Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Officer Derek Chauvin Was More That Just a Bad Apple

 


Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department was a walking liability and a threat to public safety long before he encountered George Floyd last summer.

In November 2013, Minneapolis police pulled over LaSean Braddock shortly after midnight as he drove home from a double shift as a mental health worker at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Braddock, 48, said he had grown somewhat accustomed to being stopped by police because his identity had been stolen and he was sometimes mistaken for the man who had been using his name. He carried paperwork with him from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as proof, he said, so the stops were usually brief: He would show the paperwork to officers; they'd review it and let him go. But the officer at his driver's side window that day stuffed the documents in his pocket without looking at them, Braddock said.

When he hesitated to get out of the car, the officer aggressively hit the driver's side window with a flashlight, Braddock said. Two officers then tried to pull him from the car before he got out on his own. 

 "Then they tried to slam me on the ground, but I was about 240 pounds," Braddock said, adding that although he still was unsure why he was stopped, he complied to avoid injury. " Then they jumped on my head and my neck and my back. I was lying flat on the ground."

More than six years later, Braddock saw one of those officers again as he watched a harrowing video of George Floyd's final moments. Derek Chauvin, Braddock said, was one of the officers who had treated him roughly. A police report from that night confirms that Chauvin was one of the arresting officers.

This speaks to the depravity of Chauvin as a person. He was a battering ram of a cop, ready to use force without provocation. How many other cases of police brutality are there? I wouldn't trust the Minneapolis Police Department to have a firm handle on those statistics in relation to Chauvin and the other officers who were present when Chauvin murdered Floyd at the intersection of 38th and Chicago in South Minneapolis. What else are we missing here?

There has to be a significant restructuring and reorganization of the police force in virtually all of our major cities. The people hired to be cops have to rise above the possibility that they might be a "bad apple" in the bunch. They have to be screened out and removed when their conduct is revealed.

That means dealing with the fact that some police unions aren't actually there to protect the rights of cops in relation to the benefits and pay provided by their municipal employers. They're there to make sure bad cops aren't held accountable. They're right wing advocacy groups, in other words, and opposed to reform. 

I'm all for raising the pay and raising the standards for who gets to be a cop. It should be a difficult process to get to be a cop, one that involves identifying anyone who might be a psychopath. It should pay well and offer some level of prestige. And I also want to see mental health workers integrated into police activity and public safety initiatives. I want those people to be paid more than they are so they can be held to a higher standard.

And if you have to raise taxes to do it, raise the fucking taxes. Do it now.

 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Goya Needs a New CEO


Hey, man - read the room:

The CEO of Goya Foods said Donald Trump is the "actual" US president nearly six weeks after President Joe Biden's inauguration.

Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue spread conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election during the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday, per CNN.

"My biggest honor today is gonna be that — I think we're gonna be on the same stage — as, in my opinion, the real, the legitimate, and the still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump," Unanue said on the conference stage in Orlando, Florida. 

Trump lost the election to Biden after losing both the popular vote and the electoral college. Elections experts and international observers found no evidence of election fraud.

Anyone who leads a corporation that depends on people actually buying a product being sold knows that a boycott can effectively cripple a brand. The Goya brand has been knocked down so badly that it is a wonder that Unanue still has a job.

I don't know why he would double down and ask people to hate the Goya brand even more than they already do. It must be something that tests well with whoever they're still trying to reach. The vast majority of the people who still support Trump are broke and wouldn't buy Goya products to save their lives. 

If there is someone advising this man, it is clear that nothing has been getting through to him. He should have made it clear where the company stands in relation to the end of the Trump Regime. Instead, he just invited more people to reject his products. Not smart.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Raise the Minimum Wage


McDonald's needs to answer for having a "secret intelligence service" after we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour:

For years, McDonald's has internally labeled activists and employees working with the Fight for $15 campaign a security threat and has spied on them, Motherboard has learned. McDonald's says that this work is designed to identify protests that "could put crew and customer safety at risk."

