Saturday, October 6, 2018

Two Letters Made Public

I have come to a watershed moment.

I cannot pretend any longer. 

The GOP cares nothing for decency, civil rights, nor anything else but their power, and that of their patrons.  They are bought and paid for by oligarchs, and wish nothing more than to create in the United States a reprise of all the worst traits of the Persian Gulf states:  Helotry and poverty for the masses, and massive wealth for the privileged few.   They prioritize the profits of investors over the education of students.  They prioritize a narrow religious intolerance over mercy.  And they enshrine sexual abusers as being above the law.

I will no longer vote in any coming election for any candidate aligned with the Republican Party.   Nor will any candidate on the Republican ticket be considered for an off-party vote here in NY state (i.e. Independence, Constitutional Party, or the like.)

In support of that I have sent two letters this morning: 

To the campaign for Dr Maxwell here in my local US House race:

Dear Dr. Maxwell,

I am a veteran.  I am an American.  I am concerned about the direction this nation is taking.   I'm also completely and utterly disgusted by the direction the GOP has chosen these past two years in particular.   

You have made your campaign a quiet endorsement of the policies and behaviors of the blight currently infesting The People's House.    By doing so you have shown me that you believe American Values include:  

  • Concentration Camps on the Border
  • Removing Children From their Parents - With no Plan and Less Concern for their Reunification
  • Attacking Sexual Assault Victims
  • Prioritizing Profits Above Civil Rights
  • Bankrupting the Federal Government in the Name of Rewarding Wealthy Donors
  • Criminalizing Pregnancy Outcomes in Spite of Credible Medical Testimony that no Proof of Wrongdoing Exists
  • Placing Artificial Barriers Against Voting for People in Poverty
  • Mocking Allied Governments
  • Admiring Dictators for their Wontan Use of Extra-Legal Killings as a Sign of Strength
I realize this is going to come as a shock to you, but none of these things are the American Values I signed up to defend when I put my life on the line in the US Navy.   If you wish to claim that while I was in the Navy I saw no risk to my life because I never saw combat, I'd like to remind you of the casualties aboard the USS Dhalgren and the USS Iwo Jima that occurred without any enemy action, either.  Steam plans are inherently dangerous environments, as are ships.  

Your alignment with privilege and the shifting goalposts that Senator Mitch McConnell has chosen to embrace in his goal of remaking the United States into a Persian Gulf style oligarchy is absolutely disgusting to me.   After this week's latest proof that the GOP, the part of Lincoln, no longer has any moral compass but privilege and wealth - I can no longer consider voting for anyone who feels that these are American Values.  

It is my dearest hope that your campaign fails miserable and is part of many campaigns across these United States where the People speak up and tell you and your corporate masters what we think of your vision.   

Wishing you all personal well-being and health, but absolutely no success, I remain:  

Michael D. Taub, formerly MM3(SW)

And then to the author of this lickspittle OP-Ed piece in the local paper:

Dear Ms. Valeria-Iseman,

I believe that your reduction of the opposition to Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court to simply the conflict between his testimony and Dr. Ford's testimony is an inherently dishonest position.  Your implication that the only reason people have for believing Dr. Ford's testimony is a desire to show solidarity based solely upon gender identity is frankly disgusting.   

Judge Kavanaugh's public record is such that even before Dr. Ford came forward there were many people who had serious questions about his position towards women's rights.   I suspect you and I would disagree sharply about the importance and justice of Roe v. Wade, so let's shelve that particular issue.  Judge Kavanaugh's recent decision to try to bar a refugee from getting an abortion for no reason other than his personal view that abortion is wrong, while the law of the land is defined by Roe v. Wade, however shows a disregard for everything I understand about the law and judicial temperament.  

