Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Bumpy Ride


WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is throwing a lifesaver to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R) as the Louisiana congressman faces a...
huffingtonpost.com
The bastard, Representative Steve Scalise, now the Republican Party’s whip, is supported by bonehead Speaker John Boehner even though by admission Scalise acknowledges he spoke at a gathering that sympathized with the KKK, American Nazis, other extremists and white supremist groups.  Scalise incredulously claims not to have known the ideological base of the gathering in front of whom he gave the speech. Believe that lie and he will, I can assure, tell you another.  The group was a more palatably named the “European-American Unity and Rights Organization” founded by David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK.  Ground beef is still a hamburger even when it is dressed up with condiments and a tomato.
This is the nature of the power the electorate handed to the Repuglican Party in both the House and the Senate.  2015 could be one of the most discordant, Republican repulsive, and contentious years yet for our nation as Republicrat numbers increased. This is what happens when the liberal, progressive and Democratic Party base do not vote.  Gaaahead keep not voting and enjoy the results of true mean, brutal, murderous and cruel oligarchic fascism, the base into which the Republican Party has morphed.  
As the great Betty Davis said "Hold onto your hats. It's going to be a bumpy ride!"

GET OUT THE GD PROGRESSIVE VOTE IN 2016.  YOU WANT TO ERADICATE ALL THE SOCIAL SAFETY NETS, SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, THE ACA AND ALL OUR REGULATORY AGENCIES THAT HELP PROTECT US THROUGH CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTERS AS WELL AS KEEP AN EYE ON NEFARIOUS CEO POLLUTERS, FIND CURES FOR DISEASE AND, OH YES, PROTECT US AGAINST THE BANKS THAT BROUGHT YOU THE GREAT RECESSION? YOU WANT TO KEEP OUR NATION CONSUMING POISONOUS FOOD, DRINKING OIL SOAKED TOXIC WASTE WATER THAT KILLS US AND ALL LIVING THINGS THAT SUPPORT LIFE?  YOU WANT TO KEEP US IN ETERNAL WAR? IF SO BY ALL MEANS DO NOT VOTE AND HAND THE REPUBLICANS THE ELECTION.  YOU WILL GET ALL OF THAT AND MORE. GET OUT THE PROGRESSIVE, LIBERAL, MODERATE AND DEMOCRATIC VOTE OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF SICKENING REPUBLICAN RULE. I CAN ASSURE YOU IT WILL BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blue


It is sad that one must choose whom to support -- the police or black men killed especially Mr. Garner who was video shown crystal clearly to be robbed of his life for an allegedly trivial offense by law enforcement using an unnecessary choke hold frowned upon police behavior even in its own manual.

I mourn for the two policemen viciously murdered by a deranged man thinking that act would say and do something in protest of the assaults on black men. It did quite the opposite. It placed people in polar opposite camps when, in fact, they should join together to mourn the injustice in all camps where the innocent are slain for no good reason.

I support our men and women in blue emphatically and without equivocation as they are entrusted by us to protect and to serve. Their jobs encounter dangers most of us will never know but when wrong is done by any I speak out against that. The men in blue turning their back on Mayor DeBlasio was an insult and an assault on sensibility in a season of supposed good will. The mayor after the Garner unnecessary death at the hands of police was trying to calm an otherwise angry -- very angry-- black community which could have erupted at any moment into unchained violence that would rain down on a city which has known too much death.

The mayor has said MANY times that he supports and mourns both Officer Ramos and Officer Liu's deaths as if it were an attack on the entire city and, indeed, on him. All unjust murders should be protested. Mr. Garner, Officer Liu, and Officer Ramos suffered the same fate -- brutal deaths none of which should have occurred and should be protested by all.

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Wild"--A Review

Reese Witherspoon, as in other performances I have seen of her, is brilliant in her performance of "Wild." I loved this film. There were many moving moments but my rating of excellent revolves around what I see as the centrifugal force from which all other aspects of the film flow.

This film, a true story, of a woman whose life is shattered by the death of her mother whom she adored and from whom she drew breath is I think an example of endurance, strength, courage and the sheer will to survive the near impossible obstacles nature presents hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The understatedly arduous hike of a woman with a back pack perhaps weighing 75 pounds or more along the Pacific Crest Trail to recapture her shattered life is amazing.

I thought the film a metaphor for many who have suffered, as Shakespeare's Hamlet says "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" that life can convey but go on despite those hardships and sometimes because of them. A road not taken or a life's love lost the consequences of which can seem insurmountable until we do persevere. We may learn from those difficult experiences; we may take another road leading to other, perhaps, better things or those tragedies may have no meaning at all. The film allows for that and it allows for us to see a woman go where few women have gone to defeat the obstacles that nature places in her path, greet impossible odds and overcome them. Some people help her along the way and some do not but she bravely encounters them and goes on.

I thought this film, too, a metaphor for life. We may encounter great hardships, perhaps, even seemingly impossible ones but endure and survive as she did. This film is not tied into a neat bow though. It leaves the viewer the ability to draw our own conclusion as to whether her journey down the Pacific Crest Trail and the arduous journey she and many of us face throughout life is worth it or not. It appears she did think it worth it and it seems most of us usually do.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Another View of The Interview



My opinion on the alleged North Korean hacking has morphed.  Amy Goodman from "Democracy Now" (Link here or below.) interviewed two experts on North Korea. Both had entirely different analyses from the mainstream corporate media including the "liberal" MSNBC.

It is unlikely to me, now, that N. Korea hacked into Sony's computer system.  While it is not impossible I am, however, inclined to believe North Korea was a convenient fall guy.  There are larger intertwined economic and powerful nation state interests which may have had US/Asian balance of power issues and even the omnipresent US military industrial complex realities at its core. 

The Sony hacking is, perhaps, either an inside job by a disgruntled employee(s) OR was perpetrated by a lone wolf or wolves for reasons not yet clearly known. Information on the relationship between Sony and the US government is more clearly illuminated in the "Democracy Now” segment.

I believe the US may be taking advantage of the Sony computer hack for political reasons.  The Korean War (1950-1953) and US foreign policy and economic interests in that Asian neck of the woods cannot be ignored.  Moreover, the mainstream media has vested interests in ratcheting up the alleged North Korean threat to thereby cement our large Asian footprint, the alleged humanitarian democratic value of which the American public is quick to swallow.

