Thursday, February 28, 2013

In Malcolm's Own Words

File Under:  Hearing is Believing

When someone else has already said something you need to say better than you could ever say it, it is often better to sit back and let that person talk.  Therefore, for this post I am going to let Brother Malcolm speak.

Every endeavor must be rooted in love.  Our differences are only skin-deep.  Inside we all are the same and want the same things.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- this is every human being's birthright.  No one can take this away.

A righteous person cannot rest in the face of tyranny because righteousness and oppression cannot coexist.

True progress will never happen so long as some of us deny the past and others of us use it to keep us divided.  We must own up to our mistakes and forgive, but never forget.

Economic, social, and spiritual poverty is a symptom, not the disease itself.

It is all right to think differently, to feel differently, and to believe differently.  The battle is not over ideas, we are not fighting for the supremacy of one idea or another.  We are fighting over the survival of us all.

We have to put the common interest ahead of our our own because we cannot win that struggle as a disjointed people.

Just as we will go nowhere as a people divided so too will we go nowhere with our eyes and ears closed, head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge the reality of our times.

We cannot suckle at the teat of the media for what to think, or corporations for scraps, or the government for our liberties.  We must create the society in which we want to live.

The time for passivity is gone.  Our country and our world is on the precipice of a calamitous fall that cannot be recovered from.  Inaction means certain doom.  We have no choice but to enlist in this fight.  The alternative is too costly to consider, and every moment we lose brings us closer to that horrible reality.

3 Firearms 4 Life, Part VII: More Bang For Your Buck

File Under:  With Both Barrels

Building a Battery of Arms on a tight budget.

Drool-inducing for sure, but unless you're Ted Turner you probably do not have the cash to have a collection that looks like this.  So what does one with modest finances do to stay tactically fit?

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV  | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

It has been many moons since I have added an entry into the 3 Firearms 4 Life series (3F).  Well the drought is finally over, here at last is the long-awaited seventh installation; and, it could not come at a more opportune time.  As so frequently happens whenever a liberal/Progressive president wins an election (and especially when talk of new or increased firearms legislation arises) a panic ensues and there are massive runs on the nation's firearm dealers.  Moreover, national tragedies, natural disasters, halting economic recovery, thinning supplies of raw materials, and a massive government contract for ammunition has strained the nations supply of arms and ammunition to the breaking point.  Currently, the American firearm and ammunition industry is trying to recover from these forces and is not projected to stabilize until the end of the year or beginning of the next.

The reduction of supply has escalated demand, and increased cost across the board for firearms and ammunition.  When you can find items in stock or available for backorder, prices are 25-30% inflated versus when I began writing this series over a year ago.  In fact, pricing for notoriously inexpensive items like the WASR-10 have in some cases more than doubled.  Corporations are all about their profits, they prey upon people's concerns and fears to drive those profits ever higher.  Sadly history has shown us that inflation in the firearms industry is not subject to the forces of recovery or gravity -- when prices go up, they do not come back down.

Budget Conscious Battery of Arms

The situation is not hopeless.  Despite cost increases and ammunition shortages there are still economical options that will allow you to continue building your Battery of Arms and get prepared.  First let us examine more cost effective options for adding tools to your Battery during an economic pinch:
The Sidearm:  If you want a solid house to protect you in the longrun you need to begin with a solid foundation.  The 3F house is no exception.  If you want your Battery of Arms to serve you well, cover you in the widest breadth of situations, and not break the bank, your first purchase should be a rock solid performer.  That is exactly what the Hi-Point C-9 is, and it does not cost a mint to get your hands on one.  If you aren't convinced a firearm at this price point is a quality arm, check out this series of torture tests done by professional gunsmiths (ignore the stereotypical absurdity):
    • Hi-Point C-9 Model 916
      • MSRP:  $179.00
      • Caliber:  9x19mm NATO (Parabellum, Luger) +P
      • Magazine:  8 or 10 rounds
      • 100% American manufactured parts and assembled in Ohio.
      • Lifetime warranty
      • Savings vs. Glock 17 Gen 4:  -$476.99 [73% off]
The Shotgun:  After you lay a good foundation it is time to add the frame.  You will get (literally) the most bang for your buck out of a shotgun, as it can be used for the widest rang of applications of any modern civilian firearm.  In the American market the two premiere entries in this category are the Remington 870 and the Mossberg 500, and while not the most expensive shotguns on the market by a few hundred dollars, they are still cost prohibitive to someone with limited funds.  Thankfully there are "clones" on the market that give you similar quality without all the expensive frills.  As a bonus, many of the parts, aftermarket modifications/accessories of the original will work in the clone.

      • Savings:  -$201.21 [47% off]
Rifle / Carbine:  Now we're ready to add the walls and roof to the house.  To do that we need to increase our capacity to reach out and say 'hello.'  In the current economy getting away with a hunting rifle purchase under $600 is almost nigh unto impossible.  Almost, but not quite.  The following options have increased in price in the last year, but yet remain rock solid performers at an unbeatable price.  All you need to do is determine which one fits into your Battery of Arms philosophy and budget.
    • Mosin-Nagant M1891/30
      • MSRP:  $129.00-149.99
      • Caliber:  7.62x54mmR
      • Magazine:  5 rounds
      • Comparable to:  .308 Winchester (Remington 700, Winchester Model 70, Savage 110, Ruger M77)
      • Average savings vs. modern bolt-action rifle:  -$546.01 [76% off]
      • Average savings vs. AKM (WASR 10):  -$531.51 [78% off]
    • Mossberg 702 Plinkster
      • MSRP:  $176.00
      • Caliber:  .22 LR
      • Magazine:  10 rounds
      • Comparable to:  Ruger 10/22 Carbine
      • Savings:  -$103.00 [37% off]
    • Hi-Point 995TS
      • MSRP:  $285.00
      • Caliber:  9x19mm NATO (Parabellum, Luger) +P
      • Magazine:  10 rounds
      • 100% American manufactured parts and assembled in Ohio.
      • Lifetime warranty
What could you buy for the price of a Glock?

