The Gross National Debt

Monday, September 28, 2015

Derailing runaway trains

Sunday night at prison, the men got an apology from me. I got in the way of the message and that's wrong. They come to hear messages that will help them do better when they get out of jail.

Instead, I tore into them for being failures. I was wrong for some of what I said. Some of it was spot on. Regardless, I apologized immediately.

My anger was aimed at the fathers who let their own illegal habits tear them away from their children. The children deserve better.

I apologized again at the end of my sermon.

Monday morning, I found myself in a similar position. I was ready to take out my burning anger on people who did not deserve it.


I was (and am as I write this) quite pissed off at an adult. The particulars don't matter.

What does matter is this adult is also very involved with children in my community.

Lemme make this clear - this is not about my two biological children. This is about the children at large in my community.

For a short while, I thought about taking my anger and frustration out on the kids this person is trying to help. That's not what I thought at the time, but that's exactly what I had planned. My thought at the time was "Hah! I'll just show YOU what I think of you."

Annnnnnd, the kids would be hurt.

Talk about wrong. egad.

I realized what I was doing and did an about face. I derailed that runaway train.

I'm ashamed that I even considered such actions.

It is beyond wrong to let the actions of an adult dictate how you will react to children.

Arg. Complicated. Lemme see if I can simplify.

Never, ever use children as a political football. Never, ever use children as a pry bar against an adult. Never, ever use children as a way to get revenge on someone.

I almost did it. I've seen lots of people do it. It makes me as mad as anything you can imagine.

We've all got to do better.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Coming to the stage, Living Colour!

If you are about my age or older you may remember the song recording by Living Colour, "Cult of Personality."

This song rolls through my head on a regular basis when religion and religious leaders come up.

The Pope's recent visit to the US underscores this to a tremendous degree. Mel tells me parts of New Jersey are shut down for his visit. Millions are expected to try and see him.

This morning on NPR one lady said she saw him roll past in the small car he was in. She was giddy.

Certainly people like the message this Pope brings. But too many people see the message and make that equal to the man.

It's not.

It's a problem people have. The person and the opinions & positions become the same.

Years ago Lamar Lee opened a sermon with a shot of Michael Jackson in concert in Hungary. It was the closing bit. MJ was scooting out with a jet pack on his back (in the vid anyway).

The crowd was ballistic.

"You are made to worship," Lamar told us.

And we are. Humans are not logical, rational beings. Emotion rules us, sways us and leads us.

For all their insistence on evidence and the scientific method, Bill Nye and Neil Tyson are also ruled by their emotions. You can see it in their interviews. They warm topics they believe in. They register negative emotions when confronted with topics they do not like.

Too many churches are led by charismatic leaders who inspire because of the force of their personality.

This creates problems. When that leader dies or moves on, the church can split, collapse, fail or so forth. I've seen it happen. When Lamar left, some people left. Some who left when he arrived came back.

The cult of personality.

That's not the way it should be. We should believe in ideas and follow people who can help us to implement them. Believing in the person and then implementing his ideas is a recipe for disaster.

And I don't know how to change it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It is to laugh

Not gonna say whom but one of my FB buds used to refer to the current POTUS as "Kid from Kenya" on every single reference.

Then, a miracle happened. Reboobican Ted Cruz announced he was running for president.

Lo Anna hold a bee, all of a sudden it's CONSTITUTIONAL for a man to be born outside the 50 US states to run for president, so long as one of his parents is in fact a native born American.

No one has ever questioned the birthplace of the POTUS's mom. For the record, cassette, 8-track, CD, MP3, whatever comes next, Stanley Ann Dunham entered this mortal world as an independently living entity in Witcha, Kansas in 1942. That's the POTUS's mom.

Cruz was born (hatched, expelled, spontaneously created, whatever) in Canada to one Canadian parent and one American parent. Good enough to qualify him as an American citizen and qualify him to run for POTUS.

My FB bud has dropped all references to "Kid from Kenya." So have nearly all the other birthers.

Now, they have resurrected fossils of a prehistoric equine and are vigorously applying all manner of blunt instruments and whips to the remains. They insist the POTUS is a muslim.

