Driving For Uber in 10 Steps (Even if you don’t have a car)




As some of you know, I recently started driving in Tacoma for Uber. Many people want to know what my experience has been like and I figure this is the best way to tell everyone all at once. What I’m going to do here is tell you the process I went through. If you are interested in becoming an Uber driver yourself, there is a link at the bottom of the article. Click it. If you use that link and become an Uber driver you and I BOTH get at least $100 after your 40th ride. It’s a referral bonus.

I became interested in Uber for two reasons. One was that I needed a new car. The other was that I needed a job where I could make my own hours. Uber has such a need for drivers that they have a program called Xchange Leasing where you can lease a car that qualifies for Uber through a participating dealership. You can apply for the program through the link at the bottom of this article. Once you apply, they will tell you whether or not you’ve been approved in a day or two. Even if you have bad credit you’re likely to be approved. There’s a chance you will only be approved for a car that is already in the program. This will limit your options, but as long as you’re patient, you should be able to find a car that suits your needs. I’m currently driving a 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

The way the lease works is that every week when you get paid, Uber automatically takes out the payment for your leased car. (Typically between $135-$175 a week.) If you make less than the payment amount any given week you can pay it directly or pay it the following week. You do not want to get more than a week or so behind on payments. There are a couple of things that make Uber’s lease different from most car leases. One is that there is no mileage cap. This is understandable as Uber would like you to drive as much as possible. The other is that after the first 30 days if you need or want to return the car, you can do so after giving a two week notice with no penalty beyond paying for the weeks you had the car. If you keep the car for the duration of the three year lease, at the end they will give you the option of buying the car. While the payments are fairly steep, the advantage of this lease over others if you’re driving for Uber make it a relatively easy choice.

The other advantage to Uber is that you can never be late to work or be unable to take a day off. There is no event in your life that you’re going to miss because you had to work. You can Uber any day, any time and you can stop any day, any time. If you want, you can never work on Monday again. You need time in the morning to get the kids off to school? You can take all the time you need. Want to take a four hour lunch? Go right ahead. Just looking to make some extra money around the schedule of your other job? Uber is great for that too.

These are the reasons I got involved with Uber. Now I’m going to explain what the process was like getting into a leased car and beginning to drive people around for money. I’m going to be talking about specifically what it was like for me in the Tacoma area but most of this can be applied anywhere.

Getting The Car

Once you are approved, Uber will send you a list of participating dealerships. These are dealerships that typically have cars available for leasing through Xchange Leasing. Most dealerships have a specific person who deals with Uber leases. You will want to find out the name of this person and keep in touch with them. This part of the process was easily the most time consuming. It took me roughly four weeks of calling and emailing to find a participating dealership that had a qualifying vehicle available. Their stock of these vehicles changes daily. Often I would call just after a vehicle was leased or sold to someone else.

When you go to the dealership, bring $250 in cash. They will want the down payment before they get the ball rolling on getting the lease in order. You will then want to talk to your insurance company. They will give you specific instructions on the type of insurance required for the lease. This is insurance provided by you. Uber does not pay for it. The dealership will not let you drive the vehicle off the lot without this insurance. There is Uber-provided insurance as well, but this does not take the place of your personal car insurance.

Getting Your Car Ready For Uber

Next up, you need to go down to your local Uber office with your new car. An Uber technician will inspect the car. If you got your car from a dealership, you probably will have no trouble whatsoever. Most Uber offices are fairly busy. Expect to wait a little while.

After passing the inspection, they will give you a piece of paper with links to two online courses. One is a general knowledge test of your area. This test is about forty questions long and fairly simple. The other is an online defensive driving course and it is not short. It’s a six-stage online driving course that goes over just about every aspect of driving. It’s like online driver’s ed and it takes a few hours to complete. I did it in two sittings.

Now that you’ve passed the car inspection, the general knowledge test, and the defensive driving course, you need to wait for Uber to process all of that and send you an Authorization Letter. When you have that letter, you can take it down to your local city government office and get a local business license. Most cities are very familiar with Uber driver’s doing this and will be very helpful. In Tacoma you can get the business license for $25 (or $99 if you think you’ll be making more than $12,000 through Uber).

Finally, once you have the business license, you can go back to the Uber office and they will get you set up in the system and get you an Uber sticker for your car. Once this is done, you’re officially an Uber driver and can start going out and earning money immediately.

The 10 Steps For Leasing A Car To Be An Uber Driver

  1. Use this link to apply. Wait to be approved. (Usually 24-48 hours)
  2. Find a participating dealership that has a car.
  3. Give the dealership $250 down payment.
  4. Get insurance for the car.
  5. Take the car to Uber to have it inspected.
  6. Take an online test of general regional knowledge (About 40 questions)
  7. Take an online defensive driving course (This is long. It takes 4-6 hours.)
  8. Wait for Uber to process everything and email you an approval letter.
  9. Take copy of approval letter and get city business license.
  10. Take business license to the Uber office. They will give you an Uber window sticker. They will get you into the system and you can turn your app on and start driving.

– Jack Cameron


jesus (1)

It was recently announced that Jon Turturro will be reprising his role from The Big Lebowski as Jesus Quintana. Below is a script excerpt from QUINTANA.*



WALTER SOBCHAK sits on the couch. JESUS QUINTANA walks into the room he’s carrying one bottle of beer. He uses a bottle opener on the wall to OPEN the beer. He then DRINKS THE ENTIRE BOTTLE. He looks at WALTER.

So. You want to roll with the Jesus?

You and I are the only ones who give a fuck about the game, man.

We need a third. Who you got, man?

How about the Dude?

