Voter Fraud

I’ve drafted this post about a dozen times and deleted it every time.  But with recounts happening once again in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida, let’s talk about how voter fraud works.  Because it isn’t easy.  And it’s rather illogical.

And there’s only 3 ways it can be done.

Method One:  You steal someone’s identity.  In most states, this requires you to buy a fake picture ID, appropriate someone’s address, because you can’t go vote at your local poll using two different identities, that’s going to arouse suspicion.  Doing this you get to vote twice, maybe.  As long as you don’t screw up.  In some states, not only do you need picture ID but your voter registration card.  This would require you to sit and watch the mail of the appropriated address so that you can surreptitiously pull out the voter registration card that you had sent there.

Method Two: Absentee Ballot, you apply for and get approved to do an absentee ballot.  Then you also go vote at the polls or you once again pay for a fake ID and get hold of a voter registration card that matches said ID.  And like the method above, you are out a some cash (most forgers do not accept debit or credit cards for their services and the price is dependent on what state you want the ID to be from.  Some states are easier to forge than others.  In Columbia, MO a forged picture ID is going to run you around $500 for a Missouri ID.  Plus, you’ve spent this money so you can vote twice.  I know we like to pretend every vote counts, but even if you vote twice, you probably aren’t doing your candidate a huge favor with your two votes.  I have never seen an election won by 2 whole votes.

Method Three: You somehow manage to get hired by the elections office in your county and you throw away or negate votes for the candidates you don’t want.  This requires you to either be slick enough that others in the room where the votes are counted do not notice you pitching votes or no one double checks your work when validating signatures on absentee ballots.

Method one and two aren’t very good.  Those two votes probably aren’t worth the cash you spent to get them.  Method Three would be more effective, but realistically…. How do you get 12 people feeding ballots into machines to miss that you are throwing ballots away or hiding them under the machine?  Because votes are not counted in a vacuum, there are usually multiple people feeding the ballots into the machine.  As well as some supervisors.  And I talked to a volunteer several years ago that said there was always a police officer in the room when they feed the ballots into the machines.

There is a 4th method that gets mentioned when talking about voter fraud, but it’s much like Method 1 and Method 2.  You somehow manage to get people who are not legally allowed to vote (illegal immigrants, convicts who have not applied to have their vote reinstated, etc)  the proper paperwork that allows them to vote.  But this is usually a fake ID.  There was a case in Georgia a few years ago where a woman voted using her friend’s ID because they looked enough alike that no one questioned it.  She had been convicted of DUI and had her right to vote revoked for the felony conviction and hadn’t applied to get her rights back.

This isn’t happening in large numbers though.  If it was, we’d have to redesign our election process from the ground up.  Because if millions of people were pulling this off across the country every election, it would prove our system flawed, even in states where picture ID is required.

The day before this posted, someone gave me a new method… Method 5: Personal belief – Someone pointed out to me that if you want to believe voter fraud is widespread and rampant, then no amount of evidence gathered by bipartisan research groups or critical thinking on the matter is going to convince you it isn’t.  In the same way, no one is ever going to convince Girgio Tsoukalos  that ancient aliens didn’t further the evolution of mankind or help build some of it’s more incredible engineering feats.

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Amendments, Details, Medical Marijuana

I don’t normally check my private/direct messages with my phone.  I prefer typing at my computer keyboard.  The other day, I got a private message via Facebook, basically calling me a moron.  But I checked it on my computer and by the time I got to it on my phone, it was gone.  If you change your profile or something after sending a private message, it deletes said private message.

I first noticed this oddity when I was accused of stealing some guy’s script because I had an unpublished novella called The Dysfunctional Mob and apparently he has a screen play by the same title, that hasn’t been copyrighted or appeared in film form.

Anyway, the writer of the private message told me I was an idiot who didn’t understand how the government worked and I needed to take some history classes because the 14th Amendment deals only with birth right citizenship, not the other stuff I mentioned.  Event though said writer managed to get the message removed before I could get a screen shot, the jokes on them.  I have a history degree and was unable to avoid taking classes in US government and history.  And Amendment 14 deals with a whole lot more than just citizenship.  Even Wikipedia is fairly correct on it’s inclusion of passages from said amendment and the explanation of the 14th amendment.  I know because when it first came up in the news, I couldn’t remember what the 14th amendment was and had to Google it.

Anyway, I’m not here for the 14th Amendment today.  The State of Missouri votes today on Medical Marijuana.  But because everything is either feast or famine when it comes to voting in Missouri, we aren’t just voting for one amendment – there are 2 of them regarding medical marijuana and a proposition.  Now both amendments might pass, but the one with the most votes technically wins.  The proposition and either amendment could also pass.

