An Eventful Evening

I was in the middle of a post that I had hoped to finish in time for this morning’s post, but I was interrupted and since I cannot corral my thoughts tonight, I am going with a post of a more personal nature.

Sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 this evening (Monday) I happened to walk by the living room windows that face our street, and saw not one, not two, but three Sheriff’s vehicles on the street.  Curious of course, I stepped out onto the sidewalk and saw that there was a fourth Sheriff’s car parked further down the street.  The officers seemed to have congregated around the apartment two doors down from mine.

Now, the sight of police here in da hood is nothing unusual, but that many is a bit concerning.  The next time I looked out, perhaps 15 minutes later, there were seven Sheriff’s vehicles and an unmarked SUV into which police were loading a dog … a police dog, I presume.

Those of you who know me know that I have little tolerance for drama and chaos, so around 7:00 I stepped out back on my patio and yelled at the police who were standing around their vehicles parked in the grassy backyard, “Hey … I’d like to know what the hell is going on!  I live here, I have a right to some information!”  Yeah, okay, maybe not the brightest thing, but in my defense, I hadn’t noticed the big guns they were holding.  Luckily, a very kind deputy came to my patio, calmly told me that there was a ‘very dangerous hostage situation’ and urged me to please go back inside.  I did.  I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but by this time my brain had engaged.

Checked the local news, but there was nothing to be found.

Below is a picture of my ‘quiet’ little street at about 9:00 p.m.

standoff

The house with all the lights on where that bright green light is shining is ours.

By this time, there were more than ten Sheriff’s vehicles surrounding our building, front-to-back and the street was closed off on both ends (it is a single block street with two buildings of attached townhouses on either side.)  An hour or so later, a SWAT team had been called in and spotlights were all over the place.

Finally, around 9:30, there was news on a local Fox channel saying it had begun as a domestic violence situation and escalated when the police showed up.  The man had a gun and had barricaded himself in his apartment.  Just before 11:00, daughter Chris went to bed (she gets up at 5:00 a.m. for her job), and granddaughter Natasha, aka Miss Goose, went upstairs to shower.  At last … a moment of quiet to sit down and work on my post!  Until …

BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM …

Rapid gunfire … a searing pain from chest to back made me wonder briefly if I had been shot, but I was out of my chair and halfway up the stairs, so I figured I wasn’t the one they shot.  Checked on both girls, they were fine.  I returned to my ‘office’ at the kitchen table, but by that time, shaking like a leaf, I knew my post for this morning just wasn’t going to happen.

Sheriff’s deputies were walking up and down the street, between buildings, and through yards, so my first thought was that despite there being at least 50 cops, all with big guns, they had somehow missed, and this guy was on the loose.  Double-checked that both exterior doors were locked.  Checked the news … no updates.  I wanted to go out and ask one of the deputies, but Miss Goose was prepared to forcibly wrestle me to the ground … she may be little at barely 5’, but she’s got youth on her side!

At 11:58, I received a text message from my beautiful Iraqi friend Maha, who lives next door, saying …

“Juju everything is good.  He is die.  Police they killed him.”

And thus ends my exciting evening, although as of this writing, 1:17 a.m., there are still a SWAT van and at least six Sheriff’s vehicles on the street, with crime scene tape cordoning off the area.

But the events of the last 8 hours or so have made me think.  This was terrifying … and angering.  But there are people in the inner cities, people in other countries, who live through this scenario on a routine basis.  DAMN!  We complain over the smallest things … lately I have been bitching because my dishwasher is not working, and the apartment management has been slow to repair it.  But … wow … at least I’m alive to wash those dishes by hand.  We complain because we cannot go out and enjoy a Saturday night dinner at our favourite restaurant, because we must wear a mask to the grocery store.  You know what, folks?  We … most of us, anyway … have it so easy compared to so many people around the globe.  We take for granted things like being able to step outside our door without fear of being shot.  Tonight, I got just a small taste of what some people live through daily …

DAMN the gun culture in this country, and in fact DAMN the person who invented guns in the first place.  DAMN those people who think their ‘rights’ matter more than other people’s and who  think that violence is the answer to their problems.   And on that note, I shall try to catch up on some emails, for da hood is still swarming with police and there will be no sleep for Filosofa tonight.

Not a damn thing

As you all know by now, I am a proponent of strict gun laws at the federal level … the sort of gun laws that gives the NRA and weapons manufacturers nightmares. We have just had another mass shooting in this country, and I was debating about whether and how to write about it, when I came across Keith’s excellent post. Why re-invent the wheel, right? Thank you, Keith, for this post. Someday, perhaps, people will clean out their ears and listen to us, eh?

musingsofanoldfart

What a surprise, yet another shooting in America. This one occurred in my home town at a place where I have visited. That disappoints me, but is irrelevant. It can happen anywhere in a America and the legislators will do what they tend to do – not a damn thing.