The difference between the MSNBC analysis of the alleged N. Korean hack and the analysis of "Democracy Now's" experts is wide.  Which view is true? I cannot know but seems unlikely to me, now, that N. Korea – isolated nation that it is –would have had the technological capability and expertise nor the national self-interest to institute the hack despite what the FBI says.  One must not forget our government lies and it does so all the time.  
Where are the weapons of mass destruction used to justify the invasion of Iraq leading to the ultimate destabilization of the Middle East, the killing of hundreds of thousands and the exiling of millions?

My motto: Question everything.   Howard Zinn’s motto for any foreign policy entanglement: Ask the question who profits and why?  I ask and so should you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My guy Krugman -- Brilliant NYT article -- Read and learn-then Vote Democrat ALWAYS!

Keep Republicans away from the halls of power! Work and vote for Democrats!


Krugman:

Conquest Is for Losers

Putin, Neocons and the Great Illusion

More than a century has passed since Norman Angell, a British journalist and politician, published “The Great Illusion,” a treatise arguing that the age of conquest was or at least should be over. He didn’t predict an end to warfare, but he did argue that aggressive wars no longer made sense — that modern warfare impoverishes the victors as well as the vanquished.
He was right, but it’s apparently a hard lesson to absorb. Certainly Vladimir Putin never got the memo. And neither did our own neocons, whose acute case of Putin envy shows that they learned nothing from the Iraq debacle.
Angell’s case was simple: Plunder isn’t what it used to be. You can’t treat a modern society the way ancient Rome treated a conquered province without destroying the very wealth you’re trying to seize. And meanwhile, war or the threat of war, by disrupting trade and financial connections, inflicts large costs over and above the direct expense of maintaining and deploying armies. War makes you poorer and weaker, even if you win.

The exceptions to this dictum actually prove the rule. There are still thugs who wage war for fun and profit, but they invariably do so in places where exploitable raw materials are the only real source of wealth. The gangs tearing the Central African Republic apart are in pursuit of diamonds and poached ivory; the Islamic State may claim that it’s bringing the new caliphate, but so far it has mostly been grabbing oil fields.

The point is that what works for a fourth-world warlord is just self-destructive for a nation at America’s level — or even Russia’s. Look at what passes for a Putin success, the seizure of Crimea: Russia may have annexed the peninsula with almost no opposition, but what it got from its triumph was an imploding economy that is in no position to pay tribute, and in fact requires costly aid. Meanwhile, foreign investment in and lending to Russia proper more or less collapsed even before the oil price plunge turned the situation into a full-blown financial crisis.

Which brings us to two big questions. First, why did Mr. Putin do something so stupid? Second, why were so many influential people in the United States impressed by and envious of his stupidity?

The answer to the first question is obvious if you think about Mr. Putin’s background. Remember, he’s an ex-K.G.B. man — which is to say, he spent his formative years as a professional thug. Violence and threats of violence, supplemented with bribery and corruption, are what he knows. And for years he had no incentive to learn anything else: High oil prices made Russia rich, and like everyone who presides over a bubble, he surely convinced himself that he was responsible for his own success. At a guess, he didn’t realize until a few days ago that he has no idea how to function in the 21st century.

The answer to the second question is a bit more complicated, but let’s not forget how we ended up invading Iraq. It wasn’t a response to 9/11, or to evidence of a heightened threat. It was, instead, a war of choice to demonstrate U.S. power and serve as a proof of concept for a whole series of wars neocons were eager to fight. Remember “Everyone wants to go to Baghdad. Real men want to go to Tehran”?

The point is that there is a still-powerful political faction in America committed to the view that conquest pays, and that in general the way to be strong is to act tough and make other people afraid. One suspects, by the way, that this false notion of power was why the architects of war made torture routine — it wasn’t so much about results as about demonstrating a willingness to do whatever it takes.

Obama is not getting enough credit for how he handle the Ukrainian issue and this thug. The President took his queue from a Grand Master of Neocon dreams took a beating when the occupation of Iraq turned into a bloody fiasco, but they didn’t learn from experience. (Who does, these days?) And so they viewed Russian adventurism with admiration and envy. They may have claimed to be alarmed by Russian advances, to believe that Mr. Putin, “what you call a leader,” was playing chess to President Obama’s marbles. But what really bothered them was that Mr. Putin was living the life they’d always imagined for themselves.

The truth, however, is that war really, really doesn’t pay. The Iraq venture clearly ended up weakening the U.S. position in the world, while costing more than $800 billion in direct spending and much more in indirect ways. America is a true superpower, so we can handle such losses — although one shudders to think of what might have happened if the “real men” had been given a chance to move on to other targets. But a financially fragile petroeconomy like Russia doesn’t have the same ability to roll with its mistakes.

I have no idea what will become of the Putin regime. But Mr. Putin has offered all of us a valuable lesson. Never mind shock and awe: In the modern world, conquest is for losers.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pope Francis the Great--from Punnishment to Peace

Pope Francis's words to the Vatican bureaucracy were scathing much needed criticism. Why should I a Jew care about the Vatican? I care because because Papal history and the history of the Roman Catholic Church has been intertwined with not only world history but, specifically, with the history of the Jews. We could not escape it. The Pope sets the stage and the tone of the Church's essence and its essence affects people all over the world. What the Pope says matters to 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. Therefore, what he says should matter to all of us.

I have always been critical of the Vatican but under this Pope my position has changed by an order of great magnitude. He has the greatest acceptance for the least among us and no matter how much men/women are afflicted he has room for them in his heart and places them within in the many mansions of the supreme being in which he believes.

He has brought much needed change to the Vatican bureaucracy, its cardinals and its bishops in a Church guilty of so many egregious sins against the innocent over centuries. Could and should the Church change more? Of course, there is always room for change but Pope Francis has changed the aura of the Church from one of punishment to one of peace, love and forgiveness -- the true essence of what Christianity, as I see it, should be.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Blue Mood

The assassination in cold blood of two NYPD officers helps no one, and, yes, everyone should decry it. I have empathy for our police who put their lives on the line so we may live safely free of anarchy. I also have empathy for Mr. Garner who was ridiculously choked to death by out-of-control NYPD officers abridging their own codes of police conduct.  Their assault and killing of Mr. Garner because of a woefully minor offense allegedly selling "loosie" cigarettes should be an affront to all of us.
 
