Missing the Point

It is absolutely a tragedy what happened at the Empire State Building. Who can possibly predict that a guy who was laid off almost a year ago would come back and start shooting? Nevertheless, I’d like to digress for a moment to point out that it’s a lot safer to never hire a nutcase than to have to fire one. Screen your employees before you hire them, people.

So then let’s get into the nitty gritty, starting with this opinion piece talking about how NYPD officers use great restraint:

As a rule, it takes a lot to get NYPD officers to fire their guns at anyone. Despite a handful of isolated, but highly publicized, exceptions to this rule when officers have shot unarmed individuals over the past decade and a half, New York’s 35,000-officer force remains a worldwide model of firearms restraint and veneration for human life.


In rapidly unfolding and completely unpredictable situations, assessing the need to use firearms is often a split-second decision. It can mean the difference between life and death. Officers have to sift through confusion, fear and fragmented information.

In the incident outside of the Empire State Building, it is made more difficult because the street is one of the busiest in America. The officers had to take into account the risk of the gunman hurting potentially many people in the vicinity were he not stopped.

Look, nobody sane is disputing that they had to make sure this guy didn’t hurt anybody else. The man pulled his gun out and was clearly intending to shoot at the cops. This wasn’t a place to experiment with a taser.  What were they supposed to do, offer to buy him a latte and talk for a while??

The problem is not that NYPD had to shoot this guy. The problem is that out of the 16 shots fired, 3 hit the perp. All 9 innocent bystanders were shot by the cops trying to “protect” them.

Take aim at the real problem: aim.

In Closing: It’s the jobs, stupid; the important question is the one about whether his mom was born in Kansas; if no blacks support Romney and a minority of women and Hispanics and people under 35 support him, how can the polls possibly be as close as they’ve been? Are there really that many angry old racist men?; school internet safety; yep (so why are these guys still married?); if Republicans get their way, be ready for $10,000 per ounce gold; abused by the system; fake world leaders; can’t make this up; trash can babies; ok, but Goldman didn’t make the drought happen; over 20 serial rapists in Detroit so far; scary; probably not what life is like in Russia; and the old man speaks the truth.

What’s In Your Wallet?

My wallet needs a little cleaning out. It’s got a little cash, a couple credit cards, some loyalty cards for various businesses, an ATM card, a couple business cards, some old receipts, and a drivers license.*

You know what it doesn’t contain?

Proof that I am a United States Citizen, legally entitled to work in and be in this country.

And let’s get technical now, even if I were to stuff my short form birth certificate in there, it might not be good enough.**

Sure, I’m not worried if I go to Arizona. First of all if I’m in Arizona that means I’m at SkyHarbor with my passport waiting on a flight. Second, I’m a middle aged, middle class white woman. Supreme Court rulings aside, the odds of some random cop deciding I might not be a citizen are rather small! People of color and poor people are much more likely to find themselves trying to prove they are citizens.

I heard an interview with an ACLU representative this week and they are already on the lookout for profiling. Be sure to give them a call if you are a person of color targeted by Arizona cops.

Heh, not that cops in Maricopa County give a damn about the ACLU or court rulings.

In closing: not a bad idea; eminent domain and censorship; elitism; and apparently in Mexico it’s ok to arrest somebody for something his dad did.

* A drivers license shows that I can drive a car (legally and safely, one would hope). Technically it is also proof of identity. It is not proof of citizenship.

**And that’s why birther ramblings are dangerous to all of us. If the President can’t prove he’s an American, neither can you.

A City of Tradition

Why yes, Chicago is a city of tradition. They turn the river green for St. Patrick’s day — and I don’t mean for organic fishing. They have arcane fire codes because of an ancient fire which destroyed most of the city (and freed up the coastal areas for redevelopment as parkland). Foods like pizza and hot dogs have their own Chicago traditions. There’s so much tradition that according to legend, the dead vote.

And there’s also a fine tradition of Chicago’s police department pre-acting and over-reacting.

Sure, they are expecting protests of the NATO summit. Sure, abandoned luggage has to be investigated these days instead of being taken to the lost and found. And sure, there are lots of targets, although I fail to see what bombing the mayor’s place would have proved (and even if it would have accomplished something, any idiot terrorist should have expected more security this week than next week).

Was it really necessary to arrest people for something that they might have been thinking about doing? How do you prove you weren’t thinking something? And really, to describe a Malotov as a “primitive bomb” means that all those IEDs in Iraq are sophisticated devices. Anybody with gasoline, an empty glass bottle, and an old rag can make one. Of course, the “bomb making” equipment may well turn out to be “beer making” equipment. I understand the confusion; both start with B.

And if they were going to take 30 hours to come up with a warrant, couldn’t they at least have found a judge to sign the damn thing? Were these unarmed people really so dangerous they had to be shackled to a bench for 18 hours? Really? Did they get their phone call? Did they have to dial with their noses?

All snark aside, CPD could learn a lot from Vegas Casino security.

In closing: Hawaii tells Arizona where to get off; is a short middle-aged white guy in a hoodie a thug too?; he knew what the job paid when he spent millions of dollars trying to get it; bananas > Gatorade; apparently some people think preventing rape of prisoners is a luxury; 44% of Facebook users never click on ads.

Insight on Conspiracy Theories

A few years back, Bill Nye — the Science Guy — angered a Waco, TX audience by pointing out that the moon “shines” because it reflects sunlight. Why? Because the Bible says the moon is a great light set in the sky by God during the creation.

