Monday, June 24, 2019

Meme, Myself and I

I am out of town this week, so I can go marry the love of my life on a Florida beach, and I'm too preoccupied to come up with anything coherent for you. But I thought this might be a good chance to dump run some of the memes I've been collecting before they become too stale to use.

 Fool me once, shame on me... (well, not ME... maybe some Fox "News" voters.)

Abbie someone?

He's accomplishing the Republican pipe dream.

But then, the deficit is only important to Republicans when the other guys are in charge.

The world's stupidest shell game:

 If they truly believed the Mueller Report exonerated him, they'd be handing it out at news briefings. (If they still had those.)

Poor Mueller. He had no idea how easily this administration can twist no into yes and up into down.

The ever-evolving excuses to cover up criminal behavior...

But the Libs are just politicizing it, right?

Hallmark is missing out on a whole new line...

He is mysterious that way...

Those damned 'roos ruin everything.

It pays to read the labels...

The "Tell-all" we all need to read...

See above.

This one just flat out made me laugh. I curse myself for forgetting to run it at Easter.

OK, I feel loads lighter now.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A New Sheriff in Town

I have high hopes for newly appointed Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. Already he’s been tested by the corrupt “business as usual” from his department and has stepped up with a spotlight and broom.

This week he had a 24-year veteran sergeant of the Baltimore police force arrested for assault, false imprisonment and misconduct charges, stemming from an incident wherein the good sergeant chased down and arrested a passerby who commented on an arrest in progress and kept walking.

Here’s the fuller story. Police have a guy in cuffs who was stopped on a warrant check. A guy walking by says to the cops that they shouldn’t make the detainee sit on the wet ground. Sarge chases after him and the guy tells him, “I’m not running away.” Second (subordinate) cop runs over and tackles the guy. They cuff him and begin the arrest.

Other cops come to the scene and pull the guy to his feet. He asks why he’s being arrested. Sarge tells him, “Just go to jail and take your charge like a man.”

He asks again why he’s being arrested. “Because you don’t know how to act,” he’s told.

Sarge’s report says the guy was “interfering” with an arrest.

The only reason we know what really happened is that both officers on the scene were wearing active body cameras and this time, the top brass didn’t conceal the video.

You have to think, both cops knew they were wearing cameras. They must have been pretty sure of their safety to behave like they did, knowing there would be a video record. I can only assume that incidents like this in the past were covered up and the tapes “disappeared.” I’m thankful that this practice seems to be ending with Commissioner Harrison.

Is it any wonder we have riots in big cities? This belligerent behavior is so hard-wired into law enforcement, they can’t avoid behaving this way. Even with an active US Justice Department Consent Decree in force, even in a city still aching from previous riots over police brutality, even with cameras recording every word and every movement, they still act like sociopaths.

Not all of them, obviously. There are plenty of cops who give candy to kids and have great reputations in the neighborhood, and they all run towards the danger as everyone else flees. But stories like this one are rampant. In the past, it was a perp’s word against the cop’s, so no one gave any weight to what some lying criminal had to say. But now the cameras are telling another story… they’re telling us the criminals have a point.

Baltimore police just arrested a guy for making a comment they didn’t like, as he was walking by. That’s it. Dude’s lucky he didn’t get his jaw broken or get choked out, you know, by accident. Or because the cops were suddenly afraid for their lives.

This sergeant made over $243,000 last year, more than half of that in overtime. That makes me wonder about the nature of that overtime. The Gun Trace Task Force debacle highlighted the relative ease with which their team was able to falsify their time cards to rake in the O.T. I have no reason to think that practice was limited to that one team.

I’m gladdened that the new Commish is putting a stake in the ground this stuff. “That officer is tarnishing the badge that we all wear,” he said. “He’s the person in charge of the culture because he’s the supervisor on the scene. He’s the person who’s supposed to be motivating, coaching, cultivating and developing young subordinates into the right way of policing.”

Baltimore police officers were found violating citizens’ constitutional rights with alarming frequency, even with Justice Dept. officers in the car with them. I wonder how long it will take for the message to soak in that business-as-usual will no longer be tolerated. I presume it will take a few more high-profile arrests of the BP’s finest before the message is received.

