We are in the endgame now

Right now, some Americans are mourning the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Any other time, I’d think the entire country would be in mourning, but there have been postings like this

and this

That lets me know we are not collectively mourning as a country.  Some are calculating and celebrating her death as an opportunity to reshape American to their ideological bend.

Remember this?

Well, now that opportunity presents itself, the temptation to achieve ideological wins is too great of a chance to pass up.

Folks, to reference a quote from the movie in the first video, we are in the endgame now.  Do not let individual things change your focus or drive towards the ultimate goal of bringing balance, sanity, and equality to America.

Don’t kid yourself thinking that Mitch McConnell isn’t going to seat a SCOTUS justice before January.  It’s going to happen unless there are 4 Republican Senators who will vote no on any and all attempts to seat a justice.  We saw GOP allegiance to their oath of office and the Constitution last February, and I don’t expect anything different now.

In addition, there’s also a court case involving the dismantling of the PPACA before the SCOTUS this session.  So, we’re staring down the barrel of a 6-3 ideological split on the SCOTUS as well as the dismantling of the ACA.  All of this has been done by GOP political maneuvers.

Under this seemingly cloud of doom, Democrats have a striking opportunity to avenge the political shenanigans of the GOP and help Americans at the same time.  Don’t give up without a fight, and also employ the same tactics and strategy against the GOP.

It all begins with electoral wins in November.  Drive turnout to the point where there is no question about what voters want.  Flip senate seats, house seats, local, and even state governments wherever you can.  Then, employ the following 100 Day agenda.

With a Democratic House, Senate, and president, enact a Judiciary Act of 2021 to expand the judicial branch to better reflect the size needed for today’s population.  Add judges on every level including the SCOTUS.  Expand the number of circuits and appellate courts to ensure the right to a fair and speedy trial is protected.

If the ACA is dismantled, replacing it with a single payer system is a solid option especially explaining that you agree with the GOP and the current system didn’t work.  They’ve had ample time to offer an alternative, and they didn’t.  So, give Americans what every other modern day first world society already has.  This will eliminate the stress of medical debt bankruptcy while we’re still battling a viral pandemic where we have no idea of what the long term impact will be on our health.

Also, pass election reform to ensure the security of the ballot and the right to vote itself.  Do not expect any “gentleman’s agreements” to be respected anymore.  Codify every single thing into law.  I would even go as far as suggesting automatic registration at birth and a national ID card that can double as a Voter ID.  Conservatives say they want secure elections.  Give it to them.

Finally and most importantly, pass pandemic relief legislation to help Americans who are struggling.  I’m talking about everyone, even those who vote Republican.  It’s a damn shame that people are struggling to feed themselves and their families in the wealthiest country in the world while the stock market is humming right along as though we’re all A-OK.  Don’t worry about corporate interests or financial markets.  Putting money directly into the hands of Americans should be the #1 priority.

I mourn the loss of RBG as though she was a member of my own family.  I mourn the loss of 200,000 Americans to a virus that we should have put up a fight against.  I also mourn for my country that is being ripped apart by people who are only interested in power and money, not protecting the Constitution or the people who elected them to office.

We are in the endgame now.  How we pick ourselves up and fight will determine our future.  Mourn, cry, scream, cuss, or do what you must to deal with the immediate emotion.  After that, straighten up and get ready to vote like voting is the only thing that matters.  Right now, that’s indeed what matters.  We can’t control what politicians do, but we can control which politicians are there to do it.  Let’s make good trouble on November 3rd so there is no doubt about where America is headed in 2021.  We owe that much to those we’ve lost on the way.

Lessons learned from tragedy

Nineteen years ago today, America suffered a horrendous terrorist attack on our soil. On that morning, four hijacked aircraft ended up causing billions in damage as well as ending the lives of 3000 people that day.

Responding to the initial crashes, men and women of the NYPD and NYFD went into action like they would in any emergency. That day, over 400 within their combined ranks also lost their lives.

Beyond the initial deaths, thousands of people were injured in the initial attack or in the cleanup process afterwards.  To help take care of them, Congress passed a law to provide health care funding to cover the medical expenses of those who were sicken and suffered medical issues as a result of the attack.

We were fulfilling this obligation in full up until about four years ago. There’s this story that appeared in the NY Daily News yesterday.

The Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses, the Daily News has learned.

The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, documents obtained by The News reveal.

Prezant said he was docked about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017. Then it crept up to about $630,000 in 2018 and 2019. This year, Treasury has nearly tripled its extractions, diverting $1.447 million through late August, according to Prezant.

“Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes,” said Prezant, the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer.

It appears that there’s no bottom to the depths the current president will stoop to when it comes to screwing Americans.  The people who put their lives on the line deserve better, and we should demand it for them.  That money was promised, and it should be paid in full.

I don’t expect Congress to say or do anything because they’ve practically neutered themselves and ceded their constitutional power to Trump.  This will simply be another episode of the Trump Show that we’re living.  Interesting enough, I have not seen any reports on this story outside of this article.

