April 3, 2008 archive

God Damn America

Comments from the New York Times City Room blog, regarding the shooting of Sean Bell by undercover officers:

Of course the police will say that they identified themselves. However, no other witnesses at the scene heard them say anything about being police. They’re not exactly disinterested in their testimony.

– Posted by Shel

If the victims who where shot where innocent, Why did they run from the cops? Everything is always racially driven, a white cop shots a black person and Al Sharpton sets charge, What about the White Male who was killed in LONG ISLAND by a Black Male 2 months ago? WHERE THE HELL WAS AL SHARPTON FOR THE WHITE PEOPLE?

– Posted by John

Having served on NYC grand juries several times, I have heard extensive testimony about under cover operations by very brave NYC cops. Almost always the testimony involved serious drug dealing and illegal hand guns being found. The cops’ lives were almost always in danger in these situations. I never saw evidence that the cops acted recklessly.

Without under-cover stake-outs, many more crimes would be committed, and people of all races and economic settings would be in much greater danger from thugs.

The police in places like the Altima operation must actually witness felony crimes taking place or have reasonable grounds to suspect the threat of felony crimes to arrest possible perpetrators. They also must have reasonable grounds for seach and arrest.

They can’t just walk up to suspects and say, “We’re the police. Are you about to commit a felony? If so we wish to search you please.”

This particular situation ended up in a tragedy. Not a racially motivated tragedy. Just a tragedy. But most under-cover cops are brave, sensible, and dedicated, not reckless hot heads.

Trying to ram someone’s car when drunk, whether a police vehicle or a private citizens, certainly helped increase the odds of a tragedy occurring.

In the Altima case: Tragady yes, but clearly not a crime.

People who worry obsessively about police brutality should volunteer to serve on narcotics grand juries in NYC. It’s a real eye opener.

– Posted by realist

I have been struck by a member of the NYPD. My (then

pregnant) wife was threatened by a uniformed officer. We are both white. We do not live in NY. I requested an officer to take the tape [!] from his badge so I could report his number and was told to get “the **** away” or he’d introduce me to his stick.

I do not believe anything a member of the NYPD says.

– Posted by netpedant

When black males collectively start acting like responsible members of society, tragic incidents like the Bell case will go way down. The high incarceration rate of black men, and the widespread assumption that young urban men of color are carrying firearms,is not the fault of cops or Caucasians.

– Posted by James

I firmly believe that there were events that night that warranted police intervention, not for anyone to lose their lives, but when that vehicle charged at the police, it no longer matters if they had a gun or not, they were attempting to run from the cops for some reason, the friends of sean bell, including sean bell, do not have clean police records, they are not generally law abiding citizens, this whole case is very sad, good luck to the jury.

– Posted by Kim

If I am not mistaken at least one of the “victims” had a prior record and this group was “celebrating” the upcomin marriage of one of its members at a sleazy strip club known to be a drug den. You would have to gve the police at least the benefit of doubt under those circumstances.

– Posted by Whatsreallyup

A few years ago, I was put on a Manhattan Criminal Court jury. A man had entered a Midtown 5th Avenue store and stolen a 5? tall glass statue being sold for $ 28,500. It was winter and he tried to hide it under his parka, but it poked out of both the top and bottom. When he ran out of the store, he ran into two patrolmen knocking one to the ground and destroying the statue. He then ran across 5th Avenue and into the side of a taxi. He was immediately arrested by the two policemen. This was at lunchtime on a sunny day so there were hundreds of witnesses.

I say he was guilty, because not only were there hundreds of witnesses but it was all captured on video. Which we saw. Yet we only found him guilty of a lesser charge that sent him to Rikers for 15 days. It was only because we deliberated for two days that he got anything.

The reason for the lesser charge? More than half of the jury were minority and they all felt he was just a patsy. He was also a minority and they believed he was part of an insurance scam by the store and may not even have know he was stealing. They didn’t think he should get any time because the store management organized the crime. They felt he may have been just asked to move the sculpture. They couldn’t believe a minority could enter this store without being immediately surrounded by staff unless it was part of a plan. They also believed the police knew of the plan and were waiting for him.

He did not testify nor did his lawyer mention these possibilities.

It was a very frustrating experience for me. I don’t think we reached the right conclusions. Yet the majority of the jury reached their similar conclusions without ever having met each other beforehand. Their experience with authority and the legal process was clearly far different than mine.

I hope this much more serious case is decided using the law, the facts, and common sense. Whatever the result is, I hope they’re right.

– Posted by Bruce

Sean Bell: arrested 3 times (including once for firearm posession).

Joseph Guzman: arrested 9 times (including once for firearm posession). Spent 5 yrs in prison.

Trent Benefield: arrested 3 times (including once for firearm posession).

