Mental Illness and Guns

The mass shooting Parkland finally seems to have more legs than any other recent mass shooting (for more on that, read my blog from yesterday, said the attention whore).  It’s been a week and it’s still in the news cycle, and it shows few signs of slowing down thanks to those meddling kids.  However, there’s starting to be a default to where the discussion about this shooting is going to, at least for the people who don’t want to talk about gun control in any way: mental illness.  NRA spokesghoul Dana Loesch is already trying to distance her fiendish organization from blowblack (recoil?) by blaming mental illness, and law enforcement for not keeping the gun out of the hands of this mentally ill kid.  You’re going to hear “mental illness” quite a bit over the next month or so.  But is Nikolas Cruz really mentally ill?

Perhaps he is.  Perhaps he is/was just really fucking pissed off, which I understand.  I get really fucking pissed off occasionally.  Thing is, I’m also almost 50 years old and I’ve learned other ways of dealing with it than shooting up a school or my workplace.  I’m not trying to degrade Cruz or somehow idiotically make myself look better by comparison.  I’m pointing this out because I actually am mentally ill, and I don’t want myself and people like me to be the newest scapegoat.

I’m not going to get into any specifics about my mental illness…ah, fuck it, yes I will.  I have depression and anxiety and I deal with that shit on a daily basis.  I spent 20 years in the military and the last ten of those years, when the depression and anxiety were really kicking in, I did nothing about it because at the time getting help for mental help issues in the military was looked at as a weakness.  Well, at least I imagined it was so (and that could have been the illness being Emperor Palpatine in my head, trying to keep itself alive).  I hope that if that was the case, it’s changing.

Shortly after I retired, I let the depression and anxiety have a field day and it culminated in an incident that only a very few of my closest friends know about and I’m still reluctant to talk about.  You might be able to guess what it was.  After that incident, I was forced to confront what I had and figure out how to deal with it.

I’ve been doing that ever since.  It’s been nine years now and I’ve been fairly successful but it’s tough and it’s a daily battle in a war that I’ll apparently fight the rest of my life.  Some days I win the battle, some days I lose, but the battle is always there.  Medications help, but goddamn, do I hate taking them every day, regardless of knowing that they help.

I bring this up because I now know that I’m not unique and I’m not alone.  Lots of people deal with these battles every day.  Mental illness isn’t necessarily shitting in your hand and rubbing it in a stranger’s face, or yelling at ghosts only you can see.  There are millions of people (I’m guessing) dealing with mental illness every day and doing a pretty damned good job of it.

With all of that said, I could go just about anywhere and buy just about any gun I want.  I choose not to.  One, because I have no desire to harm anyone else.  Two, because I have a daughter in my house and I know the stats; the hypothetical gun is much more likely to harm her than an intruder.  Three, my wife doesn’t want a gun in the house.  All three of those reasons are of equal importance.

I just wanted to shed a bit of light on mental illness.  Throwing some cash at “mental illness,” while helpful in other ways, won’t solve our gun problem by itself.  Should Nikolas Cruz have had a gun?  Hell no!  The repeated warning signs were there and it’s easy to say this shooting could or should have been prevented.  Let’s just not blame it on mental illness when it seems to be more of an anger issue.  If anger is a mental illness, then perhaps none of us should have guns.

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Won’t Somebody Think About the Kids?!

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I’m sure you’ve already heard and or read plenty about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  Another school put on the nationwide map because of a tragedy that may have been prevented.  According to a widely quoted statistic, there have been 18 school shooting in the US so far in 2018.  That’s a misleading statistic, though: that includes all times a gun has been discharged on a campus, not just fatalities.  I’m not saying that makes it better, but hey, let’s be accurate.

That said, the US still leads the world in school shootings, however you count them.  The only other things the US is still #1 in are prescription drug commercials on TV and idiots who think they can tell other people how they should protest, well, anything.  That’s what I want to discuss.

This shooting is a bit different than the ones we’ve had the rest of this year, or last year, or any time I can remember since Columbine.  This time, the kids in the school are speaking out.  They’re getting political and calling for changes in gun laws.  They’re speaking up and speaking out for the first time that I can remember and dammit, more power to them.  We’ve heard so many stories about how bad this generation is.  Well, now they’re showing us they have some fire and they’re getting involved.  When I was in high school the only thing that would have gotten me to protest was if D&D was banned or Rave Up Records was shut down.  I applaud the young adults actually giving a shit about what happens around them and discovering their power.

