Wow. Just Wow.

I shared a story on my Facebook feed this morning. Last night in a neighboring city a 39 year old Sikh man was in his driveway working on his car. He was approached by a masked gunman who yelled out him to ‘get out of my country and go back where you came from’  and then shot him. The man’s injury was not life-threatening.

A Facebook ‘friend’ expressed this thought: “Considering it’s East Hill there is probably a 50/50 chance it was actually a drug deal that didn’t go well. That doesn’t mean the shooter didn’t say that but it was probably prefaced with arguing about price.”

Ok then, what the actual fuck? Why in the name of God’s butt would anyone say such a thing- or even think it? Why would one assume, given the story, that there was a drug-deal involved? Merely because of the geographic location? Or maybe it’s something else.

Even in the very worst areas only a tiny percentage of the population is involved in the drug trade. I should know- I’ve lived in Skyway for the last 18 years. It’s an area known for gang violence and the drug trade. I had to ask if he would assume, based on my address, that I were a gang-member or drug dealer? If not then why wouldn’t he?

One might jump to the conclusion that it was because I am white, but it might be merely because I was not involved in a shooting. Regardless, I found it disturbing.

NRA Breaks out the Knee Pads and Mouthwash.

NRA claims the mantle of the pro-Trump counter-resistance.

I like guns. I own them, enjoy working on them as a hobby and am a strong supporter of 2nd Amendment rights. I am arguably a gun-nut. So you would think the NRA would be my natural ally. Apparently you would be wrong, because I believe in the entire Constitution and oppose authoritarianism and fascism.

When I was a kid the NRA was about teaching gun safety, hunting and promoting shooting sports. I fully expected that when I became an adult would be a life-long member. But the organization changed. Part of that change was in response to increasing calls for gun control. Typically these laws were ill-conceived and would only infringe on law-abiding gun owners; it was reasonable that the NRA would oppose them. They started to give more and more financial support to pro-gun candidates, and more often than not these candidates were conservatives. It’s easy to see the slippery slope coming.

Then comes the Tea Party, which rapidly went off the rails in extremism. In no time the tail was wagging the dog, and the NRA went right along with them. The politics of fear became the common political currency and the NRA dove in with both feet.

Then we elected a half-Black man as president, the training wheels came off and it was time for full-on crazy. They whipped out their foil beanies so fast my head was spinning. Then they openly embraced people like the batshit-crazy and unapologetically racist asshole Ted Nugent.

And now Trump. An organization that used to be as American as apple pie spent 30 Million dollars to help get an authoritarian narcissistic sociopath in the Whitehouse. Never mind that he makes a mockery of the sort of family values they claim to embrace. Never mind that he said he was going to order our troops to commit war crimes. Never mind that he is the most unqualified candidate to ever assume the presidency. This week he says he’s pro-gun, so it’s all good.

I’ve got news for you Wayne- the first time he thinks it is in his best interest he’ll turn on you faster than he turned on the Clintons. Oh wait, did you forget he had nothing but glowing praise for them until he decided to run for president? This is the character of the man you are backing.

I never thought that I would see the NRA throwing their full support behind a man who represents everything they have always claimed to abhor… all because he says he is pro-gun. At the moment.

Fuck you Wayne. You stand with the enemies of every ideal you used to claim to hold dear. Oh, except guns. By the way, how much of your munificent salary do you contribute to the NRA? None. You’re an opportunistic douche who is riding the gravy train for all it’s worth. You want to advance the cause of freedom? Slide a motorcycle into a gas truck.

And all you NRA members out there- want my money? Get rid of this human garbage fire you put in charge, shitcan the mandatory right-wing extremism and get back to doing what this organization was formed for. Until then you can take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

On the Appearance and Actions of Waterfowl…

So, the Trump administration is concerned and requesting information regarding Polish incursions into Belarus. They have placed a high priority on this. Yes, European Union and NATO member nation Poland has apparently unilaterally decided to make military incursions into Belarus. Because reasons.

Given their status as a NATO and EU member you might think someone in one of those organizations might have noticed, maybe said something like, ‘Hey Poland- not cool!’ Certainly the western press might have noticed a wee bit of something going on. Yet they have been curiously silent about this development which, if true, would shake both organizations to their core.

Curiously the people of Belarus also seem to have overlooked these incursions. The dictator of Belarus seems blissfully unaware of them; after all it’s the sort of thing a national leader might mention in the course of a 7 hour press conference like the one he recently gave. Especially given that he is currently butting heads with Russia.

