An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

Bravo to Chris Mark. This is only the second time I’ve reblogged something on this site, but it’s well worth a read.

Global Security, Privacy, & Risk Management

Dear Mrs. Palin,

I am a former US Marine and US Navy Officer with a Combat Action Ribbon as well as service connected disabilities. I am also a Republican.  I have also served with, and am friends with, dozens of combat veterans who suffer daily from various injuries and wounds to include PTSD.  I recently read your comments related to PTSD in which you attempted to excuse your son’s arrest on domestic abuse charges and firearm charges by referencing his supposed PTSD.   Based upon your previous comments I am not surprised that you would choose to use this very serious condition as a political football and, once again, attempt to divert blame from your own family’s abhorrent, violent behavior.

In 2014 your entire family was involved in a late night ‘drunken brawl’ at a party in which Track Palin (the accused domestic abuser) was involved in a bloody fight. …

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Governor Snyder, you can’t fix this

When I think about what’s going on in Flint, Michigan, I get really angry. Whoever thought that giving poisoned water to the public–in order to save money over clean water taken from another source–needed to be reined in by the person who had the authority to do so, and in this case it was the governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder.

But Snyder let the deed go down, and the people of Flint have paid the price. A legionnaire’s disease outbreak has already killed 10 people, and everyone who drank or used that water–which had been tested at elevated levels of carcinogens–did damage to themselves that we won’t see for a long time to come.

We need water to live, and as citizens we have a right to expect our water to be safe to use. If government is to have any purpose at all, that’s one of them. And when the water is unsafe, those who approved of giving it to the people cannot be trusted to clean up the mess themselves.

Rick Snyder and anyone else who knew that Flint was receiving poisoned water–but did nothing to warn the people about its dangers–needs to be removed from office and prosecuted for a criminal act. Terrorists would love to poison a city’s drinking water, so why do the people who actually succeeded at doing so get a chance to “fix” their mistake? It won’t bring back those who have died, nor will it remove the nasty chemicals inside the people who drank or bathed in this toxic stuff.

The solutions to this situation are very pricey, and for a city and a state (and a nation, if we’re being honest about it) that doesn’t have the money to spare, things can look pretty dire. But as long as the governor who allowed this to happen remains in charge, nothing will truly get solved. Step one is to remove the present governor, and let someone else try to fix the damage from there.

May we never see anything like this ever again in an American city.

He never had a chance

Killings by Police-Chicago
This undated autopsy diagram provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office shows the location of wounds on the body of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot by a Chicago Police officer 16 times in 2014. A judge on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015 ordered the city to release squad car dashcam video of the shooting. The officer has been stripped of his police powers, but remains at work on desk duty. (Cook County Medical Examiner via AP)

Today I’m going to the football game between Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Soldier Field. I’m wondering if there will be any crowd control issues, given all that has happened in the wake of the Laquan McDonald video release. I certainly hope not, but my mind goes back to Camden yards in Baltimore after the Freddie Gray case. They played a game in an empty stadium, rather than serve as a target for what was going on in the streets at the time. That’s not going to happen today, so we’ll all have to wait and see what plays out.

I’m taking my cellphone to the game. If anybody wants to sign up for periscope, a twitter app that allows for videos to be broadcast live, and follow me @Rlincolnharris, I’ll put anything interesting online. I hope I don’t get that chance, but I’ll probably show something at some point, regardless.

But my larger point, which I may come back and revisit after this is all over, is that a kid like Laquan McDonald never had any chance of making it onto campus at either school. None whatsoever. He likely attended a school in the Chicago Public Schools, or CPS. I taught in CPS myself, many moons ago, and I left as quickly as I could find something else to do. And after years of being under-educated or merely just looked after, Laquan McDonald probably did the same thing.

At 17 when he was killed, it’s possible that he was still in school when he was killed, but I think I would have heard something about that by now if he was. My guess is that his crappy school, whatever name it was known as, had nothing to offer him, and so he left. No diploma, no opportunity to get a job (because those were shipped overseas a long time ago, or they never existed to begin with), no chance at anything but a life on the streets. It is preferable to death on the streets, but in time he would have found that, too. The officer who is being charged with Laquan’s murder just got there first. And the murder charge is all a show, too. It won’t stick, and when the case is dismissed or the jury refuses to convict, we’ll be right back here all over again.

I hope they play the football game today. And I hope something somehow changes so that a kid like Laquan McDonald can aspire to go to either school someday. The first could happen, but the deck is very highly stacked–overwhelmingly so–against the second.

Fair Questions to Ask

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Did Subway know about Jared Fogle’s predilections for child pornography?

If they did, and did nothing to address it, was this the wrong thing to do?

Does Subway have any sort of responsibility to keep the face of their brand on the straight and narrow?

Does Jared Fogle have any ownership stake in the company at this time?

How much of a Subway purchase today will end up in Jared’s pockets?

The answers to these aren’t clear, and may never be.

But I’ll never spend any money at Subway again, I know that much. I’ve grown tired of the food, for one thing, and even the possibility that money spent at Subway will go to Jared, directly or indirectly, is more than I want to consider.

It’s been a fun ride, Subway, but this train will be off on a different track from now on.

Carry on

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A terrible storm blew through my neighborhood on Sunday, and its aftermath is still with us, in tree limbs and, in some cases, entire trees that sit along the curbs of my neighborhood. It’s rare to find a block that doesn’t have some natural debris in it still, five days after the storm.

The tree above caught my eye today, because it was damaged and the solution was to leave it in place, with its sweeping side branches in place, and its main trunk shorn off. I don’t know if the tree can survive like that long-term, but I suppose we’ll find out.

Like the storm that ravaged my neighborhood five days ago, unfavorable life events have recently visited my own world. nobody’s dead or wounded, fortunately, and I still have a life that many people wish they had. the knowledge of this helps to keep me going, and I’m grateful in many ways for the things that I still have.

but like the tree in the picture above, I’ll go on from here, probably in a different form than what I was before. But life does go on, in ways we sometimes don’t anticipate. And I’m grateful for that.

The fragile nature of trees

As I understand it, the Chicago neighborhood I call home was built in the 1920s, in response to general prosperity and a desire to move away from the race riot that happened on the South side in 1919. This means that there are many tall, mature trees where I live. And that’s usually a good thing. A tall, majestic tree can provide shade and pretty up a block like nothing else can.

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But mature trees don’t fare too well in high winds and storms. I learned that today, as a microburst swept in and cut a destructive swath in a matter of minutes. Some pictures of the damage are provided here, but they can’t really do it justice. I don’t literally live in a war zone, but it feels like great destruction has been brought to the streets and parks where I live.

Nature nourished these trees throughout my lifetime and beyond. And then, in a reminder of its great power, it called some of them home. May we always remember that this is Nature’s planet, and we are lucky enough to live here, for however long we are given.