I sat here for about an hour trying to put my thoughts about Minneapolis together into a blog. Then I took a break and checked my YouTube feed where I found a new video from Trae Crowder that says it so much better, and with far more dirty words than I could say.
If you’ve been around Greenfield for very long you’re sure to have heard that Greenfield is known as “Little Chicago”, a small town with a questionable reputation. All the years I grew up here I’d occasionally hear that claim. However, I must not have taken it seriously because I never felt insecure or scared while running the streets and allies as a young boy, which I did lots of.
As an adult, I’ve come to realize that there is nothing unique about Greenfield and its people. Like every other community, we have our problems and our problems are pretty much related, to the population size, educational level, and economic opportunity and income. Large cities with bad schools, high levels of ignorance, low incomes, and poor chances for advancement have the same difficulties as small rural communities. The difference is mainly the number of people. The more people the more problems. Even places that have none of these problems have problems.
Several times during his stay in the White House Donald Trump has used the phrase, “enemy of the people.” He has aimed it at his own security agencies, against all Democrats, who he now insists hate Jews, and against the media of record, which he insists is fake.
Recently Trump again raged against the New York Times, calling it the enemy of the people for an article that comes even closer to proving he has used his executive office powers to further obstruct those investigations probing deeper into his own misbehaviors.
I was listening to a conversation about justice in America. It was mentioned that Roger Stone, given his wealth and connections, walked into his arraignment and walked out a free man awaiting trial. His bail of $250,000 was set, he reached in his pocket, paid it, and walked out the door.
Riker’s Island is a jail that sits on an island in NY’s East River. It is not a prison, it is a facility where those charged, like Stone, are sent if they are unable to meet their bail. It can hold 15,000 inmates and is the 2nd largest jail/prison in America. Most of those in Riker’s have not been tried but are awaiting trial. They could be locked up for months and in the meantime, unlike Stone, end up with their jobs gone, their cars repossessed, their family’s destitute, children put in foster care, etc. They will probably suffer complete financial collapse even before their guilt or innocence is determined.
Back in the 1960s, there was a local farmer that got caught up in a check-kiting scheme. Before it was all over he had been charged with multiple felonies, several bank officials had their careers ruined, several banks either failed or came close and the farmer that started it all, to my knowledge never spent a day in jail.
That the farmer had got off scot-free the same newspaper published a below the centerfold story about a poor white woman who had written an insufficient check for a few dollars and had been sentenced to a lengthy jail term.
As nationalism continues to grow around the world the denial of the Nazi Holocaust seems to be growing with it. Sky News, a major UK news source, recently reported that 1 in 20 Brits don’t believe the Holocaust happened and another 1 in 12 don’t believe it was as serious as history reports.
As a retired history teacher, I have spent much of my life studying WWII and the Holocaust. I’ve read many books, biographies, and watch hours of original film documentation of the major death camps being liberated by Allied forces in 1945. Given all the evidence that exists I find it impossible to deny it happened and that it happened exactly as reported.
Yesterday I did a little Googling about using drones to get up and over border walls and I didn’t have to dig too far to learn that the technology exists to inexpensively smuggle large amounts of drugs into America via an air force of drones.
Drones vary widely in both price and payload. A few thousand dollars on Amazon will buy one a drone capable of carrying a payload of 12 kg. At an average street price of $200 a gram in the US a 12 kg cargo could be valued at as much as $2.4 million. For several thousand more one could buy a drone with a cargo capacity of 660 pounds. You do the math and don’t forget such a drone may be able to smuggle a couple of people over a wall.
I’m old enough to remember when Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos ruled the Philippines until the people finally rose up and ran them out. Of all they stole from the nation’s treasury the attention focused on Imelda’s love of shoes and the 2,700 pairs of high-end shoes found in her closet.
Imelda and her shoes
Jim & Tammy Faye before the fall
Jim and Tammy Bakker were another couple whose fall from grace made the news in the 1980s. Their ill-gotten wealth came from bilking the vulnerable through their evangelical television programs. When the hammer fell it wasn’t just a closet full of shoes the investigators found. It was millions in collectible cars, jewels, furs, homes, planes, luxury air-conditioned houses for their pets, and high-end mascara for Tammy’s eyes.
ONLY ONE GUN STORE: There’s only one place to officially buy guns in Mexico, and it’s on a military base. Yet gun violence is on the rise in the country. So where are the guns coming from? Mexico’s northern neighbor. An estimated 580 weapons illegally move from the U.S. to Mexico every day. Compare that to the 38 guns that the country’s sole gun store sells every day.
When I started college in the mid 1960s I decided I’d give accounting a try. After a couple of courses I discovered I had no propensity for the subject. I test drove a couple of other business courses before deciding I might be better suited for art and politics.
With this in mind you can imagine how stupefied I was in learning last evening that the US Department of Defense can’t account for $21 trillion dollars. Yeah, that’s trillion with a “T”.
Putting some perspective on this number just let me say that the entire federal government budget for 2017 was just a little over $4 trillion. The entire national debt is $19 trillion. It is estimated that the gross national product for the United States in 2018 will amount to $20 trillion. So, the DOD is missing more than the value of all goods and services produced in America during the current year.
By whatever name they’re called there are 3,142 counties in the United States. Every single county in the U.S. registered an increase in drug-related mortality between 1980 and 2014. And that rise was statistically significant in 99.8 percent of counties.
The tragedy of these facts and figures is that the obvious failure of what has become known as the War on Drugs can be traced at least back to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The war got heated in 1971 under Nixon and again in the 1980s with Reagan.
On last night’s news there was a story about a convicted felon, a black woman, who mistakenly thought she was permitted to vote in last year’s election. She found out later that Texas felons lose their right to vote and she had unwittingly broken a law. This past week a Texas court sentenced her to five years in prison. As a follow-up NBC cited several examples in which the felon was a man and got off with probation and/or a small fine.
This story reminded me of something that took place around Greenfield back in the 1960s. I was living in California at the time so I only knew what was in the local papers my parents sent me on occasion. It’s also been so long ago I don’t remember all the details.
That said, the story basically involved an area farmer who got involved in a check kiting scheme and before it was over the total dollar amount exceeded a million dollars and several area bank officials got more than a knuckle cracking.
When it was finally settled my parents sent me the local paper and the lead story stated that the farmer ended up walking out the door a free man. The irony was, immediately following this story was a short story about a local woman who was found guilty of writing a bad check and she sentenced to jail.
These are just a couple more examples of American justice not being totally blind. Too often justice turns its blind eye away from women and minorities.
Remember when Volkswagen got caught cheating on the pollution numbers about its diesel cars? Well, they had to recall about 350,000 cars, most of which are sitting on giant parking lots all across America waiting for some decision on what to do with them. In the meantime they are being fully maintained to keep them sellable. Could there be some great car deals in the months ahead?