Sunday, December 30, 2012

Got banned again

Hey folks, I just got a 7 day ban from Facebook for telling Matthew Desmond's fake profile to go fuck himself. We aren't going anywhere but if you see a slack in posting, you know why. Revenge will be served.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The NRA doesn't represent me (thoughts from a gun owner)

The NRA, like the GOP, has found itself well down the road to irrelevance. By pandering to the ideology of the extremists they attract, they've alienated the majority of Americans. This includes many who'd support some of their ideas if it wasn't for their obstinate insistence on no compromise, no common sense solutions.

When faced with horrific tragedies and real issues to be addressed, instead of moving to the center or at least acknowledging an issue with guns, they double down on rhetoric. Instead of catering to mental stable gun owners, they've narrowed their audience further and further by stoking the fires of paranoia in the minds of conspiracy theorists and militia members. Rather than promote responsible gun ownership, they've cashed in on the wannabe Rambos and people who wouldn't be able to pass the psychological exam to become a police officer or soldier.

Now before people start of on the "well, you're just a liberal who wants to take everyone's guns away" tirade, I used to read "American Rifleman" when I was a kid. Every issue started off with a collection of short stories about people who used their weapon to protect themselves and/or shoot a bad guy. Back then, it was more about hunting and self defense than it is today. I really dug the idea of being able to eliminate a coyote at 500 yards with a .25-06 and plinking cans with a .22 has been something I've enjoyed since I was 7 years old. Blowing up a stuff with an AR at a target range out in the middle of the woods? That's a little slice of burnt gunpowder heaven to me.

However, the NRA doesn't represent me anymore. I own a 12 gauge shotgun with shells that range from 00 buckshot for home defense to #6 shot for the water moccasins that hang out in the ditches between the cane fields that surround my house. I have owned various handguns and a concealed carry permit but I don't buy into the constant fear they sell that causes their members to nervously pat their waistband every time they see a black person at the adjacent gas pump at 1 in the morning.

Their answer to gun violence? More fear, more paranoia. Buy more guns, buy more ammo, become a member and slap an NRA sticker on your vehicle to scare off criminals. And seriously, who the fuck are these nuts who want an AR-15 for home defense? Fire one of those at an intruder and miss? That 5.56mm round will scream right through 2 layers of drywall and insulation and right into your spouse or child sleeping in an adjacent room. Don't tell me you need a semi-auto weapon with a 30 round clip and armor piercing rounds to protect you from a crackhead. Chances are you're a lousy shot but let's be honest, you want to really, really kill someone.

These aren't people who really want to protect their homes, they have this delusional, Fox News fed fantasy that Obama and the UN are going to show up to take them to detention camps. They have watched Red Dawn or Rambo one time too many and think that they will somehow fight off an imagined repressive government with a single rifle, and the NRA reinforces that delusion at every opportunity to make even more money.

I'll support reasonable restrictions on gun ownership, including special licenses for military-styled weapons such as an AR-15 and bans on high capacity magazines. I also think that we should take the police officers who we pay to bust people for smoking pot and reassign them to walk the halls of our schools instead. We aren't going to stop gun violence in our country, violence has been part of our history since the beginning. We can make a dent in it and we can make it harder for people who suddenly snap to go on rampages like we saw at Sandy Hook or Aurora.

If you're a responsible person, you should be able support certain safeguards which in no way restrict your ability to own or use firearms in a responsible manner. Or you can follow the way of the NRA, double down on stupid, and follow the bloody trail to irrelevancy. Your choice.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook tragedy, a Facebook page tries to cash in

On Monday, December 17th, I logged into Facebook and saw that a friend of mine had "liked" a page supposedly dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Like probably everyone else who has Facebook, Twitter, or any other sort of social media, half of my newsfeed was filled with posts, images and links about this national tragedy.

