security says returning vets are a threat to homeland security" angle than the "DHS says that white supremacists may target returning vets for recruitment" angle.

Just for the record, the actual report says this:
DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.
Nothing about racist vets, or combat vets being a security risk.

In any case, Homeland Security released a similar report in January warning of left-wing extremism. It wasn't as controversial because, well, I guess the left just has fewer "outrage factories."

Updated Again: In discussing this issue with people, I'm hearing a lot of arguments like "Our soldiers can't be right-wing extremists; they're the best and brightest!" I didn't find these arguments compelling when they were being made to prove the Haditha massacre didn't happen or that, no, Scott Beauchamp didn't run over a dog in his Bradley. No, soldiers don't do that kind of thing.

Bullshit.

Our military is not made up of perfectly programmed robots. It's made up of people. Human people with foibles, fears, and follies of human people.

In short, the military is not some monolithic island of virtue walled off from the rest of society. No, it is society, only on a smaller scale.

Soaked to the Bone

I got soaked on the way home today. I didn't bring my raingear today so I had no choice to wallow in it.

I was alright with the ten feet from my buddy's truck to the bus stop. I figured I'd get my hair wet maybe. It was coming down pretty hard, but this bus stop had a cover so if I could...just...get...under...that cover, I'd be fine.

I neglected to take into account the river forming in the gutter and all the cars shooting through it creating a wall of splashback six feet high that came crashing down on me and my lack of raingear.

I guess they weren't kidding about those afternoon thunderstorms.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

People Who Are Screwing Up America

It's been a while since I followed-up on my idea to do, contra Bernie Goldberg, posts about "People Who Are Screwing Up America." Whereas Goldberg focuses on silly entertainer types, like Michael Moore or Barbra Streisand, or the usual suspects, George Soros, Jimmy Carter, my idea is to focus on the people who are really screwing up America, not in superficial, vaguely liberal ways, but in concrete, real, ruined people's lives kind of screwed up.

My first entry was Joseph Cassano, crooked Wall Street type who played games with other people's money and lost. My next entry is Scott Roeder.

You might have heard the name. Last week, he walked into a church in Wichita and approached one of the ushers who was talking to a group of other people. Then he put a gun to the usher's head and pulled the trigger. One shot. One kill.

Deprived of context, you wouldn't know that it was an execution. You wouldn't know that the usher was one of the most hated abortion doctors in the country, George Tiller. And that the man who killed him did it not because of some personal grudge or maniacal bloodlust, but for what are basically political reasons.

Scott Roeder hates abortion, you see. And he loves life. He loves life so much he's willing to kill for it. And even today, he was telling CNN that "the entire motive was the defense of the unborn" and boasting that it's "a victory for all the unborn children" since Tiller's clinic, now without Tiller, is closing.

In Roeder's world, "all the unborn children" apparently get more consideration than the living, especially if the living get in the way of "all the unborn children."

To me, "all the unborn children" is as meaningless as "all the living children." Give me specifics, Scott. If Tiller aborted your wife's fetus and you didn't know about it, yeah, I can understand how you would shoot him for it. You'd still be just as wrong, but at least there would be something human to connect you to it. Not this abstract, generalized concept, "all the unborn children."

What does that even mean? All the unborn children to come? Till when, the end of time? Must they be conceived first? What about the ones that are being conceived now? Like, at this very moment now.

Perhaps there's even a bit of payback, although I doubt Roeder would admit it until he's finished messing around in court. Not just all the unborn children, now and to come, but also the ones Tiller aborted. Revenge for years of killing babies. It was, after all, an execution. Not just prevention, but punishment.

But in the end, I just don't get it. I don't understand why a guy would walk into a church and kill someone. I mean, do it in an alley like a normal person. There's kids at church and church is traumatic enough without memories of murder floating around with the crown of thorns and den of lions.

I don't understand how Roeder could develop such a personal grudge against someone he didn't know because of his pet political views. I've gotten heated, and personal, with various people politically...but enough to draw blood? Enough to kill for? Put my life on the line, too. Become a martyr for the cause?

No, I don't get it.

Wherein I Confess to Being a Bad Person

I gave up one of my dogs this weekend. Before you start blowing raspberries or composing the nasty gram, let me just say, yes, I am a bad owner. A bad owner with good intentions.

You see, I saved this dog from an abusive home where she was being attacked routinely by other dogs. I provided a roof over her head, fed her, gave her water, a big back yard to play in, and a buddy to play with.

And this is how she returned the favor:

* She pissed and shit on my carpet. When this became a daily thing, I had to put a gate up to keep the dogs in the kitchen.

* She dug holes in the yard, even after I would refill them with her own crap. (In theory, filling a dog's hole with their own crap should dissuade them from digging.)

* She fought with the neighbor's dogs continuously through and under the fence. If this was an occasional thing, I can handle it. Dogs will be dogs, right? But this was her primary occupation, like it was her full-time job. Which meant it was my full-time job to tell her to shut the fuck up.

* She liked to chew on plastic. My nephew's toys, a piece of trash she snagged out of the trash can, and most recently the plastic containers I use for young seedlings. Not even two weeks ago, she ruined every viable seedling in a set of Chinese Lanterns I started. She just dumped the plant and chewed the shit out of the container.

Now there are other reasons I could mention --her general skittishness around other people and dogs, her leaky urethra, the jumping on the fence thing-- but seriously, four reasons is plenty.

Any one of those things - or perhaps all of them-- could be fixed with enough patience, dedication, and good advice from the Dog Whisperer. But frankly, I don't have enough patience, dedication, and I've got other things to concentrate on besides getting my dog to behave.

So I guess there's a certain point where you have to ask yourself, where does your obligation to a dog end and your obligation to yourself begin? This weekend, I discovered the answer.

PS: I couldn't take her down to the shelter myself. Not because of my drivers license situation, but I was physically, spiritually, mentally unable to do it. In short, I chickened out...because I knew I would chicken out. Like Jesus, I'm willing to suffer so that others --a little dog for instance-- do not. But like Judas, I'm also a coward. I didn't have the balls to pull the trigger myself.

So I asked my brother. He refused.

So I asked my Mom. She agreed to do it for me, although afterwards she told me that she's never going to do anything like that again. Apparently the guy who worked at the shelter was a complete jerk about the whole thing, such a jerk that he made my Mom, who usually has nerves of steel and not a weepy bone in her body, cry.

That is an unforgivable sin. If you work at an animal shelter, you should have some understanding for the people who are giving up pets. You may not agree with it, you may be put out by yet another dog you'll have to take care of, but you should try and have some empathy. If not, some basic professionalism would be nice.

Dumb Friends League, indeed.