Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Victor, where-ever you are, I wish you a happy Father's Day.

You made me question my own image when I met you on the shore of the Aegean Sea on the Greek Island of Kos. I vividly recall the sound and smell of the waves as they hit the beach and the laughter of your children as they played in the small tent. Your words still haunt me. 

"When bombs drop and destroy the house next-door we do not know if they are barrel bombs from Assad, missiles from the U.S., or bombs from Russia. We only know that our neighbors are dead and we could just as easily been killed. Grocery stores are gone. Water is gone. People that I knew are hanging from lamp posts and trees. There was even a human head lying in the town square. Gangs roam the streets and shoot people at random."

You did not abandon your family, but you protected them as you walked all the way from Syria to Turkey. You hid to avoid the roaming gangs. (The U.N. estimated over100-waring factions in Syria). You scavenged for food and water to feed the children. You carried the girls as you ran into abandoned buildings when bombs suddenly started dropping. You negotiated with smugglers who stole what little remained of your possessions, and you held the girls tight in a tiny, overloaded boat. The day after you waded to shore, the Greek military picked up you and your family. (Thank God that the Greek Military did not even consider separating you from your children). You were released and told to the daily list outside of the police building for your names and the date and time of your final interview that determines if you can continue your journey.

You had no idea what awaits you. You believe that there will be work for you in Germany if you can make it to Germany. There will be opportunities to put food on the table and your girls will live in safety. 

During my life as a Father, I never had to sacrifice for my daughters. Not really. I like to think that I would have been brave enough to protect them and to leave all that I know, for their sake. 

Happy Father's day. I wish you well.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nobody Seems to Care about the Children, Just the Right to own lots of Guns

When I visited Germany, Greece, and Hungary, I met people from across Europe. Lunch with a group of law enforcement officers from Sweeden and Norway, dinner with a group from Holland, another day sailing with people from Italy, France, and Great Britain all had one common denominator. Someone always asked why we need so many guns in America and why we think that owning guns is more important than the loss of innocent lives. I had no answers, but since that time I've spent a lot of time reading and researching facts about guns in America.

Disclaimer: as a person who spent over 35-years in law-enforcement, I was part of a gun culture. However, that experience also resulted in seeing the aftermath of shootings and suicides and witnessing what officers feel after taking a life. I spent a night in the hospital when my partner was shot and expected to die. With less than a year on the job, I went to my first police funeral when a 24-year old member of my squad was gunned down. So, my opinions were not formed in a vacuum.

The fact is that every other industrialized nation survives without the open gun ownership allowed in America. Some people point to the Mexican murders and say that this is what happens when the average citizen cannot own guns. I reject that premise. Almost all cartel murders involve people in the drug trade of those combating the drug trade. Also, I note that shootings of school children are almost unheard of in Mexico. Furthermore, I do not see citizens who are licensed to carry firearms doing a damn thing about deterring the drug trade. Imagine the impact if a dozen armed citizens began standing on every drug-corner in the inner-city with cameras to intimidate dealers and buyers. But the truth is that our gun owners flee to the suburbs.

The bottom line is simple. We have guns because we love owning guns. Gun possession is a fetish that gives the illusion of power. We want those who are mentally ill and those with criminal records to buy all of the guns that they can carry at our gun shows, where private sales (not requiring any background check) flourish. I know that we want it because we sure do not protest and demand that a law is enacted to prevent such sales.

Our answer to gun deaths is 'more guns,' and we blame victims for not being armed!  We provide rocks for school children to use against an armed killer. We talk of arming teachers and pretend that in the confusion and chaos of the murder of children by a gunman, more gunfire will not cause additional innocent deaths and that the police will magically be able to distinguish between an armed teacher and an armed assailant.

There is no answer to the question, "Why do we value gun ownership over the lives of innocent people?"  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Rational Thoughts not Allowed

The knife-wielding terrorist in France injured four-people and the Internet is abuzz with people blaming Islam. May I offer a few facts and thoughts? I examined the most recent year of facts. Let me share. I invested 20-years of my life developing and implementing crime analysis processes for a major police agency to identify the most likely places and people engaged in violent crime. So, I think in analytical terms.

In France there were 8.5 million Muslims in 2017. 
Eight different Muslims engaged in terrorist attacks during that same year. 

So, 0.00009% of a group committed terrorist attacks in France during 2017 and people conclude that the Muslim faith is responsible. 

Why would we not conclude that since the remaining 8,499,992 Muslims did not engage in terrorism that the religion cannot be the problem? If the religion were the problem, why do we not see millions of terrorist acts in France?

I firmly believe that we don’t want to think. We want to keep it simple and find one culprit to blame?

However, by avoiding a rational analysis to find causes for the 8-people to commit acts of terror we lose all hope of finding a solution. Were they from other countries? Were they radicalized in France? What caused such profound hate?

In the USA we not only look for a simple ‘answer’ that requires no thought, we also want our answers to confirm our fears and beliefs.

Millions of Americans fear the loss of gun ownership and believe that the government should not further restrict guns.

Millions also believe that severe mental illness and fanatics are the cause of mass shootings.

Yet, these same millions and the NRA want every Muslim, terrorist and mentally ill person to be able to buy large quantities of guns and ammunition at gun shows across America. How does this make any sense?

My point is only that we need to think and form opinions based on rational analysis of facts. 

If you are against thinking and facts, please tell me why.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Real Truth is Evident

As 400-people from Latin America sit at our border and try to decide if they will legally apply for asylum in the United States, our real views about Brown people come into sharp focus. For decades most Americans that express anger about illegal immigrants have qualified their views by insisting that they are not prejudiced or bigots and welcome those that follow the rules and enter the United States legally. They insisted it was never about bigotry or prejudice. Today, the truth is coming into sharp focus.

