Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The truth about teenagers

A teacher that I used to work with once made the comment that teenagers do everything that adults do – and she is absolutely right.

They drive cars.

They drink alcohol.

They use illegal drugs.

They smoke cigarettes

They vote.

They have sex.

Due to stricter laws, a smaller percentage of 16 year olds drive then when I was 16 years old. In fact, there are increasing numbers that have no desire to ever get their license.

Due to stricter laws, and increased awareness of the dangers of alcohol, there is less underage drinking than there was I was a teen.

Despite the fact that marijuana is more readily available (due to legalization) than it was when I was a lad, marijuana use by teens has decreased to its lowest level in 20 years. Only 6.5 % of teens use marijuana on a monthly basis.

Like society in general, teens smoke less than they used to. If they smoke at all, they are more likely to smoke a joint than a cigarette.

I was not able to vote until I was 21, but that changed with the passage of the 26th amendment in 1971. There ARE some seniors that turn 18 before they graduate. In fact, Arizona law allows teens with special needs to stay in high school until they are 21. Most of them are well aware of today’s political issues, and many of them DO vote. Oddly enough, though, out of state college students in Texas are not allowed to vote in the state, but an individual with an expired gun permit from Arkansas has all the proof he needs to vote.


You bet.

According to the Huffington Post, 70% of today’s high school students will have had sexual intercourse at least once by the time they are 19 years old.

Some of them get pregnant.

There are two ways to prevent teenage pregnancy.

1) Provide comprehensive sex education starting in elementary school, and make birth control readily available

2) Pretend that there is NOT a problem with teenagers having sex, and provide no sex education at all other than teaching abstinence, which happens to be what the majority of the states in the Bible belt do.

Just saying “no”, naturally, does little to discourage a 17 year old boy with a hard on, which is why the states that rely on abstinence training have the highest rates of teen pregnancy.

New Mexico tops the list, followed by Mississippi and Texas. The link below will provide the complete list.

Abortion has long been a controversial issue, and my post of 1/27/2011 provides more details:

What should be very obvious is that abortions were still performed in this country before abortion was legalized in 1973. Outlawing alcohol did little to diminish the consumption of alcohol, but the 18th amendment made Al Capone a very rich man.

The “was on drugs” that was started during the Reagan administration did little to reduce the use of illegal drugs, but it made Pablo Escobar one of the richest men in the world for a period of time.

The number of abortions performed in this country is now at the lowest level since Roe V. Wade was passed in 1973, a fact that should be good news for both people that are “pro-life” as well as those who are “pro-choice”, but their approach on how to deal with it differs significantly. In my opinion, the Republic approach to abortion is not only wrong-headed, it is simply WRONG. In fact, the last time the number of abortions INCREASED was when George W. Bush was president.

I know at least one person who voted for Donald Trump (the man who has spoken over 2000 lies since being elected) because she said he was the only candidate who opposed abortion (overlooking the fact that he once changed his position 5 times in a 3 day time period). There are also a LOT of people who did not vote for Hillary Clinton because the Democratic Party supports abortion. In the words of Bill Clinton, abortion should be safe, legal, and RARE.

The artist who painted the picture above, Illma Gore, has been punched in the face. She also has been threatened with rape, death, and lawsuits, which means that Hillary Clinton was right. Some of Trump’s supporters ARE deplorable.

 The 1976 Hyde amendment made if illegal for taxpayer money to be used for abortions, so I am not why how Bruce Rauner, the REPUBLICAN governor of Illinois recently signed a bill that allows taxpayer in his state to do exactly that. Ironically, Henry Hyde, the man who introduced the bill, was a Congressman from Illinois.

A favorite target of the Republicans is Planned Parenthood, even though only 3% of the services provided by the organization are abortions. Because the organization provides sexual education, along with birth control, they have actually REDUCED the number of abortions in this country far more than any “pro-life” politician (many of whom have had extra marital affairs).

In Arizona, Cathi Harrod, the president of the Center for Arizona Policy, has introduced 156 bills in the legislature since her organization was founded in 1998. Not surprisingly, a lot of the bills were aimed at Planned Parenthood. She cares little about the fact that only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortions, and she also cars little about the fact that the vast majority of the services are related to health in general, in addition to BIRTH CONTROL, which prevents unwanted pregnancies.

9 of the top 10 states that have the most abortions performed are, to no one’s surprise, “blue” states (Florida is the lone exception.) They also happen to have lower rates of teen pregnancies.


I don’t think so.

The name “Stormy Daniels”  became known a few days ago when it was revealed that our “pro-life” president paid her $130,000 in hush money to cover up a sexual encounter that he had with her a year AFTER  he married  Melania.. The is the same guy who married Marla Maples two months AFTER their daughter Tiffany was born.

