Solving the Bad Cop Problem (And Creating Jobs)

Police-action-in-Ferguson-690There are too many bad, violent or mentally jacked-up cops roaming around. Worse, expecting the people who hire them to supervise them properly has apparently become too much to ask. So what to do? I have a bold idea.

States should pass laws requiring the termination of any law enforcement employee who through their actions generates civil liability upon the state. Correspondingly, cops should pay for malpractice insurance like lawyers and doctors.

Essentially, a law would need to be passed along the lines of:

Any law enforcement official within the State of Broke who through their actions as a law enforcement official causes a state, county, or municipal agency to be liable upon a judgment in an amount in excess of $15,000.00 (or $X) shall have their employment as a law enforcement official within the state terminated not in good standing (NO PENSION). Judgments or liabilities paid by insurance coverage of individual officers (and not municipal/state general liability insurance) shall not apply to this statute.

Boom….Problem fixed!  Zany? Impossible? Allow me to explain how it would work and how it could be done even without your state’s defunct legislature taking action. Fear not, I am not insulting your state: I live in Florida. Your legislature like mine is probably useless. However, almost every state has a mechanism which allows citizens to place laws on the ballot via petition drives…if all those marijuana proposals can get there, so can this.

Surprisingly, these people have accomplished a lot.

Surprisingly, these people have accomplished a lot.

Importantly, this does not replace or touch the other ways cops get fired – either because they were charged with a crime or violated police protocols. Rather, this catches the bad cops who are often protected by their own agencies by placing their fate in the hands of the civil courts.  Matters in the civil courts are decided by citizen juries seeking to compensate parties if they find the defendant’s or cop’s actions unlawful. They are not designed to fall over backwards to justify police action so superior officers can continue to pretend they are doing a good job.

Like this

Like this “lawful” use of force. Kelly Thomas before and after.

Those cops who deliver regular beatings or whose antics result in huge wrongful death suits but somehow stay on the job to collect a pension would be gone. No matter how much a department obstructs an internal investigation so it results in a self-serving determination of lawful force, the police have no control over the civil courts.

However, because the burden of proof in civil courts is much lower than the criminal courts, there must be a balance provided. Otherwise, the dragnet would catch the good or rather the not-deserving-to-be-fired cop as well.

Thus, malpractice insurance.

Here they come to save the day!

Here they come to save the day!

While insurance would apply for purposes of paying judgments, it is unlikely any police officer would be able to afford the millions in coverage to protect against the egregious behavior which results in too large a judgment…a la Kelly Thomas. (or the judgment which will happen regarding the violently fearful cop who killed that young boy in Cleveland, Tamir Rice)

Hence, any officer found liable in a now-all-too-often wrongful death suit would be terminated subject to the rule even after his policy has paid its coverage limits. Malpractice insurance by the nature of its economics would not prevent a bad cop from being fired in these instances. Rather, it would only partially alleviate the financial burden of the state and taxpayers while the cop still gets fired.

There would however be many instances of lesser damages where insurance would apply and prevent a police officer from being subject to the rule. But he does not get off scot-free.

First, and repeating myself, the rule does not prevent or replace termination of police officers by the standard means already in place. It only supplements the methods as another check and balance against the integrity of the offending officer’s departmental investigation practices.

Second, those officers who behave poorly and generate many complaints or create liability would see their premiums rise rapidly to match the corresponding risk that the insurer will get hit with a big judgment. Many of the repeat offender officers we hear about cause the state to pay 10K here, 25k there and 30K for another instance. These officers would find their premiums so high, they may not be affordable. That is of course if the insurer has not already dropped coverage – meaning any liability in excess of X would result in termination no matter what white-washed decision the department came up with to excuse the behavior.

Third, premiums would be very small for the vast majority of law enforcement officers. Despite everyone’s justified perturbance with the current state of the police, the overwhelming majority of cops are good/normal people. Go meet one under ordinary human circumstances and test the theory out. Most go through their entire careers without generating any significant complaints or ever creating liability. For these officers, premiums would likely be less than a few hundred dollars per year, if even so.

A role model! Elton Simmons

A role model: Elton Simmons

I am reminded of L.A. Sheriff Deputy Elton Simmons, a motorcycle traffic officer. Over the course of 20 years and 25,000 stops, he has never received a single complaint. Instead, he has countless commendations even from people he has ticketed. He is clearly doing many things right. This just and lawful man’s premiums would probably be about $5.00 a month or less. Heck, an officer like him may decide to not even purchase insurance because he appears to know how to operate respectfully, intelligently and by the book day in and day out.

However, as less capable officers generate legitimate complaints or create liability, they will see their premiums rise accordingly….just like car insurance.

The Police Chief may not care that a fresh-out-of-Afghanistan rookie is roughing up everyone unnecessarily and creating complaints from poor people. But the insurer will definitely care and would probably already have in place a system to periodically review all complaints generated by their insureds (the cops). They will look at those complaints to determine a pattern of behavior and readjust their premiums upwards or downward if needed.

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By passing the above termination law and allowing insurance, the system would incentivize good behavior and punish bad. It would do so without relying on the integrity (or lack thereof) of supervising officers and internal affairs departments.

“By the book” would no longer be a arrogantly meaningless phrase but rather an all-important method for police to protect themselves from termination under such a system. Any police officer who truly operates “by the book” does not generate liability upon the state. And those cops not so adherent to rules would be strongly encouraged/motivated/incentivized to never stray from that book like these officers did in Mr. Hustle’ video…

(You may have to sign in to YouTube to view)

Many of the actions in that video would have never occurred if those officers actually felt the threat of termination or even the financial strain of paying boatloads in premiums to keep the job. Would you punch someone in the face unlawfully if you knew it was going to cost you and your family an additional $1,000.00 every year over the course your career? Or if it might even result in outright termination because of a civil jury over whom you and your buddies have no influence? It is unlikely anyone would throw that punch unless they truly had the law on their side.

Finally, a huge ancillary benefit to this system is the amount of jobs created within the insurance industry as well as the fact that many victims of unlawful police behavior will receive compensation much quicker than otherwise. Insurers do not always wait for a civil court case to settle a claim although it is common, especially if the claim is large. Often, smaller insurance claims are settled quickly without litigation even if the victims/injured have already retained an attorney.

So there it is in a nutshell. Rather than wait for people in power to act honorably when their own house is in disorder, citizen groups should take action through the ballot box. In my humble opinion, they should seek to add a layer of protection for themselves and state finances by creating a mechanism to terminate the employment of those who create liability while also allowing for malpractice insurance. And more importantly, put a bit of power and influence over the police back into the hands the people. This non-sense has long gotten out of control.

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Top 5 Moments in African World Cup History

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In continuation of our series about international soccer, we present our top 5 most memorable moments in African World Cup history.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has often reasserted his belief that Africa should be given more qualifying spots at the  World Cup. However, there was a time when FIFA and the World Cup was not so inclusive or welcoming for members of the world’s three largest continents. In fact, Asian, African, and North American teams were afforded only fractional qualification requiring inter-continental playoffs prior to 1970. Considering UEFA always had at least eight dedicated qualifying spots, critics rightfully complained of a continental bias within FIFA’s “World” Cup.

As a result of this dispute, African teams boycotted the 1966 World Cup when only one place was afforded for Asia and Africa combined, demanding each continent be afforded at least a direct qualifying spot. When FIFA acquiesced in 1970, Morocco was Africa’s first participant.

However, after two defeats and dead rubber draw against Bulgaria, some argued FIFA should revert to fractional qualification for Africa and Asia (AFC member Israel managed two draws and a defeat). The debate continued throughout the qualification period for the 1974 World Cup, pitting the members of CAF, AFC, and CONCACAF against UEFA and CONEMBOL for qualifying spots at the big event.

And so begins our list.

5.  Zaire 1974 – Some memories are so bad they can never be forgotten.

It was under this context Zaire qualified for the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. CAF members were hoping for a good performance to bolster their arguments about qualification spots. Instead, Zaire delivered one of the all-time worst performances by any team in World Cup history. Prior or since. It was a cruel joke against CAF.

After a respectable 2-0 defeat to Scotland, Zairian players learned they would not be paid as agreed by their FA. Dejected by this reality and in semi-protest, they were humiliated 9-0 in their second game by a mediocre Yugoslavia team. It was 6-0 at halftime with the victors seemingly scoring without trying. No one who watched this game felt the Africans deserved to be on the pitch.

In their third game, Zaire faced perennial power Brazil. While Zaire managed to improve their play, Brazil still cruised to a 2-0 lead when, late in the game, Brazil was awarded a free kick outside just outside the Zairian box. As Brazil lined up for the kick, this happened…..

One of the most baffling things ever seen in a soccer match. Was he confused? Does he know the rules? Why is this team playing in the World Cup? ‘Silly Africans’ is what the footballing world thought as Zaire was ridiculed.

However, the truth is much more depressing. Unfortunately, Zairian defender Muepu Ilunga knew exactly what he was doing and made what he felt was the most logical choice in a desperate situation. As you may or may not know, Zaire’s president was a wonderful man named Joseph Mobutu. And by wonderful, I mean a murderous, unhinged, thieving, totalitarian dictator with a penchant for atrocities. After the debacle against Yugoslavia, Mobutu advised his team there would be dire consequences if they lost more than 3-0 to Brazil. And when Mobutu said dire consequences, the players did not need further clarification.

Losing 2-0 in the 78th minutes, Ilunga booted the ball solely to delay the game as much as possible. He and his team were desperate to not run afoul of Mobutu. While Brazil did score on the ensuing free-kick, the game ended 3-0 and Ilunga lived to tell his story. However, Mobutu stopped funding the national side and banned most players from leaving the country to play elsewhere. Many of the Zairian players from this team lived out the rest of the lives forgotten and in poverty, although a few managed to emigrate elsewhere. So yeah, this memory was not so good.

4. Algeria 1982 – Who’s laughing now!…..oh wait, it’s still not us.

While Tunisia managed to snag Africa’s first World Cup group stage win in 1978 with a 3-1 win over a weak Mexican side, African soccer was nevertheless still regarded as weak and inferior. When Algeria qualified for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the Fennecs were not given much a chance by prognosticators. Their first game would be against reigning European Champions and tournament favorites West Germany. This West German team included legends Paul Breitner and Heinz Rummenigge and was expected to cruise through a group which also included Austria and Chile.

