There is a meme running around Facebook – represented by the two photos incorporated below – that equates a single, horrific shooting incident involving black on white violence with years of systematic, fatal attacks by hundreds of police on unarmed, innocent black people. The most egregious aspect of this meme is that posters often indicate they find it “funny” or “humorous.”
The amount of willful ignorance and self-righteous indignation behind this meme overwhelms me. Vester Flanagan (also known as Bryce Williams) who shot 3 unarmed individuals in a single incident By comparison over the past 15 years more than 65 unarmed persons of color have been shot by law enforcement officers. Below is only a partial listing that does not include the current year (2015) (source:

  • Rumain Brisbon, 34, Phoenix, Ariz.—Dec. 2, 2014
  • Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, Ohio—Nov. 22, 2014
  • Akai Gurley, 28, Brooklyn, NY—Nov. 20, 2014
  • Kajieme Powell, 25, St. Louis, Mo.—August 19, 2014
  • Ezell Ford, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—August 12, 2014
  • Dante Parker, 36, San Bernardino County, Calif.—August 12, 2014
  • Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, Mo.—August 9, 2014
  • John Crawford III, 22, Beavercreek, Ohio—August 5, 2014
  • Tyree Woodson, 38, Baltimore, Md.—August 2, 2014
  • Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014
  • Victor White III, 22, Iberia Parish, La.—March 22, 2014
  • Yvette Smith, 47, Bastrop, Texas—February 16, 2014
  • McKenzie Cochran, 25, Southfield, Mich.—January 28, 2014
  • Jordan Baker, 26, Houston, Texas—January 16, 2014
  • Andy Lopez, 13, Santa Rosa, Calif.—October 22, 2013
  • Miriam Carey, 34, Washington, D.C.—October 3, 2013
  • Jonathan Ferrell, 24, Bradfield Farms, N.C.—September 14, 2013
  • Carlos Alcis, 43, New York, N.Y.—August 15, 2013
  • Larry Eugene Jackson, Jr., 32, Austin, Texas—July 26, 2013
  • Deion Fludd, 17, New York, N.Y.—May 5, 2013
  • Kimani Gray, 16, New York, N.Y.—March 9, 2013
  • Johnnie Kamahi Warren, 43, Dotham, Ala.—December 10, 2012
  • Malissa Williams, 30, and Timothy Russell, 43, Cleveland, Ohio—November 29, 2012
  • Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, New York, N.Y.—September 7, 2012
  • Chavis Carter, 21, Jonesboro, Ark.—July 29, 2012
  • Shantel Davis, 23, New York, N.Y.—June 14, 2012
  • Sharmel Edwards, 49, Las Vegas, Nev.—April 21, 2012
  • Tamon Robinson, 27, New York, N.Y.—April 18, 2012
  • Ervin Jefferson, 18, Atlanta, Ga.—March 24, 2012
  • Kendrec McDade, 19, Pasadena, Calif.—March 24, 2012
  • Rekia Boyd, 22, Chicago, Ill.—March 21, 2012
  • Shereese Francis, 30, New York, N.Y.—March 15, 2012
  • Wendell Allen, 20, New Orleans, La.—March 7, 2012
  • Nehemiah Dillard, 29, Gainesville, Fla.—March 5, 2012
  • Dante Price, 25, Dayton, Ohio—March 1, 2012
  • Raymond Allen, 34, Galveston, Texas—February 27, 2012
  • Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., 31, Orange County, Calif.—February 7, 2012
  • Ramarley Graham, 18, New York, N.Y.—February 2, 2012
  • Kenneth Chamberlain, 68, White Plains, N.Y.—November 19, 2011
  • Alonzo Ashley, 29, Denver, Colo.—July 18, 2011
  • Kenneth Harding, 19, San Francisco, Calif.—July 16, 2011
  • Raheim Brown, 20, Oakland, Calif.—January 22, 2011
  • Reginald Doucet, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—January 14, 2011
  • Derrick Jones, 37, Oakland, Calif.—November 8, 2010
  • Danroy Henry, 20, Thornwood, N.Y.—October 17, 2010
  • Aiyana Jones, 7, Detroit, Mich.—May 16, 2010
  • Steven Eugene Washington, 27, Los Angeles, CA—March 20, 2010
  • Aaron Campbell, 25, Portland, Ore.—January 29, 2010
  • Kiwane Carrington, 15, Champaign, Ill.—October 9, 2009
  • Victor Steen, 17, Pensacola, Fla.—October 3, 2009
  • Shem Walker, 49, New York, N.Y.—July 11, 2009
  • Oscar Grant, 22, Oakland, Calif.—January 1, 2009
  • Tarika Wilson, 26, Lima, Ohio—January 4, 2008
  • DeAunta Terrel Farrow, 12, West Memphis, Ark.—July 22, 2007
  • Sean Bell, 23, New York, N.Y.—November 25, 2006
  • Henry Glover, 31, New Orleans, La.—September 2, 2005
  • Ronald Madison, 40, and James Brisette, 17, New Orleans, La.—Sept. 4, 2005
  • Timothy Stansbury, 19, New York, N.Y.—January 24, 2004
  • Alberta Spruill, 57, New York, N.Y.—May 16, 2003
  • Ousmane Zongo, 43, New York, N.Y.—May 22, 2003
  • Orlando Barlow, 28, Las Vegas, Nev.—February 28, 2003
  • Timothy Thomas, 19, Cincinnati, Ohio—April 7, 2001
  • Prince Jones, 25, Fairfax County, Va.—Sept. 1, 2000

