Monday, August 26, 2019

Copping an Attitude

I saw another Facebook status that pissed me off last week:

In other words, “Stop crying or we’ll give you something to cry about.”

How nice to be immune from criticism from anyone who isn’t doing the job themselves.

I understand that it’s a dirty and dangerous job, and we owe a lot to our police officers. But is it too much to ask that they do their jobs without arresting innocent bystanders or beating the shit out of people in handcuffs? Or shooting people who are running away from traffic stops? Or rolling anyone who looks like they have money?

It’s not like we’re just being picky here.

The funny thing is, right after I saw the meme, I read an article in the Baltimore Sun about how the Baltimore City police are now afraid to make arrests because they’ll get in trouble.

So many things set me off.

Many Baltimore Police officers say making an arrest can be nerve-wracking because they feel overburdened by documenting even necessary force, they worry they will be harshly punished for their actions and they don’t feel supported by commanders.”

If you can take the time to night-stick someone, I think you can take the time to justify it in writing. Next time, maybe they’ll think before they clobber.

You know, I’d really like to knock the crap out of that guy, but I just don’t wanna do the paperwork.

’ They’re ready to throw police officers under the bus to appease the media and don’t support us even when our actions are appropriate,’ one officer was quoted as saying

The media would be falling at their feet if they could start locking up bad guys without the eventual civil suit settlement for unnecessary violence. I don’t know about the internal review apparatus, but if their actions are justified, there shouldn’t be a problem. And I mean “justified” to an average person, not to another cop going, “It wasn’t THAT bad of a beating,”

All they have to do is release the body-cam footage at the soonest possible time. If the cop is justified, like the suspect is going crazy and inciting a fight, it will be plain as day (as long as there is no “selective editing” by turning the cam on and off at crucial times). Sometimes, some of these guys are asking for it and I don’t think there’s that much of an outcry.

Another officer said police were ‘afraid to arrest anyone’ for fear that too many documented uses of force would be used against them.” 

I’m sorry, if it’s justified, regardless of how many, it shouldn’t be a problem, although one might want to know how a single officer always seems to catch the “justified.” And if it’s not justified, well that’s the freakin’ point, isn’t it? To weed out the cops who are dealing out unjustified force.

I like the new Commish. He says he responds to such complaints by telling them “that the law hasn’t changed. Rather, the expectations are raised and officers will now be held accountable.”

But that’s the problem, in a nutshell. For the past 20 years, the Baltimore City police have had carte blanche to crack heads, plant evidence, and go on their merry way. Usually, there was no one to say otherwise, other than the one with the cracked head. And who was going to believe some criminal over an officer of the law?

Cell phone video changed all of that. Now there is independent, corroborating evidence showing cops cracking people at the drop of a hat or comment. They need to realize that the old days are over and they need to act like the public servants and role model’s they’re supposed to be.

I keep mentioning this because it’s vastly important, but this “above the law” behavior is so ingrained, they keep doing it even with Justice Department officials are riding in the car with them while they were formulating the Consent Decree.

I know that I’ve never been a cop and wouldn’t have been if I could. And I know that they’re the first people I’m calling when I hear someone coming in the door. People always complain about the cops until they need one.

But that doesn’t mean we can grant this group of people a broad license to do whatever they damn well feel like doing and operate like the unelected King of their Domain. They’re supposed to uphold the law, not break it when it’s convenient or hurt people just for fun.

For those feel this expectation of lawfulness is just too restricting, they can always apply for a job with ICE.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Debunkery - The Voting Dead Edition

Let’s take a critical look at some conservative memes, freshly harvested from social media last week.

Civics 101
I never took “civics” in high school; it was called US Government when I took it, but the content under either name should be required viewing before posting racist memes like this: 

Only USA citizens should vote in USA elections.” Already true, with any variance being statistically negligible.

Only USA citizens should receive government benefits.”  Already true. Illegal aliens are not eligible for SNAP, Welfare, or anything else the Right considers “handouts.” It’s funny though… the Right doesn’t really like card-carrying USA citizens receiving government benefits either, at least not if they’re not white.

Only USA citizens should be counted officially in the USA census.” The Official USA Constitution requires the count of all people, citizen or not, in the USA census. The Right is supposed to cherish the Constitution as it was written. “Originalism” is a main requirement to get the GOP blessing for a SCOTUS nominee. But as most things with Republicans, they’re all for an idea except when it becomes inconvenient to their topic of the moment.

