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Posted by on Nov 7, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 0 comments

Another Discussion Worth Having: Animal Rights and Stopping Abusers



The tragic killings in Central Texas this past weekend have sparked yet another round of tireless debates about gun laws and mental health issues.

While these are debates worth having, they don’t fully address a national epidemic worsened by the distorted scales of criminal justice in America when it comes to animal cruelty.  Turns out, abusing animals (often family pets) is among the most troubling indications of serious trouble to come later in life.  And — we don’t take this issue nearly as seriously as we should.

The deranged Texas gunman wasn’t just a military reject, a mental patient, and wife beater.  He was also a viciously cruel man who was charged with animal abuse.  In 2014, the mass murderer was cited for animal cruelty after neighbors told police he viciously punched his dog outside his trailer home in El Paso.  Court records show the case was dismissed after he paid a small fine.

A small fine.

So punching a defenseless animal in the face so brutally that witnesses living in a trailer park felt compelled to call the local police gets taken about as seriously as a parking citation.

Most animal abusers aren’t caught.  Most aren’t charged with criminal offenses.  The vast majority of animal abuse goes unreported.  And most people who abuse animals don’t do it just one time.  They are habitual offenders, mindlessly cruel sadists who do awful things to animals for some sick perverted satisfaction, even joy.

There’s a terribly disturbing pattern linking animal abuse in childhood (and sometimes later on, even as adults) to the monstrous acts they commit which brings them into the public consciousness.  Consider the most high-profile killers in history, most of whom have tortured animals, and then gone on to commit viciously wicked crimes:

  1. Albert DeSalvo, a.k.a. “The Boston Stranger” murdered 13 women.  As a child, he trapped dogs and cats in boxes and would then shoot arrows at them.
  2. David Berkowitz, a.k.a. “Son of Sam” murdered at least six people.  Before he began his mass killing spree, he shot his neighbor’s dog.
  3. Brenda Spencer shot a gun into a crowd of children.  Eleven were hit by bullets and two died.  During her childhood, Spencer liked to light the tails of stray cats and dogs on fire.  Not as many women commit these horrendous acts.  Most childhood animal abusers tend to be men.
  4. Jeffrey Dahmer was a sexual sadist who murdered 17 young men.  As a kid, his hobby was to kill neighbor’s pets.  He even impaled a dog’s head on a stick, which he proudly displayed.
  5. Ted Bundy killed 40 people.  He learned cruelty early in life, often watching as his father tortured small animals.  As a teenager, Bundy later did the same acts to animals, and eventually people as an adult.
  6. Edmund Emil Kemper murdered eight women (including his mother) during the 1970s.  As a child, he found cats around the neighborhood, killed them, and then displayed their heads on poles.  He even killed his own cat and sliced it into pieces.
  7. Andrew Cunanan murdered five people, including fashion icon Gianni Versace.  As a kid, he often went to beaches and tortured crabs by gouging out their eyes.
  8. Lee Boyd Malvo was the impressionable teenager in a duo of snipers who terrorized the Washington, DC area during the early 2000s.  As a child, he used to torture small animals.
  9. Dennis Rader, who would become the infamous “BTK Killer,” discovered a grotesque thrill as a kid when started binding, torturing, and killing animals.  He cruelly experimented on several types of animals, even going so far as to prolong their lives during torture sessions so they would experience more pain.
  10. Now, add the name Devin Kelly to this list, who murdered 26 people on Sunday.

It’s excruciating for me to point out this short list is by no means complete, nor is it comprehensive.  Indeed, there are innumerable cases — thousands, hundreds of thousands — of kids who torture animals who later go on to commit even worse crimes as adults when empowered with greater means and opportunity to inflict more pain and destruction upon innocents.

So, what is to be done?  And, how do we stop this?

I don’t have all the answers, but this is a question we should be asking.  While gun debates and how we administer mental health treatment is a vital issue right now, so to must be animal rights and mindless cruelty.

A good start might be each of us taking an interest in what we observe.  Neighborhood kids throwing rocks at ducks might not seem like such a big deal.  Chasing defenseless animals seems innocent enough.  Shooting a pellet gun at birds isn’t illegal.  But engaging in these inexplicable childish acts not only exhibits a complete lack of empathy for other creatures.  These common acts of adolescent violence often become an early foundation for horrors to come later.  They are an affirmation that is okay to amuse oneself at the expense of animals.  It’s fucking sick.

We need more teaching.  We need more respect for animals and the environment.  We need to instill goodness in the hearts and minds of children.  We need more counseling.  We need greater access to mental health professionals.  We need more severe punishment for those who harm animals.

Not small fines.

It’s time to take animal cruelty much more seriously.  Too often, it’s the secret and silent beast within which incubates for years and later mutates into mass murder.




