Bits of This, That, and The Other

Today, I promise no posts about January 6 or the former guy.

Yesterday I let out a “WHOOP” when the wheels of justice, after turning very slowly, finally picked up momentum and rendered three sentences that were fair and well-deserved.  The three killers of Ahmaud Arbery were all sentenced to life in prison, with no possibility of parole for father and son Greg and Travis McMichael.  Good riddance to bad rubbish.  The other, William “Roddie” Bryan, will be eligible for parole after 30 years because he did cooperate with police and according to his lawyer, showed remorse for his actions on that fateful day.

Some will say this is justice, and it is right and just for the killers, and it is justice in one sense for Arbery’s family but make no mistake … this is still not justice for Ahmaud Arbery.  Mr. Arbery is still dead, so there can be no justice for him.

The good news …

I noted in a prior post that no matter what happens, the media cannot seem to give President Biden credit for anything, however they are fighting in line to blame him for almost everything.  Today is another example of that.

The facts:

Over the past year (2021), 6.4 million jobs were created, a new record, and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.2% to 3.9%.  This was the greatest jobs growth year in modern U.S. history, and it’s not even close.

The headlines:

  • Hiring falters in December as payrolls rise only 199,000 (CNBC)
  • US hiring cools in December as economy adds just 199,000 new jobs (Fox Business)
  • Jobs disappoint in December, but unemployment falls to 3.9% (CNN)
  • U.S. gains scant 199,000 jobs in December as businesses confront labor shortage (MarketWatch)
  • U.S. hiring slowed in December as employers struggled to find workers (New York Times)

Nearly 200,000 jobs added in December, despite the surge in Covid cases, and it’s referred to as “only” or “scant” 199,000, despite the good news overall in the jobs and unemployment numbers at the close of the year.  I wonder just what President Biden must do to earn a positive headline?  Whatever it is, you can rest assured that Congress will keep him from being able to do it.

Granted, the President doesn’t control the economy and doesn’t deserve credit nor blame in its entirety, however he or she (hopefully someday) does play a role with their policies and rhetoric, and throughout history, the press has assigned either blame or praise.  Unfortunately, today’s press seems to be under the spell of the former guy and is steadfastly refusing to give President Biden so much as an inch.

The not-so-good news …

The year 2020 saw the highest number of gun deaths in the U.S. in history.  Ever.  45,222 people died of gunshot wounds — a 14 percent jump from 2019 and the largest year-over-year rise on record.  This record is certainly nothing to be proud of and in my book, it’s well past time to place very restrictive constraints on gun ownership in this nation.

In the past, I have called for “sensible gun legislation”, thinking that the best way would be one step at a time, thus not antagonizing those who believe the 2nd Amendment is the only one that matters.  However, given the current level of violence in this nation, and the fact that there are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in the U.S., or about 400 million guns for a nation with a population of 330 million people, it is time for much more aggressive action.  Do I believe it will happen?  No, certainly not in my lifetime, for the gun nuts care more about their guns than they do about their own families and have fought tooth-and-nail against even background checks or assault rifle bans.

School shootings, mass shootings at malls, religious places, grocery stores, restaurants, etc., have risen over the years and today it is not at all unusual for at least one person to be ‘packing heat’ in your local Kroger store or Applebee’s.  Those who worship their guns won’t step forward to protect our voting rights, our way of life, or system of government, but they will fight to the death for their ‘right’ to own as many guns as their garage can hold.  SIGH.

A Tad Of Snark … Well, Maybe More Than A Tad

I have a bit of snarky in my fingertips tonight, it seems.  But, I shall start with what I consider the positive news …

The President is doing okay …

Overall, President Biden’s approval rating is quite good, all things considered.  Especially when compared to the last guy … Today, Biden’s approval rating stands at 53.8% per an aggregate of polls … a number never once reached by the former guy in four years, and in fact his highest at any point was 45.5%.  Check out two recent polls … NBC and CBS respectively …

And even Fox ‘News’ has Biden with a 54% approval rating!

