Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Case Against Bill Cosby

After decades of allegations, some publicized, most not, Bill Cosby has been arrested and charged with aggravated indecent assault. The 78-year-old comedian stumbled in to court in Pennsylvania yesterday for his first appearance where he posted a $1 million bail. The arrest, charges, and court appearance were the first for Cosby who's maintained his innocence for decades. For decades the comedian's legal team has been quick to point out that Cosby has never been charged despite the litany of allegations against him. Allegations we (and by we I mean the black community) long ago thought were dead until a contemporary of Cosby said the one word in relation to the now fallen hero no one except a few little women dared utter. Rapist.


In case you were wondering, the above video clip posted on October 29, 2014 is what led to Cosby's arrest and charges and court appearance this week. Comedian Hannibal Buress called Cosby a rapist and then women, some we knew, many we didn't, came out of the wood work to confirm that yes America's favorite dad, our television father who replaced our absentee father, was at worst a rapist, and at best a molesting perv, allegedly.


Monday, December 28, 2015

No Charges for Officer in Tamir Rice Shooting

When I was about 9 or 10 years old I had this BB gun that I played with about as much as Ralphie from the Christmas Story, which is to say often.  I ate, drank and slept with this thing.  It was ridiculous, actually, looking back on it now.  In any event, I recall one time when the police came to our neighborhood to settle a dispute between my dad and our neighbor over a parking space on the street.  The whole block came outside to watch, which was the norm whenever the police came to pay any one of us a visit.  At some point during this exchange, my dad called out to me to get the keys to his old beat up hooptie of a car so that he could move it as directed by the officers (as per standard operating procedure in the 'hood, cops never came to the block alone; there were always at least 2 or more).  I ran inside, grabbed the keys, and ran (not walked, ran) back outside to where my dad and the officers were standing and handed my dad the keys to his car.  My dad proceeded to move the car, the neighbor dropped his complaint, and the police officers got back in their car and left.  As I walked back to our place, I became aware for the first time that day that I had my BB gun tucked into my waist the entire time the officers had been there.  That realization still gives me goose bumps as much today as it did back then.  All it would have taken was one wrong glance by the officers or one wrong move by me and I wouldn't be typing this story to you right now.

My point is, kids do dumb stuff.  All the time.  That's what they do.  All I can do is pray to God that when they do said dumb stuff, they don't do it in the presence of today's trigger-happy law enforcement like Tamir Rice did when he was seen walking around outside with a pellet gun.  The cops pulled up and immediately opened fire on Tamir, killing him.  No questions were asked, only shots fired.  The only thing that has become more common than the killing of young black men by the police is the rate at which those same officers are not held responsible for their actions by local prosecutors.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

R. Kelly and Scapegoating Black Men

Ok. There are a couple of things which I should point out before this short little post. (1) I am not an R. Kelly fan. I don't like or listen to R. Kelly's music. I know at most just two songs of his. There is very little modern R&B that I listen to as on balance I find the genre in its current incarnation to be about as soulful as Pat Boone and Lawrence Welk eating spam and mayonnaise sandwiches while riverdancing to Muzak. (2) Although in some states, including my own, the age of consent is 16, I don't have much respect for any grown man (i.e. over 21) who is doing anything with someone who is under 18. I think such action is distasteful when it's not outright criminal. Apparently R. Kelly has a new release and like any other musician in his position he wants to drum up interest. For some reason he or his oh so skilled top notch management/marketing team thought that it would be worthwhile for him to appear on Huffington Post Live with feminist Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to discuss this release and other things. The interviewer wanted to get into the accusations of sexual misconduct. R. Kelly didn't want to discuss those allegations. So this interview went about as well as you might expect. You can watch it here. Basically R. Kelly lost his cool, made an ill-fated attempt to compliment Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani and then left the premises in a huff. R. Kelly knows his history. And he's old enough to know how America works. He must have been deluded to think this interviewer would not have asked questions about the past accusations against him. Let me reiterate that I don't give a flying fig newton about R. Kelly, his music, his pocketbook or his well being. He's meaningless to me. What I do care about though, is the ease with which the American media (both white AND black) can so easily and consistently make a black man the face of a larger public issue- in this case pedophilia/teenage groupies- and the self-righteousness which some people bring to bear on anyone who doesn't accept faulty logical premises about what makes good art.


Book Reviews: Soft Target

Soft Target
by Stephen Hunter
What do you do when your most impressive hero has finally gotten a little bit too old to be a believable butt kicker? Why if you're Stephen Hunter you bring in the next generation. Although they were introduced previously in a book I didn't read (I don't find it necessary to read this series in order), Soft Target finds USMC sniper Ray Cruz (despite the last name and half-Asian ancestry he is Bob Lee Swagger's son with all of the traditional Swagger skill at fast thinking and instinctive violence) and his half-sister news reporter Nikki Swagger caught up in a Black Friday terrorist attack on the Minneapolis Mall of America. Bad guys shoot Santa Claus and round up over a thousand hostages. Nikki is reporting on the incident. She also plays an important role in combating the attackers because after all, she has her Daddy's steel trap brain. Ray is caught inside the mall with his wife (or is it girlfriend, I can't recall and it is so not important) and her family. And Ray doesn't have any weapons with him. But Swaggers Die Hard (and yes this does read like a particularly bad ripoff of those movies) and Ray Cruz soon has a plan. He also has someone to help him, an Ebonics speaking black woman with a bad attitude. The bad guys are cartoonish Somalis who are more interested in rape, molestation and telling bad goat jokes than they are in the stated goal of avenging Osama Bin Laden. Their Imam is a conflicted and possibly gay man who tries to deny his tendencies by overindulging himself with Hustler magazine. But of course as you might expect in this sort of story the Somalis aren't even smart enough to pull this attack off by themselves. There's a shadowy mastermind. FBI Sniper Dave McElroy is watching the carnage take place. But he has no orders and no shot. As has seemingly become his practice now Hunter creates caricatures of liberals that read as if they are straight from Fox News. All the liberals in Soft Target are mushy she-men who dither and dally and get people killed. The primary and most offensive example of this is head of the Minnesota State police, Douglas Obobo, who is the son of a Black Kenyan Harvard graduate student and a White American Radcliffe Anthropology major. Obobo is a good looking charismatic Harvard Law Graduate who "despite the fact that he never broke a case, arrested a suspect, won a gunfight, led a raid, or testified in court" has risen inexorably to ever more lucrative and powerful jobs in law enforcement, helped along by an adoring media and his public affairs guru David Axelrod Renfro. 