Meanwhile, the police union, (Fraternal Order of Police) are fighting all of this tooth and nail. I understand that it’s their job to protect their ranks, but there must be a reasoning in place that the ranks have to be worthy of protection. Those prowling around looking a reason to beat some ass cannot be spared the due process they so breezily deny so many of their arrestees.

Ultimately, prosecutors dismissed the case against the wayward spectator almost immediately. Of course, the guy was picked up again the next day, because his car windows were tinted too darkly and the license plate was “positioned in an unusual manner.” Yep, that’s probable cause right there, isn’t it? Then after they pulled him over, they said they smelled marijuana, so they searched his car.

I guarantee you that they were looking for this guy, ready to ring him up on anything. And the fallout from that? The windows were not, in fact, tinted in an illegal manner. Nor did they find any pot. No word on the “unusual” plate positioning.

They did, however, find seven grams of crack on him. (Presumably, this was his and not planted by the cops, because it was in 172 separate packets.)

The fact that the guy was holding does not negate the fact that they went looking for him and pulled him over for specious reasons.

Look, the guy could be a scumbag, no doubt. But we have civil rights laws on the books for reasons, foremost that the cops don’t get to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner, all rolled into one. There has to be probable cause to stop, detain and search, and that cause cannot be, “Because I think he’s a bad dude.

Good luck to Commissioner Harrison. I hope his message takes root with his department, I truly do.

Otherwise, it’s going to be another hot summer.

Monday, June 10, 2019


It heartens me to see Pride Month activities rolling out all over the country. There is a lot to celebrate in 2019. Just in the lifespan of this blog, LGBT people have gone from protesting to demand the right to marry (and all the privileges that go with it), to seeing that right become the law of the land.

Granted, that law is under attack. Hell, it’s the same with Roe V Wade, and that one’s almost 50 years old. It just goes to show that one can never relax; the religious right is always looking for ways to return us to the Dark Ages, all in the name of The Lord, of course.

I’ve written a lot about LGBT rights over the years, because the denial of rights to this segment of the public has always struck me as barbaric. There was when Maryland took up the issue in 2011, letters to the local newspaper in March and August of 2011, when Maryland passed same-sex marriage in 2012, California’s malodorous Prop 8 in 2013, the SCOTUS decision in 2015, and loads of other times that didn’t command an entire post.

The thing that got me from “supportive but inactive” to “militant” on the issue was getting to know gays and lesbians as friends and coworkers. I suppose it’s worked that way all over the country as more and more people come out.

How anyone can condone creating a “second class” of citizens out of otherwise ordinary Americans is beyond me. And ascribing it to the ravings of an ancient book is just insulting.

It is grossly unfair, inhuman and downright un-American to discriminate on a class of people for nothing more than the way they were born. I’ve often said that it’s like persecuting people for having blue eyes.

To paraphrase the popular meme, if your religion requires you to deny basic human rights to an entire class of people, you need to find a new religion. (Or just chuck the whole thing and think for yourself!)

You’d think that if these religious folks believed in the divinity of their Almighty, they’d have to accept that LGBT people were His creations too. That’s probably why so many religious people insist that gays choose to be that way. Then they can feel free to condemn their behavior or as they like to call it, “the gay lifestyle.

Now I’m reading that a bunch of jagoffs are trying to whip up Straight Pride parades. But before I could even start to formulate a response, it was shown that the idea was started by a couple of these so-called “Proud Boys,” who have a history of crashing rallies and causing violence and trouble. With luck, that association will dampen any enthusiasm for such an event. (I know, may be overly optimistic.)

I hate that whole mindset; that because a historically oppressed minority celebrates or rallies for their rights, these numb-nuts feel they deserve something too. As if straight white males have ever been a persecuted class. Unless you count times when someone takes steps to nullify their customary advantages… That’s when they cry “persecution.”

It’s like the old plea for “Children’s Day,” because every day is Straight White Man’s Day. Or month… or year.

Support of same-sex marriage and basic human rights for the LGBT community is yet another reason to turn out at the polls and vote Democratic. The Religious Right would like nothing better overturn the SCOTUS decision codifying same-sex marriage.

