Archive for the ‘Atrocities’ Category

Okay, I can’t stand it any more.  I HAVE to say something about Ferguson and the cop shootings that America is now FINALLY paying attention to.  The tipping point came for me yesterday when I finally watched the video of the Tamir Rice shooting and read an article on the audio evidence that proves Officer Darren Wilson was not telling the truth in his accounts of the Michael Brown shooting.

The U.S. is like a drug addict that refuses to acknowledge they have a problem.  All the signs are there.  The data is VERY clear.    Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about.

Some thoughts that are just pinging around in my brain that I have to get out.  Keep in mind, I’m not some uninformed liberal spouting off–I have a Masters in Criminal Justice and I’ve worked in the system.

  • The Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, in the Brown shooting did not WANT an indictment therefore there wasn’t one.  A typical prosecutor could indict a comatose 90-year old grandmother if he/she wanted to.
    • He dumped a ton of data on the jury without providing any guidance into what was exculpatory, degree of trustworthiness, interpreting (because the forensic stuff can be really tough to understand), etc.  To expect a lay person to be able to sort through, prioritize and understand all of that data is absurd and no real prosecutor would do that.
    • He engaged in victim blaming by telling them that Brown was on drugs when there was no evidence of that
    • He improperly instructed the jury on the law — this is HUGE and if this had been a trial, it would have been excellent grounds for an appeal
    • He should have recused himself.  His father was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty by, you guessed it, a black man.
    • He failed to perform his duty as a Prosecutor–they are supposed to advocate for indictment. In fact the vast majority of grand juries in this country return with an indictment.

    According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them. 

  • The audio from the Brown shooting proves that Wilson did not tell the truth.
  • White people riot all the fucking time for the stupidest shit and no one blames it on their “culture of lawlessness”.  But let some black people riot and the media and the majority of white people will shake their heads and question why.  Why would they riot when there’s no history of racial discrimination in policing in the U.S. (ht to Bob Cesca)? Why would they riot when they only have themselves to blame?  All of the Fox News coverage has been in this vein, but the best examples are interviews with Rudy Giulani.
  • The Tamir Rice video is horrifying.  The video shows the police lied about many crucial issues.  If you only listen to the police version (as is too often the case), then it sounds like Tamir was a serious threat .  If you watch the video you will be stunned.
    • They said there were multiple people in the park.  The video shows the 12 year old boy was alone.
    • They said they told him to  put his hands up three times.  The video shows less than 2 seconds passed between the car pulling up, the officers got out of the vehicle and when the shots occurred.  So either the officer gave the fastest and clearest commands in the history of human language (award that man a Guinness World Record!) or he didn’t give them at all.
    • Tamir was already down on the ground when they shot him…he reacted immediately to their presence by making himself non-threatening.
    • After they shot him and the boy was clearly no longer a threat they watched him suffer and provided no first aid until a detective and FBI agent showed up.   Although they’re under no obligation to provide first aid IF they felt the situation is unsafe.  But the boy was no longer a threat.  Actually he wasn’t even a threat when they shot him, but why quibble, amiright?  Ironic that the failure to render aid, made sure their version will be the only one we hear (other than the pure luck of the surveillance video from across the street which can’t really tell us the whole story).
  •  The Rice shooting is very scary to me personally.  My stepson is 12 years old, loves guns, and is very familiar with them.   He is also brown–decidedly not white.   We’ve taught him to be safe with them.  He knows not to handle real guns without an adult being present.  BUT he doesn’t know that it’s probably not a good idea to handle fake one’s either.    I am going to make damn sure he never has a fake gun in any public place and when his family is not with him.
  • There was a shooting just reported in AZ of a black man by a white cop.  I’m still waiting for more details to come in.  Cop thought the guy had a gun in his pocket–it was a bottle of pills.

If you listen to what is being said in the media (not just on Fox but on CNN and local stations too), there is a lot of victim blaming and officer excuse making.  White America’s attitude is coming across like this.