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Posted by on Oct 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 4 comments

Donald Trump is a Lying Sociopath



Donald Trump told yet another jaw-dropping lie on Monday.  During a White House press conference he falsely asserted that former Presidents failed to call or write letters to the grieving families of American soldiers killed in the line of duty.

This is a fucking lie.

The preponderance of evidence proving Trump is a despicable liar is both indisputable and overwhelming.  No one in command of their senses with even a basic knowledge of contemporary events disputes this.  Yet again, as has so often been the case since this political pustule popped onto the surface, Trump repeats fake innuendo but then when pressed reveals he has no clue what he’s talking about.  He is deranged.  Mentally unhinged.  Sociopathic.  Beneath contempt.

Normally, most of us wouldn’t give a flea’s ass if Trump the chronic liar lived anywhere else but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  It wouldn’t matter if the eccentric “billionaire” (yeah, right) was bouncing off the walls of his tacky penthouse at Trump Tower.  If celebrity-obsessed Trump was pimping his contrived reality television show on NBC (the network he now wants off the air) falsely pretending to be a successful business tycoon — we’d all be laughing at him, rolling our eyes, and no one would give a damn.  This lunatic wouldn’t be a public hazard if the swanky swindler was still out there conning gullible investors, which has been his business model ever since the first of multiple bankruptcies when he repeatedly left thousands of suckers holding his smelly bag of dog shit.  Indeed, what rings alarm bells is that 62 million doddering dirt-dumb dimwits somehow swallowed the infected load and elected this superstooge as President.

America, we have a problem.

Yes, Donald Trump is a serial liar.  He’s a political shitstorm, a sick Son of Sam, only without the talking dog for guidance, because even this pathetically lonely loon of a man with no friends utterly incapable of any empathy or affection doesn’t even own a pet.

Does anyone out there not polluted by the poisonous distortions of Breitbart and Bannonism really believe what Donald Trump said yesterday at his Rose Garden press conference?  Does anyone who values truth and honesty really accept Donald Trump’s assertion as fact (quoting him directly), “if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls.  A lot of them didn’t make calls.  I like to call when it’s appropriate — when I think I’m able to do it.”

Reality check:  Presidential schedules are closely monitored.  Presidential activities — including everything they say, what write, and who they call — is recorded.

So, is there any truth to former Presidents not displaying compassion for those who made the ultimate sacrifice?  Answer — none.  It’s a lie, propagated by the conspiracy-obsessed haters of the alt-right apparently linked to a bogus 2010 article which (falsely) claimed President Obama failed to contact one of the many grieving families.  Some flunky in the Trump Administration purportedly whispered something into the President’s ear.  Salivating at the prospect of making Obama look bad, Trump decided to run with it, then was hit with the truth and fumbled.

A Google search instantly reveals that the two most recent Presidents — Barack Obama and George W. Bush contacted Gold Star families thousands of times during their respective administrations.  Between 2002 and 2015, countless phone calls were made directly from the Oval Office.  Signed letters on presidential stationary were written, many with handwritten inscriptions directly from the commander-in-chief.  Both former Presidents also made personal visits to the caskets of those who gave their lives.  Innumerable conversations with surviving family members, many in private, are all a matter of the historical record.

No one sane would dare question this.  No one.

Unfortunately, what’s also a matter of the historical record is Donald Trump’s spewing of lies to prop up his fragile ego.  These lies aren’t sporadic, they’re a firestorm.  Lies are told on any occasion, to everyone, at any time — about anything.  His lies transcend simple misinterpretation and the occasional malapropism, which may be forgiven.  Donald Trump’s lies are deliberate.  They are intentional.  They are calculated for a reason.  They are targeted at dopes too lazy to do any fact-checking.  They are feeble attempts to make himself seem as worthy as any of the men who preceded him in office, although by now it’s become painfully obvious the man-infant throwing twitter tantrums harbors some deeply-rooted inferiority issues.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President Barack Obama and his legacy.  Petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 2,500 service members were killed during Obama’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Obama visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Say what you want and believe what you will about President George W. Bush and his legacy.  Again, petty partisan bickering becomes irrelevant here.  What’s relevant is 6,700 service members were killed during Bush’s presidency and the fact that virtually all of those families were contacted in some way personally by the President — either by telephone or in writing (or both).  President Bush visited military hospitals at least two dozen times during his eight years in office.  He also paid visits to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor soldiers who returned in flag-draped coffins.

Trump lied about Obama.  Trump lied about Bush.  Because he’s mean and vicious and vindictive.  He’s an ugly President and an even uglier person.

