Monthly Archives: March 2019

Dead Dog? Not Dead Dog.

So went our queries to the fourteen year old German Shepherd whenever we had to step over him or when he was passed out hard on his bed and it was real hard to tell if he was breathing. He was somewhat deaf, but we’d repeat the question until he lifted his head, as if to answer.

On Friday morning, I didn’t have to ask.

The heavy breathing coming from him was unlike any breathing I had ever heard before from anyone or anything. He was literally struggling to respire. Somehow, I knew he was going to pass. I called the wife, who immediately came home after I told her that the dog was dying. She told me to offer him a treat. He declined. I laid fresh roast beef in front of his nose. He sniffed, but was not interested in eating anymore. That was the cue that it was really over, because all dog owners know they live to eat some of your meat. And to chase a rubber ball at high speed.

We picked up the dog by picking up the bed as if it were a makeshift litter. He did not object, which was another sign that he was tired and done. After putting the dog in the back of the car we went to get the kids from school, on my wife’s advice. She said that it would have been worse had they found out when they got home and he was just gone.

We arrived at the veterinary clinic. They opened all the doors so we could bring the dog to the back room where they do euthanization. As we laid him on the table he began to jerk. His heartbeat became erratic. Weaker. Fluttery. He stopped moving, and blood began to stream from his nose. The vet said he probably had a stroke as he was dying. We thought it was done.

Suddenly he started to jerk again, but only intermittently. Agonal movements, or something like that. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t stop. I had had enough. The vet offered the consent to euthanize. I chose not to keep the ashes, not understanding the need for an urn when I have memory. I signed and the vet drew up the pentobarbital, which in case anyone is wondering renders the pet unconscious before the overdose stops the heart. All the family members laid their hands on and petted him while the needle was administered. Because that’s what you fucking do in this fucking life full of pain, and all of you people that think this world is intelligently designed can stay the fuck away from me. In an intelligent world, you obliterate and say fuck you to suffering, sorrow and death.

If you are not sure if you can be there while your pet is put down, let me say that you can. It’s the least you can do. It wasn’t grisly the way you think it might be. When it’s happening you will do anything to stop the hurt of the process of dying.

He was our unwavering friend and every time I look at the damn fireplace in the living room of this house I will always remember the bed in front of it and the good boy that laid on it.

Goodbye, Seiji.

P.S.: Reader and old friend Rob M. shared with me the passing of his dog the day after I lost mine. He read my goodbye to Seiji and decided to take his fourteen year old friend Ziggy for an extra special walk that day. Look at this good boy:

Strange coincidence! But the point of this postscript is that you must show love to those who you love every day, because sometimes tomorrow is too late.

The Big Comedown

I’m the political junkie in the house. But my wife has been startlingly prescient about which way things are gonna break these days. It’s amazing; how does she do it? She has a core principle, a north star.

Nothing is going to go right, ever.

And from Hillary Clinton’s inexplicable 2016 loss to the ignominious fizzle-out of the Mueller investigation, that guiding light has made her the new political guru at this address.

I often share her cynicism, but I do try feebly to counter that there’s still some light left here and there. To naught, most of the time. I know she’s right, because the system has for the most part failed and people are too stupid in general to blame the right people for their discomfort.

Now, Robert Mueller’s report, or its four page summary to be more accurate, came out a few days ago. The full report was hundreds of pages, yet AG Bill Barr took one hell of a speed reading course and dropped its main points into the political bloodstream after only 48 hours. What did the summation say?

I’m afraid to say that part of the answer is “no collusion”.

Yes, yes, there was Russian fuckery all over the place in the 2016 election but it seems that most of Trump and his inner circle were just smart enough to stay away from purveyors of damaging information that would help Trump’s campaign. What made everything so perplexing is why the ones indicted lied so much about it. We just assumed there was some sort of omerta to protect the Don. Turns out they just couldn’t keep a story straight.

This realization has caused more than a bit of distress and stunned silence amongst some of the more pollyannaish of my lefty brethren. It looked so certain that the gods were smiling upon those of us revolted by the obvious corruption surrounding the Trump presidency, that love would KO hate; and since he’s such a imbecilic slimeball there seemed to be zero possibility that there was no fire after choking on smoke for two years. It’s Trump, after all- and stupid is as stupid does, right?

Now I know no one has seen the particulars of the report and that may take some time. But I don’t think AG Barr is lying or mischaracterizing Mueller’s conclusion on the collusion/coordination count. We will find out soon for sure, as a document with so much import cannot be hidden for long.