From the comments and predictions before the game, we know the West German players had full confidence they would embarrass their Algerian opponents. West German players openly predicted a 10-0 victory. One was quoted as saying “We will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs,” with another boasting he would play the match with a cigar in his mouth. Even the German coach, Jupp Derwall, could not help but join in the orgy of arrogance, stating his team would hop the first train back to Munich if they lost.

Then they played the match. Bolstered by reigning African Footballer of the Year Lakhdar Belloumi and a young future Porto legend named Rabah Madjer, Algeria held off the West German attack and struck first via a Madjer volley in the 54th minute, stunning the Germans and the crowd. West Germany responded with intense pressure, allowing Rumminigge to equalize in the 67th minute. At this point, most rational observers fully expected the German onslaught to continue and the plucky Algerians would eventually cede more goals and lose to the mighty European champions. However, after the kickoff, the next time a West German player touched the ball was when he picked it out of his own net.

Algeria’s response to the West German equalizer proved enough to secure the biggest upset in World Cup history at the time and Africa’s first over a European squad. The footballing world was absolutely dumbfounded. The West Germans were in disbelief and Derwall was made to look a fool when reminded of the local train times.

But the joy quickly turned to anger. Algeria finished the campaign with a loss to Austria and a victory over Chile, looking poised to be the first African team to reach the second round. However, the last match between West Germany and Austria was not scheduled until a day after Algeria’s final match against Chile. Realizing a 1-0 West German victory would send both the West Germans and Austrians through at Algeria’s expense, this is exactly what occurred. After a quick goal by West Germany, the two teams spent the next 80 minutes passing back and forth in one of the most shameful matches ever played in a World Cup. Both FIFA and Algeria were outraged. Fans whistled and waved money in the air to signify their belief the final match was rigged to produce the only result which would benefit Germany and Austria. One disgusted German fan burned his nation’s flag during the second half. Even the German television commentator quipped

“What’s happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with football. You can say what you want, but not every end justifies the means.”

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Alas, not much could be done and the results stood. The Algerians who surprised the world were eliminated and West Germany eventually went to the final, losing to Italy 3-1. It was not all for naught as FIFA adjusted the tournament starting in 1986 so that the final group stage games were always played simultaneously, preventing another 1982-like debacle from occurring again.

While little solace for the Algerians, there always remains the memory of making the West Germans eat their words and, for a moment, captivating the sporting world.

3. Senegal 2002 – Henri Camara strikes again…

It is hard to properly credit Senegal’s accomplishments at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, the only time West Africans have ever qualified for the event. You have to know where it began to understand just how far they went. It is not that Senegal barely qualified for the World Cup, it is that they barely qualified for the last round of African qualifying, which included twenty teams seeking five spots.

To even get to the final round, they barely beat Benin 2-1 on aggregate in a home and away. Many people have never heard of Benin and trust me if you have not, they are not exactly a soccer power. If Benin played the USA in a friendly, USA would probably win 5-0 playing with an experimental squad. Benin would never play a team like Brazil or Argentina because this would be cruel.

Once Senegal managed to squeak past the mighty Beninese, they were placed in a group with reigning AFCON winners Egypt, continental powers Morocco and Algeria, and were picked to finish last with Namibia. After three draws found them about where everyone expected, Senegal went on an unexplainable tear. They won four of their final five, scoring 14 goals in those victories, and edged out Morocco on goal differential on the final match day with a 5-0 drubbing of Namibia.

El Hadji Diouf of Senegal

At the World Cup, the debutants were drawn against France, Denmark, and Uruguay, and were definitely not expected to survive this group. Most assumed they would just be happy to be there. They were wrong.

The first game saw them play their former colonial occupiers in France in the Cup’s opening match. While Zidane was out due to injury, this was a French team with Henri, Trezeguet, Vieira, and essentially all the same players who won the 1998 FIFA World Cup as well as the 2000 UEFA Championship. Again, little respect was given to the African side. French commenters referred to Senegal as the French “B” team since they argued any Senegalese players of worth would be playing with France. Indeed, almost the entirety of the Senegalese team played in Ligue 1 and many carried French citizenship.

However, when the game was played, the French attack was unable to produce a goal despite rattling the woodwork twice. And the French defense found it could not handle the pace and strength of El Hadji Diouf, Henri Camara, and the Lions of Teranga’s attack. A midfield turnover by Djorkaeff provided Senegal the opportunity it needed and Diouf’s ensuing cross was driven home by Papa Bouba Diop, stunning France.

Just like that, the World Cup kicked off with an African debutant beating one of the world’s best teams…again. As remarkable as it was, Senegal was not done. After two draws against Denmark and Uruguay, Senegal qualified for the round 16 where they met Sweden.

Sweden was led by in-form Celtic superstar Henrik Larsson and a young Zlatan Ibrahimavic. After 11 minutes, Larsson headed in a corner to give the favorites the early lead. However, a Henri Camara strike on 37 minutes saw the Senegalese equalize and while both teams created chances going forward, the game went into golden goal extra-time. Near the end a first extra period, a nifty heel pass found Henri Camara streaking through the Swedish defense. Flat-footed, Sweden’s keeper could do nothing but watch the ball ding off the post and into the net to give Senegal its golden goal and golden moment in the land of the rising sun.

As fate would be, it was another golden goal versus Turkey that beat Senegal in the quarterfinals, ending the dream run of the West African first-timers. Although their lackluster play in their final game cost them a chance to be the first African team to reach the semis, Senegal’s run from barely beating minnows like Benin to world’s final eight remains one of Africa’s greatest international soccer memories.

2. Cameroon 1990 – Roger Milla teaches us a new dance

If any African team ever had a chance to hoist the Jules Rimet Trophy, it was Cameroon in 1990. While not expected to go past the first round, the Indomitable Lions would electrify the world.

They were given no favors by the draw, pitted against reigning 1986 World Cup champions Argentina (eventual 1990 runners up), Romania and the Soviet Union. Yet they wasted no time making their presence known, upsetting Maradona and the reigning champions 1-0 in their fist match. Cameroon’s defense proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Argentines and Omam-Biyik soaring header squibbed past Pumpido to give Cameroon the win.

The second game was against co-group leaders Romania and Galatasaray star Gheorghe Hagi, who was supposed to be the star of the match. However by day’s end, the world would become familiar with another name: Roger Milla, an aging Cameroon substitute brought on in the 58th minute. Twenty minutes after coming on, Milla won a loose ball near the Romanian goal, slotted it into the goal and raced to the corner flag to do his now-famous dance. Ten minutes later, a superb Milla strike iced the game and Cameroon qualified for the second round with a game to play.

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But Milla was not done. In the second round, Cameroon would face talented Colombia, led by the wonderful and creative passing of Carlos Valderrama. As the game began, Colombia had the run of play before Cameroon settled down. Milla was brought on just after half time and Cameroon began to take control of the match. However, neither team could score in regulation and the first period of the added time also passed without a goal.

As penalties loomed, Roger Milla had seen enough. After receiving a pass, his quick pivot and burst toward goal split the Colombian defense, allowing him to drive the ball over the keeper. Milla’s second goal was less about skill than it was about the poor judgements of Colombia’s gambling keeper Rene Higuita. Known for dribbling and taking risks (such as gratuitous scorpion kicks off the goal line),

1286798326_rene-higuita-epic-scorpion-kick-save-1995

Higuita was dispossessed by Milla 40 yards from goal. Milla outran the bumbling Higuita to an easy goal and Cameroon would be the first African team to make the quarterfinals. More importantly, it was clear to the casual observer Cameroon had the talent to challenge anyone.

The quarterfinal match between the Indomitable Lions and England’s Three Lions is a classic which could have been won by either team. After England led 1-0 at halftime, Milla was inserted and Cameroon began to press forward more successfully. In the 61st minute, Milla sprinted into the box and was fouled, earning a penalty which was converted by Cameroon. Less than 5 minutes later, Milla was at it again. A soft touch pass from Milla found Eugene Ekeke streaking past the British defense and his chip gave Cameroon a deserved 2-1 lead.

But England would not wilt. This was one of the best England teams of the last 40 years. With stars like 1986 golden boot winner Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne, England were a tournament favorite, having only been ousted from the prior World Cup because of Maradona’s ‘hand of god’ goal and Maradona’s “greatest goal ever scored.” (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are not a soccer fan!)

After continuous pressure from England, Gary Lineker earned a penalty and drove it home to equalize. In extra-time, Gazza slotted an exquisite pass through the defense to give Lineker a break away on goal. As Lineker juked the keeper, he was knocked down by a defender and awarded another penalty. Lineker blasted the penalty in the back of the net to give England the hard-fought lead.

Sadly, Cameroon and Milla were out of magic and had no response to Gazza and Lineker’s brilliance. England would go on to win 3-2 after extra time before losing to West Germany on penalties in the semifinal.

As impressive as Cameroon’s accomplishments were, it was Milla’s achievements which are most memorable. The veteran substitute was 38 years old at the start of the tournament, making him one of the oldest participants ever. Always a fixture off the bench for Cameroon, the flashy forward with perfect finishing scored 4 goals and 2 assists during Cameroon’s run and changed the dynamic of every game he entered. In the process, he became a world star and African legend. So much so that when Milla was left off the squad for the 1994 FIFA World Cup (which was expected and reasonable since he was 42 years old), Cameroon’s embattled president forced the coach to include Milla, hoping to obtain some domestic support and distract from other problems the nation faced. Cameroon disappointed in USA 1994 but Milla did score one goal, becoming the oldest goal scorer, and participant, in World Cup history. Largely based on his efforts on Italia 1990, Roger Milla was named by CAF as the best African footballer of the last century and deservedly so.

1. Ghana 2010 – Luis Suarez is the Grinch that stole an entire continent’s Christmas

The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a big deal not just for South Africans but for all Africans. Never before had the continent hosted an Olympics or FIFA World Cup. The anticipation was palpable through the qualification campaign as every nation desperately wanted to qualify for a tournament which would be played so close to home. Heck, Egypt and Algeria almost broke off diplomatic relations over a qualification spot. As highly anticipated as the tournament was for the world, the hopes for African entrants was even higher.

Unfortunately, 5 of 6 African teams disappointed and failed to qualify for the second round, leaving only Ghana to carry the continent’s banner. And Ghana was well suited to carry those hopes. Playing in their third consecutive World Cup, Ghana had proven themselves worthy competitors on the global stage and consistently among the best in Africa. While they are nicknamed the “Black Stars”, the moniker “Brazil D’Afrique” has also arisen in the last few years as a compliment to their talents and consistency.