Even nineteen years after, we stop to remember those who died that day and honor the sacrifice of those who died trying to save others.  We’ve adopted a never forget motto for the attack, and we cannot forget those who are suffering long-term medical problems as well.

We’ve seen our military veterans get screwed over their medical care when they’ve returned home damaged from war.  You would think we had learned the lesson to take care of the people who give themselves to keep us safe.

We cannot let this administration continue to shred agreements we’ve already made with ourselves.  This is not his personal empire.  This is our country.  If we allow this to happen, why would we expect anyone to sacrifice themselves for us anymore?  What will happen to the first responders who are currently fighting covid?

Labor Day 2020

Just like the year 2020 has been so far, Labor Day isn’t a “happy” day either. While the real-life Fantasy Island host, Donald Trump, tries to paint a rosy picture,

Reality tells an entirely different story.

The truth about job growth is that the sitting president has very little to do with creating jobs outside of filling federal job vacancies. Job growth or loss is dictated by the private sector and the decisions made in corporate boardrooms across the world.

That said, there’s a cottage industry built upon the notion that a president is responsible for jobs in his term. In reality, decisions made during one term will determine the direction of the country years after those decisions are made. For example, the job growth in his term that Trump tries to take credit for is due to decisions made by Obama in 2009-2010 to dig the country out of a recession.  If you want to take credit for job growth, then you also are credited with job loss.

Compared to recent administrations, the Trump group is the only administration with negative job growth. While it’s tempting to blame him based on his personal past history of destroying jobs, it’s not entirely Trump’s fault.  Trump did create the environment for the massive loss in employment with his abject failure of dealing with CoVID-19, but he didn’t directly order employers to fire tens of millions of employees.

If Trump loses in November, he will have the distinction of having more job loss in his term than job gains.  In fact, you have to go all the way back to Herbert Hoover to find the previous president with that distinction.

This could have all been avoided with long-term strategic planning by the government. We’ve seen America cycle through employment eras before, and that’s what we’re seeing now. The 1800s saw America’s labor centered in agriculture. The 1900s gave us a change from agriculture to manufacturing. The 2000s will see us switching over from manufacturing to service based jobs. Planning effectively helps to smooth out the transition period.

Labor, like America itself, is dynamic and constantly changing to best fit into the current world environment. As we celebrate Labor Day and shift into fall season, let’s not forget how we got to where we are whether good or bad. I’m not feeling like this particular Labor Day is a “happy” occasion, so I will simply say thanks to all those who labor tirelessly to benefit us all.

Thanks to ALL of the essential workers, even those who do not get the commiserate essential worker pay or benefits. This year helped to show who we honestly rely on to keep things moving when our backs are against a wall.  I offer condolences to the family and friends of the workers who died this year trying to keep us all alive and well. Their sacrifices do not go unnoticed.

Last, but not least, to all my fellow Americans, let us labor to ensure that the angry minority does not shred the great country that we have all worked on building. We are all better when we work together, and there’s no one specific group that is superior to any other. Enjoy your Labor Day holiday. It was paid for by the blood, sweat, and tears of generations before.

Wall of Mistrust

It’s another day in America, and we are discussing yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man caught on video. If you’re reading this seeking exoneration of the officers or the subject, then let me save you the time and effort. You’re not going to see that here today. You can close the window and find something else to read.

Instead, my thoughts and focus is on the long term mental aspect of the lack of trust in police and government in general from the black community. That is always the elephant in the room that very few people discuss whenever there’s a shooting in the news. Jacob Blake just became another brick in the wall of mistrust standing between the black community and the police.

America is considered the land of the free, but that word free comes with an asterisk. Some of us are only as free as government authorities want us to be.

Remember that in pre-Civil War America, there were free blacks, and some even owned slaves. Do you remember what happened after the Fugitive Slave Act was signed into law? There were cases of free blacks who were captured and sold into slavery even though they had never been a slave to begin with.

After the Civil War and emancipation, former slaves were given the citizenship that we rightly deserved, and accorded rights protected by the Constitution only for the government to set up systematic repression and discrimination. Those rights that were paid for with the blood of Americans were taken away because of the content of melanin in our skin.

In the Jim Crow era, just as before, blacks were killed indiscriminately with impunity by those in positions of authority. At different times and places, blacks saw entire communities and towns wiped out and economic gains destroyed with no punishment meted to the perpetrators. Often, police officers led, took part, or allowed mobs to burn property and/or kill blacks with no fear of legal repercussions. All white juries allowed killers to walk free even if they confessed to murder.

After the civil violence of the 1960s, racism and discrimination did not disappear. Firmly entrenched in our society, they simply took on new forms and continued with implicit and sometimes explicit approval by police or government officials. We’ve tried to tame the monster, yet we continue to see brick upon brick laid in that wall of mistrust.

Years ago, these bricks were placed so quickly that many didn’t have names. Because of social media, we now know the names on the bricks as well as the time and location they’re laid on the wall. The mistrust is so bad now that even incidents that are handled within police guidelines are blown out of proportion.

