Outrage unanswered: It’s the lack of resolution to the outrageous that keeps anger escalating

For better or worse, we’re living in the age of social media and near-instant, near-omnipresent access to news and events in this country. An event that might have been known to 20-30 people in a small town and never spread further than that 100 years ago will be known to millions across the world in a matter of hours or minutes today. And unlike hearing something on the news delivered by some professional talking head, snippets of information from all corners of the world are shared with you by friends and co-workers in your circle of acquaintances. That puts the imprint of the personal on these things and, I think, makes you care more about a given situation than you otherwise might.

This effect gets amplified, I believe, when you’re talking about something that would be genuinely offensive to an individual were they present. And when someone out there goes out of their way to be offensive to someone you respect you want to see that offense dealt with appropriately. When it’s not – when it appears that no consequence comes to the offender – the sense of offense both escalates to outrage and continues to smolder in the back of one’s mind, often coloring one’s perspective of future events.

I’m more than aware that the news industry thrives on outrage. They’re less interested in resolution. But the media isn’t the only party at fault in some of these cases. In the last month there’s been plenty of attacks, literal and otherwise, on members of law enforcement throughout the country. Those of us who are generally supportive of police have become even more sensitive to calls for actions against the cops and are more sensitive to incidents of just plain disrespect and disregard for them. Last week there were 2 such incidents that made the social media circuits.

In Washington State a Chinese restaurant got more attention than they wanted after an employee told 4 deputies there that they, and law enforcement in general, were no longer welcome there because they made the other customers “nervous.” The reaction was swift as the news of that went viral and people started venting at the restaurant’s owners. On the heels of hundreds, if not thousands, of harsh reviews and vows to never do business with them again, the owners told reporters that it was “all a misunderstanding” and that they were happy to serve police officers there. The Sheriff apparently had a talk with them and posted an update on the Office’s Facebook page saying all was ok now.

In Shelby, NC, a Zaxby’s restaurant had employees that heckled a couple of cops that showed up for dinner and apparently dumped so much hot sauce into their food that it was inedible. Zaxby’s said they were sorry and would investigate the matter. A few days later both Zaxby’s and the police department issued statements that the investigation was closed to their mutual satisfaction and that no further statement would be made.

How the hell does an employee tell police officers that they’re not welcome – and that statement was confirmed to the Sheriff himself on a phone call with the owner, by the way – and that be a “misunderstanding?” Well, reporters tell us it was a language barrier. They tell us that – apparently – neither the owner nor the employee (the owner’s son, by the way) speak English very well. And that the son witnessed people at a nearby table who were visibly upset about something and he assumed it might be that those people don’t like cops. (The report says the people in question had spilled soup or drinks on their table and, presumably, were upset about that, not the cops.) When the officers came up to pay, the son apparently told them the people didn’t like the cops being around. Things went downhill from there. But that doesn’t make a lot of sense and the follow-up call to the owner resulted in him confirming to the Sheriff what his deputies had been told, not suggesting that his son had made a mistake. So what was it? The owner’s son made an assumption based on nothing? (And why would you automatically assume anyone upset in the vicinity of a cop must not like having cops around?) Or was it that the owner didn’t pick up on that in time to overrule his son’s statement when asked? We don’t really know.

And Zaxby’s supposedly did an investigation. What did they find? We don’t know. They don’t want to say anything other than “the matter is closed.”

In neither case was the offense really answered. In the Zaxby’s case particularly you have a deliberate action taken that caused the offense and the persons responsible… get to remain completely anonymous among us. Was there a consequence for their action? We don’t know, but the tone of statement sure indicates there wasn’t one that met the seriousness of the offense.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we, the public, are owed full access to the management deliberations of a private corporation. We aren’t, plain and simple. But there’s a consequence to that, too. The outrage in unanswered, the offense unresolved. The feeling of a gross unfairness – an injustice – being allowed to simply drop on a group we care about with no ramifications for the parties responsible simply sticks in place. It’s additive; we hear about another one here, one there, and pretty soon it feels non-stop. It’s easy for that kind of feeling to become personal and that will then color our responses going forward.

I think letting the lawyers convince us to never give out details in matters like this is a net mistake.

Convention week: Decision time for GOP

This week brings the GOP Convention in Cleveland where the nominee for the party’s ticket in November will finally be decided. From 17 possibilities it comes down to 1. This year’s convention is less of a celebration party than an actual decision event, of course. The Trump juggernaut has continued from start all the way down to this finish line but the party is divided as I’ve never seen it before.

The decision time has arrived for individual members of the party or those who, like myself, aren’t registered members but are closely aligned. There are many of us who never liked Donald Trump as the man to carry the Republican banner forward. I had 2 candidates during the primaries, myself, that I supported and I continue to think that either of them would be monumentally better for both the party and for the nation as a whole than Trump. Both of those candidates had their days at the ballot box, however, and more of my fellow… well, supporters of the Republican agenda felt that Trump was the better choice than what I thought. Such is life in a democratic community. I got my say, we held the vote, and my point of view lost.