After a second place finish in the group stage behind Germany, Ghana faced familiar foes USA in the second round. While USA had just come off a thrilling victory over Algeria and played with great passion, the Ghanians proved to be too strong in the end. Asamoah Gyan muscled off an American defender and struck home a powerful volley in extra time to make Ghana the third African team to take its chances in the quarterfinals.

Ghana v Australia: Group D - 2010 FIFA World Cup

You may have noticed the quarterfinals have been kind of a glass ceiling for African squads. While Asian teams have managed to reach the semifinal, no African squad has ever done so. Cameroon in 1990 may have been the best African team to go the World Cup, but Ghana 2010 had the best chance to shatter this ceiling.

In the quarterfinals, Ghana met resurgent Uruguay. While Uruguay had not achieved much World Cup success over the previous decades, their performance in South Africa 2010 is worthy of its own article. Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, and Edison Cavani were the most efficient attack at the tournament and made Uruguay a threat to beat any team.

After ending 1-1 at full time, the game proceeded to extra-time. Towards the end of the second period, Ghana began applying more and more pressure on the Uruguayan goal. Seconds away from penalties, Ghana was awarded a free kick in the Uruguayan zone. Now if you have spent the time to read this article, you probably know what happened. If you do not, here is the recap.

As tense as you can imagine….the ball bounces around, gets smashed at goal, gets saved by a defender off the goal line, bounces around again, get smashed at goal again and is saved by Luis Suarez pretending he is the goalie. (and if you noticed, the other Uruguayan defender also tries to save it with his hands but he was not as effective as Suarez). Suarez was deservedly red-carded and Ghana awarded a penalty. But instead converting the penalty and creating a continent-wide party, Gyan smashed his penalty off the cross bar and game proceeded to a penalty round. Almost as if all of this was a scripted tragedy, Ghana would lose in remarkable fashion.

Devastating. The roller coaster of emotions which is African football can be best portrayed in those zany few minutes at the end of this game. Ghana played a great game and performed excellently at the World Cup. They had their opponent on their heels and victory seemed inevitable, both when the scramble was occurring and before the penalty. It seemed certain African soccer would finally break through to the semifinals and would get to do it on home soil.

And be certain, this was poised to be a great victory for all of Africa, not just Ghana. Politically and economically, the vague and amorphous concept called African unity has not faired so well. But when it comes to sport, I have never met an African who does not root for all African teams against any others. It is a beautiful thing on the sporting level. A sense of us against the rest. And Ghana was our “us”.

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Luis Suarez was vilified wrongly as a cheater or a disgrace by many in the sports media and will forever be remembered as the single man who shattered the dreams of so many. This is understandable considering the emotion and magnitude of the moment but is nevertheless misplaced.

As time has passed, more have come to understand the brilliance of Suarez’ quick decision and the grudge will eventually fade. He was placed with only two choices and a nanosecond to decide: 1) let the ball go in and be eliminated; or 2) stop the ball at all costs, be red carded, concede a penalty, but give your team a tiny chance. Any rational thinker would do what Suarez did if they were quick enough to do so.

Uruguay turned Suarez’ tiny chance into a historic victory and at the same time, provided Africa with its most heart-breaking, yet also most memorable, moment in World Cup history.

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Written prior to the last World Cup

Your Tattoo Is Lame

[[[EDITED UPDATE:

TO THOSE WITH TATTOOS: STOP! STOP! STOP!

It has come to my attention a couple of times now that some people really do not like this post. I understand these sentiments.  Just click away now…..I am serious.

Have a great day!

smiley_face

Stubborn, eh? Well, if you insist, make sure you read the opening line and first paragraph again after you are done. And to be honest, do not get too upset about what one anonymous blowhard on the internet says about a tattoo he has never seen. Screw that guy! is what I would think, personally.  Nevertheless, I did my best to prevent myself from gratuitously making you angry while you most likely procrastinate from work. Govern yourselves accordingly.]]]

So begins a mean and hypocritically judgmental post…

As we look around there are fewer and fewer individuals and more and more drones wishing they were clones. One indicator is the presence of a tattoo. Not all tattoos but most nowadays. And further the tattoo is not conclusory but only evidence.

Some tattoos are totally appropriate. Religious or cultural marks of expression are common and we can not begrudge Samoans and the like. We also understand if you have joined a high-risk team, close-knit unit or profession such as the military or other emergency personnel. If you find yourself in a situation where you rely on the talents and skills of others to stay alive, go ahead and proudly get a tattoo if it will make everyone happy and add to team cohesion.

Acceptable for purposes of staying alive.

Acceptable for purposes of staying alive.

We will not address all the deceased and departed tattoos or portraits of children and wives.  While we go the photo-in-wallet route, people grieve and love in different ways even though these remembrance tattoos never do the person justice. Usually they are hideous.

But other than these limited situations, we do not see the point anymore. There was a time when those who had tattoos were rebels of society. Looked down upon and feared by the average sap in public even if the fear was unfounded. Sporting a tattoo back then meant not caring about society’s rules and stating you shall do things your own way. These were the tattoos worth having.

Not anymore. Tramp stamps, inspirational quotes, meaningless Chinese characters and artistic portraits are the norm. Who are these people?

Heck, we don’t know what interests we’ll have next year and are baffled why people think there can be a single image or message they would want to look at in a mirror for the rest of their lives. Even worse, an image or message they feel encapsulates them so perfectly it has been sacredly chosen to be their slogan or mantra to the outside world forever. This is near-sighted narcissistic nonsense.

We laugh harder at you.

We laugh harder at you.

We have a list of quotes here and there are several great ones. For instance, one of our favorites is “ye shall know the truth and it shall make you free”. Damn good quote. Yet despite its awesomeness, we are pretty sure we’d be sick of looking at it on day three. Our friends would tire of seeing it faster. Same goes for any artwork. Even the Mona Lisa and especially the Mike Tyson-esque tiger stripes people are putting all over their body.

Another are Chinese characters. Whereas you can at least decipher the meaning of some lame quote or interpret a photo, we are certain there is a large percentage of people with characters on their back which are either drivel or an insult like “I am a ding-dong”. And deservedly so.

Chinese Meaning: unknown English Meaning: Idiot

Chinese Meaning: unknown
English Meaning: Idiot

These god-awful tattoos of every variety are on everyone everywhere now. I see tattoos on the ankles of lawyers and lower backs of teachers. Where we live we have reached the point of when we meet someone our age, we expect a tattoo and are genuinely surprised if they do not have one. For nitwitted millennials and those a little older, getting a stupid tattoo has become some kind of right of passage. Almost like driving a car or voting.

Worse, most of these people know it is a bad idea because they always tell you “I can get it removed later”. If already in your head, perhaps the tattoo is not a good idea in the first place. That it can be removed later is awful, naive and glib thinking. Why undertake totally fruitless actions which can only be reversed by spending a lot of money and going through lengthy, uncomfortable processes? Why not get a temporary tattoo or henna which can be redone every couple of weeks until maturity finally arrives? These people are basically saying they are fine with needlessly punishing their future selves because they refuse to exercise any current wisdom.

Temporary Tattoo. All the art with no eternal regret.

Temporary Tattoo. All the art with no eternal regret.

Knowing it is a bad decision, some people hedge their bets by getting the tattoo in a place where it cannot be seen. Lawyers and other professionals often fit into this category. These people are the worst and this is despite the fact they are already lawyers. Worse than tramp stampers or Chinese characters wearers. From what we gather they are having trouble figuring out with which aspects of society to conform. Unsure of whether being cool is really cool, they hop on both sides of the fence. Of course, there is always the reality they or their loved one still have to look at the ugly thing day in and day out.

Further, by not showing the tattoo in public these people only create uncomfortable situations for themselves going forward. It becomes an unintentional secret. All the people they will meet develop an image of them from what is presented and what is presented is without tattoo. Then the company beach party or friendly picnic happens and everyone gets to see the giant Elmo tattoo or ridiculous dragon Gary has on his back. Friends and co-workers will come up and say “I didn’t know you had a tattoo” and will tell him its nice but most of them are lying. Don’t believe what people let on publicly because they turn right around to us and mock Gary privately.  To be sure, we tell Gary what we think to his face because we like Gary.

Oh, Gary...you moron.

Oh, Gary…you moron.

For example, we know a 19 year old girl who just left for college. Incredibly sweet and kind person who we all love very much. Family. But before she left, she got a tattoo on the back of her neck of some saying we cannot remember exactly. To paraphrase: Only the strong survive. Or something to this effect but with several needless words. As we immediately told her when we saw it, we will help pay for its removal when she wisens up. We mentioned to her that those who exhibit mental fortitude do not write reminders about mental fortitude on themselves. They just exhibit it and let actions be their statement to the world. We also advised we could have scribbled a message into her skin to see if she would like it first. Didn’t matter. The tattoo was “too cool” and she needed it now.

Worse, her sixteen year old sister has already confided she wants a tattoo as soon as the law allows. Horrifyingly, she intends to get a sleeve from shoulder to wrist on one arm. DA FUQ? We presume gone are the aspirations of being any kind of respected professional. And don’t give us the horseshit about changing the world so tattoo’ed, sleeved-armed professionals are the norm in the future. We have never met a lawyer, judge, or doctor who has a sleeve tattoo and if we did, we would seriously question their reasoning. Honestly, what can you do to talk sense to these people? They must screw themselves up in order to learn.

This is not the arm of a doctor.

This is not the arm of a doctor.

At least it is not a tramp stamp. The main purpose of a tramp stamp is to draw attention to a woman’s ass and trust us that men are already noticing her ass without the stamp. Another reason for these stamps are to give someone something to look at when doing it like they do on the discovery channel (love that song). It is called a tramp stamp for a reason. And if this is what we (and society) figure, this is what the stampee’s future children will figure out. What a nice and subtle lesson for the kids. Of course, if she has not already paid boatloads of money to have it removed so her children do not wonder whether mommy was a slut but still know she lacked good judgment.

Nothing can be said for such slutty stupidity

Nothing can be said for such slutty stupidity

For saying the truth, this girl does gets our respect. Not for being an unashamed slut though. There are plenty of those.