There are rumors that Obobo will be the first black head of the FBI. Obobo (and I'm just guessing here that the name was chosen less for any Kenyan antecedents and more for the resemblance to the name Bozo) is a new kind of law enforcement official who believes in talking things out. He has an unshakable belief in his own abilities of persuasion and communication. He dislikes other cops much more than he does criminals. He has a smooth baritone. And he gets highly irritated whenever anyone questions him. Gee, I wonder who Hunter had in mind here

Monday, December 21, 2015

Movie Reviews: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
directed by J.J. Abrams
My Dad took my brother and me to see the first Star Wars movie all those years ago. That is a good memory. It was quite the event. Afterwards we had a great steak dinner at Flaming Embers. Good times. So I was interested to see the new Star Wars movie, even though I was a little leery of the director. Now I am unfamiliar with and don't really care about all of the expanded universe stuff that never made it to the canonical films. SO maybe some of those questions are answered there. But as far as I can tell at the end of the first trilogy, the good guys won. The Emperor and Darth Vader were defeated. The Republic was restored. Wasn't that the case? Apparently if that happened it wasn't for long. Because in The Force Awakens, the Empire or at least an Empire inspired bunch of counterrevolutionaries, has been reconstituted as The First Order. We know that these are the bad guys because they have storm troopers and prefer a Nazi inspired sartorial color scheme of red, black and white. Some of the crowd scenes also appear lifted from Pink Floyd's The Wall. The bad guys and bad girls all appear quite dashing if you're into that sort of thing. And what do these folk want to do? They want to do the same thing the bad guys and girls always want to do. Take over the world! Or in this case the Universe. Again, maybe this was all explained elsewhere but for me anyway a tiny little bit of exposition would have been helpful. The First Order has a tremendous number of soldiers and informers. They're armed to the teeth with the best military equipment. Where did they come from? How did they get so powerful? Are they all disgruntled ex-Empire soldiers who were dismissed from their positions? They are opposed by the Republic and The Resistance. At this point shouldn't The Republic and The Resistance be the same thing? But I guess none of that is really that important in the big scheme of things.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Reviews: Just Before I Go, Ant-Man, The Wannabe

Just Before I Go
directed by Courteney Cox
This film is superficially interesting on initial view but the deeper you get into it the less it makes sense. Cox relies on some warmed over racist tropes (the black characters are only there to help the white characters find themselves ; the sole black female character is a loud brassy obese woman with a substance abuse problem) and relatively flat motivations for some of the other characters. Although the idea behind the movie (You can't go home again) is a old one I was hoping that Cox would be able to put some oomph into her take on this story. That turned out not to be the case. Part of the problem was that the story tried to reach for American Beauty levels of subtext and *important* storytelling while remaining wed to American Pie levels of crassness and silliness. So everything is uneven. The hero's motivation is so weakly defined that I never felt any sympathy or empathy for him. He's an incredibly dull man. And if a male director had crafted a role for Kate Walsh where 90% of her character's scenes involved pleasuring herself while semi-topless in front of her brother-in-law, I imagine that some people would start screaming sexism. There are some directors who can very easily make bittersweet comedy/dramas or "dramedies". Cox isn't one of them yet. Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) is a man in his late thirties/early forties who feels (not strongly because he doesn't seem to have strong feelings about anything) that life has passed him by. He doesn't have any career path that beyond a dead end lower management job at a pet supply store. His wife (Elisha Cuthbert) cheats on him with her guitar instructor. In the ensuing divorce she accuses Ted of just stumbling through life without any purpose or excitement. She gets no passion from Ted. And apparently that is why she decided to hitch a ride on another man's train. How Ted's personality failings morally justify her adultery isn't clear but her criticism clearly cuts Ted to the bone. He's left reeling after being dumped. He feels worthless and inept.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Detroit Water Bills Redux

Another day, another bad story out of Detroit concerning payment of bills. We've discussed this before. Not much has changed. There is still a big mess. It's a perfect storm of massive unemployment and underemployment, poverty, bad consumer decision making, poor record keeping and accounting by the Water Department and malicious gamesmanship by landlords and speculators. All of this has meant that there are some people who simply won't pay their water bills because they have had the accurate perception that they can get away with not doing so mixed with a population of people who simply don't have the resources to regularly pay their water bills. Poverty is real and limits people's ability to enjoy life. Perhaps some of the people in this latest story should not be shamed but rather all of us should be ashamed for having built a society in which large numbers of people have no opportunity to get ahead. It doesn't matter how much moral opprobrium you vent at someone for their life choices. If they don't have the money, they don't have the money. But public utility bills must be paid. I have little sympathy for someone who makes sure that their cable bill is paid but the water bill isn't. When someone does that they're telling you loud and clear what is most important to them. And it's not the water bill. If you use a service you should pay for it. Without everyone agreeing to that basic deal, society doesn't work. Things fall apart. People at the higher end of the income and wealth spectrum start to resent paying for those they see as deadbeats and freeloaders and become more receptive to the idea of starving the public sector of funds (except for military and police and fire). And people at the lower end of the income and wealth spectrum become more receptive to the idea that virtually every "need" should be provided for by the government free of charge. Throw in some racial resentments around gentrification and the idea that the Water Department has devious reasons for shutoffs and demanding payment and you get  this situation. How do you survive without running water for more than two years? First, get a trash can. Put it under the roof to collect water to flush the toilet. Then, get a bucket and remember what your grandparents taught you in the early 1950s, before indoor plumbing reached all of rural America. “You use your brain. You scramble. You survive because you’re used to dealing with nothing,” said Fayette Coleman, 66, who grew up fetching water from wells in Belleville. She hasn’t had running water in her Brightmoor house since May 2013. The crumbling home is one of at least 4,000 in Detroit — and perhaps many more — whose water was never turned back on after massive shutoffs attracted international attention last year. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Music Reviews: Richard Thompson 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

I have always enjoyed Richard Thompson's music from his initial days as guitarist with folk/rock group Fairpoint Convention to what I think of as his most critical musical period with his then wife Linda and his later peripatetic solo career. Thompson remains one of the best living unheralded songwriter/guitarists which I why I mentioned him before here. Anyway I ran across a video of Thompson performing his song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. Like much of Thompson's work this song combines Scottish/English folk music with American blues and country for a sound that's unmistakably all his own. I think that this piece is one that people will still be singing fifty or sixty years from now. It's a sad song but many of the best ones are. Young love, death and transcendence, this composition hits all the emotional high and low points. I like music that tells a story. It seems as if fewer songs can do that these days. Thompson's songwriting often manages to be somber and optimistic at the same time which is quite a neat trick. Anyway if you have a chance to see Thompson you should take it. He's quite the musician. This song is only a very small example of his capacities. If Trump gets elected perhaps he will force out the British Thompson from his residence in the United States. After all Thompson is a Muslim. So if we believe Trump and his mouth breather supporters, how can we really know what nefarious plans this guitarist has in mind?