The Dude does not roll like you and he does not roll like the Jesus. What about the little guy?

Forget it. Donny’s a surfer. He’s out of his element on the land.

Tell you what. Jesus is gonna think on it. You come back Saturday. We talk it out.

I can’t. Not Saturday.

You come see the Jesus on Sunday then.

Sounds good. With you on the team, how can we lose?

You know it, baby! Jesus never lose.

You’re not going to miss any games being all the way across town are you?

Shut the fuck up. You can count on Jesus. Jesus is planning to move to Venice soon.

WALTER gets up and heads for the door.


EXT. LA STREET DAY – WALTER SOBCHACK is walking down the sidewalk and encounters a LEMONADE STAND. There is an 8-YEAR-OLD boy behind the stand.

Hey. Hey, Mister. You want to buy some lemonade?


Do you want some lemonade?

Sure. I’ll have some lemonade

WALTER takes a paper cup of lemonade and drinks it.

That’s pretty fuckin’ good lemonade.

Five dollars.

For lemonade?

Five dollars.

Are you hustling me?

You said it was fuckin good.

I can’t believe it. I’m being hustled by a fucking kid.

WALTER pulls out his wallet. He opens it. He has RECEIPTS and TWO ONE DOLLAR BILLS.

I can give you two dollars.

You owe me five.

You know what? Fuck it. Fine. My friend lives just down the street. Come with me. I’m sure he can front me five bucks for your little hustle.

Who’s going to watch my stand?

Do you want the money or not?


WALTER & 8 YEAR OLD walk up to the front porch of JESUS QUINTANA’S house. Walter KNOCKS on the door. He waits. KNOCKS AGAIN. No answer.

Nobody’s here. Where’s my money?

He’s here. He told me to meet him here.

WALTER tries the door. It’s unlocked. He steps inside. The 8 YEAR OLD steps in with him.


Did we just break in here?

Shut the fuck up, kid. Jesus lives here.

What are you talking about? This ain’t no church.

The two of them walk through the house, down a hallway. They hear the sound of a SHOWER just as it turns off.

The bathroom door opens. JESUS QUINTANA walks out soaking wet and completely NUDE.

The 8 YEAR OLD SCREAMS and runs out of the house.

What the fuck, man? Get the fuck out of here!

We were going to talk about our bowling team! Remember!

Deos Mio, man. You break into my house with some fucking kid and want to be on my team. Fuck you, pendejo. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Jesus will never roll with you!

WALTER turns around and starts walking towards the open front door.

WALTER (muttering)
Stands around naked in front of a kid. Calls me names. Guy’s a pervert.

*Note: This is NOT really a script excerpt. It’s something I made up.

The Myth Of Fridays

friday-083Most people who know me know that I’m an atheist. I try to be the sort of atheist who does not believe God exists but does not really care too much what your religious beliefs are as long as you don’t force them on other people (especially me). My girlfriend is a practicing Pagan. In the past I have been a Christian and a Quaker. If prompted I will tell someone that I feel we are all on a path of discovery when it comes to religious beliefs and that those paths are all different. I will say how it makes little sense to me to argue that you are wrong simply because you are on a different part of the path than me.

That sure sounds nice. And it is something I try to keep in mind. But there is a nagging thought in my head. A variation of this though is in the head of every atheist I have ever talked to. It’s the thought that gives atheist a bit of an asshole reputation. That thought is, “How can otherwise intelligent human beings who demonstrate the ability to think rationally, apply evidence, and use logic believe that there’s an old man in the sky who created everything in the universe but only cares about us and did this all in six days as recently as six thousand years ago?”

I have never found a satisfying answer to this question and so I have employed mental tricks to avoid the thought. The typical mental trick I try is that I pretend religious friends and family are playing different Live Action Role Playing (LARP) games. Each religion is a game with a set of rules and it’s all centered around an imaginary afterlife that you get when you die depending on how well you play the game while you’re alive. From a believer’s perspective I can understand how condescending an insulting such a concept is, but understand the idea here was to keep that annoying question out of my head in an effort to be nicer to those who believe and not bug them with that question.

Of course this too has a problem. If I manage to convince myself that it’s all a bunch of LARPers, then the lie I’m telling myself is that every believer knows deep down that God is not real and their religious convictions are illusions. And if I’m not careful I end up saying things to let them know I’m in on the joke. A joke that they aren’t actually telling.

Then something happened. I read a book. The books was called Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari. There’s a lot in it but one of the more surprising things to come out of reading it was the concept of myth. Not just myths like Thor or Zeus but myths like nationality and money and days of the week. These are things that have no objective value but only exist because we decide that they do. Really there’s about as much evidence that today is Friday as there is that there is a God. Friday isn’t REAL. It’s an agreed upon myth. There is no scientific test that will prove it is Friday.

The problem for an atheist like myself then becomes what myths are acceptable and what myths aren’t? There’s no real way to live in society without accepting the myth that printed fabric paper has value as do digital numbers in a bank account. Not one strand of DNA in me can be definitively called ‘American’ because America is simply a place we’ve all agreed exists but is actually just a part of a land mass that we have all agreed to call North America. Why is it I would never have a problem with someone believing it’s Friday but I would have a problem with someone believing that a God created them? I wouldn’t think someone just isn’t very smart or at the very least they aren’t intellectual if they still believe in Friday.

I don’t have any answers here. This is just something I was thinking about and I figured I would share it.

– Jack

The Bourne Calamity


(Please note: This article will have spoilers for all five Bourne movies.)