That’s What HE Said
Speaking of racism masquerading as “border security:”

Meme-sters are trying to show Democratic hypocrisy but linking this statement from then-Senator Obama with the current protests about the Trump southern border policies.

There really is no disconnect. Yes, what Obama said is what most Democrats want. We are NOT for letting people flood across the border all willy-nilly. What’s more important are the things we are also not for, like:
·        Forcibly separating children from parents, as a matter of policy. (A policy highlight, in fact.)
·        Holding said children (and adults) in subhuman conditions.
·        Continually moving the goalposts for what it takes to become a citizen or claim asylum.

Until conservatives propose the same things for our northern border, it’s a simple matter of racism. If the current policies were really about not allowing criminals into the country, they wouldn’t keep making it harder and harder for anyone to immigrate legally. They are 100% trying to limit the number of brown people in America.

Same Old, Same Old
I’m getting pretty tired of this one:

“Illegals” basically get nothing already (except incarcerated). And yes, we DO owe veterans. So where are the Republican plans to help them? Republicans have been in undiluted power for 2 years. And even if they approved a plan for veterans NOW, the Democratic House would support it too, unless they added the requisite “poison pill,” like “Wall” funding, to ensure the Dems don’t support it. That way they have a campaign issue and more memes to circulate: “Hey, The Democrats voted against Veterans!

Also, please explain why this is always presented as a binary situation. It’s always, “issue of the day” vs “why aren’t we helping veterans?”  Believe it or not, we can do multiple things at once.

How come conservatives aren’t making memes like “Why can we can push billions of dollars to corporate agribusiness giants, but not help homeless veterans?

Republicans love veterans, especially as a club against any other public works, but not so much that they’ll do anything for them.

Deliver Us from Evil
I take this to be an anti-gun control meme:

They’re saying there are no laws we can pass to prevent people using guns to kill.  Of course, we already have laws addressing all kinds of evil: murder, rape, kidnapping, torture… should we just scrap those too because evildoers don’t obey laws?

Obviously, gun murderers kill in defiance of the law. But do we have to make it so damned easy? That’s the goal of the recent, reasonable gun proposals: background checks, banning semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity clips. With laws like those on the books, future killers may take a hit to their killing efficiency. Instead of killing 20 at a clip, maybe they kill 5 or 10 because they were stopped when they had to reload. Is that not a worthy, attainable objective?

Of course it is, but the gun nuts seek to misdirect and muddy the moral clarity here.

Chief Running Scared
Yes, the last gasp of gun apologists… defending the homeland against our own government.

Dear Rednecks,
If the good old US of A wants to, they can squash you and your buddies like bugs, regardless of how many AR-15 Bushmasters you have on hand. This is real life, not “Red Dawn.” A band of plucky rebels is not going to hold down the fort against US Army firepower.

Just ask the Taliban. They had a lot of semi-automatic weapons too. The USA military wiped them out like swatting flies. (You know, back when that was an active operation. And much like bugs, they came back.)

If that’s the best argument you have against banning semi-automatic rifles, you’ve already lost. You and your buddies can get along just fine hunting with standard rifles and bows and arrows. And there will be plenty of handguns available to protect yourself and your loved ones.

But this “budda-budda-budda” fetish of yours has got to go.

Where is That Forest? All I See are Trees!
Because BET is causing so much angst in the white community:

Yes, black people can have the BET Channel and the NAACP because white people have everything else. I suppose in the next meme, they’ll be going after Univision.

Since the dawn of film and television, the media has been predominantly and overwhelmingly white. Even as recently as two years ago, it took a social movement to get the Oscars to start taking African-American films and casts seriously.

We have a market here that has been so marginalized in popular media that they had to start their own channel and awards, and you want to take THAT away too?

All I see here is the “race” version of straight guys wanting Straight Pride parades. It’s a farce.

Bring Out’cher Dead
I haven’t heard of any cemetery fence protests, but OK...

I presume this is a shot at the social media noise regarding names of dead people showing up on voter rolls. That made for a solid-sounding basis for Republicans to insist on requiring voter ID at the polls. (And totally NOT because it suppresses likely Democratic votes.)

But this point is just as misleading as all their other points on the issue. What the meme-makers don’t want you to realize is that while they found names of dead people on voter rolls, they did not show any significant casting of votes under these names. In other words, no harm, no foul.