Why Some People Don't Deserve A Dog

I ran across this article the other day. My husband and I did the unthinkable: We returned our 5-month-old puppy to her breeder despite the fact that our family loved her and thought she was adorable. I work from home most days and thought that would make housetraining easier, but I soon realized it made it harder because there was no set schedule or routine for Eevee. Some days she wouldn’t go in the crate at all. Other days she would be in the crate for three to four hours. At a six-week training course, we were told to put Eevee in the crate several hours a day even when I was home. I would lure her into the crate with treats and pretend to go out, but Eevee was smart enough to sense I was still home. She would bark and whine until I let her out again. I soon realized that Eevee wasn’t Lambic, and much like children, no two dogs are alike. Plus, my husband and I were used to an older dog that knew our family’s patterns and rhythms and didn’t need the constant attention and discipline of a 2-year-old child.The hardest part about the entire situation was telling our daughter. She had promised to help take care of Eevee, and for the most part, she did. But as much as she was willing to walk the puppy and play with her, it wasn’t enough, and it didn’t ease our stress. People like this sadden me. The whole point of having a dog is that dogs are companion animals. Most of them thrive on human contact and love. If you get a good dog and treat it well you will have a friend for life, tragically short as its life will be compared to yours. A dog is not a toy to be put away in the closet or discarded when you lose interest in it. These people should be well known by every breeder and animal shelter out there so that no one ever again makes the mistake of sending another dog home with them. It is true that sharing your space with a puppy who will eventually turn into a dog can be challenging. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Scalia and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations




U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia waits during an introduction before speaking at the University of Minnesota in October 2015. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia again stirred controversy in the high court with his questions on Wednesday during a hearing regarding the race-conscious admission plan at the University of Texas at Austin, appearing to scoff at the value of diversity at selective universities by sharply questioning whether African Americans might instead be helped by “having them go to a less-advanced school . . . a slower-track school where they do well.”


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have thought he was simply debating the merit of race-based admissions at the University of Texas. But he lit a fire when he cited a friend-of-court brief that argued some blacks would do better at “slower-track” schools instead of being “pushed ahead in classes that are too fast” for them.


Scalia’s comment came from “mismatch theory,” which ironically advocates for the soft bigotry of low expectations.


According to its proponents, affirmative action harms students who aren’t ready for a strenuous academic environment. In a ripple effect, they will avoid struggle by opting for easy majors or dropping out altogether. Therefore, it’s best that they be guided to the shallow end of the educational pool: less-selective institutions where they can be more comfortable and successful.


The only thing new about the mismatch theory is the name. It’s actually the same old institutionalized racism that steered generations of African Americans into trade schools instead of universities. It’s the pernicious whisper beneath current suggestions that perhaps college isn’t for everybody.


The mismatch theory gets one thing right: Under-prepared black students will struggle at a demanding educational institution.


I know, because I was one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Make America Great Again?


WOW!  Well Mr. Trump, the list is growing.  So far, you  have a majority of both Republican and Democratic candidates for POTUS; Vice President Dick Cheney; Speaker Paul Ryan; the Prime Ministers of Britain and France; and countless others speaking out against you.  You’ve done it.  You cracked the code!  You have universally pissed people off by saying you want a “total ban” on Muslims.
 
I can’t lie, I’m actually happy that Trump is doing so well.  To me, Trump’s campaign (and huge lead in the polls) only highlights what most rational folks already knew:  the majority of the Republican Party’s supporters want a country that supports their beliefs ONLY.  American values REALLY means White American Values.
 
To be honest, I have NO idea what “American values” mean anymore.  There was a time when I thought the beginning of the Declarations of Independence’s preamble represented “American values”: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
 

Donald Trump: Racist White Man's Badass Revenge

Donald Trump is the walking unalloyed id of fearful white reactionaries. He says what a lot of people are thinking (if you believe that various online comments are a window into some people's souls) but until recently have not said out loud in mixed company. Trump opened his presidential campaign with slurs against Mexicans and Hispanics. He has continued it with broadsides against and snide comments about Blacks, the media, disabled people, President Obama, Jews, women he finds uppity, and of late, Muslims. It is arguable as to whether Trump truly believes all that he says. Much of what he says is demonstrably untrue. There were not thousands, hundreds or even dozens of American Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9-11 attacks. Black people do not commit 81% of murders. And so on. And it would be neither wise nor constitutional, as Trump suggests, to employ religious tests for immigration to and ultimately citizenship in the United States. The US military and law enforcement agencies should not and must not, as Trump has suggested, go after the families of suspected or convicted terrorists. And Muslims should not be forced to have special IDs or sign up for a database. Trump thinks that the United States should use a religious test for entry into this country. And the test would be simple. If you are a Muslim, you don't get to enter. How he would square that with the Constitution is anybody's guess. Obviously, for quite a lot of people, apparently most especially Trump, the election of a black man to the highest office in the land was a severe shock from which they've never truly recovered. As a result some folks think if that Barack Hussein Obama can do it, I KNOW I could. It's one thing to think that the President is incorrect on this or that issue or even incompetent. That comes with the job. But when you, as at least some Republicans do, view the election of a black man as prima facie evidence that something has gone very badly wrong in the system then you're playing with some very dangerous forces.