So where are the administration’s concerns coming from? The only places that it has been mentioned are in Russian state-run media. RT and Sputnik are widely acknowledged to be the main sources Putin’s administration uses to disseminate propaganda, and as such are viewed as highly suspect. Yet these are the apparent source of the administration’s order to make this matter a high priority.

Now of course all such claims need to be investigated. Reviewing existing intelligence and consulting our allies must have take actual minutes before these claims were dismissed as delusional propaganda designed to alarm the people of Belarus.

It is interesting that the administration would assign a ‘high priority’ to transparently false claims made by Russia’s propaganda mouthpieces. One cannot help but wonder what might motivate them to do so.

Sore Loser?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016.   REUTERS/David Becker/Files - RTX2IRRV
 REUTERS/David Becker/Files – RTX2IRRV

Yeah, I am upset that Donald Trump won the election and is in the Whitehouse. Not because he beat Hillary- I’d have been sore if Hillary was in the Whitehouse too… but I would be a less afraid for the future of my country.

 

Yes, Donald Trump won the election and was inaugurated President. Yes, he is my president. Does this mean I will cut him and inch of slack? No. I did not swear an oath to the president. I swore to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic- first and foremost.

My opinion of the President was formed during the Primaries. He made sexist and racist remarks. He was caught on tape talking about trying to seduce a married woman, and expressed the opinion that his celebrity allowed him to sexually assault women with impunity. He stated that he would order the military to commit war crimes- and that if they refused he would ‘make them.’ He encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence against dissenters and said that he would pay their legal fees if they did. He suggested registering American citizens because of their religion. None of this is in dispute.

Then I watched him deny saying things that he was captured on video saying. I watched him mock a disabled man. I watched him Tweet things that made him sound like a spoiled brat. Attack the press for reporting things that he said or did.  Make inappropriately sexual remarks about his own daughter. Refuse to disclose his tax returns, saying that he would reveal them after the election (he didn’t.) Whine about how the election was ‘fixed.’ After he got the nomination he stated in a public debate that his first act upon assuming office would be to appoint a Special Prosecuter to find a reason to throw his opponent in jail. (OK, given the shenanigans during the primary she might actually belong there, but that’s a whole other issue.)

I watched as he claimed to embrace the LGBT community- then selected someone rabidly opposed to that community and their interests as his running-mate. How after he won the election he nominated people for his cabinet that were diametrically opposed to the function of the agency they would be placed in charge of. The person he nominated for education, who can’t seem to stop herself from saying stupid, ignorant things. Appointing a special advisor who is at best a propagandist and white nationalist. Firing the Acting Attorney General for doing her job- which he does not seem to even understand the nature of. Once in office he banned Muslims from seven countries from entering the United states-  including resident aliens with Green Cards.

He has refused to either divest himself of his business interests or place them in a blind trust. We must simply take it on faith that he will act in our interests rather than his own.

This is before we even get to the accusations, allegations etc. We’re not going to bother with those- his followers disregard any and all such, just as they disregarded the fact that he is a repulsive human being that violates virtually every moral principle they hold dear. How he has filled the Whitehouse with the very lobbyists and supporters of the oligarchy he reviled on the campaign trail. How he made an executive order that would enrich him personally- against the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers. His followers know all of that… and they’re OK with it.

One of his chief advisors recently said that it was time for President Trump to have his own security and intelligence apparatus, answerable only to him. That he wishes to exclude the military leaders and director of National Intelligence from the National Security Council… while placing is white-nationalist buddy in as a permanent member.

I don’t dislike President Trump because I am a ‘sore loser.’ I don’t distrust him because of reports from the media, ‘fake news’ as he likes to call it. I don’t distrust him because of a towering pile of accusations against him. I dislike him because of his own words and actions. I distrust him because he is a liar- again based on his own words and actions. I distrust him because I am a student of history, where we have seen men of his stripe before, and the results of placing them in power.

So I am going to do my patriotic duty. I am going to examine his every move, report his every action, call attention to anything and everything he and his people say and do. When I think he is wrong I will shout it from the rooftops, protest and sign petitions. Yes, I cut his predecessors a certain amount of slack, even when I disagreed with them. But these were people that I did not consider an existential threat to my country. I didn’t swear an oath to the President- I swore to uphold the Constitution and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. While I dearly hope to be proven wrong President Trump might well be among their number.