Then there's Judge Kavanaugh's relationship and testimony regarding former Federal Judge Alex Kozinski.   If you have managed to avoid this particular information in your bubble, let me remind you that Alex Kozinski was removed from the bench pending an investigation into his constant disgusting, abusive, and sexually harassing behavior towards his staff in his courtroom.  Including during the time while Brett Kavanaugh was working for the judge.  Among other behaviors Kozinski would ask of his female staff whether this, or that pornographic clip he'd found on the web was titillating to them.   According to Wikipedia at least fifteen women have accused the former judge of this behavior.   In the end, facing a full fledged, and long-overdue, investigation Kozinski chose to resign.  The charges are not proven in a court of law, but neither are they refuted.   I choose to believe that no one would agree to endure the abuse that public accusers like Dr. Ford are traditionally subjected to in the court of public opinion without having endured an unspeakable provocation.   

Now, I grant you that Brett Kavanaugh is not responsible for Kozinski's behavior.  However, he is accused of having been present while Kozinski would confront at least one of his former staff.  Not only did Brett Kavanaugh fail to intercede with his mentor's disgusting behavior, but he later said he never saw the judge behave in any way that was improper.   I could accept that he hadn't recognized the behavior as improper, but once it was being called out for investigation - one would trust a legal scholar of Kavanaugh's stature to be able to reach the standard of 2.8 knowledge:   Can recognize correct answer when given.   In short, Kavanaugh does not come into the recent allegations without stains on his reputation, nor questions about his views of the rights of women as full fledged individuals.   

Then you reduce the current allegations against Kavanaugh to simply those of Dr. Ford.   Which is also not the case.  A total of three women have now come forward.  Each with different stories, but each of the stories fit a picture of a young man so protected by his privilege that he felt no need to accord women whom he had no emotional relationship with the courtesy you provide even to those people coming to the Open Door Mission.   

The FBI investigation was a face-saving sham, and to pretend it could have been anything else is simply a slap in the face for the courage that Dr. Ford showed coming forward.   

Until you and other defenders of Brett Kavanaugh accept that there's more here than one woman's unsubstantiated accusations against your man, I'm afraid there's no common ground to be found. 


Michael D. Taub.   
May the current plague infesting the White House suffer a mischief.   Preferably involving a heart attack while in a compromising position.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chris Collins: Idiot or Rational Racist?

A local US Rep from the State of NY, but not my Rep, Chris Collins recently announced his intent to defang the remaining clauses of the NY SAFE Act by pushing through a bill in Congress to establish Federal protections for firearms rights above and beyond those currently defined by the second amendment.

So what, you may ask?  I mean everyone and their uncle knows that the GOP is sucking at the gun manufacturer's lobby and Astroturf organization's (Also known in some circles as the NRA.) tit for years.  Why would it be noteworthy that they'd bring out more legislation to protect their profits at the cost of any attempt to bring regulatory sanity to the issue of personal firearms in the US?

Well, Chris Collins is also a major supporter of OBL.  And as far as I know has yet to condemn the fraudulent and repressive so-called "Presidential Commission on Election Integrity." Now, some context for out of state readers:  The only remaining clauses of the NY SAFE Act with any teeth are those requiring registration of all legally-owned individual firearms with local law enforcement (With the ability for said owners to opt-out of having their data in any searchable database), and tracking purchase of ammunition with that being reported, again, to local law enforcement.  Whether that is a worthwhile use of the time of the various law enforcement departments is beyond the scope of this essay.  Frankly it's a stupid law, and was a stupider law before the courts struck down some of the other "key" clauses.

But it is a duly enacted law, and one that has been modified by the courts to account for current Federal standards for respecting Second Amendment rights.

One could comment about how fucking stupid it is for the GOP to be the champions of State's Rights, except when those rights start pinching the multi-million dollar companies that pay their election war chests, but that would open one up, legitimately, to the fact that as a fairly radical sort, myself, I think that things like SSM and other inviolate civil rights enforced by the Federal government is a good thing, regardless of what fucktards like Mike Pence or Pat McCrory might think.

Instead let's look at the dichotomy between allowing Federal oversight of all voter rolls with an eye towards disenfranching as many poor and minorities as possible - all in the service of the ego of a fucking narcissist's claim that he really won the popular vote, except for those illegal votes, which have yet to be proven to exist - and the idea of protesting the registration in a searchable database of all firearms in a state.  If searchable databases are a bad thing, because they give the government too much power, you'd think that a consistent person would oppose both.

