What Are You So Mad About?

I haven’t posted a blog entry since all of the chaos started in the country. I didn’t (and honestly still don’t) have the words to truly express all of the things that it has made me feel. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter though, basically in astonishment at how many people are willfully ignorant, blatantly lying, or a combination of both… and from all sides of the issue. Emotions and tensions are higher than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, so I understand that people will initially be speaking mostly with their anger. But anger can’t be an indefinite excuse for spreading false information, false narratives, and generally trying to make things worse rather than better.

My frustration comes from most people digging their feet in when it comes to their own personal take, and they won’t even listen to anything that doesn’t fit their narrative, let alone acknowledge and learn from any of it. It would be one thing if it was just random Twitter assholes, but I’m also talking about politicians and people in power who are acting the same way. Tom Cotton says “The riots have nothing to do with the death of George Floyd.”Β It doesn’t seem like the best idea to dismiss the pain and rage of those rioters who have obviously gone too far, but who are still upset with police abuse.

It’s amazing to see how many people who don’t want to be generalized or lumped together into one group, how they feel totally justified in doing that to people who aren’t on their side. “All cops are corrupt, murderous assholes!” “All protesters are violent, thieving arsonists!” Many people can’t or won’t admit that there are differences between peaceful protesters, the rowdy-but-non-criminal activists, the looters, the vandals, the people causing physical harm. It’s just easier for people to label them all as rioters so they can dismiss them as not worthy of being heard.

And then of course there’s a huge amount of people on the opposite side who can’t or won’t acknowledge that there are many different types of cops within law enforcement, including naive / optimistic officers seeking change, cops that just see it as a 9 to 5 job, officers who are on a power trip, ones who absolutely abuse their power, and then ones that can calmly kill detained suspects. And I’d think the one thing that both “sides” could agree on, is that we’re seeing far too many examples of the worst at both ends of the spectrum – and all it does is damage the message that they want to be heard. Yeah, everyone is mad, but if you take it too far then people are just gonna roll their eyes.

The second most widely spread bullshit take when it comes to this stuff, is that “If you aren’t breaking the law then you don’t have anything to worry about.” First of all, this is demonstrably untrue… and even if someone is breaking a law, are we as a society ready for law enforcement to commit physical violence in realtime for those offenses? What would those people think is a “fair punishment” for crimes such as stepping off of a sidewalk, being out 15 minutes past curfew, walking near people who are causing a disturbance, flipping off or cussing out a cop? Do we really want law enforcement to be able to kick, punch, drag, or choke people for those things? How about tear gas, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades, pepper spray projectiles? All of that is fine? If you’re only gonna watch one video on this page, make it this one – and put yourself or one of your children in the place of any of the folks who are taking the abuse…

And on Twitter, some chuckle fuck would immediately reply with “Well it wouldn’t be me or my kids in their shoes because we wouldn’t be participating in that!” And to that, I say… participating in what? Exercising your first amendment rights because you’re angry that police keep killing people without consequence? How about the people that are simply walking near someone who’s causing trouble? You could never be one of those people either? Those folks need to spare us all from their bullshit “it could never be me” crap.

One of the worst things that I’ve seen was in Austin TX. A college kid was shot in the back of the head with a “non lethal” projectile while cracked his skull and caused brain damage. The cops wouldn’t help him “in the street” and told people to take him to the police station. And when those people carried that critically injured man to the police department, they were immediately shot multiple times with pepper spray balls. And yeah, I’m being more hard on the police in this blog entry… because we should be able to expect more from the police. The people who vandalize, loot, start fires, etc… of course they should be arrested, charged, and prosecuted. But when cops act like criminals, that’s when “all” starts to get lost.

President Obama gave a wonderful speech yesterday, and among the things he said – he sent out a message to the mayors of every city across our nation, challenging them to review their “use of force” policies when it comes to the police departments and other law enforcement that they’re in control of. But then Donald Trump almost immediately issued a statement on Twitter, distancing himself from the idea of law enforcement reform – and instead saying the only thing he has in common with Obama is that they both fired the same army general. (Because Trump was being salty about being called out by that general, and that’s more important than the safety of every citizen in the country.)

At least national sentiment does seem to be finally turning against Donald Trump. He has never acknowledged the reason that people are protesting, and instead keeps doubling down with increased law enforcement presence, calling in military troops and vehicles, and threatening to send them to every state in order to “dominate” with force. Talk about lack of self-awareness. Hundreds of thousands of people are protesting against abusive law enforcement, and Trump’s response is essentially… “You wanna see abusive law enforcement?” I mean, his troops were using violence and pepper spray to clear the streets of humans as Donald Trump was giving a speech just yards away, claiming to be this amazing ally to peaceful protesters.

