An alcoholic on the bus ride home tonight… WTF is wrong with our mental health support network

I rode the bus this afternoon to assist the San Jose Downtown Streets Team in putting homeless people back to work. On the bus ride back home I noticed an individual on the bus I initially thought was blind and/or mentally handicapped. But a few minutes after I boarded he started shouting seemingly random phrases. He then made several random seating changes (while showing us his lovely butt crack).

Soon after that he slowly took off his pants. While doing so the bus driver calmly told him to put his pants back on. The rider then stood up (completely naked from the waste down) and slowly put on shorts. The bus driver pulled over at the next stop and could be seen talking to his dispatcher. The rider then moved to the very back of the bus where I observed him drinking what appeared to be straight vodka while intermittently spitting and drooling on the floor. I suspect the alcoholic had pissed himself thus prompting the change of pants.

The bus driver was very polite to the alcoholic and told him the sheriff would be arriving soon and he could wait on the bus or on the sidewalk. The alcoholic chose to wait on the bus. At which point the driver suggested to the rest of us that we should consider changing to the next route #22 bus that was about to arrive at our location.

The bus driver should be commended for an excellent job in handling a difficult and uncomfortable situation. I wish I had stayed to observe how the police handled the situation. I hope the police exhibited the same professionalism and compassion shown by the bus driver but I would be surprised if they did so. Hopefully this person will get some help for his addiction but I doubt that will happen given that our state run mental health programs have been underfunded for decades.

America’s finest beat and arrest another innocent black juvenile male for jaywalking

You’ve got to read this article at TruthDig and watch the video contained within it. Unless someone is creating a safety problem there is no justification for harassing someone for jaywalking. This incident reminds me of the arrest of 9th grade student Ahmed Mohamed for bringing a digital clock he created to school that I wrote about since it incensed me enough to send an email to the Irving, TX police department. I’m going to do the same thing about this incident. In fact, I’m going to suggest they implement an officer-exchange program so each department can learn from the other about how to behave without repercussion in ways that would get any non-officer of the law arrested (probably after being beaten).

I also observed two police officers hassling a black man sitting at a bus stop on my way home from the supermarket this afternoon. The man appeared to be clean, sober, and doing absolutely nothing that would warrant police interrogating him. I’ve got to say that even as a middle-aged white male I’m no longer willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt.

The Rude Pundit nails it again regarding crime and punishment

I’ve been binge watching “The Wire” for a couple of weeks since I signed up for HBONow. This is a show renowned for its realistic depiction of how police handle crime in Baltimore, MA, USA. I love the show and hate what it says about the America I live in as a privileged white male.

The Rude Pundit writes another article you should be reading instead of mine about “America’s Obsession With Punishment: Who Cares If You’re Guilty?“. How can anyone, even a Republican, agree that holding someone in jail for three years for petty theft (even assuming there is sufficient reason to believe they are guilty) without trail is moral and consistent with American ideals?

See this article from the New York Times in April, 2015 where they claim

As of late March, over 400 people had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime, according to city data that is to be released publicly for the first time. And there are currently a half-dozen people at Rikers who have been waiting on pending cases for more than six years.

Doctor who filed a SLAPP lawsuit against Dr. Steven Novella and SBM charged with deceptive advertising

Consumer Health Digest #15-21 by Stephen Barrett, M.D. who runs the Quackwatch web site just arrived in my inbox and contained some welcome news:

The Medical Board of California has charged Edward L. Tobinick, M.D. with advertising improperly that his clinic offers “revolutionary” and “breakthrough” treatment that can enable patients with strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic neurological conditions to improve rapidly—often within a few minutes—after receiving his injections. Tobinick, who operates the Institute of Neurological Recovery (INR), with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and Los Angeles, California, has for many years offered to treat spine-related pain and various neurological conditions with Enbrel (etanercept), a drug that is FDA-approved for other purposes. He and several other authors have published many papers supporting his off-label use, but his work remains controversial. The accusation document states that the ads “contained misrepresentation of facts, were likely to mislead or deceive, created false or unjustified expectations, and/or make scientific claims that cannot be substantiated by reliable, peer reviewed, published scientific studies.” In 2006, he settled previous allegations related his marketing of Enbrel by agreeing to serve a year on probation. Last year, Tobinick filed a suit against Steven Novella, M.D. for criticizing his advertising claims.

This is likely to be welcome news to Dr. Novella, the Science Based Medicine organization, and other entities being sued by Dr. Tobinick. See my previous post on that Tobinick’s SLAPP lawsuit.

Last Week Tonight tackles Big Tobacco #JeffWeCan

I’ve known that the tobacco (aka cigarette) industry was evil incarnate since I was a teenager in the mid 1970’s. I’ve watched the movie “The Insider” a couple of times. After watching that movie I though tobacco companies had been defanged.

So I was appalled to learn that tobacco companies like Phillip Morris International (PMI) are actively suing entire countries for implementing common sense labeling laws about the danger of smoking tobacco. This excerpt from “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tobacco” explains why I, and hopefully you, are angry. It makes me wonder why the USA does not impose the death penalty against these companies given that they are mass murderers and considered “people” by our judicial system.