As I was learning of the Jacksonville Landing shooting, I saw three more stories about shootings where I live now. To witness the magnitude of the problem, just count the gun death stories in the news for a month. Gun deaths happen everyday and you know what will be done about them – not a damn thing.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome. It could be said about continuing to do not a damn thing and expecting a different outcome. It is apparent doing little to nothing is not…

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Score Another One For Depravity In The White House

Morals:  a person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do.

Values:  a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Integrity:  the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.


Remember back in 2001, just a few months after his inauguration, when George W. and Laura Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were busted for trying to buy beer using a fake I.D.?  Just the month before, Jenna was arrested at 1:00 a.m. in a nightclub in Austin, Texas, because she was holding a bottle of beer. She turned up in court in a low-cut black shirt, pink Capri trousers and a toe ring. She was fined $51.25 and sentenced to eight hours of community service and six hours of alcohol awareness classes. The charge read: “Glass of beer – drank from it.”  OH, the SCANDAL!!!  If you remember, the media had a field day with it!

Remember August of 2014 when President Obama had the unmitigated gall, the audacity, to actually wear a tan suit???  GASP!!!  Representative Peter King righteously went on an extended rant:

“There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. When you have the world watching … a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is gonna do. For him to walk out —I’m not trying to be trivial here— in a light suit, light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy. This is a week after Jim Foley was beheaded and he’s trying to act like real Americans care about the economy, not about ISIS and not about terrorism. And then he goes on to say he has no strategy.”Why, it was the scandal of the year!

And do you remember when in early 2009, Michelle Obama … wait for it … wore a sleeveless dress!!!  The horror of it all!!!  The republicans went nuts, and then later she was slammed for wearing, of all things, shorts while on vacation!!!  No matter what Ms. Obama did, she could not get it right, and she introduced one scandal after another!  She was criticized for having a bit of fun by challenging Ellen Degeneres to a push-up competition.  She was slammed for trying to make school lunches healthy.  Oh … would you like to compare Michelle Obama to Melania Trump?I could take you back throughout the history of this nation and find at least a few scandals in every single administration, but that is not my purpose tonight.  I will not even dwell on the incidents and events in the current administration that should well be considered scandals, but barely earn a roll of the eyes.  Suffice it to say that with all of Donald Trump’s affairs and the credible accusations of sexual misconduct against him, his administration has single-handedly re-defined morals, values and integrity.  And now this …

Trump Talks of Bringing Back Rob Porter, Aide Accused of Spousal Abuse

I first saw it in a tweet by Matt Dowd, and I thought, “Nah … never happen.”  But, I have always respected Dowd and never known him to be sensationalist, so … sigh … I went in search of, and sure enough, Donald Trump wants Porter to return to the fold.

The story in the New York Times gives the impression that Trump is feeling lonely, with so many of his close friends leaving his employ, and he longs for the ‘good old days’ when his buddy Rob Porter brought ‘structure’ {cough, choke, gasp} to the White House.  It is said that Trump used to spend two hours a day with him.  Well of course he did … they have much in common, such as complete disrespect for women!  I can just imagine some of the conversations they must have had!  And it is also said that since Porter’s departure, Trump has frequently called him and even discussed policy regarding tariffs with him.

Take a look at the people the “leader” of this nation supports and admires. First it was pedophile Roy Moore.  Then racist Joe Arpaio.  Then the KKK and neo-Nazis.  And now a wife-beater.

At what point do our elected representatives in Congress, democrat and republican, find their morals, their values, their integrity, and say “This is enough!!!”?  At what point do the Trump supporters, who are largely evangelical ‘Christians’, remember that they are supposed to believe sexual abuse, spousal abuse are wrong???

Compared to the lack of decency as defined any way you want to define it, John F. Kennedy’s frequent extra-marital affairs were child’s play.  The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski scandal was naught, yet he was impeached.  Think about that one.  I am not defending Bill Clinton, mind you, but he had consensual sex with an adult aide, and since he lied about it, he was impeached.  He didn’t go on national television and brag about how he could and did abuse women.  He did not have 16 women accusing him of sexual abuse.  He did not lie, cheat and steal while in the White House.  But yet, to this day, people on the right are more outraged by Bill Clinton than they are by the morally bankrupt clown sitting in the Oval Office.

It makes me wonder if those who support Donald Trump maybe, just maybe, deserve what they are getting.  Perhaps their morals, values and integrity have sunk as low as his.  Only problem is, the rest of us don’t deserve it.