Glocks no doubt have a reputation for being as reliable as the rising and setting of the sun, and being easier than Sunday mornings.  Therefore it is no question why you would want to have one of the most widely available firearms in your Battery of Arms.  However, Glocks do have one major weakness:  they are more costly than paying a call girl with a personal check.  If your budget is tight, the high initial cost of ownership might slow down or halt your preparedness plans altogether while you try to save up for this purchase.  The same is true for many entries that made the list, quality is not cheap -- but can it be inexpensive?  Let's see what you could get for just the cost of one (1) Glock pistol:

Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 Rifle $149.99
H&R Pardner Pump Protector Shotgun $226.79
Hi-Point C-9 Pistol $179.00
Extra magazine for C-9
Mosin Nagant stripper clips Pack of 5 $4.99
7.62x54mmR 150-grain JSP One box of 20 $16.29
9mm 147-grain JHP One box of 50 $17.49
12 gauge 2-¾” 00 buckshot nickel-plated Two boxes of 10 $13.98
12 gauge 2-¾” 1-¼ oz buffered #6 copper-plated shot One box of 25 $18.49
12 gauge 3” 1-¼ oz hollow point rifled slug Two boxes of 5 $11.98

Glock G17 Gen 4 MSRP $655.99

As we see, with what you would have spent on one firearm purchase, you could fulfill your entire list of 3 Firearms (3F) purchases.  Moreover, not only will you be able to immediately protect yourself and hunt for food, but you you also could equip an entire group of 3 or 4 for the cost of some high end "modern sporting rifles."  In the end, you will not be winning any firearm beauty pageants, but you will have covered all your bases without breaking the bank.

Love the One You're With

What's even cheaper than the hot bargains we've seen today?  The old stand-by you inherited from grandpa you might have laying around or the occasional sweet pawn shop find.  If the above load-out still puts too much pressure on your finances, you might be able to make very good use of a second hand firearm.  Practice and education will allow you to fake it until you make it, using something traditionally less tactical in an unconventionally tactical manner.

Bullets? We don't need no stinking bullets!

As we all know we are firmly entrenched in what will be a very prolonged ammunition shortage.  It might be a costly and impractical idea to expend your usual 200 rounds per month training when ammunition is so expensive and you may not be able to replenish your stock.  How do you remain proficient without compromising your finances and preparedness?  Here are a few things you can do:
    • Dry-fire practice (Important: Snap Caps!)
    • Drawing and presentation drills
    • Room clearing drills
    • Magazine change (reloading) drills
    • Live fire exercises with a non-firearm

We have come a long way since starting this journey.  We examined how to be tactically prepared for whatever we might face everyday in the city, out in the wild, when anarchy strikes, and when zombies attack.  We learned all about building a Battery of Arms and everything you could ever want to know about ammunition.  And finally, we figured out some ways to get our firearms "house" in order on the cheap without having to take out a second mortgage.  It is time to go out, get educated, get trained, and start building.  If this political and economic crisis has told us anything, it is that preparedness for any eventuality is crucial.  We cannot afford to wait until the problem arises before you begin to solve it, because at that time it is already too late.

Is this the end of our journey together?  Preparedness is a never-ending journey.  Stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of:  3 Firearms 4 Life.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV  | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

"Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon from Excitable Boy released 1978 on Asylum

Sunday, February 24, 2013

#Section131: Ruthlessness Returns to UFC

By Bradley Damron | Senior Sports Contributor


UFC 157 was a historic event. Obviously, the main event which featured Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche for the women’s bantamweight title was the first fight featuring females in UFC history. While many fight fans are talking about Rousey’s submission victory via armbar, the fight card featured something that intrigued me more – the UFC return of ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler.


Lawler, who was moving down from middleweight to welterweight, is admittedly one of my favorite fighters to watch. He’s definitely not the top fighter in the sport, but he’s one of the most exciting. In a sport filled with many fighters looking to simply win on points, Lawler is a throwback to the days when those who entered the octagon tried their hardest to end fights and not try to win on points.

While Lawler’s record is good, it’s not the greatest in the fight game. He’s currently 20-9 with one no contest. Among those 20 victories are 17 knockouts and one submission. In his nine defeats, he has been submitted 5 times and knocked out once. In all, Lawler has only been in four matches that have gone the distance. You know that when he steps inside the cage that you’re going to see something exciting.

At one point, Lawler was one of the brightest young stars in the sport. After knocking out Steve Berger in 0:27 of the second round during the first mixed martial arts fight ever aired in US cable television history, the then 20-year-old’s popularity soared. It seemed like the sky was the limit. Of course, the fight game is fickle. Lawler lost three times in his next five appearances and was subsequently released from the UFC at the age of 22.

While his career had taken a downward turn, Lawler kept fighting in other promotions. He kept using his same style that made him a fan favorite and reeled off more brutal knockout victories, including a couple of gems against Frank Trigg and Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua. He was the EliteXC Middleweight Champion before that promotion ceased its operations.

Lawler then moved to Strikeforce where he wasn’t as successful. He still picked up three first round knockout victories, including a classic against Melvin Manhoef. In fact, if you haven’t seen this event, go and find it online right now. You won’t be disappointed. Unfortunately, Lawler also lost five fights during that same span. While an exciting fighter, his style hasn’t always translated into wins. Still, when Strikeforce shut down, UFC President Dana White wanted to bring back Lawler. If nothing else, Lawler could give the UFC an exciting fight or two.

Lawler makes masterful use of "The Great Equalizer: Overhand Right" at Strikeforce: Miami on January 30, 2010.  (c) 2010 Zuffa, LLC

So, there he was on Saturday night facing off with Josh Koscheck more than eight years after he last graced a UFC cage. Koscheck was the favorite to win the fight. After all, Koscheck is a vastly superior wrestler who has been more impressive in recent years. Many fight fans, including myself, expected Koscheck to take Lawler down to the mat and either submit him or grind out a decision victory.

