Getting the Criminals Off the Streets in DC…Means Arresting the Police

Big City…Big Crime. Corruption on the part of Civil employees is a threat in any government. When it is the Police though, it has an impact on community trust and impacts the ability of the good cops to do their job.

The District of Columbia has more policemen per capita than any city in the world. Between the dozen or so local and Federal Police Departments (FBI, Secret Service, Customs, ATF,  etc), quasi police organizations such as the Federal Protective Service, the Transit Police guarding the city’s bus and subway system, and a host of private police guarding various buildings and facilities – there are actually enough police in DC to station one on every street corner in the city…several times over. During the riots of 1968 after MLK was assassinated, they actually did that with some small help from the National Guard.

A pic of some of DC’s finest. Insofar as this poster knows, none of the Policemen shown in this picture has done anything untoward or illegal.

110 D.C. Police Officers’ Arrests Since 2009 Leads To Questions, Scrutiny

Police officials in the nation’s capital have been facing recent questions about headline-making arrests — not of hardened street criminals but of their own officers.

In a single month, one District of Columbia police officer was accused of taking semi-nude pictures of a 15-year-old runaway and another was charged with running a prostitution operation involving teenage girls. A third was indicted on an attempted murder charge, accused of striking his wife in the head with a light fixture.

Police say the arrests aren’t representative of the entire department, which includes about 4,500 officers and civilian employees. Still, more than 100 officers in the last five years have been arrested on charges ranging from traffic offenses to murder to money laundering, and the latest instances have increased concerns about training, supervision and accountability. The D.C. Council has set a hearing to discuss the problem and Police Chief Cathy Lanier has met with residents to assuage fears of a misbehaving department.

“We don’t think we have a department out of control, and I think that oftentimes is the image that is portrayed,” she said in an interview, noting that the majority of arrests are not for on-duty corruption but instead involve off-duty misconduct that is harder to police.

The hearing Friday will focus on how applicants are screened and what services are available to prevent alcohol abuse and domestic violence, two prevalent problems, said Councilmember Tommy Wells, who chairs the public safety committee.

“I think it’s extremely important that the public have confidence in our police force and we’ve had three high-profile cases of serious police misconduct, albeit generally off-duty,” Wells said.

Police department figures show the arrests of about 110 police officers, for both on- and off-duty conduct, since 2009. Many of the arrests involved traffic violations or involved cases that were dropped or ended in acquittal.

Among the most serious cases was Richmond Phillips, who received life without parole last year for the slayings of his mistress and baby daughter. Wendel Palmer was convicted last year of sexually abusing a girl who participated in his church choir, while Kenneth Furr received a 14-month sentence for an armed altercation that began after prosecutors say he solicited sex from a transgender prostitute.

Lanier has said many of the arrested officers were brought onto the force during a time of lax hiring standards and wouldn’t be qualified to serve today. She said that in some cases the arbitration process has required the department to rehire officers it fired. She said the department has dramatically tightened its recruitment practices to mandate polygraph exams and that only one of about 25 applicants is now hired.

The department also tracks warning signs like missed commitments and abuse of sick leave. And it requires officers to report off-duty arrests, which Lanier contends can make the numbers look worse than in cities that lack that requirement.

“I feel comfortable that our recruiting process, the background screening we do, is as tight as we can get,” Lanier said at the meeting. “But I also realize that there are people that are on the police department that came through at a time when there was not that strict background (check), and those are the people that we want to make sure that if they are involved in misconduct, that we weed those people out.”

But resident Khadijah Tribble, 42, told the chief she was unconvinced the misconduct was isolated.

“Aren’t these trends troubling and isn’t it worth our due diligence to do a thorough, independent investigation of this trend?” Tribble said in an interview.

Robert Kane, the director of the Drexel University criminal justice program who has studied police misconduct, said the number of arrests wasn’t necessarily shocking for a big-city police department.

At least 43 New York City police officers are known to have been arrested between 2011 and 2013 on charges including gun-running, drunken driving, perjury, a ticket-fixing scam and a cannibalism plot. A Los Angeles police officer was charged with stomping a handcuffed woman who later lost consciousness and died. Dozens of Memphis, Tenn., officers have been arrested in recent years.