One does NOT have to say one cares less about one death and everything about another. All of the killings were bad. The pertinent question, of course, is if Mr. Garner were not choked to death by an NYPD officer and a sidecar of other NYPD pile ons would the assassination of the NYPD officers yesterday have happened? It could have as the killer of the cops was mentally deranged. He killed his girlfriend too. The question if the Garner police killing did not happen would the two assassinated police officers be alive today is unknowable.
 
My instincts tell me the shooting of the NYPD police may not have happened if the African-American community were not, all over the nation, so enraged at the perceived unjust treatment of them at the hands of law enforcement.  Moreover, the shoddy prosecution of police perpetrators who commit egregious crimes should be an embarrassment to the nation.  It flies in the face of prosecutorial justice and civilization's ethical codes of conduct for police who enforce the law.  The police are, after all, the only ones the public trusts to protect us and to carry weapons, the specific purpose of which is to threaten and/or kill.
 
While our blue mood nation may have lit the spark for the policemen’s deaths we can never know that for sure because a whole community did not kill the NYPD officers but one out-of-his-mind man did!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Miracle Worker

 "Obama Ends 2014 With Swagger ... "

The article in Huffington by Sam Stein is linked here or at the end.


It is a miracle the President, as the article states, has done all he has done in his so called "lame duck session." It is the eighth wonder of the world that he did all the things he has done during his entire presidency despite an obstructionist Republican Party of very white racists who could not stand the sight of his melanin hue in the White House.  They stymied everything he wanted to do to lift the nation out of its 30 year mostly Republican induced and George Bush promulgated coma.   Barack Obama was handed a pile of lemons and the lemonade he made is settling our collective stomachs.

My father always said that you could not argue with success.  The President now has much to crow about, the ebullience of which, one could see at his pre-Hawaii Christmas vacation press conference.  From Cuba to health care to the economy to getting a formerly intractable China on board with a climate change fix and everything in between if Republicans want to undo all the good this president has done, okay, go ahead make my day.  They will sow the seeds of their own destruction in 2016.  A new color in the political spectrum rainbow should be called Republican Obsolete.  The people, too, must vote to usher out the Republican Party of mendacity. Republicans cannot love America as they say they do when they really want to stagnate and sink it keeping what remains of its monied carcass for only them, the 1% wealthiest.

What God giveth God can taketh away.  Republican victories can be turned into defeats.  As some say in Hebrew parlance "Baruch HaShem" translation: Praise God, let it be so. The Republican Philistines must be crushed if they destroy the many good things this president has done since he was handed the 2007 Bush nightmare economy in free fall and a brutal savage war made up of lies that killed so many. 

Barack Obama, I've stuck with you and can easily say I love you.  All my life I have looked for a new FDR whom my father, though a staunch Republican, loved.  This president may be my miracle answered even though in November I thought all hope was lost.  It wasn't.  It was lying there underneath the radar screen.  As the miracle worker, Annie Sullivan, the great teacher of her blind and deaf student, Helen Keller said after much struggle: "She sees" and, now, so do I!


ONWARD TO A 2016 DEMOCRATIC VICTORY--NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER FALTER and DO NOT FAIL!


 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/19/obama-2014_n_6354900.html

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Note to Chuck Todd and NBC

I quickly wrote this with no attention to prose.  It is to NBC, the Today Show and MSNBC:

I am nauseated by the absolutely ridiculous criticism of the president re: his Cuba relations miracle.  While some in the Cuban community .... some ELDERLY someones in the Cuban community in Florida are critical MOST are not.  So cut this president some slack IF it is in your DNA not to report excessively on unthinking critics of him.

Just how much more hostility to the so called "Cuban brothers" do people that Todd reports on think should be given?  Our record for ALL to see if the know nothings would simply look, is atrocious toward Cuba.  From assassination plots by the US to poisoning, to spies, to planned invasions over numerous presidencies of this small nation 90 miles to our south. 

NOTHING worked as the US strong arms wanted it to.  Just what WAS Cuba's egregious sin?  It did not do in our hemisphere what the US daddy wanted it to do economically.  It defied economically the US parent.  How dare it.  It nationalized industries and now US embargoes have brought the Cuban people to their knees.  HOW ABOUT REPORTING TRUTH FOR A CHANGE that does not make the US look so good.  We do not give a rat's petuti if the regime is democratic or not. We support right wing tyrannies all over the world even depose leaders we do not like and institute men who the US wants to do its economic bidding.  What the US does care about is how capitalist it can be and how much it can make for US corporate interests in the regions.

Without opening up relations with Cuba things will stay the same only hurting the Cuban people.  All I ask from the corporate media is TELL THE  WHOLE truth.  Watch Amy Goodman's interview about US policy toward Castro and GET the truth and READ the book below written by Saul Landau an expert on Cuba!

Real_terrorist
These Republican beasts will in the last two years of the Obama presidency do NOTHING in bipartisan fashion. Will they ever build the embassy?  HELL NO they won't.  They will do everything they can to thwart the president.

Again I say it get DEMOCRATS into office with a Democratic president and watch the nation flourish!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's only a movie--REALLY?

I would have supported Sony not bending to strong-arm computer hacking tactics of tyrannies which forced the company to cancel the film, The Interview -- a comedic spoof on the attempted assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un by two tabloid figures. How many spoofs of that caricature "leader" does one think are out there in public view? Answer: Many.

With the public and the theaters that could have shown it notified it seems to me adequate security could have been provided and adults could make their own decision whether to see it or not. Giving in to tyrants simply makes tyrannies want to do more tyrannizing. George Orwell (my favorite dystopian writer) could not have named the terrorist group perpetrator of the threat better "The Guardians of Peace" -- yeah right. Just like our George Bush war based on lies in Iraq called the war "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Has one taken a good look at Iraq today over ten years from the Operation? I might use a lot of words to describe it but free is not one of them. Don't you love it when the lions lie down with lambs at least on paper or one hears the fallacious oratorical mendacity of the political lies they speak? Isn't "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" just another euphemism for what it really is: torture. I digress. Let's not mince words. Freedom of speech is the oxygen of this nation that allows it to breathe and me to critique any policy and view anything artistic I want.

Of course, life must be protected but so does our Constitution as it is the life of our nation. When the Jewish Torah (the Law) is aged or burned it is buried in a cemetery as if it were a person. For some, it is considered life itself. I am not religious but that is exactly how I think about our First Constitutional Amendment. I loathe anything that abridges it. It is, I believe, the First Amendment for a reason as it gives life to all the other freedoms we are supposed to enjoy. Moreover, it gave birth to our nation wrapped within its protective amniotic fluid for all time. It is the most important Constitutional guarantee -- the pinnacle and the bedrock upon which all other freedoms exist.