‘Don’t black folk know they should never ever carry anything in their pockets AND should always keep their hands in the air AND always have a pleasant or at least non-demonic look on their face.  AND they can’t be too large or physically intimidating because a big black many is very scary, even to really big white men, even when they’re 25+ feet away**.  So if you’re a big black guy, hunch your shoulders.  And whatever you do, don’t be sullen or angry.’

In other words, don’t give the white cops an excuse to kill you and this message is loud and clear to the black community.  Most of their parents have already told them not to do such things.  Not that doing any of that will actually keep black men safe in this country.  When an entire race of people in our society have to raise their sons to live in fear and act more passive and non-threatening with the police than white people do, then something is terribly, terribly wrong.  The sooner white people acknowledge this, the sooner we can address the problem.  But I don’t think white people in general are capable of acknowledging our complicity in this problem because that would mean acknowledging that we’re wrong about something.  As we’ve seen time and time again, too many Americans think that if we’re not exceptional and right all the time, we’re nothing at all.

Notes:

*I totally understand why the police want bigger and better guns.  When I was a probation officer I always felt like I was outgunned.  I had a Speed 6 Ruger, a “brick” cell phone with a dead battery, no partner or back-up and my crappy little car (VW Fox).  I would go into the field armed with these items.  Here are just some examples of what I faced with those “weapons:

  • walking into crack houses where I was surrounded by dozens of male drug addicts and/or dealers
  • interviewing a probationers with serious anger control issues (child abuser/molester/wife beater) in their dark and dingy homes
  • explaining to VERY angry probationers and their family members why I had to talk to their boss at work about his/her probation and why they lost their job and would soon probably be homeless.  (I took no joy in this task.  I was legally obligated to verify employment with a supervisor a few times a year.  Talk about the system shooting itself in the foot.  The minute they lost their job their risk of recidivism would skyrocket)  

I guess if I couldn’t draw my weapon in time or if I lost it, I could have used the cell phone to brain them.

**Brown was 6 ft 5 in and 290 lbs and Wilson was 6 ft 4 in and 210 lbs.  Wilson isn’t small by any means.  He also had at least two deadly weapons–his pistol and his police car.  Who knows what he had in the trunk–one can safely assume a shotgun.  Plus he had a radio so he could call in reinforcements.  In regards to the distance, the audio article clearly proves Wilson was either lying about the distance or lying about Brown charging him or both.

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Jumpin Baby Jeebus on a cracker! A writer over at the National Review, a bi-weekly conservative magazine that’s been around for about 40 years now, got irritated with the President for having the temerity to say that the Holocaust was “senseless”. The writer, Elian Johnson, responded by saying that Nazism wasn’t senseless because so many Germans supported it. Here’s the quote:

Nazism may have been an ideology to which the United States was — and to which the president is — implacably opposed, but it is hardly “senseless.” By the early 1930s, the Nazi party had hundreds of thousands of devoted members and repeatedly attracted a third of the votes in German elections; its political leaders campaigned on a platform comprising 25 non-senseless points, including the “unification of all Germans,” a demand for “land and territory for the sustenance of our people,” and an assertion that “no Jew can be a member of the race.” Suffice it to say, many sensible Germans were persuaded.

Now, ponder that a moment, will ya? There are so many things wrong with this statement. First, it’s anti-semitic. Jews not being admitted to “the race” is sensible? Did he really write that?! Yes, yes, he did. Second, he’s wrong on the numbers in regards to popularity. I think at the height of the Nazi movement, there were about 8 million members (1945) of the Nazi party in a population of over 78 million (1938)–so that’s about 10%. Of those, there were in 1944, 800,000 SS members–the Nazi elite who were responsible for protecting Hitler, controlling the non-Nazi military officers, and conducting the systematic execution of undesirables.  So that’s 1% were actively engaged in one of the greatest evils man has ever seen. The others? They were regular people, desperate, naive, tricked and sometimes willfully blind.   And then there were the 2/3 of the country that didn’t vote for the Nazis.  Which leads the next point.