I’m fairly sure the 2 amendments are meant to confuse people.  Because Amendment 2 is much, much different than Amendment 3.  And the language is super important.  Why do I think it’s meant to confuse people?  When the amendments were presented to our state government, the biggest complaint was about how this would make marijuana easier for teens to get.  The whole “we must protect our children at any cost” stance.

Amendment 2 has a much longer list of conditions allowed to use medical marijuana.  It also allows people to personally grow it, you pay a fee, send in a prescription, and they send you six plants and a license.  The list of conditions though is part of the really important bit, Amendment 2 has more than 20 conditions allowed to be prescribed medical marijuana and creates jobs.  Amendment 3 has much higher tax rates and says the extra goes to research, but if you read it closely the “taxes” go to a guy in Springfield, Missouri who’s a lawyer and on the board of a research institution and where the “research money goes” is at his discretion.  Also the list of treatable conditions includes just 9 medical conditions.

Amendment 3 doesn’t help many people, it does seem to help the guy who wrote the amendment, the lawyer Brad Bradshaw – who I have heard described by numerous people as an ambulance chasing lawyer.  I’ve never met him, but I picture Leo Getz as played by Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon when I think about it.

Several of my friends that live in Springfield have been debating the amendments on Facebook (which is where the ambulance chaser comments) have come from, because one of the adverts paid for by Brad Bradshaw said it would create 10,000 jobs in Springfield.  Now Bradshaw is claiming he doesn’t know why the advert says that because it will probably only create a couple hundred jobs.  Meaning Amendment 2 would create more and while the taxes on it are lower, it will also generate more revenue because more people could be prescribed it.

And Amendment 2 clearly states that the taxes will go towards helping the problem of homeless vets as well as medical research into cancer, but it is not at the discretion of a single person and his board of cronies, the funds get divvied up by a board made up of doctors who work at research hospitals and Missouri’s veteran’s affairs department.

Amendments are long and boring and full of legalese.  They are hard to read and difficult to understand.  But reading and understanding them are vitally important.  Because there are always things hidden in them that don’t appear to fit with the amendment – just like the whole “it’s a 4% tax rate, but the money goes to help homeless vets and cancer research”.  What?  How and why is assisting homeless vets included in an amendment regarding medical marijuana?  I haven’t seen any pro-Amendment 2 advertisements because I try not to watch TV with commercials in it.  But I did see one anti-Amendment 2 advertisement and it was all about how doctors in Missouri don’t support medical marijuana, but they support Amendment 3 because it allows for more medical research into treating cancer.

In the last 17 months, I have yet to meet a doctor who doesn’t support medical marijuana in my state.  Even my 74 year old primary care physician has told me if I moved to a state with medical marijuana treating my CRPS would be easier.  These two commercials are important because both have been mentioned in the online discussion among my friends.  What wasn’t mentioned was that states with medical marijuana have fewer opiate related deaths and fewer patients that need opiate prescriptions.

Despite the boring nature of amendments, it’s important to read them in their entirety because you never know what might be hidden in them.  Also, just listening to adverts or spokespeople talk about them can be misleading.  I still haven’t figured out what Missouri Doctor’s Association doesn’t support medical marijuana because from what I can tell, the Missouri medical community is good with it, across the board.  Most likely it’s a ploy, if people think their doctor doesn’t believe in medical marijuana then there’s no need to vote for it, because even if they have one of the conditions on the approved for treatment list, their doctor won’t prescribe it.  I live in a very liberal city that has a large pro-medical marijuana stance.  I have yet to see a single sign that says vote no on Amendment 2.  One of our law firms in town has a banner on their building that does say vote no on Amendment 3 and gives a web address on where to get more information on the two amendments.  I didn’t go check it out because I figured it’d be skewed towards Amendment 2 since the law firm is obviously not in favor of Amendment 3.

I have kept an eye on the Facebook debate simply because I like reading the comments on why someone thinks everyone should vote this way or vote that way.  It shows people exorcising critical thinking skills, and is a nice change from the normal political stuff that shows up on Facebook.  I often fear we are a country losing our ability to critically think about things and are likely to just follow the crowd and take the word of a political official as gospel truth.  In the end, we are all going to go to the polls and vote as we believe, but it will be informed voting.  None of my friends in this discussion are going to get into the polling booth and go “I have no idea whether this is a good idea or a bad one, so I’ll just randomly decide to vote no or yes on it, based on advertisements I’ve seen,” which is a terrible voting practice since all adverts are skewed one way or the other in an attempt to get someone to do what they want.  That’s why the anti-amendment 2 commercials have stressed the low tax rate and the expanded medical treatment list as awful and going to put drugs in the hands of our teens.  It leaves out that Amendment 2 requires someone to be 21 or older to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana and it doesn’t mention that about half the tax money raised goes towards helping veterans.  Why because these two things would help push amendment 2 through the polls.  I’ve seen a few posts that were like “I’m not pro pot, but I am pro helping vets, so I’ll vote yes, because I don’t care if other people use it, and the money will help veterans.”