Vermin in the White House

It was not my intent to write about the scandals in the White House.  I did not want to touch that one with a ten-foot pole.  My reasoning in the beginning was that it was a topic better handled by the gossip rags, and that I needed to stick to policies and procedures, to what was being done today to destroy not only our nation, but our planet. My other reason was that I knew many others would dive into the story, and my voice was not needed in order for the story to be told.  I was wrong.  The deeper the muck gets, the more people are willing to turn a blind eye, saying, in essence,g “boys will be boys”, the more I realize this topic is important, for it defines the values, or lack thereof, of the people who we have placed in charge of our nation and by extension, our very lives.

How can we expect our leaders to make and uphold laws to ensure women are treated fairly and as equals, when it is clear that they, themselves do not believe in women’s rights?

In 2016, after solid evidence was presented that Donald Trump is a misogynist and an abuser of women, the people of the United States elected him to the office of president – the highest office in the land.  Then late in 2017, Roy Moore of Alabama ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate.  There is credible evidence that Mr. Moore sexually abused underage girls several years ago.  Donald Trump supported Roy Moore.  Roy Moore came very close to winning that senate seat, as some 650,436 people, 48.4% of the voters, voted for Moore.

Many have come and gone since Trump entered the Oval Office in January 2017, an extraordinarily high turnover rate, in fact.  But then just in the past two weeks, the muck got even murkier and took on a very nasty smell.

Robert Roger Porter was the White House Staff Secretary until last week when both of his ex-wives went public with  credible evidence that he had been guilty of domestic abuse.  Porter resigned his position on February 7th, but not before his immediate superior, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, tried to talk him out of resigning.  But the real kicker?  Both John Kelly and White House Counsel Don McGahn had been aware of the allegations for quite some time … McGahn for over a year, and Kelly since last fall.  Yet, neither deemed his status as a wife-beater to have any relevance.

And what of Donald Trump, himself a sexual predator?

“He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent. So you’ll have to talk to him about that. We absolutely wish him well. Did a very good job while he was at the White House.”

And then, another shoe dropped when White House speechwriter, David Sorensen resigned amid allegations of domestic violence.  And Trump once again took to Twitter …

“Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused – life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?” – 10:33 AM – Feb 10, 2018

It should be noted that the lives he is so concerned about being “shattered and destroyed” are not those of the victims, but the abusers.

There is no doubt in my mind that both Porter and Sorensen are guilty as charged, else they would not have resigned without an argument, without a defense.  But there are two bigger questions here:

  1. How many more are there in the current administration? How many more with histories of domestic violence or sexual abuse?  Supposedly background checks are performed on any who are considered for positions in the administration, especially those who need security clearances.  It should be noted that Jared Kushner , Trump’s own son-in-law and advisor, still does not have security clearance after working in the White House for more than a year, likely due to the number of lies and ommissions he has told.  This is a breech of ethics, but seems to go unnoticed.  My recommendation after the past week is that we have an independent security firm do immediate and extensive background checks on every single employee in the White House, from the maid to the president.

  1. Why are people willing to overlook these crimes against women? Are we still believed to be second-class citizens? Why did nearly half of all Alabama voters ignore Roy Moore’s obvious character flaws and vote for him to become a major decision maker for the 330 million citizens of this nation?  Why do some 40% of people polled say that Trump is doing a good job?  Have we, as a nation, completely lost our values?  Judging by this situation, it would seem so. It would seem that ‘ethics’ is a word that no longer has meaning.

Here is a snippet from a recent interview with Kellyanne Conway on George Stephanopoulos’ show, ‘This Week’:

George: …And then he talks about mere allegations, people being falsely accused. So let me ask you again, does the president believe that Rob Porter is falsely accused?

Kellyanne: The president believes, as he said the other day, you have to consider all sides. He has said this in the past about incidents that relate to him as well. At the same time, you have to look at the results. The result is that Rob Porter is no longer the staff secretary. It is — it is — the president tells me that he learned just this week, when the rest of us did, what these allegations are, what — these pictures, the contemporaneous, police reports, the detailed information as having been provided to the FBI.

And we are all trying to process that against the person that we worked with for over a year. But this president has — I think he’s doing a great job for America’s women. We have to look at the full picture. You have 800,000 women took new jobs last year because of his leadership. You have women who work at over 300 companies now that are getting wages and benefits and capital investments happening within their own communities. We are a safer, more prosperous nation, that includes all of us, including the nation’s women because of Donald Trump’s leadership.

I call it ‘deflect and distract’.  Her facts are not even accurate, but to the purpose of this post, that is irrelevant, for Kellyanne, as we learned more than a year ago, deals in ‘alternative facts’. Kellyanne is a disgrace to women everywhere.  The larger issue is that she had no answer to the question asked.

Over the past two years, there have been many issues that should have been ‘wake up calls’ to the people in this country.  So far, none has, and I don’t imagine this one will either, but that doesn’t mean that I, or any other people who hold their values dear, will sit down and shut up.