Third, historically speaking, there was nothing sensible about how the German people chose the Nazi party. One could only think this if they didn’t know much about German history or even very much about the sociological modus operandi of how hate groups rise to power. Pre-WWII Germany was a classic case of a country in turmoil, vulnerable and desperate for help. They had high unemployment and hyperinflation which led to far too many people going hungry. Add to that the loss of pride in country. Germany lost WWI and Europe enacted some pretty strict punishments on the country. It was thought, at the time, that this would deter Germany, who had one of the largest and best military forces in the region, from becoming aggressive again. Instead it had the opposite effect. It demoralized the German people, embittered the German military forces, and made everyone in Germany suffer by worsening the effects of the economic downturn that followed WWI. So you had a country that had within a single generation descended from the pinnacle of European power and culture to a punished and ostracized nation barely able to feed itself.  They were angry, very angry, not just at Europe but also at their established leaders that had lost WWI and gotten them into the entire mess in the first place. The one thing Germans didn’t do was blame themselves or really take any responsibility.

So along came the Nazi Party–new blood, new faces. They offered Germans some pretty easy answers. The first thing they did was fill their heads with promises of fixing the economy–it’s easy to fix an economy if you control everything (China is the perfect example of this).  Once the Nazi got enough power, they could affect the economy positively because they would remove it from the vagaries of currency fluctuations based on free markets.     The other thing they did was tell Germans that the mess the country was in was not their fault. It was the fault of the old regime and the “others”, in this case most often Jews. They told Germans that they were an exceptional people, above all others. Of course, this is exactly what the German people most wanted to hear–wonderful bumper sticker answers to complicated geo-political problems.   Besides telling people what they wanted to hear, they also used sheer brute force. For example, they joined with the Socialist Party by convincing them they honestly had good will and common cause with them (hence the addition of the term to their name) and as a result they gained a lot of votes they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Once they had those offices, they then turned around and destroyed the Socialist members from within. Then they leveraged their current position to move to the next level. They did this all the way to the top of the country’s power structure very quickly–too quickly.

Those in business and finance that they couldn’t bribe or convince to join their cause, they threatened and killed. Once they had control of enough of the banking industry, they began to use the banks to persecute their political enemies, along with many other strong-arm tactics. Any party or politician who didn’t join the Nazi party and encourage their supporters to vote for them was threatened, framed for crimes they didn’t commit, beaten or killed, had their bank accounts frozen and their property seized, etc. While they subverted and manipulated the political and financial actors, they were also busy recruiting among the traditional Weirmacht Army officers. Many officers joined the Nazi not because they were bigots or because they wanted to be political in any way (which they had assiduously avoided in the past), they simply wanted Germany returned to its former glory–they appealed to their patriotism and nationalism. And Hitler promised them that would occur. Essentially, the Nazi’s made all the right promises and all the right threats to get to the top but none of it would have been possible had the country not been so vulnerable in the first place.  How Johnson thinks that “sensible” decisions were made under such conditions is just either ignorant or a dangerous reinterpretation of history.

The fourth and final point I wanted to make was that even IF the entire Nazi Party knew of the underlying evil agenda (they didn’t)….even IF they all participated in the evil things they did to rise to power (they didn’t)…even IF two-thirds of German voters voted for the Nazi Party (they didn’t, only one-third did)….it doesn’t make their actions sensible. No, a sensible reaction from Germany would have been to pause after WWI and acknowledge how they played a role in it. When the Nazi’s started to advocate for radical change they would have looked at all the options and found a solution that didn’t require destroying an entire race of people. When they first read Mein Kampf and realized the ultimate consequences of Hitler’s hatred, they would have found a way to stop him before he became too powerful. But they didn’t. It was too easy to sit back and hope that those evil thoughts on paper would never actually come to be in reality.  The German people simply wanted to be rescued and Hitler offered them that with an added helping of guilt-free scapegoating*. I think this is why the German people carry to this day a tremendous amount of guilt about the Holocaust.   Just because only a small portion of the Nazi’s and the country actively participated in the Holocaust, the entire country still made it possible through voting for the Nazis or acquiescing in the face of obvious fascism. Ultimately,  just enough Germans supported their crazy ideas to the point that it was okay to take the Jew’s business.  But they didn’t realize the Nazis weren’t just confiscating his factory, they were also killing him and his entire family.  They could envision the first but not the rest.  But now they recognize that they SHOULD HAVE known that any idea that focuses on the persecution of a single group of people will ALWAYS lead to even worse  actions and that eventually leads to evil. There is no bottom to this slippery slope.   Therein lies their great national shame.

