Friday, May 21, 2021

Black Businesses Matter

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I pride myself on being fairly well informed.  I feel good that I can intelligently discuss current events, and often fantasize about having tête-à-têtes with the likes of Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, or Ron Wyden.  Thus, I was taken aback when I received an email message from a reader, identifying themselves only as "Virgy."  The reader wanted to know why I hadn’t done more to shine a light on the plight of black-owned businesses during the era of the pandemic. 
|Subject: Oakland business destroyed during George Floyd riots |
| Date: 05/29/2020 | Photographer: Daniel Arauz |
| This image is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 |

Being a middle-aged suburban white man, I'd assumed Covid-19 had brought disaster to small businesses across the board.  However, I wasn't taking a few factors into account. 

Descended from slaves unpaid for their work, black families haven't been able to inherit wealth and property from generation to generation, creating an income disparity between white & black households. From 1992 to 2006 the income disparity between white & black households grew from $100,000 to $154,000.  On average, this statistic leaves black owners of small businesses less of a post pandemic safety net.

Of course, the pandemic didn't happen inside of a vacuum.  2020 saw multiple Black Lives Matter protests erupt into destructive riots, many of which occurred in justifiably enraged black neighborhoods.  Said uprisings resulted in heavily damaging, if not outright destroying, multiple already struggling black-owned businesses.

Covid-19 and the riots have hurt most of us to one degree or another.  Thus, it's easy for some of us to forget that some people have been hit worse than we were.  If you're like me, you can only donate to so many good causes and still buy groceries.   Fortunately, Virgy sent me a link to a blog entry with links to 181 Black-Owned Businesses.  Rather than donating to charity, utilizing some of these businesses may allow you to make a difference by spending money you were going to spend anyway. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Questions Of Rights

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Major League Baseball has chosen to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game and amateur player draft out of Atlanta in protest over Georgia’s new voting law. Conservative lawmakers, such as Senator Ted Kruz (R-TX), are crying foul, claiming the MLB is infringing on the State of Georgia’s First Amendment rights.

Such an infringement isn’t even possible. The First Amendment makes it unlawful for the government to curtail the speech of an individual or privately owned body. It says nothing, noooooothing, about not allowing a privately owned body’s reaction to a government action. One could even argue the MLB is doing exactly what we want responsible businesses to do.

For a completely unrelated reason closer to home, I’ve been doing considerable thinking about the right to speak lately.

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Let me take a moment to assure you that I'm a nice man. Enlightened Christian morality is VERY IMPORTANT to me, and I go out of my way to be kind. That being said, I have a dark sense of humor which many people don't appreciate. In order to sate my appetite for dark (not racist) humor, I joined a Facebook group for dark humor. Interestingly, the group in question was created, and is moderated, by nurses as a way to blow off steam after work.

Said nurses fashioned their own rules against racist humor, sexist humor, and humor depicting child abuse. Yet, the group’s founder, and its moderators, are frequently afraid of being temporally, or permanently, being banned from Facebook as the result of a group member complaining about the humor.

As annoying as the situation is, I'm forced to admit this isn’t a First Amendment issue ether. Facebook, while used by most of the public, is a privately owned website. They charge nothing for use of the site. Thus, they can ban anyone for any reason. Facebook could ban people who wear yellow hats in their profile picture if they wanted to.

Of course, you have to wonder about someone who joins a group for dark humor then reports posts to Facebook because they are offended by the DARK HUMOR! I can't help but think of such people as either @$$holes who like to start trouble then sit back and watch the ensuing drama unfold, or bipolar nut cases.

As Americans, not only do we have the right to speak freely, but we have the right to not listen to anyone we want. Personally, I’m a die-hard liberal, so I don't belong to a group for fans of FOX NEWS. I let them have their own misinformed corner of cyber space, and I belong to groups of people who share my interests and/or views. It's what mature adults do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What May Come

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I haven't posted in some time for the simple reason that I've been in the hospital. No, it wasn’t COVID-19 related, but the problem with my innards was nasty enough to knock me down for the count, requiring emergency surgery.

|Subject: Crowd of Trump supporters marching on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, ultimately leading the building being breached and several deaths. | Date: 01/06/2021 | Photographer: TapTheForwardAssist | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International |

I remember Logan, my nurse for that shift, asking if I'd been watching America's stupidity on the news. Since the hospital didn't have MSNBC, I turned on CNN and watched a horde of morons lay siege to The Capital Building in the name of patriotism.