As a PS: normally when I write a political post, like I did with the removal of the 14th amendment, it’s not about taking a side (although about half my readers take it that way), it’s about dispensing information.  It doesn’t matter to me if you are pro-birth right citizenship or anti-birth right citizenship or where I stand on the matter, what I do care about is that you realize this amendment doesn’t just deal with birth right citizenship and the removal of it could be used to subjugate or abuse US citizens, the ones that have been here for generations, because it like so many other amendments isn’t about just one single thing, there are clauses in there that have nothing to do with birth right citizenship.  And I feel like before anyone takes a die hard, unmovable stance on anything related to our government they should be working with all the information and not just what they read in news articles or hear come out of the mouths of our political leaders, who all have an agenda.

Now, go forth and vote…

Beyond #MeToo

We’ve all had our kumbaya moment.  We’ve admitted that we were victimized by sexual predators and that these fiends ruin lives.  But did we achieve anything?  Did we make the world realize it is more common than everyone thinks?  Did we make people realize that many of us hold this trauma inside us until we can’t anymore?

I lean towards no, it did nothing, but make us feel a little better having gotten this out in the open.  As I type this, the US is divided once again, it happens so often anymore, that it it is hardly noteworthy.  Two women have accused Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee for the Supreme Court of sexual assault and President Trump is cluttering social media and the news with statements about how the accusations are suspect because the women haven’t come forward before now.

This accusation infuriates me, President Trump’s accusation that is, because it’s proof that the conditions of sexual assault, rape, abuse, molestation, are still not understood, possibly because people want to be obtuse or willfully ignorant.  I didn’t tell my parents I had been molested by my step sister until I was in my mid twenties.  I’m not even sure I ever told my best friend, who has been my best friend for most of my life because she is also my cousin.  I was ashamed.  I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want to admit that I was a victim.

I told my psychiatrist though.  More than a decade after the abuse, when we were trying to sort out some of my anger and anxiety issues, he asked if I was sexually abused by as a child, because he said I had symptoms of it, and the confession tumbled from my lips, releasing a weight I hadn’t realized I had been carrying.  I cried about it and hurled curses at Shannon who was no longer even in my life, but it took another decade or so before I told either of my parents, and I am very close to my mother.

I always think of Corey Feldman and Corey Haim when someone accuses a victim of lying.  I grew up in the 1980s.  The Coreys were a part of it.  And The Lost Boys is still one of my favorite vampire movies of all times.  Comic book nerds who turn to vampire hunting on the boadwalk?  Yep, great movie.

Haim died in 2010 after years of drug addiction, depression, and a slew of other mental health problems.  And it would take Haim’s death for Corey Feldman to admit that the Coreys were sexually abused and molested as child stars in Hollywood by men that held power over them.  It took 20 years and a tragedy for Feldman to admit to the sexual abuse and lots of people booed him for it, that wouldn’t have happened they said.

But I believe Feldman because Haim could be the poster child for the disaster that life turns into for a child that is sexually abused.  Many molested, abused, and sexually assaulted children suffer from drug addiction, mental health issues, low impulse control, mood swings, rage, hyper-sexuality, and withdrawal from society.  Feldman fared better, but if you ever read his book Coreyography, then you’ll read that Haim was the favorite target for sexual abuse, not Feldman.  And you’ll also find out that many child stars suffered like the Coreys did, which is why many of them go through a period where they seem unhinged.  I have often wondered if the complete reversal of personality experienced by stars like Miley Cyrus and Lindsey Lohan wasn’t also related to sexual abuse.

And I can relate, because it took me 20 years and a tragedy before I admitted being sexually abused to someone not bound by doctor/patient confidentiality.  The President believes if these things had happened, they would have come forward with the allegations years ago, proving he’s never been sexually victimized.  In my opinion, the confirmation of Kavanaugh constitutes a crisis and most victims require a crisis before they step forward with their stories of abuse… Because we automatically assume that everyone will treat us like they did Corey Feldman, “boo hiss, this didn’t happen, you’re lying to get attention.”