For some people, the fact that the President is black, regardless of how much of a centrist/Eisenhower Republican Obama can be, means that America is in decline and must be restored. Those are the people to whom Trump speaks. I don't think that Trump is a stupid man by any means. However I don't believe he's as smart as he would have us conclude. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Reviews: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams
By Stephen King
I am always fascinated by artists or other performers who are at the top of their game. Whether it's watching Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing three saxophones at once, Stephen Curry making other professional basketball players look silly or Bruce Lee demonstrating his one inch knockout punch it's a beautiful thing to experience. We only see the finished product but don't see all the hard work it took to get there. Stephen King is one of America's, maybe the world's greatest writers. And he's still got it. This is a collection of short stories which were all new to me though several of them were previously published in slightly different forms in such magazines as Playboy, Esquire, The New Yorker or The Atlantic. So if you're an King collector/fanatic you may already be familiar with some of these tales. But as King says as far as he is concerned no story is every really done until the writer is dead. King says one question that people always ask him is where he gets his ideas. King states that the question is essentially unanswerable. Nevertheless he gives an introduction to each story which provides the reader an entry into his state of mind at the time of the story's creation. He even occasionally explains exactly where and how he thinks the story germinated. So there's that gift for those of us who want to know how the magic works. King also announces that he does not do confessional fiction but then declares that obviously as he ages ideas about what happens next and what do we leave behind start to come more and more to the forefront. And his near death experience after being hit by an inattentive driver has seemingly become something which well, haunts his writing, might be too strong of a phrase but informs his work, would not be. So like everyone else King is a man of paradoxes and contradictions. Go figure. Although King is known as a horror writer, that's not necessarily a title he seeks out. He tells the story of being sent to the grocery store by his wife and being accosted by a woman who chides him for writing all those scary supernatural stories. She wants to know why can't he write a nice uplifting story like "Shawshank Redemption". King replies that actually he wrote that story. The woman responds "No you didn't". And King can't convince her otherwise. Perhaps this collection can be of interest to people who think that King can only write supernatural or downbeat stories. Even where there is a supernatural element it is extremely well integrated with the rest of the story. I think that about half of the stories in this book do not have any supernatural components. You will have to decide for yourself if they are uplifting or not.

Movie Reviews: No Escape

No Escape
directed by The Dowdle Brothers (John Erick and Drew)
This was an exciting and well directed movie with only a few events that didn't make sense. Ok maybe it had more than a few things that didn't make sense. But it was still a thrill ride albeit perhaps a subtly manipulative one. There are some deeper questions about planetary fairness and corporate neo-colonialism that the film clumsily shoehorns into the narrative as a vaccine against charges of bigotry. These questions are still worth thinking about. For example, you may well believe that it's wrong that half the world's population lives on less than $3/day, doesn't have access to clean drinking water or toilet facilities, or has to deal with diseases and conditions long since eradicated in the West. You may blame Western imperialism, colonialism and racism for this state of affairs. Perhaps you sympathize somewhat with Third World socialist or nationalist movements or parties who seek to alter this state of affairs. Perhaps. However if someone who has suffered thru these repressive living conditions decides that they are entitled to beat, rob, rape or murder you in order to exorcise their bad feelings and settle the score, I'm betting any sympathy you had for their plight vanishes. So there's that. Brothers John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle, who also wrote and directed As Above, So Below and Quarantine, directed this movie. No Escape had a horror movie sensibility to it but then again the worst horrors are other people. One can argue about whether some of the behaviors depicted in this film would really happen but there's thousands of years of history to show that they would. If enough people get the idea that they can let their worst instincts run loose with no repercussions, well you get things like the Opelousas Massascre, Kristallnacht, St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre and so on.
It is really important to re-emphasize how well this film is edited and put together. You feel as if you are actually there. This is the sort of movie which may have you yelling at the screen. The camera work moves smoothly back and forth between close handheld views and more panoramic vistas.

Game of Thrones Season Six Trailer Tease

Well there's not much here nothing new here of course but then again it is a tease. In fact this is less of a tease and more of a reminder how just how much the Starks have been screwed over. There are plenty of hints in book and show that Bran has a big part to play in whatever the end game is going to be. But who knows if that part will be for good or bad. Bran may well end up transcending such petty concerns as Stark revenge or other political concerns. For all we know Bran could wind up making people ask why didn't someone take him out when he was young. We shall see. Most of the big narrative events in the published books have already been depicted in the show. I am looking forward to the new season, upset that there is not yet a new book to read, and disappointed that the final conclusion to the story will be revealed on television before print.

Hannah Duston: Heroine?

The other day I was reading thru the latest Quarterly Journal of Military History. I'm not sure I saw enough to justify the $13 purchase price but I did read about the story of Hannah Duston. I hadn't known about this story before. I thought it interesting and relevant to today's world. As you know the French and English colonized much of North America. They brought over their national, political and religious rivalries. These conflicts routinely erupted into war. In 1687 during the war that was alternately known as King William's War or the Second Indian War, the Abenaki Native Americans, allied with the French, attacked the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts. They killed 27 English colonists and took captives, including one Hannah Duston, her six day old daughter, and her nurse Mary. Hannah's husband Thomas escaped with the couple's other older children, though some people in Haverhill wondered if he was a coward. Some people thought then and now there's no way Thomas Duston should have been alive if his wife and baby were captured. Thomas' defenders argue that he had responsibilities to his other children to consider. As I've written elsewhere you have to make hard choices in tough situations. Hannah may or may not have been raped. That can't be determined. What is certain however is that the Abenaki military party decided that Hannah's new baby daughter Martha wasn't likely to survive the trip north. And they didn't want to be bothered with the trouble of taking care of a baby. So they killed the infant by dashing her brains out against a tree. 
As you might imagine that didn't go over too well with Mrs. Duston. But she bided her time. She was assigned/sold/gifted to a different Abenaki group. Six weeks later, in New Hampshire Hannah saw her opportunity. Along with Mary and another English captive, a fourteen year old boy named Samuel, she went Lizzie Borden on her captors while they slept. Hannah, Mary and Samuel killed two men, two women and six children.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

**BREAKING NEWS** Mass Shooting in San Bernardino, California

Sadly, these shootings are becoming all too common.  Check out the report at CNN.com.






Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Is ObamaCare Really Falling Apart?

