KingMidget's Ramblings

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Challenging Another Liberal Sacred Cow

First, let me say that Breonna Taylor’s death is an absolute tragedy. What happened to her shouldn’t happen to anybody. Her family has lost her long before she was supposed to go. The pain and ache they must feel is unimaginable to anybody who hasn’t gone through this. And if there is somebody responsible for her death who was negligent or engaged in wilful misconduct or with intent to kill her, they should pay the price.

But … I think the grand jury got it right.

From everything I’ve read and heard about the incident, it isn’t the police officers who were there that night. They had a legally authorized search warrant, what apparently was a no knock warrant. They were, therefore, legally authorized to barge into that apartment without announcing themselves. The officers and at least one witness claim that, even though they didn’t have to, they did actually announce themselves several times before trying to break down the door.

At that point, an occupant of the apartment fired a shot at them and they returned fire, killing Breonna Taylor. This is what officers actually are supposed to do. Not the killing Breonna Taylor part, but given what they believed they were walking into – a drug dealer’s house – and then getting fired on from within the apartment, it was entirely reasonable for them to return fire.

What wasn’t reasonable was the officer outside the apartment firing wildly when he had no idea what was going on. Hence the indictment for him for reckless endangerment.

Now, I get that there are holes in this. The factual basis underlying the warrant turned out to be incorrect. There were no drugs there, the drug dealer they were trying to find was her ex-boyfriend and didn’t live there anymore, but apparently her car had been seen in front of a drug house on several occasions. And I haven’t heard anything that suggests the officers falsified information to support the warrant. They were acting, from all I can tell, on a good faith belief of what was there.

Under those circumstances, I don’t see how one can argue that the police officers should be held personally responsible for Taylor’s tragic death.

Yes, the system is screwed up. Where police can get no knock warrants and barge into apartments in the middle of the night. Where a state such as Kentucky allows open carry, and one of the occupants of the house also had a concealed carry permit. Where the state has “stand your ground” laws that allow private citizens to defend themselves with their guns when they believe they are threatened. It’s a situation that just screams for these types of incidents to happen. In fact, it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often.

I view this as one of those tragedies where the actual actors in the incident are not at fault. Taylor’s boyfriend who fired the one shot was not at fault. Nor were the officers on the scene (except for the one who was indicted). It’s a tragedy, but it’s a tragedy of a system that allows for no knock warrants, guns everywhere, and stand your ground self-defense.

The other thing it’s not is an indictment of systemic racism.

I agree, unfortunately, with Charles Barkley, who got trashed for saying this incident is not like the George Floyd, Jacob Blake, … incidents. It simply is not the same. Yes, it’s a tragedy and she should still be alive today, but the officers were acting within the scope of their authority that night. Unlike with Floyd and many of the others that have become flash points in our nation.

Do you disagree? If I’m wrong, what am I missing?

Finally!!

I bought this book way back when it came out in hardback in 1993. I gave it a start, but didn’t get too far. If I remember correctly, it was because the book is a biography and it starts with pages and pages of the story of the subject’s family and how they arrived in Missouri and a whole lot of stuff about the Mormons going through and the violence that led to the Missouri Compromise, and all sorts of stuff before we finally get to the subject of the biography. And I wanted to read about the subject.

The book sat on my bookshelf for years and I swore I was going to get to it again. The author is a famous historian who writes excellent biographies of American Presidents and other leaders. At some point, I gave up and tossed the book in the “garage sale” stack.

A little bit ago, I decided I wanted to give it a try again. So, I downloaded it to my Kindle and started reading. The paperback version clocks in at 1120 pages. A tome to end all tomes. If you thought Hamilton was long, give this one a try.

Last night, after what feels like years of reading, I finally finished it. Truman by David McCullough. An exhaustive review of Harry S Truman’s life from well before he was born to his death at the age of 88. It’s a pretty incredible story. Truman never went to college, and was a somewhat accidental pick to be FDR’s vice president in the 1944 election. Mere months after FDR’s fourth term began, FDR died and Truman was thrust into a role he was woefully unprepared for. FDR hardly talked to him at all after the election and did little, if anything, to prepare Truman. But what comes through in the book is that Truman never shied away from his responsibilities, he read and studied everything presented to him, and was unafraid of making decisions. He said that was the fundamental role of the President — to make decisions.

Anyway, I’m done.