My favorite quote about “pro-life” Republican was uttered by Sister Joan Chittister, who said this:

“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think that in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there.  That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Consider these facts for a minute:

In July of 2017, the number of people receiving SNAP benefits (food stamps) had decreased to its lowest level since 2010. To a certain degree, that’s good news, since it means that more people are working, and have less need for food stamps. However, it has also happened because states have imposed stricter eligibility requirements, which makes it harder for people to apply for the benefits. Donald Trump has long been a critic of SNAP, and he has proposed a budget that would cut $193 billlion from the program over a 10 year period.

Funding for the Children Health Insurance program (which provides coverage for nearly 9,000,000 children) expired on September 30. The renewal of funding for the program has become a bargaining chip in the current discussion about funding the government.


Although folks who live in smarter states have increased funding for education in the last decade, Arizona (under Republican governors) has cut K-12 funding more than any other state from 2008 to 2015. As a result, Arizona is now spending 13.6 percent less on students than it did in 2008.

Dr. Ben Carson grew up in an impoverished area o Detroit, and understands that importance of providing adequate housing for those who are unable to pay for it themselves. Now that he is the head od HUD, He controls a budget of $46 billion. Donald Trump’s 2018 budget would cut HUD funding by $6 billion.

According to Galllup, 80% of Republicans support the death penalty, but only 58% of the Democrats do. Texas leads the nation in the number of people that have been executed, even though not all of the people who were executed were actually guilty of the crimes they were killed for.

When I lived in Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn eliminated the death penalty due to that fact that far too many people on death row had been wrongfully convicted,

On average, thee are nearly 13,000 gun homicides a year in the United States, but the last meaningful gun legislation that was passed by Congress was the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, and was not renewed. During the 2016 election, the NRA spent $50.2 million on various races across the country, and only lost one race. The biggest chunk of that money was the $30.3 million that they spend to get Donald Trump elected. As long as Republicans control Congress and the White House, there will not be any meaningful gun legislation passed, in spite of the fact that the Las Vegas shooting in 2017 was the deadliest mass shooting in our countries modern history.

Are Republicans pro-life?

If you review the facts listed above, you’ll readily agree that the term "pro-life Republican" is actually an oxymoron.

Even today’s teenagers would agree with that.

Friday, January 12, 2018

a man of integrity

Being a policeman is not an easy job, and the vast majority of our law enforcement officials are conscientious while carrying out their duties – but not all of them are.

In 2017, police offices in America killed 1129 people. (In the first seven months of 2017 there were eight shootings by police in England and Wales, of which five have been fatal.)

More people died from police violence in 2017 than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in action around the globe (21). More people died at the hands of police in 2017 than the number of black people who were lynched in the worst year of Jim Crow (161 in 1892). Cops killed more Americans in 2017 than terrorists did (four). They killed more citizens than airplanes (13 deaths worldwide), mass shooters (428 deaths) and Chicago’s “top gang thugs” (675 Chicago homicides).

Yet only 12 officers were charged with a crime related to a shooting death.

Here are some facts that are sure to raise your eyebrows:
  • Of the 534 killer cops Mapping Police Violence was able to identify, 43 had shot or killed someone before. Twelve had previously shot or killed multiple people.
  • Most of the people killed (718) were suspects in nonviolent offenses, were stopped for traffic violations or had committed no crime at all.
  • 13 percent of people killed by cops were unarmed.
  • Most of the unarmed victims were people of color. Of the 147 unarmed people killed by police, 48 were black and 34 were Hispanic.
  • Black people accounted for 27 percent of the people killed by law enforcement officers. Of the unarmed victims of police violence, blacks made up 37 percent, almost three times their percentage of the U.S. population (13 percent).
  • Of the people who were unarmed and not attacking, but were still killed by cops, 35 percent were black.
  • 95 people were killed when police shot at a moving vehicle, a practice that many say should be banned.
  • 170 of the people killed were armed with a knife. In 117 of those incidents, police shot the person before trying any other method to disarm the person.
  • 20 percent of the people who had a gun when they were killed were not threatening anyone.
  • Law enforcement training spends seven times more hours training officers on the use of firearms than on how to de-escalate situations.
Colin Kaepernick was named the offensive player of the year twice during his college football career at the University of Nebraska. After graduation, he was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. He started as backup quarterback to Alex Smith, but became the starting quarterback the following year when Smith suffered a concussion. That same year, he led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. 


During the 2016 season, he had a passer rating of 90.7, a very respectable number, and one of the lowest interception rates of the 29 “first string” quarterbacks. His guaranteed salary for the 2016 season was $11.9 million.

