The GOP: Ready to Party Like It’s 1799

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Despite the fact that more than half of their constituency would rather there be a raging dumpster fire in the middle of Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH, instead of the coronation of a dipshit as the party leader, the Republican Party will open its 2016 National Convention on Monday night. Yes, the Grand Old Party, the Party of such legendary statesmen as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, will (from appearances) nominate a fascist in Donald Drumpf, devoid of any actual governmental leadership, and his almost-as-fanatical henchman Mike Pence (we’ll get to him in a moment) come Thursday night. What will go on between Monday and then? That promises to be the intriguing question.

Political conventions, by tradition, are about as exciting as having your wisdom teeth removed, but they are also almost as old as the country itself. The first political convention was held back in 1831, when the Anti-Masonic Party (if you can’t guess, they were against the Masonic Order and its influence on politics – and we think we created some of those conspiracy theories!) met in Philadelphia to nominate William Wirt as its candidate for President. The National Republican Party (not today’s brand) also held its first convention in 1831 in Baltimore (nominating Henry Clay for President) and the Democratic Party held their first convention in 1832, also in Baltimore (nominating Martin Van Buren). The eventual winner of that 1832 election? Incumbent President Andrew Jackson, who crushed the opposition in getting 54% of the popular vote and obliterated the opposition in racking up 219 electoral votes (his closest competitor, Clay, received 49).

Since that time, the major parties in U. S. politics have met every four years to go through the process of nominating their candidate for the Presidency. As the years have gone on, these conventions have become a way for the individual parties to put on their best look for the citizens of the United States by showing off their up-and-coming leaders and portraying their ideals as the “future of America.” They have also shown the major problems that can occur inside a political organization, from outrage over the leaders chosen to actual physical battles on the floor of the convention and outside the convention hall.

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In 2016, the GOP didn’t even wait until the convention to fuck things up. They did that from the start following the 2014 midterm elections with a clown car assortment of 17 Presidential primary candidates that basically ensured that whoever emerged from the nomination process would be doing so without even a majority of the votes from PEOPLE IN THE PARTY. For all his crowing about drawing the most votes in the GOP primary, the Orangutan Mutant didn’t get more votes that the three men who followed him – Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich (who will not attend the convention of his party BEING HELD IN HIS STATE). This isn’t even counting the votes that went to other candidates, such as former Governor Jeb Bush, current New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham or “whatever the hell they do” candidates such as Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson (and this is just a part of the clown car), prior to their departure from the race.

Faced with the potential for a xenophobic, misogynistic and fascist candidate taking the helm of their party, many in the GOP have been looking for ways to get FAR away from Der Drumpf. Adding an intriguing possibility of the proverbial monkey wrench into the engine’s inner workings, these “Never Trump” people are fighting a battle on the platform and probably will stage some sort of demonstration on the convention floor at least one night of the gathering (and hopefully every night). Perhaps they can do it well enough that it will hide the embarrassment of the party for the way they are putting on their very own convention.

Because the convention has been beset with organizations and groups leaving it like rats evacuating a sinking ship, the GOP hasn’t got enough money to be able to pay for the week’s stay in Cleveland. The organizers for the Republican National Convention are groveling at the feet of conservative mega donor Sheldon Adelson for an influx of cash – about $6 million worth – to offset the costs for the convention. As of two days prior to the start of the “great celebration of conservatism,” Adelson has yet to respond to the letter.

Then there’s the actual platform that the GOP has pushed through. Instead of taking the approach that the party discussed in 2013 following the crushing defeat they took at the hands of President Barack Obama – including attempting to reach out to minorities, adjusting their stance on immigration and following a pro-trade path with the international community – the 2016 version of the GOP has decided to follow Drumpf in jackboot step. Some of the planks that have been put into the GOP platform make it look like they’re ready to party like its 1799, let alone 1999.

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First off is the idiotic suggestion from Mr. Oompah Loompah to erect a blockade wall on the southern border of the U. S. The GOP ACTUALLY IS ENDORSING this idea, although they don’t call it a “wall” but a “physical barrier” to be erected. This “wall,” which would cost upwards of $25 BILLION to build (and would never stand to Constitutional review, as Der Drumpf would have to take land rights from their legal owners to do it), is just the tip of the draconian immigration policy that would be pushed by the GOP (including deportation of 11 million people, as Drumpf has desired).

