Who … Or WHAT … is Jacob Wohl?

Meet the new Alex Jones.  His name is Jacob Wohl, he is 21-years-old, and calls himself a “corporate and political intel consultant”.  In truth, he is a scammer and a conspiracy theorist who has been banned from Twitter and was barred from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week.  By himself, he is a joke … laughable.  The danger lies in that some people are actually falling for his multiple hoaxes.

So, who … or what … is Jacob Wohl?  He first came onto the scene in the middle of 2017, when he posted a lovey-dovey tweet about how ‘wonderful’ Donald Trump was and Trump, naturally, re-tweeted it for it fed his very hungry ego.  At that time, he billed himself as a ‘financial manager’, or a hedge-fund manager (at 20 years old???), and had already gained a reputation “for defrauded investors, various boffo shenanigans and a batch of regulators on his trail”, according to TalkingPointsMemo.    According to his website at the time, which is no longer in existence, he “launched his first ‘hedge fund’ at age 16 while still in high school and ‘received attention from around the world for being the youngest hedge fund manager of all time.’”

After a 2017 investigation into fraudulent practices and complaints about thievery, the National Futures Association (NFA), a non-governmental industry watchdog, banned Wohl for life from the NFA or operating as a principal for any NFA member.  The State of Arizona has banned him from all business activities in their state.  There are numerous instances of his dishonesty, nay … thievery … but that is not my purpose today … my purpose today is his present scam.  Not even ‘of age’ yet, and one career already shot to heck.

You’ll remember the unsubstantiated and false rumour that Donald Trump started in 2011 where he posited that President Obama was not, in fact, born in the U.S.?  Well, Wohl started his own ‘birther’ rumour …

“Kamala Harris is NOT eligible to be President. Her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960.  Neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization.  Kamala was raised in Canada.” — Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) January 22, 2019

The facts:  Ms. Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, thereby making her a citizen of the U.S.  When she was twelve years old, her parents had been divorced for five years, and her mother took the children and moved to Canada.  In 1981, Mr. Harris moved to Washington, D.C., to attend Howard University where she majored in Political Science and Economics.  After graduation from Howard, she returned to California where she earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1989.  She meets every criteria for the office of president, contrary to Wohl’s suggestion, and is, in fact, far more qualified than the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Wohl also set his sights on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg after her recent cancer diagnosis, claiming she was either secretly dead, or in a vegetative state from which she would never return.  I wonder how silly he feels now, seeing that she has returned to the bench?

He also claimed that the pipe bombs sent to a number of democrats last year were a ‘false flag’ operation.  I wonder how he explains the arrest of Cesar Sayoc last October and the 30 charges against him for making and sending the bombs?

And just before the mid-term elections last year, he claimed to have ‘proof’ that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been credibly accused of sexual assault.  Another blatant falsehood, the product of Wohl’s imagination, as even the woman he claimed had accused Mueller, one Carolyne Cass, said that Wohl “made it up,” deceived her with a false identity and tried to coerce her to appear at a news conference against her will. That one put him on the radar of the FBI.  And one of his most infamous tweets was his claim that Donald Trump should be made “president for life” … oh, the horror!!! 😱


David Wohl, Donald Trump, Jacob Wohl

His latest conspiracy theory centers around the freshman representative from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar.  He claims that Omar’s ex-husband Ahmed Elmi is actually her brother and that she married him to help him get US citizenship.  There is absolutely no evidence to support his claim, and it wouldn’t make sense anyway, for she could have just as easily petitioned US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring her brother to the U.S. without marrying him!  But, Ms. Omar is the target of a number of conspiracy theories, including one that she has some connection to the 9/11 terrorists.  Again, there is no evidence at all to support this, but she is an easy target because … she is a Muslim, one of the first two Muslim representatives in Congress, and Trump’s supporters believe his lies that all Muslims are terrorists.

Wohl has gone so far as to connect with right-wing activist Laura Loomer, solicit funds equal to $25,000 to travel to Minneapolis to attempt to prove his claims.Wohl-solicitationHe and Laura claim they are being targeted, wear bullet-proof vests, and claim they need an armoured car for their protection.  More likely, nobody recognizes nor cares overly much about them.

But by far the most concerning thing he has done is that which got him banned from Twitter.  According to an article in USA Today

Wohl disclosed a raft of schemes he says are in the works that he hopes will resonate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. 

He says he plans to create “enormous left-wing online properties” – such as deceptive Facebook and Twitter accounts – “and use those to steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.” It’s a plot similar to what Mueller has charged in indictments that the Russians crafted in an effort to boost the 2016 campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein and hobble Hillary Clinton. 

Another stated scheme: seeking to collect damaging information on left-leaning non-profits including Media Matters for America, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Right Wing Watch by offering their insiders “moral reconciliation,” and if that doesn’t work, “things of worth” – such as money.