In 2002 The Bourne Identity was a breath of fresh air in the action movie genre. It started not with some unstoppable superhuman but a guy left for dead in the water with three bullets in his back. When a French fishing boat pulls him out of the water it’s unclear if he’s even alive. When he wakes up he has no idea who he is. He is as clueless as the audience as to why he’s been shot in the back. We learn about Jason Bourne as he learns about himself. And thanks to director Doug Liman’s documentary-style of filmmaking The Bourne Identity felt more realistic and intimate than most action movies.

At the time, it was not clear that Matt Damon could even pull off an action movie. He was as untested as Bourne himself was clueless. In the first real action scene, we see Bourne take down two cops in a park. He seems as surprised as we are at his skills thanks to his amnesia but this worked on another level in that we didn’t know Matt Damon was capable of that sort of action at all.

The moment when the movie really changed things was when Bourne is being hunted in the US Embassy. The building goes into lockdown. Bourne decides to go up rather than down. He escapes the view of the guys with guns. And then rather than just cutting to him being on the ground, they show exactly how he gets down to the ground. Whatever happened in this movie we knew that it was going to be practical and more realistic than what we had seen in the last James Bond movie. (To see the influence of the Bourne franchise, watch Die Another Day, the last James Bond movie to come out before Bourne Identity. Now watch Casino Royale. Daniel Craig’s Bond movies have more in common with Bourne than any of the other Bond movies.)

While it’s easy to give director Doug Liman and star Matt Damon the lion’s share of the credit for the success of The Bourne Identity, I believe that the reason the movie works as well as it does is the script by Tony Gilroy. His loose adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s novel updated it for present day audiences while leaving room for drama without sacrificing pace. Gilroy’s script is what holds the movie together.

Lastly, The Bourne Identity is aided by one of the best casts ever assembled for an action movie. In addition to Matt Damon, you have Fanke Potente, Julia Stiles, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and Clive Owen. Eagle-eyed viewers might even notice Walton Goggins as a CIA analyst. The talent on display in The Bourne Identity is practically an embarrassment of riches. It just works.

The Bourne Identity worked so well that the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy came out only two years later. Supremacy retained the surviving cast of the first movie and Tony Gilroy as screenwriter but lost director Doug Liman. In his place was Paul Greengrass. Greengrass was selected because of his work on the movie Bloody Sunday. He also brought a documentary-style feel to his movies using handheld cameras in almost every shot. It also added Joan Allen as the smart, capable, but moral Pamela Landy.

At the end of Identity, Jason Bourne makes the following promise: “I swear to God, if I even feel somebody behind me, there is no measure to how fast and how hard I will bring this fight to your doorstep. I’m on my own side now.” The Bourne Supremacy is the fulfillment of that promise. In what was a complete surprise to audiences Fanke Potente’s character is killed by an assassin gunning for Bourne in a plot to frame Bourne for a hit in Berlin. His response is swift, methodical, and unrelenting. The Bourne Supremacy continued the trend of having a highly skilled, highly motivated hero we absolutely sympathize with.

If you just watch the first two films, you have a complete story. From a storytelling perspective there is no need for a third movie. Indeed, even the filmmakers themselves at the time thought it was going to be the final movie in the series. But Hollywood loves nothing more than to greenlight a sequel to a successful movie. And so it wasn’t too surprising when in 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum came out. What was surprising was just how good Ultimatum turned out. Everyone from the previous movie returned for this one including director Paul Greengrass. Tony Gilroy was less involved in the script because he was working on his own movie, Michael Clayton but his presence is felt. One of the more innovative things about The Bourne Ultimatum is that the majority of the movie takes place before the end of The Bourne Supremacy. This effectively means that the last time we see Bourne active is actually in 2004. Like the previous sequel, everyone who didn’t die is still in this movie. Also added to the CIA’s roster are David Straithairn and Scott Glenn. This gives the Bourne movies an almost episodic feel. It’s not just Bourne who is the same, but so are the people chasing him. And when new characters pop up they’re working with already established characters. You get a sense of continuity and realism with this approach. The Bourne Ultimatum ends as the first movie began: With Bourne in the water shot in the back. There’s a pleasant symmetry to this. And with Bourne having learned his real name and having his memories fully come back, this really does seem like the perfect end point for an incredibly well done action spy movie franchise.

Much like how the folks at the CIA could not leave Jason Bourne alone, Hollywood similarly felt that the Bourne movie franchise needed to continue. Unfortunately for them Matt Damon wasn’t interested if Paul Greengrass wasn’t interested and they could not find a script that they agreed on. So screenwriter Tony Gilroy wrote a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne in it. He also directed this one. Most critics and fans alike see The Bourne Legacy as a misstep in an otherwise unblemished franchise. I disagree.

The Bourne Identity was about a government assassin gone rogue. The Bourne Supremacy was about covering up a conspiracy and using Bourne as the scapegoat. The Bourne Ultimatum was about blowing the lid off of the clandestine operations that resulted in Bourne. The Bourne Legacy was about the people in charge of those clandestine operations doing damage control and covering their asses. Each of these plot turns was informed by the previous one.

It’s less obvious than Ultimatum, but Legacy is also a nested sequel. Much of what happens in the movie is happening during the events of Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum. Instead of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne we have Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross. He doesn’t have amnesia. He isn’t an everyman. And he isn’t all that likable. He’s more like the operatives who are sent after Bourne than like Bourne himself. Though most of the cast of the movie is new (including Edward Norton as a dogged CIA guy), we still see glimpses of the characters we have gotten used to from the CIA. The Bourne Legacy is easily the weakest of the first four Bourne movies. It definitely has its flaws. But it still feels like a movie that takes place in the Jason Bourne world. This is especially true if you watch it directly after watching the first three movies.