Next is the continued drive by the Republican Party to roll back LGBT rights, in particular marriage equality. This is despite the fact that their VERY OWN CANDIDATE said he would be “the best candidate” for the LGBT community. Also working its way into the platform was the GOP insistence on “bathroom bills” such as the one that passed in North Carolina, HB2, that mandates a person use the facilities of their birth sex. I personally want to see actress Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” looking Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the eye when they both enter the men’s room at Quicken Loans Arena – I’d bet that platform plank would be removed before the end of the night.

On international trade, the GOP has sucked up to the teats of Drumpf again, calling for “renegotiation of trade pacts” so as to “not allow foreign governments to limit access to their markets while stealing our designs, patents…and technology.” Guess who that little tidbit is aimed at? This is despite the factor that the trade pacts – such as NAFTA (now entering its third decade of existence) and the yet-to-be-ratified Trans-Pacific Pact, which has the support of both Democrats and Republicans – normally help to keep prices down (this isn’t to say they are entirely outstanding; a side effect is manufacturing jobs moving to areas that pay employees less).

The GOP and Drumpf have stated that the Convention with be a cavalcade of stars, including a “Winner’s Night” leading up to Der Drumpf being named commandant…err, I mean, the GOP Presidential nominee. This cavalcade of stars includes such names as Natalie Gulbis, the 484th best woman golfer on the planet (and, if you didn’t notice by the ranking, she hasn’t won much lately), actor Antonio Sabato, Jr. and actress Kimberlin Brown (and if you can name anything they’ve done, you have way too much time on your hands), not exactly the “star power” that you might like to help unveil your highly disliked candidate. Toss in his kids – who’ll be afraid to say anything remotely bad about Herr Father lest he disinherit them – and people Drumpf has been walking on for at least a year now (Christie, Carson and Scott Walker, for example) and it becomes a “who gives a rat’s ass” gathering of nothingness. (The four demon spawn of Drumpf equal the same number of sitting Senators who’ll speak at the convention.)

Then there’s the jewel that is Pence (told you we’d get back to him). Pence has shown himself to be just to the right of Genghis Khan in his ruling abilities. As Governor of Indiana, he led the drive for a religious segregation law that allowed people to discriminate on the basis of their religious beliefs. But when queried about it by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Pence could not say that the new law wouldn’t prevent people from using it to discriminate against LGBT persons and that it was wrong to discriminate against them. EIGHT TIMES Pence was given the opportunity to say LGBT people shouldn’t be discriminated against and EIGHT TIMES he couldn’t bring himself to say those words. (Pence later signed a law that explicitly said the religious freedoms law could not be used to discriminate against anyone “regardless of race, gender or sexual proclivities”…but only after facing the withdrawal of a significant amount of business from the state.)

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Second, Representative Pence (member of Congress, 2001-13) was into shutting the government down over Planned Parenthood while Cruz was still handling the “dildo case” documents in Texas. Furthermore, during his tenure as Indiana governor, Pence pushed through the most heinous anti-abortion laws in the nation, including a law that made it mandatory that the aborted fetus had to have full funeral or cremation rights performed. Fortunately for anyone that is sane, the courts struck down that and other provisions of the Indiana law passed in March of this year before they went into effect.

You wonder why the “Trump/Pence” logo was fucking the United States? That’s what they’d do if they were elected. (They have since switched to just the names of the candidates and the idiotic “Make America Great Again” statement.)

The entirety of the Republican National Convention should be a train wreck, played out over national television as the GOP embarrasses themselves even further. With their unwanted leaders in Drumpf and Pence to their unwanted hangers-on in Christie and whatever D-list actor or politician wants to put their two cents in as to how great Der Drumpf is, it will be another week of embarrassment for the Republican Party. But that’s their standard they are bearing for the 2016 election…perhaps they’ll be ready the next time around, if they haven’t splintered into warring factions by the next election.