If a human being can think there is nothing that should not be capable of artistic and opinionated expression unless one is yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. I figured out the genius of our Founders in 5th grade. Evidently for Sony that lesson was seemingly not learned very well or subject to conditional restrictions.

I agree with Aaron Sorkin, the producer of "Newsroom," shame on Sony for pulling this film. If I did not want to see it before the brouhaha I want to see it now. Is it really only a movie or is it the life of our nation itself that is at risk!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thanks to Pope Francis!

The Pope's efforts in Cuba along with the President's have been nothing short of miraculous and in time for Hanukkah too freeing Alan Gross after 5 years in a Cuban jail.  This man has made a difference for the better. 

I who have been an ardent critic of historic Vatican policy now say as I have often said after the Pope's many humanitarian efforts, I love this man who has made a positive impact in our sad world!

Cuba Libre

 Yet another reason to elect a Democrat to high office. This is BIG!

What are the odds this would have happened under Romney?



http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/u-s-cuba-relations/cuba-frees-american-alan-gross-held-five-years-n269926

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

130+ Children -- Angels' Lost Wings

The Pakistan school massacre of 130+ CHILDREN should strain the credulity of all of us; Australia, Canada, Boston, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, Gaza, Pakistan, Newtown and so many more I am sickened by ALL and I do mean all the violence.  When a child dies like this or any way by the hand of man many angels lose their wings! 

What an unnecessary loss of life everywhere over the last 13 years.  It can never be justified.

The whole world mourns for these children, all children and everyone who suffers because of man's inhumanity to man.

Peace begins with us all.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Transparency through the Opaque


This latest budget 1.1 trillion buck madness bill stuffed with funds for our eternal wars and goodies for Wall Street has now somewhat transparently passed in Congress differently from its usual opaque nature, the contents of which are often hidden from the public. Eventually, we often find out when another social program or regulatory agency that worked for us has been dismembered and finally killed taking us, the 98%, with it. This time someone smart found the bank stuff out as Elizabeth Warren the Great of Massachusetts railed from the Senate floor against the stealth bombing.

Mostly Republicans (although not entirely) through corporate contributions to their war-chests, the massive minions of money intend to seize it all and eradicate, by any means necessary, those who would oppose them. Through their mendacious tactics, suppressing the minority vote and the use of gerrymandered electoral districts they will get all of it. As George Carlin in his oft-quoted-by-me "American Dream" soliloquy so accurately put it “…. they already have captured the Congress, have the courts in their back pockets, have the media that controls the news and information you get, and have most of the state legislatures and local governments.” They control it all with their legions of lobbyists filling bloated congressional coffers with unlimited amounts corporate Citizens United cash.

They defund education keeping us unquestioningly dumb, underfund regulatory agencies and anything that keeps a vigilant eye on our environment, our money and our health. Polluting oil, coal and fracing gas corporations for profit can do anything vile they want to us and get away with it. As Carlin said. “Soon they will be coming for your Social Security. And they will get that too ….”

Bank deregulation over decades brought you the Great Recession and soon you will be welcoming another. Congress approved the 1.1 trillion buck budget and at the same time took out one of the most important mandates of the Dodd/Frank bill passed after the 2007 Great Recession. Republicans continue to snow us with trickle down economic lies that really trickle up and not down. 


Dodd/Frank tried, at least somewhat, to ensure the crushed economy did not get crush again by prohibiting government bailouts to the banks if they engage in risky stock and hedge fund bets that tanked the US and the world economy in 2007 putting millions out of work, out of homes, out of health care and out of luck for years and still counting.

Our do nothing Congress finally did something. They slid this return to Wall Street deregulation under the radar into the middle of the budget bill nearly word for Wall Street word and then the good Christian hypocrites quickly got out of town for Christmas, the alleged birthday of the Prince of Peace, the nation celebrates. This move of madness by the corrupt swill that has paired money with power and has become Washington Corporate Lobbyist DC made me cringe.

The budget bill, yet again, allows banks another life at selling risky Wall Street bets to the woefully ignorant. If the bets fail not to worry you and I will pick up the tab for the multi gazillionaires while they walk away with our billions and bonuses to boot and the 98% walk away with a colossal headache.

In bipartisan fashion unheard of in our time there were many Democrats and Republicans who would not sign onto this bill but in the end it, of course, passed. The president to avoid another Republican threatened government shutdown unenthusiastically signed the horrific thing. That is what corporate money in the hands of Congress gets you – total access to unlimited power.

Add to the budget psychotic event the Republican electoral stomach turning result in November, the unjustifiable killing of unarmed Black men by white police everywhere and SCOTUS, their hearts made of unethical stone, declaring a "post racial" nation as the noxious five eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act and I am temporarily yelling “uncle.” The film Network’s character, Howard Beal, said it best: “I’m mad as hell and cannot take it anymore. I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE! Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!”

Unlike Howard Beal, though, for the moment, I must retreat from the cacophony of music screech blowing a hole in my eardrums -- okay maybe for a day or two or three. If I do not, for those of you who watch "Newsroom," I will end up as the ethically good ACN Newsroom boss Charlie did. [Spoiler Alert] He compromised with evil to keep the company afloat and ended up flat out massive heart attack dead!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Elizabeth the Great!

No time now BUT Elizabeth Warren showed why the great state of Mass. elected her and why I keep her picture up on my wall.  She is a force and that is an understatement.  Long may she occupy that seat.  What a great replacement for Teddy not that Markey is not good but Elizabeth is better and brilliant!

More later. 


NEVER GIVE UP!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Torturous Examination of American Exceptionalism

I am trying to wrap my mind around the torture our nation has perpetrated on human beings in various Middle East black sites around the world during the last ten years.  It has done so in our name with seeming abandon allegedly in response to the horror of 9/11.  9/11 was, no one can doubt, a killing field monstrosity – 3000 innocents crushed into the dust of falling buildings that became their coffins on a sunny day in NYC.  It was destruction on a massive scale.   Many others were killed at the Pentagon with half a building taken down and in Shankesville, PA. in a plane on track to hit the Congress but crashed instead into a lonely field killing everyone on board.  The audio of passengers’ stating “Let’s roll” still rings in our ears as they tried valiantly to stop the perpetrators of the doomed flight.  We, over and over again, keep reminding ourselves of that day of its own infamy which prompted our nation to commit the illegalities of a war based on lies and torture on a scale most thought unthinkable.  The president and vice-president of the previous administration enlisted a host of eminent lawyers within the Bush Department of Justice to compose the legalese rationales for it. 