Johnson not only doesn’t understand that Germany feels such shame, he doesn’t see that what they did was all that wrong.  Johnson’s logic is that if a movement is popularly supported by a generally sensible people**, then their platform must be sensible as well.  Fortunately, our country has a balance of powers where neither the Tyranny of One*** nor the Tyranny of the Majority is possible or at least, they cannot rise quickly to power in our system.  As such our governmental system is supposed to counter and slow the spread of the kind of destructive reasoning that Johnson uses in his execrable article.   That doesn’t mean he isn’t having an effect.  He is reinforcing hatred in the minds of our own Neo-Nazi groups and probably influencing the naive, desperate, ignorant or paranoid among conservatives, of which we have no shortage lately.  I can’t read stuff like this and sit silent.  No good person should.  For evil to triumph, the good only have to do nothing.  The Germans understand this, but do we?

________________________________________________

Notes:

*Sounds similar to “illegal immigrants are hurting the U.S. economy” doesn’t it?  

**Germany enjoyed and to a certain extent still enjoys a reputation for excellence in a variety of areas including engineering and manufacturing mainly due to a national characteristic of being very slow, methodical, and meticulous.  The other side of this coin is that once they start down a course, they don’t change direction very easily.  That slowness to change was considered very sensible in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, when slow action and thoughtfulness was considered the height of virtue.  However, their meticulous nature was the source of quite a bit of irony after WWII.  Historians point to the precise and detailed lists of Holocaust victims kept at various concentration camps–the Nazis knew what they were doing was wrong but they just couldn’t help themselves–records had to be kept otherwise how could they keep track of the amount of gold recovered from their victims teeth, the clothes that were taken and sent back to the major cities to be given to poor Germans, the possessions confiscated including works of art, silverware, money, etc.  Indeed, a very sensible people are the Germans.   As horrible as the concentration camp records were, they have been crucial to identifying the millions who were killed, to convicting the Nazi criminals who ran the camps, and to helping survivors figure out what happened to their family members.  

***In spite of conservative nuts who think the President is a dictator, they’re just out of touch with reality and wouldn’t know a dictator if they slapped them in the face…which makes me think….How much fun would it be to have actors who look like dictators (Chavez, Castro, or Jung Il) show up to right wing demonstrations and join in their protest? I would be very interested to see what they do.

This solution proposed by Rush Limbaugh would be pretty final, wouldn’t you say?  Bold emphasis is mine.

Okay, folks, it’s a moment of truth. We are mere hours away now from Tropical Storm Isaac, which everybody is desperately hoping becomes a hurricane. I can’t believe this. They are desperately hoping that it becomes a hurricane. It’s the Democrats’ wet dream that this thing hit New Orleans. So, you know me. My middle name is Solutions. I have some ideas for the Republicans. How to deal with the tropical storm, slash, hurricane hitting New Orleans.

(snip)
Once we publicize that we have sent 500 bags of money — well, whatever number of bags, bags filled with money to shore up the levees, what will happen? The poor of New Orleans will storm the levees and steal the bags, thereby putting themselves at risk for the eventual flooding that will happen once they remove the bags of money. And that way the Republicans can get rid of even more Democrats in Louisiana and shore up the state for themselves.

I honestly cannot believe that I am hearing this kind of EVIL in the United States of America in frigging 2012. Seriously?! I am sincerely hoping that the GOP comes out, particularly Romney and Ryan, and not only condemns this but also severs all ties with this maniac.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
–Albert Einstein

I think the companies that still buy ad space from Limbaugh should be excoriated for continuing their support after this. This is just going too, too far for good people to stand by and not say something.

ht JM Ashby at Bob Cesca’s Awesome Blog

Well I, and many other liberals, said it would happen and now it has begun.  An Oklahoma mother brought her daughter to a local hospital after she was raped only to be turned away and refused help by a doctor because it went against the doctor’s religious beliefs to provide emergency contraception (also too, they refused to examine her and collect evidence of the crime).  This refusal is entirely legal in states like OK, AZ, SD, MS, GA, ID……it is called a “conscience clause”.