But…

As I was driving home from work tonight I couldn’t help but think: what if these youts (yes, intentional) were protesting abortion in front of a Planned Parenthood Clinic?  Suck on that, Mr. Liberal who loves hypothetical questions!  What if they were protesting DACA or, good lord, shouting for MORE guns, armed teachers, and whatnot?  What if Bill O’Reilly was pledging cash to support a March for AK-17s for Kids?  Where’s your smugness now, cuck?

Obviously, my inner dialogue hates me.  But, it brings up a point worth pondering: am I with these teens only because I agree with their cause, and if it was something I was against would I be the old fart telling them to STFU and do their schoolwork?

The answer is, I don’t know.  I’ll go out on a limb and say possibly not.  I’d hope that I could be fair-minded enough to support their right to protest what they want to protest, regardless if I agreed with their cause.  I’d like to think I’m fair like that.

But…I’m not.  I’m sure I’d be telling myself that these are just stupid kids who have been brainwashed by their Fox News parents and that they don’t really know what they want.

However, I cling to the hope that I’d still support their right to protest for what they believe in, no matter how vehemently I disagreed.  I’m not looking for moral superiority, I’m just looking for enough of a sliver of consciousness to let me sleep a bit better at night.  By writing this, I’m forcing myself to confront my prejudices and hopefully eradicate some of them.

That said…go, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students!  Make a difference.  My generation and the one before it is leaving you with a hell of a mess and you should be pissed off.  Take charge.  I’ll be rooting for you, as long as I agree with you.

A Bit of Positivity

In “Full Metal Jacket” Pvt. Pyle summed it up best right before he blew his brains out: “I am…in a world…of shit!”  I’m not saying it’s that bad, but there is a lot of negativity in the world right now and it’s easy to get caught up in that (Seriously, fuck you, Trump.)  But before you have to put on some hip-waders to stumble through that world of shit, take a moment to focus on the positive.  For me, there’s no better way to do that than through music and because I’m a giver, here’s a song from the past that very few people will remember.  Click the link, turn it up, and I guarantee that by the second chorus you’ll be in a better mood and singing along.  Seriously, folks, crank it up and have a good day.  You deserve some sunshine.

My platform for presidency, 2016

By now you’ve already made up your mind who you’re going to vote for, unless you’re a knuckle-dragging troglodyte.  Seriously, who are these undecided voters every year, and why do they have so much power relative to those who have already made up their minds?  Anyway…you can vote for Hillary, or Trump, or Johnson (#SlipAJohnsonIntoTheWhiteHouse, remember who started that [me]), or Stein.They are the valid, traditional candidates.

Or, you can write in a candidate, as in, me.

Before you brush me off, understand that America has a rich tradition of write-in candidates being successful.  OK, perhaps not rich.  Actually, it’s piss-poor but some notable politicians have had success through this route.  Herbert Hoover, FDR, Nixon, and JFK all won presidential primaries through write-ins.  So, there’s precedent.

With that established, why would you vote for me?  I’m glad you asked, hypothetical person.  Here is my platform, guaranteed to sway you to my candidacy.