As the fight began, Koscheck was controlling the pace with his wrestling ability. He had Lawler pinned against the cage. Then, Lawler, now a 30-year-old, connected with a knee to the body. A few seconds later, he hit Koscheck with a knee to the head. Koscheck crumbled to the mat and Lawler went to work as punch after punch started finding its mark. After a moment, Koscheck was defenseless against the cage while Lawler dropped blow after blow to his head. Veteran referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight. Koscheck thought the stoppage was early, but replays seemed to indicate that Dean saved him from suffering any unnecessary damage.

Source: Bleacher Report

There Lawler was, celebrating yet another knockout victory and re-establishing himself as a draw in the promotion that had previously discarded him. For his efforts, Lawler was awarded a bonus for Knockout of the Night.

Source: Yahoo! Sports

While we don’t know what the future holds for the ‘Ruthless’ one, the UFC needs more fighters like Lawler. The organization needs guys who go out there and try to finish each and every fight instead of just trying to impress the judges to gain a victory via decision. All fight fans like to be entertained and few entertain like Lawler. I am thrilled to see him showcasing his talents on the sport’s biggest stage once again.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Only YouTube Ad I Ever Didn't Skip

File Under:  Think About It

Why?  Very simply, TED presents some of the most brilliant modern thinkers, most of whom (unlike your garden variety politician) are working on real solutions to the actual problems humanity faces.  Therefore, when TED talks, Bane listens -- and so should you:

Fascinating, Hollander really helps illuminate the situation and put it in perspective.  This is really the direction our energy policy needs to be going.  How do we simultaneously help alternative energy technologies go mainstream without abandoning our still very viable, profitable legacy technologies based on coal/oil/gas and without disastrous levels of deregulation?  Answering that would be the Holy Grail of energy independence and sustainability.

"Only So Much Oil In the Ground" by Tower of Power from Urban Renewal released 1975 on Warner Bros. / Wea

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Justice for Robert Ethan Saylor

File Under:  For Great Justice

What could have saved the life of this young man who apparently  just loves books and good movies?

On January 12, Robert Ethan Saylor, 26, was asphyxiated and subsequently died after being handcuffed and placed face-down on the ground by 3 off-duty officers when he refused to leave a movie theater in Frederick, MD.  I've been following this story for several days WAITING to see what the authorities would do.  However seeing the emotion-filled misinformation put forth on the internet, I felt it important to point out several things.  Subsequent to the coroner's findings of homicide (as part of the police investigation the findings of which will be forwarded to the state attorney's office for formal charges) the 3 officers involved have been suspended. [1]  For your own benefit know this: by law police officers are police 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  So long as they've identified themselves to you as police and are acting as police, they have the authority to enforce the law -- including issuing citations or detaining/arresting people.  They have this authority even if they are not on the clock and not in uniform.  The officers in this case were in uniform, had identified themselves as police, and since Mr. Saylor was breaking the law, the police were not acting in a personal capacity or on behalf of their secondary employer.  The fact that they were moonlighting as security guards is immaterial.

The state's attorney would probably have a hard time proving excessive force, unless witness testimony says something to the effect that the victim was slammed or thrown to the ground, and forcefully held there -- or something worse.  It does not seem as if the victim was roughed up.  Subduing, handcuffing, and allowing a suspect to rest in the position that initiated Saylor's respiratory distress is common practice.  Saylor was probably hyperventilating from emotional and physical excitement, and he asphyxiated when his lungs were not able to get air due to his position.  The police did not act with malice or intent to harm Saylor, but there direct actions preceded the event that caused his death.  That leaves the possibility of involuntary manslaughter being leveled against them, and the state would have to prove their actions were reckless, negligent, and/or criminal.  Reckless seeming to us maybe, but I do not believe it rises to the legal definition of the word, nor were their actions criminal as they were acting under the color of law.  That leaves negligent, which possibly could be proven if A ) a reasonable person could foresee their actions resulting in Saylor death or B ) they did not follow established procedure in detaining Saylor or C ) they did not intervene once Saylor began to go into respiratory distress.

Determining the difference between justified and excessive use of force is not always black and white.

I do not see convictions for the officers resulting from this.  At this point I do know if that is the just thing or not.  Suspensions (obviously) possibly without pay, and other disciplinary action probably will occur.  A civil action is unlikely also because that would require the police to be acting outside of their authority by either acting as private citizens or exerting excessive force (voiding police protection).  At most Regal Cinemas and the Police will come forward with very public apologies and large voluntary compensation to the Saylor family.  If one thing absolutely must come out of this, police agencies nationwide must conduct a review of arrest/detention procedures and comprehensive, updated sensitivity training with a focus on the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.  It is time for people to stop dying after the police get involved.

Excessive Use of Force

Criminally Negligent Homicide

We have to allow the authorities to continue their investigation into the facts of the case, though I wish the authorities investigating this young man's death were not the same police that employ the 3 suspended officers.   I am deeply saddened that Robert Saylor is no longer with us, and gone at such a young age.  Until the all the facts are known, and maybe not even then, it is not fair to demonize Regal Cinemas as a whole or the employee as an individual. The man's death is tragic enough as it is without inventing reasons and motivations to make it even more so.  I have to realize in my current condition, the same thing could have happened to me.


The Next Evolution of Awesomeness

File Under: Technically Speaking

Sony's next console, the Playstation 4, is slated to hit us holiday 2013.

Sony didn't throw down the the gauntlet, they thermonuclear bombed the competition Wednesday evening at the unveiling of the Playstation 4.