Wohl said he planned to create “enormous left-wing online properties” in a bid to steer voters “to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump.”  Twitter’s investigation found Wohl already had created some of those accounts, including @women_4_schultz, which sought to advance the early candidacy of Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO who has threatened to run as an independent in 2020.

While Twitter has permanently suspended Wohl’s account, there are other social media platforms, such as Facebook.  I understand that he is a large presence on Instagram.  I found his response to his lifetime ban a bit chilling …

“It’s all fun, man. You gotta have fun with this. I had fun with Twitter. They banned me? Oh well — it’s not the end of the world.”

We need not fear people crossing the southern border seeking asylum.  We need not fear Muslim refugees from the Middle East.  We need to fear the likes of Jacob Wohl who have set out to tamper with our elections, who are filling empty minds with conspiracy theories against good people, and who are seriously trying to bring about the fall of this nation.  This, then, is the face of ugly …face-of-ugly-wohl

Racism of the Everyday Variety

hijabYesterday, a friend of my neighbor was shopping in a local Kroger, shopping for food to feed her family, when she accidentally bumped her cart into that of another shopper.  She apologized, the other shopper said “no problem”, and the matter should have ended there.  However, as she moved on, she heard the other shopper say to her friend “ISIS”.  The friend of my neighbor, you see, was wearing her traditional hijab.

The picture below was taken in Florence, Kentucky on 09 July 2016.  blacks sign

A Hispanic friend walked into a fast food restaurant and waited to be served, but the employee continued doing busy-work around the store, cleaning up and pretending not to even see my friend. Then a white woman entered the store and the employee served that woman first, while my friend continued to wait.

When we think or speak of racism, we think of the big, glaring examples, like KKK rallies, Trump speeches, police shootings of unarmed blacks, anti-anything-but-Caucasian rallies and protests, but racism exists in everyday life.  You can find it, obviously, in the supermarket, on street corners, in schools and in nearly every church across the nation.  U.S. WASPs have darned near perfected the practice of everyday racism.

racism-8We, those of us who are socially and morally conscious of such things, try to combat racism in the U.S. through legal channels and by attacking the institutions that promote or tolerate such behaviour.  That, too, is necessary, but I wonder if perhaps we would be more effective by using what little voice we have to combat the smaller events like those listed above.  For example, had I been shopping and seen the incident between my neighbor’s friend and the other woman, I might have stepped in and explained to the woman that: a) the proper term is Daesh, not ISIS; b) the vast majority of Muslims are not affiliated with terrorist organizations like Daesh; and c) Islam is a religion of peace and love, not hate.  Frankly, by the time I finished with that lady, she probably would have parked her cart and went running out of the store, as you all know how I am once I step up onto my soapbox!  Or, had I been the woman who walked into the fast food place and was immediately waited on, I might have said, “No, she (the Hispanic woman) was here first … please take her order first.”  And I will not even speculate on what I might have done had I come upon the man holding the sign, other than to say I would be calling upon my friends to take up a collection for bail money instead of writing this blog post.

racism-6It is called ‘everyday racism’, and it is relatively small things like this that grow into full-blown racism of the type we see propagated by various organizations, particularly this year in the culture of fear, bigotry and multiple phobias that have been pushed forth by politicians, religious leaders and the media.  People are now afraid to use public restrooms, they are afraid of women wearing a hijab, they are afraid of people who look, speak and act differently than themselves.  We must bring common sense back to the streets.  We must be willing to stand up for our beliefs, the belief upon which this nation is based, that “All Men (and women) Are Created Equal”.  We must be willing to stand up to the bigot and the xenophobe.

For the most part, none of us will ever have the opportunity to destroy the KKK, to be instrumental in passing laws that provide safe haven for Muslims, or to bring dirty cops to justice.  But that does not mean we are powerless.  We have the power to apply our values, our convictions, if only we dig down within ourselves to find the courage to do so.  Certainly it is far easier to walk away, to turn our heads and pretend that we just do not see.  But I can tell you that when you put your head on your pillow tonight, whether you wish it or not, your conscience will either reward you for standing up for your beliefs, for your fellow human being, or will cause you to question why you did not.  Think about it.

On Demonizing the Victims

Baghdad, Iraq – 02 July 2016 – At least 175 deaths confirmed, many still missing – A suicide bomber affiliated with Daesh struck Baghdad’s bustling commercial area of Karada late on Saturday, when many residents were spending the night out before the start of their dawn Ramadan fast.  Daesh said it had deliberately targeted Shia Muslims by striking the suburb of Karada, implying it drew no distinction between civilians and security forces.  Baghdad has been struck upwards of 1,000 times!