Then there is the face tattoo. Personally, there is nothing worse than a face tattoo. If part of a military unit and everyone was getting one, we would take the risk of pissing everyone off and being put on point perpetually to eventually get killed. However, we do actually have respect for those with face tattoos. Not the dots or tiny stars by eyelids (facial tramp stamps) but the full on repugnant face tattoos.  Although hideously ugly, these people clearly don’t give a shit what others think. That courage even if horrendously misguided onto their face can be a good thing in life. It could also mean they are a murderous whacko but you don’t need a face tattoo to be one of those.

I dare you to tell this man the truth about the raiders!

I dare you to tell this man the truth about the raiders.

So in summation: unless Samoan or similar, part of a dangerous team, or someone who’s judgment is controlled by grief/love, we think your tattoo is probably just a conformist symbol of your inability to think independently. Please stop getting them just so you can get a tattoo like everyone else has done. It is lame!

In summation, you

List of Alliterated Insults

Watching the game…thinking of the coach…..

Damn you

Astronomically Absurd Asshole,

Abhorrently Atrocious Abomination,

Bombastically Blathering Baboon,

Boisterously Bloviating Blowhard,

Catastrophically Chaotic Charlatan,

Colossally Contemptuous Coward,

Cosmically Conceited Clodhopper,

Diabolically Decrepit Deviant,

Dangerously Duplicitous Douchebag,

Devastatingly Destructive Dingle-berry,

Disturbingly Disgraceful Derelict,

Degenerately Dimwitted Dumb-ass.

Electrifyingly Egregious Error,

Exceptionally Evil Egomaniac,

Ferociously Frightening Featherbrain,

Fantastically Felonious Fallacy,

Genuinely Generic Gargoyle,

Horrifyingly Hellacious Heathen,

Incredibly Incompetent Ignoramus,

Insidiously Irrational Imbecile,

Infuriatingly Incapable Idiot,

Judgmentally Juvenile Jabroni,

Knowledgeably Knuckle-headed Kinchin

Legendarily Lobotomized Laughingstock,

Ludicrously Lamentable Loser,

Mesmerizingly Muttonheaded Malfeasant,

Marvelously Maniacal Moron,

Monumentally Monstrous Mongoloid,

Malevolently Mischievous Misanthrope,

Notoriously Nefarious Nincompoop,

Outrageously Odious Orangutang,

Objectionably Outlandish Oomh-pa-loom-pa

Obliviously Obsessive Ogre

Preposterously Pretentious Pissant,

Pathetically Putrid Parasite,

Quintessentially Quarrelsome Queef-stain,

Reprehensibly Repulsive Rapscallion

Ridiculously Revolting Reject,

Repugnantly Reptillian Retard,

Sickeningly Sanctimonious Sycophant,

Spectacularly Stupefying Simpleton,

Tremendously Terrible Troglodyte,

Unequivocally Unqualified Usurper,

Unforgettably Unimpressive Ugly

Villainously Venomous Vagabond,

Worrisomely Witless Weisenheimer

…..till next week’s loss.

————

Still searching for X, Y, Z

Suggestions Appreciated.  Rules are: Three word alliteration; 10 or 12 syllables; Cannot use a word that is already on the list; First word ends in ‘ly’ and must be 4 syllables or more; Last two words must be a stand-alone direct insult; No one syllable words; second word cannot end in ‘y’.   Good luck.  And no vulgar curse words. We draw the limit at queef-stain.

Sheeple

Sheeple, Sheeple, Everywhere.

Baaaahhh!!!  Is all that I hear.

Conventional wisdom thinking

Contrived from contrived fears.

And ignorance of course.

We must never forget

That ignorance and fear

Are the filthiest of friends.

Well armed with these farces,

The Sheeple will often spout

Lying slogans and mantras

Like obedient trout.

Sheeple don’t think or wonder

Or question how and why.

You can lie to their face

And they will pay it no mind.

The lie can be anything.

Doesn’t matter anymore.

It’s whatever the pleasure.

Even the weather and more.

Long, I have had a question.

The answer I fear I’ve known.

When did they start lying?

My lifetime or long ago?

The more we search history,

The more we dare explore,

The most telling secret is

They don’t teach as they taught before.

Wise men often try to tell

To sheeple conditioned and tame

That Power has always lied

And Power is always the same.

George Orwell was not a prophet.

Not a foreseer but a sage.

He didn’t describe his future.

He was describing his day.

Yet what he knew of Power

Unfortunately, never changed.

The enemy of men like Orwell

Is your enemy still today.

A foe that shall remain

Lifelong companion to us all.

A battle not to win or lose

But the battle to stand tall.

Never squander your resistance.

Do not be sheeple or a slave.

Cognitive dissonance and pain

Are the only benefit it pays.

Greats like Orwell root for us

To mold the world to our desire.

To challenge the authority.

To live with courageous fire.

So think hard and question everything.

Never fear what they might say.

Or, we are condemned forever

To the same fate day after day.

Putin’s Pounds of Flesh

nato-vs-russia-flags-original-graphic-elaboration-file-44228586

Russians play chess. A lot. It is reflected in their foreign policy. On the grand scale, they rarely make an unnecessary move. No pawn is budged solely because it is their turn. And when they make a necessary move it is decisive and quick. Then they hold firm, adapt to the new dynamic and repeat the method.

At least this has been the strategy since Putin has been in charge. We are not talking about Russian domestic policy, day to day foreign manipulations or trade agreements with neighbors. We are talking about the great and slow game Russia plays with NATO. Global hegemony and long term survival. Organic war.

In the past few years there are a couple of conflicts which reflect what we call ‘Putin’s Pounds of Flesh’.

In 2008, there was an irrelevant-to-us kerfuffle occurring in a small autonomous region called South Ossetia. South Ossetia is located within Georgia but had remained autonomous since the fall of the Soviet Union with the assistance of Russia and their counterparts in North Ossetia, located in Russia.

To the ire of Russia, NATO had been cozying up to Georgia for years by providing training and arms to the pro-western government installed via a revolution/coup in 2003. When Georgia brazenly bombed and sent in heavily armed troops to quell unrest in South Ossetia against the wishes of Russia, crap hit the fan fast. For Georgians.

We can only presume NATO and Georgia were confident of success in South Ossetia because Russia had not militarily asserted itself outside of its borders against a NATO-backed operation for twenty years. However, the end result of this campaign was a change in global dynamics to NATO’s detriment and the beginning of further aggressions which continue to escalate.

Supposedly, the plan was the Georgians would occupy South Ossetia without a significant Russian response. Most likely, the West would then use media and friendly regional governments to bolster a supporting narrative to maintain this new status quo, delivering a direct blow to Russia’s ability to exert influence on its borders.  Hopefully, further emboldening nations to attempt similar maneuvers or more loudly assert interests counter to Russia.

We say ‘would’ because this plan never got very far. Instead of accept the bombing of South Ossetia and deaths of Russian peacekeepers, Russia promptly invaded the next morning. Not just South Ossetia but Georgia itself. Even from the perspective of those not privy to superior information, it was clear the Russian army was wiping the floor with their Georgian counterparts. Within five days, Russia effectively conquered Georgia as if it were a movie only stopping 60KM outside of the capital Tbilisi. This was a statement to Georgia and the world that Georgia exists because Russia allows it to exist. And a larger statement that a bear has awoken.

Then attempting to appear magnanimous, Russia pulled back rather than destroy any more of Georgia. Yet they decided to keep South Ossetia and another region, Abkhazia, because really what could Georgia or anyone do about it.

This was the first pound of flesh taken by Putin’s Russia (at least which these simple observers noticed). Somebody messed with them beyond a determined threshhold so they made a quick and decisive move, changing their borders to their benefit before pulling back and allowing themselves and everyone to digest the new status quo. This has been their strategy since and so far without failure.

As an aside, we do wonder about the origins of the 2008 Georgian conflict. A plausible belief is NATO urged Georgia into the conflict at that time because they feared Russia’s long-term ability to re-assert itself after the rise in the price of oil since 2000. Back then, anyone could tell the next fifteen years looked brighter for Russia than the past fifteen years. NATO most likely wanted to maintain a weakened Russia before high commodity prices would allow Russia to strengthen further. In the 1990’s, NATO may have incorrectly assumed Russia would remain broke and indebted to western institutions for the next 30 years, providing ample time to slowly destroy Russia from within by various means.

However, it worked almost too perfectly for Russia. This conflict became the symbol of Russia’s resurgence on the global stage. Could Russia have duped Georgia or NATO into thinking Georgian action would be successful in South Ossetia and Russia would only bluff a response? Then when the bait was taken, Russia could respond swiftly, looking like a dominant military force and counter-weight to NATO and putting the skids on further near-term plans by any neighboring states.

Regardless of the true cause of the Georgian conflict, the result was a clear victory for Moscow. Further, the reasons for the Russian victory were not lost on NATO. A surplus country, Russia was able to re-invest into armed forces as well as re-establish itself as a major economic player. After Georgia, it must have been clear within the Pentagon that Russia’s ability to profit from its natural resource wealth had to be disrupted in order for smaller sovereigns to be able to chip away at the Russian bear.

But since attacking Russia directly and occupying its oil fields and Siberia are not a feasible or sane option, the only way to successfully send Russia back to the poor house is to take away buyers of Russian oil and gas: Eastern and Central Europe. Most of Europe would like independence of Russian energy but do not have a choice. The map of the world is the only map the world. At least for now.

So in examining the map, it is clear one country stands in the way of pipelines from the gulf to eastern and central Europe: Syria.

Forget what is said about chemical weapons or the evil-madman Assad. Forget whatever contrived reason will all-the-sudden become urgent to act upon. What matters is Syria stands in the way of a NATO victory in an organic war. Long a target for regime change, the attempts against Syria began heating up and eventually so began with what we will glibly refer to as Plan A: Syrian Arab spring. Of course, an Arab Spring covertly supported by the West which would topple Assad and place in power a pro-western government. A new and fledgling government which would need assistance and be willing to barter easements for pipelines. But the Syrian Arab Spring did not happen.

So then it was plan B: pay and arm violent opposition groups of any variety under the guise of humanitarian or good-guy rebel resistance against an evil regime. U.S. politicians went all in like fools on this one trying to arm these groups at every opportunity even though many of them were anti-American jihadi-style nutballs. Senator John McCain actually and stupidly went out there to meet a bunch of rag tag idiots masquerading in suits to help craft this image. What a joke. McCain needs a better handler. Plan B failed as well but not totally. The Syrian resistance groups like Al-Nusra sprang up and did manage to take over regions of the country, creating humanitarian nightmares for ordinary people and crippling the Syrian economy and its ability to support Assad in perpetuity. However, without more direct NATO assistance the rebels were losing the war with Assad and it was clear Plan B would never achieve the desired result.