The number of professions who are getting “conscience clauses” seems to be growing and oddly enough (actually not oddly, this is expected) their conscience only seems to apply to issues that affect women.   It’s getting extended to other “health care” workers like pharmacists who can refuse to give medication to a patient if it violates their religious conscience.  Taking the example above from OK….if this young woman did manage to find a doctor to give her emergency contraception, she could face the difficulty of also potentially getting rejected by a pharmacist as well.  Can you imagine having gone through the trauma of rape, going to the hospital and those medical professionals not only refusing to examine you and collect evidence for that rape (so no justice will be forthcoming for this crime) BUT to refuse to give you medication to treat a potential pregnancy AND THEN having to find a doctor (in this OK case the doctor wouldn’t even help her find a doctor who would help her) AND finally getting a prescription ONLY to have the pharmacist refuse to fill it? But wait, it gets better.

Arizona has even extended this kind of conscience clause to include college students in the field of counseling, social work and psychology.  This exemption for students in these counseling-oriented fields go so far as to allow them to refuse training that might be required for professional competence.  So the state legislature has decided in their infinite wisdom that students have a right to avoid being professionally competent if it violates their religious beliefs.  Okay, take that same scenario I just described above….you have been raped and refused treatment at your local hospital and then rejected by a pharmacist.  What if you never were able to get the emergency contraception and you became pregnant?  While in therapy (because let’s hope you get therapy because you’re going to need it) the therapist has a religious objection to abortion and won’t discuss it with you or, worse yet, harangues you not to get one.   THEN to add insult to injury, if you do go to a doctor who wants to help you with an abortion, he/she will be forced to give you an ultrasound (potentially a transvaginal ultrasound) and FORCE you to look at and hear the anti-abortion spiel the law requires them to read.   Can you fucking imagine?

What other little exemptions and for what other professions do they have in mind?  Are they going to start allowing the police to exercise their religious objections using a conscience clause?  Some fundamental Christians believe a man has a right to beat his children and his wife.  If a cop subscribes to that faith, can he refuse to enforce laws against domestic violence?  No, of course not.  The profession of law enforcement expects that personal beliefs cannot and should not get in the way of administering the law.  ALL professions have taken this stance until this recent spate of laws.

I wonder if those conservative doctors, pharmacists and therapists ever stop to worry about all the single men they gave Viagra to without a second thought.  How many of those went out and fornicated out of wedlock, making babies they had no intention of acknowledging and supporting?  How many of those men were rapists?  But for the victims, they obsess over the victims and their reproductive capabilities.  Conservatives and conservative health care professionals have made sure that a victim will not only be more likely to get fucked before she ever arrives at the hospital but at every step after and in between as well.

Get your burqas ready ladies.  I’m afraid we’re going to need them sooner rather than later.

Sources:

http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/pharmacist-conscience-clauses-laws-and-information.aspx

http://www.care2.com/causes/oklahoma-rape-victim-turned-away-from-hospital.html#ixzz1wOowMf60

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/30/oklahoma-doctor-refuses-to-provide-emergency-contraceptive-to-rape-victim-on-basis-of-religious-conscience/

http://aamftca.org/conscience-clause/

I am watching Anderson Cooper 360 and horrified by what I see in the videos.  A baby, not much younger than my son, gasping for air, dying of shrapnel wounds.  A boy, about my daughter’s age, who is covered in blood and buried up to the waist with debris from his bombed home. This has to stop. Why did we do something about Libya but are not doing anything about Syria?  This kind of calculation that they do in Washington, regardless of which party controls the government, disgusts me.  It should always be, first and foremost, about the humanitarian angle and less about natural resources or the feefees of asshole nations like China and Russia.

I will never understand why we help some people but not others, as if the lives of one area are more worthy than another.  It’s utter bullshit.  Make the Syrian government  stop killing it’s own people.  It’s simply unacceptable.