And the VEEP pick is …

Tim Kaine …

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So, Hillary plays the cautious card:  Vanilla Ice.

“Safe” seems to be Kaine’s middle name. The Spanish-speaking former missionary and onetime swing-state governor sits on both the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees in the Senate. And while the Warren-Sanders wing of the Democratic Party may object to some of his positions on trade and Wall Street regulation, Kaine rarely takes controversial stands or makes painful gaffes, thus fulfilling the Hippocratic oath for vice presidential nominees: First, do no harm.

Kaine, for all the buzz about his chances, has been deeply self-effacing during the awkward public tryout process. When asked during a “Meet the Press” interview last month if he was ready to be president, he said no. “Nobody should ever say they’re ready for that responsibility, because it is so, so huge,” he said in what some saw as a tacit rebuke of Warren, who answered confidently that she is ready to be commander in chief when asked the same question by Rachel Maddow.

But Kaine’s humble, vanilla persona endeared him to Clinton. “I love that about him,” she told CBS News’ Charlie Rose in an interview earlier this week when grilled about whether he was too boring. Added Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close confidant of the Clintons who has been pushing for his home-state senator: “If anything, he’s only helped himself through this entire process.”

Well, I know some “progressives” (GAWD I hate that word) who aren’t happy with this choice but at this point I just want Trump to disappear permanently from my TV set and country.   It’s not Kaine’s policies that will become law so, oh well. Plus, I think help with Virginia and the Rust Belt is likely more helpful than picking a few BOBs in already blue states.

Liberals say they are concerned about Mr. Kaine’s positions on global trade deals and Wall Street regulation. He has been an outspoken advocate of free trade and has defended the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many voters in Rust Belt states blame for the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico. He voted in support of “fast track” authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact that President Obama has championed.

He wasn’t my choice but Democratic insiders seem pleased or at least they are acting pleased on TV.   So, you can Google him and his positions.  He’s  center left and has done well for Virginia.  Nate Silver doesn’t think he’ll help with the election so he likely fits in with the Clinton comfort zone in terms of being a trusted adviser.

 Kaine has traditional credentials, having served as Virginia’s governor before joining the U.S. Senate. He’s young enough, at 58, that he could run for president himself in 2020 or 2024. He’s not especially liberal, but he’s no Blue Dog Democrat, either. He’s a white guy, although he speaks good Spanish. If Mike Pence is a “generic Republican,” then Kaine is a “generic Democrat.”

The difference is that Kaine comes from a swing state, whereas Donald Trump would likely lose Pence’s home state, Indiana, only in a national landslide. If you’re going to pick someone from a swing state, is Virginia among the better options? And how much difference does the vice presidential nominee really make in his or her home state?

Our previous research suggests that a vice presidential pick adds about 2 percentage points to his party’s margin in his home state. So, for instance, if Clinton would otherwise win Virginia by 3 percentage points, her margin would theoretically increase to 5 points with Kaine on the ticket. Not all VP bonuses are created equal, of course; there’s some evidence that VP nominees chosen from less populous states (for instance, Joe Biden of Delaware or Sarah Palin of Alaska) make more difference than those picked from larger ones. But Kaine seems like a fairly typical case: Virginia is a medium-size state, and Kaine’s approval ratings there are solid but not spectacular.

It actually takes quite a confluence of circumstances, though, for those 2 percentage points in one swing state to change the winner of the Electoral College. For Kaine to swing the election for Clinton, she’d have to be losing Virginia without him (otherwise he’d be superfluous) but not losing it by more than 2 percentage points (otherwise, he wouldn’t help enough). Likewise, she’d have to be losing the Electoral College without Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, but she’d need to have at least 257 from other states or Virginia wouldn’t make a big enough impact.1

What are the odds of all of that happening? About 1 chance in 140, according to our polls-only model, based on a set of simulations I ran early Friday afternoon. That translates into only about a 0.7 percent chance that a VP pick from Virginia would swing the election to Clinton.

And here’s a comedy break:

Discuss amongst yourselves!!!

Friday Reads: Voting is an Act of Citizenship not Philosophical Masturbation

d22c1faa57e65292fd7d8d4b059e66e4Good Morning!

I’ve pretty much had the television off all week.  I could only handle Haterpalooza in small doses of video and print. The Republican Party has no claim to anything any more other than enabling white supremacists, nativists, and bigots.  I am no longer patient with any one that is looking towards a third party vote.  Donald Trump is not a sane person.  He is not a mature adult.  He is a clear and present danger to the existence of humanity, this country, and the world. The act of nominating Donald Trump is a declaration of war on humanity, the US Constitution, and civilization.  There is no amount of blackmailing emotional, philosophical, or verbal gymnastics that you can do to justify a vote for anyone but Hillary Clinton at this point or you’ve just joined a war against humankind imho.

Here’s Ezra Klein from Vox on the man who wants to be Fascist in Chief.  Donald Trump has a dark, hell-realm filled vision of and for the 2004-11-02__bush-votingUSA.

Donald Trump is not a candidate the American people would turn to in normal times. He’s too inexperienced, too eccentric, too volatile, too risky. Voting Trump is burning down the house to collect the insurance money — you don’t do it unless things are really, really bad.

Here is Trump’s problem: Things are not really, really bad. In fact, things are doing much better than when President Obama came into office.

Unemployment is 4.9 percent nationally — a number Trump knows is far from a crisis, because it’s lower than the unemployment rate Mike Pence is presiding over in Indiana, and Trump keeps bragging about his running mate’s economic record. The deficit has gone down in recent years, and the stock market has gone up. The end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars mean fewer Americans are dying abroad. A plurality approve of the job Obama is doing.

So Trump needs to convince voters that things are bad, even if they’re not. He needs to make Americans afraid again. And tonight, he tried.

“Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation,” Trump said. “The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.”

As Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for Obama, wrote on Twitter, this was Trump’s “Nightmare in America” speech. The address had one goal, and one goal only: to persuade Americans that their country is a dangerous, besieged hellscape, and only Donald Trump can fix it.

83555807I have watched the Republican Party’s decline for some time.  It hasn’t been pretty.   But this is beyond ugly.   Last night was a parade of white supremacists, theocrats, bigots, and the worst the country has had to offer.  Any one that does not speak out against this cannot have the country’s best interests at heart.  They are simply acting out of some kind of selfishness and privilege that’s beyond my grasp.   So, now that I’ve quoted liberal Ezra Klein. Let me get you to the libertarian thoughts on the speech last night.  ” Donald Trump’s RNC Speech Was a Terrifying Display of Nightmarish Authoritarianism. The GOP presidential nominee had only one solution to every problem: Give him more power.”

Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination was easily the most overt display of authoritarian fear-mongering I can remember seeing in American politics. The entire speech was dark and dystopian, painting America as a dismal, dangerous place beset by violent outsiders. In response to the nation’s problems, Trump had only one solution: Donald Trump, the strongman who would take America back, by force if necessary.

Trump framed the speech by painting America as a nation under siege from urban crime, terrorism, and immigrants. He talked of rising homicide levels in some cities. He warned darkly of terrorist and immigrants, practically conflating them with urban violence, and told stories of Americans killed by those who had entered the country illegally. The simplest and more straightforward way to interpret Trump’s speech was as a warning that outsiders are coming to America to kill you and your family.

It was a relentlessly grim and gloomy picture of America, built on thinly disguised racial distrust and paranoia. It was a portrait that was also essentially false. Violent crime has been steadily falling for more than two decades. Immigrants are less prone to criminality than native-born Americans.

But portraying America in such a dark light let Trump cast himself as the nation’s dark hero, a kind of billionaire-businessman fixer, unbound by rules or expectations of decorum—President Batman, the only one with the guts and the will to fight for the people.

Trump did not invoke superpowers, of course, but he might as well have; he had no other ideas or solutions to offer.