Live Video streaming by Ustream

I am not easily impressed by consoles, but you can say I am thoroughly in the "Can't Freakin' Wait" category.  Especially to see what the actual system looks like.  The Playstation 4 of course boasts some amazing technology, as can be seen in the emancipated Bungie's project "Destiny."  Massive developer support seems to be the major thrust of the release, which hopefully means tons of content right from the launch.  Many questions such as price point and release date were not release, thus it remains to be seen if this will be Sony's return to dominance among console gamers.

Sending A Message

File Under:  For Great Justice

On February 20, 2011, apparently while texting and driving his vehicle, then 17 year-old Aaron Deveau lost concentration, came across the center line, and plowed headlong into the truck driven by Donald Bowley, causing Bowley's death from injuries suffered in the wreck 18 days later.  A little over a year later Deveau would be the first person to be convicted of a vehicular homicide under the new breed of anti-texting laws.  This might seem like a simple issue on the surface, but in reality it is rather complex and illustrates the problems that hamper the American criminal justice system.  Many things were done right in the sentencing of Aaron Deveau:  the judge issued an individual sentence, the defendants age was considered, the maximum penalty was levied against a clearly culpable defendant, the judged utilized judicial discretion in extending mercy, and the court used the opportunity to send a clear message to the community -- both locally and nationally.  These are all positives to the credit of the court in this case.  However, the system fails in the much larger grand scheme of things.

The Crime Itself.

One man is dead and another man will spend 1 year in prison for his death.  Is this punishment proportional to the crime?  Looking at the Massachusetts state code, and reasoning that if the maximum sentence the defendant was facing was 2 1/2 years, then I assume he was facing the charge of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide.  The nature of the crime and the victims death could even qualify for a charge of second degree murder, depending on how you interpret Massachusetts common law.  If the District Attorney sincerely wanted to make Aaron Deveau an example, was misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide the best charge for his offense?

Interpretation of the Massachusetts Penal Code [2]

Second Degree Murder - maximum sentence: life imprisonment with eligibility for parole after 15 years
  • "The unlawful killing of a human being accomplished [...] with malice aforethought..."
  • Malice Aforethought: " intent to act in a manner likely to cause death or serious injury. The malice element does not require an intent to cause a death."
Involuntary Manslaughter - maximum sentence: 20 years barring mitigating circumstances
  • " unintentional killing occasioned by an act which constitutes such a disregard of the probable harmful consequences to another as to be wanton or reckless..."
  • "...wanton or reckless conduct includes both affirmative acts and failures to act where a duty to act exists. Such acts or omissions must embody a disregard for the probable harmful consequences to another. The conduct must involve a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm will result to another. The law requires that the defendant have knowledge of the circumstances and the intent to do the act that caused the death, and also requires that the circumstances presented a danger of serious harm such that a reasonable man would have recognized the nature and degree of danger."
Felony Motor Vehicle Homicide - maximum sentence: 15 years and/or $5,000 fine, mandatory 10-yr revocation of driver's license.
  • "Operation of a motor vehicle upon a public way or place to which the public has a right of access or access as invitees or licensees [...] recklessly or negligently so that the lives or safety of the public might be endangered, and thereby causing the death of another person."

The Sentencing

Aaron Deveau maintains (now) that he made a mistake, one for which he is sorry.  I will avoid elaborating on, but cannot avoid implying that the charge and sentencing reflects a level of preference that other members of the community would not have received in the same circumstances.  Not wanting to make a felon out of the young Deveau, I can only surmise that the District Attorney (in giving him the lightest charge possible) and the Judge (for only sentencing him to 1 year in prison) felt that his actions were just not meritorious enough of a more severe penalty.  Or maybe they felt that other citizens would be shocked back into reality and deterred from texting-while-driving due to Deveau's stiff 1-year prison term.  The same 1 year Martha Stewart received for obstruction of justice over $50,000 or the same 1 year Lil Kim received for perjury.  That is equitable, right?  The public will surely will be shaken by this landmark decision, will they not?   I suppose this is a stiff sentence when you consider the slap on the wrist actress Rebecca Gayheart received for pleading no contest to vehicular homicide in the death of 9 year-old Jorge Cruz; she was sentenced to "three years probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service." [3]  We had a problem in this country: people using mobile devices while driving or otherwise simply driving distracted.  This was already patently illegal by existing state law everywhere.  However, to correct this problem what did we do?  We added more statutes to the bloated, confusing penal code despite the fact that people already were not deterred by the threat of consequences.  Now we have yet another law which ( in some cases) is hard to enforce and has very arbitrary, impotent sentencing guidelines.

The Defendant

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.  That point is irrelevant though, as Aaron Deveau knew the law.  No new statute has probably received as much notoriety as those adopted or being adopted in states nationwide specifically prohibiting the practice of using a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.  Even before such laws were added to the penal code, anyone who passed a written examination to become a licensed driver knew that at all times a driver should keep his or her eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.  Aaron Deveau did not care about the law or how breaking that law could harm others.  Is that an offense that one can excuse to this degree on grounds of youth, especially when someone died from his malice?  Aaron Deveau:
  1. Knew his actions were a crime;
  2. Knew car accidents are one of the leading causes of death by injury (only recently overtaken at #1 by suicides);
  3. Knew his criminal actions are highly contributory to car accidents as any reasonable person would know;
  4. Had the presence of mind required to be deemed culpable;
  5. Committed his actions willfully;
  6. Covered up the crime, and
  7. Lied to authorities.
Justice Served?