While I was reading Truman, I added the following books to my Kindle:

Rage by Bob Woodward (Yes, I’ve finally succumbed to one of the books about Trump. I’ve stayed away from the others because I can’t shake the feeling that most, if not all, are written by people with axes to grind. I’m simply not interested in those books, no matter how titillating they may be. But Woodward — well, he’s been doing this for decades. Writing about our Presidents. He doesn’t care if they are Republican or Democrat. He does his thing.)

RatF**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count by David Daley (A young friend read this and said she thought about me while reading it. I checked it out and decided to give it a try. Although I have to say that title really, really bothers me and I’m not sure anything in the book will necessarily be news to me.)

Tales from the Annexe by Audrey Driscoll (Audrey is an indie author I started following a few years ago. I’ve read a couple of her novels and I’m looking forward to this collection of short stories.)

Eternal Road by John Howell (John is a long-time blogger and indie author that I’ve followed for years. For some reason, though, I’ve never read one of this books. He just published this. It’s time.)

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells (Another young friend posted about this and how it brought her to tears. Sold. I need a book that makes me cry again. Hopefully this is the one.)

Besides those five books, I’ve got a John Cleese book on my nightstand, and I’ve decided I want to re-read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. And there’s another book I want to re-read, although I can’t find it at the moment. Which is really annoying me. I forgot the title. But between The Road and this other book, I will be plumbing the depths of despair when I get started on those two.

I couldn’t decide what to go to next, focusing primarily on those five books on my Kindle. So, I had the Queen Midget pick a number between 1 and 5. She picked 4. It is on to Eternal Road by John Howell. I’m good with that. After Truman I needed some fiction and I look forward to seeing what Mr. Howell is all about in his storytelling.

What the heck are you reading?

A Creek Runs Through It (#PureGoldCEO)

A few miles from my house there is a bit of nature tucked between a few suburban developments. The Laguna Creek runs through it. No more than a few hundred yards across in some spots and maybe a little bit more in others, it’s a nice little bit of quiet and nature where I can escape for a bit if I need to.

I went for a walk there this morning. Three miles out and back. It’s a place where egrets feed, Canadian geese and mallard ducks float, turtles get some sun, and the occasional house cat makes an appearance. Wherever there are egrets, my objective is to get pictures of them in flight. Readers of The Irrepairable Past will understand why. It was not to be this morning as they stayed hidden and out of the air. But still … there were moments of beauty and the walk was peaceful. If only for an hour or so, I was able to be at peace, my mind quiet, my eye looking for those spots.

And lest I forget the reason for this walk …

Don’t worry. No beers were harmed in the production of this post, or on the walk. I was done by 10:00. Even I have standards. That was far too early to start with the beer. But maybe later.

I’ve been drinking Michelob Ultra Pure Gold Organic Light Lager the last couple of evenings. It is a beer that goes down easy after a long, hot hike. And sometimes that’s all a person wants.

In a few days I’ll be headed to the Donner Lake area. Have Michelob Ultra, will travel. More pictures to come.

My Dream Job — #PureGoldCEO

I had lunch with some friends yesterday to celebrate a birthday for one of them. I’ve known the birthday girl since 1998. She went on maternity leave for a year. I was hired to take her place on a temporary basis — temporary that turned to permanent at some point during that year. When she came back to work, we worked together for a couple of years before she went off to another job and then I did too.

We kept in touch over the years. She is one of the people in my real, non-internet life that has been a part of my constant conversation over the years. As a result, she knows who I am and what I want.

A little while after I got home from lunch, I checked my email. This friend sent me this article. She regularly sends me information about job vacancies she thinks I might be interested in. But usually those vacancies are attorney positions, when I am ready to stop being an attorney. If only I can find another way to generate some income.

That article? It is about Michelob looking for a Chief Exploration Officer. Here is the brief description of the position:

As Chief Exploration Officer, you’ll get an office with the best view, and get to travel for work…a lot. You’ll be tasked with capturing content while touring the country, visiting national parks and repping Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold along the way. Plus, if you so choose, you’ll be able to bring along your right-hand person to assist you along the way. 

Here are their published qualifications:

Has an affinity for outdoor/nature photography and/or videography

Has deep appreciation for the joy that connecting with nature brings

Willing and able to hike through national parks and other outdoor areas

Valid US Driver’s License

Must be 21+ 

Ummm … hello? Has there ever been a more perfect job for me? Let’s see.