Keep on pushing forward ladies

Last weekend, women and many men put on their marching shoes and took to the streets in protest of many policies that have been put forth by Trump & Co. in the past year. Women still suffer from issues of inequality in pay, in access to health care, in sexual harassment, and in domestic violence. Our friend Keith, along with his wife, attended one of these marches and has written on some of the points that were highlighted in the speeches of the day. Even I was shocked at some of the statistics, such as the first four murders of the year in Keith’s city being related to domestic violence. Please take a few moments to read Keith’s excellent assessment. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

Disillusioned by tribal politics and a President who has reduced civil discourse to a new low and untruthfulness to a new high, it was nice to get outdoors and participate in the second Women’s March in my city. My wife and I joined some friends and over 5,000 more marchers to hear important messages about pushing women and human issues forward.

I am very encouraged by the 26,000 women who have moved ahead with running for office. We need more women in all forms of government as they are woefully underrepresented. Some of the highlights from the speeches in addition to the above are as follows:

– while the push for equality was mentioned most, I was impressed by a Muslim American woman, Rose Hamid who spoke of equity, to value our differences in perspectives and not let fear of the unknown drive wedges between us. Hamid gained notoriety for…

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It Is Now Legal To Beat Your Spouse, Child, Or Elderly Parent … In Russia

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a controversial amendment that decriminalizes domestic violence. The amendment would decriminalize any violence that does not cause serious medical harm, which is defined as requiring hospital treatment. Beatings that leave bruises, scratches or bleeding but do not leave lasting negative health effects such as broken bones or concussion will no longer be criminal.

There is, understandably, fury among women’s activist groups in Russia.  Filosofa is spluttering with rage!  It should be duly noted that the bill was drafted by two women:  Yelena Mizulina, an ultra-conservative MP who was also behind the controversial Russian law banning “gay propaganda”, and Olga Batalina.

russiaDomestic violence is widely acknowledged to be a major problem in Russia, with more than 10,000 women believed to die from injuries inflicted by husbands or partners every year. So what, we might ask, is the justification for a law that makes it legal to beat your spouse, partner, child, or even elderly parent?  Read on …

  • The law is about protecting Russian traditions according to which the family is sacred. Priest Dmitry Smirnov, head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchy’s commission on family matters, said on a television program that the idea the state should be able to poke its nose into family affairs was a western imposition on Russia.
  • An article last week in the science section of the popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda cheerfully told readers about an “advantage” of wife-beating. It said: “Recent scientific studies show the wives of angry men have a reason to be proud of their bruises. Biologists say that beaten-up women have a valuable advantage: they more often give birth to boys!”
  • It supports “traditional values” and stops the state from snooping into family matters.
  • According to Putin himself, “unceremonious interference with the family is impermissible”.
  • “If he beats you, it means he loves you.”

So there you have it … all good reasons to tolerate violence and abuse as the norm, right? A recent poll showed that 59% or those polled would prefer a ‘softer’ version of the law, and only 17% were completely against the law. Personally, I am glad I don’t live in Russia, and am also glad that nobody has ever loved me so much they felt a need to beat me.

Apparently law enforcement in Russia have not historically taken domestic abuse claims very seriously in the past anyway.  Anna Kirey, deputy director for Russia and Eurasia at Amnesty International, said: “This bill is a sickening attempt to trivialize domestic violence, which has long been viewed as a non-issue by the Russian government.”

Take, for example, the story last year of Anna Zhavnerovich.    After her boyfriend beat her unconscious, Anna went to the police to file a report and have him arrested.  Rather than empathy …

“They asked me why I didn’t have any children,” she remembers. “They asked me if I was married.” Beneath their line of questioning was the suggestion that somehow the attack was her fault. They told her that they would investigate, but a few weeks later she received a letter informing her that the case had been dropped. Her ex-boyfriend had not been questioned and no further action was proposed. When she tried to hire a lawyer to start a private suit, she was told that the police had lost her files.

In the past, the penalty for domestic violence charges, if pursued by police, could have been as much as two years in prison and a fine.  Now, the penalty is likely to be a fine of up to 30,000 rubles, or about $500 USD. And, if convicted of abuse a second time within a year, the abuser may … or may not … face a jail sentence.  Initially there was a proposal to exclude abuse of pregnant women, but that was thrown out, so it is also legal to beat your pregnant wife in Russia.

I understand cultural differences, but this, folks, is NOT a cultural difference.  Granted, Russian culture is more patriarchal than that of the western world, but nonethess, this is state-sanctioned cruelty.  State-sanctioned inhumanity.  No human being deserves to be beaten.  Period.  Congratulations, Mr. Putin … you just added yet another black mark to your record for cruelty and violations of human rights.  The next woman, child or elderly person who dies at the hand of a domestic abuser is on your conscience.