Even if Assad’s forces are limited to western portions of the country indefinitely, they will still be able to indefinitely prevent any pipelines from crossing any portion of the country with their superior air force. Further, since a weakened Assad will always need the support of Russia to survive, it is assured destruction of any pipelines throughout the country will be as paramount an objective to Assad’s regime as holding Damascus. A weakened and diminutive Assad does nothing to further the ultimate objective. He and any threat to a future NATO-backed power within Syria had to go.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. On to Plan C. As it became apparent the rag tag numbskull murderous rebels would not get the job done on their own, NATO looked for way to get directly active in the conflict but needed a nice, juicy and salacious piece of news to go their way. Lo’ and behold as Assad’s forces were finally starting to win the Syrian civil war, Assad’s regime attacked civilians with chemical weapons….because…you know…this is exactly what people do when victory seems close at hand. At least this is what the always-honest American media reported.

Either way, the fortuitously timed reason was provided and every grandstanding politician and news-actor talked about red lines being crossed and the need to do something now. Like an Iraq-redux horror show, the war machine kicked off with lightening bi-partisan speed. Ships and war planes were being maneuvered and it appeared another major war and soulless disaster was upon us.

Now if you understand how much effort NATO is exerting to get rid of Syria, imagine how much Russia values Syria. They are looking at the same maps we are and know more than anyone what happens if Europe were able to ignore Russian gas in favor of NATO-backed Qatari and gulf oil. Syria is for all the marbles. Russia did not give much of a shit when the US attacked Iraq other than the usual diplomatic back and forth. They do not give too much of a shit about the US bombing everyone in East Africa and Central Asia. But Syria they care about.

So when NATO was arming up, Putin did what he believed was necessary to protect Russia’s future sovereignty. Russia literally anchored half its navy off the coast of Syria and declared Syria would give up any weapons. He essentially dared the US to risk a REAL-MOFO war over Assad and over some chemical attack which half of American suspected was done by their own government or the jihadis we sponsor. We did not live during the Cuban missile crisis but this was as nerve racking as we are willing to put up with.

Sadly, we did not worry Russia would dare pull a trigger to start something. We were petrified we would and so were many Americans. This trepidation led to an all out bi-partisan outcry from normal Americans shouting about how no one wanted this war. This was public pressure not experienced before any past American war run-up. Allies dropped like flies saying they would take no part. Putin ran a piece in Time Magazine pitching Americans to stop their leaders. Think about this for a second. At no point did it ever seem possible the president of Russia would appear far more sane to our public than any American leader. Shocking. The U.S. government stood alone in its desire to attack Assad. No one wanted to risk a war with Russia for this and Putin’s gambit worked to perfection.

This was a bold, dangerous and smart gamble. Putin read the psyche of the American people and the allies well. He knew there would be too much static refuting evidence about the chemical attack to garner enough support among the allies or public. And by having all those warships in between NATO and its objective, Russia and Putin showed they were willing to risk starting World War III, even if by accident, to protect their interests. This is the statement to learn: Russia will fight a world war against NATO to protect Syria, which is an important piece to victory and the survival of the power structures on each side.

Welcome to Plan D.  After NATO’s attempt to topple Syria was thwarted by the trump card which is the Black Sea Fleet, the objective became to neutralize the reach and effect of Russia’s navy to prevent a re-occurrence of what happened. There can always be another chemical attack or crossed red line to throw at Assad and restart the war machine on a moment’s notice. Therefore and since direct military action against Russia is not on the table, the Black Sea Fleet must be neutralized without direct action so the next opportunity against Assad can be capitalized upon.

Almost immediately after the flop in Syria, a “natural and grassroots’ uprising manifested in Ukraine. Very conveniently timed to serve NATO’s interest, Russia was left with a dilemma regarding the Crimean Peninsula, which hosted Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

For a brief period, it looked as if NATO would be able to dislodge the Black Sea Fleet from its base, forcing it farther East into the Black Sea. Further, had Ukraine swiftly become a solidified NATO ally, NATO warships could at some future point dock at what would have been the former Russian base at Sevastopol. Had this occurred, it would have been unlikely Putin would be able to position half his navy off the coast of Syria to prevent a future attack. Rather the Black Sea Fleet would be bogged down in the Black Sea concerned about proximity of NATO warships to the Russian heartlands.

This was the plan. Take Ukraine and limit the reach of Russia’s military so the bear cannot thwart the creation of a pipeline from the middle east to Europe. After Georgia and Plan C, NATO understood Russia may always be able to threaten or call the bluff of the West with troops since Western citizenries, no matter how brainwashed, are not keen on potentially nuclear wars over middle eastern or central asian states. Joe Schmoe does not give a shit about organic warfare, only his immediate welfare.

Plan D was ambitious but as Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The Russian response to the developments in Ukraine was incredibly swift. Putin took another pound of flesh, holding up a middle finger to the world and topping his party off with a Winter Olympics.  And this pound weighed a lot more than an Ossetia and Abkhazia combined. They took the Crimean peninsula immediately. Regardless of statements about future elections, Crimea was Russian territory permanently upon its seizure. The future elections were processing stamps for bureaucrats. (During the opening ceremonies at Sochi, Team Russia walked in playing Tatu’s Not Gonna Get Us. Cheeky.)

It should have been no surprise Russia would not yield control over Crimea or accept the loss of its base at Sevastopol. Doing so would be accepting the neutralization of the Black Sea fleet, accepting the toppling of Syria and creation of a pipeline. And ultimately accepting of the loss of revenues from natural resources and a return to indebtedness a la the days of always-drunk Boris Yeltsin.

Rather, what was surprising was NATO’s tepid non-response to this obvious maneuver. We are not sure if Plan D, similar to Georgia, included merely hoping Russia would go along or if there was a plan to assert some military control over Crimea. Either way, Russia’s swift and decisive action created a new status quo before NATO could change the dynamic. Russia took back the land Kruschev gave to Ukraine and the Black Sea fleet maintained its uninterrupted reign throughout the Black Sea with easy access to the Eastern Mediterranean.

While NATO would love to create a land dilemma along the massive and flat border between these two nations, this consolation prize seems unlikely. In the East, Russia asserts enough influence quietly it can be sure to maintain an appropriate land buffer for some time and would likely invade eastern Ukrainian provinces if they felt it necessary. With the NATO government in Kiev broke and barely able to function, blame for current and future problems are falling at the feet of the newly elected ‘pro-democracy’ leaders. Russia seems quite capable and willing to keep Ukraine a mess for as long as it needs. So far, it appears unlikely NATO can establish a long-term or stable government without Russia’s agreement and involvement, which would negate any benefits to Plan D.

But after Plans A, B, and C, Plan D was not the only plan in action. Making a go at the Black Sea Fleet’s base is not the ultimate goal since direct confrontation is not on the table. A pipeline through Syria is the goal and NATO will seek it regardless of whether it can succesfully limit Russia’s military influence. It will simply adjust tactics and try new strategies.

Plan E is concurrent with Plan D. In fact, to these casual observers, we are not sure which started first. After the failures of Plan B and Plan C, NATO realized they would not be able to topple Assad by providing direct support to abhorrent militant groups. By being allies to such groups, NATO invites public and private opposition and can not generate sufficient support for the broad military assistance/action required to topple Assad’s regime. Especially when backed by Russia. No ally good enough could be created for which Western citizens would be willing to sacrifice.

Unable to find an ally to topple Assad, NATO needed an enemy to be an enemy of Assad. An enemy powerful and fluid enough to get the job done but vile enough Western peoples and leaders would never tolerate such a group running a country like Syria. A group so hideous and evil whom if they did obtain power, NATO would be cheered as heroes for changing the regime even if it meant full scale war. At least this is what Western peoples would be told while pipelines would be built. But who could conveniently do such a job? There is no Saddam to convince to invade neighbors. Al-Nusra and the other groups were allies and could not do it. So who?

Abracadabra ISIS. Again, perfectly timed. A mysteriously powerful and ambitious group spawned in the vast expanse of Western Iraq and Eastern Syria. Armed to the teeth with weapons ‘stolen’ from allied hands, they will do the most evil made-for-tv actions. Mass murder of innocents? Check. Raping women and children? Check. Beheading people and sticking skulls on posts outside of cities like it were the middle ages? Check. Every evil and nightmarish stereotype of the worst humans imaginable? Check. Check. Check.

Yet fortunately for us, they want to topple Assad and sell oil in a conveniently located area. Granted, they want to topple many but we casual observers know who is first on their list. And it does not take a genius to figure out should they be successful, the West will not wait long before fully invading Syria to replace the ISIS regime and control the vacuum thus created. Imagine terrifying and heart-wrenching scenes on the streets of ancient Damascus. Pundits will talk about how the most evilly vile and backwards regime conceivable (literally) is inflicting horrible crimes on the Syrian people who the West will, again, all the sudden give a massive shit about. ISIS is a venomously insidious and useful tool. If they were to take uncontested power in Syria or a major portion thereof, no one could argue against taking them out without sounding like an immoral coward. There could be no letter from Putin urging the American people. ISIS provides the perfect excuse for intervention wherever they go.

Plan E has been viciously productive. Mindless Western masses are eating it up. But it has not been successful or neared ultimate success and Assad remains despite ISIS. Further, Russia has not yet thrown a punch in Plan E. They are unlikely to do so unless Assad is truly threatened with losing power. Russia does not care whether Assad rules from a bunker while all of Syria burns. Russia only cares to assure the current dynamic does not allow the construction of pipelines.

Should ISIS appear close to success against Assad or should the West be close to taking control of Syria either through Assad or through ISIS post-Assad, recent history shows Russia will take quick and decisive action to alter the status quo to their advantage. Then they will hold firm not caring about Western noise or mis-guided sanctions which hurt Western economies more than Russia. Putin will try to take another and probably larger pound of flesh from the West and not look back.

Perhaps it will be a coup in Turkey, a revolution in Greece or war in the Balkans. Perhaps the announcement of a gold-backed Asian currency to combat the dollar or the sudden unannounced arrival of heavily-armed Russian “peace keepers” in Damascus.  From our un-illuminated perspective, this is impossible to predict. But it will come and there will be a new dynamic for which everyone must adapt. Then it will be on to Plan F and G and so on and so forth and yadda yadda yadda.