In addition to terrorism and criminality, Trump stoked anxiety about jobs and the economy, lamenting bad trade deals and the loss of manufacturing jobs. As president, he said, he would take our bad trade deals—especially NAFTA—and turn them into good ones. He did not say one word about how, or even what a “good” trade would look like, only that he would fix the problem. Trump promised to bring outsourced jobs back to America, and, as he has in the past, threatened unspecified “consequences” to companies that move operations overseas.

Trump’s entire speech was packed with threats and power grabs, details be damned. It was a speech about how government should be made bigger and stronger and given more authority over every part of American life, and government, in most cases, simply meant Donald Trump himself. It was an argument for unlimited government under a single man, for rule by Trump’s whim. He sounded less like he was running for president and more like he was campaigning to be an American despot.

John_F._Kennedy_voting_1960Our Dear Miss Brooks calls it the “Death of the Republican Party”.  He refers to Trump as the Dark Knight.   I prefer to see him as the Joker.

But if Trump is detached from the country, and uninterested in anything but himself, he’s also detached from his party. Trump is not really changing his party as much as dissolving it.

A normal party has an apparatus of professionals, who have been around for a while and who can get things done. But those people might as well not exist. This was the most shambolically mis-run convention in memory.

A normal party is united by a consistent belief system. For decades, the Republican Party has stood for a forward-looking American-led international order abroad and small-government democratic capitalism at home.

Trump is decimating that, too, along with the things Republicans stood for: NATO, entitlement reform, compassionate conservatism and the relatively open movement of ideas, people and trade.

50554769Another long time Republican crony has quit the Republican party.  Daniel Pipes joins the likes of Mary Matalin on the rat swim away from the ship.

The Republican Party nominated Donald Trump as its candidate for president of the United States – and I responded by ending my 44-year GOP membership.

Here’s why I bailed, quit, and jumped ship:

First, Trump’s boorish, selfish, puerile, and repulsive character, combined with his prideful ignorance, his off-the-cuff policy making, and his neo-fascistic tendencies make him the most divisive and scary of any serious presidential candidate in American history. He is precisely “the man the founders feared,” in Peter Wehner’s memorable phrase. I want to be no part of this.

Second, his flip-flopping on the issues (“everything is negotiable”) means that, as president, he has the mandate to do any damn thing he wants. This unprecedented and terrifying prospect could mean suing unfriendly reporters or bulldozing a recalcitrant Congress. It could also mean martial law. Count me out.

There are more reasons.  Go check it out.

This is what happens when you sell your soul to angry bigots to pass tax cuts for the very wealthy.  I should be dancing on a lot of graves–happily Roger Ailes is gone from Fox because the Barbie Army turned him in–but I can’t dance. I can’t celebrate.  I can only stand here with my hair on fire and scream.

I’ve got so many places to send you for folks writing about how horrified they were by last night and nixon votingthe entire week.  I’m going to let my friend Peter rep for them.  Peter, I know this goes a step beyond “fair usage” but damn you Godwinned and you Godwinned appropriately.

I am obviously biased: I hate Donald Trump and am appalled that this sociopath has won a major party nomination. Following Trump closely has led me to modify my belief in Godwin’s Law. Here’s a rough paraphrase of it: mention the Nazis in an argument and you lose. I’ve always avoided Nazi and Fascist comparisons, believing them to be hyperbolic: who was worse than Hitler, after all?While I still don’t anticipate an American holocaust in the unlikely event that Trump is elected, I have to place Godwin’s Law on the back burner for the duration of the campaign. Donald Trump and his supporters represent the dark side of the American psyche and must be stopped.

On to the speech, I thought it was, in equal parts, horrible and horrifying. It was dark, brooding, and jumbled. The delivery was LOUD and wildly OTT. I felt bludgeoned after being screamed at for 76 minutes as well as depressed by listening to a speech that didn’t describe the America I live in.In between accusing Hillary Clinton and James Comey of crimes against the state, Trump told us to be scared, very scared. Even the ostensibly “uplifting” parts were stepped on by Trump’s red-faced, angry, and shouty delivery. I have my doubts that the American people want to be screamed at for four years. It will be bad enough to be shouted at for the next 3 1/2 months.

In substance, tone and delivery, it was a white nationalist speech full of attacks on minorities and immigrants. Brown people scare Donald Trump and he wants you to be afraid too. The speech went over well in the anti-Semitic community as well:

David Duke @DrDavidDuke

Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!

 In addition to being delivered in a rather Hitlerian manner, Trump’s solution to every problem was himself. I am your voice, he said several times. Sounds like the Fuhrer principle to me. I wasn’t sure if he’s running for President or Dictator. If you saw it, you know it was that bad. The rest of the convention was funny, Trump’s speech was not.

No one will be surprised to hear that the speech was packed with lies and half-truths calculated to scare the living shit out of the audience. Politics USA has come up with 21 fact checked proven lies in the speech. I’m surprised it was that few. The audacity of mendacity should be the campaign’s slogan instead of Making America White Great Again.

Please notice the number of likes from last night on the David Duke Tweet and start being very afraid.

I’m going to make this short because I expect there will be another post up shortly announcing the VEEP choice of Clinton and it deserves a stand alone post.

Just rant away here because I know I feel a strong need to rant and cry. Here are some associated links.

Twitter Rants via Salon.

World Reaction via CNN.

The One Reaction Every one should have via The Root.

Celebrity Reaction via CBS  (Yeah, how the great have fallen… poor Uncle Walter.)

NPR Fact Checks the speech.  (Shorter NPR:  Lies and Bigotry)

Oy.  Just. OY.

Monday Reads: and the beat goes on

5a07c9c80ea19b926bd8bac117a57dbbWhat can be said about the violence erupting around the country and around the world these days?  Words can fail us. We’re losing hearts and minds along with lives.  How did we get here?  I hope we don’t have to wait on historians to deconstruct the causes because we’re careening towards a future that seems better imagined by George Miller and Byron Kennedy of Mad Max fame.  Dystopian fiction should not actually portend reality. It should be a harbinger of possibilities we can avoid; not outcomes we bring on to ourselves.

Today will be another reminder that one of the two major parties has completely lost its ability to govern and is stuck some where  we should not be.  We have the Republicans about ready to nominate a dude that reminds me of the Dennis Hopper character in Water World.   Trump sounds as crazy as that character.  I’m waiting to hear his big convention floor speech and wondering if he’ll be waving a cigar and a bottle of Jack and be wearing an eye patch, frankly.  We’re losing our sense of community and our sense of responsibility as members of community.

Our sense of alienation perhaps comes from  a world where we are more likely to connect with technology than with a human being and where our jobs are continually dehumanizing us. This generally makes us susceptible to folks that play on our anger. We’ve had two very angry pseudo populists on the national stage who really represent privilege that have done a great job of stirring up resentment.   They’ve also stirred up some insane reaction to that visible resentment.  I personally am watching my neighborhood be torn apart by already rich people looking to make more money by dismantling everything and every one deemed unprofitable.  I feel like I only exist to many of them as a possible source of monetization although I can tell I’ve outlived my usefulness for that as an aging woman of little means these days.

How did we get to a point where one of the two major parties is actually going to nominate a man whose speeches call for the dismantling of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to our Constitution? Are we so far down the rabbit hole that we’ll actually sell out the rule of law for guns and anger?

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest inrewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as  “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

Many of us have long harbored the idea that today’s Republican Party only cares about the idea of a Second Amendment on steroids and Waterworld-Hopperthe rest of our civil liberties and rights should be damned.  The realities of what I used to believe were brief moments of paranoia are just on full display this week.  Have you seen the pictures of the up-armored bicycle police in Cleveland?  I mean, how Clockwork Orange is that? Don’t even get me started on the entire idea of letting folks with assault rifles into the protest pits to strut around like dildo-toting S&M bondage RPers who are likely trigger happy. We just had three police officers ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge and the response is to let more crazies out on the streets with guns?  Really?  Really?