To make a legitimate comparison, we must first imagine 40 or 50 similar shootings of unarmed TV news personnel by black former TV news personnel. Additionally we must imagine that in each case, the black man is protected and defended by the majority of black news personnel (as the police officers involved in shootings are protected and defended by the majority of law enforcement), and we must imagine that in more than 90 percent of the cases, the shooter is found NOT guilty of criminal charges, and we must imagine that many news outlets spend their time vilifying and denigrating the character of the victims of the shootings. If at the end of a decade of unpunished, attacks by blacks on unarmed white people, in which almost no one was found guilty and imprisoned, there were STILL NO protests, no riots, no stores looted, no fires set, then a smug, self-congratulatory meme might possibly be justified. 

I just have to get this out of my system.  This is by no means the first time I have had this thought.  It’s the first time I’ve dared to share it.

Several of my “friends” who have radically different value systems than myself (Facebook really has changed the meaning of the word “friend”), have posted things like this before. Usually I don’t even bother to follow the links. This time I did. If you want to see what prompted this little rant then you can follow the link too: The title of this little piece is “Thank You God for this Miracle.”

My problem with this (and everything like this that I hear on a ongoing basis from co-workers, neighbors, relatives, etc.) is that from where I’m sitting the role of “god” in this is to have created an enormously flawed human organism, one so flawed that if “god” had been left totally alone to do what “god” does, the child would have died within hours of birth.

However, in this case a very large number of incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable, highly educated and trained, and probably well paid, human beings (not “god”) worked day and night for months, using millions of dollars of humanly designed and manufactured high technology, to fight “god” tooth-and-nail to prevent the death of this child.

And that around the world, children of less affluent parents who actually have to depend solely upon “god” instead of human medical professionals lose their children every day.

Just saying.

Now let the hate mail begin.

I am a professional analyst of society; my training is in social research, my primary employment – my bread and butter so to speak – requires me to engage in ongoing research and analysis of social, economic, environmental and political trends. So what follows are not the observations of your ordinary citizen observer or even of a journalist (not at all sure why so many people these days accept journalists – such as Thomas Friedman – as experts on social and economic trends). I spend my days immersed in data, examining the nitty-gritty of income distribution, education attainment, crop reports, tuition costs, energy production figures, employment trends, Arctic melt patterns and extreme weather events, economic investment patterns.

What I see emerging from all this data is stark and disturbing for advanced capitalist industrial nations, but more so for the United States than countries that have made an effort to blunt the contradictions of industrial capitalism with social policy.  We are simply running out of places into which to “bury” the toxic effects of industrial capitalism.  Two types of contradictions exist within industrial capitalism: one has to do with the fact that every single successful capitalist enterprise must draw in more revenue than it gives out in wages/salaries and other costs; the second with the impossibility of the constant growth in production required by industrial capitalism meeting the barrier of finite resources.

For two hundred and fifty years we managed to avoid the first problem by finding sources of revenue that were outside the realm of industrial capitalist societies (undeveloped or underdeveloped nations), and avoid the second problem because we had yet to come close to the limits of key resources like petroleum and natural gas, or the limits of sinks for waste products like carbon dioxide and toxic chemicals. But today, there is no country where capitalist industrial enterprise has not taken hold and converted nations of peasants and artisans into wage earning laborers. And today the limits of resources like petroleum are all too visible, as are the limits of sinks for carbon dioxide and other wastes.

The United States is heading straight for an economic, social and ecological brick wall. To all those Tea Partiers who “want my country back,” I’m sorry, but your country is gone, irretrievably broken and disintegrated, and even if the majority of Americans actually wished to return to days of racial, ethnic and gender inequality that you hold with such great reverence it cannot be recovered. To all the liberals who have “Hope” for the future based on “Change,” sorry, the course is set, there’s not enough resources left to pull us out of the dive we began more than a generation ago.  The next several generations of Americans will have less in the way of material goods, less time, less energy, less ease, less of everything.  There is no changing this. Conservatives who want to reclaim the past can’t stop this from happening. Liberals who want to subsidize the future can’t stop it from happening either.

We are in the condition of “overshoot” warned against by Meadows, Randers and Meadows in their 1972 The Limits to Growth, and then again in the 1992 follow-up Beyond the Limits, and yet again in their Limits to Growth: Thirty Year Update in 2004. Industrial capitalism is the 52,000 ton Titanic. The iceberg is right in front of us. There’s no way to steer a ship of that size around the obstacle. We are going to “crash.” There’s no avoiding it.