Kane said that on-duty police misconduct can be reliably defined, off-duty misbehavior by officers is studied less often.

“We know what factors explain police misconduct, when police officers stop people and extort money from them,” he said. “What do we know about officers who walk into a liquor store when off-duty and rob it at gunpoint for some beer?”

In D.C., the first of the recent arrests was on December 2 when officer Marc Washington was charged with taking semi-nude pictures while on-duty of a teenage runaway who had just returned home. Authorities say after responding to the girl’s apartment, he directed her into her bedroom and told her to undress so he could photograph injuries. He was arrested after the girl alerted her mother, who contacted police. Soon after being released from jail, Washington was dead from an apparent suicide.

The following week brought the off-duty arrest of Linwood Barnhill Jr., a 24-year-veteran who was charged after police came to his apartment and found a 16-year-old girl who had been reported missing. The girl told police Barnhill had photographed her and offered to pay her to have sex with other men, allegations also made by a second teenager. His lawyer says Barnhill never threatened anyone.

Lanier acknowledged the arrests, especially for on-duty conduct, have shaken the department. But she said she hopes the sight of handcuffed officers sends a message to other officers who would break the law.

“We would like the officers to know that if there’s somebody in our midst that is committing criminal conduct and we become aware of it, we will lock them up,” Lanier said. “We don’t need somebody else to lock them up. We will lock you up.”

What Martin Luther King Actually Accomplished

“The negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect”

March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, of the United States Supreme Court This article talks a bit about the horrors of the Jim Crow era in America.

Mary Turner 1918 Eight Months Pregnant Mobs lynched Mary Turner on May 17, 1918 in Lowndes County. Georgia because she vowed to have those responsible for killing her husband arrested. Her husband was arrested in connection with the shooting and killing Hampton Smith, a white farmer for whom the couple had worked, and wounding his wife. Sidney Johnson. a Black, apparently killed Smith because he was tired of the farmer’s abuse. Unable to find Johnson. the killers lynched eight other Blacks Including Hayes Turner and his wife Mary. The mob hanged Mary by her feet, poured gasoline and oil on her and set fire to her body. One white man sliced her open and Mrs. Turner’s baby tumbled to the ground with a “little cry” and the mob stomped the baby to death and sprayed bullets into Mary Turner.  

So…One of the things MLK did was to finally put the skids, if not the end to this sort of “domestic terrorism”, against black folks. Now, our black conservative Uncle Toms would like you believe that liberals are using the past as an excuse for everything. But do you see the Jewish people forgetting the Holocaust? Black conservatives, and white conservative racists they support are big on black on black violence. But the thing hy won’t tell you, and you will never find in their pseudo-scientific statistics is that 92% of the men locked up or child sexual abuse …Are white. During Jim Crow white men were free to rape, sodomize and brutalize not only black women…But black children. While lynchings were sometimes reported, these other categories of violence and sexual predation were entirely swept under the rug.

The second thing they lie about is the violence statistics. Sexually abusing a child in the FBI’s version of the violent crime world doesn’t qualify as a “violent crime” – and thus is excludes from the statistics which include murder, and the rape of adult women (or men). We are going to count veggies, but green tomatoes don’t count.

Back to that pre-Civil Rights time – there was little or no hope of actually prosecuting these white criminals in the southern “Justice” system. Laying the groundwork of why black folk will never trust the conservative judges the right is so desperate to appoint.

Gaining the right to walk down the street unmolested may not seem like that big a deal solely from a cynical intellectual viewpoint – but it is pretty freaking important if it is you trying to get down the street.

Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

This will be a very short diary.  It will not contain any links or any scholarly references.  It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.

The reason I’m posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King’s legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Not Yet Realized.”  I’m sure the diarist means well as did the others.  But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans.  And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general.  His main impactwas not to make white people nicer or fairer.  That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy.  Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

I remember that many years ago, when I was a smart ass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father.  My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time.