Hours after the head of Cleveland’s police union pleaded with the governorto suspend Ohio’s open-carry laws during the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress she is “not nervous at all” that people are walking around the city with assault weapons.

“I am recommending that people follow the law,” Katrina Pierson said Sunday when asked whether she believes people should arm themselves in the convention zone. Under Ohio law, residents over 21 years old who legally own a firearm can openly carry it in public.

In light of the shooting and death of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him,” union president Stephen Loomis told CNN. “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request.

The violence in Louisiana on Sunday was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes between police and civilians over the past few weeks. When an angry, heavily-armed civilian began shooting at police during a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month, the state’s open-carry law made it difficult for police to track down the assailant. Officers mistook at least one legally armed resident for a suspect, and the proliferation of guns made it more difficult for them to determine who posed a threat.

In the weeks leading up to the RNC, Cleveland officials expressed concern that Ohio’s law, like Texas’, would create a dangerous and hectic environment outside the convention.

2002-British-TVI’m going to put up a few links about what’s been going down in my state but I really have gone past words at some level. I have a few scattered thoughts. First, the two most recent shooters–while being black men–remind me more of Timothy McVeigh than anything coming from BLM.   These recent institutional shooters all have a military background and appear to have spent extensive time in theater over in the Middle East.

The Dallas police shooter was an army Vet and a “loner”.   The Baton Rouge Shooter was a former Marine.   Here’s a list of 22 serial killers with military backgrounds.  Are we really doing a good job of identifying vets with problems and helping them before setting them loose on society again?  Don’t we owe them and ourselves something at all?  If we broke them, shouldn’t we fix them or at least help them in some way to cope with their experiences?

There’s a lot of studies and work that’s been done that show PTSD contributes to violence. Are we just beginning to see some more of the real costs of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and sustaining a brutal ground war?

At the end of their 15-month tour in Iraq, the Lethal Warriors returned to Fort Carson with an impressive battlefield record, having cleared one of the worst parts of Baghdad, in some cases digging up IEDs with little more than screwdrivers and tire irons. Unfortunately, the Lethal Warriors achieved a kind of notoriety that was less for their battlefield exploits than for the battalion’s connection to a string of murders. In December 2007 two soldiers from the unit, Robert James and Kevin Shields, were killed, and three fellow soldiers were charged with murder. The killings were part of a larger pattern of violence extending back to 2005, including 11 murders, in what was the largest killing spree involving a single army base in modern U.S. history.

The increased violence around Fort Carson began at the start of the Iraq war. A 126-page Army report known as an “Epidemiological Consultation” released in 2009 found that the murder rate around the Army’s third-largest post had doubled and that the number of rape arrests had tripled. As David Philipps wrote in Lethal Warriors, his 2010 book about the crime spree, “In the year after the battalion returned from Iraq, the per-capita murder rate for this small group of soldiers was a hundred times greater than the national average.” Tellingly, 2-12’s post-traumatic stress disorder rate was more than three times that of an equivalent unit that had served in a less violent part of Iraq. The EPICON summarized all this in classic bureaucratic language, noting dully that there was “a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcomes.”

Put another way, war has a way of bringing out the dark side in people.

Road-WarriorOur institutions seem to do be doing that to a lot of people.  Combine that with easy access to military grade weapons and candidates whose stump speeches bring on anger and resentment and you’ve just got some kind of accelerant to death and violence imho anyway.  Mother Jones has started to keep a database on mass shootings and the profiles of the perpetrators is really quite enlightening. This is from 2012 to get you situated.   Here’s the list of the deadliest Mass shootings from 1984 to 2016.  The US is resplendent with well-armed rampage killers. Many of them are trained and experienced killers, quite damaged, and have easy access to weapons.

This is a 2013 Wired article that shows that a lot of the killings at that time were associated with folks with no military experience at all.  A lot of these killers have a fascination with military life styles but that is more along the lines of militias rather than the US military.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

How will these recent, targeted shootings of police change our ideas of mass, rampage shooters?  The Baton Rouge shooter has left a huge manifesto on various social media outlets that will likely be analyzed by crime profilers  and psychologists for some time.

Long posted dozens of videos and podcasts on his webpage “Convos With Cosmo” in addition to regularly tweeting and posting on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym “Cosmo Setepenra.”

In a video titled “Convos With Cosmo on Protesting, Oppression, and how to deal with Bullies” that was posted a week before Sunday’s shooting, he rants about “fighting back” against “bullies” and discussed the killings of black men at the hands of the police, referencing the death of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge earlier this month.

No matter what kinds of lessons we learn about motives or triggers to these kinds of horrible shootings, the one thing we do know is that we have scads of damaged men that have easy access to incredibly powerful weapons wrecking havoc on our communities.  We also know that there is a hard core group of gun fetishists and profiteers that don’t give a damn about that.  While ignoring the perpetual drip drip drip of lost rights from other amendments, the second amendment is being hyped, dosed, and morphed into something that it was never meant to be.  The Republican party is complicit to each and every murder victim.  Machine Guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled.

Jay Hollis sought permission to convert his AR-15, a popular semi-automatic firearm, into an M16 — an automatic firearm that is banned under federal law, except for official use or lawfully obtained pre-1986 models.

After he was rejected, Hollis mounted a constitutional challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968 — which Congress amended in 1986 to make it illegal to possess or transfer newly manufactured machine guns. Among other things, he argued that an “M-16 is the quintessential militia-styled arm for the modern day.”

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected Hollis’ arguments, categorically noting that “machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”

The court explained that the leading Supreme Court precedent on the right to keep and bear arms, 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, only protected individual handgun possession for “defense of hearth and home.”

“Today … ordinary military weaponry is far more advanced than the weapons typically found at home and used for (self)-defense,” the court said, adding that machine guns are “dangerous and unusual,” and nothing like what militias might have used at the founding of the republic.

“Heller rejected a functionalist interpretation of the Second Amendment premised on the effectiveness of militia service,” the court of appeals said.

Aided by a number of gun rights groups, Hollis had pressed a number of other arguments — that anything that is “ordinary military equipment” is protected, that the Second Amendment really exists to allow a rebellion against the government, and that machine guns aren’t really “dangerous and unusual.”

The 5th Circuit was largely unimpressed, calling the last argument “tantamount to asking us to overrule the Supreme Court.”

We’ve got some major dysfunction in this country that can’t be more clearly represented than by the toxic Trump/Pence ticket.The problem is that a huge portion of our citizenship feels so disenfranchised that they seem to be in search of the end times.  Their viewpoints appear to be funded and shaped by the very folks that are making this happen.  The one thing that’s discouraged me most is that leftists are playing into a similar narrative.


It seems unlikely that Trump will be president.  I’d like to think that Hillary Clinton will be our shero. But, without a full functioning set of government institutions, how are we going to get beyond the Thunderdome? Why are we electing officials whose goal in life appear to be sabotaging our country?  If most people reject Donald Trump, why do we have a Speaker Paul Fucking Ryan whose favorite dystopian fiction writer has an overwhelmingly negative impact our US Policy?

As the GOP convention gets underway in Cleveland today, three national polls released over the weekend showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump: A CNN poll putting Clinton up by 49-42; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll putting her up by 46-41; and a Washington Post/ABC News poll putting her up by 47-43.

But buried beneath the toplines is evidence of another dynamic that gets at something important about the state of this race: While both Clinton and Trump are very unpopular, large majorities in two of these polls believe that only one of them is qualified for the presidency, and equally large majorities believe that the other one is not.

The new WaPo poll finds, for instance, that Americans say by 59-39 that Clinton is “qualified to serve as president,” but they also say by 60-37 that Trump is “not qualified to serve as president.”