Istanbul, Turkey – 29 June 2016 – At least 41 deaths confirmed; 239 injured – At least three people with guns and suicide vests targeted the arrivals and departures areas at Atatürk international airport, where they sprayed travelers with bullets and then detonated their explosives in a rampage that lasted just a few minutes but killed dozens and injured more than 230 others.

Dhaka, Bangladesh – 02 July 2016 – At least 28 deaths confirmed – Heavily armed attackers held dozens of foreigners and Bangladeshis prisoner in a cafe while hurling bombs and engaging in a gun battle with security forces.  The victims included 20 hostages, mostly foreigners, and two Bangladeshi police officers.  The gunmen, initially firing blanks, ordered restaurant workers to switch off the lights, and they draped black cloths over closed-circuit cameras.  Daesh claimed responsibility.

Medina, Saudi Arabia – 04 July 2016 – 4 confirmed deaths – Suicide bombers killed four Saudi security forces on Monday in an attack outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, one of the two holiest sites in Islam, in an escalation not seen for decades.  Earlier that day, Saudi officers foiled an attempted bombing near the US consulate in Jeddah, while a suicide bomber struck a mosque in the Shia-majority province of Qatif shortly before sunset.

Approximately 250 left dead from terrorist attacks, mainly on Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries inside of a week, and there are still many missing in Baghdad as of this writing.  Such terrible tragedy, and yet … and yet, western nations decry that in order to protect themselves from terrorism, all Muslims must be banned.  Who are the victims?  Who are the inhumane?  This is not the first time that the West seems to have shrugged off massacres in predominantly Muslim countries. But the relative indifference after so many deaths caused by the very groups that have plagued the West is more than a matter of hurt feelings. One of the primary goals of Daesh is to drive a wedge between Muslims and the wider world, to use that wedge as a recruiting tool. And when that world appears to show less empathy for the victims of attacks in Muslim nations, who have borne the brunt of Daesh’s massacres and predatory rule, it seems to prove their point. It would appear to play right into their hands. To say that Daesh is primarily targeting the western nations is rather like feeling sorry for yourself because your neighbor’s house caught fire and burned to the ground.  This is not about the west.  This is about Daesh trying to gain, or re-gain, territory in the Muslim world. This is about retaliation for ground lost. And instead of compassion, instead of providing safe haven, the western nations are playing numerous games to pretend that they are the victims and to further endanger the Muslim world.

A Canadian citizen, Hira Saeed of Ottawa, asks why social media had not been similarly filled with the flags of Turkey, Bangladesh and Iraq, as it did for Brussels, Paris and Orlando?  I do not have any answer.  Why, indeed?

In the U.S., there is none other than Donald Trump and his minions calling for a ban on all Muslims and deportation of Muslims currently residing in the U.S.  In the UK, a large part of the reason those who voted to leave the EU did so was because they no longer want to accept Muslim refugees into their country.  In Austria, far-right Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer engages in Trump-like anti-Muslim rhetoric to rile the masses into a frenzy of hate against an entire religion.  And throughout Europe and the U.S., anti-Muslim sentiment, Islamophobia, is on the rise.  Certainly there have been terrorist attacks in both the U.S. and Europe, and it is not my intent to minimize these. Many of these, as was the case with the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida last month, were perpetrated by homegrown or lone-wolf terrorists not connected, or only loosely connected with Daesh.  And yet, the western nations continue to bemoan their bad luck because their neighbor’s house burned to the ground.

Daesh has lost at least half the territory it had gained in recent years, and it is believed that the recent attacks are in retaliation for those losses.  While the west may be targeted from time to time, they are by no means the main target.  Yet instead of compassion, we look upon the victims of these brutalities with hatred.  Instead of a helping hand, our response is a slamming door.  Think about it.

“Make America Racist Again” is Trump’s Rallying Cry

When did it become “okay” to be a racist?  I think the date is around 15 June 2015.  That was when Donald J. Trump declared his intention to run for President of the United States with his now iconic speech in which he put down Mexican people, saying “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”  Somehow, at that moment in time, at the point where he said it and Americans cheered rather than jeered, it became “okay” to be a racist and to speak with a forked tongue.

During the little over a year since Trump’s official candidacy announcement, he has yet to give a speech whereby he doesn’t mock or put down some group of people:  Muslims, Hispanics, women, Asians, disabled people, and the list goes on.  And because Donald Trump can stand in front of a crowd of hundreds and spew his racist, bigoted hate-filled speech with little or no consequence, all those closet-racists who have been biting their tongues are now coming out of the woodwork in droves, turning our nation into one where there is no courtesy, no respect, and no tolerance for others.  It is this very attitude that has made it seem “okay” to some that a man running for the U.S. Congress puts up billboards urging citizens to “make America white again.” It is the attitude that has given rise to discrimination in venues across the nation, from workplaces to schools, from state governments to churches.

klan1When did it become “okay” to be a racist?  Let me tell you a little secret … it didn’t.  It has never been okay, it isn’t okay now, and it will never be okay.  It was not okay when we interned American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.  It was not okay when we made black people sit in the back of the bus.  It was not okay when we burned crosses on the yards of African-Americans.  And it is not okay when a pastor contends that “racism, misogyny, homophobia are ‘biblical truths we stand for’.”