Lack of human compassion is a serious problem.  Willful disregard of truth is an even bigger problem.  But this single-minded obsession with Obama is sick.  Compulsively determined to undo every single act over the previous eight years, Trump is a wrecking ball swinging in every direction.  Fortunately, Hoover Dam wasn’t built on Obama’s watch, so that government program won’t get blown up.  Everything else signed into law by Obama has a bullseye and Trump is aiming a bump stock.

Indeed, a more grave concern than Trump’s lack of personal empathy for anyone other than himself is a character flaw that’s been unmasked on multiple occasions.  His self-imposed confinement within an isolation chamber of willful ignorance has become frightening.  If Trump really believed in his own warped mind that former Presidents didn’t bother to contact families of the fallen, then he should have been set straight immediately by someone working on his staff.  Then, he should have been man enough to acknowledge his public misstatement and apologize to the good men who preceded him in office.  Such action would have quickly defused yet another ugly mess.  But Trump didn’t do that.  He wouldn’t do that.  He never apologizes, nor corrects himself.  Ever.

When asked if he plans to make phone calls or write letters to the families who four soldiers killed on duty in Niger, Trump replied, “I’ve written them personal letters.  They’ve been sent or they’re going out tonight — but they were written during the weekend.”

They’re going out tonight.  Nice.  Thanks for the sacrifice, Mr. President.

It’s been two weeks since the soldiers died.

To be fair, being President is a very busy job.  Perhaps Trump didn’t have time until this past weekend to compose letters that might be of some solace and comfort to those who suffered an unbearable loss.  Writing to the families of the dead isn’t easy.  Making phone calls and speaking with people who are crying is even harder.  But each of his predeccesors wrote thousands of personalized letters.  Both of his predeccesors made an incalculable number of painful phone calls.

Meanwhile, within just the past two weeks, since those brave soldiers died, Trump actions reveal he was preoccupied with far more pressing personal concerns.  Trump’s wasted countless hours obsessing over the behavior of football players.  He tweeted on multiple occasions promoting some horrid Fox television show called “Judge Jeanine.”  He visited his golf resort in Sterling, VA — five times.



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Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

We Don’t Need More Prayers, We Need Tougher Gun Laws



Another mass shooting.  More bloodshed.  More death.  More agony.

And, of course, more thoughts and prayers.


Tragedy and suffering have become a national epidemic.  During the past month, America has endured three terrible storms which created mass destruction and many deaths.

But this tragedy was something very different.  The killings which took place at a country-music concert in Las Vegas were concocted and carried out by a human being.  The disaster wasn’t a natural act.  It was man-made.  Hence, the tragedy was preventable.

The current debate about man-made climate change notwithstanding, there’s not much we can do to stop forces of nature.  Storms happen.  But we can and we must do everything we can to prevent massacres initiated by one human being upon others.  We must try and stop it.  A civil society, particularly America which is such a statistical outlier when it comes to gun violence, not only faces a decision to act now, it has an obligation to do so.  This is assuming that we really do value human life, which is very much an open question.  Question:  Do we really possess the moral and political courage to stand up to powerful forces who are de facto co-conspirators in this pandemic of mass death?

I’m not so sure.

Instead, and in place of action, there are relentless empty words.  Thoughts and prayers are nothing more than a sweet-sounding Hallmark card, only they’re cheaper and not nearly as sentimental.  At least sending a Hallmark card to someone suffering inconsolable pain is a tangible act.  By contrast, thoughts and prayers ring hollow.  Thoughts and prayers are a cowardly abdication of greater responsibility if not linked to something more meaningful.  It’s like offering to help your pal move out of his apartment but secretly hoping he’s already hired a moving company.

If prayers really worked, some nutjob wouldn’t have hammered out the windows on the 32nd floor of a luxury hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and then starting shooting upon a crowd in the first place.  If prayers were effective, no benevolent celestial divinity overseeing the vast universe would have remained asleep at the wheel, emotionally isolated and criminally idle for ten full minutes, all while bullets rained down onto a defenseless cluster of terrified innocents.  Expressing “thoughts and prayers” to some imaginary do-nothing sky wizard in the aftermath of such tragedy isn’t just pointless.  It’s offensive.

Thoughts and prayers are offensive because they detract us, some by intention, from the very relevant discussion and debate we should all be having, instead.  Thoughts and prayers are a smokescreen.  Yes, perhaps there is a time for thoughts and prayers — later.  At funerals.  Do the prayers there.  There will be at least 59 funerals happening in the next week or so.  So, pray there.  Pray at remembrances intended to give comfort to relatives and survivors.  Pray there, if you want — all you want.  But the terrible aftermath of preventable tragedies aren’t assuaged by empty words tweeted and posted on public forums, even if well-intended.  Evil is eradicated, or at least diminished, by acts of courage and specific action.