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Again, my hope is that Trump/Pence go down yugely and take the likes of Paul Ryan with them. You can’t have one set of them without the others who basically feel the same way but signal their intent with weasel words.

So, obviously, we down here in Louisiana are reeling from all the recent killings.  I think some of the policy prescriptions are obvious otherwise it will be upward and onward with “a bit of the old ultraviolence.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads

Take by Brianna Paciorka for The Advocate at the funeral of Allton Sterling on the campus of SU.

 Taken by Brianna Paciorka for The Advocate at the funeral of Allton Sterling on the campus of SU.

C’est meme pas une chanson triste

It’s one of those days where you begin to wonder if having all this information and connectivity is good for your mental health.  You hear and see things first hand that make you sad and make you cringe.  The sad headings today include the memorial service for Alton Sterling and the horrible slaughter of innocents by a mentally anguished man driving a truck through the busy, celebrating streets of Nice, France.

The worst thing was the sheer number of children coming in, the nature of their injuries – serious head trauma and broken limbs – and the emotion felt by the children and their families,” said Frederic Sola, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon who worked in the hospital emergency room through the night. “The children were physically very injured but also emotionally very hurt.”

Some relatives were in such shock they were unable to talk. “The psychologists have heard terrible things, there are awful stories that children are telling,” said Stéphanie Simpson, head of the hospital’s communications team.

She said 39 people hit in the attacks had been brought to the children’s emergency department. A total of 30 children were treated at the hospital after the attack – the youngest only a few months old and the oldest was 18. Two children died in the night after being admitted. Several children were still in intensive care on Friday.

That is a horrible thing to have to witness and see.  A French student teacher taught at my high school when I studied there. He lived with two of my best friends’ family and I’m in contact with him still.  He and his family run a small restaurant in Nice.  His son witnessed some of aftermath; the carnage.  The glorious bastards known as the right wing are taunting people that the weapons remained in the car while the truck mowed down people simply celebrating Bastille Day. There is some debate on the motivation for the attack as the man was experiencing a number of personal difficulties.  The driver was a 31 year old native of Tunisia.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and authorities did not release information about a motive. But Molins said Friday that the attack fits with calls that “terrorist organizations regularly give out on their videos and elsewhere.”

Bouhlel was known by police because of allegations of threats, violence and thefts over the last six years, and he was given a suspended six-month prison sentence this year after being convicted of violence with a weapon, Molins said.

But he was “entirely unknown by the intelligence services, whether nationally or locally,” Molins said.

“He had never been the subject of any kind of file or indication of radicalization,” Molin said.

The attack was launched on a popular street that would normally be packed with tourists and residents on a sunny afternoon in July.

Miles gets a Pikachu (Polygon) Emily got this for me a long time ago because she knows I adored the spunky little beast.

Miles gets a Pikachu.

Eighty Four people have died as a result so far and as mentioned above, many of them were children enjoying a day of celebration.  Why is it that when men melt down they feel the need to take so many others with them?  Can’t they just go jump off a bridge or something?

Meanwhile, I did sign up for Pokemon Go last weekend and went out last night for my first Pokestop to pick up some of those pesky free balls.  Yes, I was out trolling the streets for balls and critters. The game is one of those things now that can only be described as a phenomenon.

I can explain it because I’m one of those parents of a kid of a certain age that obsessed about taking pictures of Pokemons on their primative Nintendo.  Youngest Daughter is an avid player as is her friend from here that’s now chasing them around the Jersey Shore.  An entire new bunch of kids and parents are out chasing them around parks and neighborhoods confusing many “get off my lawn” types.    I had a friend whose game of Golf was interrupted at city park by a group of Pokemon chasing children. Frankly, I think that’s cute and healthy.  Better outside gaming like this than on the couch.  Right FLOTUS?

Now, you shouldn’t be doing this while driving a car or in the middle of some one’s funeral at a cemetary.  There’s also some question as to the level of identity theft that might be attributable to the ap.  I don’t really care.  I’ve always been up for a good scavenger hunt and I’m an Anime fan from way back.

To fully understand Pokémon Go, you have to go back to the canonical beginnings of Pokémon. Around 1990, a video game designer named Satoshi Tajiri began hammering out the concept of Pokémon, which combined his childhood hobby of insect collecting with his love for video games.

“Places to catch insects are rare because of urbanization,” Tajiri told Time in 1999. “Kids play inside their homes now, and a lot had forgotten about catching insects. So had I. When I was making games, something clicked and I decided to make a game with that concept.”

Six years after Tajiri came up with this initial concept, with the help of Nintendo and designer/illustrator Ken Sugimori (Sugimori drew the initial 151 different Pokémon himself), the first Pokémon game was released on Game Boy.

The word Pokémon itself is the Americanized/Westernized contraction of “pocket monsters” — which, yes, can sound sort of inappropriate — and the original first-person game centered on a young trainer capturing 151 different types of Pokémon, ranging from ones that vaguely resemble turtles (Squirtle) to humanoid ones (Jynx) to the most recognizable Pokémon in the world, Pikachu.

That this combination of Nintendo 8-bit processing magic and lack of color was so magical is a testament to the ingenuity of Tajiri’s initial idea.

So, I’ve battled a few of the wild pokemon.  Visited a pokeman stop and know where the local gym is by looking at my ap which connects with the local GPS and Google maps.  There are some interesting stories coming up about the game from all over.  Here’s a few to get our minds to the idea that we can move around our neighborhoods, interact with our neighbors, and have some good clean fun while forgetting there are crazy people out there that wish us harm.  My favorite story is that Hillary Clinton is “using Pokemon to get votes.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Mallorie Sullivan reports that Clinton’s Ohio staff spent the past weekend going “from Cuyahoga to Athens to seek out players in their communities to register them to vote.”

There’s even an official Hillary event scheduled in Lakewood, Ohio, pegged to the game. “Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!” the event description says. “Kids welcome!”

Lure modules, for context, are items in the game that attract a large number of Pokémon to a given area. You can acquire them for free, but to use them for any length of time usually requires shelling out for additional lures, meaning the Clinton campaign could be spending funds on attracting Pokémon (and players) to its events.

Clinton has even mentioned it in campaign speeches. She suggests we Pokemon Go to the Polls!

pokeman go

I battle a wild pokemon on the streets of New Orleans with the virtual “help” of a neighbor.

There is even a really lame  attack ad on Hillary now from “millenials for Trump” with a player named “crooked Hillary”.  It’s not particularly clever and probably isn’t going to gain any kind of real attention.

Well, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. presidential candidates started trying to capitalize on the nationwide phenomenon that is Pokémon Go. A new attack ad posted yesterday by Donald Trump imagines his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a Pokémon to be captured and, presumably, locked away forever.

Clinton’s Pokémon name is, of course, “Crooked Hillary,” and she’s listed as a Career Politician-type creature with a CP (combat power) rating of 1. The clip describes her as “often found lying to the American people, rigging the system, and sharing TOP SECRET emails.” The ad also imagines Clinton’s next evolution as “unemployed.”

To be clear, while Trump posted the brief video on his Facebook page, it does not appear to be an ad that his campaign created. The required “I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message” notice is nowhere to be found, and the video doesn’t say that it was paid for by the Trump campaign.

What’s far more likely, considering how much time the candidate spends retweeting messages from his supporters, is that one of the Trump faithful — someone who’s a bit more savvy when it comes to social media — made the video. We’ve reached out to the Trump campaign for clarification, and will update this article with any information we receive.

In what is perhaps a coincidence, Trump posted the video on the same day that Clinton herself invoked the name of Pokémon Go. During a campaign stop yesterday in Annandale, Virginia, Clinton joked that app developers could make a mobile game to increase voter turnout: “I don’t know who created Pokémon Go, but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokémon Go to the Polls!”