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The GOP Are Liars or Psychopaths – You Make the Call

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In what seems like a millennium ago, the top contenders for the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 2016 stood on a stage with one question asked of them. “Will you support the eventual nominee of the party (hell, this was Fox News so they didn’t have to designate), whomever it may be?” Of the ten people on the stage during that first debate, nine raised their hands in the affirmative; only one, Donald Drumpf, chose to not raise his hand. Now either those other people who once were running against Drumpf – and, by extension, the Republican Party as a whole – are either liars or psychopaths and it is up to us to make the call.

Since that first debate, Drumpf has employed a scorched earth policy where he seldom left any opponent unsinged and, in some cases, burned them to the ground. Let’s take a look, shall we? (These are all direct comments on each of his fellow candidates from Drumpf himself, in the order that they dropped out of the race)

Rick Perry – “an absolutely horrible job of securing the border” (never mind that it isn’t the job of a state’s governor to do that), “should be forced to take an IQ test” (pot, meet kettle), “needs a new pair of glasses” (this is a familiar theme – attack the way someone looks)

Scott Walker – “a puppet,” “massive deficit, bad jobs forecast, a mess” (using the entirety of the GOP playbook for running government, it must be noted), “your very dumb fundraiser hit me very hard – not smart!”

Bobby Jindal – “Spent $1000 to register in New Hampshire and dropped out the next day. Such a waste!”

Lindsey Graham – “dumb mouthpiece” who has “zero against me – no cred!” “embarrassed himself with his failed run for President” “So easy to beat!”

George Pataki – “Couldn’t be elected dog catcher if he ran again” (don’t worry, you’ll see this one again…), “terrible governor of NY, one of the worst”

Surprisingly, Mike Huckabee was left unscathed by Drumpf. Guess that means Drumpf never took him seriously as a candidate, which was true as he never got out of the “kiddie table” debates.

Rand Paul – “Why is Rand Paul allowed to take advantage of the people of Kentucky?” “truly weird,” “reminds me of a spoiled brat without a properly functioning brain.”

Rick Santorum also dodged the Drumpf attention – unless Drumpf looked up “santorum” and was appalled to the point of silence.

Carly Fiorina – “If you listen to her for more than ten minutes straight, you develop a massive headache,” “has zero chance” and basically everything he noted in the Rolling Stone interview about her.

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Chris Christie – “spending all his time in New Hampshire” instead of trying to campaign across the spectrum of states early in the primaries. Then he climbed into the trunk to be “The Gimp” for Drumpf.

Jim Gilmore – nobody paid attention to him. In fact, if you look above, he wasn’t even in the picture when this whole clusterfuck started.

Jeb Bush – WAY too many to even mention, but let’s go with “low energy,” “the bottom of the barrel” and “a pathetic figure” as some of the kinder statements.

Ben Carson – “incapable of understanding foreign policy,” “very weak on immigration” and “many lies by Ben Carson” – and who can forget the pantomime by Drumpf of the teenage Ben Carson knifing a close friend and comparing his “pathological temper” to the “sickness of a child molester.”

Marco Rubio – Again, WAY too many to even mention, but the kinder statements are “little Marco,” “the lightweight from Florida” and “all talk and no action”

Sure, there’s that old adage of “sticks and stones” but, in the case of when you’re looking to draw support for something that you might need some friends to help with, this isn’t exactly the best way to go about seizing that support. About the only way that these people, for the most part, should be voting for Drumpf in any election is if they are either complete liars, psychopaths or masochists who don’t deserve consideration for any political office.

This isn’t even getting into the recent tete a tete between Drumpf and Senator Rafael Eduardo “Ted” Cruz, still battling for that brokered convention in Cleveland (which may soon become known as the “Second Mistake by the Lake”) come July, over their wives, which for those who thought the campaign couldn’t sink any lower suddenly found that it could.

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And here is where Drumpf has made his biggest mistake. In “counterpunching” when he views an attack (and in which another SANE person running for political office would have said “hey, that’s the way the game works”), he has successfully pissed off virtually anyone that would even be an assistance to his candidacy. In addition to this, while he’s been racking up state wins, Drumpf forgot about the bigger picture – keeping those people that you’ve beaten in your corner to help your drive further up the ladder.

