Eve of Destruction

Everything that is happening in the U.S. today — the pandemic, highest death toll ever, Trump attempting to silence our voices, dirty cops being let off the hook, racism, civil rights protections for women, minorities, LGBT people under the 1964 Civil Rights Act being removed as Trump attempts to ‘burn it all down’ before he is forced out — it all makes me feel that this song is the right one for the day … perhaps more so today than ever before.

Eve of Destruction
Barry McGuire

The eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Songwriters: P. F. Sloan, 1965
Eve of Destruction lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Another One Walks Free …

SheskeyTake a long hard look at this picture.  What do you see?  Looks like a nice clean-cut kid, barely out of high school, right?  You’d be wrong … dead wrong.  This is the face of evil, this is a ‘man’ who does not deserve to walk among us!  His name is Rusten Sheskey and he is the police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, who attempted to murder Jacob Blake, a Black man, last August.

On August 23, 2020, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot by police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  Sheskey shot Blake … in the back … not once, not twice, not even three, but seven times!  This young punk who calls himself an officer of the law was so intimidated by Mr. Blake only because he was a Black man, that he literally unloaded his entire magazine into poor Mr. Blake’s body in order to protect himself … from what???

Video shows Blake walking to the driver-side door of an SUV as officers follow him with guns drawn, shouting. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, Sheskey grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire.  While the Kenosha police union and Sheskey’s attorney, Brendan Matthews, claim that Mr. Blake had a knife, state investigators determined only that officers saw a knife on the floor of Mr. Blake’s SUV.  Three of Blake’s sons were in the backseat at the time.  Can you imagine the trauma that will haunt those children for the rest of their lives?

At age 29, Mr. Blake, the father of three, is left paralyzed from the waist down, and if Mr. Sheskey’s marksmanship had been more accurate, those three children would now be fatherless.  All because a white man thought himself better than a Black man.

jacob-blakeSheskey, 31, has been the subject of five internal investigations since he joined the Kenosha department in 2013, including three reprimands for crashing his squad car three times over three years.

But wait … last evening as I was writing an email, the headlines began popping across my ‘breaking news’ screen …

  • Jacob Blake Shooting: No Charges Against Officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Officer who shot Jacob Blake will not face charges, district attorney says
  • No charges against Wisconsin officer who shot Jacob Blake

No.  Charges.  For attempted murder. Because Jacob Blake has Black skin and the killer has white … it’s that damn simple, my friends.  If Sheskey had shot an unarmed white man seven times in the back, he would be in a prison cell today!

And so, yesterday,  Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said that he …

“… would have to disprove the clear expression of these officers that they had to fire a weapon to defend themselves.  I do not believe the state … would be able to prove that the privilege of self-defense is not available.”

SELF-DEFENSE???  He shot the man in the f*cking backseven damn times!!!  No way in hell is that self-defense.  Gravely is also white … I wonder if a Black District Attorney might have seen it differently?

Y’know … I really want to believe in the integrity of our police, really want to be able to trust the very people whose salary I pay to protect the people living in this nation, but … sadly, I don’t.  With every one of these incidents, murders and attempted murders of Black people by police, I have less and less confidence in the law enforcement people in this country.  Defund the police?  No, that isn’t the answer and we all know it.  There are bad people out there who would murder others over not much more than a cigarette, so we need laws and people to enforce the laws.  But dammit … we do not need racist, cowardly pigs populating our police departments!  We need officers of compassion, decency, and integrity.  Rusten Sheskey is NOT one of those.

I remember that as a child, my parents always cautioned that if I were ever anywhere and needed help, I should seek the nearest police officer, that the police officer was my friend.  Today, I would not tell a child that.  Granted, I know that there are good cops, but until we start holding the bad ones accountable, all police will be painted with a broad brush.  WHY do prosecutors find it so hard to charge a police officer?  Because of uber-powerful police unions who will lie, cheat, and steal to ensure that officers who break the law are protected.

Police are rarely charged in on-duty shootings. Since 2015, more than half of the murder or manslaughter cases brought against officers nationwide have ended in acquittals or deadlocked juries. Police officers invoke self-defense in shooting cases and they typically have been deemed justified in using deadly force if they reasonably believe that a suspect has the ability to cause death or great bodily harm, or if the suspect could put the officer or someone else in imminent danger.  That term … reasonable … is highly subjective.  Even if it later turns out there was no real threat, a self-defense claim could still be viable if a person actually believed … or claimed to have believed … he or she was in danger and any “reasonable” person in the same situation would have believed the same thing.

Not surprisingly, Kenosha’s city leaders are scared, and have imposed a curfew for the next eight days, as well as calling in the National Guard.  Yes, assholes, you let a cop get by with ruining a man’s life and damn near killing him … you better believe We the People are going to be mad!