The fast food giant's secretive intelligence unit has monitored its own workers’ activities with the movement, which seeks to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, including by using social media monitoring tools, according to two sources who worked at McDonald's who had direct knowledge of the surveillance and leaked documents that explain the surveillance strategy and tactics. A team of intelligence analysts in the Chicago and London offices keep an eye on the activities of Fight for $15 labor organizers across the world, figure out which McDonald's workers are active in the movement, and who they are working with to organize strikes, protests, or attempt to form unions. 

No McDonald's workers are currently unionized, but many of them are politically involved with Fight for $15, which has organized fast food worker strikes and protests since 2012 and is affiliated with one of the country's largest unions. To date, McDonald's has refused to bargain with workers who the company says aren't its employees because they work for franchises. 

The surveillance is particularly notable given the current political battle being fought over a $15 minimum wage, which has been proposed in Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. An increase in the minimum wage is broadly popular nationally with both Republican and Democratic voters (and two-thirds of Americans support raising it to $15), but the proposal has become a sticking point in the stimulus legislation: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin—a critical vote in the Senate—has said he does not favor a $15 minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour for more than 10 years.

What is depressing is that all of the large chains probably have the same anti-labor, anti-raising the minimum wage mentality that needs to be addressed by ensuring that workers have the chance to organize. You can't just raise wages without raising the quality of the job itself. You do that by addressing who gets insurance benefits, paid time off, and all of the other things that collective bargaining can guarantee for people who have never had these things. That alone should motivate people to support raising the minimum wage and improving the structure of what work looks like in the 21st Century.

I am hoping that the new Biden Administration will put someone in charge of the Department of Labor who can make it easier for workers all over the country to organize. More importantly, they need to fight the disinformation campaigns that are being run to scare people into supporting efforts to block a minimum wage increase.

Raising the minimum wage does NOT kill jobs. It raises workers out of poverty. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Federal Government Must Protect Consumers From Griddy

 


This is insane:

As the Texas power grid collapsed under a historic winter storm, Jose Del Rio of Haltom City, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, saw the electricity bill on a vacant two-bedroom home he is trying to sell slowly creep up over the past two weeks. Typically, the bill is around $125 to $150 a month, he said. But his account has already been charged about $630 this month — and he still owes another $2,600.

 “If worse comes to worst, I have the ability to put it on a credit card or figure something out," Del Rio said. ”There is no one living in that house. All the lights are off. But I have the air at 60 because I don’t want the pipes to freeze.”

When he contacted Griddy, his electric company, they advised him to switch providers, Del Rio said.

This is outright theft. If there was ever a need to protect people from being taken advantage of, this is it. There should be caps on what Griddy can charge. There should be regulation as to what Griddy can do to consumers. But there aren't! That's what's so crazy about this situation.

“The last thing an awful lot of people need right now is a higher electric bill — and that’s unfortunately something a lot of people will get stuck with,” Schulz said.

Royce Pierce and his wife, Danielle, who live in Willow Park, west of Dallas, have been watching their electricity bill tick up by nearly $10,000 in the last few days for their three-bedroom home. While the family told NBC News they consider themselves lucky because they’ve had power, the financial burden has come with additional challenges.

Since the family is on a variable rate plan with Griddy, the company automatically debits the bill as they use electricity. Danielle said she closed the debit card connected to their electricity bill because Griddy wiped it out. The family has been using separate accounts and credit cards to pay for necessities as the storm goes on.

Griddy claims that they are fighting against the rate increases. Good! Fight like hell! But when you discover that Texas politicians have set up a lobbyist-friendly situation that allows a public utility to fleece consumers, that's when it is time to say enough is enough, goddammit.

I don't care what the "variable rate plan" is because I don't think anyone should have to pay these outlandish prices. Your power bill--and, for that matter, your health care bill--should not be allowed to wipe out your credit cards and your bank account. Add "variable rate utility bill" to the list of things that needs to be fixed now that there is a Democrat in the White House.