Anyone can get the gullible base of the GOP – yes, the racists, the isolationists, the “keep your guv’ment hands off my Medicare” folks, the “God, guns and gravy” constituency – to come to your corner. Just tell them the (many) lies that you’re going to make things “like they used to be” – when the women knew their place, the blacks were off the streets by dark and the police let Bubba go home after he downed a 12-pack and run his car into the entrance of the local chapter of the NAACP. The bigger problem is in getting those that actually have a brain to follow your gruel and, beyond that, getting someone that isn’t a part of your circle to actually believe you have what it takes to lead.

And therein is where Drumpf has lost and will lose the election. While he may be winning the GOP nomination, he is winning it with 30-40% of the vote. As of 2014, approximately 39% of the voting populace in the U. S. identifies as Republican; that is approximately 98 million people in the country. Let’s give benefit of the doubt and give Drumpf 40% of that figure…that’s 39 million people who ALL have to vote come November.

Do you remember the results from 2012? In the 2012 elections, Barack Obama racked up almost 65 million votes while Mitt Romney earned almost 60 million. It was considered a “landslide” victory by Obama over Romney, who was well-liked by his fellow Republican candidates and the GOP as a whole.

Now add in that Drumpf isn’t leading in any demographic outside of Republicans – minorities, Hispanics, women, you name it, he’s failing miserably. If you can tell me where Drumpf can find enough StormTrumpers and Brownshirts to push over 66 million voters (not going to happen), then you need to spend more time picking lottery numbers than presidential hopefuls.

But I digress…any party or person who would, after being subjugated by the slimiest verbosity from the pompous Orangutan Mutant, who has any respect for themselves, their party and maybe even their country, and then still says, “I’m voting for him,” is…well, I think the point has been made.

The Situation with Police Isn’t Changing…

Back in 2014, a young man was shot in the middle of the street in Ferguson, MO, reputedly in cold blood by a renegade cop who shot first and asked questions later. As the investigation played out, however, it was found that the young man, who was black, was possibly a suspect in a convenience store theft and allegedly reached inside the officer’s (who was white) car and wrestled for his weapon. Thus, the proper investigative organizations – including state and federal agencies and a grand jury convened for the case – decided not to press charges against the police officer, who summarily quit his position as a member of the force and disappeared.

Many have called the situation that occurred in Ferguson the spark of what has been an increase in attention to the conduct of police in the United States. While it was wrong in this case – the police officer was well within his authority to use his weapon against a suspect who had previously attacked him – there have now been a litany of other cases that have come up (perhaps thanks to the attention brought regarding police conduct in the Missouri case) that show the situation with police isn’t changing.

The true “spark” might have been the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a 43-year old father who, while allegedly selling loose cigarettes to people, was allegedly choked to death by police. After a great deal of investigation, a Staten Island, NY, grand jury found that the officer in question, Daniel Pantaleo, might have used an illegal move in restraining Garner but he wasn’t responsible for his death. While you might think that police would have gotten a bit smarter about the situation after this, it instead has become obvious that the cases of police misconduct are much more prevalent than we previously thought.

2015 saw the spark turn into a wildfire. In April, the confrontation between Walter Scott and officer Michael Slager in North Charleston rattled the nation. Claiming that Scott had (at the minimum) grabbed at his Taser, Slager said that he “feared for his life” (get ready, you’ll hear this frequently) in shooting Scott to death. This would have probably been the story that was accepted…until video came out that showed Scott, running away from Slager, mercilessly shot several times in the back and, as he lay dying, Slager come up to him and drop the Taser beside his body. That case, in which Slager was charged with murder and dismissed from the police force, is still pending.

Also in April, the death of Freddie Gray in a Baltimore paddy wagon – despite telling officers he needed medical attention and allegedly having his injuries made more severe through a “rough ride” (a jerking and rough treatment in the cage of a paddy wagon of a person under arrest for causing “problems” for officers) – set the Maryland skies ablaze. Rioting in the inner-city Baltimore neighborhoods brought back sad and eerie reminders of the Ferguson rioting a year earlier, but it seemed to calm once the District Attorney in the case indicted six Baltimore police officers on varying charges related to Gray’s death. One of those officers had his case end in a mistrial and will be retried in 2016; the other five are still awaiting trial.