Many people complained about higher premiums during the first Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA (hereafter referred to as ObamaCare) enrollment period. With impressive celerity some media analysts and other ObamaCare supporters haughtily declared that all of those people were liars, frauds or Republican stooges. They were just too stupid to understand the good deal they were getting. Well you may have noticed that we are in the middle of a new ObamaCare enrollment period. And this time the profusion of complaints about sky-high premiums, high deductibles and co-pays, high drug prices, narrow networks or limited coverage simply can't be ignored or dismissed any longer. There's simply too much data available from the public, HHS, the various state insurance commissioners and the insurance companies themselves. Too many people are discovering that caveat emptor remains excellent advice when it comes to ObamaCare. Roughly half of the health co-ops have gone out of business while many insurers are requesting and obtaining double digit percentage increases in premium prices. If you, like most workers, are not receiving double digit raises at your workplace, an 11% increase in your monthly or bimonthly insurance premium presents a problem. Other insurers are hinting that they may leave the exchanges all together. The idea is to make money, not lose money. United Health is estimating an exchange loss of as much as $500 million. The best that supporters of ObamaCare can claim in response to this parade of horribles is that well things always cost more; this is probably the Republicans' fault somehow, and dammit we need single payer now. With the exception of a long shot funding question case argued by liberal apostate law professor Jonathan Turley and another frivolous dispute over who must sign a note saying they disagree with birth control coverage, all of the legal avenues to repeal or destroy ObamaCare have failed. Legally, anyway, ObamaCare is here to stay. The Supreme Court has twice declined to invalidate ObamaCare. Liberals met these Supreme Court decisions with transcendent joy, a Bronx cheer to conservatives, and internalization of the idea that legal victories meant that ObamaCare was a good thing. After all the Supreme Court said so. Anyone who questioned ObamaCare obviously hated people without insurance and wanted them to die. That is what many of the smart compassionate humane people told themselves. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Hopefully you will be able to spend lots of time today with your family and loved ones. And if you can't do that then perhaps you can call them or email/text them. Or if they've passed on then maybe you can take a few moments to remember the good times that you had with them while they were here. Although this holiday has become an excellent excuse to eat your way into a semi-diabetic coma it should really just be about being happy for what you have in life and enjoying the people you know and/or love. Because even though some of those people can get on your last nerve from time to time and make you lose your religion your life wouldn't be the same without them, would it. So yes at many family get togethers there will be the exact same people telling the exact same unfunny jokes or boring stories that they told last year (and for every year before that).  It's what they do. There will be the same dodgy cousins with brand new get rick quick schemes or the peripatetic in-laws that just want to drop off their kid(s) at your house for Thanksgiving dinner while they go off to do evidently more interesting things. There might even be the muleheaded uncle who for purely contrarian and spiteful reasons decides that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to insult some other relative's deeply held religious or political beliefs. But that's all part of the charm. I remember back in the day we used to have Thanksgiving dinner at my paternal grandparents' home. They had a lot of children so as a result I have a boatload of cousins. For a while we kids had to eat in the basement at the children's table. Looking back I don't really understand how that many people ever fit in one house. But in any event we did. And I miss those days. So hopefully you will be somewhere today having experiences that become memories which you and yours will enjoy in later years. And if by chance you are a tumbling leaf far away from kith and kin remember that there are all sorts of nearby homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other institutions devoted to helping the less fortunate among us that could use your assistance on this day especially. Not everyone is blessed to be able to spend the entire day cooking, eating, attending parades, talking or watching football. Some folks are trying to decide where they can sleep, how to stay warm or if they will be able to eat. So if you have some time or resources and no family to spend them on today keep in mind there are numerous people who would be delighted to have your help. In any event everyone here at The Urban Politico hopes you have a great day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke Kills Laquan McDonald

Another day, another black person killed by a cop. Based on past experiences there will almost surely be brain dead trolls popping up like mushrooms across social media who will start bleating "what about black-on-black violence" or claim that unless we are law enforcement officials ourselves that we can never really walk in an officer's shoes and thus have no right to judge. Both of those things are stupid deflections. But just for the record, the black criminals who mostly kill other black people and occasionally kill white people, are usually promptly arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced. They don't have (nor should they have) aggressive unions defending them, bosses who will lose evidence, prosecutors who will delay charging them and a friendly media and supportive public (jury pool) who will often frame the worst actions in the most benign light possible. And to the second common deflection, of course police have the right to self-defense and to use deadly force to protect others. No one questions that. If someone is stupid enough to attack a police officer who is acting within the law and gets themselves shot for their trouble you won't find me shedding many tears. No. And whether they like it or not, police officers are indeed not above the law. When they do wrong they should be held to account just like everyone else. Our society can't or rather shouldn't function with a caste of people who can kill at will with no repercussions or consequences. The problem here is that American police officers are overly aggressive towards black people, regardless of whether said black people are committing crimes or not. And when force is used against a black person, it's often considered to be justified, regardless of the actual facts of the case. Cops are very quick to use force against black people, no matter if there is an objective threat or not. Tennis players minding their own business get tackled. Recalcitrant children are slammed to the ground or dragged across classrooms. Men allegedly selling tax free cigarettes are choked to death. Someone driving without a license who might owe child support is shot in the back. Blackness in and of itself seems to justify the force. We've seen this over and over and over again. The most recent example, or rather the example that we just found out about occurred in Chicago in 2014, where CPD officer Jason Van Dyke killed Laquan McDonald. He shot him sixteen times. He shot him when McDonald was on the ground. According to details of the charges released in bond court Tuesday, Van Dyke was less than an hour into his overnight shift on the night of the shooting when a call came over the police radio at 9:47 p.m. of a citizen holding McDonald after he had been caught breaking into trucks and stealing radios in a parking lot near 41st Street and Kildare Avenue. Another unit responded first and said over the radio that McDonald was walking away with a knife in his hand, Assistant State’s Attorney William Delaney said. At 9:56 p.m., a beat car reported that McDonald had “popped the tire on their squad car,” Delaney said.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Reviews: The Grey King

The Grey King
by Susan Cooper
This book was a gift from my maternal aunt all those years ago. It's something I like to pull out and re-read or just skim from time to time. It always brings back good memories of Washington D.C and North Carolina and other southern places. It's funny how gifts can become associated with particular times and places. Anyway, nostalgia aside this book holds up and then some to the fantasy series of today. Like the best books which are aimed at children, this book can be understood at different levels by children and adults. Cooper didn't write down to children nor did she dumb stuff down.  To be fair this book is probably aimed at older children. Although obviously children wouldn't always understand or relate to many of the sexual or violent urges that lay behind a culture's unifying myths, children certainly understand jealousy, fair play, betrayal and meanness. And all of those things are on display in The Grey King. The Grey King is the fourth of Cooper's five book series, The Dark Is Rising. I believe I read one of the earlier entries in the series. One day I will need to go back and read the series from start to end. But The Grey King stands alone. It helps to have read one of the previous stories but it's not necessary. As you can no doubt guess from the title of this series this is about, what else, the epic battle between Good and Evil (Light and Dark) for all the marbles, life, the universe and everything. What makes this book interesting among other characteristics is that, much like F. Paul Wilson does in his Repairman Jack series, Cooper posits a good that at its core is something which is beyond human capacity to understand or accept.  After all if you are concerned with the entire universe, whether one human finds love, lives or dies is perhaps not of much import. As one character says: "But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law or the white burning of the sun. Other things, like humanity and mercy and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh sometimes they are there; often indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good , ahead of all else. You are like fanatics. Your masters, at any rate. Like the old Crusaders--oh, like certain groups in every belief, though this is not a matter of religion, of course. At the centre of the Light there is a cold white flame, just as at the centre of the Dark there is a great black pit bottomless as the Universe."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Twerking, Sexual Assault, and Double Standards