As I said, Chris Collins is a staunch supporter of OBL.  And has said nothing against the Election Integrity Commission.

So he's not consistent.

Now, he could just be a flaming idiot and unconcerned with appearing to have any kind of compass other than "follow the money."  I can't provide evidence against that.

But there's a more compelling theory:  If you assume, for the sake of argument, that he's a classist racist asshole, a lot of things line up.

Protecting the privacy of people owning personal firearms is never going to be a threat to the Federal government.  Even when the Bundy clan had their showdowns, in neither case were the immediate consequences for the Federal government going to involved any kind of far-reaching effect.   I think that that tunnel vision, and inability to think past the next news cycle was an error, but I'm admittedly sometimes taken by a truly Old Testament attitude towards threatening law enforcement.

Protecting the privacy of voters, on the other hand, would be a good way to prevent having so-called self-appointed election monitors coming to various homes and discussing a person's political party choices.  Just to point out one possible use for the data.   Which is a deadly threat to the idea of a fully participating representative democracy.   Gosh, it's almost like Chris Collins supports voter suppression.

And with Kris Kobach involved with this commission, that's exactly what it is intended to do.

There's an uglier side to this, too

By making it impossible to enact any kind of restriction on firearms sales or ownership, or even enforcing any kind of consumer standards for firearms (Did you know that the Consumer Product Safety Act specifically excludes firearms as type of product that can be tracked for safety purposes?) cheap firearms will keep bubbling through the poorest neighborhoods, and keep playing a part in the violence endemic to crushing poverty - which can then be used to excuse draconian policing tactics, and refusing to actually hold police accountable for things like shooting a black man for doing what he was told to do, because the cop in question thought he smelled pot.  

With that kind of simmering violence you can easily manufacture excuses to send in the stormtroopers to promote law and order - and if the peaceful opposition gets caught up in the works, you can either criminalize their presence in the area, or just kill 'em and plant the evidence of their malfeasance later.   It's not like we could afford to risk the safety of our beloved peace officers by actually holding them accountable for killing innocent pregnant women, after all.  (Well, not innocent black pregnant women.  If she's white, maybe that's worth prosecuting.)

In the end a ballot is deadlier than a bullet.   It has more far-ranging effects.  And it can do more to promote change than a bullet can.

So by standing by while the Federal government chooses to go on an unjustified witch hunt through national voting records, but protesting and trying to stop the state government from trying, however ineffectually, to curb firearms violence by keeping records of firearm ownership, it's pretty clear that whether an idiot or a racist Chris Collins agrees with my judgment about the relative deadliness of bullets and ballots.

And if he can agree to that, it's a lot harder to believe he's an idiot.

Which makes the racist accusation a lot more credible.

So, thank you, Chris Collins, for making explicit your racism and classism.  

One would think that a true student of the Founding Fathers would remember the rallying cry of:  No Taxation Without Representation.   But that would put your party at risk, so...   I understand.  And then we might have more minority presidents.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bodycams and Police Integrity

This week had an event happen that just confirmed something that advocates for police reform have been saying for years:  There are dirty cops who will plant evidence on people they want to arrest, and that behavior is tolerated if not abetted by a large number of other officers.  

For anyone living under a rock, the incident I'm referring to is this:

The short version if you don't care to view the video and read the accompanying article is that Officer Pinheiro attempted to turn off his bodycam, while he planted some drugs at the scene of an arrest. Then left the scene, tried to turn the bodycam back on, and returned to "find" the drugs.  Obviously the case associated with this incident has been dismissed by the DA's office, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

There are three officers at the scene and the bodycam clearly shows the two other officers watching while Officer Pinheiro planted the drugs.   Even more distrubing, the DA's office seems perfectly happy to continue to use Officer Pinheiro's testimony in other criminal cases.  At this point the Officer has zero credibility, and I would argue that any officer who worked with him should be viewed with deep suspicion, too.

We can assume one of two things about this incident: Either it was a completely one-off incident and shock, alone, was why the other officers made no protest on the video.  Or it's fucking routine, and they're used to it.