This is exorbitant and cruel in nature. The Federal government needs to step in and protect the people of Texas from predatory utility companies that have no right whatsoever to drain the life savings of anyone. And no, I don't care if it's a legal agreement between the utility and the customer or if it's something people signed away their rights for. I think the government HAS to step in when a situation gets to this level of price gouging. It is immoral and unjust.


Monday, February 15, 2021

Grover Norquist is Crying Like a Little Baby

 


One of the consequences of throwing Trump and a bunch of Republicans out of office for failing to govern is that now we get to fix the tax code. I am hoping President Biden let's Senator Elizabeth Warren stick it to the rich and signs legislation that specifically targets the wealthy. I hope they are taxed into oblivion. Let them go live in the Caribbean. Let them deal with foreign banking officials who are corrupt and will walk off with their wealth because their banks are just Ponzi schemes.

I mean, is it fair and reasonable to want people like Grover to have a big sad all over the place? I think it would be irresponsible not to hope and pray for someone to relieve him of whatever bullshit untaxed wealth he's been hoarding throughout the Trump years. The man who said that he wanted to shrink government down to the point where it could be drowned in a bathtub is now going to get super serious about regulating the behavior of America's wealthy elites. 

Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of fucking criminals.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Distractions Abound

 


Now that the Republican Party has been thrown out of power at the Federal level, it is important to watch how the bullshit culture wars are going to be obsessed over by the media while Democrats try to fix the country.

This is a classic example of a bullshit story/event/situation. Comedian and film actor Seth Rogen is an activist in the real world. He uses his social media presence to hammer home the fact that Republicans are a bunch of dicks. 

Here, he has slammed some journalist who isn't even worth naming and made it so the man's mother has to defend him. Wah, wah. Welcome to the stupidest country on Earth.

Rogen has also gone after dipshits like Ted Cruz. I am pleased with this development. I think more celebrities should pound home the indisputable fact that the Sedition Caucus of the Republican Party is full of grifters, cheats, assholes, and jackoffs.

In and of itself, if a United States Senator like Canadian-born Cruz can be completely thrown into fits of screaming and panic by something Rogen says about him, then that goddamned Senator is a worthless clown. In other words, Cruz needs to focus on the fact that he'll be in the minority for a while and his beard makes him look like a deranged circus performer with a scat fetish.

None of the things that really matter, which are economic in nature and should be organized around getting people relief, getting them jobs and better wages, and getting a COVID vaccine into their bodies, are affected by the standoff between Rogen and Cruz. But you have to credit Rogen for getting Cruz so freaked out that he is probably curled up in a sleeping bag filled with his own feces. It keeps Cruz from developing anything that resembles a coherent argument against helping the American people.

And that's a good thing.

Friday, January 29, 2021

There Are No Consequences For Losing Everything

 


What's pathetic is that nothing in this article is true, even the parts that are supposed to be:

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel grew emotional talking with former Vice President Mike Pence the day after Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol building and called for his hanging.

The Washington Post reports that McDaniel personally called Pence the day after the infamous Trump-incited riots at the Capitol led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer.

"On the phone, the next day, talking about what happened, McDaniel became emotional," the Post writes. "She wanted Pence to know he was still welcome to come to the RNC meeting. He did not go. McDaniel fought back tears."

So, the Washington Post is trying, desperately, to prop up Romney McDaniel and provide some sort of lifeline for the Republican Party. What we are watching is the implosion of the party in real time. As I have said many times to myself and out loud, how the fuck did Liz Cheney become the voice of reason? How did we end up in a place where you could amplify the batshit crazy raving and drooling of the various people who now serve in Congress as Republicans and not end up in a straitjacket?

The money is drying up. Romney McDaniel is responsible for losing the House in 2018, a Senate seat in Alabama (briefly), the Senate in 2020 and the presidency. In any other era, she would have been fired for incompetence before any of these things happened.