And now we come to Jason Bourne, the fifth movie in this franchise. The good news is that Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon are back. So is Julia Stiles who was notably absent in Bourne Legacy. But those three people are the only ones left. Edward Norton, Scott Glenn, Joan Allen, and David Straithairn though all established CIA people who did not die in the previous movies are nowhere to be found. They are not even mentioned. Also for the first time in the franchise, Tony Gilroy has no involvement in the script and it shows.

The movie starts with the one punch fight scene most of us saw in the Super Bowl ad earlier this year. Jason Bourne has apparently decided to spend his time in bareknuckle fighting in Greece for some reason. Meanwhile former CIA handler Nicky Parsons has hooked up with some German hacker. She’s in Iceland hacking her old employer in an effort to expose all of their clandestine programs. This leads the CIA to start tracking her down.

Nicky then goes to Greece where she meets up with Bourne. How she knew where he was is unclear, but it turns out she has information about Bourne’s father, a guy who has never been mentioned before. (Somehow the characters played by Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, and Albert Finney never thought that telling Bourne his Dad started the program he’s in was a good idea for some reason.) But the CIA is on their tail now and so they’ve got to run before much of anything can be explained. During the chase Nicky gets killed by an operative gunning for Bourne in what is an echo from Bourne Supremacy. Except this is not just any operative. This is a guy whose cover was blown thanks to Bourne’s antic years ago and as a result he was tortured for two years. It also turns out that this guy killed Bourne’s father. If these sound like weak motivations we’ve seen a hundred times in a hundred other movies and TV shows, they are.

Over the course of the movie we learn that Jason Bourne’s father initiated the Treadstone Program and that he was killed by The Asset (they never give the guy a name) when he wanted to expose it to stop his son from being a part of the program. Can you find the logic problem in this? If the first program was Treadstone (and they say that it is), where exactly did The Asset come from? Sure, the CIA had assassins before Treadstone, but they make it clear that The Asset is part of Blackbriar, a program that took place after Treadstone. And I suppose one could argue that this guy was recruited from whatever program he was in at the CIA into Blackbriar except that’s never mentioned and that does not seem to be how those programs have ever worked.

Tommy Lee Jones heads up the CIA folks after Bourne this time around. He plays the director of the CIA and we’re told he’s been in it since the beginning despite the fact that his character has never been mentioned. His protégé is a young woman played by Alicia Vikander, an excellent actress who did amazing work in last years Ex Machina. She’s the head of cyber security and inexplicably someone in her 20s with the credentials of someone twice her age. Like Julia Stiles and Joan Allen before her she does not want to kill Bourne. She wants to save him.

It’s worth noting here that Julia Stiles has been in three Bourne movies and in each of them her character’s connection to Bourne has grown. In fact in The Bourne Ultimatum there is a line where it sounds as though their relationship may have at one point been more than just professional. Nicky and Bourne have a connection and a past. She’s also someone who may have helped Bourne but could easily be seen as retaining loyalty to the CIA. In other words, Nicky Parsons as the protoge of Tommy Lee Jones’s character makes a lot more sense. There is something more than a little disturbing about a franchise killing off one female hacker character and then introducing another female hacker who happens to be seven years younger. Apparently Universal is under the impression that 35-year-old Julia Stiles has reached her last fuckable day while 46-year-old Matt Damon continues on. (Fun With Math: Matt Damon was 18 years old and had been in his first movie when Alicia Vikander was born.)

If the gigantic plot holes and obvious sexism is not enough to cement this movie as the worst of the franchise, the action sequences in Jason Bourne solidify it. Whether it’s ultra-shaky-cam or the most ridiculous car chase since A Good Day To Die Hard, whatever lessons had been learned in the previous movies are completely forgotten in this one. At the end of the climactic car chase in which 170 cars are destroyed, the final crash is so absurd that my girlfriend and I both laughed out loud in the theater.

I almost forgot to mention a subplot regarding some sort of social media app that is actually a CIA program to ‘spy on everyone’. (It’s almost like they’re unaware that the NSA already does this.) There’s a scene in this movie in which the head of a social media giant tells an audience how internet privacy is vitally important and no one will be spying on you using his system. This is followed by this very same character having lunch in public at a restaurant with the director of the CIA. If there were one photo of the CIA director talking with Mark Zuckerberg how fast do you think Facebook shares would tank? If you can figure this out, why can’t anyone who worked on this movie figure it out?

The more I think about Jason Bourne the more I want to pretend that it never happened. I mentioned A Good Day To Die Hard before and it’s appropriate. Both movies are the fifth entry into a franchise that should have ended years ago. Both are easily the worst of the bunch. Both seem to have forgotten what made the franchise good in the first place. And both are movies you would have to pay me to watch again.

– Jack Cameron

Black Man. White Cop. You Know The Rest.


Back in high school I wrote this thing about racism. It was a bit of a disaster. Since then, as a white heterosexual male, I have decided to specifically NOT write about racism if at all possible because the last time I did, things went badly. But I kind of feel the need to break that rule.

His name was Alton Sterling. And if I tell you he was a black man who encountered a police officer you already know the rest of the story. You know the story because it’s the story of Dontre Hamilton. It’s the story of Eric Garner. It’s the story of John Crawford III. It’s the story of Michael Brown Jr. It’s the story of Ezell Ford. It’s the story of Tanisha Anderson. It’s the story of Akai Gurley. It’s the story of Tamir Rice. It’s the story of Rumain Brisbon. It’s the story of Jerame Reid. It’s the story of Tony Robinson. It’s the story of Phillip White. It’s the story of Freddie Gray. It’s the story of Sandra Bland. It’s the story of being black and unlucky in America.