In many Western nations, your average police officer is not armed with a gun.  Here in the U.S., fools have taken the 2nd Amendment to the nth degree and thus there are more guns floating around in the populace than there are citizens in this nation, so naturally the police must be armed.  Call them to account for their actions … don’t just give them a pass because they wear a badge!  DAMMIT … I’ve had enough of renegade cops killing people … Black people … with impunity!  Is it any wonder that I so distrust police that I will leave a store if an armed cop is in that store?


‘Good People Doing Good Things’ will return next Wednesday … I didn’t lack for good people, I only have so much anger over a variety of injustices that I could not switch mental gears this morning.  Thank you for your patience.

Musings From The Rabbit Hole – A ‘Shared National Identity’????

As I am still inhabiting the rabbit hole – I swear, the rabbits are digging it deeper and deeper by the day – I cannot seem to stop my mind from wandering.  Well, in truth, it is aided and abetted by the chaos that would seem to have become the definition of Donald Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office.

One of Trump’s statements I read yesterday set the current train of thought in motion:

“The only path to unity is to rebuild a shared national identity focused on common American values and virtues of which we have plenty.”

I’m not sure what country he thought he was in when he got out of bed and later uttered that inanity on Monday morning, but it is the furthest thing from the truth here in the formerly United States.  A shared national identity?  Who is he kidding?  This country is the most divided it has ever been.  EVER.  On the one side there are those who seem to value “ethnic purity”, who are white-skinned and feel threatened by any who aren’t.  Those who support police killings of unarmed black people.  They applaud taking young children from their parents and keeping them in cages simply because they weren’t born in this country and their skin is not pale.  They support a madman in the White House who basically promises to give preferential treatment to their white-skinned friends & family.

And on the other hand, there are those of us who believe that “All ‘men’ are created equal”, even though the original author of that statement, Thomas Jefferson, had a more narrowly defined view of ‘all men’.  Those of us who understand the significance of “Black Lives Matter”, for far too many in this country seem to think Black people are somehow of lesser value.

And then there are the divisions of wealth.  There are those on the one hand who would argue that the right to earn and keep money supersedes the responsibility to others who are less fortunate.  They eschew higher taxes on the wealthy millionaires and billionaires, put profit ahead of the environment and ahead of people, and have the basic attitude of “I’ve got mine, you go get your own.”

On the other hand, there are those of us who have little, but believe it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and our natural resources.  We believe we all have a responsibility to help feed, clothe, educate and provide health care to those who are unable to do so themselves.

I have come to realize that these ideological, humanitarian differences have always existed, but in the past they were tamped down by leaders who understood there is no place for bigotry in this relatively new nation.  Today, though, we have a leader who sees this ideological gap as a wedge that he can use to drive us further apart than ever before, for his own political benefit.  And We the People are letting him do just that.

Much of what divides us seems to have its roots in bigotry of one form or another.  Immigration, guns, religion, abortion, health care, programs to help the poor, climate change, civil rights … all trace their roots back to discriminatory views, whether against Black people, women, LGBT people, immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews, atheists, or other groups.  And it is ripping this nation apart.  No, that is not an exaggeration, not hyperbole … it is a fact.  And we are letting it.

Our politicians feed on the divisions between liberals and conservatives, the wealthy and the poor.  They pour gasoline on the racial unrest that is a logical result of the systemic racism that exists in our police departments.  And Donald Trump, the so-called ‘president’ of this nation, is among the worst, for by his denigration of minorities and immigrants, his refusal to condemn racial killings, his support of white supremacists, he has turned this nation into a tinderbox just waiting for the right spark.  And yet he is the one who says we have “common values and virtues” and that we must work to rebuild a “shared national identity”?

He has done less than nothing to bring the people of this nation together, to help each side understand the other, to find common ground and a meeting of the minds somewhere in the middle.  Instead, he has encouraged violence since before he even took office.  If Hillary Clinton had been inaugurated in 2017, do you think that Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old punk who killed two people last weekend, would have been in Kenosha, Wisconsin, armed with an assault rifle and looking for trouble?  We’ll never know for sure, but probably not, for a President Clinton would almost certainly have followed through with the police reform measures started during the Obama administration.  In fact, in all likelihood, Jacob Blake would not have been shot 7 times in the back by a rogue police officer in Kenosha and there would have been no protests, no violence.