What picture does this paint of Aaron Deveau?  An evil monster?  By no means, but the criminal justice system is not about witch hunts and demonizing people who genuinely made colossal mistakes.  It is about ensuring Justice.  Aaron Deveau was not a victim of a bizarre natural or physiological event.  He did not blackout or swerve to avoid a wreck.  Aaron Deveau may not have intended to kill Donald Bowley, yet through willful, wanton, and reckless action the victim is nevertheless just as dead -- and that makes Aaron Deveau a murderer.  Aaron Deveau did not need to spend the entirety of his life behind bars, but maybe he needed to consider it -- just have that hang over his head a while, to give up a larger piece of what he took from Donald Bowley.  All the system accomplished was to create another future ex-convict.  The District Attorney and the Judge did not: appropriately punish Aaron Deveau, they did not create an example of him, they did not incapacitate him long enough, he likely will not rehabilitate, and future sentencing will show that this was not equitable.  One year was a slap in the face of Justice.  One year in prison could have been more than sufficient for the pain and suffering inflicted upon the decedent's girlfriend, Luz Roman, for her own injuries.  But it does not even begin to atone for the loss of her boyfriend, especially considering the man would still be alive if all Aaron Deveau had done was put down his damn phone and paid attention to the road.

"So Damn Lucky" by Dave Matthews from Some Devil released 2003 on RCA

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Apple Has Fallen Far From The Tree

File Under:  Holy WTF People?!?!?

American was once a symbol of hope, justice, prosperity, and liberty.  What do we symbolize today?

Ok.  I am not going to even begin to politicize this post in the area of  firearms or the Second Amendment.  This is not even remotely close to being about that.  So this is the last time you will hear it brought up, in turn  please refrain from asinine rhetoric on guns.  What I do have to ask is: what the hell is wrong with California or America that "at least six" warm-blooded, One-nation-under-God-with-liberty-and-justice-for-all citizens of the greatest democratic republic in modern history could watch one man accost another, pull him out of his vehicle, drag him to the curb, and cold-blooded execute him in broad daylight right on main street?  I ask because that is exactly what happened today in Tustin, California.

When did Americans become that sheepish, that callous, that cold-hearted, and that weak.  When did we lose our lust for justice, morality, and honor and instead doing nothing became part of the "American Way?"  How is it that a grown man can slap someone else's crying toddler and, call that child a racial epithet on an airplane full of mothers and fathers, and still have the physical capacity to walk off that plane under his own power?  How can a a Good Samaritan save another citizen from an apparent mugging, only to be left bleeding to death by not only the would-be victim he saved, but numerous passers-by who gawked at his body and took pictures?  Once pride and courage burned in our American veins; now cowardice, apathy and lethargy rots us from the inside out like cancer.  We won't stand up to our banks, we won't stand up to the corporations, we won't stand up to the media, we won't stand up to our government, we won't stand up for the innocent, and we won't stand up for the poor/oppressed/downtrodden.  What is left of the America our forefathers spilled blood for in the Revolution and the Civil War?  How is it that as a people we have the intestinal fortitude to send unmanned planes all over the world blowing children and democracy to hell, but we cannot stand up to one murderer spreading actual terror right here in front of our eyes?  What great ideals are we spreading across the world behind our tanks and our drones and our bombs?

For goodness' sake, this will continue to happen until the American public stands up and says "enough, is enough."   And that is no symbolic, rhetorical gesture.  We are going on nearly a century of amplified violence, lawlessness, unethical behavior, and amorality all because at some point those who no longer wished to play by the rules realized they could do whatever the hell they wanted because nobody cared.  They knew people could be cowed, doped, fooled, or distracted into ignoring their reckless behavior as it devoured our once glorious republic like a plague.  The few who don't ignore it they are demonized, ostracized, disgraced, and silenced in whatever manner is most expedient because the masses still are not paying attention.  Stop letting the media tell you what to think and believe.  Stop kneeling at the feeding trough of the corporations begging for succor only to eat the scraps of your own blood, sweat, and tears.  Stop allowing the government to tell you what you will do and instead start telling the government what we will do.  Our grandparents and great grandparents are looking down upon the legacy they left, they gaze upon how we have ruined it, and they weep.  They weep for America, and their tears flood down upon us.  It is time for us to retrieve our collective heads from whatever dark, cavernous hole in which it is currently hidden, stand up like men and women of the strongest moral character, and be American again.

And Justice For All

File Under:  What Defines Us

In 2012 the Supreme Court ruled that when sentencing juvenile offenders, the court must consider the offenders age in the determination of the sentence and parole stipulations - not to do so, would be Unconstitutional.  Many state courts and legislators are now faced with the question of what to do with the hundreds of individuals in their inmate population convicted as juveniles to sentences of life without possibility of parole, some for their role in very heinous crimes.  The Supreme Court ruling and rulings in favor of applying it retroactively no doubt raises the question: is this Justice?  To answer that question, first we must analyze what is the nature of Justice.

The Pillars of Justice

Justice, particularly criminal justice, has several components or characteristics which define the goals that Justice is to accomplish. Application of reason, ethics, and law in the resolution of deviations from the social contract can be defined by six ingredients, which when combined in the right proportion come together to form a recipe of true Justice.  These six ingredients, or Pillars of Justice are as follows in order of ascending importance:

Retribution: Punishing offenders for their offenses

This concept is simple, and I am sure it is one anyone can understand, which is why so often it is the first method of thought correction applied to very small children.  When you commit an offense (violate the terms of your social contract) you are assessed and must suffer a penalty that is (ideally) sufficiently proportionate to the offense.  Retribution is all about the individual and it has 3 primary goals.  First is to make the offender aware the offense is wrong according to societal standards.  Secondly, punishments create a loss for the wrongdoer thus creating pain and suffering for him or her ideally bringing them into the same emotional sphere as the victim of the wrongful act.  Finally,  punishments provide a negative association between that behavior and painful consequences so that when the offender contemplates that behavior again he or she is psychologically less likely to repeat it again.  Looking at the use of retribution as a correctional tool on both 3 and 30 year-olds you can easily see why punishment is lowest of the Pillars.  While it is certainly effective, even to the point of 100% effective, in accomplishing its first 2 goals, punishment alone is very hit or miss in effectively accomplishing its last and most important goal - at times being disastrously counterproductive.