With each new boo hiss, whether it’s from the President of the United States or the general public of your hometown, more damage is done to people who have already been victimized.  Victimizing the victims all over again.  The most painful thing my father has ever said to me was “well, it was just kids being kids,” my step sister was in her mid teens and I was in single digits, maybe 6 or 7.  It was definitely not kids being kids.  In his mind, it was like 2 kids playing doctor and in my mind, it was anything but that.  And in that moment, when those words left his mouth, I wished with every ounce of my being that I could take back that confession, keep it inside for the rest of my life, and never ever think about it again.

I don’t know if it’s true in other countries, but in the US, most people believe the victimizer over the victimized.  It’s like they want video proof it didn’t happen and even then, some would still not be convinced.  This thinking is why it takes fucking decades and a crisis for victims to step forward.  Here’s the deal, over the next week or two, these women are going to have their lives shredded.  The press and political cronies will dig through every bit of their personal and professional lives trying to prove they are liars.

At the end of it, most people still won’t be convinced and they will have lost more than they would have gained by stepping forward and contrary to popular opinion, no amount of money makes this type of investigation worth it… Ask Anita Hill if her life was improved by the investigation that followed her accusation of Clarence Thomas.  What saddens me most is even if someone finds that there is evidence to support the sexual assaults, Brett Kavanaugh will still be appointed to the Supreme Court, he will not receive any blow back from it, but the women who made the accusations will be left with tattered lives.

And there will be irrefutable proof that our #MeToo statements will have had zero impact on society.

Just Because You Disagree With A Cultural Idea Doesn’t Mean You Can Charge In and Demand It Be Changed

I don’t know if any of you have been paying attention to the latest “we must protect our children” social media craze.  It showed up a few days ago in my news feed.  Child brides and oh the outrage.

I get it.  As a white female raised in a westernized country, the idea of being a child bride is abhorrent to me.  So I have to look it at without those entitlement glasses.  Most westerners see child brides as sexual abuse.  The truth is more interesting and diverse.  Most child brides are business arrangements or to improve the standing of the family with the child bride.  Or both.

Improved economic standing is a huge motivator.  Most of the families are dirt poor.  Just a day’s wage from complete financial ruin.  Having children is a financial strain as is birth control, if their religions even allow for such a thing.  Securing your 12 year old daughter a husband, means she goes to live with him and seriously, you aren’t going to marry her to someone else that is dirt poor, so she sees a significant increase in wealth after being married and possibly social standing.  No more searching for meals or making due with moldy bread and water for dinner.  The family also finds financial relief because they have one less mouth to feed.

Then there’s the real business collateral that can be made from a child bride.  You own a store in a poor section of the town.  However, Mr. T comes along and tells you he’ll pay you to marry your daughter, not just pay you a one time lump sum of money, but two more stores in better neighborhoods.  Suddenly your profits have increased, as has the social standing of everyone in your family.

People often forget that until the 1950s, child brides were commonplace in the US and children were property to use as parents saw fit.  The majority of us have an ancestor or two that was used to improve the standing of everyone in their family and provide some financial gain.  So while we stand in judgment of places that still do this, we really don’t have any moral high ground to stand on.  Furthermore, is it really better to condemn the child to a life of poverty and possible starvation than to allow her to be a child bride?

And people talk about the child not being of age to consent… but a lot of these places, a female never reaches the age of consent, because nobody gives a damn what she thinks or wants anyway.  And we aren’t pointing fingers just at countries in the Middle East.  The video everyone is so outraged about comes from Latvia or Lithuania, one of those border countries of Russia… meaning Europe.  However, if you really wanted to make a list, France, US, Canada, UK, Australia, and Germany are the countries where women experience the most freedom.  Almost everywhere else, women are property, especially a female child.

I don’t agree with it, but I’m not willing to spout off about how wrong they are in their beliefs, because they could do the same about me.  Hell, some people do.  I didn’t change my last name when I got married.  My husband told me keeping my last name didn’t make me any less married.

The primary motivation was tedium and money.  I am technically a small publishing house.  I would have had to change all my business paperwork and that involved a slew of fees.  Not to mention filling out all that paperwork again just so it showed my new last name.  And while the practice is not unheard of in the US, I still get comments from people about it.  I can’t imagine what sort of comments I would get if I lived in a more traditional community.

Expectations

If you look at the world from a single point of view, it looks flat. Does this mean the world is flat?  No it simply means I do not have a large enough view to see the curves, I cannot see the mountains and valleys, I cannot see the oceans, because one cannot appreciate the world from a single point of view.

The same is true of how we think.  A single point of view makes for a flat existence, because we cannot appreciate the topography when we are thoroughly entrenched into our single point of view way of thinking.

As adults, we should be flexible and receptive to other points of view, even when they disagree with our own, to help us keep the entire world in perspective, to keep it from being flat.