So, I’m not sure how long this is going to be a big deal, but for the moment it’s a good distraction and I’m really curious to just observe the entire thing from both the standpoints of a business product, strategy and marketing and a psychological thing.   Perhaps it’s a Michelle Obama conspiracy to get people moving?

Pokemon Go has gained massive popularity lately for its fun interface and use ofaugmented reality. But the app is also providing a few unexpected health benefits for gamers.

While playing video games is typically a sedentary activity, Pokemon Go requires users to walk around and explore their real-life surroundings in search of Pokemon to capture. This has apparently inspired gamers to get outdoors and get moving.

There’s some anecdotal evidence that suggests the game is promoting more physical activity (and some people are even reporting spikes in activity on their fitness trackers). The app’s users are taking to social media to share their experiences of getting exercise while playing …

There have also been some Pokemon mishaps.  This includes car wrecks. 

Tuesday, Texas A&M University Police tweeted that on Monday, an illegally-parked car was hit from behind, causing the second car’s airbags to deploy. Police say the driver of the illegally-parked car had left it to catch a Pokemon.

Just before that post, UPD sent another tweet noting that Monday, a suspicious vehicle was reported to them about 1:00 a.m. driving on campus. Police responded, and found the occupants were playing Pokemon Go.

In addition to traffic concerns, law enforcement has asked people not to go to unsafe or unfamiliar areas to play the game.


There is something on my desk! Wait! Don’t I have two cats that are supposed to deal with this? No wonder today’s post is so damned late!!!

This also includes a few inventive robberies, a found dead body, and a fall from a cliff.  I did have a friend venture out into the street last night with my phone but we were watching out for traffic and him even if he wasn’t.  I got in the middle of a long discussion about the PokeStops last night at J&J’s Sports Bar up the street from the kathouse. The stops seem to be located in the places most likely to be the busiest in the neighborhood.  They must’ve been chosen on the number of folks on line there at some point or doing reviews or something.  The places are free now, but will the company try to monetize this access eventually and change stops based on cash payments?

I told my friend that owns the BBQ Joint which is the Gym for a huge swath of the game zone that he should try to figure out if he can monetize it first to determine if it’s worth paying a fee eventually should that occur. My friends at the bar where I hung out last night have already been celebrating their stop status on their social media.  I did watch a bunch of tourists stop  on their way places last night.   There are also local, more public things like statues, historical signs, and churches–all outside of buildings–that are designated stops too.  You really can walk around your neighborhood and hit a stop every five or six blocks somewhere.  I live in an urban hood though.  I’m sure it’s different if you’re out in the boonies somewhere or burbs.

Some unlucky Pokémon GO players are getting more than they bargained for when they fall off cliffs, get mugged, or even find a dead body while searching for Pokémon.

Here’s a round-up of some of the biggest Pokémon GO-related incidents so far:

7/13/16 Encinitas,CA CA -0.31%: Two Men Fall From Cliff While Playing Pokémon GO

Two men fell 75 feet from a cliff while playing Pokémon GO,local news reports say. The men apparently became distracted while attempting to catch a Pokémon. A rope team was involved in the rescue of at least one of the men, neither of whom was seriously injured.

7/13/16 Anaheim, CA: Man Stabbed Multiple Times While Playing PokémonGO

A man playing Pokémon GO followed the game right into Schweitzer Park around midnight Wednesday morning, only to be set upon by multiple attackers and stabbed in the torso, according to NBC Los Angeles. It does not appear that the attackers used the game to lure the man to that location, but rather that he was distracted and unaware of his surroundings when the attack occurred.

7/13/16 Lake Ronkonkoma, NY: Teen Playing Pokémon GO Robbed By Three Attackers

A 19-year-old man was playing Pokémon GO when three men, at least one of whom was armed with a handgun, pulled up alongside him in a sedan and then robbed him and stole his phone, local reports say.

So, this is a weird, shortish open thread post for a weird, longest Friday. If you’re gonna catch them all, or if you gonna walk the streets for any reason, be careful out there!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?



Monday Reads: A Change is Gonna Come

safe_imageGood Afternoon!

I’ve been trying to sort out the events that happened over the weekend in Baton Rouge which is the capitol of the state where I have lived for over 20 years.  I know it’s easy for a lot of folks to look at this as a southern problem given that  this is Louisiana and Ferguson was Missouri and Dallas is Texas and you “know” the history and the attitudes of many Southern Americans.  But, we’re also seeing the situation in St Paul, Minnesota.  The outrageous rates of incarceration of Black Americans and black men specifically is actually worse in the Northern than in the Southern USA so it’s an American problem.

This is a problem with institutional racism that is poisoning our country and our laws.  It’s killing our neighbors and stealing their future.  It’s perpetuating intense animus and distrust between American police and Black Americans. It is all our problem and it is all our responsibility to end this and end the unequal treatment of Black Americans by all aspects of the Criminal Justice System including the police.

One in nine black children has had a parent behind bars. One in thirteen black adults can’t vote because of their criminal records. Discrimination on the job market deepens racial inequality. Not only does a criminal record make it harder to get hired, but studies find that a criminal record is more of a handicap for black men. Employers are willing to give people second chances, but less so if they’re black.

“Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems. So is our current system of mass incarceration,” wrote civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander in her 2010 book “The New Jim Crow.”

These consequences entangle the broader economy. Yet, many people who study employment and the job market haven’t been paying attention to the criminal justice system. That’s a big mistake, according to Western.

“From my point of view,” he says, “mass incarceration is so deeply connected to American poverty and economic inequality.”

361DC93B00000578-3683863-image-a-44_1468205404025Treatment by militarized police forces of Black Americans is well documented and is now playing out on TV much the way the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights protests did on Nightly News in the 1960s.  It’s reaching a critical point with the police killings of  Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota whose deaths were captured clearly on cameras and–in Sterling’s case–from several angles.  It’s difficult to ignore the factors surrounding their deaths. Last week, a total of four black men were killed by police.  One happened in Houston and the other was in New York. So, we’ve only heard about half of the incidents.

I‘m going to focus on the protests in Baton Rouge because I’ve had friends on the ground reporting from there, protesting from there, and living there. I also have access to the local media and I have a lot at stake since it appears that the Baton Rouge Police Department has violated the civil rights of protesters and the property rights of a local home owner.  This will undoubtedly mean that there will be trials.  These folks are my neighbors. This is my community and civil rights violations cannot stand.

Ieshia Evans prior to her arrest on Saturday in Baton Rouge.July 9, 2016. (Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

Ieshia Evans prior to her arrest on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Taken on July 9, 2016 by Jonathan Bachman for Reuters.

It’s very difficult to talk about much of what happened last night because the BRPD response was so over the top that I felt immediately propelled to a much younger self watching the so-called 1968 Race Riots from the window of our station wagon in 1968 while driving to my Grandfather’s rest home through The Paseo area of KCMO.  Between that and watching the NBC nightly news, I learned that Black Americans experience a very different reality than I did and even at that age I knew that was wrong.

I had friends on the ground in Baton Rouge on Sunday which was even more disturbing to me. One of my friends was using Periscope Live to broadcast and describe the events.  Another has been on a freelance assignment for NYDN.  Another was there as a free lance reporter for The Daily Beast in places where even journalists were arrested and threatened. He tweeted early on that he was being threatened and corralled .  One of the most amazing things was that DeRay McKesson was arrested along with a Breitbart Reporter on the first night. Both are convinced their arrests for basically blocking traffic were unconstitutional although each blame a different root for the cause.

Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan on Saturday night found himself housed in the general prison population of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison after getting arrested while covering ongoing protests related to the death of a black man last week. But rather than blaming the police for arresting him, Stranahan, who has worked for the conservative outlet since 2010, said Monday that his arrest is symptomatic of a larger problem with the city’s Democratic mayor and Louisiana’s Democratic governor.