Deterrence: Lowering likelihood of potential future offenses

What is the reason behind the rhetoric of Justice being swift, hard, and exact?  One reason is to make an example of the offender, to show society what happens to a person who violates his or her social contract.  This is only slightly more effective than direct punishment on the individual because people as a group are more easily swayed, whether for the good or the bad.  To illustrate, just think back to when you were a child and someone caught a beating for being bad; whether you believed you were at risk of receiving a beating yourself, everyone who witnessed the beating observed a cautionary period of silence and angelic behavior, avoiding coming into the line of sight of any adult.  Sometimes in society the dividing line between good and bad is just the reticence to risk exposure and undergo punishment.  While not an ideal way of operating a civil society, as people have already agreed not to commit wrongdoing, it keeps a certain amount of bad things from happening when civilized people stray from the path.  Therefore, Justice has to be sufficiently imposing without losing its fairness or love.  That is a tough bill to fulfill.  Enough people will not be deterred in totality especially if the rewards outweigh the risks (in the case of the amoral), or the risks never enter into the equation before they commit the offense (in the case of the insane or immature).  The system cannot make retribution pervasive or severe enough to be effective without derailing Justice.  Society could impose mandatory life and death sentences for every offense, yet criminality would persist and likely the grave nature of crimes by willful offenders would likely index itself to the monumental risk now inherent in wrongdoing.  Deterrence has a role but is still far from the bedrock principle of Justice.

Censure: Incapacitating singularly dangerous or unrepentant persons

Here we begin to get closer to the heart of the social contract, for which Justice ideally ensures not only everyone's compliance but surety in so complying.  A society without Justice is the equivalent of depositing your money in a bank with no physical or electronic security where none of the deposits were insured.  What incentive would you have to do such a thing, and what would stop an unscrupulous person from taking all your money?  Living in society we deposit some of our liberty and resources into the society in return for all the benefits of being a member of that society.  Justice is the security and insurance protecting that investment.  As a member of society when something goes wrong, a system is in place to deal with the wrong.  When censure is factored into the equation, Justice becomes like a firewall or anti-virus on your computer, keeping members of society safely over here and the former members of society who have broken their contracts that are now a risk to a safe, secure society isolated from them.  In a civilized society declaration of war or the execution of Justice are the only two legal and moral means the system can employ to restrict a person's right to "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness."  Unsurprisingly, censure is one of the most easily abused and unbalanced aspects of Justice.  Stripping a citizen of their rights, freedoms, and remaining liberties, making them a sub-citizen or non-citizen is a condition that should be reserved for only the most singularly significant threats to the safety and security of society as demonstrated by either the immense nature of their wrongdoing or their unrepentant history of continual wrongdoing.  Far too often (in the use of censure) Justice careens off the track and crashes into something more closely resembling injustice, vindictiveness, or tyranny.

Rehabilitation:  Reforming, reeducating, and reintegrating offenders into society

Rehabilitation ascribes to the philosophy that no one should be automatically seen as a lost cause, that all members of society are important to society even the ones that have been temporarily removed due to their wrongdoing, and that the primary role of Justice is to continually shape society into a more perfect version of itself.  As such rehabilitation is somewhat at odds with the first 3 Pillars of Justice.  Why?  Because if you're giving someone the beating of their life, if you're beating that person bad enough to discourage anyone from doing what he or she did to incur your wrath, if you're beating them so badly his or her descendants to the third generation have traumatic memories of the beating, then you are probably not going to ever win that person back over to your side.  In fact you should probably look over your shoulder and sleep with one eye open until that person converts to Buddhism, and even then you probably should remain vigilant.  According to the high-minded individuals who came up with the idea of the penitentiary, the penitents would sit and contemplate how bad their actions were and how good they should have been, when they weren't being forced to do menial tasks or labor.  However, when you factor in mandatory punishments, harsh sentences, harsher prison conditions, lack of societal care, lack of hope, and dim prospects of success upon possible reintegration it becomes more likely the institutionalized mind spends more of its time contemplating bitterness, survival, and additional acts of wrongdoing.  This inverse reaction to a skewed application of Justice in tandem with societal factors external to the criminal justice system, leads to the levels of recidivism (repeat criminality) that plagues society and leads some to believe that rehabilitation is a lost cause.  Recidivism, however, should not be seen as an indictment against rehabilitation itself.

The purpose of a society is to accomplish as a people what we cannot accomplish as an individual.  As an individual one may or may not be able to forgive a wrongdoer for his or her actions, but if as a people a genuine opportunity presents itself to do just that, it must be seized.  A productive, law-abiding citizen contributing to society and honoring his or her commitment to the social contract is preferable to the alternatives available if you removed rehabilitation from Justice.  Not everyone can be or will be rehabilitated.  Not all reform is genuine, not all reeducation sticks, and not all efforts at reintegration are successful.  Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon society in the pursuit of Justice not to overlook opportunities to interject compassion, mercy, and forgiveness where it appears to be deserving.  This allows for healing both for the wronged and the wrongdoer.  Nothing good can grow sans healing, for without it society can only fester, decay, and die from its wounds.

Equity: Securing fairness

Fairness is the very foundation of the social contract, and for that reason it is no wonder it is so important to the concept of Justice.  Depending on how you reckon the issue, achieving equity might be the most difficult and least realized component in the pursuit of Justice.  As humans we are not clairvoyant, we cannot read minds or hearts, humans are not perfect, and no situation involving humans is perfect either.  Despite this, the rules by which we govern ourselves must strive to be and do all these things.  Creating equitable outcomes for all involved (the wronged, society, and the wrongdoer) is the hallmark that Justice has been served.  A Just solution may not be an amiable or satisfying solution but it must be fair; otherwise, the system fails in totality.