A bit of context.  My father was from a background, which if we were talking about Europe or Latin America, we would call, “peasant” origin, although he had risen solidly into the working-middle class.  He was from rural Virginia and his parents had been tobacco farmers.  I spent two weeks or so every summer on the farm of my grandmother and step grandfather.  They had no running water, no gas, a wood burning stove, no bathtubs or toilets but an outhouse, pot belly stoves for heat in the winter, a giant wood pile, a smoke house where hams and bacon hung, chickens, pigs, semi wild housecats that lived outdoors, no tractor or car, but an old plow horse and plows and other horse drawn implements, and electricity only after I was about 8 years old.  The area did not have high schools for blacks and my father went as far as the seventh grade in a one room schoolhouse.  All four of his grandparents, whom he had known as a child, had been born slaves.  It was mainly because of World War II and urbanization that my father left that life.

They lived in a valley or hollow or “holler” in which all the landowners and tenants were black.  In the morning if you wanted to talk to cousin Taft, you would walk down to behind the outhouse and yell across the valley, “Heeeyyyy Taaaaft,” and you could see him far, far in the distance, come out of his cabin and yell back.

On the one hand, this was a pleasant situation because they lived in isolation from white people.  On the other hand, they did have to leave the valley to go to town where all the rigid rules of Jim Crow applied.  By the time I was little, my people had been in this country for six generations (going back, according to oral rendering of our genealogy, to Africa Jones and Mama Suki), much more under slavery than under freedom, and all of it under some form of racial terrorism, which had inculcated many humiliating behavior patterns.

Anyway that’s background.  I think we were kind of typical as African Americans in the pre Civil Rights era went.

So anyway, I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X’s message.  My father got really angry at me.  It wasn’t that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn’t accomplished anything as Dr. King had.

I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his “I have a dream speech.”

Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress.  Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished.  He gave this great speech.  Or some people say, “he marched.”  I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.

At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this.  If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished.  Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about.  But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea.  Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them.  You all know about lynching.  But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running.  It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.

White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty.  With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father’s memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people.  The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.

This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparent’s vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank.  They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness.  My strong, valiant, self educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men.  Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict.  Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

If you didn’t get taught such things, let alone experience them, I caution you against invoking the memory of Dr. King as though he belongs exclusively to you and not primarily to African Americans.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this — and of course, he didn’t do it alone.

(Of all the other civil rights leaders who helped Dr. King end this reign of terror, I think the most under appreciated is James Farmer, who founded the Congress of Racial Equality and was a leader of non-violent resistance, and taught the practices of non violent resistance.)

So what did they do?

They told us: – whatever you are most afraid of doing vis a vis white people, go do it.  Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.

Go ahead sit at that lunch counter.  Sue the local school board.  All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.

If we do it all together, we’ll be OK.

They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad.  They taught black people how to take a beating – from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses.  They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating.  They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what?  The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad.

Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicked on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?

These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.

That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south.  Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song.  The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another.  This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.

Please let this sink in.  It wasn’t marches or speeches.  It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.

So yes, Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on.  But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears.  So please don’t tell me that Martin Luther King’s dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today.  If you did not go through that transition, you’re not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.

That is what Dr. King did — not march, not give good speeches.  He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.

Once the beating was over, we were free.

It wasn’t the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us.  It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid.  So, sorry Mrs. Clinton, as much as I admire you, you were wrong on this one.  Our people freed ourselves and those Acts, as important as they were, were only white people officially recognizing what we had done.

PS.  I really shouldn’t have to add this but please — don’t ever confuse someone criticizing you or telling you bad things over the internet with what happened to people during the civil rights movement.  Don’t.  Just don’t do it.  Don’t go there.

PSS  Weird, but it kind of sounds like what V did to Evie.

UPDATE:  There is a major, major hole in this essay as pointed out by FrankAletha downthread — While I was focusing on the effect on black men, she points out that similarly randomized sexual violence against black women was as severe and common and probably more so, because while violence against black men was ritualistic, violence against black women was routine.

