The Jussie Smollett Saga

The Jussie Smollett Saga

2AM January 29th. Chicago, IL. It is about 6 degrees out. Possibly cooler based on location (the official readings are taken about 15 miles NW of where this story begins).

According to Jussie Smollett, who is on the show ‘Empire’ on Fox (which I have never watched nor been interested in watching, so I had never heard of this guy before this event), he was on the phone with his manager and walking back from Subway when two people accosted him, shouted various racist and anti-homosexual slurs at him, beat him, poured a chemical (often reported as bleach) over him, and tied a noose about his neck, then fled.

This is the kind of horrible crime against someone for unimportant differences that we need to stamp out. This is, and must be, unacceptable in a civilized society.

But did it happen?

The Erasure of Monica Rambeau

The Erasure of Monica Rambeau


Monica Rambeau, the second Captain Marvel, after the death of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell in 1982. Monica took on the name from 1982 to 1996. After her came Genis-Vell (original’s son), Phyla-Vell (daughter), Khn’nr (Skrull), Noh-Varr (for like one storyline), then Carol Danvers in 2012.


But, I hear you saying, they also erased all the Kree Captains Marvel too! Yes, and when the Kree arrive to complain, it will be interesting times indeed.

The difference between Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau is pretty black and white really. As in, Danvers is white, Monica Rambeau is black. Which makes for an interesting moment in the culture wars. Since the upcoming movie is getting the same treatment as Black Panther did – the ‘suck it white males, deal with an unapologetically non-white(or non-male in this case) hero!’ Except here, Marvel/Disney decided to wipe out the non-white Monica Rambeau in favor of a white Carol Danvers. Oh, she is apparently given a token cameo moment in the movie (as a child, no less), but this could have been her movie, just as easily as it is Danvers’.

And the backstory works better too:

Monica Rambeau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Frank and Maria Rambeau. She was a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol, and operated as a cargo ship captain. Trying to prevent the creation of a dangerous weapon, Rambeau was exposed to extra-dimensional energy. As a result, she was thereafter able to convert her body to energy. After this event, the media dubbed her “Captain Marvel”. She decided to use her powers to fight crime under that name, but was later told by Ben Grimm that the name had originally been used by the late Kree hero Mar-Vell. Grimm assured her that “Marv wouldn’t mind. I probably ain’t the only ‘Thing’ in the world either.”

Hell, she even led the Avengers (which, I know, wouldn’t exist in the MCU at that time), something no other Captain Marvel has managed to do. And Disney reduced her to a child.

So, I guess, under the current rules, that means supporting the Captain Marvel movie means supporting the erasure by whitewash of Monica Rambeau, a black woman who was Captain Marvel for 14 years. Longer than anyone else, including the original.

At least they didn’t release it during Black History Month…

And when I went to verify the release date, I was stunned to find Google doing this to Samuel L Jackson…wow. It must have come from their Virginia servers…

 02/07/19 at 11:05 AM CST of the Google information about Captain Marvel, showing them truncating Samuel L Jackson's name to 'Sam
Rushing To Condemn

Rushing To Condemn

I stayed off Twitter on Sunday. Less as an intentional action, and more as I just didn’t check it because I didn’t think about it.

So this morning, when I saw the counter of unread posts, I knew one of two things had happened – either William Shatner (@williamshatner) had been really bored, or an outrage mob had formed, and I missed the endless ‘wait for all the facts’ posts. And the self-congratulatory ‘I waited’ posts.

It was the latter.

Honestly, the original story no longer matters. We had the usual arc – thing happens; is wildly misreported (usually that means ‘the opposite of the truth is reported’); people overreact (including calls for violence against the assumed perpetrators); so-called calmer heads call for not violence, but public shaming and endless apology-making with a side of ‘ruin their lives/fire them/expel them’; real story comes out; the rabid hate contingent vanishes; the rest try to pretend they didn’t call for a life to be destroyed; the media pretends they will do better next time.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

With the media firmly on one side of the political spectrum, we can imagine who the players are, and how Twitter didn’t respond. It is a bit sickening, frankly.

I won’t bother adding the ‘gee, this is why you never trust Twitter / media reports for at least 24 hours’ bit – it’s obvious and overdone. I do wish we would learn from that at some point though.

What makes this worse is that the same people being wrong on events a staggering amount of the time insist that any call for them to actually get facts before abandoning the principles of journalism is going to destroy the nation. Amazingly, it won’t. Their insistence on putting their personal partisan political agenda in front of the facts just might.

State of Trump’s Union

State of Trump’s Union

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.

— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution  

Doesn’t say how.

Or where.  

In fact, from Thomas Jefferson through to Woodrow Wilson, 1801 – 1913, the State of the Union was delivered by letter – Jefferson being of the opinion that to summon Congress to hear the President was too akin to the monarchal Speech From The Throne. So Wilson going back to summoning Congress makes sense…

So there is vast, if old, precedent to not delivering the SOTU before Congress. So Pelosi scores no points by ‘canceling’ the address.

What she has done, and I hope Trump dunks on her for it, is allow him to deliver the speech wherever the hell he wants. For example, in front of ten thousand supporters at a stadium somewhere. With no opportunity for Schumer & Pelosi to repeat their dismal rebuttal act from last week’s national address about border security.