 

 

 

 

 

Creeping Fascism? Nope, It’s Galloping.

As much as we’d like to think President Trump is an idiot he isn’t. He is a clever, clever man. He is also a narcissistic sociopath who does not care about the rule of law, legal process, the constitution or anything else but his own interests. Now that he is in charge of our nation he is intent on consolidating and increasing his power.

He is encouraging federal agencies to ignore court orders. He is gutting the federal bureaucracy to eliminate resistance. he is retaining his ties to his business interests and acting to further them. He may have taken a bribe worth billions from Putin. 19.5% of Russia’s state-owned oil company has vanished down a rabbit-hole of shell-companies and international banks. Ask yourself- who else would he have given it to, and why? Add to this that the report issued in July specified that Putin had offered Trump 19% of this oil company in exchange for lifting sanctions… come on. You HAVE to admit this is troubling.

He has filed his candidacy for 2020- an unprecedented act that gives him an unlimited ability to accept ‘campaign donations.’ His closest advisors indicate that it is time for him to establish his own security and intelligence apparatus.

It looks like President Trump is acting- and acting quickly- to establish a fascist government, complete with kleptocracy, secret police and intelligence accountable only to him, racial and religious discrimination, suppression of free press…

You may think I am being paranoid and alarmist. It is my dearest hope that I am. But can we really afford taking the chance with the future of our nation at stake?

Watch, keep an open mind and ask yourself, “What if that crazy sword-maker is right? Does this fit his narrative? If it does what are we going to do about it?”

To my friends in the military I would council only this- be mindful of your oath and adhere to it’s strictures.

2012 Letter to my Senator.

This is the letter that I sent to my senator in 2012:

‘Dear Senator Cantwell,

My name is Michael ‘Tinker’ Pearce. I am a writer and a professional knife and sword maker, and I own guns. I am not a wide-eyed, drooling, conspiracy-spewing gun-nut. I own guns for the same reason that people own a pleasure boat or an off-road vehicle. Because they are fun. I like to shoot holes in paper targets with them. I like to admire them because they are well-crafted and cleverly engineered. I also know that, while it is unlikely, it is possible that I or my wife may need to defend our own lives or the life of an innocent person with one of our firearms. I do strongly believe in the right of individuals to own effective firearms for the purpose of self-defense.

But if I thought there was any chance that it would prevent another mass shooting I would give up my guns up in a heartbeat.

The sad fact of the matter is that it wouldn’t. Even a ban on high-capacity weapons or high capacity magazines for semi-automatic weapons will have no effect whatsoever. Confiscation won’t do the trick, because an average person could train themselves to do just as much damage with two or three revolvers or other low capacity firearms.

Congress is about to waste a lot of time, energy and money to have a big fight about banning ‘assault weapons’ and I have no doubt that in the end they will do so. I also know that it will do absolutely no good. Whatever they come up with won’t even be as useful as slapping a band-aid on a compound fracture. It will just be something that politicians can cynically point to and say, “See, I tried! Vote for me!”

So I am not going to go on about the 2nd Amendment. I’m not going to argue why I need my guns or make idiotic statements about how you can, ‘take my guns when you pry them from my cold-dead fingers.’ I’m not going to make apples to orange comparisons between gun violence and more common child-killers like swimming pools and automobiles. You’ve heard the arguments, platitudes, etc. and you don’t need to hear them again from me. Instead I am going to plead with you to do something real. Something that makes sense and might actually make a difference. I am going to plead with you to do your job and genuinely represent the best interests of your constituents.

It’s easy to say of course, but what are the solutions? Frankly it’s not rocket-science, it’s just expensive, unpopular, and it means less profits for people that already have more money than they can reasonably spend in their lifetimes.

Between 1945 and 1982 there were two mass shootings. This was during a period when gun ownership was more widespread among the population and surplus weapons, some of them high-capacity, were cheaper than dirt. Until 1968 anyone willing to swear that they were 18 years old could get one delivered to them in the mail for just a few dollars. If guns were the problem there would have been more mass shootings in the period between 1945 and 1982, not less.

From 1982 to the present there have been sixty-one mass shootings. So what changed?

In the 1970s states began shutting down their mental-health care systems. In the 1980s health care in general shifted from non-profit to for profit, and to no ones surprise the price has increased to the point that it is now unaffordable for many Americans. Last but not least the cost of living has increased to the point where most households must have both parents working to maintain a middle-class lifestyle.
Combine lack of affordable mental health care and lack of full-time parenting and there is no way the results will be good.