I do not agree with gun control.  Gun control doesn’t remove guns from the hands of criminals, it makes it harder for someone like me to own one should it become necessary for me to have one for protection.  Criminals are criminals.  If they obeyed the laws, they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place.

However, after the school shooting in Florida, my gun control beliefs needed to be re-evaluated some.  Should someone who has spent time in a mental facility be able to legally buy a gun?  It’s an interesting question.  Because most mentally ill people are not dangerous to society.  But there are always exceptions.  For instance, I am mentally ill, but I am not a danger to society.  Should my mental health history be held against me, should I decide to purchase a firearm for protection?

I don’t think so, but I don’t think so because it applies to me specifically.  What if it didn’t?  What if I couldn’t buy a gun simply because I was a woman?  That would annoy the piss out of me.  It would be arbitrary discrimination… is the same true if we make “have you ever been a patient in a mental health facility a deciding factor in gun ownership,” isn’t this also arbitrary since most of them are not dangerous?

I have never spent time as a patient of a mental health facility… So I waiver more on whether it is arbitrary or not, because it doesn’t apply to me.

Even as I write these words, I have no clear cut decision about it made.  And that’s okay.  Not only is it okay to be unsure about it, it’s okay if someone else disagrees with me and says it is absolutely not arbitrary, just like it’s okay for someone else to feel it is.  Those points of view are necessary for me as a person, because it allows me to see the topography because they are not my flat ambivalent point of view.

This is sadly my expectation of the world, for everyone to be open to thought.  To be open to hearing and thinking about a point of view that does not agree with their own.

I am big enough to admit when I am wrong and on this, I was wrong.  It would appear that lots of people enjoy the flat little world they live in, where they now nurture the tenets of the former Soviet Union; free thoughts are subversive and should be dealt with quickly and brutally to prevent them from spreading.

Then There Was No Sleep

WordPress confirmed that my post entitled Free Speech was removed because they received a complaint.  Okie dokie.  And that was followed by my inability to shut off my mind so I could sleep.

I am an internalizer.  I think about everything, turning it over and over in my brain until I feel like the thought might explode from the confines of my skull to become a living breathing thing.  I realize it isn’t healthy.  But I can no more stop it from happening, than I could stop a speeding, out of control freight train with a bubble blowing machine.

That’s twice since January that I have felt the wrath of a reader.  I was banned from my own Facebook page at the end of January, first part of February for swearing on my blog.  And now this…

In the six years since I began this blog and opened the HJ Facebook page, I have never been banned or had content removed from either my blog or my Facebook page.  But I have always talked politics and peppered posts with colorful language when it provides emphasis.  I have always tried to keep my posts tasteful, even when it was political or contained swear words.

Six years and suddenly this has begun to happen.  Obviously, something changed.  I don’t understand.  I welcome discussion, even when I don’t agree.  I welcome dissent.  We are not sheep, we do not need to blindly follow anyone. I am not starting a cult, agreeing to disagree is allowed.  As a matter of fact, agreeing to disagree is what makes the world go round.  It’s what keeps society civilized.

I expected some backlash when I scheduled my Free Speech post.  I expected the rampant supporter who commented that they hoped I got beheaded to have another nasty comment for me.  I expected at least a handful or more of my readers, to tell me that they support the President.  I expected discussion.  I expected that eventually we would all agree to disagree and at the worst I’d be called a name or two.

Instead, I was punished.  As the saying goes, sticks and stones… but these weren’t sticks and stones.  These were actions.  This was retribution, an action that speaks louder than any words ever could.  It is the opinion of the person that filed a complaint that I should not be allowed to voice an opinion that runs contrary to their own… Interesting.

Let me close by offering a quote from a sermon that has stuck with me recently.  It was written by a German during WWII.  Read it and think upon it.  Internalize it.  Try to understand the true meaning and why it is just as relevant today as it was nearly 80 years ago and I will try to decide what I want to do next…

They Came For The Socialists by Martin Niemoeller

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.  then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.  Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.  Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak up for me.

 

Suboxone

I was in my pain management clinic the other day, preparing for a sympathetic nerve block.  For the record, that wasn’t fun, more on it later.

I was trying to focus on anything but my dread about the procedure I was about to undergo and couldn’t help but latch onto the one sided phone conversation being had by one of the nurses.

What caught me was the word withdrawal symptoms.  The nurse was explaining that they could prescribe Suboxone for the withdrawal, but that the patient’s insurance wouldn’t pay for it and a thirty day supply was more than $300.