We've previously discussed the differences between men and women insofar as who's more likely to initiate declarations of sexual interest (men) and who's more likely to reject them or become offended that someone said something offcolor (women). I believe that these tendencies are virtually hard coded between the genders though obviously there are coy men who play hard to get and aggressive women who demand immediate no strings attached sex. But generally men initiate (often after a woman sends a signal) and then women respond. I think that's just the way humans are made. Obviously each culture regulates this dance of life differently.  Some men get in trouble by misreading signals that were meant for someone else or seeing signals that weren't even there.  Serious protocol violations can lead to verbal/physical conflict, police involvement or worse. On the flip side some cultures attempt control over all expressions of a woman's sexuality to the point that her travel is restricted. And in some areas an accusation that a woman was speaking to a man who is not her husband or relative can have very negative results. We generally give negative attention to men in public spaces who shout out double entendre salutations or ruder statements to women. In some quarters this is called "street harassment". Men who do this rarely seem to achieve their desired result though as with lottery winners there's no doubt someone out there who has hit the jackpot. Most women seem to dislike this verbal attention though paradoxically some women who complain about it the most also complain when they no longer receive it. Whatever. Everyone's different. Although reasonable people can disagree about the timing and propriety of approaching a woman on the street, no one could disagree that putting hands (or other body parts) on someone without her permission is grounds for assault charges. It's just not something you do. Well the door swings both ways.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Paris, Terrorism and Politics

On Friday the 13th the group ISIS attacked a concert hall and stadium in Paris because well that's what they do. Over one hundred people died. Many more were wounded. The proximate cause was retaliation for France's support of the bombing campaign against ISIS targets in Syria. The deeper cause could be revenge for a long history of Western intervention in the region. And the deepest cause of all could be, well that the sorts of people who attack civilian targets are cowards and a$$holes. Today France struck back on the ground.The button men are all over the street looking for anyone and everyone who had something to do with the attacks. With few exceptions, these attacks will just make most people even stronger in their previously held convictions. People across the political spectrum immediately used 11-13 to demonize their political opponents or argue that events proved their pet political theory correct. If you are on the right these attacks may have strengthened your conviction that immigration or refugee movement (particularly of racially, culturally or religiously disparate people) needs to be slowed, halted or reversed. Unlike the United States, which theoretically has no formal or informal link between race, religion, ethnicity and citizenship, many other nations in the Old World, especially in Europe, are more or less ethnic homelands of very long standing. When you say that someone is French or German or Japanese that usually brings up a different image in your mind than to say someone is American. This has changed in Europe, particularly Western Europe after WW2, but there are plenty of shall we say self-proclaimed "indigenous Europeans" who strongly dislike these changes. That at least some of the people who carried out the attacks were apparently European nationals of non-European origin will give fuel to various political parties across Europe who want to stop any further demographic transformation. Many people who will vote for a LePen or a Orban are stone cold racists. Nevertheless just as the US didn't accept massive immigration from Germany during WW2, there just might be something to be said for not accepting immigration from countries you're currently bombing. Because some of those folks will surely hold grudges. The fact that some of these grudges are beyond ridiculous (the people who carried out the Madrid bombings were still po'd about the Reconquista) doesn't matter.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Reviews: Devil Dog, The Wheelman

Devil Dog
by David Talbot
The United States was created in a revolution against monarchy. So there is a long standing anti-authoritarian and anti-colonialist streak that runs weakly or strongly through huge portions of the American body politic. On the other hand many of the people who led the revolt against monarchy were slaveowning traditionalists who had no problem with colonialism and hierarchies based on race, class and other immutable characteristics. They were, even while piously making universalist claims about human rights and morality in their revolt against the British throne, eagerly engaged in exterminating or expelling the indigenous peoples in what would become the United States. And of course they wanted the ability to put down slave revolts or revolts of poor whites who got too uppity. (Shay's Rebellion/Whiskey Rebellion) To do this Americans also needed an appeal to authority, a glorification of militarism, aggressive policing, and a strong central government. So these two different streaks are both old and equal portions of the general American character. They aren't going away anytime soon. They are us. One man who may have embodied them both in equal measure at different times was Marine Major General Smedley Butler. Although a Quaker by upbringing, Butler was certainly no pacifist in his youth. He received multiple medals throughout his long military career, leading from the front long after his growing rank should have foreclosed such possibilities. He was in his early days by our current standards a racist man of the Right. Butler was best known for revealing a plot by business interests to overthrow President FDR. Devil Dog is not quite a graphic novel though it makes use of some lurid illustrations more typically associated with that genre. The book also utilizes historical photographs and primary source documentation to tell the story of Butler's life.  Butler had a front row seat to much of the imperialist wars and interventions that the United States fought. Butler gradually moved from someone who followed orders without question to someone who was disgusted with doing the bidding of the not so hidden big business interests. He became a man of the Left. Butler made this abundantly clear in the most famous quote from his book War is a Racket writing:

Thursday, November 12, 2015

#BlackOnCampus: Mizzou, PWIs, HBCUs & The Black Experience


This week we've learned several lessons from the students on the campus of the University of Missouri, Columbia. These key lessons are that 1. Racism is still alive. 2. Black people are still threatened by white people when seeking a better education and future for themselves. 3. Money talks and bull$#!& walks.

The events at Mizzou last week and this week that culminated with the University President and Chancellor resigning their posts have raised many debates about race in America. One in particular has pitted Black scholars against one another. Why do Black students go to PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions) when they can go to an HBCU (Historically Black College or University) instead. Scrolling through my Facebook timeline this afternoon I came across this post:

"Lemme get this straight, black students go to PWI. They're discriminated against and deal with racism. They boycott and protest to enrich and be accepted in white space, meanwhile it's an HBCU down the road struggling to stay open because the lack of black students enrolling... go where you are celebrated. Not tolerated."

I understand this logic but I also find it problematic, not only because I attended a PWI further south than Mizzou, but also because the world is not a place where self-segregation works to the advantage of Black people.