Restoration: compensating victims of an offense

This is the most important pillar because it deals with the most personal part of the social contract.  Whenever one individual violates his or her agreement one or more persons are harmed and thus, suffer a loss - even if that victim is only the offender his or herself.  In order to maintain universal buy-in to the social contract, anyone who suffers a loss should be compensated for that loss, and rightfully so.  No one should be forced to be incomplete due to the actions of another when the system can make that aggrieved person whole again.  This is a perfectly reasonable notion, yet execution of Justice becomes problematic when one is made incomplete by a loss of life.  How does an offender or the system make another person whole again after that, how do you compensate someone for the death of another?  That damage cannot be undone scientifically or in any practical method of merit when weighed against the value of a human life.  The Justice system has tried to assess a monetary value to a persons' life earnings, to their societal impact, to their emotional/spiritual value, yet no amount of money can replace someone or bring them back from the dead.  Eternal censure through permanent incarceration or death has also been promoted as a mode of recompense, yet again - neither bring back nor replace the dead.

At some point a line has to be drawn between vengeance, the righteous and loving pursuit of Justice, and vindictiveness, the unbalanced and relentless misapplication of will in an effort to assuage fear, anger, pain, or shame.  When someone has been thoroughly punished, their incarceration deters no one, they no longer need to be censured, they have been rehabilitated, the statute that keeps them incarcerated is not equitable, and neither they nor society can restore the victim - why continue to punish the reformed individual?  Is that not the essence of "cruel and unusual?"  When a statute no longer or never serves any one of the Pillars of Justice, Justice is no longer being served.  The system creates a new victim, a political prisoner or worse a casualty, and the offender now becomes the State.  This is Injustice.

Unfortunately, Justice cannot correct the societal ills which corrupt its efforts to be exact and precise, and it cannot correct itself without external force applied by passionate citizens.  Far too often what passes for Justice is not fair, has little effect on criminality, and does too little towards making the offender and the wrongdoer whole again.  However, with decisions like the Supreme Court decision and the Michigan decision we as a people have been given an opportunity to examine what motivates us in the pursuit of Justice, redress long-standing policies that have only left us socially and morally impoverished, and begin to repair a long broken criminal justice system.  In the years to come, after thoughtful deliberation and planning, thousands of individuals residing in America's correctional system who made horrible mistakes as children and were once condemned to never exist outside the walls of a prison but have since reformed will be reintegrated back into society and given a second chance on life.  This will not be a satisfying or amiable solution to many, but when those reformed individuals are made whole again Justice will be served.

"Civilization" by Justice from Audio, Video, Disco released 2011 on Ed Banger/Because/Elektra

Comment, share, and be sure to follow me on Twitter: @RConradBane.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Song In My Heart: Good Love Gone Bad

File Under: Hearing Is Believing

In honor of Valentine's Day being tomorrow I will be giving homage to love via song - Bane style.  Today is a toast to one night stands, inappropriate love affairs, stalking, sexual innuendo, and settling for second best - tunes that one way or another became some of the most popular love songs ever, that really should never have been at all.  This is not a list of the worst love songs ever, because they each rocked in their own way, but definitely this could be a list of the most inappropriate love songs of all time.

I'm crazy for your love.  Literally.

Stephen Stills summarizes the free love movement
Today it would go something like this: "Hey, your husband is on an oil rig?  Well, my wife is in Afghanistan.  Let's do it!"

"Love The One You're With" by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills released 1971 on Atlantic

A.K.A. "If You Don't Know That You Should Leave"
In the best thing off Bon Jovi's baffling turn as country music musicians, Jon Bon Jovi asks an old flame, "We both know this is a bad idea but seeing as we're already drunk, do you want to have sex?"

"(You Want To) Make A Memory" by Bon Jovi from Lost Highway released 2010 on Lost Highway

Bad Lieutenant
We are just going to pretend he left her shivering in the rain.  Yup...

"Don't Stand So Close To Me" by The Police from Zenyatta Mondatta released 1980 on A&M

The Innuendo Song
This is supposed to be a sweet, innocent song about lifelong love, but we all know what he is talking about.  Wink, wink.

"Can't Fight This Feeling" by R.E.O Speedwagon from Wheels Are Turnin' released 19845 on Epic

"I'll be stalking you.  Whore."
This song screams: play this at your wedding.

"Every Breath You Take" by The Police from Synchronicity released 1983 on A&M

Isn't being a sleaze sex-ay?
"Shhh, keep it down; my wife and kids are trying sleep."  As many times as I had to hear this painful track in 2006-7, listening to it again enough times to find a HQ, commercial free version without stupid pictures was by far the most painful part of this whole exercise.  These are the things I do for you, my faithful followers, because I love you so much.  Now join me in my misery and click on the video.

"Lips Of An Angel" by Hinder from Extreme Behavior release 2006 on Universal Republic

The Murder-Suicide Song
It doesn't sound so bad with catchy lyrics and a nice beat.  The Human League should also write:  "Don't You Like Poverty," "Totalitarianism is Fun," "Who Needs The Second Amendment Anyway?" and "No Means Yes."

"Don't You Want Me" by The Human League from Dare released 1981 on Virgin

Friends with benefits and a crying clause
Not sure if I am in love with you or not, but I am definitely super horny right now.  MAJOR CAVEAT:  If you leave the door open, the whole damn deal is off in the future.

"Your Love" by The Outfield from Play Deep released 1985 on Columbia

Somebody call Chris Hansen.
The title says it all.  Pedo-Bear!

"Young Girl" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap from Young Girl released 1968 on Columbia

P.S.: Did anyone else notice that The Union Gap does not have a brass or string section?

You got someplace better to be?
The original ode to one-time nocturnal amorous indiscretion by the balladeer with the most epic beard in rock'n'roll history.

"We've Got Tonight" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band from Stranger In Town released 1978 on Capitol

Fantasize about your best guy friend having sex...
Nothing creepy about that, it should make a catchy pop song.  Every man needs an anthem, Rick Springfield wrote one for "that guy."  Promptly the next year the first ever Man Council of the Brotherhood of Men was convened to codify Man Law and the subsequent ratification of the Bro Code in the years to come.