This isn’t even looking at the case earlier in 2015 in Texas. A 17-year old girl, who had walked into a Longview, TX, police station, was gunned down by police. With a knife in her hand and four words – “I have a gun” – written on her hand, Kristiana Coignard was surrounded by three officers, with one of them shooting the teenager, who was obviously mentally off. After investigation by the Texas Rangers (the law enforcement arm, not the baseball team), no charges were brought against the officers involved.

Now, as we approach the end of 2015, one case from 2014 and several others in one major city over the past couple of years are painting law enforcement in an ever-worsening light. The November 2014 shooting of 12-year old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police officers was a tragedy that shouldn’t have occurred. According to testimony, Rice was carrying an air pistol – a BB gun, basically – and menacingly holding it out at passersby and cars. Police were called and, after two seconds of being on the scene, one officer, Timothy Loehmann, pulled his weapon and shot Rice in the torso; Rice would die the next day from the single shot.

From the start, this case has been a clusterfuck. The Cleveland DA, not wanting to taint his relationship with Cleveland police, laid the case at a grand jury’s feet while allegedly trying to ensure that charges wouldn’t be brought against the officers through manipulation of the evidence (such as getting paid experts to side with the police officers’ side of the story, something unheard of unless in a trial, among other things). This is despite evidence that Loehmann had been found to be an “emotionally unstable recruit unfit for duty” by a previous employer in law enforcement. The DA’s work prevailed as it was announced charges would not be brought against the officers on Monday, putting an entire city on the razor’s edge.

Another city that has been walking the tightrope of tension is Chicago. In a police shooting against a man in November 2014, city officials had dragged their feet on the investigation, including not releasing the videotape from the police cruisers at the scene that reportedly showed Officer Jason Van Dyke gunning down 17-year old Laquan McDonald on a Chicago street. After a Freedom of Information Act request from a local blogger wasn’t blocked by the courts, Chicago government authorities released the video to the general public in all of its ugliness and charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder…more than a year following the shooting.

The video showed McDonald, erratically walking down a street and allegedly waving a small pocketknife around (it cannot be seen in the video until it is kicked away from his body at the end), as police attempted to control the situation with their squad cars and their experience. Allegedly Van Dyke showed up to the scene and, within six seconds of arrival, pulled his weapon and pumped a full clip – 15 shots – into McDonald, who was spun around after two shots and laid prone on the ground as more shots entered his body. He laid in the street for several minutes, without any medical attention, while police cordoned off the scene.

Once again, video was the thing that brought out the discrepancies in the story. Van Dyke alleges that he felt “in fear of his life” in shooting McDonald and that McDonald had lunged at him; in fact, McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke when hit with the first shot. After emptying his clip, Van Dyke was reloading his .45 automatic and preparing to shoot some more until a fellow officer issued a “stand down” order. Perhaps more problematic that Van Dyke’s actions, for which he is currently charged with murder (the first time a Chicago police officer has been charged with murder since 1968) and will face trial in 2016, other officers AGREED with Van Dyke’s account, stating they immediately went in to provide medical attention to McDonald following the shooting.

Now there is another shooting that is roiling the Chicago landscape. The day after Christmas, 19-year old Quintonio LeGrier, allegedly wielding a baseball bat following a domestic disturbance, was shot to death by Chicago police. LeGrier wasn’t the only fatality, however; a 55-year old neighbor, Bettie Jones, was hit by stray police gunfire and died during the shooting. The investigation is ongoing in this case.

It is painfully obvious that there is a need for seismic change in the way police officers are trained and how they conduct themselves in the “real” world. Although it may be claimed that these are “isolated” incidences, when you add in other situations such as those in Alabama and in Maryland, it is happening far too frequently for it to simply be “rogue” officers (this doesn’t even bring up the embezzlement that the Illinois police officer had done for years before he committed suicide – while trying to make it look like he was killed in action – this summer). Through these simple steps, there might be a change in how officers are hired, trained and kept on the force.