The other conclusion Mueller came to was that he did not find any purported obstruction on the part of the president and several of his lizard people enablers. Again, it looked to the casual observer that Trump was putting a spin on anything he could regarding the investigation. So many untruths, so much dissembling and character assassination, how could he not get himself pinched for obstruction even if he hadn’t done anything wrong? The people that did obstruct and commit other related crimes are going to jail, but at this point it appears that Trump kept a firewall between him and the people who did the more egregious lying, and was just savvy enough to not allow himself to be deposed.

There’s a ray of hope in the way Mueller puts it: “…while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” It is now up to AG Barr to look at what Mueller did find out and decide whether or not it meets the standards of obstruction beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t have to tell you that will not bear fruit for as long as Bill Barr is the Attorney General. Sadly, the rules were in place from the start that the AG can more or less do what he feels like with this report, including nothing. So even though President Dummkopf is out there erroneously trumpeting that he’s exonerated because he can’t read and that there was no obstruction of justice on his part, it might as well be true for all the interest Barr has in setting the bar for it. The fix is in.

Nothing is going to go right, ever.

I hope my wife is wrong. And I hope I am totally wrong about all of this as well. But I’m going to do what most Democrats are about to do, and that’s move on- stop trying to make a criminal out of Trump, criminal though he may be- and instead focus on what a horrifyingly bad job he’s doing pretending to be a president. It may be the least satisfying and the longest way towards getting rid of him, but it’s time to stop singing the impeachment song and figure out how to win with ideas and legislate and advocate him out of a job come 2020. Because if we keep trying to ferret out a prosecutorial avenue that just isn’t available, we run the risk of some of our best legislators looking like the Trey Gowdys and and the Lindsey Grahams of the left wing and at this juncture I don’t think that kind of tit-for-tat is our best foot forward no matter how much we want to get a taste of blood.

The New School Shooters

I was looking on the web for an entry point into the subject of American gun violence in schools. I typed into The Google “school shootings”, and trusty Wikipedia curates a list of them going all the way back to the 1840s, sorted by decade. I thought the breadth of the information was curious enough. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how much longer the entries became as I scrolled the decades. Once you get to the 1980s, the frequency jumps. And it spikes upward yet again at the turn of the century. This decade’s list is almost as long as the one preceding it and we still have nearly a year to go.

Anybody looking at the progression will no doubt ask: what the hell is going on here?

I have a sociology degree, but I have not studied this topic. I did study it peripherally in a class about murder-I can’t say I took much from it, I think it was one of those eight week summer quickies-but we were all treated to alarming numbers about how much murder and what type was going down in America. I think I remember that in 2015, there were approximately 14,000 gun deaths. I remember this particularly because we spent a day at the college putting approximately 14,000 chalk tally marks on the sidewalk running from our classroom to the main campus building to show other students and ourselves what that number of people gunned down looked like represented physically. It’s a lot more trenchant when you have to take it all in at once.

Bottom line, it’s plain to anybody that there’s a problem in America regarding lethal weapons going back further than some of us have been alive. But the death epidemic has become supercharged in recent decades. Why?

I could take a stab or two. Obviously, being armed at one point was something of a commandment, enshrined in our Constitution. But we are worlds away from the exigency of needing to own a rifle, having completed our manifest destiny by killing or driving out the competition. Our direst existential threats are far across the ocean now, where we have a standing army to fight over there so we don’t have to fight here, as they always say. Our dicksmack “president” even wants to wall off our southern flank, and the Canucks are cool because they are white. So really, the list of the reasons for needing firearms is rather short and getting shorter. You will not be called up to the militia because of Indians or redcoats, or mounties. Oh, sure, someday there might be a need for you to go to war because of Selective Service, but even that is unlikely due to the large aforementioned standing force-and I assure you will be given a quick tutorial on how to shoot straight and be well regulated before they make cannon fodder out of you. And how likely is another Hitler? What world are we living in where we have to be on guard for that shit again? We won World War Two for the right to end the next Hitler with a button on a joystick, there won’t be any storming of the beach type shit. To put a fine point on it, today’s battlefields could not have been imagined by the founders no matter what the case. Marching in formation with arms is ceremony, not doctrine. Everything is asymmetric these days, the battle manuals are being either thrown out or rewritten as we learn how to do successful counterterrorism with irregular enemies.