  1.  I’d be a one-term only president.  If I can’t get my shit done in one term, why would you want me around for a second?  This also guarantees I’ll focus exclusively on my job, being president and stuff.  No campaigning halfway through my term.  All it takes is one term for me to get those sweet ex-president benefits for life, and I’d love to have those.  My presidential library would be the tits.
  2. I’d convince Joe Biden to have some sort of role in my presidency.  Joe goddamned Biden, man.  I could get him and Andrew W.K. to be the official Party Ambassadors of the US.  I could have Joe be co-president, instead of veep.  I could just keep him around for the photo ops, the soundbites, and his all-around Joe-ness.  The more I think about it, his job would be just to be Joe Biden.  Kinda like on all of those albums in the 80s that listed in the credits “John Kalodner: John Kalodner.”  Joe’s job would be to just be Joe.  Joe Biden: Joe Biden.
  3. My first Executive Order would be to establish Line Monitors in every store or place that has a queue.  I would train the first batch and then they’d train the next, and so on.  Line Monitors would determine which of two (or four, or six; always an even number) lines you would get it: fast lines or slow lines.  Determinations would be based on age, method of payment, familiarity with using method of payment, items in cart, whether you’re using coupons, if you have annoying kids with you, and so on.  White people, my people, would love me for this and would want to declare me dictator for life.
  4. Infrastructure and education.  Both of those need serious attention.  Put Americans (and immigrants, they pay taxes too) to work rebuilding our country.  It needs it.  Invest in education as well, and this includes trade schools.  If you want to go to college or you want to go to welding school, we’ll help you out.  I’ve spent a lot of time in college and I’ve spent a lot of time working on aircraft and my cars, and in my yard.  I can appreciate all of that.
  5. Less war.  War sucks, period.  Sometimes it’s required but often it’s not and I’d err on that often side as much as I could.  Diplomacy would always be the first and foremost option.
  6. New national holidays, and goodbye to an old one.  The First Day of Baseball would be a holiday, it would be on a Monday, and every team would play.  Alternately, if you’re not a fan of baseball you can take the first day of your chosen sport off instead, or if you’re not a fan of sports you can pick a random day.  This would serve two purposes: recognizing baseball, and getting rid of that dreadful stretch from mid-February through July 4th with no national holiday.  Government workers and military, you know what I’m talking about.  Heck, to make it more appealing to the kids these days that I’m so old I no longer understand, just call it Game Day and then you can sit at home and play video games.  I’d also make every voting day a holiday.  I know that doesn’t mean people would automatically get it off, but it would help.  Finally, to balance things out I’d get rid of Columbus Day or at least change it to something like Kung Fu & Pizza day, because everyone loves at least one of those.
  7. I want this job for the right reasons.  Financially, and everything else-ly, it would be a huge step up.  I’m not power-hungry or vainglorious.  I just want the perks, and I want to make America a little bit better in my wake.  I think that America is still pretty good right now, but just like all of us it has flaws that need to be corrected.
  8. We need a bald guy with tattoos who has made a few bad choices in office.  Man oh man, am I that guy.  I’ve fucked up enough that I know what not to do as well as what to do.  I can relate to just about everybody except the rich people, and screw them anyway.  They don’t need relating to.  The other day on Facebook a friend posted an image that said something like “Money can’t by happiness buy poverty can’t buy anything.”  Or, to quote David Lee Roth, “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it.”  So what I’m saying is, rich people can self-soothe.  I’m here for the rest of you.
  9. My inauguration.  Man, it would be kick-ass.  I’d have Mike Trout throw out the first pitch for no reason.  I’d have Van Halen with Sammy AND Dave.  Joe Biden would be there.  There would definitely be dwarfs.  Id’ wear Miami Vice-era clothes.  At some point I’d probably throw up and show my man-tits (in no particular order) because I can’t handle my booze.  My first morning as president would be spent doing jack-shit for the country because I’d be recovering from a hangover.  Somebody would probably die.

I could go on, but you get the point.  Write me in.  You know I’d do a better job than anybody currently on the ballot.

Fucking white people

My chosen title reminds me of the importance of interpretation.  To clarify, this isn’t a blog about having sex with white people (perhaps a topic for another time).  It’s about my frustration with my race.  Fucking white people, man.  It just came to a head for me today when I read yet another #alllivesmatter post.  For some reason, I finally realized why that hashstag bugs me so much, and it boils down to one thing:

Fucking white people.  Again, I’m not talking about having sex with them.

#alllivesmatter is the death-rattle of self-importance for people who have been the center of the universe for the last thousand years or so.  It’s whiny and petulant.  It’s a reaction to #blacklivesmatter, and it should stop but it won’t.  Some white dude read #blacklivesmatter and saw the writing on the wall, felt excluded, and had to react by showing everybody that whitey is still here.  We’re losing ground, but we’re still here.  Eh,  we had quite a run but our time is getting short.  Que sera sera.

#blacklivesmatter isn’t excluding white people.  It’s just saying that black lives also matter.  It isn’t saying any or all other lives don’t matter.  It’s a reaction to being more frequently targeted by police, an expression of frustration.  It’s not saying #whitepeopledontmatter.  It’s saying that black people do matter.  Is it really that difficult to comprehend?

Fucking white people, man.  Sometimes, we’re the worst.