Am I blaming Trump for “Making America Racist Again”?  No, obviously we never actually got past racism to start with.  Trump is merely the catalyst that has brought it back out into the open, stirring the dual pots of fear and hatred in the process.  Trump did not create racism and hatred, he simply told Americans that it is “okay” to speak out loudly against those who are different, who are non-Caucasian, who are non-Christian, who are disabled or female or transgender or homosexual.  He merely gave the green light, the thumbs-up, to those who had been stifling their racism and other phobias under the guise of being ‘politically correct’.

rosa pThose who would allow Donald J. Trump to define this nation are not those with whom I have any common ground.  I have made numerous excuses for his supporters, some of whom I call ‘friends’, including they are sleeping, they do not bother to study the issues, they are caught up in the moment and will raise their heads out of the sandpit eventually, or they are simply not hearing the message through all the noise.  I am rather done with that, however, as I now believe that these individuals, whether they will admit it or not, never truly moved on from the days of Jim Crow laws, of lynchings, of cross-burnings and murders by the Klan, of strict segregation.  They never came to understand that their white skin, their European ancestry, and their Christianity does not make them superior, but that their attitudes make them, in fact, inferior.  Attitudes which might have lain fallow for decades longer had not Donald Trump told them that it was “okay” to be a racist.  No, my friends, it is NOT okay.  It never was and it never will be.

Idiot of the Week #1 – Rick Tyler

Last week I came up with the idea of doing an “Idiot of the Week” column once a week.  I may have to expand that to twice a week, as there are just so many bloomin’ idiots out there!  This week, I focus on an Independent candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee, Rick Tyler.


The Face of Evil

Rick Tyler, it seems, wishes to “make America white again”.  Yes, you heard me, and if you live in Tennessee, you have possibly seen his highway billboards.  On his Facebook page, he attempted to explain his motives … “The Caucasian race has been inordinately blessed and favored by the God of scripture.  Tyler for Congress candidacy [sic] is a last ditch effort to challenge the descendants of America’s founders to ‘return to the ancient landmarks.’”  Has he forgotten that it was those very founders, those very Caucasians who actually brought the Africans over here, manacled and shackled, and forced them into slavery?  Is that the legacy in which he takes so much pride?


One of his  billboards showcases the White House surrounded by Confederate flags. At the top of that billboard are Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous words: “I Have a Dream.”  Oh the irony! 

Tyler ran for Senate in 2014 against long-time Senator Lamar Alexander (since 2003), and earned less than 1% of the vote, so at least the good people of Tennessee have the good sense not to take this man too seriously.  Still, in this, the age where Donald Trump has essentially campaigned against every minority, thus indirectly seeks to “make America white again”, and has made it all the way to being the presumptive Republican nominee, one can never be too sure.  Tyler, not surprisingly, is a big fan of da trumpeter.

tyler1In an interview with a local television news station, Tyler said the billboard reflects his call for America to return to the “1960s, Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver time when there were no break-ins; no violent crime; no mass immigration.”  Oh come on, man!  He sees the 1960s as a time of shallow sit-coms, a time when life was just hunky-dory?  What about the Cold War?  What about the Vietnam War?  What about the KKK murders of Civil Rights workers in Mississippi, murders of children in a church in Alabama?  What about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King?  What about the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis?  Rick Tyler wants a return to that?  Either the man knows no history, is stupid, or is wearing a bucket on his head … perhaps all three!

Tyler, who owns a local restaurant, Whitewater Grill in Ocoee, describes himself on his Facebook page as an “Entrepreneur, Pastor and Political Candidate.”  I wonder if his restaurant has a “whites only” sign in the window?  There have been calls among local residents for a boycott of his restaurant, and the local Kiwanis Club says they will never meet there again.  And … a “pastor”?  A religious man?  A man supposedly ‘of God’?  What religion?  Westboro-style?

Though his “make America white again” billboards are the only ones thus far in service, he has designs for others that he plans to erect in the near future.  These include billboards against Muslims, against same-sex marriage, and even one against inter-racial marriage!

Tyler says he welcomes the backlash that has been a result of his hate-filled campaign and believes the majority of the people in the area actually like his billboards and his ideas.  “I saw people taking pictures beside it right after I posted it,” he said.