Keep in mind, these zip tie baring bastions of righteousness attacked their own government in order to nullify the results of a legally executed election.  There was nothing heroic or patriotic about what they did.  These beer-fueled face-painted morons staged a failed coup d'etat killing five people.

As I write this, D.C. police and the American military have our capitol city in lock down as they prepare for trouble.  As Washington D.C. mimics a middle eastern warzone, armed self-proclaimed militia members are taking up arms, and positioning themselves outside state capitals across the country.  We wait with bated breath to see whether a typically simple ceremony will serve as a catalyst for our country to erupt into idiotic chaos.  

Coupled with this uncertainty is the anxiety we share over COVID-19.  More than 400,000 Americans have already lost their lives to the disease, which  was unheard of two years ago.  We hope, but are not assured, that new leadership will be able to facilitate distribution of life saving vaccine.  We hope, but are not assured, that the death tolls begin to drop.  We hope, but are not assured, that our country returns to some version of normal.  

None of us know what the future holds, but let us pray it is not paved in pain and loss. 

Addendum Added 01/20/2021

Well, the inauguration is over and nothing extraordinary happened.  Trump gave a farewell speech, which nobody cared about.  His followers didn't attack anyone.  Nothing significant occurred.  Of course, we'll never if nothing happened because nothing was planned, or if planners were deterred, at the last minute, by the multiple kilometers of razor wire topped fences and the 25,000 troops adorned Washington D.C..  

Some will point to the deployment as an overreaction.  Others will point to it as a deterrent that worked,  I neither know, nor care why the proceedings were peaceful.  What's important is that a new day has dawned for our country.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Trump Is Flipping Democracy The Bird

This year Joe Biden was elected President of the United States of America earning 306 electoral votes (79,699,918 individual votes) to Donald Trump's 232 electoral votes (73,668,456 individual votes)*.  We did it!  Americans banded together and ousted an ego-maniac from The White House...,

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...or so we thought. 

Since the day of the election, Donald Trump and his army of lawyers have been trying to change the outcome of the vote.

Lets put aside the fact that his claims of voter fraud have been laughed out of court after court.  Put aside the fact that U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg, a judge appointed by President Trump, found the suit brought before him to, "...have no basis in fact and law,” after a 2.5 hour hearing. 

Forget all that.  The takeaway is that a, still sitting, POTUS is actively trying to steal an election from the American people.  He's not even being quiet about it.  Donald Trump wants four more years as president, so Donald Trump is going to try to take four more years as president.  In his mind it's just that simple. 

To be fair, he does need to stay in office.  Being president has been great for his bottom line.  Even the conservative news outlet FOX NEWS reports, "President Trump's luxury properties have charged the U.S. government more than $1.1 million since he took office – billing taxpayers for room rentals at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club this spring while it was closed due to coronavirus."

If the loss of such a cash cow wasn’t a sufficient motive for him to steal the election, there's every reason to believe that once he becomes a private citizen he'll be tried for obstruction of justice regarding The Mueller Report.  That's right, the moment Donald Trump is no longer POTUS, he's vulnerable to doing prison time.  I don't think he can get Big Macs and, "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen," in prison. 

One would be more than a little tempted to laugh his maneuverings off as the rantings of a spoiled child.  However, as of (11/20/2020-17:39:52pst), there have been 1,962 American deaths from Covid-19 over just the last 24 hours.  Instead of; mandating the use of life-saving face masks, putting his name behind a badly needed stimulus package, and working with the incoming administration; he's putting his energy toward holding on to power and flipping democracy the bird 🖕.

*=Individual vote totals still increasing slightly at Google.com, but electoral vote totals have been decided..

POTUS= President of The United States.