So, what now? Aside from comments like this, I’ve pretty much held my tongue on the matter. Trump’s supporters’ commentary to the contrary, the nomination hasn’t been made, yet. When the party nominates him in accordance with the rules of the party’s convention then – and only then – will the decision be actually made. Then and only then will the decision then be mine: do I support the party’s nominee or not? There are consequences either way. Trump’s supporters and the party officials themselves have certainly made clear the ramifications of not supporting Trump, if he’s the nominee. But there are consequences to me if I do and, in spite of the dismissive attitude by Trump’s supporters toward those personal consequences, they are very real.

It is one thing to have someone I don’t really like win an election. It’s entirely different if they did so with my active assistance. The question for me is whether those consequences that I will carry in my soul outweigh the consequences to a candidate’s or party’s political aspirations. That’s a question I must answer.

But, all of that is premature at this point. Right now, I want to see what happens in Cleveland. If the supporters of the opposition party are the supporters of democracy that they claim to be, they’re going to leave us alone to make our decision. I have little faith that they will because… well, I don’t see that they actually support democracy. But, again, we’ll have to see.

Be safe and sage, delegates. We await the results of your work.

Assumptions and the evil they do

Just yesterday I had occasion to write about my usual admonition to avoid jumping to conclusions based on early reports in the media regarding crisis events. This week saw a lot of those, with the shooting of a man in Baton Rouge, one near Minneapolis, and then the craven ambush of Dallas police officers. I wrote a little about the Dallas situation on Facebook but I didn’t really address the matters in Baton Rouge or Minnestoa because while the Dallas shootings of police officers working security at a protest march very clearly wasn’t something that was justified by law, the shootings of the 2 men elsewhere weren’t so clearly defined. They were killed by police officers who engaged with the men as the result of a call to do so. That means I need to know a lot more before I come down on one side or the other.

The situation in Minnesota appears to be turning out to be quite different than the picture that was painted on the basis of the girlfriend’s video. The couple was not pulled over for a busted taillight – they were pulled over because the driver matched the description of the perpetrator of an armed robbery. The report of the girlfriend that says the police shot her boyfriend and then left him in the car while he bled to death is also at issue because we now have video evidence that police were attempting to revive the man beside the car before the medical teams arrived. And this is just in the span of a couple of days. As I’ve said, the investigation is ongoing. We need to await the facts.

Since I mentioned the shooting in Baton Rouge, let me also mention that the man who was killed absolutely resisted the police and the gun found on his person wasn’t legally carried by him. Again, we need to get the facts before we start fanning the flames of anger.

Dallas attack on police still has a lot of unanswered questions

It’s been my experience that pretty much everything said in the 1st 24 hours’ worth of reporting on a crisis situation is usually wrong. That’s something I noticed back when I worked at the airlines. When a plane would crash – thankfully a rare event and something that never happened to the airline I was working – people would come out of the woodwork with explanations aplenty about what happened and how the plane was taken down. Almost without fail, the initial reports were wrong. Sometimes they were closer to the truth than others, but they were still wrong. That’s when I developed the attitude that it’s best to wait for the actual investigators to get in there and get to work before drawing any conclusions.

It goes without saying anymore that reporters for new agencies don’t do investigative work any more.

The attack on the Dallas police was no “drive by” or sudden flare-up of violence. This was a planned, coordinated attack. You don’t have thoughtless thugs setting up overlapping fields of fire from elevated positions targeting specific persons out of a huge, moving crowd. And I am seriously doubtful that it was something that popped up in the last 2 days. This attack has the feel of something that was planned with great care and detail, complete with recon and battlespace intel. My feeling is that the plan was made some time ago and what the attackers were waiting for was an opportunity to apply it.

The Black Lives Matter protest appears to have been a peaceful one, from all reports, and I, personally, don’t think the protest marchers or the people who set it up have anything to do with it. The accusations that BLM is somehow responsible for this are unwarranted in my view.

The Dallas police had initially identified 3 people as involved but, according to the latest reports it now appears that a single shooter did all of this. Hard to believe but, again, I’m awaiting the details of the investigation.

In the meantime, my prayers go to the families of these officers, to their friends and fellow police, to the people of Dallas who had this happen in their midst. May God grant them strength, may he grant eternal life to the fallen, may he grant the community the strength of will and the compassion of peace to resist the hate that seeks to infect us

Hillary Clinton is a liar and a clear and present danger to the security of this nation. She does not deserve your support.