As I sit here pondering, it seems to me that the United States is truly two nations.  Until we learn to respect each other’s opinions, to listen to others, to put away the damn guns and use our brains to solve problems and resolve our disputes, there can be no “shared national identity”.  Can that ever happen?  At the moment, I think not.  A lot of things will have to happen in order for us to resolve our major differences, and it for damn sure is not going to happen with a person like Donald Trump at the helm.  I think it more likely that this nation will actually become multiple nations at the end of the day … if, that is, we don’t continue to be the single worst polluters on the globe, for if we continue down that path, life on this planet will cease to exist and it won’t really matter who had how much money or what colour anybody’s skin was.divisive

No Sympathy For A Cold-Blooded Killer

A 17-year-old punk leaves his home in Illinois, travels to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where there are protests against the police brutality that left Jacob Blake paralyzed from the waist down, and walks up and down the street carrying an assault rifle.  Seventeen years old.  He should be home studying, or working at the local McDonald’s to save for college, but instead he is about to become a cold-blooded killer.  He did not have a permit for the gun, and in fact was too young to obtain one … he was not legally allowed to have that weapon in his possession.

As Kyle Rittenhouse walked down the streets of Kenosha with another armed man, a police officer in an armoured vehicle asked him if he needed some water, then tossed him a bottle of water, saying, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”  A short time later, Kyle Rittenhouse used his AR-15 to shoot three people, two of whom died.  Since police were all over the place, it only makes sense that he was arrested on the spot, right?  But no … even though at this point, people were shouting to the police that he was the shooter, and even though he walked right up to the police, police officers simply waved him away and told him to get off the streets!  He returned to his home in Antioch, Illinois, a short time later, without any interference from law enforcement in Wisconsin.  He was arrested by Antioch police the following afternoon.

Kyle Rittenhouse would have been shot dead on the spot by police if he had been a black teenager instead of a white one.  But wait … for it gets even worse.

It may have started with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson when, rather than condemning a 17-year-old killer, he attempted to justify it …

“So, are we really surprised that looting and arson accelerated to murder? How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would? Everyone could see what was happening in Kenosha. It was getting crazier by the hour.”

Or perhaps it started with the Facebook post by Arthur Love, a member of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s staff, sympathizing with Rittenhouse, saying in one post …

“I’m grateful that conservatives are rallying behind this kid. He genuinely seems like a good person.”

A “good person”???  Good people do not even own assault weapons, let alone go looking for an excuse to kill!!!  Mr. Love was fired on Saturday, and rightly so.

Wherever and however it started, there is growing support for this 17-year-old murderer, and funds have even been started to help pay his legal fees!  One fundraiser, on a Christian crowdfunding website called Give Send Go, raised more than $65,000 as of last Thursday evening. People have donated $7,460 to the teen through a site called Free Kyle Rittenhouse.

GoFundMe, one of the most popular and widely used crowdfunding websites, has taken down multiple fundraisers for Rittenhouse. GoFundMe spokesperson Angelique McNaughton said Thursday the platform removed the fundraisers because they violated GoFundMe’s terms of service which specifically forbids people from using the platform to raise money for “the implicit or explicit purpose of or involving for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, serious disabilities or diseases, financial crimes or crimes of deception.”

And, according to an article in The Guardian

“Fundraisers, messages of support and celebratory memes for the alleged Kenosha, Wisconsin, mass shooter are being shared widely on Facebook and Instagram, despite the company’s assurance on Wednesday that it was working to enforce its policy banning content that “praises, supports, or represents” mass shooters.

One fundraiser for Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was shared more than 17,700 times on Facebook, including by 291 public groups and pages with more than 3.9m aggregate followers, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned data analytics tool. A second fundraiser garnered 1,698 shares on the platform, including by an additional 17 pages and groups with nearly 400,000 followers.”

I encourage you to read the entire article, for it is truly shocking.

This, perhaps more than anything else, defines what is wrong in this nation today.  That people have empathy for a young punk using an assault weapon to kill people is … well, it just blows my mind.  Personally, I would like to see him tried, convicted, and spend the rest of his life in prison.  I would also like to see his parents pay a price, for it is obvious to me that they failed miserably in raising this child.  Since he was only seventeen, he was legally still under their guardianship, and it seems to me they must share some of the blame.

Rittenhouse claims it was self-defense, but he went there looking for trouble, so the self-defense argument simply does not fly.  How can people support this punk?  How can anyone justify what he did?  Those who can, it seems obvious to me, are people who value their guns more than human life, people who believe in vigilante justice, and people who are, at the core, white supremacists.  They are part of what is wrong in this nation today, and is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Where Is The Real Threat?

