Monday, May 28, 2018

Week of 05/28/2018

Why The Next Shooting Tragedy Will Happen
I’m going to let you in on something that some of you may already know, or at least suspect.
There will be another gun-related tragedy in America. 
It’s not a matter of “if”.  It is a matter of “when”. 
It will happen.
Maybe it will happen in a school.  Maybe in some public place like a mall or a church. 
But it is going to happen.
No amount of outrage will stop it.  No amount of teeth-gnashing or fist-pumping will stop it.  No rallies or calls for political action will stop it.  And no amount of “thoughts and prayers” in the whole entire universe will stop that next shooting tragedy from happening.
You can take away the “nasty” weapons and restrict how they’re sold and to whom and under what circumstance.  You can go after all the violent video games in the world and all of the violent movies available.  You can make schools and churches and malls into veritable fortresses with armed snipers on the rooftops and motes filled with alligators, and it will not matter.
There will be another shooting tragedy.
It will happen because we don’t want to deal with the things that have truly made these people into shooters.
We don’t want to deal with young men that have been ostracized from society.  Shunned, ridiculed, bullied, segmented away into some subgroup where they feel and told that they don’t matter.  Where the system works against them.  These aren’t “star athletes” or “big men on campus”.  They’re not the popular ones or even the ones people talk about showing any measure of potential.  They’re not Archie or Reggie or Jugghead or even Moose of the “Riverdale” scene.  They are “Walk-On Non-Speaking Role #512”.  They are the forgotten and the abandoned and the isolated.  They’re the ones that you refer to when you say “well, someone’s got to make the fries.”
I know this segment all too well.  I was part of it.  I lived it.  I tried everything I could to get out of it.  And it lingers with me today.  It still affects what I do and how I think.
And the scary part is that I could have gone down that path. I could have easily been one of those forsaken nobodies that turn their pain into violence and tragedy. 
What stopped me from going there was the delusional hope that there would be something later on in life that would make up for my misery, and also I came to the realization that going down that path of tragedy would forever damn me in the eyes of society.  Everything I suffered, everything I endured, everything I was going through, all the loneliness and isolation and the psychological torment, would become irrelevant if I went from loner to killer.  Worse yet, I realized back then that nothing would change if I did go down that path.  So I dismissed the whole idea as the fleeting mad fantasy that it is.
And now here we are, more than thirty years later, and the madness that I had rejected is being taken up by so many others; in the workplace, in schools, in malls, in public venues, anyplace where they can find people and carry out what they believe to be revenge.  Sometimes they die in the process.  Sometimes they take their own lives.  Sometimes they get captured.
And every time it happens, we do the same thing.  We go into shock.  We give empty “thoughts and prayers”.  We lower the flags.  We put the blame on easy scapegoats; movies, video games, secular life, guns.  We get mad.  We scream for action.  And maybe we get some jiffy-pop politically-expedient action if the pressure is strong enough.  Something, we believe, is better than nothing.
But it doesn’t stop, even if that “something” is done.  All the marches, all the legislation, all the pressure on businesses to change their business dealings, all the false idol monuments put up and all the “gun-free” legislation enacted doesn’t change a thing.
It just happens again.  And it will happen again.  And we will be doing the same things over and over again.
Because let’s get brutally honest here... as long as we fail to see why these people do what they do and what brings them to that point to where they follow the path to madness and tragedy, then we will never do what it takes to really stop these tragedies.  All we will be doing is reacting to the next tragedy.  We will be wasting our time and our breath pretending to want something done, when all we are really doing is waiting until the next tragedy happens.
What turned people, mostly men, to go down the path to tragedy was not done in a vacuum.  They did not wake up one morning out of the blue and decide to be the next monster.  There is a flaw in our social structures that resulted in them feeling isolated and forsaken and it is reinforced with every day that goes by that it is not addressed.  They won’t open up about it because they have been conditioned to keep their problems to themselves.  Don’t complain.  Don’t “whine”.  Be a “man”.  Tough it out!
Of course, we don’t want to deal with this kind of problem.  We don’t want to mess with the social stratification.  We don’t want to admit there are flaws with how things turn out.  We’d rather have a few “losses” than mess with the status quo.  It’s just that those “losses” are starting to include more than just the “flaws”.
This is what we need to deal with, and, as long as we don’t, as long as we play the same game over and over again, then the next tragedy will happen.
So the real question that you should ask yourself is how many times will we have to react to the next shooting tragedy before you are truly ready to deal with it?