An affinity for outdoor/nature photography and/or videography. Check. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last ten years wandering the natural world — wildlife refuges, nature preserves, coastal towns and villages and the beaches and rivers that fill those areas, mountains and their lakes, rivers and their banks. Almost every time I go out, I end up taking a couple hundred pictures or more. Pictures of the water and waves crashing, coastlines, trees, sunsets and sunrises (although those sunrises are rare), flowers, wildlife whenever I see it, the mountain peaks, pretty much anything that captures my eye. I’ve posted a lot of those pictures here ever since I started this blog. Let me post some more.

I think I’ve got the photography down. What’s next? (Also, occasionally, when I’m out and about on my nature adventures, I’ve been known to record a video of the scenery and my thoughts as I sit and enjoy it.)

Deep appreciation for the joy that connecting with nature brings. Check. This is a thing I realized I missed for a decade or two as I worked and raised my family. But over the past ten years, I’ve re-connected with the natural world. I crave the opportunities I have to get out and walk through the woods, to breathe in the ocean air, to see a bright, brilliant blue sky, to see places you can only get to by hiking. When I am out in the world, I am more at peace than I am anywhere else.

Willing and able to hike through national parks and other outdoor areas. Check, and check again. Even if I have to crawl. This is one of the main activities I wanted to embark on when I retired earlier this year. Hiking and getting out into nature, the national parks, state parks, anywhere I could get to and breathe and be.

A few years ago, as I vacationed with my wife in Alaska (on a cruise ship, not quite in nature), I told her that when I retired I wanted to take a few months to travel around the Western United States. Just me and my car, and a tent in the back. Throw in a bicycle and a kayak. I’d camp when I could, stay in a hotel when I wanted to. And just explore and be at peace. So far, I haven’t been able to do that. COVID has been a partial cause. Money worries have contributed to taking things slow as I enter retirement.

The Chief Exploration Officer pretty much describes the vision I had for that road trip. Drinking beer, hiking, taking pictures, sharing them with my social media universe. Writing about my experiences, blogging, and just being for a few months with no worries other than what tomorrow’s hike would bring.

Nothing, no job, no activity, would more fit where I am at in my life right now than being the #PureGoldCEO.

A Monday Dump

Me: I really don’t like getting into politics on this blog, but sometimes I just have things to say.

You: You don’t like getting into politics? SMH. LOL. Get off my lawn!!! You are all about politics.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t want to be anymore. I want it to all go away.

You: That isn’t going to happen. What’s on your mind?

Me: Really? You want to know what I’m thinking?

You: Sure. Why not? Why hold back now?

* * * * *

A few weeks ago, I got into a back and forth on Facebook over the current election season. Two of the friends are married to each other and are staunch liberals (although the husband has a few not-so-liberal views) who are deeply, incredibly offended by Trump and anybody who supports him. The other friend is a long-time conservative who told me once during the Obama Presidency that he “hated!!” Obama. He said it with such venom in his voice and on his face, I decided I never wanted to talk politics with him again.

He’s a good friend who is always helpful and supportive and kind, but with politics — well, we risk ruining that friendship if we go too deep. Which this FB back-and-forth might have done.

He said he would never vote for Biden-Harris because they want to defund the police and take away his guns. (This friend grew up in a very conservative part of California and his father was in law enforcement in that rural area.)

I provided the links to the official positions taken by Biden and Harris on those two topics and asked him what specifically he objected to. I also pointed out that “defund the police” doesn’t actually mean what he thinks it means. It’s an unfortunate choice of words that doesn’t accurately reflect the overwhelming perspective of those on the left. Law enforcement needs to be reformed and re-imagined, not eliminated. Only the most extreme of extreme leftists believe otherwise.

But it was pointless — he refused to comment on their official positions and instead said that he was entitled to believe what he wanted to believe — just as we are entitled to our beliefs. I agree with that to a point. And what’s that point? When your beliefs are not factually-based, when there is no basis in reality to hold those beliefs.

This is what I hear more and more from conservatives and Trump-supporters when I try to talk to them. They have a right to believe what they want to believe. And when they say that, there’s no point in continuing a conversation, a dialogue, an attempt at exploring each person’s views for any common ground. They refuse to consider facts or reality and I just have no ability to carry on a conversation like that. It’s a soul-crushing exercise.

How did the Republican Party become so devoid of reality and eager to get their members to go down this fact-free path of a belief system? Well, I’ve got some ideas I’m going to try to summarize here.

There is a base group of Republican conservatives who have never bought into the direction this country has gone in since the Great Depression. They hate Social Security, they hate welfare, they hate taxes, they hate government. What they want is a world in which they can do whatever they want, where the individual is paramount, and where survival of the fittest is the guiding principle of life. In their world, there is no community, there is no support for each other. It is just a dog-eat-dog world in which there shouldn’t be any dog training provided to anybody.