To wit: you don’t need a gun. Chances are, you just want one because you like them, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But the Second Amendment’s practical use is quaint, much like the one proceeding it regarding the quartering of soldiers with citizens. And the one about twenty dollar common law suits. And don’t get me started on the parts of it that we don’t observe any more because of the creeping evolution of a police state here like the loss of habeas corpus, right to assemble, cruel and unusual punishment, the permanence of constant surveillance, and excessive bail. I didn’t see any of you Stratalounger-bound ‘Muricans with a safe full of carbines going all Daniel Shays while that stuff was happening. A lot of the Constitution, like it or not, is optional.

If you think for a minute that you need that gun to stop the government from taking your rights, you are late to the party. If you think you need it to shoot “antifa” or protect the babies from the abortion providers, you ought to be on a list of people who can’t have a gun because you are not civil. You can typically summon police in minutes if you are the victim of a bandit, one who likely got his or her weapon due to lax gun control, so that argument is mostly out the window. The fact is, “freedom” and being armed are of course not the same thing, but we somehow conflate these concepts, even when we have no evidence that we are freer because we have stopping power handy. I think people feel independent by owning a firearm (and boy howdy, do we love our Independence!), but that doesn’t mean they are. It’s the illusion of security-after all, any given situation has a higher chance of becoming ipso facto more lethal if someone brings a lethal weapon to a situation, So technically, you are less safe if you pack.

None of this logic ever finds its way into the minds of our lawmakers, especially those of a right-wing bent. That’s largely because of the way we fund our lawmakers’ campaigns. Now that just about anything can donate anything to anybody thanks to the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United decision on the limits of campaign finance law, candidates are desperately vying for the necessary donations to fund what are almost always multimillion dollar campaigns. And in today’s America, where so much wealth is concentrated upwards, it’s much easier to take a fat check from a corporation or a PAC or a lobby group like the NRA or what have you than to hope for thousands of small donations from serfs like you and I. This is the primary reason that our representatives don’t often represent us anymore; we can’t afford pay to play. I don’t know how or when that is going to get any better because we are in something of a peculiarly fascistic downspiral in the United States, both economically and socially and I don’t know exactly how the next bars of this song go even though someone somewhere has written the tune several times. All I know is that I am glad that it’s a classless, clueless dolt like Donald Trump setting fire to everything than a clandestine, calculated thug like a Vladimir Putin.

So what I’m really on about is what the hell is happening in fucking Indiana where teachers are getting “executed” with pellets during school shooting “drills” , something I imagine their M.A. did not cover.

Listen up, folks. I went into the Army not once, but twice. Basic training is interesting, but survivable hell. It’s quite the psychological (and physical) gauntlet. Yes, I did have live rounds going over my head while I low-crawled under barbed wire. I got choked out in a CS gas chamber. Hell, I had to do that a lot of times in my nine year stint. I threw a live grenade. But at no time was I ever “shot” with anything except laser beams in training, and if I was to “die”, it was at the hands of someone who got the jump on me by saying something like “powpowpowpow you’re dead”, just like kids horsing around. Sometimes you would discharge a blank but never, ever at close range. No pellets or BBs. Know why? It’s fucking dangerous and your math teacher shouldn’t have to be scared shitless or come home marked up.

Think about it. Somewhere, educators are probably getting more bruises, both physically and psychologically than I did in basic military training. And my benefits were and remain top shelf. In today’s climate of worker contempt, I doubt the same is true of whoever is teaching my/your kids right now. Unions are being decimated and at the same time teachers are being taught to take a bullet or kill someone, likely without the requisite pay bump for the extra work. There is something deeply amiss within the soul of this country where our killers warrant more respect than our teachers. Doubtless each respective job deserves a doff of the cap by the rest of the smart patrol. But the disciplines should remain separate. Defending is a full time job, and so is education. It’s irresponsible to mix the two at the very least, and seriously unlikely that scads of future teachers are going to carry both skill sets. And let’s not forget about the accidental discharges from bumbling armed educators.

Someone my wife knows thought it was abusive to put a teacher through this type of drill. I didn’t stop there. I think it’s terrorism.

We’ll forget soon how swiftly New Zealand acted once deadly weapons and a murderous soul found each other in Christchurch recently. We’ll keep hurting teachers until good people just don’t want the job anymore. And we won’t do bupkiss about gun control here while that list I linked above gets longer and longer except offer stale thoughts and prayers without attacking the real problem; the easy availability of a handheld weapon of mass destruction to a public whose character, long in question, has become decidedly unstable.

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