I should be getting immune to it by now, but when I read the ignorance, stupidity and hatred of people like this, my blood still boils.  I am still amazed that there seem to be so many small-minded, everything-phobic, bigots in this nation.  The government of the United States has as its foundation the U.S. Constitution, an ever-evolving document that seeks to guarantee a large number of individual freedoms to the citizens of this nation.  Have we gone too far in granting individual freedoms and created monsters instead of humans?  Do we no longer see our rights as carrying certain responsibilities?  Are we no longer a nation of caring, kind people?  Or were we ever?  Think about it.

The Man With Small Hands Is Afraid, And The Lemmings Are Following …

Well, apparently Donald Trump’s fear-mongering rhetoric has been successful, at least among some.  I have to ask at this point, I wonder what happened to the brave men and women who founded this nation more than two centuries ago?  Where did the people go who, even though afraid, stepped up to the plate to fight against injustice during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s-1960s?  It is obvious that their bravery and courage did not get passed down to future generations.

No less than four times inside an hour this morning, I saw the following meme posted by friends on Facebook:

“I stand behind you in line at the store with a smile on my face…and a gun under my shirt and you are none the wiser, yet you are safer for having me next to you. I won’t shoot you. My gun won’t pull it’s own trigger. It is securely holstered with the trigger covered. It can’t just go off. However, rest assured that if a lunatic walks into the grocery store and pulls out a rifle, I will draw my pistol and protect myself and my family and therefore protect you and your family. I may get shot before I can pull the trigger…but, I won’t die in a helpless blubbering heap on the floor begging for my life or my child’s life. No, if I die it will be in a pile of spent shell casings. I won’t be that victim. I choose not to be. As for you, I don’t ask you to carry a gun. If you are not comfortable, then please don’t. But I would like to keep my right to choose to not be a helpless victim. There is evil in the world and if evil has a gun, I want one too… “

Oh come on now … really???  I am more easily offended by this crap these days than I once was.  There was a time I could ignore it, discounting it as the work of bored people with small minds and nothing better to do. The Donald has had an effect on us all, even those who keep our brains well-oiled and active.  However, I do not give into his fear-inducing bluster, it merely makes me angry.  Angry at Trump because he is a braying ass, and angry at those who are falling into the trap that he sets for them.  Angry that people have forgotten their heritage as best defined by the words on Lady Liberty herself: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! “  Trump is of German heritage … gee what if we had banned all Germans because one might have been a Nazi?

There are more than 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide today, more than 23% of the world’s population, and Trump and his lemmings are determined that each of those 1.6 billion are potential threats.  Trump screams “I don’t want them in my country!”  Perhaps I don’t want people with orange fake hair, small hands and ugly faces in my country, either!

Trump apparently has forgotten why Muslims come to this country to begin with.  The majority have come here seeking asylum from wars, terrorism and extreme violence in the Middle East.  They come here because to stay in Syria or Iraq would ultimately mean almost certain death.  They come here to try to keep their children safe.  Trump and others may despair of the violence in the U.S., but what we have experienced is nothing compared to that which our Muslim immigrants have been through.  They come here because they trust the United States to be true to its promise to provide a safe haven.  They gladly take the most demeaning and lowest paid jobs just to pay rent and keep food on the table.  They work hard and study hard to learn English, to learn the ways of this, their new home.  And they are kind, caring, sharing and loving people.  Are there bad people among them?  Sure.  Are there bad people among those who were born U.S. citizens and are of European ancestry?  Sure.  Are there bad people among Christians?  Sure.  But we do not, we cannot, throw out the baby with the bathwater!


When Trump screams and rants that we will only be safe when there are no Muslims in the country, he is showing himself for the fool that he is.  Relative to so many nations, this nation is very safe.  Incidents of terrorism are few and far between, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, we are in much more danger from gun-toting citizens than we are from our Middle Eastern guests.

Even Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, showed some backbone and stood up to Trump’s hate-mongering when he said, “I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. I do not think it is reflective of our principles, not just as a party, but as a country. And I think the smarter way to go in all respects is to have a security test, not a religious test.  Muslims are our partners “ He went on to say that the United States is at war with radical Islam, not Muslims in general.

lemmingsThe goal of terrorism is to create a culture of fear.  President Obama may have said it best when he said that  the United States must not “fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush” and “imply that we are at war with an entire religion.” Obama said after a meeting with his National Security Council at the Treasury Department, “then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.”  This is the truth, like it or not.  Earlier this week, in a statement that would become controversial and result in Trump denying press credentials to The Washington Post, Trump made remarks to the effect that Obama may have had a ‘connection’ to the Orlando murders.  He also called for President Obama to refer to the acts as ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’, which would only serve to further the environment of hate and fear Trump is creating.  Trump needs to go before his lemmings follow him over the edge of sanity on which he is tottering.

Nothing to Fear But … White Males???