What is it, exactly, that people approve of?  He gets the highest marks for things related to his handling of the pandemic, such as vaccine rollout and the pandemic relief package.  His lowest rankings are on immigration, as was to be expected, given the huge mess the former president left him with.  In light of the messes … plural … that were left to him to clean up, it appears that President Biden is doing a damn fine job so far.

For my own view … I am thankful to have the voice of reason in the White House again.  I approve of a president who can speak in whole sentences, who doesn’t engage in wild facial contortions, who doesn’t tweet nasty accusations and denigrations 24/7, and who doesn’t make that weird, inverted fist thing to get his point across.  I am thankful to have a man who I believe with all my heart will work FOR the people of this nation and of the world, rather than only for the few who have lots of money and zero conscience.  I am thankful for a president who is honest, who has integrity, and whom I trust with my life.

Again, it bears repeating that President Joe Biden has a higher approval rating after just 100 days than the former president ever achieved in 4 years.  Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

But will they be convicted?

Amidst the detritus, the hate, the violence, there comes one positive bit of news.  You remember Ahmaud Arbery, the Black man who was out for a jog near Brunswick, Georgia, back in February 2020 when he was chased down by a truck manned with three white men, and fatally shot.  His crime?  JWB … Jogging While Black.  Two of the three men — Gregory and Travis McMichael — claimed to be conducting a “citizen’s arrest” and claimed they had acted in self-defense, even though Mr. Arbery was unarmed and did not threaten them.  A citizen’s arrest?  Seriously???

For a while it looked like nothing was going to be done about it, but on Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that federal prosecutors indicted the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges.

(L-R) Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan, Jr.

All three men were charged with one count of interference with rights and with one count of attempted kidnapping, and the McMichaels were charged with one count each of using, carrying, and brandishing (in Travis’s case discharging) a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said …

“It’s one step closer to justice. They did the investigation properly and they came out with those indictments. So, my family and I were pleased.”

Next step is to hold these men accountable for their crimes.  Will a jury in Georgia find them guilty?  I don’t see how they could rule otherwise, but … it is Georgia.  No trial date has been set as yet, but you know I’ll be following this one closely.

And speaking of …

The video was everything in prosecuting the murder of George Floyd.  NOBODY could watch that video and not see pure evil on the part of ex-officer Derek Chauvin who kept a knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes until finally he died.  That video was shown far and wide, and sparked protests not only across the U.S., but around the globe.  It was a powerful statement and a powerful tool in the trial, no doubt.  One juror said he had to use his face mask to try to hide his tears.

The latest case involves the murder of yet another Black man, Andrew Brown, by deputies in North Carolina.  It is reported, by those who have seen the body cam footage of the incident, that Mr. Brown’s hands were on the steering wheel, as he had been ordered, and that deputies shot him in the back of the head.

The judge in the case, Judge Jeffery Foster, is refusing to release the five body cam videos to the public.  Why?  He claims he thinks that releasing the videos could somehow harm the ongoing investigation or threaten the safety of people seen in the footage.  BULLSHIT.  He is afraid that the same thing will happen as happened when the video of Mr. Floyd’s brutal murder was made public.  Okay, yes, it will likely spark protests, and maybe if those deputies valued their own lives, they should have valued Mr. Brown’s life a bit more.  I have a great idea … put all the deputies involved in jail cells … for their own safety, of course.  Sorry, I’ve got no sympathy for an officer of the law who shoots a man in the back or the back of the head.

The people of this nation have a right to see how Mr. Brown was killed, and we should be protesting now against a judge trying to hide the evidence.  In fairness, the judge did say that the video must remain out of public view for at least 30 days, but he would consider releasing it after that point if investigations are complete.  Meanwhile, the family members of Mr. Brown have been allowed to view only a 20-second clip from a single body camera.  What’s being hidden?  And why?

Attorneys for Mr. Brown’s family issued a statement saying …

“In this modern civil rights crisis where we see Black people killed by the police everywhere we look, video evidence is the key to discerning the truth and getting well-deserved justice for victims of senseless murders.”

There can be no justice, for Mr. Brown is certain to remain dead, his family devastated, but there can and MUST be accountability.  THIS MUST STOP!!!  Perhaps it’s time we treat every law enforcement officer like Barney Fife, give them only one bullet and they must keep that in their pocket, not in their gun!  If they’re going to act like Barney, let’s treat them that way!