I’m sorry this young man is dead, but why such outcry over 3 dangerous law-breakers. Other than companionship to their friends and (presumably) love to their families, what contributions do/did any of these individuals make to society?

Lets get mad when the police mistakenly kill a real achiever, a real contributor… because that happens so often.

No one supports police brutality, but these three were zeros. This circus is just such a waste.

– Posted by surrr

This is America’s most cosmopolitan city, of course.

Conyers threatens impeachment if Iran attacked – Afterdowningstreet

Positive Signs from Conyers

By David Swanson

Coming out of today’s meeting with John Conyers, these seem to be the significant developments:

He is circulating a letter among his colleageus for signatures, a letter addressed to Bush letting him know that an attack on Iran will result in impeachment hearings. LET’S ASK EVERY MEMBER OF CONGRESS TO SIGN ON! I know it seems bassackwards and we want impeachment before a new war, not after, but this is a way for us to show Conyers the support that will be there any time he moves forward.

He is open to the new argument that we have been making to him, namely that impeachment hearings for Cheney or Bush (on torture, signing statements, spying, war crimes, etc, etc) would hurt John McCain’s candidacy by forcing him to defend the crimes.

He is open to meeting with experts allied with us to hear their arguments for impeachment.

All of that is positive. Still, Conyers continues to believe that elections are more important than justice, that impeachment would be bad for the elections, and that impeachment hearings would be stonewalled by the White House. There are a couple of possible responses to the last point. One is that impeachment hearings, including taking up H Res 799 as instructed by the full House last November, and even marking it up to add new charges, overrule claims of “executive privilege.” Of course Bush and Cheney could claim otherwise, but there is an answer to that. When Nixon refused a subpoena, the House Judiciary Committee passed an article of impeachment against him for that refusal. Cheney and Bush have already refused subpoenas. There’s no need to wait.

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Four at Four

  1. Moqtada al-Sadr, fresh off his win in Basra, has called for Protests to mark 5th anniversary of fall of Baghdad, according to The Guardian. In a statement released by Sadr, he said:

    The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honourable people.

    “The Shia cleric’s call to action came as Iraqi police said six civilians were killed in an air strike. The US military said the air strike destroyed a house and killed one militant.” Bush and Sadr can turn the violence on in Iraq with a flip of the switch and the one that controls the violence controls Iraq. The difference is Bush can’t turn the violence off, while it appears Sadr can.

    Meanwhile, McClatchy Newspapers report Baghdad’s Sadr City mourns its dead and injured. “U.S. airstrikes aimed at militants plague the population.” In the Imam Ali Hospital, four year olds are operated on to remove shrapnel and children lie limbless and horribly burned. Parents mourn the deaths of their children and wonder why this is happening. Some blame the U.S. military.

    “They are oppressors,” he said. “Shouldn’t they attack those that hold weapons against them? I swear to God, since we’ve lived here, the biggest weapon we have is the knife we use to cut the meat.”

    For each person we kill in the Middle East, America makes ten enemies. The aftermath of Basra left the Bush puppet regime of Nouri al-Maliki weakened, Iran strengthened, and the British bogged down in Iraq.

Below the fold is the suspension of your rights, an update on the economy, China’s spies, and octopus sex.


one thing. if you want to change, then you will.

no more “what we need to do.” i’m done with that… no more needing. no more shoulding. no more coulding. no more.

it’s this::: WE CAN. simple.

we can and we will make the world better. because we want to. because we can. because, for us, it’s what we choose.


Democrats Are Soft On Terror

The five words that have allowed the Terrorists to win. America has been terrorized since September the Eleventh, 2001. Terrorized by a small group of men and their accomplices intent on destroying America, on destroying the American way of life. A group of men who truly do hate us for our freedoms….and who seek to destroy them. Not only are they attacking our way of life and our freedom, they are attacking us financially as well, attempting to bankrupt us. Their attacks are  destroying our military, crippling it and leaving us defenseless.  They are attacking our citizens here at home, depriving them of much needed resources. They are preventing us from rebuilding on of our major cities that has been destroyed. They are spying on us to make sure we don’t try to defeat their plans.

We have been reduced to a fearful, cowering nation by these men.

And it is the Democrats in Congress that have allowed it. By not holding them accountable for their crimes and Terrorist activities. Democrats Are Soft On Terror.


Crystal Ball Time

I got out my crystal ball this morning to take a look into the future.


I’m particularly interested today in how things will look after January 2009. I really didn’t need the crystal ball to figure out where we’ll be if John McCain is elected…pretty much same old slide into oblivion. Nothing new there, move along.

What really interests me is to think about how things will look if we have a Democratic president (right now signs look good for Obama, but who knows?) and a Democratic Congress. For some in the blogosphere, this would spell n-i-r-v-a-n-a. But I think most of us here are pretty sure that will not be the case. The analogy for me is that we might have accomplished triage, but the patient still needs major surgery. Given the stage of the wounds both we in this country and the world are experiencing now, triage is necessary but insufficient for healing.  