Now, stay with me on this. If you honestly, truly believe that the moon is nothing more than a “great light” in the sky, you have to believe that the moon landings were a hoax. After all, how can Neil Armstrong have walked on a “great light?” It’s preposterous! Nor are you likely to change the mind of a person who believes this; if you put them on a rocket to the moon, got out a spacesuit, and invited them to take a walk around, they would smile and say what a lovely movie set — or are you doing it with CGI these days?

Likewise, many people have seen a car crash into the side of a house. The car is smaller than the house, and might take down a wall, but the house rarely falls. Maybe even they have seen a small airplane crash into a house. Again, the larger object prevails. So it is understandable that some people think the Twin Towers can’t possibly have been taken down by airplanes — one each. After all, a similar airplane [allegedly] rammed the Pentagon, and it didn’t fall down! One can see where they might want a better explanation.

Further, if you believe that American boys are have simple names like Bob or Jack or Matthew, you’ll probably have a hard time accepting that some crazy momma in America in 1961 actually named her kid Barack. Worse than that, to add insult to injury by giving him a middle name like Hussein! Maybe they knew somebody they called Barry once, but that guy’s given name was some old family name like Bertrand or Barnard. Not Barack! As if to emphasize this, Firefox’s spell-checking insists that Barack must surely be a misspelling, even though we’ve had a President by that name for 2 years now.

Don’t get me wrong. I think at this point most of the Birthers are just finding it hard to believe that America elected a (ahem) black man President. But when somebody has a this-or-that, for-us-or-against-us way of thinking, there’s no convincing them that they are wrong.

In closing: this story goes with this chart; defeat the meme; on workplace safety in China; end of the beginning; a couple of follow up items; Cynthia‘s got a point; and what exactly is the point?

Stop Lying about the Economy

Judge Judy had a little saying which I’m sure wasn’t original: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” Well, by my way of thinking, The Experts who compile and release data have been peeing on our heads and telling us what a good thing golden rain is!

When Wal-Mart’s CEO says their shoppers are running out of money, things are bad. Seriously. Wal-Mart, for pity sake.

Unemployment is a serious problem. In fact, there’s one job for every 4 unemployed job seekers. That means that even if by some miracle we were able to fill every job vacancy with someone currently unemployed, we still couldn’t get unemployment down below 7%. And more people file for unemployment every week. Nevertheless, instead of doing anything that might create desperately needed jobs, Congress is hell-bent on slashing the deficit created by the Bush tax cuts. Never mind that creating jobs would be creating employees who earn an income and pay income tax.

Over a quarter of renters are paying more than half their income on housing — a number that should alarm anyone with a passing familiarity with the rental industry. This is despite the fact that “multi-generational housing” — double-speak for “I had to move in with the kids/parents” — is “hot.”

So now GDP growth has “slowed.” I still contend that if inflation were calculated fairly, we wouldn’t have had much in the way of “growth” in a decade. How can we have “growth” when so many people are jobless, underemployed, not even looking for work anymore, losing their homes, losing their savings, losing their retirement plans, not even having enough money to shop at Wal-Mart anymore? I bet it has a lot to do with companies like Exxon, Pepsi, and Microsoft having great earnings. These are large, multi-national businesses that earn money — and have workers — in many countries. Offshoring jobs is only part of the story. Remember, earnings season is just starting, so expect a lot more of these happy-Wall-Street stories.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the trade deficit. Granted, that’s already figured into GDP, so you can’t blame it for manipulating GDP, only causing a decline. That $45 thousand million dollars represents money that used to be in America, that is now in other nations, raising their standard of living. In one month! And do not forget that this number is as high as it is because here in America, we no longer make many things more durable than a latte.

So sure, the economy is great if you are a large corporation, or wealthy. To the rest of us, that golden rain is just someone else’s pee.

In closing: taking personal responsibility to it’s illogical extreme; better apply for that passport now; amen, CSM; on nutrition; Ezra comes >< this close to blaming the media for the Birthers; how come if ObamaCare is so bad, Republicans want to dismantle Medicare in favor of something just like it?; being poor is hazardous to your lifespan; you never know when you might spot something new; let me save you some time; more on student loans; and yeah, that will help.

Didn’t Even Need Scooby Doo

Ladies and gentlemen, the reason that GDP looks fine while to the rest of us the economy looks like a rusted out Ford Escort with a leaky power steering pump and a transmission that slips now and then: A typical hedge fund manager, in just one hour, “earns” what it would take you or I 47 years to accumulate. And at the end of the day, he doesn’t even make anything as useful or durable as a latte. After all, he did not cause the money he “makes” to come into being, only to come into his pocket. Even better yet, if you were to close one simple tax loophole, the top 25 of them would pay an additional $4,400,000,000 in taxes.

When even the IMF notices that we’ve got an income inequality problem in this country, you know it’s really bad.

In Closing: even Republicans think it’s a bad idea to slash Medicare; yeah, that could be why they’re fat; truly sad; stereotype theatre; I notice that sunshine and fortified milk are not on this list; the long version; riffing on a theme; caffeine!; oh yeah, that‘s gonna help; truth; incompetent photoshop tricks; better than it could have been; just in case you ever wondered what they ate; soldier fitness; have a Koch and a smile.