Suboxone is a pain medication that also treats opiate withdrawal symptoms.  It is a favorite for chronic pain patients that are having to be weaned off their opiate medications.  As I listened a little longer, I heard the nurse say “I know her arthritis is bad but we can no longer safely prescribe opiates to treat the pain.  Would you prefer us go to prison?

This is what was going through my mind, the arthritis sufferer has probably been on opiates for a long, long time, hence why they are going through withdrawal from them.  However, where is the justice in her insurance not paying for Suboxone?

It is true that suboxone is addictive, but that’s all we ever hear anymore about medications.  My Lyrica is addictive.  My Flexeril is addictive (yep, surprise surprise).  Hell, my father was addicted to aspirin for most of my childhood.

Today it was arthritis, eventually it will be me.  According to the CDC 97% of all CRPS patients commit suicide within 10 years of the intense pain beginning.  Think for a moment; 97 people out of every 100 diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome will commit suicide and that was before the new opiate prescribing restrictions started in 2016.

Roughly 150,000 new patients a year get diagnosed in the US with Complex Regional Pain syndrome.  That may sound high, but it’s actually an “orphan disease”, a disease that no one is working to advance treatment for because it doesn’t make them money.  Lyrica was discovered for something other than CRPS and since it is a close relative of gabapentin, it was pretty easy to figure out that it would be somewhat useful for CRPS patients.

So, let’s do the math 150,000 people in 2018 will be diagnosed with CRPS.  By 2028, 145,500 of those patients will have committed suicide – One hundred, forty five thousand, and five hundred of those one hundred and fifty thousand people will have committed suicide by 2028, from an “orphan disease” that practically no one knows about.

Speaking of CDC stats have you looked at the rates of death for opiate overdose from the CDC?  In 2015 there were 47,000 overdoses in the US, 33,000 of them were opioid related.  And of those 33,000 nearly 70% were heroine and Fentanyl overdoses.  Of the 30% of opioid overdoses left most were illicit opiates (stolen pills) and multiple factor overdoses like hydrocodone and alcohol, hydrocodone and oxycodone.

And for the record, 33,000 deaths from opiates including heroine does not constitute an epidemic.  33,000 of 325 million people died from opiate overdoses, nearly all of them illegal use of opiates… So 0.0001% of the US population died from opiate overdoses.  That’s 1 ten thousandths of a percent of the US population.  In contrast in 2015, 55,000+ died as a result of influenza or influenza related complications.  Yet most of use ignore CDC guidelines  about getting vaccinated against the flu every year…

Still, the government talks about opiate overdose deaths like they are eclipsing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.  Yet death from influenza doesn’t even break the top 10 causes of death in the US every year.  How can something that kills fewer people than the flu be an epidemic?

It is true that the numbers are on the rise, but that’s because heroine use is on the rise and heroine overdoses are calculated with opiate prescription overdoses.  As is Fentanyl use and Fentanyl overdoses and Fentanyl is in an opiate class all on it’s own.  Fentanyl is more addictive than heroine and kills a larger majority of it’s users and it is often used to boost the addiction rates of illegal hydrocodone and oxycodone tablets.

Just something to think about when you consider the drive to limit or remove opioid prescriptions from patients like me.

Theory of the Crime v. Evidence

Crime shows like CSI, Law & Orderr, and even Elementary portray detectives as working solely from the evidence.  If you talk to a detective, evidence is rarely where the investigation starts.  Once they have a body or bodies, they create a theory about what happened.

Only after test results start coming in does evidence start to play a role in the investigation, unless of course the victim wrote the name Jack Ripper in their own blood.  At that point, they investigate Jack Ripper and hope the evidence supports the five hour interview with Jack.  If it doesn’t they move on to other things, like why did the victim write Jack’s name in their own blood as their last act before dying?  And as evidence comes in to support or exclude aspects of the theory, the theory is revised.

It’s hard to understand exactly why a Theory of the Crime is important.  The Monster of Florence case that I mentioned a while ago though does a fairly good job of highlighting both the theory of the crime and the evidence of the crime not lining up.  It’s actually one of the problems with the case.

The first murder was in 1968.  It was a woman and her lover, the woman was married.  She had also stolen 600 Lyra.  The husband didn’t care about the running around, it is said he actually encouraged it.  Being married didn’t seem to be his thing or at least being married to Barbara Loche wasn’t his thing.  The reason this case gets included with the Monster of Florence case is important and somewhat peculiar.  Barabara’s husband Stefano Mele (maybe spelled right, I don’t remember) confessed to the murders of Barbara and her lover sighting jealousy.  He shot both of them multiple times.  He says after the murders he threw the gun away in an irrigation ditch.  The police never recovered it.  Stefano Mele served his prison time, but at times, he claimed there were others involved in the murders and that it was actually about the stolen Lyra (Italian currency) than her affair.