“You know, obviously, anybody who’s heard me on the show or reads my work knows that there’s nobody who’s a more strident supporter of law enforcement or critic of Black Lives Matter than I am,” Stranahan began to explain on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily,” discussing his work on an upcoming documentary.

briannaOne HuffPost Reporter was threatened by a young police woman with a semiautomatic.   This was on Saturday night when the BRPD responded to protesters in a neighborhood looking like an invading army. Let it be noted that these were peaceful protests and that the several hundreds of people arrested were charged with things like blocking roads and evading arrest.

One officer, armed with an assault weapon, deliberately aimed the gun at protesters and journalists, forcing them to retreat. HuffPost senior crime reporter David Lohrwas among them.

Lohr arrived in Baton Rouge earlier this week to help capture moments from the Black Lives Matter protests that took over the city’s streets. He launched a live-stream on the HuffPost Black Voices Facebook page around 11 p.m. that captured some tense moments, including police making several arrests and one protester getting shocked by a stun gun. In one jarring moment, Lohr captured an officer pointing her assault rifle at protesters ― and at him.

“An officer just pointed a machine gun at me,” Lohr says in the live-stream. “I’m not quite sure what that female officer was doing; she pointed an assault rifle at us.”

I was watching the Facebook page of my friend, fellow blogger, and my pets’ favorite mommy substitute from the days when I went to Seattle to be with my father as mikeshe documented the events from Sunday. Here is the last of yesterday’s accounts from Margaret Coble.

ok, i really need to get to bed so that i can walk the dogs tomorrow, but i’m wound up from my day and also my ac in my bedroom isn’t working so i’m sweaty hot. but i could scroll endlessly trying to catch up on all that i couldn’t see today and all that was going on in other locations in BR and around the country. but i gotta at least try to get some sleep.

i didn’t go there today thinking there would really be any conflict. i was going to a peaceful march and rally organized by youth activists of BR. though the march took off a little earlier than the time they’d posted widely, it otherwise went off without a hitch, mobilizing thousands of people to march to the capital through the largely empty downtown area. the rally was great, with several brilliant young people speaking truth, offering poems and prayers, and just generally being so strong and amazing. and then we marched back to the methodist church where we’d first assembled, back to government street.

and then, there was no plan. folks stood around in the parking lot; some folks lined govt st. with their posters and banners and chanted; and eventually, someone got on a bullhorn and said why don’t we march to airline hwy. (i’m assuming they were going to the BRPD, where there had been a protest going on for much of the afternoon already.) so some folks took off down govt to do just that, but not everyone had heard and lots of folks were just standing around confused. some folks, mostly white, started to leave to go home.

tom Nolan

Tom Nolan @ThomasNolan Criminology Professor @ Merrimack College, 27-year veteran (former lieutenant) @ Boston police department

we spent a few minutes google mapping to try to figure out how far it was away and whether we should maybe just drive there so we didn’t have to walk back (we are old and had already marched a lot)… so we headed towards our car and started making our way to that destination. when suddenly, about a dozen cop cars came whizzing past us in the other direction, going back to where we’d just come from, and it took us only a few beats to realize what was happening – they were going to cut the marchers off, keep them from getting to airline. (i also think they maybe thought the group was going to block the interstate, but i never heard that as a plan.)

so we turned around and headed back, taking back streets cuz govt was now blocked off, and we parked in some random business parking lot but with an easy exit access. and then we all quickly figured out how to use fb live cuz none of us had used it before and i’d forgotten to download periscope onto my phone… and well, you saw the rest. (and if you didn’t, just scroll back on my timeline.)

i can’t unsee what i saw today. it’s not that i never believed it before or didn’t get it – because obviously i did – but it’s kind of driven home in a whole new way when you’re right there seeing the line of riot cops coming at you a few feet away. and when you see a random protestor who is maybe chanting louder and angrier than others around him suddenly get ambushed by several cops who came outta nowhere, specifically targeting him amongst a crowd of others, plowing him and his partner down to the ground and violently arresting him. one of the cops pushed me out of the way as he was making his way to him. they came from behind us, as we were standing across the street from the line of riot cops. it was so sneaky. and unnecessary.

pretty much all of what i witnessed today was unnecessary. NO ONE in that crowd today was violent in any way. people were just exercising their constitutional rights to protest and make themselves heard. peacefully. and at some point, even on someone’s private property they had been invited onto. none of it mattered. the cops didn’t want us there, they’d had enough, so they used that awful siren/alarm thing that hurts your ears (wish i’d remembered earplugs – put that on the protest list of things to bring), eventually used some tear gas, tased the fuck out of some poor guy that they took down really violently, and brought in the hummer/tanks and riot gear, shields and all. it was all just so ridiculous really, but yet, ridiculous isn’t a word i can use when i witnessed people get unnecessarily hurt and arrested. last night i know they arrested a few journalists; today, they arrested at least one legal observer (really? wtf?!!). i don’t know what the total count was but it was a goodly amount.

i just don’t understand it. they created a dangerous situation where there was none to begin with. boys with their military toys is what i saw. testosterone poisoning in action. this is not what policing should be, if there should be any policing at all. WE are paying their salaries. to harass and arrest us. and, well, if you’re black, maybe kill, too.

watch the videos that people have posted. look at the pictures. read the first-hand accounts, not the stupid news channels’ accounts, but the social media accounts from real people who were there. i know what i saw. i can’t ever unsee that. and while there were maybe only a few moments where i personally ever felt unsafe – of course, my white skin privilege in action (but also we worked hard to not be up in the mix of it – none of us had gone there today intending to get arrested) – it was a scary scene there today where there didn’t need to be. at all.

i hope everyone who was arrested is ok. we did our part by identifying the guy and his partner who got arrested next to us and called the legal guild on their behalf. and gave their friend who rode there with them, someone we knew who was wandering around looking for them, a ride home, since she no longer had one.


thank you everyone who checked in throughout the day, offered advice and prayers and sent protective woo. it was helpful knowing there were lots of you out there tracking us.

ok. now i try to go to sleep.

While I was very afraid for the health and safety of folks that I knew attended the protest, I was even more concerned about this black woman who gave permission for about 100 people to stand on her property.  Their first amendment rights were violated.  Her fourth amendments rights were decimated.

This woman had her constitutional rights violated — her “right to pursue happiness” in her own home was violated by out-of-control police officers, who appeared as if they were conducting urban warfare in Fallujah, Iraq. 

And, let’s be clear, the homeowner was committing no crimes.

Can you imagine this kind of police response to an out-of-control pool party in a wealthy white suburb — with underage drinking, weed smoking and coke snorting, and prodigious noise violations? Nope!

I want to be crystal clear: American police officers are absolutely out-of-control.

Even when hundreds — thousands? — of people were engaging in violent behavior in Marseille, France following a football game, the French police showed more restraint than American police — in Ferguson, Baton Rouge, and New York City — show when confronted by a peaceful protest, where the only “crime” committed is blocking traffic for a few hours.

I truly believe, having traveled all over the world, including in a number of post-conflict countries, that American police are some of the world’s least restrained.

And, in communities like Baton Rouge with a history of social exclusion, racism, segregation and slavery, I suspect the police response is pathological: racist officers triggered to commit acts of violence against black people refusing to “know their place.”

Ironically, though, it’s American police officers that must “know their place.” Until the Justice Department starts dropping the hammer on local police departments, we’ll continue to see the basic constitutional rights of minority citizens violated, and we’ll continue to see execution-style deaths of black men and women, boys and girls.

The job of a police officer is to protect the constitutional rights of citizens — life, free speech, property. The job of a police officer is not to demand obedience. I truly believe many, many American officers fail to understand this crucial distinction. 