Monday, May 21, 2018

Week of 05/21/2018

How To Not Get My Vote
I may not look it, but I am a very dangerous person for people running for public office.
I am a registered voter that actually shows up at every election in my district and votes.  Not just the big elections like the Presidential elections every four years, and not just the mid-term elections every two years.  No, I’m talking about every election, including the local ones.  And their primaries.  And the run-offs if there are any.
But what makes me dangerous is not just that I vote, but that I am a former card-carrying member of the GOP who has been long jaded and burned-out by the lies and the games and the fraud and the hypocrisy, and still not only votes, but votes according to my conscience and to whom I believe would be the better candidate for me.  Not only that, but I encourage others to do the same.
I am the very kind of person that pollsters hate, because I don’t whore my vote away playing BS games of “if you vote for candidate X, then that takes votes away from candidate Y, and therefore candidate Z will win.”  Nobody owns my vote.  They have to earn it.
I don’t play political party games.  The GOP and the Dems are two sides of the same death-cult that is killing America every year, and no amount of “vote for my party or the country will be doomed” will work on me.  And if you’re saying that, then you are part of the problem and part of the reason why America is dying.
So, yes, I vote.  And I vote my conscience, not how some party cult-leader or overpaid political consultant and their brain-dead myrmidons want me to vote.
And with the mid-term elections once again in full bloom in Georgia, we are inundated with raw partisan Pavlovian dog-whistling propaganda from career politicians and their wannabe replacements.  We are besieged with robocalls and social media propaganda and junk mail and especially TV commercials.  It is a nasty, filthy parade of lies and half-truths and hypocrisy that is so degrading that it would make the worst pornography look tame.
So, with that in mind, let me share with you just how I vote and specifically who does not get my vote.  Because, maybe if you understand how a free-thinking non-partisan voter like myself votes, that might help you make up your mind when election day comes for you.  Because, let’s get brutally honest here... if you don’t vote, then you forfeit any moral, legitimate right to complain how the government handles things.
So here are some of the things that will disqualify you in this voter’s eyes...
“Conservative” – If this is your lead descriptive word, then you’ve already lost my vote.
“Conservative” is so overused in American politics that you had might as well start describing yourself as an “Oxygen-breather”.  It is that bad.
Tell me, what kind of “conservative” are you?  Because there are so, so many.  Are you the “tea party” version?  The old school “Ronald Reagan” version?  Maybe a “neo-conservative” from the Bush Junior era?  Are you the goose-stepping nationalistic “alt-wrong” version?  Are you the “Never Trump” kind or the one that sold your soul to the con man with the fake Jersey tan?
We’re still fighting wars started by conservatives running both the White House and the Congress.  Our debt, apparently only a concern when someone other than a GOP is in the White House, is higher now than ever before.  We have stores going bankrupt and shutting down.  We have businesses that are exporting jobs faster than before the last election.
I remember when “conservative” actually meant something.  Now it is nothing more than a dog-whistle tag.
“Christian” – Again, if you have this in your first descriptive terms, you’ve lost my vote.
The only people for whom this matters are Christian nationalists and other theocrats, and they are the enemies of everything that I and other freedom-lovers stand for.  If you’re pandering to them, then you will never get my support.  Ever.  And you can go right to hell and take your theocratic and nationalistic friends with you.
If you’re a real Christian, then you wouldn’t be making a big production of it and using it as a dog-whistle tag.  Even the teacher they claim to worship and give praise to said that this was wrong.  Unfortunately there are way too many so-called “Christians” in America that are more like pharisees than followers of Jesus... and they vote.
“End Illegal Immigration” – End it?  Right.  Is that before or after Trump has his Great Wall of Ego finished?
This is all part of being a so-called “immigration tough-guy” in politics.  Just like the chickenhawks when it comes to world affairs, these so-called “immigration tough-guys” want us to believe that they are “so serious” when it comes to the “menace” of illegal immigrants that they’d be willing to do the job themselves. 
So some goober running for governor here in Georgia has his “deportation bus” and he’s going out on tour like he would supposedly round up all the “illegals” himself and personally drive them to the US-Mexico border.  And a gun-nut who is also running for governor is now touting that he has his pick-up truck decked out with an extra-large trailer just so he could supposedly do the same thing.
Right.  Like they’d actually do that!
Tell you what, Goober and Barney Fife, if you’re so gung-ho about it, why don’t you start by telling all of your friends in the construction industry and the farming industry that you’re going to go after their cheap labor?  I’m sure your supporters wouldn’t mind knowing that the price of food and housing will skyrocket if it means getting rid of all of those damned “ill-e-gulls”.  Hell, don’t wait for the election!  Just let them know that you’re going to be rolling up at all of the day-labor spots and picking everyone up that doesn’t have a green card.  Just ship ‘em out and let some other country sort out the mistakes.  Go ahead and be “pro-active” about it!  That would show “leadership”.
You see, just like all these other “tough guys”, the “immigration tough guy” is really just a gutless coward looking to hide his insecurities.  They can’t really solve the problem, and they know it, but they want to pretend they can do something.
And they also lose my vote.
Then there’s my favorite vote-killer… “Family-Values”!  Of course, it doesn’t help that the people in the past that used that overused dog-whistle phrase ended up being predators, molesters, and hypocrites.
I’ll make it clear: if you cannot hold Donald Trump to the same standards that you held Bill Clinton to twenty-five years ago, then you have no business whatsoever even talking about the word “values”, because you have none.
There is one more word that is a vote-killer for me, but it’s not one that the candidates like to tout in their propaganda.  That word is “incumbent”.  It doesn’t matter how good of a job you’re doing; as a matter of principle, if you’re already in office, then you’ve been there too long.  And if you’re running unopposed, then I’ll write my own name in, just so my opposition is official.  Because even a write-in holds more weight than a non-vote ever will.
Oh, and, by the way, I have to do that on local and state ballots far more times than I should ever have to.
This is how I vote, people.  I want new blood in governments large and small, but I also want people in office that do their jobs and do so for everyone, not just for an ever-narrowing band of extremists, and to do right by me as a freedom-loving individual.  Sure, it takes a little longer for me to get my votes completed, but at least they count.  That’s what makes me politically dangerous.
Every vote counts in America.  But you have to actually vote for it to count.  Registering to vote means nothing.  Not voting means nothing.  If you don’t vote, then the extremists and the overpaid political consultants have won.  If you are not a fan of the way things are in politics, the only way things will change is if you vote and vote your conscience.
My vote counts.  What’s your excuse?