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Friday, August 1, 2014

Gay Marriage Turns 1 in Minnesota

On November 3, 2012, I wrote a screed, delineating my position on the pending Minnesota Constitutional Amendment vote, banning gay marriage in this great state. Three days later, I encouraged everyone to go to the polls and vote NO!

The amendment suffered a resounding defeat, much to the shock and dismay of the Minnesota GOP. For months, they had been predicting that Minnesota would join other states in writing discrimination into their constitution. But this great citizenry decided otherwise. 

It was interesting to see the breakdown by county. The seven county Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area overwhelmingly voted NO! Rural counties all over the state were either evenly split or overwhelmingly for the ban. There was one anomaly that I cannot explain, even to this day. Way down on the border of Minnesota and Iowa, there's a tiny county called Blue Earth. They voted heavily against the ban. Thank you, my rural blood brothers and sisters.

Elsewhere on social media, directly after the vote, I began calling for the state legislature (now swung to the Democrats, including the governorship) to make gay marriage legal in this state. I received a lot of flak for that position, with the argument that legalizing gay marriage would be "overstepping".

I didn't buy it. It was obvious that the majority of voters cared about the issue in a positive light, enough to flip the entire state House and Senate, including the executive branch, over to the side of those that believe freedom for gays and lesbians to marry is written into the common understanding of what is not discrimination.

Through no fault of my own, the legislature heard mine and a whole host of others' calls. On May 9, 2013, the Minnesota House passed gay marriage into law. The Senate and the governor soon followed suit. Best part of all, two of the four Republican legislators that voted for gay marriage, Jennifer Loon of Eden Prairie and Pat Garofolo of Farmington, were those I have had great contact with and also live in the latter's district.

Happy birthday, gay marriage in Minnesota!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How I Lost My Faith In Humanity...And My Wallet

It was 8:30 AM. I woke up with a start and a shiver. I had been visiting a dear friend the night before, and had arrived home at 3:16 AM, hitting the sheets immediately. My alarm was set for 5:30 AM, and I must have turned it off in my sleepy state.

This morning, I was supposed to take Fred (9) and Naya (12) to work with me. I told them it would be an early morning. 8:30 AM is kind of early, depending on what time zone you're in, I guess. But I was late. I texted my boss and let him know I would be in a bit after our morning meetings.

Tossing together my things, I left the house with the two squirts, got in the car, and drove to the local Kwik Trip. I figured I'd be an awesome daddy and get them doughnuts for breakfast.

We went in, grabbed doughnuts, coffee, muffins, and iced teas, they both stuffed it all in my arms, and I hobbled out to the car. Fred couldn't open the door, being that the handle had broken off a few months ago, requiring expert skill in opening it.

"Daddy, can you open the door for me?"

I looked at my arms and hands, full of everything, including my wallet and my phone, ran through a few sorting algorithms I had learned in CSci 101, and decided that it would be my wallet that went on the roof of the car, freeing up my hand to open the door.

And that's where the wallet stayed - until it must have flown off when I crossed the town railroad tracks.

I drove out of town and got stuck behind some old rusty white Ford Aerostar. I turned my right blinker on to get over and pass him in the right lane when a green car drove quickly up beside me. Out of my peripheral vision, I waited until he would pass, thinking I would get behind him. But he met my speed, mile for mile. Now, I was irritated, but he wouldn't budge.

"Um...Daddy. That guy is trying to tell you something," Naya nervously croaked from the back seat.

So, in a huff, I looked over to see a young looking gentleman, earnestly waving his own wallet, which he was quite happy to still have, at the moment. We pulled over and he told me that he saw my wallet fly off back in town, by the train tracks. This was bad. Bad, because we had recently started a new budget, where my bride and I each had $375 to spend on groceries, gas, necessities, et al, every two weeks. I had $185 left in that wallet.

We raced back to find it gone. I called into work and told them I would be taking the day off to put the pieces of my life back together. I find it amazing how much of our little world we can pack into a little piece of leather.

I took the kids back home and cancelled all my credit cards. The second I hung up the phone with the last company, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find a very friendly young lady on the steps. She had piercings all over her face. In her hand was my wallet.

A flood of emotions swept through me, the chief of which was, "This woman is going to get $50 from me, right now!" I opened the wallet to make her day - and found it empty. No cash. Everything else was in there (and now useless, due to all my phone calls), except the green.

All I could do was warmly thank the woman, chat about life a bit, and then say goodbye.

I sure hope the thief puts that money to good use. He or she obviously needed it quite badly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Louis Gohmert's Illegal Alien Crime Statistics Are a Ruse

I've said this before and I'll say it again:

Humans commit crimes. Humans break laws. Just because a criminal happens to be an "illegal alien" does not make that crime more alarming.

Enter Louis Gohmert, the ever fear mongering Congressman from the great state of Texas. This gentleman has been on the rampage against the recent influx of illegal border crossers, the majority of which are children.

According the Right Wing Watch's captured audio,  Gohmert said the following: fact, of the 171,000 [illegals] who had committed a crime [within the last 5 years], there were uh 671,000 crimes committed..separate crimes committed, by those 171,000 people.

Now, at face value, this is an astonishing number. But, when you really begin to drill down into the actual details of the rhetoric, you begin to see a much different picture than the excitable Gohmert wants you to see.

First of all, when a crime is committed, that crime carries with it a number of charges. A neighbor of mine was recently arrested for breaking a "no contact" order, and was slapped with half a dozen charges at his initial hearing. The problem here is that these were not distinct crimes, insomuch that he had committed six separate acts of crime. Instead, they were six different charges for the exact same action - breaking the "no contact" order. To pretend that 671,000 crimes committed by 171,000 individuals is a bad number, is to purposefully inflate the idea, depending on your audiences ignorance.

Also, if we use the crime numbers from the last five years, in Texas (2008 - 2012), something interesting begins to take shape. In this equation we will be adding up the following crimes (which are not even remotely the same as the crimes listed in Gohmert's 671,000 number. With knowledge of how Louis works, that number includes crimes like jay-walking, etc.):

  • Violent crimes
  • Property crimes
  • Murder
  • Rape (Texas calls it "forcible rape", but I'll skip that label, being that I find it redundant)
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Larceny/Theft
  • Vehicle theft
Now, these numbers include ALL crimes by ALL inhabitants of Texas, not just illegals. It comes to 5,254,828 crimes. If you compare that to the 671,000 crimes, even assuming that all of those crimes are in the above list (though they are most likely not), you will notice that the crimes committed by illegals was about 12.7% of the total.

This means that non-illegals committed a whopping 87.3% of all listed crimes in the state of Texas in the last five years.

Also, Governor Perry has been talking about how this influx of illegals began in the year 2012 or earlier. If you look at crime statistics in Texas, you will notice that they are dropping. In sheer numbers, they are dropping. But, then, Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the union, by population, which dramatically increases the rate of the drop in crime statistics.

Couple all this with known facts that the American magnet lost it's pull during the Great Recession, causing illegal border crossing to drop off sharply after 2008, only recently increasing in numbers, due to an improving economy here and reported violence in Central America, and you begin to diverge from Gohmert's clean narrative.

Humans commit crimes. Illegal aliens (migrants) do not have a greater propensity to commit crimes, just by the mere fact that they are here illegally. In fact, if we were to decide which area of the population to deport based on crime statistics, we should probably shine a greater light on the non-illegal inhabitants of Texas, being they commit the vast majority of the criminal acts.