Gun-fellating ostriches will protest “politicising the tragedy,” an all-too-convenient reflex I’ve already read dozens of times this morning posted all over social media.  But if this — the deadliest mass shooting in American history — doesn’t motivate us to do something now, then what will?  A hundred deaths?  A thousand?  Twenty more mass shootings?  What if your relative or friend was caught in the crossfire of some wacko blasting a high-powered assault weapon armed with thousands of rounds of ammunition?  Pray tell, — what will it take?

Quoting Sarah Q. Queen from Facebook, who said it best:

“Saying not to politicize this is the single most political thing you can do.  Anyone who has lost family or friends to an assault rifle wants nothing more than to prevent subsequent murders, and the only way to do that is to stop allowing access.  Now is the second best time, the best time being quite a few years ago.  So stop politicizing and get out of the way of doing what’s best.”

Want to honor the victims of this tragedy, or one of the innumerable tragedies which have taken place before?  Better yet, want to try and prevent another tragedy which is otherwise sure to come?  How about this:  Let’s update our gun laws.  Let’s start with gun registration.  Hell, let’s start with restricting guns getting into the hands of mentally disturbed people.  Yeah, that would be a good place to start.  But we can’t even agree on something this simple.  The last time federal legislation was proposed to restrict gun purchases to mentally ill people, the National Rifle Association and its faithful foot soldiers stepped in and killed the bill.  What kind of sick perverted society allows this?  What sicko wants to allow someone with mental problems to, gulp!, buy guns?

Apparently, there are about 4 million sickos.  That’s the number of active NRA members.

Note that I don’t propose getting rid of all guns, even though that’s pretty much what the rest of the civilized world has done where mass shootings simply do not happen.  People can keep a gun in the house for self-protection or perhaps even carry a weapon.  It’s a very valid point that people should have the right to protect themselves, and that right extends to legally buying a gun.

But if we’re going to sell guns to tens of millions of people from all walks of life, shouldn’t there be some minimal level of scrutiny as to who buys them?  Should anyone out there be legally able to buy a dozen potentially deadly high-powered assault rifles plus thousands of rounds of ammunition?  For what purpose?  Shouldn’t this be a red flag?  Sure, many private gun collectors who are good people and there are valid reasons for some citizens to own many guns.  Indeed, we can live in a reasonably peaceful society where we have both — tougher gun laws along with maintaining the right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment.

We require licenses and insurance for people to drive cars, and there are plenty of good reasons for this.  No sane person would argue against requiring drivers to show competency before getting behind the wheel of a car.  We also require restaurants to obtain licenses and adhere to safety inspections.  Again, no sane person would argue against requiring food servers to demonstrate clean and safe practices.  Our government even requires many professions — doctors, dentists, insurance salesmen, financial planners, and so forth to be licensed.  Even hair stylists must obtain a license before they can cut hair.  If we demand the person who does haircuts for a living have a license, shouldn’t we require someone who walks into a gun store and purchases a deadly assault weapon to not only to meet some standard of mental competency but also attend a basic training course on gun safety?  Bartenders in many states are required to attend courses on alcohol safety.  Is anyone really shocked that a nation with much stronger laws restricting who gives haircuts and serves beer than buys a deadly rifle has a rampant problem with gun violence?


Most gun owners are responsible people and good citizens.  However, 33,000 gun deaths per year, on average in the United States, plus another 100,000 or so non-fatal accidents is a collective scream for immediate action.  That’s not acceptable breakage for any sane society that values human life.  That’s re-fighting the Vietnam War every two years.  Think of that.  Based on the number gun deaths and accidents in America, we are re-fighting the Vietnam War every 24 months.  Now as then, we are losing another costly and preventable war. 

Anyone who seriously believes last night’s Las Vegas Mandalay Bay tragedy is the final mass shooting is hopelessly naive.  No doubt, there will be more shootings in the future.  More shootings will take place given that gun laws are unlikely to change anytime soon.  And so, we are destined to endure far more preventable deaths, that is, so long as this nation remains foolishly wielded to outdated gun policies that were written when the most deadly weapon in the world was an infantryman’s musket.

Since the Second Amendment was written into the United States Constitution, technology has changed.  America has changed.  So too, our laws much change also.

And if you still want to pray — then please go ahead and pray.  But while you’re remembering the innocent victims, also pray for some sensible gun laws in America.  That’s a prayer where I’d willingly bow my head in complete agreement.


Postscript:  I would be terribly remiss were I not to add that we need to spend far more and do far more for mental health in this country.  But instead, we are cutting services to agencies which deal with mental health problems.  We will never know if mass murders like this terribly disturbed individual might have cried for help and not been given the treatment which could have prevented another senseless tragedy.



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