Never forgetting the reasons for the perpetration of torture by this nation, I try to think of other reasons for man’s history of Torquemada-like torture using Middle Ages techniques and the modus operandi of tyrannical Communist and Fascist regimes evidenced in modern history.  How, but more importantly, why would such things be done to human beings?  We could collect quite a menagerie of numerous instances of monstrous description but rather than disgust you with the unimaginable details we must find some other explanation for them besides a response to 9/11.

From the torture chambers of the Middle Ages and its religious wars, to the trenches of World War I and the use of poison gas, to the gas chambers of WWII Europe and its mass murder containers of six million dead Jews, to the Agent Orange of Vietnam, to the Iraq War based on lies, and to the ISIS beheadings man never stops killing brutally.  And yet some, perhaps most, put a brake on our basest inclination to perpetrate a violent act and, simply, refuse to do it.  Most would not nor could not hurt an innocent.  Most would not nor could not hurt an animal.  

What was done through torture by our nation in our name after 9/11 is repugnant to those of us who like to think we are humane.  It rises to the highest level of brutality and flouts Nuremberg jurisprudence a once great yardstick against man’s inhumanity to man.  Its ethical verdict was supposed to be universally applicable.  In history, though, examples of man's inhumanity to man are legion.  Human depravity perpetrated against another is commonplace. We ask how a man is ethically able to do the most repugnant things to another.  The salient question, though, we must ask is:  why is man capable of doing repulsive uncivilized things to his fellow man without becoming nauseatingly sick?

There are those among us who, I am convinced, incredulous though it may be, enjoy torturing.  Yes, they like it and take pleasure in the strength that torturing someone else allows them to feel.  Some take pleasure in revenge but it cannot be denied, I think, that some who signed up to inflict torture including, mind numbingly rectal torture, simply liked to do it and worse the more vicious the torture the more pleasurable it became to them.  Sadism is a word, a condition, and it is an illness which some men have but others do not. The larger question, therefore, becomes why can some do such heinously repulsive things and, indeed, rationalize it but others cannot. What separates some people from other people who enjoy the sadistic impulse to maim and kill?  Perhaps the answer to this cancer, lies in one’s DNA and the organization of one’s genetic code. 

What the nation has done in our name is surely not new but it is different.  What makes it different to those of us with at least a shred of empathy is that this nation was founded on principles that are supposed to ensure men with power not stoop to man's lowest madness. Our Founders knew the most important thing was to put a brake on man's most murderous instinct, government's legal authority to perpetrate it and man's ability, through government sanction to abuse power.  Our Founders gave birth to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights – the fundamental bases on which our much touted exceptionalism rests.  The nation's perpetration of torture makes mockery of that.  No one will be held accountable for these egregious acts but a Black man allegedly selling loosie cigarettes is killed for it.  What is wrong with this picture?

I feel duped, I feel sad, I feel powerless and wonder if the nation can ever recoup our own Jacobian birthright to its exceptional character again.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Georgeous Poetry

A W.H. Auden poem though written in 1939 is for our
time as we await in fear the Torture Report.

Dece
mber 1, 1939, W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offense
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
****Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return. ****

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
....
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
....
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Bush I Knew and Loathed--Torture Unmasked

The Torture Defendants Fan Out
By Andrew Sullivan
The Dish

Everything the president (Bush--see video below) said  is untrue – and it appears that the looming Senate Intelligence Committee report on the torture program will soon prove it. The US did torture many many people with techniques devised by Nazis and Communists, sometimes in former KGB facilities. The CIA itself admits in its internal documents that none of it worked or gave us any actionable intelligence that wasn’t discovered through legal means. The torture techniques were not implemented by highly-trained professionals, but by goonish amateurs who concealed what they were doing and lied about it to superiors. All the techniques were and are clearly illegal under US and international law.

And we’re told there is some exculpatory evidence in the report, suggesting that Bush and Cheney and even Addington were misled as well – giving the former president some lee-way to explain how he came to create a torture program that will forever taint this country and has already done so much to damage its soft power. Maybe he could tell the truth and say that the extent and nature of the torture was kept from him and that he can now see what went so horribly wrong. But nah:
Some former administration officials privately encouraged the president and his top advisers to use the report to disclaim responsibility for the interrogation program on the grounds that they were not kept fully informed. But Mr. Bush and his inner circle rejected that suggestion. “Even if some officials privately believe they were not given all the facts, they feel it would be immoral and disloyal to throw the C.I.A. to the wolves at this point,” said one former official, who like others did not want to be identified speaking about the report before its release.
The question I posed publicly to the president back in 2009 – whether he could come to terms with the reality of torture and explain how it occurred – has therefore been answered a second time. In his own book, Bush owned the torture and took full responsibility for it. Now, he has decided he will not allow a sliver of daylight to come between him and war crimes. You can chalk this up to admirable loyalty, even to those who lied to him. Or you can simply reflect on a president who cannot admit to being the first in that office to authorize such an assault on core American values and decency. Which means to say he does not have the fortitude or character to deal with reality.

And now, we’re seeing a full-court press for those Bush loyalists who want to permanently suppress the evidence of war crimes under the program. If you want to get a clue about how devastating the forthcoming report might be, just observe the pre-emptive strikes:
The defense of the program has been organized by former C.I.A. leaders like George J. Tenet and Gen. Michael V. Hayden, two former directors, and John E. McLaughlin, a former deputy C.I.A. director who also served as acting director … General Hayden added that the former C.I.A. team objected to the Senate’s characterization of their efforts. “We’re not here to defend torture,” he said by email on Sunday. “We’re here to defend history.” General Hayden appeared earlier on Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS News to say that any assertion that the C.I.A. “lied to everyone about a program that wasn’t doing any good, that beggars the imagination.”