Never mind we have definitive records of his attending a Christian church. Anyone remember Jeremiah Wright and the lynch mob that formed around THAT debacle? When the POTUS finally disowned the Not Very Rev. Wright, the conspiracy crowd had to shift gears.

What about the beer summit? Dining habits overseas?

Oy vey.

Time, space and your attention span do not allow me to go into the immense number of conspiracy theories that say the POTUS was going to create death panels, martial law, take our guns, establish a caliphate, never leave office and etc. Suffice it to say that each of these predictions has spectacularly failed to come true.

The Conspiracy Nuts will say this is because they exposed the plot, short circuiting the plans. Yeah.

Didja know that I single-handedly defeated an alien invasion last week? I did. You have to believe me because I'm telling you and no, I can't give you any proof because I destroyed everything to protect ... well to protect things that needed protecting.

Believe what you want to believe. The world will continue to turn, facts will be facts and reptilian overlords will continue to rule in secret no matter what you believe. Two of those statements in the previous sentence are true. You get to pick.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Blue lines, numbers, percentages, war and funerals

Full disclaimer: I am terrible at math. As a junior in high school, I tested out with a 6th grader's math ability. Dad, a Georgia Tech grad, was mortified. Mom, who made it through calculus and developed an ulcer from it, was nonplussed.

So. I am presenting you with some numbers. I'm going to do my best to make sure they are correct. Well, correct based on the source of the information. I am including the sources so you can check my figures.

Ready? Let's rock.


According to the information I dug out of several websites, the men and women of law enforcement show incredible restraint where lethal force is concerned.

You have heard the chant "Black Lives Matter." (Disclaimer: I detest using the words "black," "white," "Hispanic" and etc when referring to people. We're people. Humans. Stop attempting to define each other by recent ancestry. If you call this "white privilege" then so be it.  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.")

I tell you, Lives Matter.

Here's the numbers.

According to Killed By Police, here's the number of police-caused deaths so far this year.

Sept. 54
Aug. 106
July 126
June 82
May 85
April 103
March 115
Feb. 86
Jan. 92


However, other sources say this information is suspect"It's ridiculous that I can't tell you how many people were shot by the police last week, last month, last year," FBI DIrector James Comey said in February.

The numbers may be off, but that's what we've go to work with.


So let's take a different look at the numbers. Mother Jones offers this insight. Mother Jones is a somewhat suspect journalism outlet. It has an agenda and believes in pushing that agenda, but this is also data. Interpret how you will. There's a chart a short way down the page. Here's a snapshot.

"African American" deaths a 3.66 per million. "Hispanic" 1.2 per million. "Non-Hispanic white" .9 per million. Does show "African Americans" are killed a lot more often by law enforcement.

I can't find any report to show the information I want next. How much of law enforcement's time is spent responding to calls in "African American" neighborhoods v. "white" neighborhoods? I did study this a few years ago in my community. I split my town into quadrants, which worked very well as an ethnic breakdown as well, according to the US census and my own observations in the community.

More than 75 percent of the calls for law enforcement were in the southwest quadrant. The rest of the calls were in the northwest and southeast (my neighborhood) quadrants. During the 6 months I examined, the northeast section of town had precisely 2 calls, both were for fights at the alternate school.



Now how about law enforcement deaths? These numbers should be more accurate than the ones above.

The Skeptical Libertarian took at look at this. The author uses some strong language in his article, so you are now warned. His info is current as of 2012.

He found 2009 had the fewest LE deaths in the years he examined. 12.9 per 100,000 cops were killed. The worst was 19.8 per 100,000 in 2007.

Let's compare that to the per millions as figured by Ma Jones.

129 per million in 2009.

198 per million in 2007.

Call it an average of 150 per million.

Contrast that to Ma Jone's report that shows less than 10 people per million were killed by police on average.


Lives matter. You can crunch numbers however you wish, but the bottom line is each "1" in any column represents a human life.

These numbers show me that cops are killed in far higher numbers than the people they are here to protect and serve. Some bad cops do exist. Most are dedicated and good people who are sometimes forced to make instant decisions. 

My opinion, based on these numbers, is cops make the wrong decision more often than the right decision when it comes to lethal force. They have the physical wounds to prove it. Too often, there's a funeral to prove it.

Your mileage may vary.