Monday, November 9, 2015

University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe Resigns



Today, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe announced that he would resign.  For those of you not familiar with Tim Wolfe, recently he has been in hot water because students felt he had been complacent in responding to incidents of racism on the campus.
             Students of color at Mizzou, the nick name for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) power house, had determined that enough was enough and they drew the line in the sand in response to Wolfe’s inaction regarding racial incidents at the school.  Some of the recent incidents were: a drunken student shouted the “N” word at members of a black student organization, someone used human feces and drew a swastika on a dorm wall, and people in a pickup shouted racial slurs at the black student government president.   According to the students, Wolfe only gave lip service and did not offer new policies or steps to fix the problem.  This did not quell the students and they wanted him out.

Personally, I am proud to see these young people take civil action and oust the university president.  These kids took serious action to voice their concerns.  Some of them surrounded the president’s vehicle during the homecoming parade and students of color on Missouri’s football team stated that they would not participate in football related activities until Wolfe resigned.  Additionally, one student went on a hunger strike and said he would not eat until Wolfe resigned.   The students’ actions sent a message that black issues matter.  The University of Missouri was forced to listen.  Well done.   See the CNN video report below.
http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/11/09/tim-wolfe-university-of-missouri-president-resigns-sot.cnn

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Movie Reviews: Ex Machina, Welcome to Collinwood

Ex Machina
directed by Alex Garland
This futuristic science fiction film was very well grounded in both the science and the moral questions that scientific advances raise. Unlike many speculative fiction stories Ex Machina was relatively quiet and didn't spend a lot of time invoking violence or showing off special effects. When it did get to those filmic aspects the movie was that much more impressive for doing so at its own leisurely pace. So if you're looking for something with a tremendous amount of nudity or stylized violence this is simply not that film. That stuff is there but only briefly. Long portions of this film are just two people talking. And talking some more. In many aspects this film reminded me of Splice. It also had some very obvious ancestors in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep/Bladerunner and Pgymalion. There might even be a few feminist or depending on how you look at it anti-feminist themes which are explored. Where does our morality come from? Well everyone has different ideas about that based on their religion or lack thereof, internal ethics and philosophy and culture. But most people would agree that the arc of history in what is called the West at least, has generally seen moral considerations extended to more and more out-groups. Or to put it another way, our sense of who deserves moral treatment, who is us, in other words becomes more sensitive over time. Race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion and sexuality are all important identifiers but with few exceptions most people today agree that those should not impact our moral relation to each other. That doesn't necessarily mean we pretend they don't exist, although there's obvious disagreement on that front. No, all that means is that you can no longer openly treat someone as less than or commit crimes against them and be blissfully untroubled by your actions because of their difference. Obviously not everyone has gotten the memo on this but many people at least give lip service to this idea. And that is quite different from the moral standards of say a century ago or even fifty years ago.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Republican Debate Demands

It is surreal that the Republican party, the political party that likes to posit itself as the implacable foe of political correctness and trigger warnings, the party that likes to claim the mantle of tell it like it is muscular masculinity and heterosexual he-man heroics, is wilting like the proverbial pansy in the face of a few tough or mildly irreverent questions from some debate moderators. The same people who were seemingly on the verge of physical release before grilling Hilary Clinton about Benghazi, her email server and anything else for eleven hours can't handle two plus hours of debate questions. They feel that the questions are biased or unfair. They want greater control over the questions, the tone, the time, the format, and oh yes, the thermostat. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Someone asked me tough questions! Mommy make them stop!! Make them stop! It hurts so bad!! It's not fair!
Watching this is like watching Tombstone and instead of seeing Kurt Russell's Sheriff Wyatt Earp tell his enemies that he's coming and hell's coming with him, we see Sheriff Earp curl up in a fetal position with some soy latte and mumble that he's written a very curt letter to the proper authorities about all the mean things those bad men did.They'll be sorry. Pajama Boy Earp complained about them. This is just pathetic. I thought the Republicans were supposed to be the tough guys? They were supposed to be the ones who stood up and showed the rest of us how to live up to the American ideal of heroic individualism. I know that Trump doesn't like to spend a lot of time doing anything where he's not the center of attention. Bush is desperate to have any positive coverage. Carson probably would rather be sleeping than at a debate. But that doesn't mean that they or other candidates should be telling the media how to do its job by sending out the list of below demands and requirements.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Spike Lee Ready to Release Chi-Raq


Overnight the newest Spike Lee Joint trailer hit the interwebs. Chi-raq. The movie stirred up controversy over the summer while it was shooting in the windy city, because of course CPD and Rahm-bo weren't down with the negative portrayal of their city. However, the negativity in the movie only mirrors the violent headlines coming out of Chicago on what seems like a daily basis.

The latest headline out of Chicago causing all types of gasps, and pearl clutching, and "pray for this baby/pray for our babies" statuses on Facebook, Twitter and the 'Gram are over a 9-year-old boy who was shot several times at close range. Tyshawn Lee was executed on the South Side city streets near his grandmother's home in retaliation for gang violence allegedly involving his father.

There is not a week that goes by that this South Side of Chicago native does not see the headlines from her home town and shake her head at the computer screen. But there will be no protests for Tyshawn. Just as there were no protests for the countless other children killed in Chicago over gang violence that didn't involve them. But maybe this movie will be the protest for Derrion Albert, or Hadiya Pendleton, and the other children from infants to 18 of whom I can't remember their names because there are so many. Maybe this movie will finally tell their story through the tale of Lysistrata.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

President Obama: No Boots On the Ground In Syria!

One of the things that drives me crazy in any sort of relationship whether it be professional or personal is when someone changes their mind and/or does the exact opposite of what they said they were going to do. That's bad enough. But hey people change. Facts on the ground change. That's life. I can deal with that. We all have to deal. But, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken what can make me spit on my hands, hoist the black flag and start running berserk is when the person who has just changed their mind or reversed themselves has the sheer audacity to lie to your face and tell you that no they're not changing their mind. You just misunderstood them. Apparently you are just that stupid. It's not their problem that you apparently have a leaky brain. Actually they should get a medal for having to deal with your dumb behind. When dealing with people like this, black is white, up is down and good is evil. It literally does not matter what sort of proof you have of the person making declarative statements that they weren't going to do something. You can provide signed and notarized triplicate forms of the person telling you to do or not do something. Rest assured that none of that matters. The person will simply ignore reality until you agree that yes they were right all along. These folks are odious pious devotees of the Church of Cover Thy A$$. No matter what they are always right. If they predicted rain yesterday but it doesn't rain then as far as they were concerned they didn't predict rain. They are always right. Bottom line. It's easier to avoid these sorts of people in my personal life but unfortunately they are tremendously over represented among upper management and Presidents.