This week there has been enough news to boggle the mind, to make one want to hide in a closet until sometime after November 3rd … maybe even until around 2025.  The coronavirus is out of control in the U.S., but we no longer get accurate numbers of new cases because testing has slowed to a crawl.  The shitshow last week put on at our expense by the Republicans was depressing … was naught but an expensive circus with the nastiest clowns ever seen, half of them with the last name “Trump”.  Multiple times during that circus, we were told that only Trump will bring “law and order” to the streets of the nation, but … it is he and his enablers who have created the most disharmony and disunity this nation has seen in more than 100 years.  Robert Reich, a man with much more experience and understanding than most, sums it all up nicely for us, thankfully, for I am too tired to do so today …


The real threats to American law and order are Trump’s craven enablers

The president railed against ‘violent anarchists, agitators and criminals’ but he surrounds himself with lawless lackeys

Robert Reich-4By Robert Reich

One week ago, Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha, Wisconsin, police department, fired at least seven shots at the back of a Black man named Jacob Blake as he opened his car door, leaving the 29-year-old father of five probably paralyzed from the waist down.

After protests erupted, self-appointed armed militia or vigilante-type individuals rushed to Kenosha, including Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old who traveled there and then, appearing on the streets with an AR-15 assault rifle, allegedly killed two people and wounded a third.

This is pure gold for a president without a plan, a party without a platform, and a cult without a purpose other than the abject worship of Donald J Trump.

To be re-elected Trump knows he has to distract the nation from the coronavirus pandemic that he has flagrantly failed to control – leaving more than 180,000 Americans dead, tens of millions jobless and at least 30 million reportedly hungry.

So he’s counting on the reliable Republican dog-whistle. “Your vote,” Trump said in his speech closing the Republican convention Thursday night, “will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens.”

“We will have law and order on the streets of this country,” Vice-President Mike Pence declared the previous evening, warning “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

Neither Trump nor Pence mentioned the real threats to law and order in America today, such as gun-toting agitators like Rittenhouse, who, perhaps not coincidentally, occupied a front-row seat at a Trump rally in Des Moines in January.

Pence lamented the death of federal officer Dave Patrick Underwood, “shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California”, earlier this year, implying he was killed by protesters. In fact, Underwood was shot and killed by an adherent of the boogaloo boys, an online extremist movement that’s trying to ignite a race war.

Such groups have found encouragement in a president who sees “very fine people” supporting white supremacy.

The threat also comes from conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, the recently nominated Republican candidate for Georgia’s 14th congressional district and promoter of QAnon, whose adherents believe Trump is battling a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex. Trump has praised Greene as a “future Republican star” and claimed that QAnon followers “love our country”.

And from people like Mary Ann Mendoza, a member of Trump’s campaign advisory board, who was scheduled to speak at the Republican convention until she retweeted an antisemitic rant about a supposed Jewish plan to enslave the world’s peoples and steal their land.

Clearly the threat also comes from hotheaded, often racist police officers who fire bullets into the backs of Black men and women or kneel on their necks so they can’t breathe. Needless to say, there was little mention at the Republican convention of Jacob Blake, and none of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor.

And the threat comes from Trump’s own lackeys who have brazenly broken laws to help him attain and keep power. Since Trump promised he would only hire “the best people”, 14 Trump aides, donors and advisers have been indicted or imprisoned.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W Giuliani – who ranted at the Republican convention about rioting and looting in cities with Democratic mayors – has repeatedly met with the pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach, whom American intelligence has determined is “spreading claims about corruption … to undermine former Vice President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party”.

In addition, federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine with two men arrested in an alleged campaign finance scheme.

Trump’s new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who had been a major Trump campaign donor before taking over the post office, is being sued by six states and the District of Columbia for allegedly seeking to “undermine” the postal service as millions of Americans plan to vote by mail during the pandemic.

Not to forget the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, who spoke to the Republican convention while on an official trip to the Middle East, in apparent violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits officials of the executive branch other than the president and vice-president from engaging in partisan politics.

You want the real threat to American law and order? It’s found in these Trump enablers and bottom-dwellers. They are the inevitable excrescence of Trump’s above-the-law, race-baiting, me-first presidency. It is from the likes of them that the rest of America is in serious need of protection.

The Violence Must Stop

Our friend Jeff has written a thoughtful post about the violence happening in Kenosha (and other places) Violence that is largely a result of Donald Trump pouring fuel on a smoldering fire. There is so much anger in this nation, that I don’t know how we stop the violence, but it plays right into Trump’s rhetoric, and if it isn’t stopped, it may be the thing that turns the upcoming election in Trump’s favour. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I’m fearful of November 3, 2020. The polls are starting to tighten, as expected. And they’re going to tighten even more. While things still look good for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, what’s unfolding on America’s streets as we speak, cannot continue.

Folks, it’s playing right into the current president’s playbook. He has no desire to bring this country together. The violence over the past 48 hours in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after another senseless shooting of an unarmed black man, threatens to hand this election again to the most dangerous president in American history. We cannot let that happen.

The violence has to stop. And while I wish I had a bigger platform to shout from, I’m going to say it as loud as I can. The looting, arson, assaults, and overall anarchy and mayhem are playing across American television screens and social media 24/7. And the current president is exploiting…

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