As my mouse hovered over the page entitled "R.I.P Sandy Hook Elementary School Children", I noticed it had over 200,000 likes and growing. I decided to check it out. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw images downloaded from news sites with the instructions to "LIKE THIS LINK

Now this is normally standard fare for some scammer sites on Facebook but when I checked out the personal profile, I wanted to throw my laptop through the window in a fit of rage. This person is using the tragedy of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary to promote his personal music profile as well as his page called "Lil Brown". He also claims to be on a label called "We Are Young Money". On further research, we've found that he is not signed to that label and he's featured on only ONE song on a mixtape by Lil Chuckee who is a 16 year old artist on their roster.

This guy is apparently some aspiring low level hip hop artist who is using the deaths of teachers and children to gain web traffic and cash in on it. Now I've seen some really disgusting use of tragic events to make money but I think this one deserves the "shit head of the century" award. The offending page was started in August, 4 months before the events of 12-14-2012 and "Cardy Chery" changed the name of the page in order to cash in on publicity surrounding the massacre. The legitimate page "R.I.P Sandy Hook Elementary School Children" doesn't ask people to "like and share" or post links to personal profiles for wannabe rappers. It is located here:

(The page has since been updated to show that it was created in December but we have the above screenshot as proof.)

There's plenty of pages who use images with "like if you think she's beautiful, ignore if you have no heart". You've seen them, those pictures that your friend "liked" along with 607,890 other people and the text "add me to get 5,000 followers". They also do that with pictures of injured pets, disabled children soldiers returning from war, and anything else to gain the most "likes and shares" possible. They do this to fill your news feed with game requests, spam for Viagra, Air Jordans, etc. Even legitimate pages do the "like and share" thing as a way to expand their audience on social media without having to pay for it.

In this case, I think we've found someone who found a new low. I've enclosed a couple screenshots as evidence along with the links provided.

***UDATE 12/19/2012***

The following are screenshots from personal profile for a "Nick Shawn Moss". The post from Tuesday (12/18) asking people to subscribe to this profile is not available at this time but again, we have a screenshot.

Both profiles that the page has linked to claim to be with "Young Money Entertainment". However, if you click on the link on the personal profile, it redirects you to the real Young Money Entertainment page. This suggests that these guys aren't with the label (and really, how many 17 year old kids are hanging out with Lebron James, pouring out champagne on strippers, etc?) and the page they created was deleted at the request of the real record label.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A history of violence, 12-14-12

In the light of recent events, it's time to have a very real conversation about not only mental health issues but where our society is going overall. To say we just need to ban guns or that we just need to place police officers everywhere is intellectually lazy and a cop-out.

By nature, human beings are violent creatures. In case you haven't been paying attention, we've been killing each other since the beginning of our history. Whether it has been over resources or beliefs, we've only gotten better and more efficient at it. We've also lost a sense of what death really is. Everything is so sanitized and remote that unless you've watched "Faces of Death" or actually watched someone die in front of you, it is sort of an abstract idea that most people don't grasp. Why do you think so many soldiers come home with PTSD? They've seen death up close and personal.

I'm not going to tell you I have all the answers to this problem, I don't think anyone really does. However, making more laws isn't going to fix the problem. Making handguns illegal won't stop killings from happening and arming every member of the populace isn't going to do that either. I also know that allowing everyone access to free mental healthcare isn't going to fix it, nor will placing a 100% tax on every box of bullets. As long as there are deranged, evil people walking this earth, events like that of Columbine, Norway, Oklahoma City, 9-11 and Newtown will happen.

America has a sordid history and fascination with violence. Consider that one of the first things the European settlers did upon landing on these shores was to start annihilating the natives. Ponder the fact that the Puritans had zero problem with burning alive people they thought were witches or that except for a few years in our history, America has been involved in one war or another. Why is it that we put warning labels on everything sexual in nature but allow kids to watch cartoons and films in which almost every problem is solved with violence of some sort? How many action films involve the villain being escorted to prison in handcuffs versus being blown up or shot to pieces by the hero? Think about all of that.

There is no law, no reasonable change that we can make that will stop a repeat of the tragedy of 12-14-2012. We can arm every single man, woman and child but we are already the most heavily armed nation in the world. We can ban the sale and possession of firearms but that won't stop it either. We can spout the talking points of the gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby until we're blue in the face but that'll get us nowhere.