UPDATE 2: Rec list — I’m honored!!!

Black Basketball Players Expelled From School for Making 3 Point Sign

This one is so ridiculous, it just makes you mad…

Hand signals are used in basketball frequently to signal the next offensive play, or defense. That is done because in an enclosed stadium simply shouting won’t be heard by the other players over the noise of the crowd. Hand signs are also used by players as signs of success at a particular move or goal (to the crowd), or taunting another player.

High School Suspends Black Basketball Players, Claiming Gang-Related Hand Signs

A Wisconsin school district is standing by its decision to suspend two black basketball players because the signals they were making with their hands looked gang-related, saying that proper procedure was followed, the Raw Story reports.

 It all started at the beginning of the month when a local newspaper, the Sheboygan Falls News, ran what was supposed to be an upbeat story about three brothers, Jordan, Jamal and Juwaun Jackson, who moved to the district and now play basketball with Sheboygan Falls High School. As is normal, the paper did a mini photo-shoot for the article, and ultimately the decision was made to publish a “goofy” picture of the boys fooling around in their team’s uniform, making gestures with their hands.

However, things didn’t end up well for the boys. The high school suspended two of the brothers because parents who saw the story in the sports section of the paper thought the boys were making gang signs. The police department was even called in to investigate at the school’s request, the Raw Story notes.

“I did it like every other kid does it when they make a three [pointer],” Jordan Jackson explainedto TMJ News. “When you make a three, everyone does this sign. You’ve probably seen LeBron James or someone do it. I did the three in the picture, and my little brother pointed at the camera.

“I had no idea, they told us it meant blood,” he said referring to infamous Bloods gang.

Jean Born, the district superintendent, is sticking firm to the decision, saying that the school followed the athletic code. Police Chief Steve Riffel claimed that he was “able to confirm that the sign was indeed a gang sign,” even though he admitted the boys weren’t a threat.

The Sheboygan Falls News is siding with the boys on this issue, shocked at the mess the article has caused, expressing their disappointment in the school.

“The sign made by Jordan Jackson (on the far left side of the photo) is also commonly used by NBA players, such as James Harden, Lebron James and Brandon Jennings, after making a three-point shot,” the paper’s editor, Jeff Pederson, wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. “The good intentions surrounding a positive article about high school student-athletes adjusting to a new school and contributing to an SFHS sports program has somehow taken an ugly turn.

“We are disappointed and saddened by the negative reaction and subsequent outcome, which has resulted in two high school basketball players being forced to miss a game against the team’s biggest rival,” he added. “In my 20 years in mainly small-town newspaper journalism, I have fielded plenty of complaints from readers. However, I have never seen anything published in a paper I have been a part of escalate to this very unfortunate and negative magnitude.”

The ACLU of Wisconsin has also stepped up in the boys’ defense, saying that they will be investigating the case themselves.

“It appears as if the Sheboygan Falls school district and police department are unprepared to respond to the increasing diversity in the schools in an appropriate and educationally sound manner,” ACLU Executive Director Chris Ahmuty said, according to the Raw Story. “The ACLU will be seeking information from the schools in order to assess their compliance with pupil non-discrimination rules. The ACLU asks the district to immediately make the brothers eligible to play in tomorrow’s game.”

Now, I don’t know where they recruited this particular group of school administrative morons from but obviously they have never attended a Wisconsin-Michigan Game…

Wisconsin Badger Frank Kaminsky makes a “gang sign” after making a 3 pointer. Michigan’s Nick Stauskas with “3 points in your eyes” 

Or a pro game.

Lebron James gives the three point signal

what Would You Do?

Black guys comes into a black barbershop to get his hair cut. A few minutes his girlfriend who is white comes in. A black woman Barber starts riffing on the girlfriend…

What would you do?

Mormons Make Their Historical and Current Beliefs Clear

 

One of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the Washington DC Area is the Mormon Temple which can be seen rising majestically over the Beltway near Bethesda.