Every two years, a police officer – regardless of position or power – should be subjected to a complete physical, psychological and financial review. These reviews would be withering, looking into social media usage and actions outside of the workday (hey, if we can fire teachers for starring in porn videos outside of school hours, we ought to be able to fire officers for being aligned with the KKK, as some in Missouri have alleged to have been) and into their personal lives. If an officer doesn’t agree to such testing, he should lay his badge and gun down then and there and leave the force.

In an effort to further ensure that the truth is discovered, all patrol cars should have video cameras on them and officers themselves should be wearing personal cameras. The penalties for not operating these devices should be dismissal from the police force and banishment from law enforcement. Through the usage of these devices – and the FULL release of said video on demand of the public (several locales are looking to block the public from seeing these videos, corrupting the system rather than making it more transparent) – the truth, more often than not in the favor of law enforcement, would be demonstrated.

Yes, a job in law enforcement is highly dangerous and can result in a person’s death. This doesn’t give a person the right to be the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to situations on the street. It also doesn’t give them carte blanche to indiscriminately fire weapons, as it appears this latest incident in Chicago was.

It is time there was definitive change in the way police conduct themselves for the constituency they are supposed to serve. The day of being able to “fudge” reports, plant evidence (remember the Charleston case) or skew a case through the appropriate language (“in fear of my life”) being used should be long past over. Stand up and take responsibility for what you are doing, law enforcement, or face even more problems down the road.

As The Bullets Continue To Fly…

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Thanksgiving…a time for all of us to join together with our families and friends and truly demonstrate that we are grateful for the bounty that our lives have provided for us. I was feeling quite heartened by these spirits as Thanksgiving Day elapsed, having a great time preparing (OK, thanks to Harris Teeter, there wasn’t much preparing) our Thanksgiving dinner with my lovely wife as our son bounded about watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (probably the first year he actually paid attention to it). The very next day, the bullets continued to fly as it ruined any amount of goodwill I might have mustered from that one day.

It started on Tuesday and I did try to ignore it but, as the news continued to grow, I grew more irritated at our current condition. Last Tuesday, city officials in Chicago finally got around to releasing the dash cam video of the death of Laquan McDonald, the 17 year old who was allegedly gunned down by police in an attack that dated back MORE THAN A YEAR PREVIOUSLY. The investigation supposedly had been going on that entire time and officials reluctantly (after being forced by an FOIA request from a journalist) released the video to the general public late in the afternoon. They also decided to charge the officer responsible for the shooting, Jason Van Dyke, with first degree murder while releasing the video.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch the dash cam video of that fateful night, it is angering. With no audio from the dash cam (a violation of Chicago videotaping procedures, by the way), we see McDonald (who was found with PCP in his system in the autopsy afterwards) acting erratically as he walks down a city street carrying what would later be learned to be a pocket knife. Several police officers, either in their cars or on foot, are following McDonald from a distance as they try to get the situation under control.

What happens next is outrageous. Van Dyke allegedly pulls up on the scene and steps from his vehicle, drawing his weapon. Within six seconds of Van Dyke’s arrival on the scene, the bullets start to fly from his weapon. In total, McDonald was hit sixteen (16) times, Van Dyke emptying a full magazine into his body. There are even shots hitting McDonald’s body while he is on the ground and no longer moving. The act takes all of 10-15 seconds and no other officer fired a shot that night; in fact, Van Dyke allegedly went to RELOAD and continue firing before an officer called him off. These other officers did add to the egregious nature of the act, however, by not offering any medical assistance to McDonald, even though that is what they wrote in their reports.

Van Dyke surrendered to authorities on Wednesday and it became known that the officer had 18 complaints against him over the 14 years that he had been on the Chicago Police Department rolls, but he had never been reprimanded in any of those cases. These incidences, which ranged from “roughing up” suspects to usage of racist language, are unfortunately common – if someone is getting arrested, it sometimes slows their prosecution process down to accuse the arresting officer of some malfeasance – but perhaps in this instance were indicative of something more.