As I said, I don't have the answers but here's where I think we can start. Require that further purchases and possession of assault weapons need a license, much like a driving permit. Make it a one time deal where you take a safety course, just like many states already require for hunting. Violations of the law involving firearms will result in the license being suspended or permanently revoked.

Next, if you commit a violent crime involving a gun, you go to jail for the rest of your life. I prefer a place like Angola where you don't sit on your ass in a cell and watch TV. You'll be working in the hot fields, swatting mosquitoes and digging ditches until the day you're buried in the dark delta soil.

All of these suggestions will not stop a suicidal, violent person though. If you're depressed and angry with suicide on your mind, no law or consequences will likely stop you. In fact, there are people who seek "suicide by cop". When I was a kid, we had a mental hospital in my town. People who were suffering from mental issues were sent there for the safety of the community. The problem is that we've closed so many of those and placed such a stigma on mental illness. We've basically made the choice of letting these kids with behavioral problems either stay in the schools and be bullied or be placed in prison. We allow our kids to be fed a steady diet of media that glorifies violence as the answer to everything, as we give them a pill for everything that we perceive to be wrong with them.

Sadly, as soon as the media finds a new tragedy, they'll be on to the next story they can command the most advertising dollars from. The question is will we allow them to? Once the last victim is buried, will we go back to our comfortable little lives and wait for it to happen again, maybe this time in our backyard? Or will we get beyond the paranoid fantasies on the right that the government wants to take everyone's guns and the delusional ideology on the far left that only by doing exactly that will we be safe?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The NDAA and other hypothetical situations

There's been many a time when people have asked me why we don't cover some issues, most specifically, things like the NDAA and others.

Let me go ahead and clarify. First of all, I don't speak on things I haven't researched or feel qualified enough to discuss. We talk about things we know. Things like working for a living, progressive politics, etc. I've never known anyone who has been swept up by the military and indefinitely detained for any reason. However, I have known people with lives that were literally destroyed by the Bush wars and people who've gone to prison for the simple crime of possessing marijuana. To me, those are the outrages. That's what I get upset about, not hypothetical situations that have yet to be realized.

Let's talk about prison first. Last year, I went to my first Angola Prison Rodeo. While I know there are people behind those rows of barbed wire who deserve to be there for the remainder of their lives, I met some who didn't. One gentleman that I met was a soft-spoken artist who was finishing up a 25 year term for selling marijuana. His family's lives went on without him all that time he was out toiling in those fields behind the Mississippi levees in the hot Louisiana sun. To me, that is the outrage.

War? Don't get me started. I've known veterans of every war from WWII to Afghanistan. My uncle was a Korean War veteran who demanded to serve despite being initially turned down because of his eyesight. I remember being a teenager and dealing with a Green Beret with severe PTSD. In my 20's, I listened to a friend who came back from Iraq with his story of opening fire on a vehicle that didn't stop at a checkpoint, only to watch the lifeless bodies of children slump out of the backseat of the car when the smoke cleared. We saw our favorite bartender who was stationed at Fort Stewart go off to Iraq, only to return as a person we barely knew, and later commit suicide.

Don't lecture me on hypothetical situations that currently exist only in internet chat rooms. There's people have been detained for most of or all the remainder of their natural lives for things that shouldn't be a crime. There's enough real injustice and real crimes going on in this world to be upset about. Let's deal with those and then we can deal with your hypotheticals.

A letter to the 1%

To those in the 1% who might read this:

Why is it considered unfair and immoral to tax those who can afford it, but OK to deny people medical care because they can't afford it? Why is it that somehow someone who makes millions off trading stocks is more entitled to keep their money than someone who works 60 or 70 hours a week doing actual physical labor? How is it greedy that someone who makes 1% of what you do annually demands the right to unionize and earn a living wage?

Listen...I will never begrudge someone who has earned their money honestly but this worship of the wealthy has got to stop. I'm happy for those who saw a demand, created a product to meet that demand, and subsequently made a bunch of money off it. In real capitalism, one takes their money and risks it to make more. Some succeed and some fail, that is the nature of the beast.