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue? Couples with children who have been married for years, suddenly stripped of recognition? How does one even go about stripping away people’s rights? How would there not be riots?

Isn’t “religious freedom” great? All you have to do legalize your bigotry is to claim that your religion requires it. And then if you meet any resistance, you just claim persecution and play Victim. 

What a country.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Put'em To Work

Over Memorial Day weekend, Baltimore took another public punch in the mouth from reports of mobs of 300-500 kids running wild around the Inner Harbor (tourist) area. The kids were disrupting traffic, fighting amongst themselves, jumping on cars, robbing and threatening people and basically enjoying the “safety of the herd.”

The police were able to diffuse the worst of the situations and eventually disperse the crowd. Six people were arrested but there were no injuries (caused by the police).

In the aftermath, city officials, citizens, and the media are squabbling over the incident. It’s all the usual stuff…

Arrest the lot of them, they’re all thugs and punks.”

Don’t blame the kids, they don’t have anything else to keep them busy.”

It’s only a few bad apples.”

This is why we need concealed carry.”

And on it goes. Everyone’s talking but there’s no consensus and nothing changes. I expect the same story from 4th of July weekend and Labor Day.

But it did get me thinking, in the broader sense, about what kids today are supposed to do.

There are a lot of things where kids have it better than I did when I was growing up… hundreds of TV stations instead of 4, dazzling video games to play instead of “Pong,” the entirety of civilized knowledge to carry around in one’s pants pocket…

But what about the jobs? When I was 16-17, most of my friends and classmates had jobs. I worked at a grocery store, then a gas station and a record store. I was thankful to avoid the food industry but there were lots of jobs to be found there.

Director’s DVD Commentary: I’m omitting the several months I worked at a glass factory, or what I call, “My Summer in Hell.” I earned a higher wage, but it cost me my job at the grocery store when summer was over. Hence my stint at the world’s chintziest gas station.

Where are the jobs for teens now? There used to be tons of jobs in stores in malls, but those are just gone. Disappeared along with the malls themselves. Amazon put them all out of business. My old record stores? Even in the malls that are left, there aren’t many music stores. I mean, why would there be? Who even buys the physical music media anymore? Any song you want to hear is only a .99 download away (if you can’t figure out how to get it for free).

Remaining retail outlets are rolling out self-checkouts as fast as they can. There go the cashier jobs. When I go to the big box stores, there are still a handful of cashiers alongside the self-scanning stations, but not nearly as many as there used to be. And the more we become accustomed to scanning our own stuff, the fewer cashiers there will be. Pretty soon, it’ll be down to one poor lonely cashier, there solely to ring up the rebels and cranks who refuse to do it themselves.

Even warehouse and stocking jobs are becoming automated. Amazon uses robots all over their warehouses. Grocery stores, at least the bigger ones, are often stocked overnight, which is not conducive to school-aged labor.

And where there ARE jobs available, they have to fight 20-somethings and retirees for them.
So what’s a kid supposed to do in 2019, get a fake ID and drive for Uber? IF they can get their hands on a car? That’s why we see kids running drugs or working the squeegee on street corners.

I got my first job at 16 and but for a few brief gaps, worked continuously through college and beyond. Those part-time jobs paid for almost the entirety of my college education and gave me money for dates, gas, beer and the occasional record album.

Those jobs taught me about the real world, where I had to be responsible, dedicated and do things correctly. When I didn’t, I’d get written up or fired. It was on me to stay in my employer’s good graces.

I’ve always been proud of my relative* self-sufficient teenage years and I was only able to feel that way because there were jobs available to me.

I say relative* because I lived at home and commuted to college, so I had free room and board. Going to a local and affordable state school was a conscious choice I made to keep costs down. Also, note that this was back when a part-time job could still pay for college. Current tuition rates, in comparison to current wages, make that impossible today.

I don’t want to make alibis for anti-social behavior, but I might feel a little boisterous too if I had no money, no job, and no prospects for changing that equation. City leaders can ruminate on creating places for leisure activities, but that only moves the problem to a different location.

A job teaches responsibility and instills a degree of pride and self-worth. Maybe they can find a way to create some of those instead of kicking around another skateboard park or motocross track that never comes to pass.