Why “Defund the Police” will fail

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of Breonna Taylor by police in a horrific case of mistaken identity and police brutality. Our friend Brosephus talks of what must be done to stop these murders by police and that ‘defunding’ police departments alone is not the answer. Thank you, Brosephus, for your timely and wise words.

The Mind of Brosephus

Today marks the one year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of the government. Some call it murder, but the legal definition in Kentucky, according to Section 507.020, includes intent in the definition. It will be hard to impossible to improve the officers involved in the homicide of Breonna Taylor went to her apartment with the intent to kill her. That’s why I don’t think any of the officers will ultimately be convicted on any type of murder charge. That’s a different post for a different day though.

In 2020, we had to deal with the deaths of the three people above. All three killings involved active duty or retired law enforcement officers. In light of these and other killings by police, there has been a movement started to defund the police. The idea behind this is to take funding for police and move it towards other…

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Short, Snarky, And To The Point

Yesterday, after the second highest number of new cases of the coronavirus in one day in the U.S., the head-in-the-clouds vice president, Mike Pence, told republican lawmakers to “focus on encouraging signs”.  Never mind that there really aren’t any such encouraging signs.  Pence, like far too many others whose salaries we pay, is naught but a Trump sycophant hoping for a few bits to be thrown his way as long as he rolls over when told and is a good doggie.

Meanwhile, the reality is that cases are on the rise in about 20 states, proving that the push to open businesses back up against the advice of experts was a huge mistake.  Two of those states are the two most recently visited by Trump, Oklahoma and Arizona.  Please, Donnie, stay the hell out of my state!  Nobody wants you!

The three ‘men’ who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February have each been indicted by a grand jury on nine counts, including malice murder, four counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.  If convicted on the murder charges, the defendants face a minimum of life in prison and potentially could face a death sentence.3-assholesLook like a real bunch of winners, don’t they … especially the one on the far right.  This is a positive step, considering I predicted early on that they would receive no more than a slap on the wrist.  However, I am always amazed when I hear someone say this is “justice for Arbery”.  NO … this is justice, yes, but not for Mr. Arbery who is still dead!  It may be a satisfactory ending, if these three assholes are convicted, for Ahmaud’s family, but it is in no way justice for Ahmaud himself.  Justice for him would have been if someone had stepped forward and stopped the heathens from killing him in the first place.

William Barr, undoubtedly on orders of his ‘boss’, has put the U.S. Marshalls on alert and instructed them to be ready to guard national monuments from protestors who might deface or topple them.  So … just to be clear here … a piece of stone representing a man who fought for the right to own other people, aka slaves, is to be protected at all costs, but when it comes to human lives, our government is indifferent.  Remember that, folks … to Trump, Barr and the rest of the regime, you are worth less than a piece of stone, and less than a long-dead racist.  It’s always good to know where we stand in the grand scheme of things. toon

We’re coming into wildfire season out west where rain is scarce this time of year.  Since 2010, there has been a ban on any sort of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, since in years prior to that, wildfires had cropped up as a result of July 4th celebrations that included fireworks.  But, again … lives matter less than show to Donald Trump, and he is determined to hold a celebration at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota this year and he is further determined that it will include a pyrotechnics show.  Mount Rushmore is surrounded by 1,200 acres of forest and lies next to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness.Mount-RushmoreTrump has wanted to do this for the past two years, but until this year, his advisors were able to talk him out of it.  This year, most of the adults have left the room and his advisors seem to be all ‘yes-men’, so … the show will go on.  People will be exposed to the coronavirus and new cases will rise in the days following July 4th.  And there is a very real possibility that a devastating forest fire will be started.  All to assuage the ego of a megalomaniac.  I have no idea what this circus act will cost We the Taxpayer, but you can bet it will be a pretty penny.