Events this week have moved swiftly. I haven’t had the chance to weigh in on the matter of Hillary Clinton skating away on the charges of mishandling classified data so here we go. I have mentioned this before but I will say it again because it’s pertinent to my commentary: I work for a company that does business with US Government agencies. I have held government clearances for the last dozen or so years and I have had access to and training regarding classified information. That training covers how to handle it, what’s allowed in e-mail and what systems are required when transmitting that data. In other words, I know precisely and from 1st-person perspective what Hillary Clinton was required by law to do.

Hillary Clinton is a criminal. The fact that a man who is, at best, a coward and oath-breaker who placed political considerations ahead of enforcement of the law or, at worst, a corrupt cop decided to deliberately ignore the actual law, as passed, does not obligate me to willfully blind myself to the truth that any honestly objective person can see. She violated 18 U.S.C. 793(f) and, Director Comey’s unilateral rewrite of the law notwithstanding, her intent is completely irrelevant to that fact. Comey’s boss met with the husband of the woman under investigation just days before Comey’s announcement in a clear, obvious, unethical conflict of interest. The fix was in and they let her skate. Doesn’t change the fact that any reasonable person can see she violated the law. She’s a crook. But she got off with her high-powered friends’ help. (I would urge my fellow Americans who hold clearances to not try that at home. The rule of law doesn’t apply to Clinton and her pals but they’ll make damn sure it applies to you.)

I know all of the left/MSM news agencies are trying their best to rush you along – nothing to see here! – but Comey’s performance didn’t begin and end with “Nope! No charges!” as much as they want you to believe it did. Comey’s appearance at a Congressional hearing confirmed every point he made in the original announcement. Let’s review, shall we?

Beyond doubt, Hillary is a liar and a cheat. At every stage she lied about what she had done and only admitted it when backed into a corner. There was no classified data on her e-mail server. That’s a lie and she knew it at the time she said it. She only did it so she could have 1 device to use instead of 2. That’s a lie and she knew it at the time she said it. She had multiple devices and she bloody well knows it. The system was secure. That’s a lie. Virtually everything she said about this has been a lie and a lie spoken repeatedly. And do not allow yourself to be deceived further by her friends in the media: she did all of this so she could avoid her legally-mandated accountability to you. And she’s standing up there on the podium telling you she’ll fight for your interests and serve you faithfully. How the hell can you even remotely believe that given what we now know without question she has done?

Beyond doubt, she has no care at all about safeguarding the information critical to this nation’s defense and interest. Several of you have sons and daughters, husbands and wives in the military and intelligence services. Some of you are in the State Department, potentially even looking at deployment to embassies and consulates overseas. She’s been extremely careless – that’s the FBI talking, by the way – in handling the information that will keep our military and intel personnel safe. How can she be trusted to act prudently with the lives of these people on the line? How can any of us willfully put her in the position to be making those decisions, given how careless she is? Do we not care?

Beyond doubt, she has no care at all about following the law and will do and say whatever she likes whenever she wills. She has demonstrated that she can not be trusted to faithfully execute the laws; her oath of office would be worthless the second she spoke it. She has shown she cares nothing for the rule of law. Your voice, beyond your pulling the lever for her in the voting booth, is of no concern to her. Your interests are meaningless drivel to her, beyond being something she can manipulate you with.

Why would any American be a part of installing that into this nation’s leadership? She is untrustworthy in the extreme. Careless in the extreme. Her words cannot be trusted, she will not hold herself accountable to the American people once in office and she will continue the current efforts to divide us all and keep us at each other’s throats while she enriches herself and her friends at our expense. She does not deserve your support.

On subjects and commentary: I’m a solo act

I’ve been working on some posts over the past few days and I plan on posting several this weekend. That raised a topic in my head that I thought I should write briefly about and that’s the issue of the subjects I choose to address. Here’s what you should know:

First, this is a hobby and a venting tool, not my day job. My day job, in case you’ve never been here before, is that of network architect and engineer. I design and build mission-critical network systems for… well, let’s just say they are clients for whom downtime of any amount is unacceptable. It’s something that takes up my day pretty solidly and that leaves no time to write on the blog. This is definitely something I do at home when time permits.

Second, I have a number of community obligations. I am a member of the Knights of Columbus, a wonderful Catholic men’s organization dedicated to assisting our communities, and our council is very active in our church. We’ve pretty much always got something going on, be it running a social event for the parish, assisting at the annual work camp, collecting and gathering monthly food donations for the county food banks, providing rides for folks at the senior living communities around the area, or any of the myriad of other tasks that need doing. I have a daughter in high school so… well, that’s all I need to say about that with regard to time requirement, right? Did I mention the honey-do list at the house? Yeah, got that, too.