Yesterday morning, I, along with most of the nation, awakened to the terrible news of the worst shooting spree ever to happen in our nation, with 50 people killed and 53 others injured.  I knew immediately what the reactions of the vociferous few would be, and I was not to be disappointed.  I intentionally did not post about this last night or this morning, as I needed some time and distance before I could do so. However, my tongue cannot stand being bitten any longer, so this is the first of two posts addressing various aspects of this horrific event.

First, it was inevitable that those who support nearly unlimited rights to gun ownership and use would immediately use this tragedy as propaganda to make their case for less restrictive gun laws and the myth that ‘everyone would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons’.  Second, also inevitable, those who already mistrust and hate Muslims renewed their insistence that Islam is the problem, Muslims should be banned, blah, blah, blah. I suppose those who prefer an easy, immediate answer to the question “WHY?” must seek to blame, must look at the nearest target at which to point their finger.  But in reality, there are no easy or immediate answers.

The whole issue of guns, 2nd Amendment rights, gun regulation/control, is my second least-favourite topic about which to write (religion is my least favourite).  It generally sets in motion more negativity than I need.  That said, I am also rarely, if ever, one to shy away from controversy.

Donald Trump, on hearing of the horrific tragedy in Orlando this weekend (which I will cover in a later post, but today it is still too soon), saw yet another opportunity to propagandize a tragedy in order to promote his Islamophobia and renew his call to ban Muslims from entering the country.  He also insists that if he becomes president he will establish a database of all Muslims in order to closely monitor them.  I cry FOUL!  Apart from the whole ‘freedom of religion’ issue, let us look at some facts. I dug into the statistics, and based on what I found, the group that we really need to ban from this country, if in fact that is the answer, is white males!  Fully 61% of all mass shootings in the U.S. between 1982 – 2015 were committed by white people, mostly males. Only two mass shooters during that time frame were women, one Hispanic and one white.

In the chart below, the statistics show the number of mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2015, by race and ethnicity of the shooter(s). Between 1982 and 2015, 44 out of 72 mass shootings were initiated by white shooters.

Mass shootings in U.S. between 1982-2015 by shooters race & ethnicity*:

Race # of perpetrators Pct (%)
White 44 61%
Black 11 15%
Asian 6 8%
Hispanic 4 6%
Native American 3 4%
Other 4 6%

Now seriously, who, if anybody, should be banned or ‘monitored’ via database?  Who are you most likely to trust?  I live in a neighborhood that is about 40% African-American, 25% Middle-Eastern (Muslim), 15% Hispanic, and 20% Caucasian (white).  In the nearly 20 years I have lived here, the only people I have ever had problems with were white, Caucasians.  They are the reason I keep my doors locked.  Think about that for a minute!

While I am on the topic, let us look at the number of people killed each year by terrorism as opposed to those killed by senseless gun violence other than terrorism (see chart below).  So would somebody please explain how the politicians are able to stir such a fear of terrorism in the nation whose citizens have only lost 311 people to terrorism (excluding 9/11), as opposed to 130,347 lives lost due to senseless gun violence?  I am more afraid of the bimbo in the grocery store with a gun in her purse, or the ‘macho-man’ swaggering through a parking lot with a gun barely concealed under his jacket than I am any person of Middle-Eastern heritage!

U.S. Deaths from gun violence and terrorism compared*:

Year Gun deaths Deaths from terrorism
2001 ** 11,348 2,689
2002 11,829 25
2003 11,920 35
2004 11,624 74
2005 12,352 56
2006 12,791 28
2007 12,632 19
2008 12,179 33
2009 11,493 9
2010 11,078 15
2011 11,101 17

Now there is just one more thing I want to address here, and that is the tired old saying that right-wingers and gun advocates throw out when other words fail them: “well, the criminals will get guns anyway, so why bother with stricter gun regulations?”  Let us think about this one for a few moments.  Yes, there is some truth to the fact that a determined criminal who has his mind set on shooting someone will likely find a way to obtain a gun.  Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter, certainly would have had no trouble obtaining his weapons. HOWEVER, … why should that stop us from making rational and enforceable laws?  A person who drives drunk will do so if he feels so inclined, so does that mean we should not have laws against DUI?  A speeder will likely do 85 mph down the highway, but does that mean we should just throw our hands up and say, “oh well, no point in making laws against it, as they will only do it anyway.”  Sorry folks, but that is about the absolute stupidest argument I have ever heard.  And for you gun lovers out there … I am not talking about laws to strip you of your guns, but I am talking about stricter regulations to ensure that people are fully vetted and pass a test to prove that they can safely handle a gun, perhaps even a class to teach them about keeping guns out of the hands of children.  Those are not a threat to your ‘rights’, those are common sense!  Get over yourselves and remember that you are not the only person who counts in this world.