Well, it looks like the ignoble, criminal Michael Flynn is a free man and likely to stay that way.  A federal appeals court ordered U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to accept William Barr’s move to pull the plug on the case against Trump’s first national security adviser.  Flynn is guilty, even pleaded guilty, and now he walks free.  But what bothers me most about this is the reason the appeals court gave in its opinion, saying that allowing the case to continue would intrude on the executive branch’s prerogatives to control criminal prosecutions.  WAIT just a damn minute here! toon-flynnThe majority opinion, written by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, went on to say that even scheduling a hearing — as Sullivan had done for next month — was improper under the circumstances because there was no good reason to doubt the government’s decision to reverse course.  No reason to doubt the government???  Seriously???  There is every reason in the world to doubt anything that comes out of either Trump’s or Barr’s mouths!  And since when is it proper for the executive branch to control criminal prosecutions???  The Judicial branch of government is intended to be independent of the executive branch!  What part of the U.S. Constitution does Ms. Rao fail to understand???

How far does this go?  So, if Kellyanne murders her husband, Trump and Barr can order the murder charges against her to be dropped?  Justice?  There is no justice in the United States of Chaos!

And on that note, I shall go try to stop the steam coming from my ears.steam-venting

Racism Is Alive And Well …

Of late, we’ve had plenty of reasons to be ashamed of a large portion of the human species.  Every Tuesday night I work hard to pull together a ‘good people’ post to help us all remember that the samples we see on the news every day are not the norm, that there are truly great people out there making the world a better place every day.  And then, I read about things like those I’m about to discuss, and my Wednesday morning smile fades, I wonder if there is hope for the human species or if it even deserves to continue to exist.

If you’ve ever doubted that racism is alive and well in the United States, wonder no more.  On Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day, Mr. George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.  Four officers were at the scene, and three stood silent while one kept his knee pressed into Mr. Floyd’s neck for some five minutes, all the while Mr. Floyd was telling the officer he couldn’t breathe.  By the time paramedics finally arrived and the officer removed his knee, Mr. Floyd was near death and died within minutes thereafter.  Bystanders were pleading and begging with the officer to let him up, and at least two bystanders recorded the incident on their cell phones.  There is some question as to what the police initially stopped Mr. Floyd for, and there are more unanswered questions than not, but the one thing that stands out is that the officers involved initially claimed Mr. Floyd was resisting arrest, while video shot during the time police were putting handcuffs on him would indicate he was cooperating with the officers.

One of the videos, that has been viewed by police and federal authorities, has been widely circulated on the internet, as well.  I am not placing the video on this post, for it is heartbreaking and made me first want to throw something, then break down in tears.  If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you can find it.

The officers have all been fired from their positions, which tells you something right there.  Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called on the FBI to investigate and posted an official statement on Facebook that begins …

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”

No, it certainly should not be, but for Mr. Floyd it surely was, as it was for Mr. Ahmaud Arbery a few weeks ago, and as it has been for so very many black people in the past.

Mr. Floyd worked for Mr. Jovanni Thunstrom, owner of Conga Latin Bistro in Minneapolis, and he also rented an apartment from Mr. Thunstrom.  According to Mr. Thunstrom …

“It’s hard to believe a police officer would do that. He wasn’t a threat to justify excessive force used on him. No one had nothing bad to say about him. They all are shocked he’s dead. He never caused a fight or was rude to people. I hope something changes, because I lost a friend.”

I will follow up on this story when more information is available, or when the FBI finishes their investigation.  As of today, the officers names have not been released.  Minneapolis residents staged a protest at the intersection where Mr. Floyd was murdered, but Minneapolis police used teargas, projectiles and “other means” to break up the crowd.  Funny, isn’t it, that the white supremacists can protest shops being closed while carrying assault weapons and police don’t lift a finger, but when people are protesting the unconscionable murder of a black man, they jump to action.  Welcome to the 21st century in the United States.

And on another front …

Christian-CooperChristian Cooper is an avid birdwatcher.  He lives in New York City and often visits Central Park to … watch the birds.  A crime?  Only if you are black, which Mr. Cooper happens to be. On Monday, again, Memorial Day, Mr. Cooper was in the Park watching olive-sided flycatchers and red-bellied woodpeckers, when nearby a woman was exercising her dog, who was not on a leash.  As they got closer, Mr. Cooper asked her nicely to please put her dog on a leash, for the safety of all.  The woman, whose name is Amy Cooper (no relation to Mr. Cooper) refused and became overly aggressive, walking toward Mr. Cooper shoving her finger in his face.  By this time, Mr. Cooper had his cell phone out and had begun filming the incident while repeatedly saying, “Please don’t come close to me”.