NYDN Cover taken by my very talented friend Megan Braden-Perry

NYDN Cover taken by my very talented friend Megan Braden-Perry.  Please go read the story on the Alton Sterling shooting.

This is getting long and it’s not as cogent as I really wanted it to be because there are so many more things to write about and say here including the experience of DeRay and others.  I’m going to just let some of this soak in for awhile as I work.  I did want to get the post up. I did want to do some of this while my shock, awe, grief, worry and frustration was raw and evident.

We should never take anything for granted here because there are folks that really don’t know what they’re doing out there in positions of authority.  Just as women need to be warned not to do things to invite rape, black children are warned not to do things to attract police attention.  This is similar but not quite the same because black parents are teaching black children to be afraid of their own government and the people they pay to protect them.

I can relate to this on the level that I adjust my behavior and dress to avoid sexual assault, harassment, etc. but that’s by one man or a group of men and at worst they’re colleagues or bosses or part of a social group.   It’s not a huge group of people that  are part of our government hired to serve and protect. It’s highly systemic. It’s not just one or two bad actors. How can any one think that having to teach your kids to behave differently because of your own government’s unconstitutional behavior is anything but the repressive effects of pernicious institutional racism?  

No black person is safe or immune.  Not one.   (H/T to Lester Perryman.) Abhorrent treatment and disrespect doesn’t depend on their profession, their education, their job status or anything other than pigmentation.  That is the ultimate message and impact of the statement we should all feel deeply:  BLACK LIVES MATTER!

We divided our lives between a house in a liberal New York suburb and an apartment on Park Avenue, sent our three kids to a diverse New York City private school, and outfitted them with the accoutrements of success: preppy clothes, perfect diction and that air of quiet graciousness. We convinced ourselves that the economic privilege we bestowed on them could buffer these adolescents against what so many black and Latino children face while living in mostly white settings: being profiled by neighbors, followed in stores and stopped by police simply because their race makes them suspect.

But it happened nevertheless in July, when I was 100 miles away.

It was a Tuesday afternoon when my 15-year-old son called from his academic summer program at a leafy New England boarding school and told me that as he was walking across campus, a gray Acura with a broken rear taillight pulled up beside him. Two men leaned out of the car and glared at him.

“Are you the only nigger at Mellon Academy*?” one shouted.

Certain that he had not heard them correctly, my son moved closer to the curb, and asked politely, “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you.”

But he had heard correctly. And this time the man spoke more clearly. “Only …nigger,” he said with added emphasis.

My son froze. He dropped his backpack in alarm and stepped back from the idling car. The men honked the horn loudly and drove off, their laughter echoing behind them.

Black Lives Matter.  ALL of them!! No American should experience this level of civil rights violations let alone an entire class of people.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: What’s Going On?


Another day, another killing spree.

We’re living in the United States of Mass Murder. Where have all the anger and violence come from?  How has the second amendment turned from the ability of states to raise and arm a militia to a means of arming insurgents and malcontents?   It’s been suggested we need a huge wall around this country.  I would like to suggest that we need a huge mirror so that we can examine ourselves and figure out how we came to this.  There can be no peace or no justice through violence.  It makes no difference if it’s violence against the state or against the people.  As one great president said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

The violence in Dallas last night is the American Nightmare. Anger took aim at a police force that is actually well known for supporting Black Lives Matter and took its role of protecting protesters seriously. The voices of angry men in this country, however, generally wind up in some expression of gun violence.  Skipping straight from the first amendment to some warped idea of the second is not how any of this is supposed to work.

Four Dallas police officers and a DART officer were shot and killed in a coordinated sniper attack that followed a Thursday night protest.

Seven other officers and two civilians were wounded after the peaceful demonstration against recent shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The shooter, who may have had accomplices, suggested the attack was racially motivated by revenge.

Perched in a parking garage at El Centro College, the man exchanged gunfire with officers early Friday morning before being killed by a robot-planted bomb.

The man was identified by our colleagues at KXAS-TV (NBC5) as Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite. A law enforcement official told CNN that Johnson had no criminal record or known ties to terrorism.

On Friday morning, Mesquite officers and crime scene investigators from Dallas were at Johnson’s home on Helen Lane.

Other people of interest were detained for questioning. At a news conference at 7:30 a.m., city officials declined to discuss details about the suspects in custody.

“Now is not the right time,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

A commander in the Dallas Police Department, however, described the shooting as a “conspiracy.” He said several people were involved in the planning, logistics and execution of the coordinated attack. He declined to elaborate and requested anonymity.

Police Chief David Brown urged Dallas to get behind its police department in the days to come.

“We don’t feel much support most days,” he said. “Let’s not make today most days.”

The shooting was the deadliest day for law officers since Sept. 11, 2001, when 72 officers died, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown said snipers with rifles shot 12 officers and two bystanders from elevated positions about 9 p.m.

At 1:42 a.m. Friday, the Dallas Police Association tweeted that a fifth officer had died.

“We’re hurting, our profession is hurting,” Brown told reporters at the news conference. “There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city. All I know is that this must stop, this divisiveness between our police and our citizens.”

The shooter that was cornered and later killed by a suicide bomber robot has been identified.  Every time killings happen the most difficult thing to do is to search out the face of the killer.  It’s part of our need to know why this happened.  The images (19)problem is that the whys tell us less than than the hows.  The hows tell us that this happens frequently here and that none of us are safe from people seeking to do bad who have access to weapons that can really do bad.

Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, has been identified as one of the suspected gunmen in an ambush Thursday that left five Dallas law enforcement officers dead and seven more officers injured, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Johnson, who died in the incident, served as an Army reservist until April 2015, defense officials said. He was trained and served in the Army Reserve as a carpentry and masonry specialist, they said.

Police said he told hostage negotiators that he was angry about recent fatal shootings of black men by police elsewhere in the United States and that he wanted to kill white people, especially police officers.

The gunman “expressed anger for Black Lives Matter” and told a hostage negotiator he “wanted to kill [police] officers,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said today.

Police spent hours negotiating with Johnson before he was killed by an explosive strapped to a police robot.

“We’re hurting,” Brown said. “Our profession is hurting. Dallas officers are hurting. We are heartbroken. There are no words to describe the atrocity that occurred to our city.”

Three other suspects — two men and one woman — have been detained by police, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. Officials said earlier that at least two gunmen were involved.

“I can tell you they’re being pretty tight-lipped at this point,” Rawlings said of the trio.

There is a lot to be learned from the way the two major party presidential candidates framed their take on the event.  First, Hillary Clinton who focuses on the lives lost.

Hillary Clinton’s planned rally with Vice President Joe Biden in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Friday has been postponed following the shootings in Dallas on Thursday night, the presumptive Democratic nominee’s campaign announced.

“I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families & all who serve with them,” Clinton tweeted after the postponement was announced.

Trump referred to this as an “attack on our country” which is hard to figure out given the shooter basically is a citizen and Army reservist who did tours in Afghanistan.  That probably is the least useful or correct characterization I’ve seen to date.Vietnam_protest_poster_5

“It is a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said.

The statement went on to send support and prayers to the “brave police officers and first responders who risk their lives to protect us every day.”

As usual,the message is to let the surviving family members eat imaginary support and very worthless prayers.  None of his words were helpful or healing.

President Obama took to a microphone yet another time to mourn large numbers of American dead who were killed working and living on the streets of their own city.  He also spoke directly of the Black Lives Matter movement and its utter frustration with the many instances where police kill unarmed black men unprovoked.

President Obama said Thursday he shares the “anger, frustration, and grief that so many Americans are feeling” about this week’s police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“All Americans should be deeply troubled by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post. “We’ve seen such tragedies far too many times.”

Obama’s first reaction to the shootings was published on the social media site while he was flying on Air Force One to a NATO summit in Poland.

Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was pinned down by two white police officers and shot dead on Tuesday in Baton Rouge, La. Castile, 32 and also black, was fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop on Wednesday.