Check out this post by Erik Hare of Barataria for a thoughtful, insightful perspective that I think you will enjoy.   Constant Outrage

Okay, enough ranting from me for today.  My fingertips are sore from pounding the keys!  My main point in this whole rant is that we simply must stop blaming all Muslims every time one of them performs an act of terrorism.  There is no more justification for that line of thinking than there is of blaming the entire Caucasian race every time a white person such as Dylan Roof goes on a spree.  Blame the perpetrator of the crime, not his whole race, not his entire religion.  Don’t let the politicians like Trump scare you with ‘monsters in the closet’.  The U.S. has been fortunate that other than 9/11, we really have not been victims of wide-scale terrorist attacks.  Those we have seen have been mostly domestic, lone-wolf terrorism, episodes by self-radicalized individuals.  Stop and put things in perspective.  Think before opening your mouth.  Look at facts, not meaningless rhetoric.  We do not need a wall; we do not need to ban people based on their religion.  We need to monitor ourselves and use a bit of common sense. Think about it.

*  All data obtained from Statista  http://www.statista.com/aboutus/

** Includes deaths on 11 September 2001 in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa.

Two Schools of Thought

There are two distinctly different schools of thought about whether Trump’s status as ‘presumptive nominee’ helps or hurts Hillary Clinton.  Strangely, both of these thoughts have merit and I am as yet undecided which will prevail.

On the side of his presumptive nomination being a deal-breaker in favor of Hillary, Trump is despised by most all democrats and a large portion of republicans alike.  He is the least qualified, least experienced party-affiliated candidate I can remember ever making it this far in the election process.  He has alienated entire groups of people: African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, women, immigrants, disabled people, academicians and scholars.  Clinton, on the other hand, is well qualified, has experience not only in domestic policy-making but also in foreign policy.  She supports civil rights and equality for all, she supports important topics like raising minimum wage, environmental protection and education.  It is rather like weighing the merits of eating a sugary donut vs. an apple, with Trump as the donut (though there is nothing actually sweet about him) and Clinton, the apple.

Thus one would think … but therein lies the problem.  One would think Trump wouldn’t stand a chance against an experienced, qualified candidate of the other party.  But, if we think back over the past ten months, we didn’t think he would get this far.  We didn’t think people would ever take the man seriously, and I am not sure they actually do take him seriously, but they vote for him anyway.  Why do they vote for someone who they know is not qualified to govern this nation?  They do so because of one thing and one thing only:  he tells them what they want to hear.  And willingly they believe because they want to believe, need to believe.  He first creates the need, the want, and then he tells them that he is the answer to those needs and wants.

Trump plays on the fears of terrorism, puts forth the fallacy that Muslims, Middle-Eastern immigrants, are responsible for terrorism and that there are so many of them in this country that we are in constant danger.  He stirs that pot relentlessly, and then, when the Islamophobia reaches a peak, he provides the “answer”.  He says he and he alone can fix the problem by deporting all Muslims, all immigrants of Middle-Eastern extraction.  Not only that, but he will “bomb the shit out of” Daesh and kill the family members, including children, of any and all suspected terrorists.  See how he first created a fear (terrorism), then a need (safety from terrorists), and then a solution (extinction).  This is but one example of his marketing blitz.

Trump is a businessman, and there is little difference between his tactics of creating a need, then fulfilling the need, and the tactics that businesses use called ‘advertising’.  He is marketing himself in much the same way that Mattel markets Barbie dolls and other toys.  They advertise them on Saturday mornings when your little kids are glued to television cartoons, then your kids are convinced they need as certain toy.  Never mind that the toy will not fulfill any real need and thus will be forgotten within a few short months, or even hours, and never mind the money you wasted.  The toy company got what they wanted and they really do not care if your child actually plays with the toy or not.  Just as Trump creates a need then promises a solution, a solution that he cannot possibly fulfill.  But people believe because they want to.  They need to.

All of which explains the second school of thought, which is that, while many democrats are thinking that Trump just handed the presidency to Clinton, it may not actually be so.  Certainly when one steps away from Trump’s rhetoric and realizes that he cannot come through with virtually any of his promises, then Clinton looks like the better option.  But … those who so desperately want and need to believe that there is an easy solution to the problems, real or imagined, of the nation, they believe Trump’s promises because they need to.  That is why we cannot simply assume that Trump cannot beat Clinton.  Trump has brought people away from logical thinking and plays, instead, on emotions.

What does it take to shed light on the fallacies that Trump is filling the airwaves with?  Almost all of his rhetoric has been proven to be lies, yet people do not seem to care.  What does it take to bring back humanitarian values that Trump has shredded?  So I ask again, what would it take to shock Trump’s blinded followers enough that they would see the reality that is Donald Trump?  In January, Trump made the statement that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” In January I scoffed at such a statement, but now I suspect he may have been right.  This is a sad statement, not so much about Donald Trump, but about the state of mind of many of the citizens of our nation. Trump cannot win on merit, but he may well win on bluster.