What finally got me, however, was the support of Van Dyke from his union, the Chicago branch of the Fraternal Order of Police. In a Yahoo! article Saturday, the FOP admitted they were actively trying to raise bail money for Van Dyke (first through a GoFundMe account that was closed soon after launch and then through the chapter’s website) and providing an attorney for him. One of the officers from that chapter of the FOP even stated to Yahoo! “First degree (murder) is a high bar to set and of course it is political (the charges),” indicating some level of support for Van Dyke.

I know it is the job of a union to support its members, but we’ve seen this type of story far too often. Be it in North Charleston, the streets of Staten Island or even on a playground in Cleveland, police officers nowadays are far too often shooting first and asking questions later. I leave out Ferguson because, after all the evidence was in, there were some grounds for the officer’s actions in that situation. It is then followed up by fictionalized police reports – the same documents that are admitted as EVIDENCE in a court of law – and fellow officers who tacitly support ANY officer whose actions are questioned.

The Chicago situation is particularly angering on several fronts. We’ve mentioned the lack of medical attention provided and we’ve talked about the unduly long time it took to even bring charges against the officer, but what hasn’t been mentioned are the supposed “good cops.” Sure, you can write off some of these acts as that of a “bad apple,” but “bad apples” continue to fester when the “good apples” don’t get them removed from the barrel. The continued silence and/or tacit approval (as what the Chicago FOP is doing) of anyone’s actions is wrong, nearly as bad as that of the actual killing.

There was one suggestion that I made in a discussion that, when heard by a former officer, he responded as if I was cutting off one of his limbs. Every two years, an officer should go through a thorough performance, psychiatric and financial background check and review to determine their mindset and stability to remain on the active police force. Enforcing such a program as this would have found the Fox Lake, IL officer who, after a lengthy mourning process for a “hero” that was gunned down by a trio of “bad guys,” was found to have committed suicide because he was embezzling money and threatening public employees; in the Chicago case, there could have been more focus on the complaints against Van Dyke that might have prevented what happened in 2014.

The role of law enforcement officers isn’t an easy one. It also isn’t one where you are given free reign over all who are “beneath you” by your viewpoint, to do whatever you feel is appropriate. The people you are supposed to protect also have to know you’re equipped to handle the job…if not, then you shouldn’t be on the street. Perhaps if the bi-annual reviews were done (and other things more immediate, like video cameras appropriately used), we’d weed out the “bad apples.”

If that wasn’t enough, then Friday came along. Instead of the usual reports of “Black Friday” idiocy such as an old woman having that $99 HDTV “Black Friday deal” snatched from them by an 18-year old (you know, those heartwarming Christmas tales), the attack of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, CO, dominated the news. As we know now, a man who was obviously mentally off somehow penetrated the doors of one of the most secure Planned Parenthood branches in the United States and proceeded to kill three people and injure nine others. If this doesn’t bother you, then the callous response from a particular branch of politicians is probably up your alley.

During the day on Friday and into Saturday, NOT ONE of the GOP candidates for President issued a statement in support of the employees of Planned Parenthood nor those that were injured in the shooting. A few mumbled some support for the officer who was killed in the Colorado Springs shooting, but nothing about the business or the people who were there for the services. As of Monday, these GOP “leaders” are trying to come out with their lame statements even as they try to keep from even being seen as showing any support for Planned Parenthood.

Yes, these are our choices for the Republican nomination of the President of the United States.

When you lead this country, YOU LEAD ALL. If you cannot fashion the words, “The shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic, despite my objection to the clinic’s purposes, is completely wrong. The people killed and injured is a tragedy that shouldn’t occur in the United States. My campaign extends our condolences to all at the clinic and to the state of Colorado” into a cohesive statement within hours of the arrest of the suspect, then you do not have the ability to lead the nation. Just because you have an opposition to an issue is no reason to remove the humanity from it. But, then again, we are also talking about the same party who believes that shutting the door in the face of refugees is the correct course to take.

While the two issues aren’t connected, they do show the continued degradation of our society. Continually allowing the “bad apples” – whether they are politicians or police – to ruin the whole batch can be changed. The question is whether anyone is willing to take on the dirty work to do it or not.