I know which way I'd lean.  

This is why bodycams that record only at the command of the officers in question is such a bad idea.  It's not that I believe that all cops are dirty, I really don't.  I do think that currently most police officers associations are so spineless, they care more about protecting crooks, bullies and rapists in their ranks than they do about protecting and serving the public.  One of the best ways to start restoring some sense of faith in the police of this nation would be to require body cams that start recording as soon as the officer begins his or her shift, and only stops after they return to clock off their shift.

And until police officer's associations, DAs and the (In)Justice Department start taking action in that direction, I'm forced to believe that their priorities lay more with protecting abusers than in serving the public.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Facebook is a stupid company

Whether you use Facebook or not is up to you, and I won't judge.

I'm sure that social people find it useful and entertaining.   My own experience on the platform was not the best:  I didn't have problems with dealing with abusive people, I just had one or two people I kept in contact with through it, and then there were the stupid Zynga games.   At one point during one of their stupid phases they updated their TOS to suggest they were claiming copyright on anything posted on their pages and I noped out of that so hard, I hadn't been back. This was back around 2007 or so.  Do you remember your passwords from that era?  I sure don't.  (This matters.)

At the time, Facebook only allowed one to deactivate the account.

Today I got a welcome back email from Facebook.

For some reason these idiots thought that a login from a Mac OS computer in fucking Vietnam was completely legit and re-opened my Facebook account.  I guess there's something to be said for following a seemingly legitimate password combination, but FFS how was there no question about a ten year dormant account being reactivated from fucking Vietnam?

And of course, Facebook, being Facebook, still has all the old Hotel California attitudes, and finding out how to secure the account required a password I no longer had any knowledge of.  Fortunately I had recently upgraded my gmail account's password to something umpteen characters long.  So there was no reasonable chance for a hacker to get that.  I did eventually get to reset the password, generated a huge one from my password manager, and told Facebook thank you, no - fuck off forever assholes.

But seriously - ten year dormant account - reactivated from fucking Vietnam?  

Why was that even processed in the first place?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ex-con being shamed in the press! And Loki approves, for once.

This morning I was looking at various news feeds (as one does) while avoiding the serious news about the latest disaster in the making coming from the psychopath party in Washington and came across the news that the parents of students at a private school in Montreal are somewhat disturbed that an ex-con has been volunteering at the school.

Normally this sort of shit pisses me right the fuck off.  If someone has been released after serving their sentence they shouldn't be automatically stigmatized.  Normally my concern for stigmatization of ex-cons is that it sabotages any attempt at re-integration with society at large, and more often than not there's no reason for such a stigma.

In this case?  If I were one of the parents, I'd be up in arms myself.

Because the ex-con in this case is Karla Homolka.

For anyone who reads this who doesn't know who that might be, she was the partner of a serial killer in Canada in the early 90s.  She was personally and directly involved in the torture, rape, and execution of two teenaged girls, including her then sixteen year old sister.  And because sexism, sensationalism and fucking idiocy (If not outright incompetence.) she was allowed to make a plea deal with the prosecution for her testimony, where she presented herself as an unwilling accomplice to her partner's nefarious schemes.  In exchange for which she got a sentence that seemed appropriate for someone who presented herself as nearly as much a victim as the two deceased girls.

Cue about two years later.   Someone finds a roll of exposed film in the house Homolka had shared with her partner.

Now, it is difficult to properly place context with snapshots - and often there's room for a lot of interpretation between shots.  But when someone's plea bargain testimony included things like claiming she never participated in hurting the girls, and the photos show her doing just that, it's. . a little suggestive that maybe her testimony was less than truthful.

Since her partner had been claiming from day one they'd been equal partners in the killings, and hasn't changed since his trial, the benefit of the doubt in my mind is that he's most likely being truthful about that.

Anyways, for legal reasons (which I tend to approve of, even when they lead to abortions of justice like this case) the Canucks coudln't go against the deal they'd made with her for her testimony, and she was released after serving her term.