—————

Bulgaria – The Wizards of Ov

Tales of the Cup

Since we love international soccer so much we have decided to begin a series on our favorite World Cup memories. Which like everything on this site will be updated infrequently, without notice and whenever we desire.

So here goes:

Bulgaria 1994

Bulgaria 1994 – The Wizards of Ov

Sometimes in sports, a minnow kills sharks. Such was the case with Bulgaria and their dream run through USA1994. Led by Hristo “The Dagger” Stoichkov and Emil Kostadinov, this unheralded band of –ovs reminded us why the game is played and delivered perhaps the most stunning upset in history.

As shocking as their World Cup triumphs were, their qualification was equally as implausible. To get to USA 1994, Bulgaria needed to secure a top two finish in a qualifying group which included heavily favored France and Sweden along with Austria, Finland, and Israel. With two games left, Bulgaria found itself 5 points behind France and 3 behind Sweden without control of their destiny.

After Sweden took care of Finland securing a spot, Bulgaria’s chances were looking worse as France would be hosting last place Israel needing one point. And this was a bad Israeli team. The French were confident Les Blues would qualify without even needing a result in their last match against Bulgaria in Paris.

While Bulgaria took care of business versus Austria to keep hope alive, France took a 2-1 lead against Israel into the 83rd minute. Fireworks and champagne were being prepared on the Champs Elysee and rightfully so. Going into the match, winless Israel had only scored 6 goals in eight games and carried a goal differential of negative sixteen. No one expected anything worse than a draw at this point. It would have been ludicrous to think Israel could score twice in the final minutes. No way, right? Skip to to the 3:50 mark and find out for yourself.

Sacre’ Bleu!

Just like that, fireworks were undone, wine restocked, and the final game against Bulgaria took on a lot of meaning. France would qualify with a win or draw. Bulgaria with a win. Despite the collapse against Israel, rational minds could not expect France to lose two in a row at home. Eric Cantona’s temper would not allow it.

As the final game began, France had the run of play early. Someone released a rooster (France’s symbol is Le Coque) and everyone had a nice laugh. Shortly thereafter, Cantona rifled home a smooth volley worthy of winning such a match.

But those pesky Bulgarians were resistant and Kostadinov headed home from the near post on a corner only six minutes after Cantona’s opener. Tensely, the game wore on with Bulgaria chasing a winner which seemingly would not come. With ninety minutes gone, France was awarded a free kick near the Bulgarian corner. An ideal situation, all which needed to be done was sit on the ball or pass back to expire the last minute or so of extra time.

Yet instead of safely passing back, substitute David Ginola decided it would be the perfect time to attempt a cross to Cantona. Why? I do not know. Perhaps, he is an idiot. Perhaps he thought Cantona would smash home another volley to cap off the qualifying campaign in style. Whatever his reasons were for the fateful cross, the result was disaster.

Wow! Even if you don’t speak French, you can tell what the commentators thought of the situation. While the focus was on Ginola in the media, they should have credited France’s elimination to the superb lob to Kostadinov and his spectacular finish.

Do not tell that to French coach Gerard Houllier though. Houllier resigned and immediately laid all blame for France’s failures at the feet of Ginola, beginning a thus far lifelong public feud between the two. Twenty years later, Ginola filed a slander and defamation suit against Houllier for the continued criticisms by his former coach. Ah France, I hope they never change. No one does petulant collapse quite like them.

L’idiot de la France!

As a by product of this collapse, most pundits viewed Bulgaria’s qualification to be the result of France’s failures rather than Bulgaria’s talent. No one was expecting too much out of Coach Penev’s team in USA 1994. Drawn in an open group with Nigeria, Greece, and Argentina, Bulgaria needed to secure a top two finish or be one of the best third place teams to advance to knockout rounds.

Hoping for a good start, Bulgaria was trounced 3-0 by Nigeria in the opening match. However, they were able to bounce back with a 4-0 drubbing of a very disappointing Greece team, keeping hope of advancement alive.

In their final match they needed three points from Argentina, a team on a tear and captained by legend Diego Maradona.  While Argentina already secured a knockout spot with two victories, they were not likely to let off the gas since they wanted to avoid stronger competition in the next round. For any team, much less tiny Bulgaria, this was a giant hill to climb.

As luck would have it for Bulgaria, Diego Maradona had scored an amazing goal in Argentina’s first match against Greece which everyone ignored. Instead, his zombie-eyed celebration caused a big stir and questions were asked.

For any who did not know, we found out Mr. Maradona was not just a legendary soccer player. He was a legendary cokehead. The fallout led to Argentina’s captain being pulled out the tournament before the match against Bulgaria.

With the massive disruptions and distractions within the Argentine team, Bulgaria won 2-0 with another quality performance overlooked by the pundits focusing on the Maradona angle of the game.

The result meant Nigeria won the group and both Argentina and Bulgaria qualified for the round of 16, where Bulgaria would face Mexico. While Mexico was favored, it was a winnable match for both teams.

A back and forth affair, two early goals gave way to extra-time where neither team could find a winner despite several chances. In the penalty round, fate favored Bulgaria as Mexico choked massively missing their first three penalties. Bulgaria on the other hand hit three of their first four happily finding themselves in the quarterfinals. A monumental achievement for a team making only its second world cup appearance since 1974 and which had never gotten past the group stage.

At this point, most people thought the Bulgarians were lucky. Their qualification was miraculous and they were fortunate to play Argentina during a scandal involving their best player. Mexico could not hit a penalty to save their lives. Even the 4-0 victory against Greece was disregarded since Greece turned out to be the worst team of the tournament, finishing 0-3 with a negative ten goal differential.

But this luck, or skill, was about to be tested. Beating Mexico meant a date with Germany.

1994 Germany with Jurgen Klinsman, Lothar Matthaus, and Rudi Voller

1994 Germany with Jurgen Klinsman, Lothar Matthaus, and Rudi Voller

To understand how large a favorite Germany was over Bulgaria in 1994, you have to know a bit of German soccer history.  Since 1954, Germany had made the final four of the World Cup every time but twice (1962 and 1978). In those ten world cups, Germany played in six finals and won three. What happened when they did not make the final four in 62 and 78? They were eliminated in the round of 8. This is considered an unspeakable tragedy in German soccer.

Coming into USA 1994, Germany was reigning World Cup and European champions having played in three straight World Cup finals dating back to 1982. Even the mothers of Bulgaria’s players knew the Germans would win. After all, as former English Golden Boot winner Gary Lineker said,

Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.

Or at least so we thought before they played the game.

After a slow first half, a shameful Klinsmann dive resulted in a German penalty and lead. But again Bulgaria would not quit.  Fifteen minutes from time, they were awarded a free kick 25 yards away from goal.  A precious opportunity against the stout German defense. With this chance, Stoichkov delivered a brilliant bender which left the keeper paralyzed and gave Bulgaria a well-deserved equalizer.

Tied at one apiece, Bulgaria kept pressing forward while the Germans were still discombobulated after having conceded. All the sudden you knew this was possible.

While we had become familiar with the exploits of Stoichkov and Kostadinov, it would be another Bulgarian who would put his name in history and become the most famous balding man of 1994.

Germany does not impress him.

Germany does not impress him.

Just three minutes after Stoichkov’s equalizer, Yordan Letchkov dove in front of the German defender and used his shiny noggin to deliver a historic goal.

Bulgaria held on and impossible occurred. Letchkov and his forehead hair-island became an international celebrity overnight.

He uses the hair island for targeting headers.

Now I get it. He uses the hair island to target headers. Brilliant!

The Germans were stunned and American fans in the crowd who were new to soccer were treated with a upset grander than any they may ever see again.

Sadly, Bulgaria could not replicate their magic in the semi-final and lost 2-1 to Italy after an early Roberto Baggio brace.  Bulgaria never quit and had their chances throughout the game but could not find a coveted equalizer. And while their 4-0 defeat in the Third Place Match to qualification opponents Sweden may have left a bitter taste in their mouths, their qualification to USA 1994 and stunning victory over Germany remain one the greatest memories in World Cup history.

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Stop Blaming Corporations

I am sick of people constantly blaming corporations for everything.

Corporate behavior is highly predictable. A for-profit corporation has only one purpose: to seek profits and use those profits to pay shareholders and/or re-invest to increase share value and seek more profits.

A corporation seeking profits is like water filling cracks. The water by its nature will go wherever it can go. Do not ask it to stop. This is non-sense. It is up to you to seal the crack and prevent the water from going places of which you do not approve.

Too many people are complaining about lost jobs and blaming corporations naively. Now I say lost jobs but they have not been lost. They moved beyond our driving range. Namely to places like China, Mexico and Central America and wherever the costs of labor are mere fractions of American wages. It is painful to watch. Not because they are leaving though. Because we blame corporations and act like we do not know what can be done.

Think about how silly it is to blame corporations for a second. Even assuming a corporation wanted to keep its labor force in the United States, it cannot. Exclude the service industry or professional and medical jobs which cannot be exported. But for everything else such as the manufacturing of: clothing, autos, boats and planes, steel and metals, furniture, medical supplies, electronics and computers, etc….all of it can be produced anywhere on the planet. All a company needs is access to resources, labor, and transportation to deliver the product. Not exactly unique to America.

The current environment dictates American labor be replaced with cheap foreign labor. If a corporation wanted to maintain its American work force, it would forego a simple method of dramatically increasing its profits. It would defy its true purpose of seeking profits by all reasonable means. Corporate executives would be negligent in their fiduciary duties to shareholders by ignoring this reality and so they do not. Shareholders do not care whether Susie loses her job on the line, only whether their portfolio or retirement account rose 4% last quarter.

Further, not moving your labor costs overseas will likely result in the future dissolution of the company because competitors will certainly snap at the opportunity if not already. They will then use their increased profits to increase market share to one day force you into bankruptcy or buy you out and dissolve your company.

I cannot blame a corporation for undertaking natural and logical behavior essential to its survival. It is merely seeking profits by using all reasonable means and this is extremely low-hanging fruit.

So why do we hate them so much? Lots of reasons: People think the world is unfairly tilted in the favor of a powerful few corporations which use friendly (whore-ish) governments to advance their interests to the detriment of the public. People think corporations control Washington, corporate interests are the real reasons for war and corporations sending jobs overseas are killing the American economy.