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who ran the C.I.A. interrogation program, said Sunday that critics now assailing the agency were pressing it after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to do whatever it took to prevent a recurrence. “We did what we were asked to do, we did what we were assured was legal, and we know our actions were effective,” Mr. Rodriguez wrote in The Washington Post.
Rodriguez was so sure that he did nothing wrong that he destroyed the tapes recording the torture sessions! Nothing to see here … so move long. A reader writes:
I just watched the CBS Morning News report on the SSCI report, featuring two persons: Michael Hayden was featured in excerpts from Sunday’s Face the Nation, then “CBS News terrorism consultant” Juan Zarate. Both offered an identical analysis: the release of the report would “fan the flames of violence against America.”
On CNN, Candy Crowley still could not say the t-word, and let Mike Rogers argue that evidence of the gravest crimes by government officials should be suppressed because … they will inflame opinion abroad, and possibly lead to demonstrations and violence. Notice that for Rogers, the fact that the US government committed barbarisms more commonly associated with Nazi Germany or Communist China is of no concern. No one should be prosecuted, because, well, because American officials cannot be subject to the Geneva Conventions, which must be observed by every state actor – except the US. And no evidence of crimes by government officials should be released, for fear of undermining faith in said government. Those arguments belong in a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Then this detail from this morning:
Mr. Bush and his closest advisers decided that “we’re going to want to stand behind these guys,” as one former official put it. Mr. Bush made that clear in an interview broadcast on Sunday. “We’re fortunate to have men and women who work hard at the C.I.A. serving on our behalf,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley. “These are patriots and whatever the report says, if it diminishes their contributions to our country, it is way off base.” These are “really good people and we’re lucky as a nation to have them,” he said.
Whatever the report says …”

Denial doesn’t get much clearer than that – and it is of a piece with the reckless disengagement, sickening indifference and grotesque negligence that marked his catastrophic time in the Oval Office. In the wake of the shock of Abu Ghraib, Bush disavowed the atrocities, insisting that they did not represent America, that they were counter to American values, and that he was shocked and disgusted by them. And yet, when a report is imminent outlining acts of torture and abuse far worse than Abu Ghraib, and directly under his own authority, he insists that whatever is detailed in the report, the culprits are heroes and patriots, and “we’re lucky as a nation to have them.”

How does one begin to square that cognitive dissonance? How to explain how a believing Christian can describe brutal torture sessions as things to defend and be proud of? And how can the torture of human beings – and the cover-up of the same – be part of American “patriotism”? This is a man not just without a conscience, but a man proud of it. He had a chance to reflect on what his fateful decision to waive the Geneva Conventions after 9/11 produced; and he has decided to own all of it. And we shall soon see what exactly that is.

My 2 cents: Ah, Republicans, can't live with em can live without them!

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/12/08/the-torture-defenders-fan-out/

Obama Africanus the First -- an article FOR Justice Roberts


When the "conservative" five in particular Justice Roberts called our nation a post racial society as they eviscerated Affirmative Action and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, I would have loved to send this article "Obama Africanus the First" by Geoffrey Stone of the  University of Chicago Law School to the illustrious Justice Roberts.  Along with the immoral killing of two unarmed black men Eric Garner and Michael Brown by white cops with no accountability, I think it says it all!

Obama Africanus the First


Posted: 12/06/2014 7:42 pm EST Updated: 12/07/2014 12:59 pm EST
OBAMA
I've been thinking lately about the persistently vituperative and insulting attacks on President Obama since 2008. It is, of course, commonplace in American politics for presidents to be lambasted for their policies, their programs, their values, and even their personal quirks. Sometimes the tone crosses the line. John Adams was accused by a political opponent of "swallowing up" every "consideration of the public welfare ... in a continual grasp for power." James Madison was demeaned as "Little Jemmy," because he was short. James Buchanan, who once declared that workers should get by on a dime a day, came to be mocked as "Ten Cents Jimmy."

John Tyler, who assumed the presidency after the death of William Henry Harrison, was ridiculed as "His Accidency." Congressman Abraham Lincoln castigated President James K. Polk as a "completely bewildered man." Opponents of Woodrow Wilson's reinstitution of the draft in World War I accused him of "committing a sin against humanity." Critics of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal attacked him as an "un-American radical." Richard Nixon was famously known as "Tricky Dick," and of course he was not "A Crook." At the height of the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson was excoriated by his opponents as a "Murderer" and a "War Criminal."

But no president in our nation's history has ever been castigated, condemned, mocked, insulted, derided, and degraded on a scale even close to the constantly ugly attacks on President Obama. From the day he assumed office -- indeed, even before he assumed office -- he was subjected to unprecedented insults in often the most hateful terms.

He has been accused of being born in Kenya, of being a "secret Muslim," of being complicit with the Muslim Brotherhood, of wearing a ring bearing a secret verse from the Koran, of having once been a Black Panther, of refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance, of seeking to confiscate all guns, of lying about just about everything he has ever said, ranging from Benghazi to the Affordable Care Act to immigration, of faking bin Laden's death, and of funding his campaigns with drug money. It goes on and on and on. Even the President's family is treated by his political enemies with disrespect and disdain.
If one browses even respectable websites, one can readily find bumper stickers, coffee cups, and tee-shirts for sale with such messages as: "Dump This Turd" (with an image of President Obama); "Coward! You Left Them To Die in Benghazi" (with an image of President Obama); "Somewhere in Kenya A Village Is Missing Its Idiot" (with an image of President Obama); "Islam's Trojan Horse" (with an image of President Obama); "Pure Evil" (with an image of President Obama); "I'm Not A Racist: I Hate His White Half Too" (with an image of President Obama); "He Lies!" (with an image of President Obama); and on and on and on.

Now, don't get me wrong. Every one of these messages is protected by the First Amendment, and people have a right to express their views, even in harsh, offensive, cruel, and moronic ways. We the People do not need to trust or admire our leaders, and we should not treat them with respect if we don't feel they deserve our respect. But the sheer vituperation directed at this President goes beyond any rational opposition and is, quite frankly, mind-boggling.

In part, of course, this might just be a product of our times. Perhaps the quality of our public discourse has sunk so low that any public official must now expect such treatment. Perhaps any president elected in 2008 would have been greeted with similar scorn and disdain. But, to be honest, that seems unlikely.

Of course, there are those who say that this phenomenon is due in part, perhaps in large part, to the fact that President Obama is African-American. But surely racism is dead in America today, right?

One fact that might lend some credence to the theory that racism has something to do with the tenor of the attacks on President Obama is that only one other president in our history has been the target of similar (though more subdued) personal attacks.

In his day, this president was castigated by the press and his political opponents as a "liar," a "despot," a "usurper," a "thief," a "monster," a "perjurer," an "ignoramus," a "swindler," a "tyrant," a "fiend," a "coward," a "buffoon," a "butcher," a "pirate," a "devil," and a "king." He was charged with being "cunning," "thickheaded," "heartless," "filthy," and "fanatical." He was accused of behaving "like a thief in the night," of being "the miserable tool of traitors and rebels," and of being "adrift on a current of racial fanaticism." He was labeled by his enemies "Abraham Africanus the First."
But, of course, race had nothing to do with it then, either.