This base group thinks every moderate Republican is a RINO, a traitor to the cause. Any effort to actually govern, to work with others, to identify and provide solutions to our country’s problems is a cause for cancellation from their cause. They are supremely arrogant, never admitting a mistake or failure or anything wrong with their views. They are the truest believers in American Exceptionalism and believe their view is it, the end all and be all both here and abroad.

They view what happened to Nixon as a travesty, a “crime” manufactured by the media, and the elites, and the Dems. And correspondingly view Trump as the divine retribution for all they have suffered over the last decades. They are absolutely wallowing in how Trump takes it to Dems and the media.

But let’s back up for a sec. A lot of this started with Reagan. He was really the first President in decades who bought into the doctrine of the far right-wing of the American polity. Sure other Republicans have to some degree, but hell, even Nixon proposed a universal health care system.

Reagan, on the other hand, followed the right-wing economic path to a tee. Cut taxes, starve the government, gut social programs, use social issues like abortion to divide, prayer in school. Blah, blah, blah. Ever since Reagan, the Republican Party has pursued its path ever more single-mindedly and successfully.

All of that has culminated in what we have today. A party that simply has no interest in governing. Ever since Obama was elected, Republican leaders in Congress have demonstrated a complete unwillingness to pursue solutions, to compromise, to do anything other than block every attempt the Dems put forward to govern, to address those solutions.

In the last two years, the House has passed hundreds of pieces of legislation. The Republican-controlled Senate has done nothing with any of that legislation. They have failed to address election security issues at a time when our election security is a major issue for everybody. While they passed initial stimulus packages, they refuse to do anymore now even though our economy still teeters on the edge of catastrophe. They haven’t put forward any immigration proposal in years. There is nothing they have done in so long, it’s hard to believe they have any relevance anymore. Yet they retain significant power to continue to gum up the works.

Why? Because actual governing in America would require them to violate their most sacrosanct principles — that government is not the solution and that government doesn’t do anything right. So, they sit in their seats in the House and the Senate, in state houses and legislatures across the country, and do nothing.

Well, except for a couple of areas.

  1. Defense spending
  2. Tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations.
  3. Judicial appointments.

It’s that last one that matters the most. Here’s the deal. Republicans know that the demographics of America are not in their favor. They know that in the years ahead, they will become a significant minority in this country. As a result, anything they do legislatively now, to the extent they even want to do anything, is likely to be reversed by future legislatures. It’s why they are doing so much in so many states where they have the power to suppress the vote, to eliminate whole groups and classes of individuals from the franchise, to eliminate voting stations in areas where more Dems live … well, the list could go on. They are trying, desperately, to preserve their power. To do what? Absolutely nothing. Except preserve those three things listed above.

And why do they care so much about judges, above all else. Because they know their political relevance is doomed and the only way they can further their political objectives as long as possible is to get as many right-wing, ideological judges appointed to lifelong terms — thereby using the courts in the decades to come further the political objectives they can’t obtain at the ballot box or in Congress and legislatures across the country. Demographic change is a very real thing and Republicans see that. What’s going on, I hope, is the last dying gasp of an ideology that is destroying this country from the inside.

I really hope that November 3 will see such a tidal wave of blue that the dying gasp comes sooner than later. It needs to happen. Having so much of our government controlled by a group that hates government, that wants nothing more than a dog-eat-dog world, that doesn’t see the value in community in support and help and compromise and solutions is a disgusting thing to see.

There are a few sayings that come to mind here. It takes a village to raise a child. A rising tide lifts all boats. That first saying is anathema to conservatives. The second saying is one they apparently have lost track of as they pursue economic policies that destroy the middle class and lower class. What both sayings point to though is this — we are all in this together. The success of the business and corporations that pay the Republican bills is dependent on the broadest pool of consumers possible. That success depends on opportunity for more, not for less. But virtually everything Republicans do these days is about shutting down opportunities, destroying participation, damaging the middle and lower classes, hurting people who are not like them. They have lost sight, if they ever had it, of the importance of helping and supporting our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, the homeless people on the corner. They’ve lost track of how important it is for their greatest nation in the world to actually take care of its own and not leave them stranded in a world that is more and more filled with weeds and destruction.

I can only hope that sanity returns in a major way to our politics. It begins November 3 if Americans have the guts to turn their backs on this dying animal. Vote. Vote like you mean it.

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