We hear these stories of police shooting black men and women almost as often as we hear about white men committing mass shootings. And each time much like mass shootings we are outraged and paralyzed. Our outrage is understandable. How can these terrible atrocities happen in broad daylight on the streets of the greatest country in the world? Our being paralyzed takes a bit more explaining.

Part of it is the uncomfortable truth that racism is alive and well in America. We did not kill it with Civil Rights. We did not kill it by electing Obama. And if we did not kill it, then we have to admit it’s still out there. We have to admit that some of our friends, neighbors, relatives, and maybe even ourselves are racist or have racist tendencies. And that is really hard to do. It’s so hard to do that it would be much easier to simply deny it and pretend that racism is over. But it’s not. And what are we to do with that?

Another easy option is to simply vilify the police. This is unfair. The vast majority of police officers will go their entire career never firing a shot at anyone. And not every police officer is racist. But the terrible actions of a few make the police an easy target for blame. If we can blame it all on the police then maybe, we do not have to confront any racism closer to home. But this does not work because police officers come from the community. Despite their militarized appearance, these men and women are members of your community whether they act like it or not. They did not arrive at the police academy with no racist thoughts in their heads and suddenly become racist. They were racist before they were cops and the modern police environment nurtures that racism.

There are good reasons for this. Even a fully trained and ethical police officer will still sometimes have to physically put handcuffs on another human being and then put that human being in a cage. For most people, this requires a bit of a disconnect. I have gone on ride alongs with police officers and watched it happen. I have seen the moment when the person a cop is talking to stops being a person to him and starts being a thing. A good cop will tell you that you have the right to remain silent. What they are actually saying is, “Nothing you say will help you because you are no longer a person to me.” Unfortunately this depersonalization does not just make it easy to put someone in a cage. It also makes it easy to put them in a grave.

We’re paralyzed because even if we confront these truths we still don’t know what to do about them. I know that I have biases. I am aware of them and I do my best to combat them, but it is not always easy or obvious. And even being successful does not change what’s happening in this country.

I have given this a lot of thought. These are my suggestions based on what I know. I am interested in what you think of these suggestions. I am interested in other suggestions. I am interested in finding things we can actively do to stop this.

Keep Racists Afraid

One of the worst things about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is that racists think he has legitimized racism. When the Republican Presidential Nominee is saying things like “Look at my African American.” and calling Mexicans rapists bigots everywhere think that maybe it is okay to spout racist crap publicly. It is not. Fellow white people, any time we hear some blowhard saying racist crap whether it’s a stranger or your best friend, you need to call them on that shit. If we are going to ask our police departments to stop their systemic racism, we need to do the same.

Lethal Force

America has a love affair with guns. As a result we lose 30,000 men, women, and children every year due to gun violence. That’s ten 9/11s every year. Of those 30,000 about 1,000 are police involved killings. It is important to note that not all of these killings were unjustified, unwarranted, or unnecessary. It is equally important to note that far too many of them involved white cops shooting unarmed black people. In a time when we have Tasers, beanbag rounds, and verified de-escalation techniques using lethal force should be the cop equivalent of the nuclear option. It should never be used unless it’s the only thing you can use.

Federal Prosecutor

One of the biggest problems with police involved shootings is that the prosecutor who brings charges against the police is usually the same prosecutor who spends every other day of his life working closely with that same police department. Imagine this. You are a local prosecutor investigating a police involved shooting. If you charge the cop with murder, right or wrong, you are going to upset the rest of the police force which is going to make your job on every other case very difficult. Such a prosecutor is not likely to get endorsed by the police union during the next election. There is a clear conflict of interest in these situations. The way around this is to make every single police involved shooting a federal case with federal investigators and a federal prosecutor. Until this step is taken, I do not expect we will ever see a significant number of these cases actually get any justice.

Community Policing

One of the worst things to happen to modern police forces in this country was the use of surplus military hardware on the streets of America. Giving military weapons and vehicles to a systemically racist police department that already dehumanizes much of the population of a city is a recipe for slaughter. And that is exactly what we have seen again and again. If you give men weapons of war, they’re more likely to fight one. It should be noted that the blame cannot be placed on the police department or the military alone. The blame also falls on city councils and voters who do not approve adequate funding for police departments almost giving them no choice but to accept military handouts because they’re better than nothing.

This is not how the police force always worked. There was a time when a uniformed police officer walked a beat. The police officer knew everyone on that beat and more importantly everyone knew the cop. If a cop had a problem on his beat more often than not he knew the perpetrator. It’s more difficult to use lethal force on someone when you know them. It’s also harder to vilify a police officer when they’re someone you actually know and who has demonstrated that they are simply there to keep the peace. This is what was known as community policing. It’s something that is lacking in most police departments. If you wonder if your neighborhood has community policing ask yourself if you know the cop that patrols your area.

Raise Non-Racists

One of the things you can do is raise your children to be tolerant. Raise them to celebrate diversity rather than be afraid of it. Tell them that we are strong because of our differences and that no human being is superior to another and all life is equally precious. Show them movies with leads who aren’t white. Have them read Between The World and Me when they’re a teenager. Do not tolerate hate speak from children. If we can all commit to this, we can ensure that in the future bigots are the only minority who are afraid.

These are the ideas I have. I do not know what else to do. While I was writing this a 32-year-old man named Philando Castile was shot and killed by police officers who pulled him over for a busted tail light in Minneapolis.

I am not okay with this being normal in the United States of America. I do not have all the answers. But I think it starts with talking. It starts by speaking up. It starts by giving a damn and saying, “Black Lives Matter.”