The Genius Disrupting Cancer -- Sixty Minutes amazing sement

This was the most excellent "Sixty Minutes" segment (see link below) or any other informative news broadcast on cancer I have ever seen. It centered on an amazing man, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who is at the cutting edge of cancer treatment.

I am not a biologist nor do I have any degree in science related subjects but I will give myself a kudo as I have loathed the slash, poison and burn Medieval-like treatments of cancer for a very long time. I loath, too, the pink ribbon phony walks for cancer as that money often goes into administrative pockets and into big pharma as well. Cancer drugs are crushingly expensive and I believe cancer research money generally does not go where it should to find the cancer treatment key -- the cancer gene(s) and individual human genome.

I have been saying as a layman for as long as I can remember when thinking about cancer that the key(s) are in the genetics of cancer and what happens to the individual cell when it cannot put on its brakes and often (not always) metastasizes.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire genius, who is at the center of the segment uses his own money and is nothing short of wonderful. I wish I could work in his milieu. I might even work for free!

Keep going, Dr. Soon-Shiong, your genius amazes me.

The link to the "Sixty Minutes" segment is here and below and is worth the short time it takes to view it.
 

Also worth reading is: "The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/billionaire-doctor-fights-cancer-in-unconventional-way/

Congratulation Voters


Tired of saying vote Democrats into office.  It is obvious but I will say it anyway. Get the message out and vote Democrats into office.  It is clear what will happen if you do not!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Peter Pan Grows Up--A Review


Allison Williams as "Peter Pan" was astoundingly good and eminently multi-talented in this modern day version of the classic.  Watching her was worth watching the epic long show.  She was as wonderful as she is lovely to watch.  She combined, an ability to act, an ability to sing and an ability to dance (and fly) with ease. 

The biggest question for me, a lover of the black and white 1950's show staring Mary Martin and the great Cyril Richard, was would it measure up to that historical treasure.  I think, in large part, with its vibrant color alternative to the black and white dull of yesteryear it did. 

Christopher Walken, while talented and decent for the role of Captain Hook did not, for me, compare with the great Cyril Richard.  Who really could?  There was only one
tall, haughty, hateful, and frightening character of Hook.  Richard who, in very Shakespearean fashion, uniquely captured Hook's essence and is, I believe, historically cemented in that role. 

Small criticism goes to the character of Smee, Hook's pirate servant on the ship Jolly Roger.  The criticism is not so much for his performance but rather for his essence.  I thought the role, as in the 1950's version, belonged to a more elderly and physically feeble man instead of the tattooed young body builder who could take Hook down physically in a heartbeat.  I was hard pressed to see this Smee subservient to anyone.  It is though small criticism in an otherwise excellently played "Peter Pan" and Allison Williams contributed in no small part to that. Kudos, too, to the rest of the cast.

Peter Pan, I am glad to see, still lives even though the production is all grown up!


Friday, December 05, 2014

The Police in America Are Becoming Illegitimate by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone

I LOVE Matt Taibbi. I just bought his book "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap" and I have a hard copy of "Griftopia." If anyone knows how Wall Street has utterly fleeced America he does and how hypocritical it is to make the poor pay for trivial matters by legions of police descending on their neighborhoods while the rich on the upper east side rarely see a cop on the beat.  The rich who put us and the world in a whole heap of dung get off scott free--no one was jailed for the Wall Street perpetrated Great Recession. There oughta be a law. Oh there is? As the great Gilda Radner would say "Never mind."

Matt is a brilliant writer and one of the most articulate journalists on the scene today. I could not have written this piece better myself .

I post it here or below for your reading pleasure.


http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-police-in-america-are-becoming-illegitimate-20141205?page=2

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Laws That Killed Eric Garner

EXCELLENT ARTICLE I STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU READ IT TO MAKE SENSE OF THOSE THINGS THAT MAKE NO SENSE!

The Laws That Killed Eric Garner

From Ferguson to Staten Island, America's Failure of Justice

By Jay Michaelson
No Justice, No Peace: Demonstrators protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
My hands are quaking with rage right now, but I will choose to write rationally. I can’t believe this has happened again, and happened here, in my own backyard.
“This” being a grand jury failing even to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black man. Not even a trial. Not even a public hearing of the evidence.
And this time with a video of the entire incident, which is your moral responsibility to watch.

But I fear that my own city is soon to be engulfed in violence, and the violent people are right. So for that reason, I will try, if I can, to take refuge in reason, and in law.
It’s true that the forces that killed Eric Garner include white supremacy, racism, anger, violence, fear, a broken criminal justice system, a broken healthcare system, and ignorance. And yet another overreacting white police officer.

But I want to focus on law, because it’s something we can do something about. Right after the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, after all, the Bible famously goes into a thousand tiny details of mishpatim, laws. By detailing everything from rules of evidence to the damages for a stolen lamb, the book of Exodus makes a strong claim: that the lofty moral imperatives of Sinai only have meaning if they are translated into just laws. The God is in the details.

American law, however, helped kill Eric Garner – and it will kill more black men like him in the future. Specifically, there is a lethal nexus between judicial deference to police officers on the one hand, and the expansion of police power on the other. Each alone is problematic, but together, they make justice nearly impossible.
First, courts have held for decades that the rules of engagement change in the context of an arrest. For example, police officers need a warrant to search your car – but if they’re arresting you, they don’t. They perform a “Search Incident To Arrest” (SITA), and are given wide latitude by the courts.

This doctrine makes sense, at its core. If a criminal has a shiv in his pocket, a cop shouldn’t need a warrant to pat him down. But the courts have expanded the doctrine so that all kinds of searches, not merely those protecting the safety of police, are now allowed.

Likewise the use of violence. So far at least, cops can’t just beat up anyone they see on the street. But once they make an arrest, and a suspect resists in any way, then most rules get tossed out the window. Chokeholds, for example, have been banned for 20 years by the NYPD, but that’s just a department policy, not a legal rule.

Legally, it’s very difficult to convict a police officer acting in his official capacity. As we saw in Ferguson and now again in Staten Island, the standards are all out of whack. If there’s some objectively-cognizable reason that an officer might feel in danger, s/he’s off the hook.