He knows that everyone knows he’s full of shit. He also knows that while plenty of people will call him out and be rightfully upset by his actions, he knows that there’s a massive number of people who simply won’t care that he’s a violent, self-serving liar, threatening the country with his military dominance. (I’d swear that a lot of people want to be him in that instance.) The same vibe that the abusive cops give… DO AS I SAY OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES, NO MATTER WHAT YOU’VE ACTUALLY DONE OR NOT DONE IN REGARDS TO THE LAW.

Okay, I better start wrapping it up, because I could obviously go on and on and on about it. But my take on this doesn’t feel like it should be controversial or objectionable, but boy is it to a lot of folks. George Floyd was murdered by those cops, and they should be charged and prosecuted accordingly. I absolutely support the protests. Everyone should be outraged, not just POC or people who are more likely to experience police brutality. I’m not even upset when those protesters break curfew, block roads, or protest in “scary voices” right in the face of law enforcement. If cops react to those actions with violence instead of simply arresting folks, then it just makes it that much easier to see which ones are the bad ones, and which ones will stand by and do nothing as the bad ones inflict pain and suffering on US citizens.

Yeah, I’m fucking heated about this stuff… and for the same reason as a million other people. The folks in power know what the protests are about, but they’d rather dismiss everyone as vandals, trouble makers, criminals – so that way they don’t have to acknowledge the problem of law enforcement abusing their power. The way the cops seem to be increasing their abuse, it appears that they’re scared of losing that power. Same thing with the political leaders. If law enforcement no longer has its knee on the neck of society, that makes the sketchy people in power really fucking nervous.

Politicians, police unions, etc have been praising many police departments for the way they’ve “shown amazing restraint” during all of this. And yeah, in a lot of instances that’s probably true. Shooting people “only” with rubber bullets, knee knockers, pepper balls, tear gas canisters… instead of live ammunition. But I hope the people offering that praise to the cops… I hope they realize that the people on the other side have been showing remarkable restraint as well. How many days in a row will our society watch innocent people getting the shit kicked out of them by out of control law enforcement officers? How long will they be okay with Donald Trump unilaterally deploying the United States fucking military into the streets to control us all? Yeah, there’s a lot of restraint all around, but I wouldn’t count on that lasting a whole lot longer…

One Day at A Time

Fox Sports did a great job with the “virtual” race that they put on today. I forget what the official name was, but it was an eNASCAR / iRacing / Invitational / Exhibition race… that they somehow managed to get on TV with an impressive presentation. Sure, there were more wrecks than in a real race, and a few glitches here and there… but overall, if you were just walking in and out of the living room, only half paying attention, you wouldn’t have even noticed that we were all watching a video game.

A nice little escape for a couple of hours today. Back in reality, Mike DeWine declared that Ohio will have a stay-at-home order starting on Monday. We’re all basically doing that already, but I think this may actually affect folks who were still wanting and trying to work. Only certain jobs are on the approved list, so here’s hoping that the government comes through with unemployment or another form of relief quickly – ‘cuz as if the virus itself doesn’t cause enough anxiety, now people are gonna have to worry about utilities, rent, car payments, food, etc.

The problem is, the way they’ve worded things, the way they’re going to enforce this order… it’s way, way too soft – and the people who want to be out, or just don’t want to be told what to do, they’re gonna find and use all the loopholes. I’d give it a week or two before DeWine gets fed up with the lack of cooperation and puts something stronger in place. But right now, you can still go out to the park, walk around, walk your dog, drive to shop, visit family, go to doctor appointments… I mean, I don’t know what the right amount of “enforcement” would be, so maybe that’s why it’s starting off light.

I didn’t watch Trump’s press briefing today, and I’m probably a whole lot better for it. I’ve seen a couple clips, and have read things that he said or did… and yeah, as many, many people and journalists are starting to say on Twitter – there’s no reason that these things should be carried live, since there is so much misinformation that causes fear and anxiety. So my day was a bit better than I was feeling last night. Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel at the moment… it’s almost like anticipation… not knowing how I should feel until we start seeing things happening closer to home each day.

I’m probably still right on the edge of that same anxiety that I had last night, so after I get off of here I’m gonna seek out Airplane! (the movie) so I can kick back and absorb some stupid, clever, dumb comedy as I hopefully get sleepy. I hope everyone out there made it through the day as uneventfully as I did today.