– Jack Cameron

Barely A Whisper Anymore

I woke up to the news that over one hundred people had been shot in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida last night. At least fifty are dead. After the initial shock of hearing the news a small voice I can barely hear anymore said, “Maybe this is the horrible tragedy that finally gets us to clamp down on gun violence.”

The day before, also in Orlando, Christina Grimmie, a young singer who was on the television show The Voice was shot and killed while signing autographs. I heard that small voice then too. And then I thought, “She’s probably not famous enough. It would have to be a major rock star.”


John Lennon shot four times on December 8, 1980

Oh yeah. That did not do it. If someone can shoot and kill a Beatle, a dead rock star isn’t going to do it. Maybe if it was someone important. Someone powerful. A leader of some sort.


John F. Kennedy shot and killed November 22, 1963


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shot and killed April 4, 1968


Robert F. Kennedy shot and killed June 6, 1968

Wow. Clearly the death of one person is not enough to galvanize the American people to demand common sense gun control. You know what works on the news? Blonde girls. That gets people all upset for some reason. A blonde girl goes missing and everyone is up in arms and the 24-hour news channels cover it for weeks. What if a blonde reporter got shot live on television? Would that wake people up enough to do something about guns and gun control?


Alison Parker shot and killed on live television August 26, 2015

Okay. I get it. One person whether they are an attractive blonde girl, the biggest rock star in the world, or President of the United States is not enough to make people rethink our policies on guns and gun control.

What about numbers? Statistics like the fact that more people died last year from gunshot wounds than from car accidents do not work either because they’re just numbers.

The kind of tragedy we need to wake people up to the horrible damage easy gun access has caused is something like a school shooting. Maybe that would work.


Fifteen people shot and killed including two teenage gunmen on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School

Oh. That didn’t cause people to change their minds about guns either. Well, it’s high school. High school can be rough for some people. Hell, who didn’t want to kill someone in high school?

You know what no one could ignore? You know what would really get everyone ready to give up their guns voluntarily just at the sheer horror of it all? If someone shot up an elementary school even the most hard core gun nut would have to pause and think we need some sensible gun control laws. That maybe we should make getting guns at least as hard as it is to get a car. That would do it.


Twenty-Six shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 12, 2012

Twenty-six dead. Twenty under the age of eight. And that was not enough to really enact change. And so I wake up this morning to the news that over 100 people have been shot and half of them are dead due to a gunman. And a tiny voice wonders if we will do anything at all about the easy access to guns in this country. But that voice has become barely more than a whisper because I know the truth. We will do nothing.

We sacrifice over 30,000 American lives every year and pay for the freedom to own guns with their blood. The Aztecs sacrificed lives to their Gods. Experts say they sacrificed as many as 20,000 people a year. We have them beat. We sacrifice so we can own weapons. We do not ask for volunteers. People are chosen at random and while most are poor, no matter who you are, you could be next. The fact that you have not been chosen is the only reason you still allow this to go on. Today, far too many will hear of a massacre in a gay nightclub in Florida and incorrectly think, “I don’t go to gay nightclubs in Florida and so I must be safe.”

Last night over 50 people unwillingly sacrificed their lives for your freedom to own guns. By next week you won’t remember any of their names and be just as shocked as you are right now the next time a mass unwilling sacrifice is made. And you will do just as little as you always have to stop gun violence and the easy access to guns because this is America.

– Jack Cameron

I Want No Part of Your Bloody Revolution

In 1991 I was a right leaning teenager who did not want to go to war. I was pro-death penalty. I was anti-abortion. I was anti-gay. I was also anti-getting-shot-at-on-the-other-side-of-the-planet. Eventually I met up with some acquaintances that wanted to firebomb the local Army Recruiting station after hours. They called me up to see if I was interested. I turned them down because it seemed like a stupid thing to do and it would not solve anything.

Despite my conservative leanings, I ended up looking more and more at the whole political structure. I started reading Noam Chomsky. I went up to Seattle and watched the documentary Manufacturing Consent based on Chomsky’s book of the same name. And then I had this epiphany: The Republicans were corrupt. So were the Democrats. The whole damn system was corrupt and had been for decades if not longer. We needed a new American Revolution.

1992 was an election year and I would not be able to vote because I would not be 18 until a month after the election. This did not lower my interest in the election. I was angry at George Bush for getting us into a half-assed war. To my mind at the time we should have done nothing or gone right into Baghdad and declared Iraq the 51st State. This kicking them out of Kuwait but keeping Saddam in power and not really stopping them from doing the exact same thing again bugged me. Besides. George Bush Sr. used to run the CIA and was involved in everything from Iran Contra to the plot to sell crack in inner city neighborhoods to help fund more wars in Central America. He was a walking talking piece of the big machine.


I still have my copy of Bill Clinton’s interview in Rolling Stone from 1992.

When Bill Clinton became the Democratic frontrunner, I had a subscription to Rolling Stone. They did an interview with him involving all of their top writers including Hunter S. Thompson. Each of the writers did an article about the interview. Each of them mentioned how Bill Clinton said he wanted more cops on the street while looking at Hunter. I liked Bill Clinton’s optimism. I liked that he was not an old man. I liked a lot of what he said. But he was a Democrat. That meant he was part of the corrupt machine.


And then there was Ross Perot. Perot wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican. He was a short firecracker of a man. A businessman from Texas who was somehow a billionaire. He was using his own money and insisted he could get America running the way he got his businesses running. He wasn’t afraid to say things that were not politically correct. He seemed pragmatic. I liked him. I bought his little book and read it. All I remember from that book is that he said that as a kid he wanted a job where he didn’t have to work outside. He was not part of the machine as far as I could tell. The establishment did not like him and I liked that. But he was a billionaire from Texas and probably not the guy who was going to help the common man. Still, there was something to be said for voting for a guy who was not a Democrat or a Republican because fuck the two party system, man.

