Yes I know this is pointless

I posted this the other day, intending for it to be a shitpost:

And something interesting has happened: I can’t stop thinking about it, and on top of that I’ve started thinking about the connection between UBI and veteran homelessness. I did get a suggestion in comments that I alter the criteria from “one year” to simply “honorable discharge,” which I’m not necessarily upset about and makes pretty good sense.

But here’s the thing: is there a pathway to getting progressive ideas in place for everyone by applying them to the military first? America loves its soldiers, or at least likes to pretend that it loves its soldiers; the fact that veteran homelessness is such a big problem in the first place is a sign that we don’t live up to our ideals here any more than we do anywhere else, but that’s a whole different post. All the same, I’m imagining a situation where a politician runs for office with a major plank of her campaign being to end homelessness among veterans. And what, pray tell, is the mechanism for this plan? A solid UBI and guaranteed housing.

(Side note: You may recall, accurately, that I despise Andrew Yang; one of the reasons I do so is that he seemed entirely unaware that the people who needed his $12,000 the most would see their money immediately gobbled up by their landlords. UBI without some sort of control over the housing market makes no sense at all.)

Don’t get too caught up in the details right now; this is entirely hypothetical and I don’t plan to run for office anyway. But let’s play a game here: if said politician was able to push into law a plan where honorable service in the military earned you a livable wage and a place to live for the rest of your life– so that there was no way for a veteran to end up homeless short of deciding to do so– is there also a hypothetical world where a few years down the road that logic gets extended to, say, service professions, like cops and firefighters and teachers and whoever, and then maybe later on gets extended to everyone if it works?

There’s a ton of room, obviously, to quibble around the details of The Plan, and how guaranteed housing would work, and of course there’s tons of room for such a thing to be done poorly, because this is the world, and I get that. I’m just wondering about the strategy of it all, and I’m trying to imagine the reactions of people who would want a UBI but who would also prefer no further money gets spent on the military at all. Would it be worth even trying such a thing, counting on American lip service to venerating their military to carry the plan through? (Who’s going to be the politician arguing that veterans should be homeless? Good luck.)

Is the existence of the VA and the lack of universal healthcare a guarantee already that this is a pipe dream?

I dunno. But I’m thinking about it.

On Afghanistan

I don’t know a Goddamn thing about Afghanistan.

Well, okay, that’s not quite true. I probably know more about Afghanistan than most Americans. But that is a perilously low bar, and does not really imply anything worth bragging about, and if the bar is not compared to other Americans but is my knowledge of this country useful or sufficient, well … it ain’t, on either count.

I saw someone suggest on Twitter earlier today that the one thing we could have done to avoid what’s going on right now in Afghanistan would have been to elect Al Gore in 2000, and I have some sympathy for that argument. I saw another that suggested that Biden has simply decided to be the President who takes the hit for a result that was going to be inevitable whenever we decided to leave, and that the main thing the policies of the Presidents between him and Dubya have done has been kicking the can down the road so that the disaster after the withdrawal was someone else’s problem.

We have been in Afghanistan nearly half my life. The Taliban has simply … waited. They are more patient than us. They always have been. No matter which President chose to leave, the Taliban were still going to be there, waiting. And I don’t think that the regular Afghans were especially happy to have us there either. One way or another, they were still going to be there when we left.

I do, however, feel like it’s not unreasonable to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should have done something more to help those who helped us. America should have been welcoming of Afghan refugees for decades, and we haven’t, and I have to believe that the number of people we’re looking to evacuate– I’m seeing the number 3500– is sorely insufficient. There are apparently just short of 100,000 Afghans in the United States right now. I feel like after 20 years of occupying their country that seems like a very small number.

We spent two trillion dollars and lost over six thousand soldiers there in twenty years, and in the end it was for nothing. We probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, or maybe we should have just kept paying attention after we got there— Afghanistan has always been our forgotten war even just after it started, when our attention immediately turned to Iraq. I don’t know. I don’t know how things could have gone better. I’m not sure how they could have gone much worse, either.

I suppose we’re about to find out what the results of 20 years of shitty policy looks like one way or another.