When the Monster of Florence murders started, Stefano Mele was in prison.  The police and press received tons of letters during the initial years of the case, some reporting to be from the Monster of Florence.  Others making accusations against others as being the monster of Florence.  However, one letter that was received was simply a clipping of a newspaper article regarding the murders of Barbara Loche and her lover and mentioning the gun.

This was weird, but okay.  They found the shell casing from the murder of Loche and they connected the Monster of Florence murders to that double homicide.  There was a strange indentation, an imperfection with the firing pin of the gun used in the Loche murder and the same immperfection was in the shell casings of the Monster of Florence murders.  Essentially, the same gun was used to kill Loche and her lover that was being used in the Monster of Florence killings.  But Stefano Mele was in prison and no one knew what had happened to that gun.

Police had suspected at least one other person involved with the Barabara Loche murders, a Sicilian thug named Salvatore Venci (maybe, I’m not good at spelling Italian names from memory).    So they theorized he had taken the gun.  However, they didn’t go after Salvatore in the beginning, they went after his brother Francisco.  For the record, Italians just generally assume all Sicilians are thugs (in this case, the Venci brothers fit the stereotype and they are all thugs).  However, there was no real evidence to connect Salvatore or Francisco to the murder of Barbara Loche.  There was Stefano Mele’s retracted and then renewed statements that they were there with him and that it was Salvatore that insisted Barbara’s betrayal required death.

However, Stefano didn’t say who had taken the gun away from the Loche crime scene and as the police would later learn, the Loche murder was some sort of Sicilian clan killing (I don’t understand Sicilian society enough to really understand this concept, but I think it was basically an honor killing).  And while Stefano had actually hooked his wife up with some of her boyfriends, his father was not happy about Barbara’s many boyfriends.  So he was nearly as likely to organize an honor killing as anyone else in Barbara’s life.

And with Stefano not really talking, the suspect pool for the Monster of Florence murders grew to anyone that might have been involved in the Loche murder.  In the mid-1980s, the police decided there wasn’t a “monster” but a group of them and that the Monster of Florence murders were being committed by at least 4 individuals.

This is when the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit first volunteered their assistance with the Monster of Florence case.  We know this division of the FBI as the profilers of serial killers in the US and they didn’t think the evidence supported a group.  While the Monster was killing couples, shooting them, most of the female victims were sexually mutilated by having their vaginas cut out, thankfully post-mortem.  The bodies of the women were dragged several meters (there are 38 inches in a meter so just over 3 feet per meter for my American readers who don’t want to do the math while reading this riveting post).  Dragged, not carried.  That is important.  The majority of the women were pretty and petite.  A group of men could easily have carried them.  So why were they dragged from the vehicles to where they were mutilated?  With four men, carrying them would have been faster and easier.  But all of them were dragged about 10 meters from the vehicles and they were dead when dragged.  There was no evidence of multiple people.  There were some sort of witnesses to the crimes, people that happened to be close enough to hear the gunshots in the cases and none of them saw a gaggle of men standing around.  And the removal of the vagina was nearly identical in all the cases, which suggests the exact same person did it every time.  Now the knife he used seemed to vary from time to time, which was odd, but does not completely exclude a single killer, whereas the change in knives was believed by the Italian police to prove that different people did it.

In other words, to FBI profilers, the killings were the work of one person, obviously male, and someone who hated women.  The sexual mutilation was not about sexual sadism since the victims were dead when the vagina was excised from their bodies, profilers interpreted the removal of the vagina to indicate a deep seething rage aimed at women.

The Italian police disagreed.  Pointing out that the dragging could be done to lead investigators in a different direction and that the same cutting method could be because one person in the group taught the others to do the mutilations.

This case is one of the few serial killer cases where there is too much evidence to narrow it down to a single suspect.  Also there are a lot of suspects and at one time, nearly every butcher, surgeon, and chef was worthy of investigation.

The other theory is that the killer is not Italian, which is why some suspicion landed on Douglas Preston, and Thomas Harris who was in Italy for the trail of one suspect that was eventually released because the Monster of Florence killed while he was in custody, Harris was in Italy researching for the Hannibal Lecter trilogy and he drew heavily on the Monster of Florence case for some of Hannibal Lecter’s backstory, Harris was questioned by the Italian police who wanted to know why he was interested in the case and trial and even his whereabouts at the times of some of the crimes (he was at home in the US for the majority of them).  The Italian police occasionally say things like this is more of an English or American crime, Italians do not do this to each other and they have investigated Ex-Pats from both the UK and the US living in Italy as being the Monster of Florence.