In Praise of Step-Parents

First off, happy Father’s Day (a day early) to all of you dads out there, be you step- or non-hyphenated.  I know several good dads of both stripe and at one time (and perhaps again soon) I will be one of both.  Before I was a dad, I was a step-dad.  I have two wonderful grown daughters who mean more than they realize to me, but to be honest I’ve been a terrible father to them for a few years now.  Minimal contact with them, almost no contact with their children; I even have difficulty remembering their birthdays and I haven’t been much for giving them presents on the appropriate occasions.  I hope to change at least some of that soon, with their help and understanding.

But, enough about me for the moment, let’s get to the real reason for this post: to give step-parents their due.  It’s a tough job, and it can be made even tougher by certain circumstances (more on that in a bit).  I had it fairly easy; I had no other father to compete with or to measure up against and I did the best I could.  I hope and think that I made a positive impact on their lives.  That’s still not an easy gig but it’s easier than the other type of step-parenting: the one with other natural parents involved.

That’s the second reason I’m writing this, to give some much-deserved credit to my lovely wife who falls into this category.  She’s a step-mom to my daughter – our daughter – and she has to do that on an every-other-weekend basis.  It’s tough, being a step-mom or step-dad when the mom or dad is there.  You have to establish a bond with the child and keep reestablishing it.  It shouldn’t be a competition but in a way it is.  It’s a long road to establish trust and earn respect.  My wife has done it with our daughter and she’s gone through some minor forms of hell along the way, and there are still gonna be bumps in the road ahead (Zoe just turned 13…yeesh.  A teenager.).  She’s stuck by me through all of this and she deserves all the credit in the world, something I don’t give her enough of.  Vanessa, you do a great job and I’m glad I have you (and your family) in my life to help me raise Zoe.  I can’t imagine doing it without you.

So to my wife in particular and all the good step-parents in general, I tip my cap like Mike Scioscia to you.  It’s a difficult thing to do and you do it voluntarily, and you make so much of a difference.  Keep up the good work.

Election 2016: Punishment boner versus leaky nipples versus more of the same

So here we are in another election year and our choices for president have winnowed down enough that we can reasonably say that only a few people left have a shot at being our next president.  As usual, it’s an uninspiring bunch.  There are five clowns left in the car; let’s take a look at them.

First and least likely, Ted “Zodiac” Cruz and John “Mitt 2016” Kasich.  Let’s talk about Raphael “Ted” Cruz.  My wife and I have a dog that none of the other dogs like.  She’s a sweetheart and she loves to play but the other dogs just won’t let her into their doggie club.  She’s kind of like Ted Cruz, except that she’s a loveable dog and Ted Cruz is perhaps the Zodiac Killer and nobody likes him.  I bet even Ted’s wife is not-so-secretly repulsed by him.  I used to think that to become president you needed to have at least a smidgen of charisma but Ted (and Hillary) are disproving that theory. The only way Ted gets the nomination from the republicans is if they have a brokered convention and decide to give the election to the democrats, perhaps as payback for when the democrats threw John Kerry out there (see again my faulty theory about potential presidents needing charisma).  So, let’s rule him out.

John Kasich is the bona fide republican (see his record on women’s issues if you have any doubts) who is trying to straddle the line of appealing to both the lunatic fringe republican voters and the occasional moderate.  He adopts an “aw shucks!” mentality but you know it’s a fake.  He may be the republicans’ only hope, though.  Ted is unelectable and if Trump doesn’t get the nomination the republican party will shatter like my hopes of the Angels winning another world series do every October since 2002.  If he is the nominee then all republican hell has broken loose.

With these two out of the way, let’s focus on the three that have a legitimate chance.

More of the same.  AKA Hillary Clinton.  She’s like Bill but without the charisma (there’s that word again) and with twice the arrogance.  She’s everything that’s wrong with modern politics and if she’s the democratic nominee I still hope she wins only because of the potential to nominate three Supreme Court justices.  That’s important.  Imagine a republican getting into office and replacing Scalia with another Scalia and then for shits and giggles getting to add two more Scalia’s to the Court.  I’d put up with Hillary for that reason and that reason alone.