They are not wrong. But they are blaming the wrong people.

If you were making decisions for a large company like Halliburton and knew a certain piece of legislation or military operation would increase your profits dramatically and hurt your competitors, why on earth would you not seek out such legislation or use every means necessary to lobby for the military intervention?

To accomplish this, why not also grease the campaign coffers of legislators if doing so results in the legislator taking action in your favor? Why would you not pay millions in bribes to obtain billions in contracts? Any sane business executive would because, again, a competitor would and it may eventually cost you your business. Indeed, competition dictates a corporation secure a politician first before another can even try.

Is bribing or sponsoring a politician even against the law anymore? If so, there remain a million ways to do it legally. Call it a campaign contribution. If you need to pay more than campaign laws allow, contribute to a political action committee or special interest group which serves the legislator’s purpose. If the legislator only wants personal wealth, hire some relatives and family members at ludicrous salaries. Or better yet transfer them land under favorable terms to sell it at a massive profit to a buyer you arrange. If you are nervous about authorities catching you (if they are even trying), then repeat your land deals in any foreign nation. I am sure the politician does not mind keeping money abroad. 

This is just the beginning. Have you noticed almost every one of these politicians has a book about their life and the contrived and made-up obstacles they overcame before they turned into a jackass politician? I used to wonder why anyone would read a book written by a member of a congress which has a favorability rating below cockroaches. I have only one guess. If you want to bribe someone legally, buy a product they are selling whether it is tongue depressors from a medical supply company or a book authored by a congressperson-swine. Who cares if Exxon or Raytheon does not intend to read 40,000 copies of Nancy Pelosi’s book or even if it is used as toilet paper? All she cares is they bought it and she will get paid.

With so many legal bribing possibilities it is enough to make a corporate big wig salivate over what he may be able to get passed in his favor. But it is also enough to give him nightmares over what his competitors are trying to get passed in their favor. Always remember this is the sticking point. Bribes have become a cost of doing business in this country and if you do not play the game, you get left behind.

Take a look at free trade. Corporations always knew if they could take their labor costs abroad they would maximize profits. But those pesky tariffs would prevent a corporation from making any profits from goods made in third world countries. So after asking a zillion times they were eventually able to pay enough congressmen to get it done. It is even bi-partisan.

Bye bye tariffs. The single device which effectively protected small companies and American workers from products made by cheap foreign labor for 200 years was gone like it never existed. I cannot remember the last time I heard a politician say the word ‘tariff’.

I do not blame corporations for this and do not tell me corporations own congress. The relationship is more akin to a john and a prostitute. The john pays to receive a benefit and the prostitute degrades herself but no one owns the other party. At least not permanently. It is a filthy but mutually beneficial relationship. So long as the prostitutes are available, the johns will return often to receive a benefit for the cheapest price possible. And since the johns keep coming back, the prostitutes can always use the money to maintain their position and fend off any challenging prostitutes in the next election.

This is the game Congress created: willful whores for a cheap price.

So stop blaming people like the Koch brothers for doing what is obvious and do not expect people like them to stop. There will always be profiteers asking for favorable legislation or asking for war. This will never change. Blame Congress. It is their duty to protect the American interest but they would rather act like prostitutes. Yet instead of degrading themselves for personal gain, they degrade the entire nation.

However, if you truly care, blame yourself. Then blame me and the rest of the American people. The jerks in Washington do not re-elect themselves. They have us to thank for this.

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Organic War

Humans have been killing each other for a long time. Forget what they say about prostitution, murder for self-interest is the oldest profession. It predates humanity since cro-magnum men and neanderthals were clobbering the crap out of each other.  Rest assured, it will continue. The universe demands this.

Like Judgment Day in the Terminator movies, some wars cannot be avoided. They can only be delayed or prevented for a time. And as hopeful or delusional as we may be, no war will ever be the last unless it ends all of humanity.

It has nothing to do with the reasons we learn in school. It is not a battle of cultures or religions or economic ideologies. Capitalism versus communism is irrelevant here. It is never about the  fabricated threats spouted by governments to fool their peoples. People are dumb anyways. It is easier to sell a moral lie than explain a horrific reality.

It is not some failure of humanity or human reasoning. Humanity is doing what it is designed to do.

War is organic and natural. Not all wars but certainly the most important. It is survival of the fittest type stuff. An inescapable consequence of the existence of multiple civilizations on the same planet.

I am not advocating we kill anyone. I have never viewed any war in my lifetime as just. Rather, I watch politicians, those self-proclaimed moral leaders, pursue conflicts for disingenuous reasons which are exaggerated to achieve obvious but unstated geo-political objectives.

Nevertheless, I have come to understand direct conflict and war with Russia and China are inevitable at some point in our future. Either war or the total collapse, dissolution, and break up of the United States, or Russia and China, through economic failure without war. Yet considering the lessons of history, it is unlikely there can be an ultimate victory without someone’s total military defeat.

The Soviet economy collapsed and Russia reasserted itself within twenty years. Had NATO invaded Russia in some manner immediately after the collapse, the geo-political map of the world would be drastically different today. It was at only at this juncture such a maneuver could have been executed with minimal carnage. Orwell would be sadly proud of the term ‘minimal carnage’.

NATO would control essentially all oil reserves and routes to the West. It would have the ability to limit Chinese supply to only Iran, IF Iran were even able to survive as a sovereign without the assistance and protection of a sovereign Russia. I bet hawks in Pentagon regret this one. Again, I am not advocating war with anyone. I am just running a hypothetical.

And forget the cat and mouse proxy game of war and sanctions NATO and Russia/China play within the Middle East and around the World. This is merely boxers throwing snow balls at each other before they step in a ring. Just trying to prevent the other guy from warming up too much. Gotta keep him cold.

And this does not have to occur soon. It might or it might be in 100 or 200 years. I do not know when. I only know it cannot be avoided forever. War and someone’s ensuing defeat or someone’s total collapse without a war will happen. Guaranteed.

And no need for it to be an all out nuclear war which destroys the Earth or even dissolves either nation geographically. History shows it often results only in the chaotic collapse of one power structure with the winner absorbing the defeated into their power structure. Only the defeated nation’s ability to rule over itself must be permanently destroyed.

Germany and Japan lost World War II and lived on…albeit under complete political, military, and economic control of the Allies. In terms of personal and national wealth, they were far worse off than if they had won but they still continued as nations even if Germany was split for a time.

World War II provides a great lesson. We remember with great pride how America defeated Germany and saved Europe. But America’s victory over Japan was far more important. The Japanese Empire was the most formidable opponent of the United States since the War of 1812, which we resoundingly lost. Not Germany who also had Britain, France, and Russia to combat among others.

The reasons for the war with Japan show why war is inevitable. In all successful nations, the economy and population grow over time. It does not matter what economic ideology or system of government is present. If it is at all successful, at some juncture the needs of the population and economy will reach and surpass the internal capacity of the region under that nations’ rule. This is similar to animal populations reaching an environment’s carrying capacity.

At this juncture, society has a choice: civil unrest and economic disruption if not outright collapse and political turnover, or;  you find resources from somewhere you haven’t already taken from prior. Since no ruler wants to get bounced from power or worse lose their heads, they will always find a reason to take resources from someone else even if it means fabricating causes to go to war. To those in power, the alternative is much worse. See Marie Antionette and Louis XVI.

So after industrial growth in the 1800’s, Japan became an empire (again), invading China, Korea, and many portions of East Asia and Western Pacific. Same concept as the British Empire, Ottomans, Mongols, Magyars, Romans, and so on. Empire is the only way to go when you hit the big time.

However, as any empire grows and further absorbs new territories into its structure, it will either reach its zenith and inevitably collapse or bump into an entity or other empire which cannot be dislodged so easily. And more so, the other empire may have the same need for growth and space. When this happens, all the righteous and holy jibber jabber, kumbaya circles and peace signs in the world cannot stop a war.

Japan’s empire was no where near its zenith and they were longing for more. But it had grown to the extent its need for resources and oil directly conflicted with the interest of another empire which could not be dislodged easily. Namely the United States of America. Constrained by geography and without the resources to feed its empire, Japan went to war with the United States in hopes of ruling the Pacific and giving their empire room to grow for a generation.

Never forget the United States prodded Japan into war by limiting Japan’s access to oil and the United States knew an attack was coming but did not make serious efforts to prepare for defense. The United States was fine with being able to tell the American people Japan started it by bombing Pearl Harbor. They, like Japan, knew this war was inevitable or rather an organic war. It was a matter of when, not if.

There are only so many resources to go around and while moral or wise leaders are able to prevent inorganic or needless wars, they can only delay organic wars. But depending of the circumstances, delaying an organic war may be to your detriment and contribute to an eventual defeat in the future.

Even if leaders were to adopt a stance of pacifism or neutrality and successfully grow their economy without war, they would eventually face economic contraction, collapse and potential internal chaos when they no longer had the ability to seek out new resources to sustain growth. Or worse, they would face an invasion from a foreign empire which itself had grown large enough to desire the pacifists’ or neutral’s resources. I imagine a bunch of pacifists would be an appetizing target for an resource-needy empire, too.

This is why I never hope to see Utopia. I hope my children or grandkids or even their children and grandchildren will never see it. To get there, every independent and self-serving power structure in the world, whether they be just, unjust, democratic or dictatorial would have to be defeated and destroyed. Many of the well-armed ones would not go so easily. While pleasant, the premise of the song Imagine petrifies me. Getting there would require a lot of warfare, destruction, indiscriminate killing and unimaginable human suffering. No thanks, Mr. Lennon. I’ll pass.

Hopefully, we will not be forced to see the horrors of a Utopia’s birth. But we will see war. And it does not matter who the enemy is or what they have done. What matters is they exist beyond our power structure. Even if the independent sovereign is your ally and will be for another hundred years, they are also an inevitable future enemy should your power structure and theirs survive long enough.

So we must be the direct geo-political enemy of Russia and vice versa…and then China…and if we continue to succeed, eventually probably India…and then whoever may rise in South America…and then probably someone in Europe or some portion thereof again…and then finally whatever independent power is left in the World until there can be only one…Highlander style.

It is survival of the fittest and winner takes all. A battle to create and control a final unified order after many thousands of years of human division. Or at least until the winning power structure’s economy inevitably collapses, society falls apart and the first planetary empire splinters or dissolves into numerous entities and states, each acting in their own interest. Just like before.