At the end of the 2016, he opted out of his contract to become a free agent, which occurred after he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States. In addition, Kaepernick pledged to donate one million dollars to "organizations working in oppressed communities."

In 2017, Kaepernick was named GQ magazine's "Citizen of the Year" for his efforts. He was also nominated to be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, a fact that likely infuriated Donald Trump, who railed against NFL players who followed Kaepernick’s example during the 2017 season. 


Trump wasted over $250,000 in taxpayer money by directing Mike Pence to walk out of an Indianapolis Colts game during the playing of the national anthem because some of the players knelt down.


Ironically, Trump's attitude, instead of intimidating players, has actually strengthened their resolve:

Right in the middle of WWII, when patriotic fever was at its peak, the Supreme Court (in 1943) ruled it was unconstitutional for anyone to be forced to salute the flag or stand for the national anthem. Any attempts to do so are a violation of the 1st amendment of the Constitution.      

Since becoming a free agent, Kaepernick has received no offers from any NFL team. Some of those teams have legitimate reasons for not hiring him (likely due to the fact that they already have good quarterbacks) - but a lot of them do not. The stories at the links below makes for interesting reading:

I am of the opinion that it is more patriotic to fight for the rights of our fellow citizens (even those who have come here from “shithole” countries) than it is to stand for our national anthem.

What do YOU think?

a Christmas Day tragedy

On Christmas Day of 1989, a very well known sports figure was killed when his car slid on some ice on the driveway of his farm in Port Crane, New York, and went into a ditch.

To say that Billy Martin was “colorful” would be a huge understatement. Volatile would be closer to the truth, but so would “highly successful”.

Martin had rocky relationships with just about everyone that crossed his path, a trait that he inherited from his parents. His father (Alfred Manuel Pesano Sr)  abandoned his family 8 months after he was born. Although his actual name was Alfred Manuel Pesano Jr., his mother changed the family name to Martin after she married her third husband, whose name was Jack Downey.

Martin had a moderately successful career as a player, but his mercurial temperament caused him to play for 7 different teams in his 7-year career.

His true gift was as a manager. Over a period of 19 years, his winning percentage was a respectable .553. He took every team that he coached to post season play, some of them more than once. Because he was “hard to get along with”, he signed 9 separate management contracts with 5 different teams, and he was hired (and fired) by the Yankees 5 times.

Not surprisingly, he had a rocky relationship with his 4 wives, one of whom he married a year before his death.

Even though he fought frequently with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, he was working for him AGAIN as a special consultant at the time of his death. He is buried 150 feet from the grave of Babe Ruth in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. He was eulogized by Cardinal John O’Connor at. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and his funeral was attended by George Steinbrenner, former president Richard Nixon, and many former New York Yankee greats.

Billy Martin was never afraid to speak his mind when talking his umpires, and the most famous example of that is when he was ejected from a game on May 30, 1988:

Baseball is no longer considered to be “America’s game” because many people fining it boring to watch. If Billy Martin were still alive, though, it would be an awfully lot more interesting.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

the plastic crate that led to a round of applause

One day last spring, I was monitoring a math class at a local high school.

About 15 minutes into the class, one of the girls in the class jumped up and started walking around the room. Since she was clearly agitated, I called her over to my desk, and asked her what was troubling her.

She told me that she had been trying to see a few of her teachers, and could never seem to make contact.

At that moment, I glanced over to the side of the room, and noticed a plastic crate exactly like the one shown below sitting on the bottom shelf of a bookshelf.

"Follow me", I said.

The two of us then walked over to the bookshelf, and a moment later, I kicked the plastic crate as hard as I could, which scared the  blazes our of both her and the rest of the class.

"Your turn", I said.

She declined.

I then talked to the front of the class, and started a short speech:

"Ladies and gentlemen. Could I have your attention please?

Believe it or not, there will be times in your life when you will become frustrated. It is perfectly OK to to something to relieve your frustration, and kicking plastic crates is just one of those things".

For no apparent reason, I  brought up a couple of additional topics.

"What ever you do, do not hold grudges. I know a few people who did not talk to some of their relatives for more than 10 years. Don't do it, because it is foolish. Learn to forgive and forget."

Then I gave them the punch line.

"And for heaven's sake, DO NOT DISCUSS RELIGION AND POLITICS with people you do not know. In fact, It's wise to be careful when discussing these topics even with people that you DO know".

At that point, I started walking back my desk.

Almost immediately, the entire class burst into applause, an outcome that I definitely was not expecting.

I thanked them and sat down, and I am sure that neither I or that class will ever forget what happened that day.

And it was caused by a plastic crate.