I went to see Bill Clinton speak in Seattle during the election. It was an outdoor venue near the waterfront. They played David Bowie’s ‘Changes’ just before he took the stage. Regardless of your opinion of Bill Clinton and his politics, it is impossible to deny his ability to work a crowd. By the end of his speech I was all about this guy. When Ross Perot did a campaign stop, I saw him too and felt disappointed. That guy just didn’t have Bill’s charisma and seemed a bit unsure of himself. I didn’t quite believe Perot actually believed the things he said. I wanted so much to like Perot but I just couldn’t. I liked Bill Clinton, but he was part of the system and the system was totally screwed up and corrupt and needed to be destroyed.

As I said, I was not able to vote in 1992. So I did not have to make a decision. I watched all the debates. I watched Ross Perot quit, then come back, then quit again and completely implode. I watched Bill Clinton win and I thought about how it felt like a turning point for America. There was optimism in the air even though I was pretty sure it was bullshit. I mean I did not expect Bill Clinton was going to do a damn thing about the atrocities in East Timor for example. He probably didn’t even know where East Timor was.

Time passed. I learned more. I watched as Republicans started attacking Bill Clinton for fooling around as if he was the first President to ever do such a thing and saw their hypocrisy for what it was. Sure, the Democrats were part of the system, but at least they did not resort to this sort of character assassination. By this time I had changed my views on gay rights and abortion. I still thought the death penalty was necessary for some people and that everyone had a right to have a gun. But I really could not get past this ‘holier-than-thou’ crap pedaled by Congressional Republicans.

I started thinking about the system. The big corrupt machine. The eradication of the Middle Class. The completely hypocritical and useless drug war. The ‘tough on crime’ bills that ruined lives and did nothing to lower the crime rate and everything to increase the prison population. College was becoming so expensive that your parents had to make six figures or you needed a scholarship or a loan you would be paying back forever. The rich getting richer and richer while the poor weren’t just getting poorer. They were dying. Welfare recipients were cut to five years of service. After five years, you were on your own and could die for all they cared. The safety net for human beings was being erased.

I looked at all of it that I was aware of and came to a fairly disheartening conclusion: I cannot stop it without a lot of people helping me kill a lot of people. You aren’t going to convince the head of Walmart to stop keeping so much money. Talk to any seriously rich person and they will tell you how they are terrified of losing their money. It does not matter how much they have. I could see no way to create the revolution that I felt needed to happen without a lot of blood. And there was no way that blood would be one-sided. There were people who were alive right now who might have otherwise lived okay or even good lives who were going to die in such a revolution. And that’s when I made a personal decision.

I would not fight for the revolution. I understood those who wanted it. I wanted it. But if you seriously fuck with the system, the system will fuck you back. Every time. History is littered with examples. Look at Henry Wallace. Look at JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Look at George McGovern. Look at Edward Snowden. The revolution is tough. It will destroy your life. It will kill you. And each of those people had more money and more power than I will ever have. I am a bug to be squashed compared to those men.

I like Bernie Sanders. I agree with almost everything he says. I donated to his campaign. I have a bumper sticker with his name on it on my car and it’s been there for months. He is right that we need to get money out of politics. He is right that we need a political revolution away from never ending war and towards actual progress for the people of this country. He is most definitely a guy who does what he feels is right regardless of consequences and I respect that. If I were the young man I was in 1992 I have no doubt that right now I would be telling you how Bernie Sanders is our only hope for a sane outcome in this election and that a vote for Trump or Hillary is just more of the status quo in varying degrees. I would be shouting it to anyone who would listen and commenting on any Facebook thread of a friend silly enough to disagree with me because the big corrupt machine needs to be brought down and sure, we can all agree that Trump is terrible, but Hillary Clinton isn’t going to destroy the machine any more than her husband did. I would have ‘B-E-R-N-I-E’ on my forehead in permanent marker.

I am not the young man was in 1992. A few weeks ago I looked at the electoral count and realized that Bernie Sanders simply did not have the votes he needed to become the nominee. In every state he lost someone complained about it being rigged or about some sort of corruption or cheating. Maybe some of it was true. Maybe not. It did not matter. Not really. I was around in 2000 when I watched George W. Bush actually steal an election. This was how American politics worked. It’s like bedtime when you’re a kid. You might not like it or agree with it, but it is what it is and sure, you can change things but that’s not going to actually matter until next time anyway. They are not going to retroactively give it to Bernie.

And so I put my support behind Hillary Clinton. This move upset quite a few of my friends. They did not understand it. They thought I was compromising my values. Their mistake was thinking that just because we endorsed the same candidate we had the same values. That simply wasn’t true. My values are fairly simple. I want to be able to live my life with as few uncomfortable moments as possible while helping as many and hurting as few people as I can. I do not have any interest in being a soldier and I never have.

Hillary Clinton will likely lead us in what will basically be a more conservative version of Obama’s administration. The drone strikes will continue. Guantanamo will not close. And the use of force will always be on the table. But we will get a modest minimum wage increase, continued healthcare, continued gay rights, equal pay for women, and some actual infrastructure funding that is sorely needed. None of those good things will happen under Trump. Trump will not work with the Democratic Congress on anything he doesn’t care about. I drink Coke, but if you’re all out of Coke, I’ll take Pepsi because Diet Coke is terrible. I’m not going to burn the store down because there is no Coke.