What is intolerable is that those who got bailed out when their business fell through, they want to cut the same safety net when it comes to the public. Even worse, there's members of the voting bloc who support that even while they use the very "entitlement" systems that they demonize. In both cases, they believe that they somehow earned a right to these safety net and entitlement funds but other people don't deserve it. This isn't some sort of great concern for fiscal responsibility, it's selfishness, plain and simple.

How else can you justify the waste of trillions of dollars on wars, tax breaks and subsidies for multi-billion dollar companies or massive pork barrel spending? Yet somehow when it comes to money for anti-poverty programs and education, you're suddenly a fiscal hawk? Give me a fucking break. The whole bit about how only 53% of Americans pay taxes? That's not because the tax code unfairly targets the rich, it's because 47% of Americans make so little money, they don't qualify to pay federal taxes, and they shouldn't. However, they still pay state sales tax, vehicle taxes, property taxes, etc.

Put me in the 1% and I'll gladly pay 50-60% of my annual income in hopes that money can be used to better my community and give others the opportunity to achieve the same success. You can't demand good roads, good schools, skilled workers for your business, low crime and all the other great things a 1st world society has to offer without paying for it. Stop trying to be one of the "takers" you like to rail on about and pay your damn taxes instead of trying to get every loophole possible.

Sincerely annoyed with your kvetching,


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Southern, progressive, redneck?

I'm really tired of the perception and portrayal of rural, working class people by the political and social elitists. The disdain and condescension towards those of us who'd rather drive a pickup truck than a Prius has got to stop. There are many people who would be on the side of progressive politics more often if it wasn't for the feeling that they're being looked down on by the self appointed party elite.

Yeah, it's easy to poke fun at tobacco-spitting, gun-toting country folk that drive trucks with big tires and listen to country music instead of the bands only known to subscribers of Pitchfork. Those of us who live outside the suburbs have a sense of humor about our way of life but using the cliche stereotypes to repeatedly bash us to make a point about red states, it ain't cool. Don't like guns? That's fine, but don't lump those of us who do in with Neo-Nazi separatists, militia members and other nutjobs. Don't like country music? I don't care much for it either, but why insult something people grew up with and enjoy? Whether it is food, music or other parts of someone else's culture, mocking it is like talking bad about their family or kicking their hunting dog. It shows a lack of maturity, cultural understanding, and security in your own lifestyle or socio-political identification.

I've spent half my life in the city, and half in the country. I milked cows, shot snakes, and slaughtered pigs and chickens as a kid. I grew up with an outhouse that you had to outrun an angry bull to get to and then spent nearly all of my adult life in the city until just a couple years ago when I went back to the rural life. There's so many people in the country that could support things like marriage equality, reasonable gun restrictions, green energy, etc. However, they're turned off by the perception that party elitists think they're backasswards, cousin-touching, inbred toothless rednecks. As a result, every November, they pull the lever for the folks who at least pretend to identify with them.

When are you going to stop this? When will you as a political and social media movement stop portraying every rightwinger as an uneducated redneck? There's plenty of rednecks, educated or not, that I know voted for Obama in both 2008 and 2012. There's far more that could have possibly turned some red states blue but they're still convinced that liberals think they're stupid and want to take their way of life away. Rednecks are the backbone of America, they're the working class, and they vote. The two bearded guys wearing overalls and trucker caps who hold hands when they think nobody is watching, they'd probably vote a Blue ticket more often if they could be sure progressives supported more than just their right to love each other.

The point of this rant is...stop it. If you want to win again in 2014 and beyond, stop belittling the rural folks and automatically writing them off as automatic GOP votes. Start trying to identify with them and show them how your policies will benefit them instead of sitting on your perch of perceived cultural superiority. Stop turning up your nose at college football, camouflage shirts, boiled crawfish and pickup trucks. Nobody is saying you have to embrace it, just try to understand it.

For people who bitch about Republican class warfare and elitism, you sure do a goddamned lot of it yourselves. Knock it off.