The woman said she was going to “call the cops”, and Mr. Cooper told her to “Please, call the cops”.  It was then that she said she was going to tell them that “An African-American man is threatening my life!”  By this time, Mr. Cooper was, as was obvious from his tone of voice, afraid of what this lunatic would do next, and he told her to tell them whatever she liked, just get them there.  Meanwhile, she is dragging the poor dog around by the collar.  With my near-deafness, I cannot understand what she said to the police on the phone, but I could hear that she was screeching like a banshee.

The police responded, by which time the woman had put the dog on a leash, and no charges were filed, no arrests made.  The next day, however, Amy Cooper returned her dog to the shelter from where she had adopted him two years before and was placed on leave from her job as an insurance portfolio manager.

Mr. Cooper is a Harvard graduate who works in communications, has long been a prominent birder in the city and is on the board of the New York City Audubon Society.  In an interview on Wednesday, he was more than gracious toward Amy Cooper, saying …

“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake. And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt. I’m not excusing the racism, but I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”

Amy Cooper has since offered a public apology.  Sorry, one can apologize for their actions, but the fact is that this woman is a racist who judged Mr. Cooper’s intentions based on nothing more than his skin colour.  That is who or what she is, plain and simple.  An apology doesn’t change that.

Yep, folks, racism is alive and well, and on the rise in the United States of America today.  Isn’t it a shame that in all these hundreds of years, we haven’t learned a damn thing?


White Americans must speak out against white racism

John Pavlovitz is one of only two ‘men of the cloth’ that I follow, the other being Padre Steve. Both are actively engaged in the search for justice for ALL, and I respect them immensely. Today, our friend Keith shared John Pavlovitz’ words and thoughts on racism and anti-racism, what we must do to bring an end to the horrible crimes against blacks (and Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, etc) that are ever on the rise in this country. Please take a few moments to read … and think about these words. We can no longer remain silent, unless we wish to return to the days of segregated water fountains and lynchings. Thank you, Keith, for sharing Mr. Pavlovitz’ fine words.


The following was written by Pastor John Pavlovitz at in Wake Forest. I have shared his writings before and his words resonate with more than just me.

“Ahmaud Arbery is dead because he was a black man.
He was hunted down by two white strangers in broad daylight because he was two things: he was black and running, which was enough reason for them to grab weapons and get in their truck and chase him down and assassinate him in the road.
Being black and running was Ahmaud’s crime.
To some white people, you can’t be black and running,
you can’t be black and standing outside a convenience store.
you can’t be black and sitting in your car eating lunch,
you can’t be black and playing in a park,
you can’t be black and watching TV in your apartment.
To some white people, you can’t be black.
For far…

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Running While Black?

The most heinous crime I can imagine was committed three months ago in the State of Georgia, where a gun-lovin’ racist, Brian Kemp, is governor. This is the stuff of the mid-1950s, not the 21st century!!! Our friend Jeff is as incensed as I am, and he has written a passionate piece about the brutal slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man gunned down for no reason by a couple of Georgia crackers. Thank you, Jeff. Sigh.

On The Fence Voters

Pissed. Angry. Distraught. Hopeless. Any of these words describe your feelings these days? Personally, I’ve had them all in the last 24 hours. And then I saw a video of a young African-American male gunned down and slaughtered by a couple of yahoo vigilante white dudes. My head exploded.

Another one murdered—this time apparently for having the nerve to jog down the street in the middle of the day. The nerve of this young man, right? How dare he run while black, in a white neighborhood? Doesn’t he know his place?

For those of you wondering what the story is, perhaps you haven’t seen the video yet. Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, is seen being chased by two white men in a pickup truck outside the city of Brunswick, Georgia. A confrontation occurs between the younger white man and Arbery, shots were fired, and Arbery is seen falling to…

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