Okay, Now Relax

I took the weekend a little too late into the night last night, ‘cuz once I got home I wanted to watch the race, the Season 5 opener of Better Call Saul, and the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead. The race was pretty good, BCS was great, but 5min into TWD and I realized that I didn’t really give a shit anymore. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Even though it was getting close to 3a before I sacked out, I still went ahead and set my alarm so I’d be awake early this morning if my phone rang. And ring it did. I’m glad to have that out of the way, and I’m now on the schedule for later this week. Now for the next few days I just have to remind myself that they know where I basically stand on things, they know my concerns, so I don’t have to spend every waking moment between now and then continuing to dwell on it. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna happen ’til it happens.

Although as soon as I got off the phone I felt nauseous. It’s just that it’ll be the first meeting in a series of events that could close the medical portion of my claim… and once it’s done there’s no do-overs. 😐 And no, it won’t dictate how the entirety of the rest of my life plays out, but it’s still a really big deal and I’d be foolish if I wasn’t giving it my all. I just don’t know how much more of that juice I’ve got left in my reserves.

I’m definitely looking forward to talking with them in person though. Being able to hear their tone, see their body language… I just think it’ll give me a more complete idea of where we all actually stand. 🧐

Weather Complications

Gen’s trip to Ohio ended up being a bit of an adventure. ✈️ The original plan had her taking off from NJ, landing in NC with a half-hour to catch her connecting flight, and then onto Columbus. But for whatever reason, their plane landed in Charlotte only a couple of minutes before the connecting flight took off… so anyone that was continuing to Ohio missed their flight. πŸ˜ŸπŸ˜•πŸ˜ πŸ˜ πŸ˜πŸ˜ŸΒ πŸ›« American Airlines obviously knew they screwed up, and had everyone quickly booked on the next flight out to Columbus, but the result was that she ended up getting here about an hour and a half later than anticipated.

It was almost 4pm by the time we were leaving the airport, and that’s when the flag placement ceremony was supposed to beginΒ – so we didn’t even really try to hurry, assuming that we were just gonna miss it. (And that was the main reason that she was coming to visit.) But as we were heading to Lancaster, she was texting with Toni (who was already there) and we learned that the crappy weather and other “opening remarks” type stuff had kept everyone inside one of the buildings at the fairgrounds πŸ˜―πŸ€”πŸ˜ƒ and that we’d possibly be able to make it in time for the flag placement after all.

The first couple of flags had already been handed out by the time we were pulling in, but it worked out so that they called Dad’s name just as we had parked and joined everyone standing there. πŸ™‚πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Couldn’t have cut it any closer. 😎 They go alphabetically, so that meant there was still plenty of time before Uncle Rick, Grandpa Shepherd, and Genesee’s dad’s names were called. Any other year that would have been great, but this year… whoothe weather, man. πŸ˜―πŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈπŸ’¨πŸ˜£

Ominous dark clouds, half drizzle, half sleet, freezing winds gusting so hard that people were struggling to hold their flags… it was just awful. 😟 (They had a huge eagle on hand as well, and he wasn’t too thrilled about things either.) πŸ¦… And as much as I’d have liked for Dad to have been able to go… at least when we were talking about it in the daysΒ prior… I’m glad that he decided not to. With the flight delays, getting there late, mother nature going crazy, and him not feeling that great over the past few days anyway – he definitely made the right choice. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Other years that I’ve gone, loads of people would sit in the stands, listening to the names, ranks, wars, etc as they waited for their person’s name to be called. But there was no sitting this time. The bleachers were cold and wet, so everyone just huddled together… enduring the weather until they could place their flag and then flee to their car. πŸš™πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸƒπŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ¨οΈ I don’t blame anyone… it was just unfortunate that this year’s event didn’t have the same “feel” as previous years because of all that other crap. πŸ˜•

We did end up going back through there the next day though, when the weather was much nicer, to see how many flags were displayed – and to pay the proper respect to the whole thing that none of us were really able to give the day before. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ§πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ§πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ We did take a handful of pictures on the actual placement day, and boy do they not convey what the experience was actually like. 😏 (But of course once everything was overΒ the weather calmed down considerably.) We’re still fortunate to have made it though, since this is the first year that we had flags for Dad and Gen’s dad – so it would have sucked if we weren’t able to place them ourselves.

Okay, it’s been a busy couple days, so I’ll follow up soon with an entry covering anything else worth mentioning from Gen’s stay.Β I didn’t even do half as much as her… but I’m out of juice. πŸ™„πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

C’est la vie

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen one of these days, considering the amount of appointments and other obligations that I’ve got… but this morning I completely blew past my scheduled appointment with the psychiatrist. 😬 It was scheduled at 9am, so I knew it was gonna be a struggle, but I really thought I’d be fine. I mean, I haven’t missed any of my other stupid-early appointments… but I didn’t manage to fall asleep until after 4am, so meh… whatever, I guess. πŸ˜’

I shouldn’t look at it this way, but when I’m keeping up with all of the other stuff I need to be keeping up with, waiting a little bit longer to bring in the doctor that provides the happy pills… yeah, I guess I’m just not that worried about that. 😡 And I know, mental health is probably as important as physical health, but hey… I’ve got the counselor now, and I’ve already got that next appointment scheduled, so that’ll have to be good enough for the time being.