The problem is that we have, through corruption, negligence and selfishness created a society that produces ‘mad-dog’ killers. Ask anyone in high-level security and they will tell you it is virtually impossible to stop a mad-dog killer. The ONLY solution is to rebuild society so that it stops producing them. It’s going to be difficult and it’s going to take time. But it’s going to take a hell of a lot more time and be more difficult if you waste time on ‘solutions’ that don’t work.

There are many other factors but there are a lot of things that a politician simply cannot do. For example you can’t legislate away a culture that says you must have everything under the sun to be happy or to be considered a success. But there are things that you can do.

There must be affordable access to mental health care. Than means affordable to every single person in the entire country, regardless of their income level. Yes, in some cases that is going to mean free. It’s going to be expensive. Deal with it, because our children are dying.

Give people incentive to exercise better security and control of the firearms that they already posses. Classify it as gross negligence when a firearm is stolen from an unsecured location and subsequently used in a crime. Incentivize people to invest in the means to secure their lethal weapons. It’s going to be unpopular. Deal with it, our children are dying.

Work for living-wage jobs and to make it profitable to do business in America. Not just for the hyper-rich, and not just for specialized products. Offer grants and incentives for people making better ways to produce everyday items so that we don’t have to import them from other places. Penalize businesses that send jobs overseas, but also offer incentives to come up with new and better ways for them to be profitable without doing so. Penalize businesses that overpay CEOs while cutting benefits to their employees. Build an economy that will allow most Americans to choose a single-income lifestyle so that full-time parenting is an option for the average household. Then offer incentives for them to do so.

Last of all have the moral courage to do your job, and do what is right instead of what will get you campaign contributions or votes. Attack problems at their roots instead of just trying to slap on a bandage that you know will not help.

It’s expensive and something is going to have to give. So be it. If this means we run at a deficit so be it. Our children are dying when they don’t need to. You will not make it stop by banning objects. We can only stop it by identifying and attacking the root causes.

“Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty.” This is from the preamble to the Constitution that you swore to uphold in your oath of office. This is an issue that touches all of those things, and it alone should be your criteria for any action regarding this issue, not if it’s popular, or inexpensive, or easy or gets you votes.

Do this and you will at least get one vote: mine. I bet in the end it will get you, and all of us, a lot more than that.

Michael ‘Tinker’ Pearce’

Well, they didn’t ban ‘assault weapons.’ But they didn’t address any of the concerns in this letter, either. Things are not improving.

Patriotism is Not Blind… or Stupid

Patriotism. It’s not mindlessly, blindly supporting a broken system. It’s standing up and telling the emperor he’s naked. It’s not blind support for an ideology, or a political party above and beyond your loyalty to the nation. It’s looking deeper than partisan politics, deeper than the rhetoric of the pundits in the media. It’s not blindly supporting ‘your’ side; it’s having the intellectual honesty to admit they, and you, may be wrong.

Patriotism isn’t propping up a broken system, making excuses for ‘your side’ and demonizing the other side. It’s not about being right, it’s not about wailing that the system is broken. It’s about standing up and saying, ‘We can, we must, do better.’

Patriotism is not about maintaining the status quo because ‘I’ve got mine.’ It’s not about sticking your head in the sand and pretending everything is OK. It’s not about giving up because your country is not all that it should be, or that the framer’s of the Constitution were imperfect, even reprehensible, people. It’s about the ideals they espoused, and frankly recognizing when we have and continued to fail to live up to them- and trying to do better.

Patriotism is not about division, it’s about recognizing the common core of humanity with out political opponents and the acknowledgement that we are, all of us, Americans. No matter the color of our skins, what means we choose to worship our creator or who we want to sleep with. No matter if we disagree in the small things; we have the freedom to do that. Because that’s what it means to be an American.

Patriotism is not about fear. Fear of ‘the other.’ Fear of non-existent threats conjured by the media to sell advertising space. Patriotism is about having the courage to think critically. To not blindly accept that our way is always the right way, because blind certainty is the path to totalitarianism. And when we see a wrong, it is patriotic to gather peacefully and demand a redress of our grievances. Yes, protest is patriotic.

Patriotism is not blind. It is not weak or stupid. It does not surrender it’s freedom in the hope of safety. It is believing in what America should be, acknowledging that it isn’t and working together to try to fix it. Because if we don’t have the courage and honesty to admit that we have failed we have no basis to move forward, and the dream that is America will truly die.