Yes, the big machine is still out there making the trade of human lives for profits. In many ways it is stronger than ever. And for that very reason I do not have a lot of interest in directly fighting it. Back in 1992 you had to firebomb a recruiting station to get arrested. These days if you go to the wrong website, you can be put on a list, you can be detained indefinitely without ever being charged with a crime. Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen who spoke out against America, who advocated violence towards American people, who conversed with terrorists, but he never actually killed anyone. He mostly talked and wrote. That did not stop the Obama administration from killing him. It did not stop them from killing his 16-year-old son two weeks later despite his son being suspected of nothing at all. He too was an American citizen. Neither of them had a trial. We live in a very dangerous world where money is the only goal or God and suspicion is all that is needed to have you incarcerated indefinitely or killed. If you want a revolution, fine. But changing things takes time. If you want a revolution right now then it’s going to be bloody and people you care about are going to die for it. And I want no part of it because there is absolutely nothing pointing to that revolution being successful and even if it were, what guarantees are there that it would be any better?

I realize that you could read all of this and simply determine that I am a coward too afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I doubt anyone who really knows me would agree. But to make it clear, yes, I am aware that the entire political structure is corrupt and in desperate need of change. Yes, I am aware that Hillary Clinton does not have a spotless record and does not share every opinion I have. Yes, I am aware that for most of us our wages have gone nowhere, our job prospects are minimal, and in just about any way you look at it our lives could be better than they are. I am also aware that none of this will be resolved before November. You can go on and on about ‘What if this..’ and ‘What if that..’ and tell me all about how Bernie is the only real choice and how anyone who is voting for Hillary must be asleep and not awake like you. Go ahead. But Jill Stein and the Libertarian guy’s name that I can’t even remember aren’t popular enough to win and Bernie is not going to win anything if he isn’t the Democratic nominee. In November your choices are a former First Lady of Arkansas, former First Lady of the United States, Former US Senator, Former Secretary of State and current Democratic Presumptive Presidential Nominee who happens to have a former President of the United States as an advisor and spouse OR you can choose a person who publicly said women need to be treated ‘like shit’, a person who has said he is willing to nuke Eastern Europe, a man who encourages his audience to beat protesters, a man who calls Mexicans rapists, a man who makes fun of people with disabilities, a man who raped his first wife and said it was okay because spousal rape was legal at that time, a man who suggests we should keep lists or have people wear something to signify what religion they are, a man who failed to make money while owning a casino, and a man who repeatedly talks about wanting to sleep with his own daughter.

I know for some of you nothing I say will make Hillary Clinton someone you can vote for. That’s fine. If you want to vote for Trump. That’s fine too. If you want to vote for a third party candidate or write in Bernie Sanders or Minnie Mouse, you can do that too. We at the very least like to pretend it’s a Democracy and no one should take away your right to cast your vote however you want even if that means not voting at all. You have that freedom. As do we all. It your choice.

However, you do not have the freedom of absolution from the consequences of that choice. You do not get to say, “It’s Hillary’s fault I didn’t vote for her because she didn’t court my vote enough.” No. You did not vote for her because you did not want to. People fought and died to make sure you have the right to vote. The least you can do is own that responsibility.

It is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to feel like maybe the world needs a horror like Trump to wake up. Such feelings are understandable but ignore the human cost. It ignores the people who will suffer and die under Trump. Right now bullies are hassling kids and using Trump slogans to do it. If he were President it would be even worse.

I understand that to some Hillary is the enemy and always will be. But you have to choose your battles. You want to fight with all your might to get Bernie in? Go right ahead, but that’s a battle you will not win. I personally think it would be better to vote for the person most likely to work with Bernie when he goes back to the Senate and that is not Donald Trump. It’s Hillary Clinton who voted the same as Bernie 93% of the time.

But damn, isn’t that kind of bleak for a leftist revolutionary? We can’t get the progressive in office so we have to go for the establishment candidate who is just going to give us more of the same of what we have had the last eight years? We can’t take down the machine because it will destroy us? We have to live actually live with this? Yeah, it can be depressing and disheartening if you look at things in a certain way. But I don’t.

Instead I look at this simple truth: There is more good than bad. Don’t believe me? Let me leave you with this story.

I have a good friend named Kristopher Brannon. We went to high school together. He was the one driving the car that took me up to see Bill Clinton back in 1992. For the last ten years he has been tirelessly advocating for the return of the NBA Super Sonics to Seattle as the human mascot, Sonics Guy. He has been to thousands of sporting events, parades, grand openings, festivals, and council meetings. His work is so prolific and inspiring that a documentary was made about him called Superfan. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival three weeks ago. After spending the weekend in Seattle for the premiere, Kris came back to his home in Tacoma to find it ransacked. His collection of Sonics jerseys and memorabilia were stolen. So was his late father’s ring. It was devastating. You want to talk about discouragement? Imagine spending a decade making thousands of appearances, collecting hundreds of unique and rare items, and then it’s all gone.

And then something happened. A friend of his started a crowdfunding campaign. She set the goal at a modest $1,000. It would not replace what was lost but it could help get him back on his feet. The $1,000 goal was met in hours. In two weeks that the campaign has been up, over $7,000 has been raised by over 200 people. (You can still donate to his campaign by clicking here.) There’s a benefit concert happening later this month. Kris had his possessions stolen by one person. He was helped by hundreds of people. Yes, the machine is out there and fighting it is near impossible. But there is good right here right now. This will be true regardless of who gets elected in November. It’s important to remember the basic goodness of humanity.

I’m not writing this to convince anyone of anything. I just had some stuff I needed to get out. If it resonates with you, great. If it doesn’t, oh well.

– Jack Cameron