In which I don’t have it tonight

This thing with Makyi is still weighing heavily on my head and my heart, to the point where I’m starting to wonder what the best route to getting the felony murder statute overturned in Indiana would be. I have enough mental energy to fuck around with video games on Youtube but not enough to blog coherently. So I’m taking the night off, and I’ll be back tomorrow.

On hope

The “South Bend man” referred to in this headline is a former student. He was a bright, inquisitive, funny and honest student when I had him in 6th and again in 7th grade; his older brother was one of my DC kids and was a member of my single favorite class of students I’ve ever had. There are still pictures of both of them on my phone.

He was just sentenced to 45 years in jail because he and a high school student planned to steal another man’s gun and then beat him up. The “plan”– and I strongly suspect I do not have anything even close to the full story– went badly sideways for them, and the man killed the high school student and shot Makyi “at least” eight times. Somehow, another person’s decision to kill a child and attempt to kill a second person rather than be robbed of a gun has led to the person who was shot being convicted of murder and sentenced to jail for 45 years, more than twice as long as he has been alive.

I am not interested in you attempting to justify the existence of “felony murder” charges, and I can guarantee you that attempting to do so will be the last thing you ever say around here. I don’t care if you think this is okay or justified. You can keep that shit to yourself. I loved this kid. He was smart. He had a chance. He should be in fucking college right now. And instead he’s 20 years old and somehow has been convicted of a murder that everyone involved in his sentencing knows that he absolutely did not commit in an incident that led to he, himself, being shot eight + times, and will be in jail until he’s 65.

I hate it here.

Neck-deep in human waste, underneath the jail

This post has almost been about several things already; Gift of Gab, one of my favorite hiphop artists, passed away earlier today, and there will still likely be a post about him in the next couple of days. I’ve had a post about critical race theory brewing as well.

And then this murdering shitbag cop’s sentencing came down, and, well, that’s probably the most timely thing I could be writing about right now.

270 months. He murdered someone he knew by kneeling on his neck for nine and a half minutes and for that he will serve 22 and one-half years in jail. If the crime hadn’t been filmed, we’d likely never have heard of it, and he would no doubt have continued to be a murdering, racist asshole for the rest of his career.

I’m of two minds– well, several, really– about all this. He was convicted of second degree murder, for which the recommended sentence was 10 years, and the prosecution was pushing for probation. So the fact that he got over twice the recommended sentence is a good thing even if the defense was hoping for 30 years. I brought this up on Twitter earlier about an entirely different criminal; I don’t know that I’m any good about determining how long sentences should be for crimes.

The person I was talking about then was one of the Capitol rioters; she was in the building for around 10 minutes and committed no acts of violence while she was in there, and she got three years of probation. Is that “enough”? Hell, I don’t know. Would jail time have been better? 3o days of jail, to pick a number, instead of three years of probation? Six months? Is that too much for participating in an insurrection for ten minutes and not being one of the ringleaders of the crowd?

And this man gets 22.5 years for cold-blooded murder in broad daylight. Which doesn’t sound like enough; life without possibility of parole sounds great to me. Sure, there are more direct ways he could have murdered George Floyd; he was convicted of 2nd degree and not 1st for a reason. But George Floyd will still be dead when and if this man gets out of jail.

Well, okay, but he’s going to be spending that entire time in solitary, and when I am in a less bloodthirsty mental state I recognize that any amount of time in solitary confinement in America’s jails amounts to psychological torture, to say nothing of fifteen years, which is what I’m seeing would be the minimum amount of time he’d serve (who knows if that’s right, because Twitter, but whatever.). Fifteen years of solitary confinement 23 hours a day is not a sentence that many people can be expected to survive, and if they survive it, what emerges is not the person that went in. And I’m strugging, right now, to balance that need for justice and vengeance (not the same thing) with my disgust at the carceral state in America. I would prefer that jail be a place for rehabilitation and not for punishment. But it isn’t, and it likely won’t be in my lifetime. And this creature is not about to be the hill I choose to die on to fight the badly broken American justice system. The fact that he was convicted at all is remarkable, to say nothing of the sentence being more than the bare available minimum.

So.

I don’t want this to happen to anyone, but if it’s going to happen to anyone, it may as well happen to him. I’m not sure how that stands as a moral position, but it’s what I have at the moment. If he doesn’t like it, he probably should have listened to the crowd of people begging him to stop strangling another human being under his knee until that man died crying for his mother.