So why not give up? Why vote? If the course is set, the disaster is unavoidable, decline is inevitable, why does it matter who wins in 2012? It does matter. Because every disaster, including the Titanic can have survivors. It matters, because the two parties have very different views on how many “lifeboats” and “life preservers” there should be and who should have access to them. I’m going to vote for the party and the candidate, that is going to do its best to make sure that both rich and poor have a chance at surviving. The party that will provide enough life boats for everyone, and won’t be excluding people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or income. Life boats may not be a luxury liner, but they are the difference between death and survival. Not everyone will survive, but I intend to vote for the party and the candidate that’s going to do it’s best to make sure that the cards aren’t stacked against those in “steerage” and in favor of those with “first class tickets.”  If you can’t figure out for whom I’m going to vote you aren’t paying attention to this election.

But a contradiction, a hypocritical contradiction. 

Know of this family…multiple members are coal miners or former coal miners or retired coal miners, and their cars and trucks sport license plates declaring them to be “Friends of Coal.” [These plates are quite popular in coal states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, etc. and represent government sanctioned fund raising for coal industry “educational programs” — read public relations and lobbying activities.] Not only are these folks “friends of coal” but they don’t think too kindly of folks who are concerned about things like toxic run-off into streams, mercury pollution from coal burning electricity plants. They’re of the opinion that if you don’t like coal you ought to stop using electricity.

But, here’s the contradiction, these folks dislike the utility company and the prices they have to pay for electricity, and have been slowly shifting from using electricity for heat and cooking to using wood.  I’ve got nothing against people trying to save money, but seems to me if you’re going around declaring yourself a friend to coal and criticizing others for not supporting the coal industry, then you damn well better pay the price of supporting the coal industry yourself by using the electricity it generates.

Out here on my limb, I have a different take on the whole not-releasing-my-taxes thing by candidate Romney.

Think about this, as polarized as the electorate is, people who are already committed to voting for Romney don’t give a hoot how much he paid in taxes. Hell most of them would probably stand up and cheer if it turns out he didn’t pay any taxes for some of the past 10 years, because that’s what they want to do themselves – not pay taxes.  People who don’t want to pay taxes are probably MORE likely to vote for a candidate who has demonstrated the ability to get out of paying taxes. 

People who are already committed to voting for President Obama will get upset about Romney not paying taxes, but they weren’t ever going to vote for Romney anyway. And unlike previous elections the number of undecided, swing voters is miniscule. The Republicans already know this, that’s why they are putting so much of their efforts into preventing people likely to vote Democratic (poor people and young people and people of color) from voting, through restrictive registration rules, voter ID rules, and narrowing the time periods when voting can take place.

So why is Romney so adamant about not releasing his taxes?  My theory is that it has nothing to do with how much income he made, or how much taxes he paid, as neither of those would affect his base.  Instead, I suspect that 1) he has income from sources that would upset his base, and/or 2) he’s given money to organizations that would upset his base. 

Given Romney’s life history, I could imagine either Romney or his wife making donations to Planned Parenthood.  It’s a charity that many moderates used to like, because PP provides so much basic health care for poor women, it took some pressure off providing tax supported health care.

Or what if the Romney’s have made significant investments in the health care industry – it’s certainly been a very profitable industry in recent decades and the Romneys are savvy investors – and some of that health care money was made health care corporations that provide or pay for abortions?

I’m telling you, that whatever it is that Romney is hiding, it isn’t how much taxes he did or didn’t pay; it is almost certainly something else, something that WOULD upset his base supporters.

I’m really sick of all the bumper stickers from “Friends of Coal” and telling me that if I don’t like Coal, I shouldn’t use electricity.  This came to me in the middle of the night as the logical extension of that sentiment:

Fiends for Coal

Moto: “Electricity from Coal – Use It or Else!”

  • Make burning wood for heat instead of paying for coal fired electricity a felony.
  • Ban all Energy Star appliances, compact florescent and LED light bulbs from homes in the coal fields.
  • Pass an ordinance that requires all thermostats to be set at 65 degrees in the summer and 78 degrees in the winter.
  • Create an energy monitoring police force to ferret out any attempts to save electricity.

The Ballot in Florida will contain the following amendment to the Florida State Constitution:

Amendment 8  “Religious Freedom”- new amendment to appear on the 2012 Florida election ballot
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution. (

This Amendment would remove language from the Florida Constitution that prohibits using public monies (largely from taxes) to aid church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution, and replaces it with language that says that

“neither the government nor any agent of the government may deny to any individual or entity the benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.”
“that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding, or other support” (

So what does that have to do with Madrasahs? This amendment is supported by Christian Conservatives and Tea Party Activists in Florida, with the intent of making public moneys available for religious schools and charitable institutions. However, to be consistent with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (as the Amendment states), ALL religions must have equal access to state funds.

I personally don’t want to see any tax payer money go to support any religious organization activities – especially when religious organizations are exempt from taxes themselves, and exempt from many laws (such as ADA requirements on hiring, promotion and firing as determined by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision).  I wonder how those supporting this Amendment to Florida’s constitution will feel about their tax monies going to ALL  religions?