 

Mormons and black folks did not enjoy each other’s company during the Civil Rights era. The center of the issue surrounded some beliefs by the Mormons which dated back from the time of their founding. The Church made a major change in 1978 to address that, but never discussed why those beliefs were in their liturgy to start with. In recent years the Church has been open to all.

The Church clears the air…

Mormon Church Explains Past Racism, Ban On Black Priests

After Mormon church leaders lifted the ban on blacks in the priesthood in 1978, church leaders offered little official explanation for the reasons behind the ban, saying only they received a revelation it was time for the change.

In the three decades since, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have struggled to understand the roots of the old ban and grappled with how best to respond to questions about the touchy historical topic.

Even as recently as 2012 — when the issue flared up during Mitt Romney’s run for president — the church said it has always welcomed people of all races into the church but that was not known precisely why, how or when the restriction on the priesthood began.

Now, finally, Mormons can point to a new 2,000-word statement posted on the church’s website that offers the most comprehensive explanation of why the church previously had barred men of African descent from the lay clergy, and for the first time disavows the ban.

The statement, posted Friday, says the ban was put into place during an era of great racial divide that influenced early teachings of the church. It pins the prohibition on an announcement from church president Brigham Young in 1852. Perhaps most importantly, it addresses the once widely held notion that blacks were spiritually inferior.

“The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else,” the statement read. “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Mormon scholars and church members who have followed the issue closely called it a landmark moment.

“History and changes all happen due to time. This is way past due,” said Don Harwell, a 67-year-old president of a black Mormon support group in Utah. “These are the statements they should have made in 1978, but better late than never.”

Margaret Blair Young, an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University who made a documentary about the untold stories of black Mormons, called the new article a miracle. She said she’ll carry printouts with her to hand out and that she plans to call missionaries in Africa who are often asked about the reasons behind the old ban.

“I’m thrilled,” Young said. “It went so much further than anything before has done.”

Mormon church officials declined comment on the article but said it is part of a series of new online postings to explain or expand on certain gospel topics for its members. Other topics include, “Are Mormons Christian?” and one about founder Joseph Smith’s first visions.

Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University, said the article is the most comprehensive explanation yet about the past exclusion of blacks from the priesthood and marks the first time the church has explicitly disavowed its previous teachings on the topic.

Mormon scholars over the years have written much of what is in the posting, but it is noteworthy coming from church headquarters in Salt Lake City, he said. He and other scholars were interviewed several months ago by staff from LDS Public Affairs in preparation for the new article, Mauss said, adding that it reflects a “new Church commitment to greater transparency about its history, doctrines, and policies.”

The LDS church has come a long way since the Genesis Group was founded in 1971, said Harwell, who converted to Mormonism in 1983. While he noted that he doesn’t speak for the church, he said he believes the next step is getting more black Mormons into church leadership positions. He serves as counselor to the bishop in his local congregation and can see how that is helping young church members change their perceptions. He didn’t question the timing of the explanation.

“Maybe the Lord just determined this is the time for it to happen,” Harwell said, “that this is when people are going to be able to accept it for what it is.”

Matthew Bowman, an author and assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, said the posting is being widely circulated in the Mormon blogosphere.

“They were a lot of people really hoping for this,” Bowman said. “Among the Mormon chattering classes, the statement is being taken as a pretty big deal.”

 

 

Prepare for “Conservageddon”!

At Nelson Mandela’s funeral today, President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, and current President of Cuba.

Get ready for some furious bloviating apoplexy from the right!

“Secret Muslim, terrorist, socialist, communist” time!

 

Fear of a Brown Planet – Reverse Racism

Comedian Aamer Rahman gives an excellent explanation of “reverse racism:…

 

To Save America…Restore the Draft?

Milbank makes an interesting point.  The number of Veterans in Congress has reached historic lows. Historically that is when Congress goes out and does something stupid- like try and get us into an unnecessary war based on their ignorance. They also tend to discount Diplomacy – much as the current list of rightwing bozos tries to discredit the accomplishments of President Obama, and get us into war serially with Iran, Syria, Libya or anyone else who strikes their fancy.