As someone with a slightly unhealthy interest in serial killers, I tend to agree with the FBI profilers, the Monster is most likely a single individual somehow connected to Stafano Mele and possibly dead by now.  Some have suggested the lack of capture or willingness for the Italian police to investigate theories other than the one about it being a group is part of a conspiracy because they know who the Monster of Florence is and he is a wealthy and powerful man whereby it would be much easier for the Italian police to make a case against a Sicilian thug or an American living in Italy than the real Monster.

Religion, The USSR, and The US

Here’s a little known fact; until the 1950s, neither the Pledge of Allegiance nor US Money had the words “One Nation, Under God” associated with them. Until the 1950s, the separation of church and state in the US was much more definite.  They didn’t pray before the opening of congressional meetings.  The Pledge of Allegiance was a little shorter, and our coins and bills did not say One Nation Under God on them.

Oh yeah, and kids could get in trouble for praying in school.  And participation in the pledge of allegiance in school wasn’t mandatory.  Which is why I get annoyed when I hear someone say “if we would bring back religion in our schools, we wouldn’t have school shootings.”

Yes, we would.  Religion or lack of religion has nothing to do with school shootings and religion wasn’t even a part of school or government until the 1950s.  Which is of course the era of the Red Scare.

The 1950s were a wild time.  The big bad Soviet Union had eliminated a large portion of it’s population and they were in fact sending spies to the US at an alarming rate.  Of course, it wasn’t just the US, it was most countries; England, Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, pretty much every government was at risk of being infiltrated by the USSR.

Stalin was still in power.  Religion had been outlawed in the USSR and for some reason it was decided that religion could combat communism.  The government voted to add religion to government.  Money was redesigned and “One Nation Under God” was added first to coins and then bills.  The line was also added to the Pledge of Allegiance and it became mandatory to say the Pledge before classes begin.

The Pledge of Allegiance was political.  The reasoning was if we can get the children of spies to pledge allegiance to the country, they would turn their parents against the Soviet Union.  Also, it Americanized Soviet Children attending school in the US.  Adding the line one nation under God was meant to show the Soviet children that religion was not the enemy, Americans were religious and look at the lack of bread lines and look at how much better we are than the Soviet Union.

That’s it.  That was the reason for minting our money with the words one nation under god and adding it to the pledge of allegiance and then making it mandatory for school children to say it.

So next time you go to point out that if we had religion back in our schools these things wouldn’t happen, remember that allowing religion into schools is a new concept and that it was aimed at battling communism not bullied, unstable school children and that there were incidents of school violence even in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

#United2026

If you watch World Cup you know this hashtag as the bid put in by the US, Mexico, and Canada to host the World Cup in 2026.  Which was won by the Us, Mexico, and Canada.

It stands for United North America, and is perhaps the weirdest thing ever.  First off, the three countries that make up North America couldn’t be more divided right now.  The US stance on immigration and trade have really screwed things up.  We have put up tariffs to supposedly protect American goods against everyone, including Canada and that has lead to some economic conflicts with our neighbor to the north.  And the Zero Tolerance policy on immigration is kind of terrifying and mostly affects Central American and Mexican immigrants trying to enter the US thereby straining the relationship between the US and Mexico and the talk of a border wall just makes things worse.

In other words the three countries involved in hosting the 2026 World Cup are not getting along real great.  It has already been announced that Mexico will host the finals.  Canada and the US will host the group play.  Meaning Mexico will host 8 matches or so.

Talk about spreading out the matches.  Canada and the US are huge countries.  If you lopped off Russia all of Europe would fit within the borders of the US.  Canada and Mexico have provinces bigger than most European countries and the US has states that are geographically bigger than most European countries.  For instance, all of the UK will fit within the state of Missouri, where I live.  And there is talk of my state holding some of the group play matches because Arrowhead Stadium where the KC Chiefs play American Football is also used to play Major League Soccer (KC Sporting uses the stadium) and it holds around 75,000 people.  It has also undergone massive renovations in the last ten years making it a nice stadium.

However, Missouri isn’t exactly close to either Canada or Mexico.  I live six and a half to seven hours away from Chicago, Illinois which is the closest major city with international recognition… Although while in Germany I did meet a waiter in an Italian restaurant that knew where Missouri was.  Much like Russia, fans aren’t going to be renting cars to go from stadium to stadium, they are going to be hopping on planes.

Plus there is the added thing of in World Cup the host country gets a free pass into the tournament.  How will that work with 3 host countries, two of whom, the US and Canada do not make it into World Cup consistently?  With a little luck, by 2026 the three countries will be back to playing nicely in the North American Sandbox…

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