"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield from Working Class Dog released 1981 on RCA

Flesh and blood partners are so analog.
How we all came to be here today.  The song that foreshadowed internet porn, internet dating, and chat room sex.

"Computer Love" by Zapp & Roger from The New Zapp IV U released 1985 on Warner Bros.

The Ultimate Valentine's Day Gift of All Time

'Til death do us part, and here is how much I mean it.

There you have my list of some of the most inappropriate songs about love ever.  Did I miss some?  Let me know on the Facebook group page, The Office of R. Conrad Bane and be sure to follow me on Twitter: @RConradBane.  I leave you with a bonus tune, not exactly a love song you associate with this holiday per se but probably one of the cutest, most endearing, and most inappropriate songs ever: Deano's version of The Date Rape Song.

"Baby, It's cold Outside" by Dean Martin from A Winter Romance released 1959 on Capitol

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pontificating On The Pontiff

File Under:  What Condition Our condition Is In

There has been much talk about names, reputations, and legacies in the news.  The President asks Congress and the nation how will we be remembered for our actions in the wake of a national tragedy that has been repeated far too many times.  Serial murderer Christopher Dorner, labeled as a terrorist, has resorted to acts of violence in a one-man war against those who defamed his named.  In the wake of the announcement by leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, that he will be leaving office due to health concerns, media outlets like The Huffington Post are asking: "What will be the lasting memory of Benedict XVI?"

Benedict XVI was a major confidant of the former Pope and the former Cardinal tasked with bringing priests in-line with Biblical doctrine and bringing sexual crimes to a halt.  Over the past four decades plus, the Catholic Church has not taken nearly enough decisive and demonstrative action to isolate and expose the culture of sexual misconduct among its parish leaders.  In fact, rather than seek justice for victims or protect future victims evidence would suggest that it has instead taken vastly more significant action to shield the Church from the repercussions of this scandal.  Logic dictates, Benedict XVI is at best very terrible at investigating things and at worst either directly or after the fact complicit in the systematic rape and abuse of thousands of children.

This accusation is perfectly fine to make.  However, looking to the Pope for a solution for institutionalized child abuse in the Church is like patching the roof of your home to fix water leaking into your basement from a faulty foundation.  This ignores many things.  Foremost among them is that child abuse is not just a sin, it is a social problem and a crime everywhere human rights are observed.  The fact that every priest in the United States who has ever touched a child has not served some time either in prison or on probation, and is now a registered sex offender means that the cover up was not isolated to the bishops and higher.  Without even getting into the culture of shame, guilt, denial and repression surrounding sexual misconduct and organized religion, the Penn State scandal showed us that intelligent, college-educated adults won't even go directly to the police when they see a crime committed with their own eyes, but will instead pass the information (read: responsibility and moral imperative) on to someone else -- then continue to say and do nothing days, weeks, months, and years after the criminal remains in their midst.  When a child is being abused this is not a matter of prayer this is a matter of law (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13-17).  If you want to see a child-molester removed from office: listen to the child, report the offender, and prosecute him or her to the fullest extent of the law.  At that point, what is their for a Pope to cover up?  Will he wave his Papal hands and say this is not the child-molesting priest you are looking for?

To the extent a leader does not take the lead on any issue, that leader has failed as a leader.  Benedict XVI does not get a pass for not taking the lead on this.  He should have been crusading around the world in the Popemobile beating bishops and priests with his bejeweled scepter, or paying a much younger and healthier person to do so on his behalf.  His solution to the problem was to make child abuse canonically illegal, encourage priests to be holy, and do penance (think about their sins).  That's a second major problem.  Child abuse or any other sort of sexual immorality was already canonically illegal, being holy did not stop the priests in the first place, and thinking about sinning is exactly what got them in the problem in the first place.  The Church from the parish to the Pope did not want to admit it needed secular help, to abdicate not one iota of its power or sovereignty, in solving a problem faith alone could not conquer.

Guilt, shame, anger, and sadness over the violation, the human wreckage, and the impotence you feel for having not done something or the idea you will not be able to do something in the future makes you want to bring the problem anywhere but home.  You want a solution, you want someone to answer for this thing or that, and you want the problem to go away.  However, relying on the Pope or any singular person to rectify a systemic problem is a fail-fail scenario because top-down solutions rarely if ever work, because they do not have the endorsement and involvement of the people.  When a solid bottom-up solution is backed by clear, strong leadership, then you have the potential for a legacy of sweeping change -- not just for the man but for the people he represents.

One man did not harm all those children, one man did not cover up their suffering - an entire church did, and entire society did.  In the grand scheme, it does not matter what The Pope stands for, allows, believes, teaches, says, or does.  It matters what the people of the Catholic Church stand for, allow, believe, teach, say, and do.  The same for any faith, belief, or ideological principle. It is the individual believers, the individual citizens of nations that matter - not the figurehead they dress up for ceremonial pageantry.  Jesus Christ of Nazareth claimed to be the divine Son of God here to end corruption in the Church of his day and save humankind.  Jesus died in 33 C.E. with a fistful of followers, and it was his followers who would go on to change the world.  In the end Benedict XVI legacy will be inconsequential, he will be remembered about as well as people remember who was Pope during The Crusades, The Inquisition, or The Holocaust.  Because one man cannot sway, let alone stand down tyranny or end child abuse, even if he claims to be the direct link to God on Earth.  But 1.2 billion Roman Catholics certainly can.

"Worn" by 10th Avenue North on The Struggle released 2012 on Reunion

End the culture of shame, guilt, denial and repression surrounding child abuse.  Let that be the legacy of our generation.  Please comment and share.  Visit me on Facebook, The Office of R. Conrad Bane and follow me on Twitter: @RConradBane.