What would you rather have than a war?

No, it’s not one of those nonsense questions.

Like, “What would you rather be or an elephant?”

“Would you rather carry your lunch or walk to work?”

“Is it farther to New York or by airplane?”

What would you rather have than the war in Iraq?

Setting aside the human cost, the carnage — if that is possible, by an act of will — just focus on the monetary costs.  Money’s something everyone can relate to — even conservatives.

And there is no better teaching moment, no better time to make the argument that we can’t afford to continue this war and occupation, than April 15, the day we empty our pockets and send our money to the Pentagon.

That could and should be a focus of antiwar activity this month.

What Happened To The New Deal

Howard Zinn asks why neither candidate wants to talk about the New Deal and offers up a potential speech one of them could give. I would argue that neither of them want to invoke that image because both hope to appeal to those who consider themselves “independents”, people who have voted Republican in the past but are disenchanted for various reasons and appealing to a “New Deal ethos” would be considered “too radical” for such broad based appeal. And invoking the “New Deal” would be a frank admission that we are teetering far too closely to collapse. Americans, above all like to “feel good” about themselves and their country. Never mind the blatant hatred those on the right have for the “New Deal”.

As Zinn notes, the “New Deal” was really an accommodation with capitalism, not rejection.

We might wonder why no Democratic Party contender for the presidency has invoked the memory of the New Deal and its unprecedented series of laws aimed at helping people in need. The New Deal was tentative, cautious, bold enough to shake the pillars of the system but not to replace them. It created many jobs but left 9 million unemployed. It built public housing but not nearly enough. It helped large commercial farmers but not tenant farmers. Excluded from its programs were the poorest of the poor, especially blacks. As farm laborers, migrants or domestic workers, they didn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, Social Security or farm subsidies

Indeed, what many on the right fail to grasp is the extent to which the “New Deal” sought to save capitalism, not replace it. If one accepts Zinn’s description, the “New Deal” was much better than a band aid, and much less than real structural change.

You can read the whole Zinn article with the speech he wishes somebody would give here.

They say that Sex Sells… We have another buyer!

In the last couple of years, money and power sure have translated into sex when it comes to our National Political and Religious figures.  

First we had Mark (Underage Page) Foley.  I don’t know if he paid anyone anything, but it was certainly his undoing in the end.  He turned the page on his Congressional career, so to speak.

Next up?  President Bush’s spiritual advisor, Reverend Ted Haggard.  

While serving as President of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted was outed by a male prostitute for snorting meth and having gay sex.  Ted then resigned his “position” as we all know.  

After spending time in teh Gay-hab, three weeks of intensive counseling, the Rev. declared that he was now completely hetrosexual.  The team working those three weeks with Haggard are not unlike Professional Golfers.  Those guys are GOOD!

Chinese Human Rights Activist Jailed, Dalai Lama Issues Appeal to World Leaders

Hu Jia’s jailing is not directly connected with the riots in Tibet, but this ironically timed sentence reveals one of the underlying, systemic problems with the Chinese government that is at the heart of this conflict: the inability to criticize the government freely and without reprisal.

From the BBC:

Hu Jia was sent to prison for what many other people would not even consider a crime – he was convicted for writing five articles and giving two interviews.

The 34-year-old has long sought to publicise what he believes are injustices in China, concerning the environment, HIV/Aids and human rights.

Beijing’s First Intermediate People’s Court interpreted these acts as an attempt to subvert “the state’s political and socialist systems”.

link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asi…

McCain Nears 72–or Really 83?

John S. McCain, III will turn 72 in August, 2008. McCain’s age, health, and mental acuity will inevitably be factors in the campaign.

Will American voters be paying attention? Will McCain release full and accurate information on his health?

And how can one distinguish whether McCain’s behavior and judgment are normal and acceptable, or are deteriorating and therefore potentially dangerous? When is a gaffe a symptom?

Several actuarial and medical data points suggest that McCain’s upcoming 72nd chronological birthday could well be the equivalent of a biological 83rd birthday.

Below the break are a few guidelines and links to help inform an assessment of McCain’s age, health, and fitness for the Presidency.

(Cross-posting at Daily Kos, Raising Kaine, and Bits of News.)

Pony Party, ‘the reigning Lorelai’

…..at the risk of making Docudharma look like a Gilmore Girls fan site…

I’m having ‘a moment’.  The constant Hillary-bashing that I’m seeing, hearing, and reading in nearly every area of my life has me absolutely sickened.  In no way do I choose to defend Hillary’s choices, votes, politics, or even her very candidacy; it would just be really nice to see ANYTHING she has said or done evaluated objectively.  And yes, I can hear you wondering…”73rd, whatever does that have to do with The Gilmore Girls?”

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