Milbank’s proposal is that everyone serve in the Military. I don’t think that is practical. The last thing American needs is a standing army of 12 million. Besides the cost of supporting that – the lure of misusing and abusing that Military by sabre rattling morons in Congress, or if (heaven forbid) another Bushit is elected President is much to strong. I would propose instead a Civilian Corps making up at least half of those draftees. It is not a new idea, but it would require the sort of dedication to rebuilding he country’s aging and shattered infrastructure the sort of zero sum tax break politics of the right caused in the first place.

The issue being, would a national program to rebuild our bridges, national parks, byways, and cities pay an economic dividend in terms of return on investment. I believe a case for such can be made but it takes the sort of long range foresight that hasn’t been our leaders strong point since Raygun.

Save America: Restore the draft

At this time of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the U.S. military — not just for the usual reason that it protects us from our foes but also because it has the potential to save us from ourselves.

As I make my rounds each day in the capital, chronicling our leaders’ plentiful foibles, failings, screw-ups, inanities, outrages and overall dysfunction, I’m often asked if there’s anything that could clean up the mess.

My usual answer is a shrug and an admission that there’s no silver bullet. There are many possibilities — campaign spending limits, term limits, nonpartisan primaries, nonpartisan redistricting, a third party — but most aren’t politically or legally feasible, might not make much of a difference or, as with Harry Reid’s rewriting of Senate rules, have the potential to make things even worse.

But one change, over time, could reverse the problems that have built up over the past few decades: We should mandate military service for all Americans, men and women alike, when they turn 18. The idea is radical, unlikely and impractical — but it just might work.

There is no better explanation for what has gone wrong in Washington in recent years than the tabulation done every two years of how many members of Congress served in the military.

A Congressional Quarterly count of the current Congress finds that just 86 of the 435 members of the House are veterans, as are only 17 of 100 senators, which puts the overall rate at 19 percent. This is the lowest percentage of veterans in Congress since World War II, down from a high of 77 percent in 1977-78, according to the American Legion. For the past 21 years, the presidency has been occupied by men who didn’t serve or, in the case of George W. Bush, served in a capacity designed to avoid combat.

It’s no coincidence that this same period has seen the gradual collapse of our ability to govern ourselves: a loss of control over the nation’s debt, legislative stalemate and a disabling partisanship. It’s no coincidence, either, that Americans’ approval of Congresshas dropped to just 9 percent, the lowest since Gallup began asking the question 39 years ago.

Because so few serving in politics have worn their country’s uniform, they have collectively forgotten how to put country before party and self-interest. They have forgotten a “cause greater than self,” and they have lost the knowledge of how to make compromises for the good of the country. Without a history of sacrifice and service, they’ve turned politics into war.

Compulsory military service, as old as Athenian democracy and common in countries such as Israel that live under threat, has been in decline in Western Europe since the end of the Cold War. But an exception, Switzerland, is instructive: On Sept. 22, the Swiss voted 73 percent to 27 percent to keep their conscription army. It has less to do with security than with national identity in a land of 26 cantons and four official languages. The government argued that military service teaches people “how to live and work with compatriots from all regions, all linguistic groups and all social strata,” which “contributes enormously to the national cohesion.”

In Switzerland, the sons of bankers and farmers alike do basic training for several months and then are recalled to service for brief periods. But the structure is less important than the service itself. My former colleague Tom Ricks proposes bringing back the draft in the United States but allowing for a civilian national service option — teaching, providing day care and the like — for those who don’t want to join the military.

There’s no mass movement for mandatory service, but the idea has gained a diverse group of supporters, including retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y). Gun-rights groups would cheer an armed citizenry, and an article published by the libertarian Cato Institute argued that compulsory service “can be a pillar of freedom.”

The costs would be huge. But so would the benefits: overcoming growing social inequality without redistributing wealth; making future leaders, unlike today’s “chicken hawks,” disinclined to send troops into combat without good reason; putting young Americans to work and giving them job and technology skills; and, above all, giving these young Americans a shared sense of patriotism and service to the country.