At most, it’s a matter of poor precinct housekeeping. It is most assuredly NOT a basis to deprive voting rights to a significant segment of voters (who in a wild coincidence, just so happen to oppose your candidates, platform and attitude).

Monday, August 12, 2019

Odd Bits - The Frank Pentangeli Edition

Hopes for the show-trial to end all show-trials blew up over the weekend with the “suicide” of Jeffery Epstein, accused child molester and boss of a human trafficking/sex slave operation. I understand the investigations into his business dealings will continue but now we’ll never be able to see him on the stand, to not only answer for his activities but naming names under oath, of those who participated in his particular brand of “live entertainment.”

Now, let me get out in front here and say that I don’t think anyone snuck into his jail cell, subdued him into silence and hung him by the bedsheets (or whatever it was he used). I think he killed himself.

But I don’t think there’s any way that the path to off himself wasn’t cleared from high above. Otherwise, the level of incompetence would have to be so high that everyone associated with that prison should be fired. Even people who wrote letters to prisoners. I mean, there should have been a bull sitting outside his cell 24/7.

Meanwhile, he was ON suicide watch, then taken OFF suicide watch at the end of July. Why was he taken off in the first place? Hell, he’d be voted Most Likely to Snuff It in Prison, practically unanimously. And still they were supposed to check him every 30 minutes, right?

And they had video cameras, but they were not pointed at cells, not even his. In what world does that make any sense? Why waste time and money watching the hallways when the cells are where the action is?

And if this was all due to an inconceivable dereliction of duty, don’t you think the Justice Dept (or whatever governing law-enforcement body was in charge) knew the conditions there beforehand? So why was such a high-profile prisoner to such an under-staffed and ill-conceived detention center?

I fully believe that someone who had a lot to lose and was knee-deep in Epstein’s “teenage outreach program” paid off whoever it took to get him in that very place.

And then, maybe someone sent word, (by emissary, probably), to make the Godfather II offer that Tom Hagen made Frank Pentangeli. Remember that scene in the jail, when Hagen tells the old Capo about how in Roman times, if captured traitors killed themselves in prison, their family would not only be spared retribution but be taken care of?

Then Pentangeli promptly went back to his cell and cut his wrists.

I don’t know if Epstein had anyone in his life he cared about, so whether it was the Pentangeli gambit or the educated guess that this rich bastard would not be able to cope with spending the rest of his life contemplating the cold steel bars of a prison cell, someone made sure he was in a place where he could take the coward’s way out.

The identity of that “someone” is now the subject of a great deal of social media speculation. Powerful people on both sides of the political aisle have been tied to Epstein, including President Clinton and the Current Occupant. The conspiracy theories are spewing from all corners. Conservatives immediately jumped on the Clinton angle, especially given the history of people from their circles getting killed, and there’s no conspiracy alive they won’t try to pin on Hillary.

But one thing I learned, when looking for the pic you see above, is that Trump mouthpiece Roger Stone already brought up the Pentangeli angle in 2017, in reference to Mueller's Russia Investigation.

If you testify, you’re a fool,” he told an associate as House investigators scheduled an appearance in the probe of Russian election meddling. Instead, Stone told his ally he should pull a “Frank Pentangeli.

So, this is not a new idea in the Trump Brain Trust and Alibi Headquarters. And Trump’s legal toady and apologist William Barr is in the perfect place to pull the strings that put Epstein in just the right place to execute this “strategy.” Just sayin’, this one quacks like a duck.

Social Circles
Have you seen how 45 is now trying to come up with an Executive Order to regulate how social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., curate their sites and pull offensive material?

It’s funny that when these sites act to curtail hate speech, it’s seen as an anti-Republican move. “Hate” is their brand now and they’re leaning into it.

But here’s an angle I haven’t seen addressed… What if this is part of a plan to pave the way for the Russian troll farms to influence voters the way they did in 2016. We’re onto them now and the big operations are working to suppress their attempts at mass persuasion.

It worked well enough that Americans elected a bankruptcy-laden businessman with sexual harassment tendencies and zero ethics, so I’m sure they don’t want to lose that tailwind now.

Of course, it may also come from Trump being butt-stung when Twitter deactivated millions of Twitter bots and he lost a big chunk of his “followers,” to fall further behind Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande.