Trump cannot possibly follow through on 90% of his promises if he is elected. The foundation upon which our entire government rests will not permit it.  I suspect that most voters, in some part of their minds, know this.  They just do not care anymore.  They just want somebody to tell them it will all be okay, someone they can hand their troubles to and go to bed feeling secure.  Never mind that it is a false sense of security.  Is there a simple solution, a simple way to put Trump back in his box?  I doubt that there is a panacea, but the ultimate solution must be comprised of educating the voters, which is 80% the role of the media, who have frankly been doing a lousy job of it.  It must also require that Clinton do a better job of marketing her policy beliefs, playing up her strong points and addressing those that are concerning in a forthright and honest manner.  And last, but not least, it requires We The People to stop being lemmings and start thinking … thinking of what a Trump presidency would really mean, thinking of truth vs. falsehoods, and start questioning what the candidates are saying, start thinking with logic instead of sheer emotion.  We need to think on a global, not an individual basis.  For it is not about just one person.  Perhaps John F. Kennedy said it best in his famous quote, and one of my personal favourites: “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Shameful Inhumanity

In the news the past few days:

• Fire at California Mosque was Intentionally Set in Possible Hate Crime (NBC News 12-11-2015)
• Two Muslim Women Attacked in Tampa (The Express Tribune 12-12-2015)
• Pig’s Head Left at Philadelphia Mosque (CNN 12-09-2015)
• Armed “Patriots” Turn Protests Toward Muslim Americans (Associated Press 12-11-2015)
• The Alabama KKK is Recruiting to “Fight the Spread of Islam” (International Business Times 12-05-2015)
• Passenger Rants About Islamic State Before Shooting Muslim Taxi Driver in Back (The Washington Post 11-30-2015)
• Muslim Student Upset After Gwinnett Teacher Asks If She Has A Bomb (Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12-11-2015)

The list goes on, but you get the picture. This, my friends, is the environment that the rhetoric by the political right wing and the media has created. I hang my head in shame at being a part of the human race tonight.

I have always thought the First Amendment guaranteeing the right to freedom of speech, freedom of press was a good idea … a great idea, even. Now? I’m not so sure. I am coming to view this “right” in much the same way I view the 2nd Amendment “right” to bear arms … it is a right that is so often abused that perhaps it should no longer be a right. I think the framers of the Constitution were operating under the false assumption that citizens of the U.S. would use their rights to make this a better nation, to promote the idea that “all men are created equal”, to lead us to “truth and justice” and would exercise at least a modicum of humanity and common sense. But alas, that was some 225 years ago and much has changed since then. My fear is that the sampling of incidents listed above is merely the beginning of what may become a horrible trend in this nation during the coming year. I blame the gaggle of presidential wanna-be’s certainly, but primarily Donald Trump who has put forth one and only one policy platform, and that is one based on extreme bigotry toward Mexicans and Muslims. Even more, I blame the media for the feeding frenzy. Journalists have a job to do, which is to keep the public informed of the things they need to know. That does not mean that their job is to stir and incite hatred by producing 24-hour news showing a single candidate over and over and over again screaming about how we must hate people based solely on their religion. And even more than the “mainstream” media, I blame the “social media”. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have done nothing but magnify the rhetoric far out of proportion, magnify the lies put forth by the politicians, and incite some to extreme violence.

Yet there is still more blame to go around. Does anybody reading this (if anybody is) actually think that committing hate crimes against our Muslim community is okay? Probably not, as most of my followers are pretty reasonable people, but if anybody reading this thinks this hatred is okay … please let me know how you justify that … I am really curious. The bulk of the blame, my friends, is on us. The politicians can rant, and the press can and does exercise poor judgement along with their 1st Amendment rights, but if we use our own minds and let our consciences guide us, we will understand that this is not the right thing to do. There is not a single word in the U.S. Constitution that gives us a right to attack anyone based on their religion. There is no law on the books that gives us the right to set fire to a religious building or to shoot an innocent citizen. Does anybody remember the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963? Is this any different? Did we, as a nation, learn absolutely nothing in the past 50+ years? Many of the regular followers of this blog reside on the other side of the globe, and they are always amazed at how violent the U.S. has become, how lax our policies on increasingly-lethal weapons, and how we turn a blind eye to it all. The real problem, as I see it, is that we no longer take the time and effort to read, to dig for facts, and then to use our own brains to think for ourselves. Apparently it is much easier to troll social media sites for memes that put forth the opinions of others, then take those opinions as our own. Apparently rather than dust the cobwebs off of our own brains, we prefer to be followers, always believing what somebody else tells us we ought to believe. So yes, there is plenty of blame to go around, but ultimately the buck stops here … on my shoulders and on yours.