Four-hundred people came to our border with the intention of legally walking up to our inspection station to request asylum. This is exactly what our law requires. 

This legal way of entering the United States has revealed that our real concern was not about following the rules or obeying our laws.
Read the comments on blog and news sites. Read the news articles, watch the television reports and listen to talk-radio. Nobody is concerned about an illegal entry. The gloves are off, and the objection is Race and fear based. Nobody is saying “If they just followed our laws I would have no problem.”

My government’s response is to separate families that apply for asylum to discourage them from even making such an application. There is absolutely no justification for taking children from parents or separating other relatives.  While it is not illegal, it is not required by law. Apparently, my country needs a law to keep families together. 

My parents and the entire WWII generation would never believe that America would accept a government that forces families to separate. I am not talking about deportations that result in separations. I am talking about separating families that are legally on U.S. soil. I am talking about an America that uses the threat of separating mothers from children to intimidate people! My parents would have been as disgusted as I am.

Another truth also seems to be emerging. Our president and millions of other Americans have ranted about the Mexican drug cartels, the murderers, rapists, gangsters and the narco-control of the Mexican government and now they say that Mexico is perfectly safe and that people fleeing such violence elsewhere should seek sanctuary in sunny and safe Mexico. I guess Mexico is not such a bad place after all.

The one lie that persists is that we will one-day return to a White American where millions and millions of us will find good factory jobs and very few foreign products and an even better standard of living.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Caravan? Another lie.

The U.S. media, 90% of which is owned by 6 entities, manipulates us again. The White House and President Trump’s tweets alarmed millions of Americans about a ‘caravan of over a thousand-people headed across Mexico to the USA’ and reported that most would seek asylum. The facts do not support the fake news.

Since 2010, people have participated in this yearly event to draw attention to the dangerous situation in Mexico for those trying to cross the country. Many participants dress as ancient Biblical people and some carry crosses as Jesus carried a cross. It is not an invasion of the United States or a mass of refugees intending to enter our country. It is a protest against Mexico! It happens every year.
These protestors do not even come to Mexican cities on our border. The tweets and news reports were designed to play to our fears (when did we become cowards?).

Today, the Mexican media shrugged its shoulders and reacted to the ridiculous tweets and American news reports by explaining the truth about the ‘caravan’. Mexico and Latin America remain amazed at how hard the media and our politicians work to scare the American people.

Today, President Trump said that he will cut aid to Honduras if they do not stop the caravan. There is no caravan to stop. When they keep to their plan and do not come to the USA, Mr. Trump will declare victory. How sad that millions of Americans will applaud him.
By the way, if less aid is sent to places like Honduras, the poor will have even less hope and be incentivized to give up and come to the USA.

I wonder if the fake-news and tweets will make people from Honduras aware that they could arrive in a huge group and gain legal status in the USA by making credible claims as refugees? The reckless attempt to play to his base might become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

School Shooting and Bad Solutions

Yes, we should have a safety plan in the event of an armed person entering school grounds. Sheltering in place and evacuation plans at every school are warranted. However, arming teachers and providing students with rocks to throw at an active shooter are ludicrous ideas.

We are scaring the children. The odds of an active shooter are minuscule, considering that there are over 95,000 public schools in the United States. The adults should not over-alarm the children.
In the confusion of an active shooter, armed teachers is a terrible idea. The noise of gunfire in an enclosed building, the smoke, the screaming, the people running make armed teachers a danger to the children. Police officers have no way to distinguish between an armed teacher and an active shooter. Lastly, trained law enforcement officers often do not hit the suspect under the stress of an active shooter: imagine how armed civilians will perform. Bullets flying everywhere is the last thing that is needed.

The idea of arming children with buckets of rocks to throw at a shooter is so ridiculous that it beggars the imagination. Someone recently watched the comedy, “Support Your Local Sheriff” where the hero threw rocks at an armed bad guy and ran him out of town. School shootings is not a western or a comedy. It involves the death of children and the idiot who suggested giving each classroom a bucket of rocks should be run out of town by rock-throwing citizens. Ask a parent of a 1st grader if they want their children to confront an armed killer and throw rocks at him as the killer is blazing away with an AR-15.

I will give anyone a bucket of rocks and borrow an AR-15 so we can test the ‘bucket of rocks’ solution.

Like a fire drill, each school should be prepared for the remote possibility of an active shooter. Children should be assured that they are safe and it is very unlikely this will ever happen to them

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Next Step: Fake News

The polarization and extreme positions in our nation received a huge boost when President Donald Trump cried out “Fake News.” Millions of Americans now label any fact that they do not like as fake news, completely dismissing any actual thought or debate.

Certainly, throughout history news stories have been exaggerated or built upon lies. We’ve gone to war because of such stories. But labeling a story as ‘fake’ should at least require the reasons a person holds such a view. But, not in today’s world. It is simple, convenient, and is the ultimate answer for idiots. Somehow branding facts as ‘fake’ seem to satisfy millions of people that their views are still perfect.

While we worry about foreign nations that interfere in our elections, we ignore the fact that we are killing democracy and capitalism. Russia, China, North Korea and other nations need do nothing to harm America because we continue to do it to ourselves.

If decriers of fake news provided specific reasons that a story is false, they would do America a great service. Pointing out exaggerations, missing facts, incorrect facts, flaws in opinion polls, and childish mistakes in stories, without rancor or condescension, might compel news outlets to do a better job. For example, a recent story about the murder of a mother and father at a college stated that the college was in Michigan and also in Illinois. That degree of poor fact gathering and sober editing calls into question what other parts of the story are wrong. Simply shouting, “fake news” is not helpful.

We need to find common ground with fellow Americans. This does not mean that we surrender our core values, but we must consider alternative views and compromise extreme positions.