It would take some time, but this new generation of Americans, once again asking what they can do for their country, would undo much of the damage today’s crop of self-interested leaders is doing to our politics.

 

Indian Response to Criticism of Miss America

Ow!

Her real name is Lilly Singh, her Youtube name is !!Superwoman!!, and she hosts a Youtube page here. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr…

True Puppy Love

This little guy in diapers has a friend for life…

I am not a big dog fan, but it is mostly because with my lifestyle I don’t have the time to take proper care of a mutt, with travel and variable hours.

 

If you are a fan of pups… There are more pics here.

It’s Baaaaack! The 60′s Afro

Geez, wearing you hair longer is no longer solely the province of us “old guys” who lived through the period when they were de rigeur from a fashion sense…

Eat your heart out Bieber!

Dante De Blasio Named Sixth Most Influential Teen By TIME

TIME magazine named Dante de Blasio the sixth most influential teen of 2013, crowning him New York City’s “latest fashion icon” due to his “now-iconic” afro.

Dante even beat out Malala Yousafzai, Justin Bieber, and Malia Obama.

Back in August, the 15-year-old son of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appeared in a now famous campaign ad in which he spoke against stop and frisk and the Bloomberg administration. The ad breathed new life into de Blasio’s campaign, and thrust Dante, and his hairdo, into the national spotlight.

Dante’s afro even garnered the praise and envy of President Obama.

Dante’s sister Chiara, however, did not make TIME’s list despite her own campaign ad for her dad, and her awesome collection of headbands.

The Greatest ‘Fro of all time?

That would have to be Angela Davis…

White Supremacist Seeking to Build All White Town…Turns Out to Be Not All-White

In the Southern United States, if your family arrived in America before the Revolutionary War… There is about a 30% chance you have black ancestry. Roughly 50 million “whites” in this country, wouldn’t qualify under the”One Drop Rule” of bygone days.

But this one is funny!

Video Of White Supremacist Learning He Is 14 Percent Black May Be The Best Thing Ever

A white supremacist behind an initiative to turn a North Dakota town into a “white enclave” received some shocking news — he’s not 100 percent white.

Craig Cobb, a 62-year-old man who has aimed to start a community for white supremacists and neo-Nazis, received some news that he wasn’t too happy about, although we must admit, it gave us quite a chuckle.

During an appearance on The Trisha Goddard Show, Cobb was given the results of a DNA Diagnostics test and found out he is 14 percent Sub-Saharan African, and it was all caught on camera.

Our Future President?

Check this 12 year old out! She has formed a coalition to repeal the onerous voting restrictions implemented by Tea Bagged Republicans in North Carolina, and to get young folks to vote. Her name is Madison Kimrey, an she does one heck of a speech.

The Rethugs in North Carolina have voted to eliminate the ability of teens to pre-register to vote, while getting a Driver’s License at 16, so they can vote when they turn 18. By doing this and raising the bar to College Students voting, they eliminate one of the groups which tends to vote Democrat, or at least anti-Tea Party. This is part of the Rethugly Voter Suppression effort, which includes Voter ID Laws.

Go Madison!

Tea Party Southern Myth vs 12 Years a Slave

Like the Holocaust Deniers scattered around the world in anti-Semitic clusters, America has its own peculiar breed of Denier of the unconscionable – The advocates of the Southern Myth.

Recognizing what they were doing as slavers was morally unconscionable from a Judeo Christian basis, the slavers sought absolution through first, perverting their religion to justify slavery, and second by attaching themselves to Chivalrous traditions creating a “Genteel” societal veneer. Indeed, in my State of Virginia Thomas Jefferson’s University, UVa – adopted the Cavalier as the school symbol. That wasn’t just because most slaveholders were Crown Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Attaching themselves to the English Cavaliers was an attempt to gloss over, and add class to an evil society. No different than the Drug Lords of recent vintage using their ill gotten gains to project an image of respectability.