She married, had a child, moved out of the country, and then seems to have moved back to Montreal, where at least some of her kids are going to a religious school there.  And where she has been a chaperone on a field trip, and been involved in some classroom activities.  The school claims that they have no way to bar her, but can at the same time say that they've made it policy that she's not to be allowed to be alone with any students.  I am. . . underwhelmed by their judgment.

I'm also rather disturbed that it seems the first that the other parents at this school knew of their celebrity chaperone was after the local press broke the story.

Now there's been some talk about how Karla served her time and should be allowed to get on with her life.  Which strikes me as utter bullshit - she got away with conning the Canadian Criminal Courts, but to expect me to believe she's actually demonstrated remorse for her crimes is more than I can stomach.  Even if she had been fully truthful in her testimony, I'd be leery of allowing her access in a school to minors.  Given that I think she pulled one of the greatest cons in criminal history - no fucking way.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Portland and the GOP

In the wake of the assault on three men who dared to try to restrict a patriot's freedom of speech, the GOP of Portland is talking about using that patriot's friends from the 3% for security at their future events.

Or translated to sanity - the GOP doubles down on hate speech, demonizing political opponents, and advocating for vigilantism.

Quite honestly, this is starting to shape up as Trayvon Martin vs. George Zimmerman, part two.  And I expect the sequel to be just as much a travesty of justice as the original.  The GOP's nationwide. (and racially defined) push to create a right to self-defense in the absence of any reasonable threat, simply the perception of threat is already getting killer cops acquitted.  It got George Zimmerman acquitted.  And it's going to make it possible (perhaps even likely) that Jeremy Joseph Christian will also be acquitted.

(After the Bundy Jr. gang got acquitted my faith in the jury system took a severe blow.)

The fucktards are organized, have several nationally recognized outlets for their insanity and have created echo chambers.  And now we're being told that it's not FAAAIIIR to demonize a group because one nut attacked people when his abusive tirade was challenged.  Because self-defense.

Between this, and the recent election of a fucktard from Montana who feels that he's justified in assaulting journalists - I'm done.  The GOP is no a hate group.  They will not police themselves.  And as such I will not support, vote, or even show any more than the bare modicum of respect the office they hold might deserve.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Yes, it's so much simpler to just demonize bad parents for being bad parents.

My response to a column in my local USAToday network paper this weekend.   The original column, linked here.  

Dear Editor,

I believe that the column your paper chose to run in the March 25 Living section, by Ana Veciana-Suarez, under the headline “Crocodile Tears for Teen After Suicide,” was a deeply flawed piece that should never have been given national attention. 

While I agree with Ana Veciana-Suarez’s thesis that the mother of her piece is clearly trying to make a cash grab in the wake of her personal tragedy, I find it appalling the lengths to which the article goes on about demonizing the woman.   The texts quoted in the piece are justly horrifying.  But the article’s insistence on naming only the woman involved, and none of the other people who had wronged young Naika Venant seems to me to be doing just what the mother claims, recasting her as the sole villain in this piece. 

If this article had been bought, and paid for, by the State of Florida’s DCF it couldn’t have been a better attempt to shift blame away from “the black hole of the system.”  The acceptance that foster care is going to involve rape, and neglect, and that “[Naika’s]  journey through foster care made her even more disrespectful and rebellious, too. Her behavior, however, was an expected result of the great trauma she endured,” is frankly horrifying.  This shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to pile upon a woman who is herself deeply flawed, but a chance to shine a light upon the often desperate straits that the whole nation’s foster care system is facing – often enough because of inadequate funding and impossible caseloads, as has been highlighted by the investigations locally in the wake of the Brook Stagles case. 

It seems to me to be not merely unfair to send this article out nationally where it is falling into the public’s purview without any context, nor any direct follow-up to be expected, but a dangerous over-simplification – presenting the parent of a child who died while in care of the state’s as the sole named villain of the piece – when anyone who took the time to think about it would realize that the parents of all the children who find themselves in the foster care system are going to be deeply flawed individuals – and excusing failures of the system by blaming them for blatantly predictable failures is going to leave us with a system that isn’t bothering to ask what can it do better, and what resources does it need to meet the real-world demands placed upon it. 


Michael D. Taub