That is true, apparently, even in Staten Island. Watch the video again, and it’s painfully obvious that Pantaleo should at least be tried for his misconduct. Yes, Eric Garner is yelling and gesturing – although at a respectful distance from the police officers, before they try to cuff him. His only act of force is putting his hands up, shouting “don’t touch me.” The time from first bodily contact (0:34) to chokehold (0:38) is four seconds.
There is no way that Pantaleo’s chokehold isn’t at least manslaughter. But because of the structurally broken laws surrounding police conduct, disproportionate force that you can see with your own eyes isn’t even prosecuted.

Add to that the structural disincentives for prosecutors to go after police officers. As Rev. Al Sharpton said today, “we have no confidence in the state grand juries, whether in Ferguson or in New York, because there is an intrinsic relationship between state prosecutors and the police; they depend on the police for their evidence, they run for office and depend on the unions for endorsements.”

We certainly saw this in Ferguson, where prosecutor Bob McCulloch departed from accepted practice and, basically, didn’t prosecute at all, opting instead to lay out all the evidence and let the grand jury reach its own conclusions.

Can you imagine that on a Law and Order episode? “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I’m not going to make a case. Here is the evidence. Reach your own conclusions.”
So far, we have no inkling of what Daniel Donovan, the District Attorney, said or didn’t say to the grand jury. But we do know that Sharpton is right about the structural incentives in place. District attorneys need police cooperation to do their jobs – law and order, after all – and to keep them. The conflict of interest is obvious, even without race playing a role.

That’s the first jaw of the trap: wide deference to police officers, and a justice system incapable of holding them accountable.

The second jaw is “Broken Windows.”

When police were given such wide latitude by the courts, they were mostly arresting dangerous people. But since the 1990s, police tactics have changed. “Broken Windows” policing, first described in a 1982 article but pioneered in New York in the 1990s, rests on the theory that cracking down on small crimes, especially those that set a disorderly tone in neighborhoods, helps prevent big ones.

The evidence suggests that this practice doesn’t work. But whether it does or not, it unquestionably catches more small fish in the law enforcement dragnet.
As we should all know by now, Eric Garner was arrested for selling cigarettes on the street. Not entirely legal, but hardly a serious crime. It shouldn’t even be an arrestable offense – it should be a simple citation.

But then, “Broken Windows” wouldn’t achieve its real goal, which is to get people like Garner off the streets entirely. People like Garner: big people, loud people, slightly ‘off’ people, black people. Can anyone really search their hearts and say that race was not part of why Eric Garner was targeted? And why Officer Daniel Pantaleo so obviously overreacted?

“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” Eric Garner said to the police, a few minutes before they killed him. “I’m tired of it.”
Garner was right, of course.

So, add the two pieces together. Thanks to ‘Broken Windows,’ cops are arresting nonviolent, disproportionately black petty criminals all the time. And thanks to the laws governing police conduct, they then get wide latitude to beat the hell out of them, even kill them.

I’ve focused on these two elements, rather than race, because we can fix them. ‘Broken Windows’ policing must end, full stop. Even if it does marginally reduce the crime rate (which it appears not to), the costs – loss of life, perpetuation of racism, increased violence – are not worth the benefits.

And the legal standards of review for police conduct must change as well. All cops should wear cameras – even though clearly that didn’t help in Garner’s case. Legal rules with little common-sense meaning must stop giving carte blanche to those meant to protect and serve.

Let me add that this should be done for the benefit of police officers as well as those they police. Most cops aren’t bad cops. They deserve the trust of the neighborhoods they police. But they won’t get that trust when the legal decks are so stacked in their favor.
Having gone through this legal exercise, I now find it lacking. I don’t feel any less angry than I did at the beginning. I’m supposed to feel a sense of Jewish purpose now – we can fight for these changes, and be prophetic, tikkun olam, and all that. Here’s how we put our values into laws, and bend our laws toward justice.

But actually, all I feel is rage.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Choked-Up Fix It or Regret It


There are times when nation states do something so egregious, so heinous, and so wrong that one is lost for words.  It seldom happens that I am lost for words but since the November electoral "shellacking," as the president termed it, this person of humanitarian principle does not know what to do or what to say.

The murder of an unarmed Black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri and the non-indictment of the police perpetrator, makes persons of good will wax incredulous at a system that could do such a thing. 

Again, in the face of such clear facts determined by video cam an injustice was perpetrated by police officers, the very entity that is supposed to protect us.  They willfully murdered a sweet Black man, Eric Garner, by choke-holding him to death over something important?  NO over something so minor and trivial as selling single so called “loosey” cigarettes on a street corner.  It defies credulity.  There are no words I can write to convey my dismay for all those cruel events befalling our nation in our time.  As Martin Luther King said “an injustice to anyone is an injustice to everyone” and I feel that sense of injustice today.

I am choked up with tears for those close to the innocent Black victims of police over-reaction, I am choked up with tears for the Black community who feel outraged and scared to send their innocent sons out for a package of Skittles lest he wind up dead and I am choked up with tears for our nation that cannot seem to rise above those slave ships carrying people of color here against their will to toil in misery nearly three hundred years ago.  The effects of those ships carrying its human cargo are long-lasting even until this day.  Why in 2014 are we as divided as if it were 1860 on the precipice of the Civil War?
 
I am choked up with rage that a Party of white, mostly the Republican Party of our meager two party system, since our first Black president was elected has dedicated itself to foiling every single attempt by this president to help the nation out of its terrible malaise and insulted him at every turn.  I am choked up with rage that our first Black president has received more death threats than any president preceding him.  I am choked up with rage that Jim Crow flies again this time with voter suppression one of many tactics in Republican-controlled states to keep Republicans in office by denying Democrats the vote.
 
I am choked up with tears that no matter how hard one works if one is either a person of color or a part of 98% America we have a sense of alienation and anomie that the land of our birth is not really ours anymore. 

I am choked up with rage and with tears that I feel like we, the 98%, are aliens in our own land.  We do not have to be undocumented workers to feel excluded we merely have to be Black, disabled, Hispanic, the elderly or the poor.  How did so many lose so much and gain so little in the infancy of  21st century?

I want my tears dried and my anger quelled.  The only possible way I can see that occurring is if everyone -- black, brown, white, elderly, disabled and others of minority status -- VOTE those out of power who are in the Republican Party of Racist Hate.  Yes, I know both parties are to blame for our frailties but one Party is more to blame than the other.  Fix it now or regret it later!