Post Civil War, this shifted into manufacturing a society’s existence under slavery which never existed. The brutality visited upon the slaves to force them to obey, which included torture, systematic rape of women and children, and murder became the “Good Old Days” of a slightly decadent but otherwise genteel society. The Civil War became the “War of the States” supporting the fiction that each and every Southern State’s Secession Articles didn’t list slavery as the “States Right” they were fighting for. These same stawarts brought America Segregation and Jim Crow.

The modern incarnation of this “Southern psychosis” is the Tea Party, the grandchild of the Second Klan of the 20′s, American Nazi Party of the 40′s, and Dixiecrats  of the 50′s and 60′s. Absorbing the Republican matra of blaming the victim. Like their poor, landless ancestors who marched off to be maimed and killed to [protect the rights of wealthy slave owners, today's conservative confederate malcontents support the rights of the elite right who have eviscerated the American Dream, sold their jobs overseas,  and near destroyed the American Middle Class since Raygun. All under the banner of maintaining their fictitious racial superiority. It is OK with the modern Tea Bagger to take Food Stamps away from the poor, using much the same justification of the rapist that the "bitch deserved it". It is OK to harass the poor, even though the economic condition of many Tea Parties would place them among the "white trash" - because in a country which has legislatively discriminated, at the Tea Bagger's ancestors demand,  against minorities for generation - a higher percentage of minorities are poor. Despite class mythology, the only reason many of these white Tea Baggers aren't scions of society has nothing to do with discrimination - and everything to do with their own personal, generational failures. no one has held them back, except their own ignorance and racism.

In front of the White House after disgracing th WII Memorial

Tea Party and ’12 Years a Slave’

“Twelve Years a Slave,” a movie based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841, is a powerful antidote to the Tea Party’s poisonous nostalgia for the era of “states’ rights” and “nullificationism,” which became code words for protecting the “liberty” of Southern whites to own African-Americans.

The movie, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, reveals how lofty phrases about “freedom” often meant their opposite as Southern politicians developed an Orwellian skill for weaving noble-sounding “principles” into a cloak for covering up the unjustifiable.

And, for too many generations, it worked. Americans have romanticized the antebellum South, seeing it through the rosy haze of “Gone with the Wind” or learning from school history books that most slave-owners were kindly and paternalistic masters. Even today many Americans tell themselves that slavery wasn’t all that bad. To burnish their pride in the never-to-be-criticized USA, they whitewash one of the nation’s greatest crimes, the enslavement of millions of people based on the color of their skin. Continue reading

If You Build It…Maglev Train

Evidence that the Tea Bagger types haven’t quite reduced America to Third World status…Yet.

Organizers line up big names to push new high-speed rail line linking D.C. to N.Y.

The privately owned Washington company that last year began lobbying to build a high-speed rail line between Washington and New York has lined up some prominent names to press its ambitious plan to improve congestion in the Northeast corridor.

The Northeast Maglev, the 25-employee company founded in 2010, is looking to develop a high-speed magnetic levitation system that would bring passengers from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes and to New York in 60 minutes, at speeds of 311 miles an hour.

The company, which according to its chairman has raised $50 million in private funding, plans to announce today it has enlisted several of the region’s business and political leaders to join its advisory board: Under Armour founder and chief executive Kevin Plank; former chief executive of Northwest Airlines Doug Steenland; former transportation secretaries Mary Peters and Rodney Slater (now a lobbyist at Patton Boggs); and George Pataki, Christine Todd Whitman and Ed Rendell, former governors of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, respectively.

The board is being led by former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, who is now an adviser at DLA Piper, the international law firm that the Northeast Maglev has hired to lobby on its behalf before Congress.

The rail line would include stops at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. The project is unrelated to Amtrak’s $151 billion plan to develop a high-speed rail system — that would go from Washington to New York in 94 minutes — in the Northeast corridor by 2040.

The Northeast Maglev chairman Wayne Rogers said his firm does not have a cost estimate for the entire project but that the Washington-Baltimore leg would cost at least $10 billion. He said he expects it to take at least three years to navigate the regulatory, environmental and planning process and another 10 years for construction. The company is working closely with engineers from Central Japan Railway, which operates the bullet train in Japan.

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