And yet, here we are. She's still in control of the Republican National Committee and corporate America is now waking up to the fact that the GOP is the most toxic brand in America. Martin Pharmaboy Shkreli is more marketable. The Manson Family is more well-liked. Virulent strains of herpes have broader appeal to more Americans and a better outreach to rural communities. The Republican Party is the Shingles Party, and that's only because getting shingles is easier to deal with when it shows up at your home.

Talk about job security. If you end up with a job in the RNC, you can wake up next to Don Junior, his crazy girlfriend, her lap dance chair, and eleven dead hookers in a vat filled with meth and cream cheese and you can still expect another two years of raking in the big bucks.


Saturday, January 23, 2021

And, Just Like That, Russia is Coming Apart

 


Maybe Vladimir Putin should think about living out the rest of his days in the South of France, surrounded by all of the other oligarchs. A nice pension of five rubles a day would be appropriate.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Definitely a Cult of Personality

 


Remarkable work by @erinscottphoto.

The Trump Regime is an actual cult. It is a cult of personality that resembles all the awful ones in history. There were numerous examples of this throughout Latin America and Africa as emerging nations were captured by the local kleptocrats and allowed to exist as de facto money printing schemes that enriched the people who had access to guns.

Peter Navarro is scurrying out of the White House with a useless trophy. He stumbles through the gutter, hoping no one can see what he is absconding with. Someone paid for that image to be blown up and framed, and it likely wasn't Navarro, so what you are witnessing is a case of petty theft of government property.

What does he think having that photo will do for him? Will it remind him of his time in the cult? Who will deprogram him and help him wash away the stain of failure? He joins the rest of his colleagues in leaving a White House where they thought they were tasting victory every single day.

All they got in return were ashes in their mouths. That's all Navarro is walking away with, the empty, bitter taste of failure that will cling to him forever.

John F Kennedy:

We will not prematurely or unnecessarily
Risk the course of worldwide nuclear war
In which even the fruits of victory
Would be ashes in our mouths

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Help People and Improve Their Lives

 


Rebecca Traister has it completely right and you should read her article:

It is also the starkest possible evidence that Democrats must steer straight toward the kinds of mechanisms that are this calamity’s direct and robust inverse: toward strengthening and empowering a populace, toward a governance that prioritizes dignity and care and safety and security for everyone, not just the already powerful. That means money, and a speedy, determined reknitting of a social safety net that has been maliciously unraveled over decades.

Which necessarily means governing like you are trying to save not just your own jobs but your nation and its people: from a coup, from a contagion, from the daily perils that have engulfed them for too long and from which our government has done too little to protect them.

Part of why so little has been offered to those who have needed it is that the Democratic Party, which is purportedly (if sometimes implausibly) supposed to represent the vulnerable, has approached politics and power with fear, not assuredness or moral authority.

For decades, practically since the very civil-rights (and women’s, and gay-rights) movements that provoked the hard-right backlash contractions that found their apotheosis over these past four years, Democrats have governed from a crouch. They have run nervously from the barest suggestion that they might indeed want to create a durable, inclusive republic in which government takes an active role in supporting and making life better for the governed.

I want to see the moral authority of feeding, clothing, sheltering and caring for the needs of the American people become more than just populism. I want it to be the just work of a caring nation. 

As painful as it was to see the yahoos and nincompoops overrunning the House and Senate yesterday, what's more painful is knowing that they will feel justified in their actions if we continue to ignore the needs of the American people and serve corporate interests. Their worldview isn't necessarily all about Trump. It's far more shitheaded than that. They feel justified because they have been fed a lie that says that their government has never done anything for them.

Democrats have to make it painfully obvious that someone gives a shit about people. And then we have to make sure there are no elections where people say fuck it and don't vote.

The central organizing principle of the Democratic Party should be the elimination of all forms of white supremacy. You want to take care of people and solve their problems? You can't do that until everyone gets equal treatment under the law.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Newsweek is a Media Junk Property Now

 


The quickest way to destroy the reputation of the publication that you bought is to turn it into a wingnut grievance machine and watch the money come pouring in, right?

Fucking Newsweek, what a joke.