This is a gift, delivered and wrapped by an opposition that is coming apart at the seams. Take it, make the most of it, and never look back.

No one ever lost by allowing their enemies to be foolish, and make avoidable mistakes.

Shutdown Theater

Shutdown Theater

Without going into causes, the government shutdown has been a fascinating example of why we need to reform the system, possibly by firing with prejudice everyone in the current system.

First, if the essential functions of government can continue with around 380,000 workers (out of about 2.1 million total federal employees) laid off, then are those jobs really needed? It would seem that is a legitimate question, and one that supervisors and agency heads should be asking. As we increase automation, and see more and more jobs at risk because a machine can do it faster, longer, and more accurately, there is no reason to assume federal workers are somehow supposed to be exempt from that risk. I understand that new craft beer labels need approving, I just wonder at the necessity of all 380,000 furloughed positions.

Second, when it comes to the 400,000 or so workers who are not being paid, that needs to be fixed. Yes, keep the non-essential workers on furlough (and again, review their actual necessity), but pay the workers who are on the job. To do otherwise is un-American. To compound the issue, we are paying Congress, who is not addressing the issues at the root of the shutdown. If we can’t pay the workforce, we shouldn’t pay the people responsible for the problem either (President Trump doesn’t, by his own choice, draw a federal paycheck). Out of 20 Illinois Congressional members (18 in the House, 2 in the Senate), only one is refusing to be paid during the shutdown; Brad Schneider (D) of the 10th District. One. To be fair, of the 535 members of Congress, about 70 are refusing or donating their checks to charity. Pay the people working. Seriously.

But back to the first point. Do we really need these people? Does the IRS really need 36,000 people to handle refunds? Especially as more are filed electronically each year? Last year, according to, 135,883,000 returns were processed, 126,040,000 of those electronically. That is 92% of all returns! People don’t need to handle those – they can be processed completely electronically. Yes, if a flag is triggered, then a human needs to review it, and yes, that leaves 15,491,000 returns to process by hand (while 135.8M were processed in 2018, 141.5M were sent in). I suspect there are scanners available to speed that up.

Of course, it is the government, and efficiency is not prized.

But it needs to be. The bloating of the bureaucracy continues to be an issue, and we, the people who have to deal with this bloat in so very many ways, need to rise up and say ‘enough’. If a functioning government exists without 380,000 employees present, then those 380,000 employees are probably not needed. At all. They should have their positions reviewed, and if they are not necessary (and we should be very narrow in what is ‘necessary’), then they should be let go. Full stop. With a reported average salary in 2014 of $84,153 (before benefits are applied), cutting loose those 380,000 would save the taxpayers $31,978,140,000 per year ($45,574,920,000 with benefits). How much more could $45 billion do injected into the US economy?

So, Congress, pay the people working, look seriously into firing the ones not, and stop paying yourselves first. You are supposed to be servants, not self-aggrandizing masters. Get it right for a change.

Friends & Enemies

Friends & Enemies

Few things irk more than defending a public figure. They should, especially when they sought that public status, be prepared and able to defend themselves. Or hire people whose skill lies in that field.

But then, Trump. Where there is a level of derangement in the media and culture that would, in any other context, see those on the left who are subject to it committed against their will as a danger to themselves or others. This derangement is helping tear the nation apart, as the deranged abandon all reason, thought, logic, and even transmute their positions from a scant few years ago in order to attack their President.

Let’s look at a scenario that may be familiar to us all.

You, the reader, have a job, and in order to do that job, you have a team. As is the norm, those on the team are ambitious, and some of them really wanted a different manager, not you. So they badmouth you at every turn. Every. Turn. That sucks. Outside the office, you have others in the same business. Some are friendly competitors, some not so friendly. And the biggest competition has, as your counterpart, a total jerk. He is always trying to undercut you, steal customers, steal secrets, and so on. Of course, your company does the same, it is a tough market.

Who do you trust more? The ‘team’ seeking to undermine you, or the competitor who, while not a friend, is predictable in his actions? Give that some thought. Remembering that the question is trust, not like.

See, there is a common thought that is often understood in a more military context. Allies can flake, work at cross purposes, or want to pursue goals that may not help you – and may hurt you. The enemy, on the other hand, wants to beat you. You can trust them to work against you, to be consistent in that goal. Not like, trust.

We conflate those words. Among many others, but those will do for today. Like doesn’t mean trust. Yes, like often comes with trust, and it is hard to like someone you don’t trust. But you can indeed trust someone you don’t like – even someone who is working toward your destruction. You can rely on them to seek to harm you. It’s a strange thing to think about. That doesn’t make it less real, and less true.

Does that mean Trump had that thought process? Of course not. I can’t (and wouldn’t) read his mind. All I can say is that the idea that he trusts Putin more than an intelligence community that has actively worked at cross purposes to him since before he was even elected isn’t weird to me. He trusts Putin to put Russia first – a thing he has been completely consistent about. And to act to gain an advantage over the US.

Trust. All that means is that someone’s actions are consistent, and they do what they say. Even if it is against you.