Parts of both incidents were caught on video, but Obama did not say if has viewed the footage.

He declined to comment on the specifics of both cases, but he praised the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the Louisiana shooting. It is also weighing a probe of the Minnesota incident.

The twin shootings stirred nationwide anger about police violence against black men.

Obama has been forced to confront a string of deaths in cities such as Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore and New York City. And his White House has often struggled to mend frayed ties between police departments and the communities they serve.

“Regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents,” Obama wrote. He said they are a result of distrust based on racial disparities between police and urban communities.

The president urged law enforcement agencies to adopt the recommendations of a White House task force designed to close that divide.

war-is-not-healthy1Not all Americans are interested in healing the divide. Right wing meat puppet and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh rose to the nation’s crisis by threatening our president.  This came in the form of a tweet that hastily went away but was captured by the many who monitor extremists.

Forrmer Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh declared “This is now war” and called for President Barack Obama to “watch out” in a Twitter post reacting to the Dallas shooting that killed five police officers and injured seven.

“This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” he wrote in the tweet, which has since been deleted.

I’d like to close this post with some words of Charles Blow who characterizes this situation as “An arms race of atrocities”.

While sitting in on CNN’s coverage of Thursday night’s events, journalist Charles Blow said all protesters want is to make sure everyone — civilian or police — goes home to their families at the end of their day.

“The protests themselves are ultimately about life,” Blow said. “The ability to live out your life and not have life unreasonably taken. Your response to this has to be about life.”

He then pointed out that it’s time to stop making it an “arms race of atrocities.”

“A lot of what I’ve seen over the last few hours have been people rushing to try to figure out ways to see if something adds to an argument or doesn’t add to an argument,” he said. “I don’t understand when you stop being human, enough to slow down and say, yes the two people who were killed, who the protests were about, had families and they are hurt, and they are angry. These people have families too.”

People need to admit that “everybody deserves to go home.”

Here’s hoping that we can get some sensible gun control at some point.  It’s incredible to me that we can go through these frequent mass shootings and not actually see any kind of policy attempt to get to the root of the problems.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

What’s going on?




Independence Day Reads


by Middleton Manigault – The Rocket (1909)

Happy Independence Day Team USA!

Here’s how the Kennedy family is spending their 4th of July! “Kennedy family BASHES Trump over Fourth of July weekend with a pinata of The Donald at their Cape Cod compound.”  That sounds like some nice harmless fun and very politically incorrect.  The Trumpster should approve but I doubt his thick skull or thin skin will be able to take it in that spirit.

The Kennedy clan gathered at their Hyannis Port compound on Cape Cod over the weekend for their annual Fourth of July festivities, and took some time to attack Donald Trump.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s daughter Kathleen, between known as Kick, posted a photos of a pinata of The Donald from a family party over the weekend.

‘It’s yuge party!,’ wrote Kick in the caption of the Instagram post, which also showed some of her family members milling about in the background.

She later deleted the Instagram post just before 11am on Monday.

Yes, some of us are still rocking in the free world while we can!

There’s a lot of sadness today as we stop to think about Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dhaka where ISIS attacks have killed hundreds of innocent people pis4who were simply going about their day. Our hearts go out to the places that have suffered these massive tragedies.  I’m also reminded today of Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule. 

Powell: What I was saying is, if you get yourself involved—if you break a government, if you cause it to come down, by invading or other means, remember that you are now the government. You have a responsibility to take care of the people of that country.

Isaacson: And it got labeled the Pottery Barn rule.

I, for one, care about these attacks.  I’ve not seen the graphics, the heartfelt “I’m with …” sloganeering, and the banal, jingoistic calls exclaiming that “it’s a war on the Western World.” That’s because it isn’t a war on the Western World.  It’s a war on modernity.

This is a fight we brought to the front door step of many countries–including Iraq–that were not to blame for anything when we invaded Iraq.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and the bungled occupation that followed, Baghdad has been the site of numerous rounds of sectarian bloodletting, al-Qaeda attacks and now the ravages of the Islamic State. Despite suffering significant defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army, including the loss of the city of Fallujah, the militant group has shown its willingness and capacity to brutalize the country’s population.

Public anger in the Iraqi capital, as my colleague Loveday Morris reports, is not being directed at foreign conspirators or even — first and foremost — at the militants, but at a much-maligned government that is failing to keep the country safe.

“The street was full of life last night,” one Karrada resident told The Washington Post, “and now the smell of death is all over the place.”

Vintage-Fireworks-Posters-and-Labels-for-The-Fourth-of-July-1Iraq is being invaded once more and Baghdad is still a shadow of itself in a country with little ability to truly defend its borders and people.

By Monday afternoon the toll in Karrada stood at 151 killed and 200 wounded, according to police and medical sources. Rescuers and families were still looking for 35 missing people.

Islamic State claimed the bombing, its deadliest in Iraq, saying it was a suicide attack. Another explosion struck in the same night, when a roadside bomb blew up in popular market of al-Shaab, a Shi’ite district in north Baghdad, killing two people.

The attacks showed Islamic State can still strike in the heart of the Iraqi capital despite recent military losses, undermining Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s declaration of victory last month when Iraqi forces dislodged the hardline Sunni insurgents from the nearby city of Falluja.

Abadi’s Shi’ite-led government ordered the offensive on Falluja in May after a series of deadly bombings in Shi’ite areas of Baghdad that it said originated from the Sunni Muslim city, about 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital.

Falluja was the first Iraqi city captured by Islamic State in 2014, six months before it declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria. Since last year the insurgents have been losing ground to U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias.

“Abadi has to have a meeting with the heads of national security, intelligence, the interior ministry and all sides responsible for security and ask them just one question: How can we infiltrate these groups?” said Abdul Kareem Khalaf, a former police Major General who advises the Netherlands-based European Centre for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies think tank.

He said Islamic State, or Daesh, “has supporters or members everywhere – in Baghdad, Basra and Kurdistan. All it takes is for one house to have at least one man and you have a planning base and launch site for attacks of this type.”

In a sign of public outrage at the failure of the security services, Abadi was given an angry reception on Sunday when he toured Karrada, the district where he grew up, with residents throwing stones, empty buckets and even slippers at his convoy in gestures of contempt.

He ordered new measures to protect Baghdad, starting with the withdrawal of fake bomb detectors that police have continued to use despite a scandal that broke out in 2011 about their sale to Iraq under his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki.

4001-fireworks_in_tondabayashiSo, today our skies will light up with fireworks that we will purposefully set off to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and Hitts_promotional_postermoving forward with liberating our nation from British rule. It’s odd to think that the fall out from colonialism is still going on today and that the fireworks that light up many other places do not represent the symbolic act of a war of Independence but one of oppression and terror.

I’m not sure how many of you will stop by on this holiday to say hi so I’m going to just make this a brief greeting with the one bit of news.   However this is, as always, an open thread and there are other things going on including the election of the next President of the US. 

This is another thing that should give us pause as we continue to clean up the mess of the Bush Administration, and actually the mess left behind by others of his predecessors like Ronald Reagan whose adventures in South and Central American made every one in those countries a lot less safe.

If we’re unable to purse our own liberty and happiness then we can change that under our system of government.  But then, think again what it means when our actions prevent that dream for others.  My heart weeps for all of those who live in countries that we helped break.  We own it.  I think Hillary Clinton understands this.  I think Donald Trump would rather we walk away from our mess.  We broke it. We own it.  Let’s just hope the rest of the coalition of the willing hangs in there with us as we try to stop the carnage.

Have a great 4th!!!  May the fireworks near you be only the celebratory type and not the bullets from another crazed shooter or the ignition of a suicide vest!  May all beings be free from harm!!!

4627294295_283b68b83bTake a swing at a Trump pinata for me!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?