Just as with anything else, there’s always two sides of the debate. One side is dealing with breaking through a wall of mistrust built over 200+ years. When we live through and see the misconduct with our own eyes, give me a valid reason why we should trust the authorities? There’s a database available to search officer misconduct for NYPD officers. The database shows that officer misconduct is rewarded for more than it is punished. George Floyd’s 2004 drug arrest is under review because of misconduct by an officer involved that only came to light after a botched warrant and raid that killed two white people. Black suspects are typically guilty until proven otherwise, even when their arrest is clouded by officer misconduct.

Then, there are those who chime in with the “if they just obey orders…” excuse. Remember that these are often “back the blue” supporters who refused to wear cloth masks as government mandates and laws required. They didn’t follow orders themselves, but they have the temerity to demand others do.

That excuse of following orders still doesn’t work for many of the bricks of mistrust in the wall. John Crawford III wasn’t given any commands or orders when he was shot within seconds of an officer encountering him in that Wal-Mart aisle. Tamir Rice wasn’t given commands either. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her own bed and Atatiana Jefferson was in her own home when they were shot and killed by officers. Remember Philando Castile and Charles Kinsey? They both followed police commands and still ended up getting shot by police. So, it’s damned if you follow directions and damned if you don’t. That’s if you’re even given the opportunity to hear commands.

This is a problem centuries in the making and not some minority grievance issue that just popped up. When we say that Black Lives Matter, it is an affirmation that we matter. It’s not anything to make us superior to anyone else or claim that no one else matters. It is a call to open the eyes of those who either don’t see or refuse to acknowledge the huge brick wall of mistrust that has been built because we didn’t matter to others before. It’s so a reminder to us that we are someone and not just a throwaway group of second class citizens. We won’t tear down this wall until we all matter, black people too.

Quit crying about things you cause

Today is the 163rd day since the first death from CoVID-19 was initially recognized. Since February 29th, at least 163,000 Americans have died from CoVID-19 related illness. There have been more than 5 million confirmed cases here in the US which is millions ahead of the second most infected country.

As glaring as these numbers are, they are not a true reflection of the true toll CoVID-19 has taken on the US. As we’re gearing up for back to school, we are getting news that just under 100,000 kids have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the past two weeks alone. Even with all we see and know, there are parents still demanding their children be allowed to become vectors by attending school in person this fall.

Now, today’s buzz is surrounding the cancelation of college football. Many smaller schools and conferences have already come to terms with reality, and now it appears that one of the Power 5 conferences is ready to do the same. This didn’t have to be our current reality, but this is where we sit as a country now because of the failure of those elected to steer our government.

We don’t deserve a football season based on how we’ve addressed this pandemic. We don’t deserve any sports or leisure events. We haven’t done the necessary work to curtail the spread of this virus to the point where it is remotely feasible to consider leisure activities.

Firefighters don’t declare victory over a house fire as soon as they hook up hoses and get water flowing. An airline pilot wouldn’t declare crisis averted just by putting on his oxygen mask if his plane loses pressure at 38,000 feet. In all emergency situations, there are protocols and steps we take to not only recognize the problem but to actively work to resolve the emergency as quickly as possible without the loss of life/property of those involved. We failed this task with coronavirus.

Gov. Mumbles announced a new testing site at Hartsfield-Jackson today. That sounds good, but what will testing accomplish when we’re not using the results of the testing to mitigate the spread of the virus? Testing thousands every day is useless when the results are not known for 2 weeks. There’s no way to know how many additional infections are created within that time frame. When he refuses to implement steps to slow the spread of CoVID-19 so that testing can help us reduce spread, Mumbles is complicit in the spread of infection and death.

I’m also sick of the Freedumb Vectors™ who traffic dumbassery and put the lives of first responders and medical professionals at risk. People want to claim that wearing a mask is cowering in fear while they can’t go to the grocery store or even leave their home without carrying a loaded handgun or rifle. If wearing a mask is living in fear, then quit wearing seat belts, helmets, or other safety gear. Stop buying guns to protect yourself or your family. Quit paying premiums for medical and life insurance too because that’s living in fear of in case something happens.

We claim to be the greatest nation in the world, the beacon of freedom to all. In reality, we’re a country with our fair share of incompetent idiots who are riding the coattails of our predecessors while pretending they’re responsible for the success from decisions made long ago.

I say this because I used to think that it took years, even decades, to realize the outcomes of decisions made by our government. I’ve been proven wrong because we’re living with the failure of decisions made by a chaos goblin who lives only to better himself while destroying those who do not show fealty to him and those who enable him to run amok unchecked by constitutional norms.

Things didn’t have to be this way. They are because of selfish individuals who refuse to acknowledge reality and science and instead choose to feed chaos and conspiracy. We reap what we sow. Those of us who make the tough decisions and sacrifices will not see the fruits of our labors as long as it’s not a united front from everyone.

If you want football, in person school, or even vacations, then do the hard work and earn the reward. If you’re not going to do the hard work, then don’t complain about the results you don’t get.