That said, I loathe her.  This election cycle, even more so than 2008, has shown us just how horrible and power-hungry she is.  I get that to be president of the United States you have to be something of an egomaniac.  It’s a thankless job that ages you rapidly and has you constantly hated by roughly half of the population.  I wouldn’t want to be president; I’d be much better suited as a tyrant or dictator.  But Hillary, that dame wants to be president so fucking bad.  She wants that legacy of being the first female president and she thought it was hers in 2008, and once again in 2015.  Then came Obama and leaky nipples (more about him next) and we saw Hillary turn from Dr. Jekyll into Missus Hyde, and it’s ugly.  She’s once again cloaked in desperation and that’s the worst thing you can wear.

As an aside: I don’t by into any of the republican-led Hillary scandals du jour.  Well, until the email situation, that is.  I know a little bit about security clearances and classified information (there’s no such thing, that’s a misnomer, but I digress) and what little I know tells me she should at the very least have her security clearance revoked and at most face charges for what she did.  She’s using carefully chosen lawyer-talk to dance around the issue, much like her husband did with “that depends upon what your definition of ‘is’ is.”  I hope she gets nailed for it as she deserves to, but I have my doubts, despite what seems like the FBI getting ready to drop the hammer on her.  Enough about Hillary, our next president, though.  Let’s talk about…

Leaky nipples, AKA Bernie Sanders.  Yep, Bernie Sanders is America’s leaky nipples.  He appeals to those of us that want to help others, especially if said help is presented as cost-neutral to us and only comes from people who make way more than we ever will.  As long as that milk is coming from someone else’s titties, bring it on!  I admit to liking Sanders and his message, as well as his apparent exceptional-for-a-politician integrity.  I also like that most of his promises won’t appear, at least according to him, to have any effect on me or my money.  It’s someone else’s nipples, someone who has much more milk than me.

However, I’ve been around the block a few times.  I’m 46, gonna be forty-goddamned-seven in a few months.  I’m comfortably middle-class.  I know that Bernie’s plans will eventually call for more of my milk and I’m selfish enough that I don’t want to give it up.  My milkshake brings Bernie to the yard, but for some reason, he’s gonna charge.  I don’t like that.  I could afford to lose a few more shekels but lordy, I don’t want to.  I like my shekels.  Bernie’s got the kids, he’s got the bleeding hearts, and dammit I want him to be true but I just can’t believe it.  So, that leaves me with…

The punishment boner, AKA Donald Trump.  Somebody else said it best: Trump wants to be called “Mr. President” but he doesn’t actually want to be president.  How he got this far is amazing.  Four year ago Mitt Romney was doomed by his “47%” comment.  Trump can say whatever he wants and he just keeps getting more popular.  His popularity is because he’s tapped into America’s punishment boner.  Punishment is in our DNA.  We want to punish people who have wronged us, people who we think might wrong us, and what the hell, even some innocent people just to keep the others on their toes.  Trump feeds into that.  Punish the Muslims by bombing the hell out of them, exporting them, and not allowing them into our country.  Punish the illegals by building a completely unpossible wall to keep them out.  Punish the poor and anybody who disagrees with him by calling them losers and making their lives as difficult as possible, because being poor is such a sweet gig.  Punish America itself by making Trump president.  Conan (the Barbarian, not the TV host) said it best when asked what is best in life: “crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.”  Trump represents that.  He’s Conan with the sword and America is Thulsa Doom at the temple, daring him to chop our head off.  We’ve made him what he is and he’s ready to destroy us.

Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically.  I don’t think a Trump presidency would destroy America any more than a Hillary presidency would, or a Bernie presidency.  I think he would be a disaster at foreign policy but surprisingly moderate in other areas, and he’d only do one term.  Trump is a bloviating asshole who loves himself more than anything else despite his obvious flaws, and I guess that makes him the best possible avatar for America.  We’re the country that knows we have awful fake hair but every day we manage to convince ourselves it looks damn good.  He’s the president we deserve, not the president we need.

Trouble is, none of the candidates are the president we need.  I don’t know if that person exists.  So we’re left with choosing between our punishment boner, our leaky nipples, or more of the same.  Or, you can be smug and not vote, or (best option) vote third party.

Is this really what our election has come to?  Yes, it has.  I for one can’t wait to see how 2020 tops this one.  It’s gonna be horrible, because if there’s one thing Americans do, it’s not learning a lesson.