The two offices are related though, so I’m not sure if ghosting the pharmaceutical shrink will have any affect when I go to the talky shrink. 😐 I’ll give ’em a call on Monday and make nice and see what they say. I did make it to the dentist though a few hours later, so I can report that maintenance on the lower part of my mouf is now finished and those teefs are about as good as they’re gonna get. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ‘πŸ» The permanent crowd actually feels really natural, although I’ve been afraid to look too closely in the mirror in case it looks wonky.

Because We Have To

I like to think of myself as a thoughtful, logical, reasonable person. And because of that, all of the noise surrounding the events in Charlottesville over the past several days really has my brain spinning. So many people are saying “what they’re supposed to say” or what they believe that others think they should say. And hardly anyone allows themselves to see the hypocrisy that’s permeating the news coverage and social media.

We all start out on the same page. The first amendment. The right to assemble. The right to free speech. And when that idea suits someone’s agenda, they’re certainly all for it. But the gathering of white nationalists and other racist white groups in Emancipation Park… because it’s widely accepted (and in my opinion, correct) that being white and racist against African Americans and jews is a very bad thing, that group that wanted to exercise their right to speech and assembly didn’t stand a chance.

They knew that their gathering would be triggering to many people, and perhaps they even wanted to disrupt the calm on purpose… and they came in helmets, carrying sticks, shields, pepper spray, etc. And as you would expect, there was a large group of protesters of the event on the other side, and many of them even came with things that could be used as weapons. It was a powder keg, and things played out in the way that you’d expect such a passionate gathering of opposing forces would do.

What’s bothering me is that nearly all the news outlets, as well as the views on social media, seem to be relieving the protesters of the event of any responsibility or blame for the way things went down. That’s difficult for me because we’ve all seen the videos… people from the white nationalist group attacking protesters, protesters attacking the white nationalists. This was something that most definitely went both ways, despite news personalities like Joy Reid saying “there certainly was not” violence coming from the protesters.

Because their views are understandably unpopular, the people who organized and attended the event are the ones that are getting all the blame. Photos and videos of them getting attacked are celebrated. People are doing everything they can to identify them, post their personal information online, and even get them fired from their jobs or expelled from their schools. Statues of Confederate “heroes” are being torn down, spit on, kicked, etc… and again, all of it to the cheers of the humans.

If you are a guest on a news program, even if you lead with condemning the racist views and actions, if you dare to point out that protesters also participated in the violence as well you will be shamed or shouted down. If you assert anyone’s right to assemble and speak, you’re going to be labeled a Nazi sympathizer or worse. If people really looked at this, it should scare them… mob mentality, justifying violence if someone’s views are different than yours, cheering vandalism, turning a blind eye to illegal actions if they are done by someone who is confronting a politically incorrect symbol, idea, or view.

I have friends who also share this view. The white nationalists, just like anyone, had a right to assemble and assert their right to free speech. They should have known that it had the potential of blowing up, which it did, but that shouldn’t preclude them from doing it. For those that went there and got into fights, on either side, it’s obviously wrong. You don’t have to like what someone is saying, but that shouldn’t give you permission to physically attack them (again, on either side) and it certainly shouldn’t result in the cheers and praise of the mob.

Nobody seems to be doing the “if the shoe was on the other foot” thing. If an extremist black group were to gather and speak, would the media be as quick to essentially praise anyone that attacked them, simply because such incendiary speech “shouldn’t be tolerated” or whatever? Would that group be treated with the “they should have known better” mindset like the people who gathered in VA? And would people (in general) tolerate taking photos of all of the black people, blasting their information all over social media, and doing everything that can be done to destroy their lives? I really don’t think so.

I’ll be honest… of those that gathered, I don’t have any idea what they were speaking about. I’m pretty sure it was awful, difficult to listen to, and probably meant to get people fired up like it did – and yeah, everything that happened because of the event is horrible – so I don’t know what can be done to prevent such things from happening. The idea of “hate speech” vs “free speech” is obviously a tricky one… but if you take away the political correctness, if you take away the passionate views, it comes down to one group interacting with another group, with each side having a portion of violent actors within it, and anyone that participated in physical violence is just as bad as the next one, regardless of their reason for doing it.