If you know someone killed by the tobacco industry tweet #JeffWeCan.

Dear Patrick Lynch, NYPD police benevolent union head

Patrick Lynch, head of the New York police department benevolent union, recently claimed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was responsible for the Saturday deaths of two Brooklyn cops who were murdered by a lone gunman from Georgia. Note that the killer was known to be mentally unstable.

Patrick Lynch is a prime example for why even white, middle-age, males like myself now view all police officers with suspicion. My brother is a police officer. They have a difficult job. Yet it’s reached the point that whenever I see a police officer interacting with someone else I automatically put my phone on “record” and walk toward the situation to help ensure there is a record should the police abuse their power. Because we can no longer assume, even in San Jose, CA, that the police will treat all citizens equally.

See also Charles P. Pierce.

Why our recent incidents of torture are un-American

Charles P. Pierce has once again eloquently stated what should be obvious but sadly is not. The short summary is that the founders of our nation quite clearly understood that it was extremely important government not be allowed to torture people.

I wouldn’t post this if the nitwits at Fox News and Meet the Press hadn’t recently argued that torture is okay if it is done by Americans who are scared. It is a shame that the Christian hell doesn’t exist because it is where former vice-president Dick Cheney, Whitehouse legal advisor John Yoo and pretty much everyone else associated with the George Bush presidential administration deserves to spend a few years. Not eternity. For only morally bankrupt individuals believe that being punished forever is an appropriate response to finite crimes.

P.S., Reading the comments to the article I mentioned above I followed this link to Antonin Scalia’s defense of torture. Holy shit. Antonin Scalia might be more evil than former vice-president Dick Cheney. He’s certainly more dangerous in as much as he is a sitting US Supreme Court justice whereas Cheney is no longer one step away from being president (although he still has too much influence in our national media).

John Brennan, CIA Director, needs to beg for food

Charles P. Pierce sums up why John Brennan, the current head of the CIA, needs to fired:

Actually, John. Your agency did not “live up to the high standards” of the NKVD, but let’s let that slide for the moment. You either stand with the president who appointed you — and took some not inconsiderable heat for doing so — or you stand with the torturers who shamed this country before the world. Either you work for the president or you work for your agency. If your choice is Column B there, then you own everything in the report and you are the current sin-eater on the CIA’s behalf. You take on yourself, not merely the crimes that were committed in the black cells, but the ones that were committed in the sparkling offices of the executive branch and in the sanitized halls of the Congress. (By the way. the Washington Post does us all a great favor by naming the cooperative — and, evidently, easily bribed — countries that the Senate committee hid behind that Crayola box code, and I don’t much care how much the revelation inconveniences the government of Romania.) These include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, and outright perjury. And, it appears, you’ve clearly made your choice. There’s the door.

Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone (such a John Yoo and Jay Bybee) who had a direct hand in legitimizing or carrying out torture isn’t, at a minimum, looking for work cleaning toilets. Ideally they would be defendants at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Walking while black? Not okay in Michigan

An anxious citizen in Pontiac, Michigan called the police to report a black man walking with his hands in his pockets. Bear in mind that the temperature was near freezing and it was snowing lightly. The police officer didn’t shoot the scary black man. On the contrary, he acted with a surprising amount of professionalism given what we’ve come to expect for such encounters. Nonetheless, the officer did attempt to interrogate the person on the basis of nothing more than a, presumably white, person who was made uncomfortable at the sight of a black man in their neighborhood.

What I don’t understand is why the officer didn’t simply observe the person and leave him be when it was clear he wasn’t doing anything that would warrant stopping and interrogating the person. This shit has got to stop.

P.S., Here is another excellent summary of this incident at Daily Kos.

Fetus worshippers kill another woman

Today I read several stories (such as this story) about a judge who forced a critically ill woman to undergo a cesarean section. Causing the death of the woman and the fetus. This is the sort of thing that happens when the views of fetus worshippers hold sway.

If this incident was an anomaly it would be bad enough. But this sort of thing is the predictable outcome when people base their morals on bronze age religious beliefs rather than rational moral decisions. Which means that unconscionable outcomes tend to be the norm where religious based beliefs hold sway.

I honestly cannot fathom the thinking of people who believe a fetus has more rights than the woman, an actual person, whose body is host to the potential person. If you accept their logic why isn’t it acceptable to force people to donate blood in order to save a life? Or a kidney to a close family member?

For most fetus worshipers their stance appears to be based on a belief that a “soul” is bound to the potential person at conception. An idea that is not only not found in their holy book but is contradicted by the bible. Not to mention that their is no support for the concept of a soul outside of (some) religious tradition. Not to mention the incoherence of that viewpoint in light of our understanding of human biology where zygotes (i.e., fertilized eggs) can fuse (to create chimera) or split (to create identical twins).

Even if you accept the idea that a human blastocyst, embryo, or fetus has a soul I fail to see how the rights of that potential person trumps the rights of the woman it depends upon. Note that I nowhere above have I used the word “baby”. Confusing a baby with a fetus (or even earlier developmental stage) is something that is a favorite tactic of the fetus worshippers. Which is a deliberate attempt to use emotion to avoid rational discussion of the issue.