Then wash, rinse and repeat. For eternity.

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The Term African-American Is Stupid

I hate the term African-American. Its use makes no sense when you think about it rationally. It is another poorly thought out term propagated by PC stupidity. In social settings, how often do you see white people stumble over whether to say African-American or black in the most harmless of connotations. It has got to stop. Please. I beg you! It is offensive to both Africans and Americans….and the few actual African-Americans.

Racial discussion seems to make everyone stupid in this country. It is to the point I suggest we all carry a Crayola color chart. When we are confused by someone’s skin color or race, just hold up the chart to the person’s skin and call them whichever color most closely matches. Perhaps this will make everyone feel good about their respect of the races. We shall follow Crayola to racial enlightenment.

There are plenty of racial descriptors and insults which flat out make no sense on their face…or shall I say your face. I never understood why people would insult East Asians by calling them yellow. I know they aren’t referring to Blumenbach. Have these morons ever seen the color yellow? Do they look yellow? I am still waiting to see a yellow man from East Asia. Like the unicorn, I cannot find this mystical being. To me, they look white or brown and everything in between but not yellow.

Yellow

Yellow according to Crayola

Donnie Yen

Not yellow according to Crayola. I dare you to call Donnie Yen yellow.

I know there are many races in our diverse world and many different terms for them. I would love to go through some of the dumber ones but I reserve special disdain for the term African-American. This allegedly inoffensive term may be the champion of ignorance.

Why does it makes no sense? Several reasons but one is I am a caucasian African-American. This is to say I am a caucasian American citizen but was born in Africa to African parents of an African family. No, I am not some colonist, tourist, white South African or long european descendant. I am a native African. Genealogical studies have shown the ancestors of my particular ethnicity to have been in Africa for over 9,000 years. Long enough to surely claim myself an indigenous African.

Can you figure it out? I am a Berber from northwest Africa. How am I caucasian? The U.S. government defines caucasian as anyone of European, Middle Eastern, or North African descent.

Egyptian-Farmer-image

Egyptian Farmer

There is a whole lot of brown in white, apparently. So as I said, I am a caucasian African-American. So are my kids. My poor misclassified progeny.

Around the world, being African is not a problem for racial classifications. Citizens of other nations have a better grasp of geography so no one is stumped when I say I am African. They know to look to the countries in North Africa. It is not a trick question.

But growing up in America, I learned a lesson. Americans know next to nothing about Africa. Here is a synopsis of the conversations I have had describing my background growing up in America.  Conversations I still have:

Someone: Where are you from?

Me:  From Algeria, in north Africa.

Someone:  Come on.  Stop messing around.  You (pointing at me) are not from Africa.

Me: No really, I am.

Someone (half stumbling over thoughts):  But….but….you’re not black???

Me:  I know. Funny how this is.  Africa is actually pretty diverse.  The black people are south of the Sahara desert in what is called Sub-Saharan Africa.  North of the desert, they look kind of like me in different shades of brown.

(often, I would have to explain what is the Sahara Desert)

Someone:  I don’t know?  You can’t really be African.  You must be one of those Europeans that moved to Africa.  I know all Africans are black.

(it is as if I am pretending to be African because it is nouveau chic)

Me:  No really, I promise I am a native African. Parents, grandparents, everyone down the line.  Have you ever seen an Egyptian in a movie?  They are not black and Egypt is in Africa.

(this usually helps settle doubts in their mind – Thank you, Brendan Fraser Mummy movies – I don’t know if there was a single Egyptian actor but close enough)

Someone:  You’re right!  I guess I never really thought about it.

This seemingly occurs once a month.

It is one thing to not know the demographics of Africa. I understand this. Many Americans cannot locate Canada on a map anymore so I cannot expect them to know the various ethnicities of each continent. But I know someone is a special moron if they ask the following question: Who is the president of Africa? 

You would be stunned how many college graduates have asked me this. Seriously. Who is the freaking president of Africa!?! Ugh.

When I was younger, I was much more polite. I would kindly explain Africa is the second largest continent with over 60 different countries, each with different systems of government from democracies to dictatorships. This is what I used to say…when I was younger and more polite.

Now and even though he has passed if you ask me who is the president of Africa, I will look at you sincerely and without hesitation say Nelson Mandela.

President of Africa!

President of Africa!

Every time I have said it, the person has responded ‘That’s what I thought!’, appearing excited they think they knew some trivia. Shake my head. Whatever. Maybe they at least know how to find Canada. Doubtful.

It's there!

There you are, sneaky Canada!

So considering how much trouble Americans have with the geography it is no wonder the term African-American is so popular. It is merely designed to be a racism-masking, feel-good euphemism for normal Americans who happen to be black.

In the 1800’s, American referred to blacks as negroes or the famous insult derived therefrom. Because of the odious and oppressive history to which these terms were correlated, they did not last in our changing lexicon.

What term came along? Colored. And to be sure this term was also used in racist contexts. However, it was also used in normal contexts by those described as colored. After all, a word is just a word. It is the context of its use which matters. It was during this time the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded.

But what did not change was underlying racism throughout overall society. So while the term colored could be an innocent descriptor, it became a loaded term in its use for many. People would say: I don’t want to go to the colored neighborhood. Here, the speaker infers it is a bad neighborhood because ostensibly in his/her mind there are no good colored neighborhoods. While the term changes from negro to colored the change is meaningless if the use is still the same.

So with the social movements of the 1900’s people abandoned the term colored and switched to black, which from what I gather has always been somewhat used throughout history. While colored is a ridiculously broad term which includes all of humanity, black is at least closer to what is being described. Some black people are indeed black on the color scale but most are shades of black all the way to light brown.

Then for some reason those who have only one black parent are only considered black even if they do not look black. Jason Kidd comes to mind:

Purportedly black.

Purportedly black.

Per Wikipedia, Mr. Kidd’s mother is Irish.

But guess what? While the term changed from colored to black its use did not for many. Whether it was colored, negro, or black, the inferences are the same when someone would say: But that’s in the black part of town. 

Alas, our morality leaders had a solution to help mask the symptoms of racism again. They started using African-American. I scratch my head. We do not call white people European Americans. They would be more described in our common parlance as normal Americans and certainly not reminded their ancestors came from somewhere else – like American blacks. Let us not get started on the actual native Americans or rather the original normal Americans before the current-normal American’s ancestors decimated their culture and societies.

What is a normal American, again?

The original ‘normal Americans’

Ok, so you are saying ‘Well, African-Americans did come from Africa’.

First, everyone at some point came from Africa. It is the origin of the human species according to current theories.

‘But they came more recently. Not like Europeans and Asians who emigrated as early cavemen from Africa. You cannot compare that’ you might be thinking.

And you are right. But this is not what I am talking about. Think about when the slavetrade transpired and when the vast majority of the ancestors of American blacks were brought to the New World. They came as early as many settlers and colonists. For many American blacks, their ancestors have been on the continent as long as the Europeans or longer.  After 400 years, I think they can be considered North American the same as the Europeans.

Jamestown Settlement - 1660s. Pilgrims, colonists, indentured servants, slaves.

Jamestown Settlement – 1660s. Pilgrims, colonists, indentured servants, slaves.

The transatlantic slave trade mostly ceased bringing new slaves from Africa by 1810. Thus, the shortest time an American black’s ancestors are likely to have been on the continent is about 200 years. Since which the United States received massive waves of European immigration from Ireland, Italy, Germany and throughout Europe in the 1800s and 1900s. The descendants of the these European immigrants have been in the United States for only a fraction of the time as American blacks.

Also, there is a lot of racial diversity in American blacks which is negated by the stupidity of the term African-American. They can have ancestors who were white, hispanic, african, or asian, etc. Just as there is a lot of brown in white, there are a lot of colors in black too. The ancestors of many American blacks do not only come from Africa. But we insist on reminding any American with dark or black skin that some very long time ago some ancestor did come from Africa. As if they might forget or not be able to figure it out.

Two black men or a white man and an asian man?

Two black men or a white man and an asian?

For what it is worth, Woods made up his own term, cablinasian, combining caucasian, black, american indian, and asian.  Crayola says his color is Earthtone.

If you have ever met a black African, you get another example of this nonsense. A sub-saharan African can tell you the unusual circumstances of America. When he goes to Europe, they call him black or African. Whichever. It does not matter unless the connotation is negative because black and African are what he is and has been his whole life. When he goes to Asia, same thing. Same thing in South America or Australia or anywhere in the world. This is normal.

But not in America. When he visits America and walks out of the airport, no white person would ever call him African on the street. It would be perceived as a loaded racist insult by bystanders. Many kind people will not even call him black. Solely by visiting our country he has changed races. The African man is no longer African or merely black to everyone around him. Now he is considered an African-American. Magically, he has added an America to his racial classification.

Maybe you do not know a sub-saharan African but they are out there. You may notice them in sports. Take Loul Deng for example. I have seen him described as an African-American too many times. Loul Deng is not an African-American. He was born in Sudan (now South Sudan) and moved to Britain as a child and obtained citizenship there. He is British. He is African. He is black. He is not a freaking African-American.

One African. One American. But no African-Americans in this photo.

One is African. One is American. Neither is African-American.

Even if he obtains American citizenship, it solves nothing. He would be an African-American just like my very pale caucasian ass. Only by virtue of him being both African and an American citizen and not by virtue of his race. So please for god’s sake, stop calling people African-Americans unless they are actually African and American. It is not a race. Just two diverse locations.

All those black people you hope to describe as African-American are Americans who happen to be black or whatever color Crayola decides. They are likely to be more native to North America than you. And if you are concerned saying the word black is racist, think about how you are saying it rather than the word itself. But please leave Africa out of it. Its got enough problems and does not need to also carry America’s racial baggage.

END

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To answer questions I keep getting about this post from people taking things too seriously:

Yes, I am well aware of the variety of non-black Africans in sub-saharan Africa and the presence of black Africans in North Africa (I’ve met many). I am speaking generally of the high percentage majorities in both.

No, I don’t view the African descendants of Europeans or wherever as less African than indigenous Africans. Like I view those who chose to emigrate to America as Americans, they are as African as I am African. Same for nationalities. Go Africa! Go America!

This is a personal analysis and rant. I am also aware I have blended concepts of race, ethnicity and nationality to reach my conclusions. I don’t care. I am a walking contradiction. The use of term African-American is dumb.