Now, I want to ask if you might help me out and explain something to me because I haven’t been able to find a satisfactory answer online. I’m primary asking other bloggers but will take input from anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I get overrun by blog comment spam. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s those pointless blog comments made up of mealy-mouthed praise (or criticism), questions about the blog service, comments on the color scheme, and always in awkward English, like it was written by a knockoff version of Google Translation. They’re always anonymous and never show up on the Statcounter hit tracker.

Here’s one I got this afternoon:
“I know this web page provides quality depending
articles or reviews and extra data, is there any other web site which provides these kinds
of information in quality?”

Every once in a while, I’ll get one that has a link to whatever service they’re hawking. But most of the time, there is no link or call for action of any kind. Obviously, I kill all of these comments via Moderation, because I won’t have this written excrement on my site. (Say what you will about my own content.)

My question is, what’s the point? Why go through this operation to leave a semi-literate comment about nothing? What do they these mutants or bots hope to accomplish, other than irritating a blog owner? I just don’t see where the payoff for this particular scam comes from.

I’d love to hear any explanation you can provide.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Neighborhood Bluz

This week everyone is writing about the twin massacres in El Paso and Toledo Dayton and doing quite a good job of it. I can’t say that I have anything else to add that I haven’t said before.

I’ve addressed this issue a lot since I started this blog, but most comprehensively in February of last year. And even then, I started with a lengthy quote from what I wrote four years before that. I just don’t know what else to say. 

And I’ve even run this graphic before.

In the meantime, President 45’s attacks on Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings continue because why give up an applause line at your rallies, right?

Now, as a Baltimore resident (and constituent of Rep. Cummings, as I pointed out last week), I’ve criticized Baltimore as much as anyone. There are real problems here. They were here when I moved here 21 years ago and they remain still. But dropping it all on the lap of a single Congressman is a little unrealistic. Sure, a little pork can help, but you still have to get it by at least half of the other 434 people in the House.

Baltimore’s problems are the responsibility of local and state government. Those are the boots on the ground that have to kick it into gear because there’s a lot to do.

The city water system was installed in the 1800s so water main breaks and sinkholes are a regular occurrence. The city police department has been as crooked as the perps they beat up. There are over 300 murders per year within the city limits. Many schools are in complete disrepair, often with no A/C system. Of course, there are rats anyplace garbage is left outside. And I’m just scratching the surface.

The president is only too happy to highlight these shortcomings because they come from a Democratic stronghold while ignoring similar situations in Red States run by his biggest fans. And he wonders why anyone would see fit to live here.

I’ll tell you why.

I live in an old working-class neighborhood. Sweetpea and I are two of the very few white people in the area. WE are the minorities here. It didn’t use to be that way, but it is now.

This is the house where Sweetpea was born and grew up. Last year, I moved in from my apartment in the suburbs and the one thing I learned is that there are good people in this neighborhood. Right here in the old hellhole of District Seven.

For example, while we were away on vacation last week, one neighbor watered our outside plants. Another one picked up our dog from the kennel and watched him overnight. And another brought in our newspapers. (Yes, I still get newspapers.)

This week, while Sweetpea was walking the dog, she got an offer to remove a pile of old rotted wood… mostly giant sticks that the dog likes to bring home… for free.

“I barkz softly, but carryz beeg steeck.”

She also met up with a Mexican family walking their pug, so now the kids come over so they can all walk dogs together.

Three different neighbors have the keys to our house, and we have theirs as well.

We try to do our part too. When we get a big snow in the wintertime, Sweetpea shovels the walks for some of our older neighbors. Then we always seem to find a big bag of dog food on our doorstep.

Earlier this year, our next-door neighbors’ house caught on fire. (No, it wasn’t firebombed; the teenage kids were cooking and something went wrong.) They stayed in some hotel rooms, courtesy of their insurance company, but we took their dog into our home for over a week. And another neighbor cut their grass.

This isn’t the stuff that goes on in hellholes; this is people being good neighbors to each other.

And one of the best features… No Homeowner’s Association! So we can have whatever kind of fence we want, and no one complains about clotheslines, the color of your house paint or patio furniture.

I work here, play here and live here. I can criticize this city if I want to. But I don’t want to hear it from some clown hasn’t seen anything but the route from the airport to the Four Seasons. If he doesn’t like the tenements in Baltimore, he can assign his son-in-law to clean them up. If he can take on peace in the Middle East, he should be able to clean up his own properties.