Lastly, and this is important to recall, I write about topics that both interest me and for which I have something pertinent to add to the overall conversation. If a topic is being well covered by other writers, I will often not chime in. That’s not an indication that the issue is of no concern to me at all, just that I have nothing else to add. I have been called out on this before and I will repeat my comment at the time: I write about what interests me. If I’ve not mentioned a topic you find critical, start your own blog and write about it. Send me a note with the URL and if it’s good, I’ll share the link. Write well enough and I’ll put a link to your blog here on my page, even. If that sort of things rings your bell, and all.

And now, I’ll get back to the matters at hand. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to capture your interest in the days to come.

USAToday reporter has moment of clarity but falls short of the full grasp

Paul Singer of USAToday wrote an intriguing editorial recently with a very provocative title: “That Day I Became a Democratic Stooge.” Singer was speaking of the recent Democrat tantrum on the floor of the House of Representatives where several of them, in violation of the Rules of Conduct in the House, took over the floor of the House to demand that Speaker Ryan allow votes on a pair of “gun control” bills that had already been defeated in the Senate. While I applaud his willingness to address the matter plainly, I can’t say he grasped the full meaning of his moment of clarity well. Singer starts off well:

The House Democrats’ anti-gun sit-in last week included one of the more embarrassing moments of my journalism career.

The Democrats had grabbed the House floor for what amounted to an impromptu 25-hour filibuster to protest the unwillingness of Republican leadership to call a vote on gun control legislation.

This was a new and unusual tactic, and nobody had any idea how it was going to end. The House doesn’t have a filibuster, so it also doesn’t have a way to end one. That makes it newsworthy.

Fair enough so far, but I would point out that it was a “new and unusual tactic” because actions like these are explicitly prohibited under the rules of conduct for the House. Singer speaks as if this is some new kind of football play or the political equivalent of the introduction of the Fosbury Flop. It was not. It was the political equivalent of using Viking drinking traditions at your neighbor’s dinner party. (Apologies to all those of Norse tradition, of course. But you guys do throw a lot of drinking implements around when you get to the bottom of the cup!) And that reality got pretty much overlooked by the press. Singer continues on and gets to the part that brought on this clarity of which I speak:

At around 9 p.m., as they were girding for House Republicans to return and attempt to re-establish control of the floor, the Democrats were pumping up their energy. They congratulated each other and cheered. The partisans who had packed the public visitors’ gallery cheered with them — a no-no when the House is in session. Visitors are supposed to sit quietly, but by this hour many of the rules of the House floor had long since been thrown out the window.

The lawmakers then turned to the galleries and thanked the visitors for their support, and everybody cheered some more. That was another no-no — lawmakers are prohibited from acknowledging the galleries from the floor.

And then, my moment of shame. Someone on the floor called out thanks to the press, saying our reporting had spread the word and fueled their protest. The 100-or-so Members of Congress on the floor and the several hundred partisans in the gallery cheered for us.

My colleagues and I were mortified.

Oh, were you, now? If I may gently point something out: for a group that was “mortified” you seem to be the only person who was actually mortified enough to actually say something about it.

We are not in this business to help anybody, only to report the story. We certainly do not want credit for helping Democrats perpetrate what Republicans correctly labeled a “stunt.”

I think you aren’t looking very closely at the reporting done by a sizeable portion of your profession if you honestly think your fellow journalists are “not in this business to help anybody.”

Make no mistake: This was a stunt. It was a brazen attempt to make headlines and draw attention to an issue, not an attempt to legislate. Democrats then sent fundraising emails citing the sit-in as a reason to donate, which raises some questions about whether they violated House rules against using the chamber for political purposes.

Does it, really, “raise questions?” Would that not be worthy of investigative reporting? Had the Republicans did this during the votes that authorized ObamaCare in the first place, would there be any question in the minds of the press that rules had been violated? Ah, and about that:

But to be fair, when Republicans voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare, that was a “stunt,” too. And of course, they were sending fundraising appeals every time. Congress is legislating less and less, and much of what it does nowadays is a stunt. 

There is a significant difference, sir, between undertaking to advance a bill to the floor and then getting a vote on it and what the Democrats did. What the Republicans did is called legislating, which is the job and function of the House and its members. What the Democrats did is most certainly not. You were doing fine right up to here but you just can’t seem to stop yourself from equivalizing things to make this seem like a “both sides do it” moment, and hence justify the actions taken by the Democrats. Actions that led to the moment that “mortified you” as you say. And you wonder why anyone would question your assertion that you and your colleagues aren’t in the business to “help anybody?”

You had a moment of clarity, here, Mr. Singer, and I honestly am appreciative that you chose to write about it at all. That shows that the spark of ethics is, indeed, alive in you. It’s OK, sir, to take that to the next level and be as forthright in calling the actions you witnessed what they are. They are the actions of a group who cares nothing for rules or laws or anything else so long as they get their way.