Remember that President Barack Obama made definitive statements that he would not put boots on the ground in Syria. Period. End of story. Also remember that after a rather public Hamlet like internal debate President Obama tried and failed to get Congress to authorize ground troops in Syria. Now in a functioning republic that's the end. Unfortunately we lack a functioning republic. We have one in which Presidents (Obama wasn't the first and won't be the last) have seized for themselves the right to attack, bomb and invade countries without any sort of Congressional permission. So yesterday we saw White House spokesman mouthpiece Josh Earnest announce that US Special Forces troops would be on the ground in Syria (they're probably already there). According to Mr. Earnest this didn't contradict the President's prior assertions. Also according to Mr. Earnest this didn't fall under the War Powers Act. Mr. Earnest claimed this was legal despite the fact that the government of Syria didn't invite US Special Forces. Mr. Earnest claimed that the 2001 AUMF gave the President all the authority he needed. That the President believes that a law created for one country and one organization gives him authority to interfere in another country without Congressional or for that matter United Nations approval is telling.


Book Reviews: Detroit: An American Autopsy, Finn Family Moomintroll

Detroit: An American Autopsy
by Charlie LeDuff
Charlie LeDuff is a local "Caucasian" (more on that in a minute because it is relevant) Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, gadfly, pain in the a$$ and media showman who, after journalistic stints in New York, Los Angeles and a few other places circled back to Detroit to become a reporter for the Detroit News, one of two major local daily newspapers. LeDuff grew up close to Detroit, in the local suburb of Westland or as he puts it, the only city that he knows of that was named after its shopping mall. LeDuff is an inveterate chronicler of the absurd. And there is, was and probably always will be a lot that is absurd in Detroit and the surrounding areas. This book, is both a love letter to Detroit (and the tri-county area) and also a rambling screed about all the crazy stuff that goes on in the metropolitan area. As I've mentioned before and LeDuff points out constantly, this area has always had a tremendous amount of racial hostility and segregation. That colors (pun intended) every bit of news and information about well, everything. So you could read this book and come away convinced that black political leadership is hopelessly incompetent and completely incapable of running a major city. Or you could read this book and be just as convinced that white racism and greed are fatal flaws in the American political arena that will wind up destroying the nation. LeDuff doesn't explicitly let you know where he stands. He's a reporter. He calls it like he sees it. LeDuff is currently raising a little hell by reporting on the fact that Detroit's new white mayor Mike Duggan, has overseen an extremely suspicious rise in the cost of home demolitions by companies that may or may not be connected to the mayor's friends. So LeDuff would likely state that he doesn't care what color you are, if you're not flying right he's going to call you out. Some people might disagree with that. LeDuff has tons of phone and email messages calling him a "n*****-lover" and just as many others making unpleasant references to his whiteness. You'd have to read the book for yourself and make up your own mind. Detroit: An American Autopsy, examines some of the more infamous events that took place around here from about 2004 to about 2012. These would include such things as the Kwame Kilpatrick text message and municipal corruption scandals, Councilwoman Monica Conyers' various public eruptions of anger and foolishness, the near meltdown of the Big Three auto companies, frozen corpses found in abandoned factories owned by scofflaw billionaires, the perpetual and near hopeless battles of teachers, police officers and especially firefighters to get the equipment they need to do their job safely, and many other failures of public and private leadership and probity that kept Detroit and some other localities in the news. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

South Carolina Cop Assaults Spring Valley High School Student



I used to work with high school students when I was an undergraduate in my 20's.  As teenagers, they can be frustrating to work with and, on occasion, I'd have to have a few tough conversations about discipline and respect.  But at the end of the day, it never occurred to me to put my hands on any of the students under my watch, in part because that's their parents' job, and also in part because of the legal liability that would result, but largely because it would have been flat out wrong.  This video of the police officer assaulting a high school student -- and let's be clear, this is an assault -- takes wrong to a whole new level.  I think the saddest part about the video is the palpable sense of helplessness in the eyes of the other students in that classroom.  That's the sense that you get when you are forced to watch the living embodiment of how Black lives actually do not matter.  I've been reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' book "Between the World and Me" lately and it talks a lot about the impact and control that racism has over the body of Black people.  This is a prime example of that.  If this can be done to our bodies without repercussion, then how do we go about feeling secure in our bodies?

As a parent, we all hope that our children behave as angels 24/7.  But if my daughter should contradict her teachers or refuse to leave a classroom after being told to do so, I would also hope that somebody in this cop's position would think twice before putting their hands on my child in this way. Because as ugly as this video is, I can only imagine how ugly it would get for this officer and his family after I'm done.

Apparently this student had been told to leave the classroom for being disruptive and refused to go.  With that in mind, what are your thoughts about this video:




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ben Carson and Donald Trump Watch the Democratic Debate

It is possible, albeit not likely that either Trump or Carson will be the next President of the United States. For the first time in the race, Carson is moving ahead of Trump in the Iowa polls. Generally the two men have ignored each other. That has started to change. For different reasons I think each man is unqualified to become President of the United States. Trump seems to think that he can run roughshod over the concept of separation of powers (and other countries' interests) by force of his personality and intelligence. Carson believes that the problem is that the previous Presidents have lacked morality and common sense.  From Carson's point of view being President isn't exactly brain surgery. Of course it's hard to always suss out what Carson believes due to his tendency to mumble. Either way the Republican race will continue to be more entertaining than the downright soporific Democratic race. You may have heard that candidate Lincoln Chafee dropped out of the race. His ten supporters were devastated. Everyone else spent about five seconds trying to remember who Chafee was and why he was running in the first place. Anyway, as you might expect Donald Trump did not take the news of Carson's Iowa surge well, first retweeting a snarky comment about Iowans' intelligence and then saying he didn't believe the polls, while taking a shot at Carson's super laid back demeanor.  MIAMI (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump dismissed polls that show him trailing Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa, calling the retired neurosurgeon "super low-energy" before a boisterous crowd in Miami on Friday night. The Iowa polls are a rare setback for the billionaire businessman's campaign. He's leading polls nationally and in other early primary states. Mimicking a television journalist reporting the breaking news of Trump slipping behind Carson, Trump ridiculed his GOP rival. "We informed Ben, but he was sleeping," Trump joked. The crowd roared. He also said the polls in Iowa "are wrong" and said most pollsters "don't like me at all."
LINK
I wonder what Carson and Trump thought of the recent Democratic debate? Fortunately there is footage of their discussion concerning that.