Thanks Geico… seriously

If there was ever a way to sum up my opinion of the American political landscape and mindset, Geico just hit a grand slam.

If you listen to the political yammering from the yapping nutsacks, that commercial deftly explains our penchant for hunting for a scapegoat instead of actually looking to see how/if we’re contributing to the problem ourselves.

Kansas has a budget deficit, it’s Obama’s fault for not creating jobs.  The budget shortfall has nothing to do with huge cuts to taxes, you know, the taxes that make up the funding of the budget in Kansas.  Likewise, the same thing plays out everywhere else.

Thank you Geico, for both the nonstop laughter in my house as well as shining a light on political discourse in America even though I don’t think the latter was your intent.

Vaccine or not

“To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer 2015
The vomiting and sh*ts of outrageous diseases
Or to take vaccines against a sea of viruses,
And by opposing end them.”

Hamlet paraphrased circa 2015 in the US

Last week was vaccination week in the Casa de Brosephus.  A total of 6 shots in two days of doctor’s visits for all three kids.  The baby had his 4 month check up and 3 shots.  The next day, the middle child had her 2 year check up and 2 shots while big sister got her first dose of the flu shot.  In total, they received 8 different vaccines following the CDC guidelines for children’s vaccines.

When it comes to children and vaccines, I didn’t hesitate to get my kids vaccinated.  For me, it’s a no-brainer.  I’ve read the stories about the supposed links to childhood vaccines and autism.  I see it like this, my kids get their shots and risk being diagnosed with autism if that outcome happens.  Orrrrrrrr…..  I don’t vaccinate my kids, and I risk them getting killed by some virus or disease where their death could have been prevented by a shot.  There’s no reason to even think twice there.

The issue with vaccines hit the news circuit when the measles outbreak started at Disneyland.  Some people tend to forget that other countries don’t vaccinate like we do, so there’s always the chance of contracting a sickness that’s not encountered much here.  Working around international travelers, that’s something that is always in the back of my mind as not every sickness has outward visible signs at the point of being contagious.  I think it’s a good conversation that we need to have as people from both sides of the debate, pro and anti vaccine, have valid concerns that should be addressed.

One way to not address them and effectively deal with the situation is to allow politics to inject themselves into the center of the debate.  Whether it’s Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or some other elected official, if it is not their job to deal with healthcare policy, then they need to not try to take over the debate.  Politics and politicians have a way of screwing things up in my view, and this is definitely one area that doesn’t need to be screwed.

If you decide to vaccinate your kids, then that’s your decision.  If you decide to not vaccinate them, then that’s your decision as well.  Regardless to what you do, remember that your kids are going to be around other kids.  The decisions that you make don’t just affect the health of your child or children.  Those decisions affect everyone the come into close contact with.  See the measles outbreak as proof.

 

 

Black distrust of the justice system

Since the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Dunn, and Michael Brown, there has been all kinds of talk about the American justice system and whether the treatment of Blacks is different from everyone else.  There has been impassioned debate from both sides of the argument.

I’ll offer up one sobering statistic that I feel encapsulates one of the primary reasons why Blacks distrust the justice system.

First the set up…

A study of lynchings by the Tuskegee Institute calculated that between the years of 1882 – 1968, there were 3446 Blacks that were lynched in the US.  Although lynchings slowed down after that time frame, there were still lynchings that occurred in the US.  There was the Michael Donald case in Mobile, Alabama in 1981, which was considered the last lynching.  There’s also the James Byrd dragging murder, which has also been referred to as a lynching.  There’s no official count or record to show how many of these lynchings were perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan, but there’s overwhelming evidence of KKK involvement in many of these deaths.

And now for the head scratcher…

Of all the lynchings carried out or involving members of the KKK in the entire 20th Century, only one member of the KKK was ever convicted of murdering a Black person and was executed as a result of their conviction.  One.

That one person was Henry Francis Hays, and he was convicted for the lynching of Michael Donald in March of 1981.  He was executed on June 6, 1997 in Atmore, Alabama by electric chair.  So, for all the Blacks killed by KKK members after January 1, 1900, it took 97 years, 5 months, and 5 days for a state government to apply capital punishment for the death of a Black man by the hands of a White man.  35,585 days.

Now, there were people who were convicted of killing Blacks in that time.  They usually got no more than a 10 year sentence, but that was if they were actually convicted of a crime in the first place.  Many killings were either never prosecuted or all White juries refused to indict or convict the killers.

Some people seem to think that dredging up the past does more harm than good.  Pretending as though these things didn’t happen does more harm than anything else.  You can’t or won’t understand a person’s argument about bias in the system if you refuse to acknowledge the long-term bias built into the system.  When we see Blacks still being treated more harshly by the justice system, it’s hard to trust things nowadays given the past applications of American Justice.

Alabama, Roy Moore, and standing still

A lot has been in the news about Alabama and same-sex marriage.  Chief Justice Roy Moore has been interviewed by several different networks and covered by thousands of newspapers.  The video above was an epic interview on CNN that Moore did with Chris Cuomo.  I watched that interview live as it happened, and I still can’t believe what I witnessed.

I understand Judge Moore’s stance quite well.  We’re from the same hometown, and I was even summoned to jury duty when he was a circuit court judge in Etowah County.  Back then, he had the 10 Commandments on display in his courtroom, so I find it hard to believe that his stances are not because of his deeply held religious beliefs.

In this interview, he talked States’ Rights, and for me, that is a flashing red warning light.  Alabama’s history with defending States’ Rights should be enough to give anyone pause when that defense is trotted out for being against same-sex marriage.  If your religion is why you’re against it, then I understand.  If you just think that same-sex marriages are icky, then I can understand that too.  The States’ Rights thing, however, gives the impression of nothing more than another minority group that’s been targeted for discrimination against because everyone else is protected.

The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”  This is the basis for claiming States’ Rights.  What Moore and others forget is the 9th Amendment which says, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Claiming that marriage isn’t written into the Constitution does not necessarily mean that it is not a right protected by the Constitution.  If Moore indeed believes that our rights come from God and marriage was granted by God, then the right to get married is protected by the Constitution.

Moore lost me in the debate when he tried to deflect to Dred Scott and Plessy v Ferguson.  That was a red herring of epic proportions.  Neither one of those cases have anything to do with the debate on same-sex marriage.  If anything, the arguments against same-sex marriage mirror Loving v Virginia, and we’ve seen how that debate ended.  For lack of a better term, Moore’s standing in the courtroom doorway trying to block the inevitable.  Standing still has never stopped the progression of time, and this case is no different.

Alabama is #37 on the list of states where same-sex marriages is now legal.  When that date passed, I wanted to write something sooo bad, but I made myself wait for a specific reason.  It’s been more than a week now, and Alabama is still in existence.  There has been no plague, no flood, or fire raining down from the heavens to destroy the state.  I haven’t seen any change in my marriage since the ruling went into effect either.  The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west.

Sure, there are people with deeply held religious beliefs that are upset at the ruling.  Thing is, America may be overwhelmingly Christian in beliefs, but we do not have a national religion for a reason.  This is not a theocratic country, and people cannot be forced to live by the beliefs of the majority.  Our Founding Fathers ensured that the majority would never be able to run roughshod over the minority.  I’m just happy to see that Alabama isn’t #49 or #50 for once.  Growing up in a state that is usually at the bottom of most lists, it’s good to see Alabama sitting outside the bottom 10.