New Miami shooting points to urgent need for change of police protocol…

July 21, 2016

As is often or always the case, the facts seem sketchy or not complete, even though there is a video. The video does not catch all the action, does not tell the full story. But another black man shot by police, an unarmed black man. He claims he is a therapist at a group home and was trying to help a patient when the police arrived upon the scene. He claims he lay on the ground at the order of police and was shot. He claims he asked the officer why. The answer, he claims, was: “I don’t know.”

This all reportedly happened in North Miami, Fla. on Monday. I don’t know if any of this is accurate, except apparently an unarmed black man was shot by police. He survived.

I’m thinking the race is not as important as is the nagging question of why police only seem to have the firearm to resort to when in doubt.

Of course as the result of the recent attacks on police, they might be in a more defensive posture, but this has been going on long before those attacks.

If I were to be stopped by the police now (and I am not black) I think I might be a little scared. I might move the wrong way and they would fire away in self defense.

There needs to be an immediate review of protocol in the way police handle stops and calls to disturbances.

On the one hand, in view of the recent shootings in which police were drawn in an ambushed, police need to be on the defensive. But that cannot be used as an excuse to fire away at innocent civilians.

The police themselves will not be safe if they let the trust with the public erode.

So, in summary, I am 100 percent for the police, but I think it is their best interest to review current policies.

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Maybe the whole idea of NATO needs to be revisited…

July 21, 2016

Donald Trump has let it be known (in an interview with the NY Times) that he is not exactly a fan of NATO and he thinks its members have been given a free ride for too long.

Well, finally something I can speak of with first-hand knowledge. I served in NATO as a U.S. Army enlisted man for about two and a half years in Germany (1968-71).

It always seemed like a waste of money and resources to me, although why should I complain? It kept me out of Vietnam. I didn’t have to be a draft dodger.

At the post where I was stationed it was definitely an American show. Our troops and equipment far outnumbered the Germans. On the other hand, it always appeared to me that the Germans at least looked more efficient and field ready. I don’t recall seeing any French troops, except one time a French officer met with one of ours to interpret what the Germans were telling us over the radio. Our officer did not speak German but he spoke French (actually I think he was an officer in training from West Point). Anyway, the message was for us to get our tanks the heck out there because we were down range on a missile firing range. We moved out smartly and very quickly. I think that might have been our finest moment.

Our tanks were always breaking down. Once we had a readiness test — an alert we called them. Out of several hundred tanks only a handful left the tank park. Our diesel-powered tanks were hard to start in the winter.

One of the problems with maintenance was that most of the resources, and rightfully so, were being targeted for Vietnam.

I suppose, however, we did serve as a deterrent to the Soviet bloc in East Europe invading Western Europe.

But while the U.S. has spent billions and billions of dollars over the decade to defend Western Europe and Asia, many member countries have been able to skimp on their own defense budgets and spend it on their economies, and now they threaten our own economy with their exports to us and the imbalance of trade between us.

Maybe the whole idea of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should be revisited.

p.s.

I am a little curious about Trump’s remarks that he would not automatically go to the  military assist of NATO members before reviewing their contributions. I mean does he mean that we would be a mercenary force for them?

 


Ted Cruz ignites firestorm by calling on his party to vote its conscience…

July 21, 2016

So now I think I have heard and read the controversial speech that losing candidate Ted Cruz made at the Republican Convention. To quote the line I heard as a boy in the barbershop, one line in his speech made him as welcome as a turd in the punch bowl to the Trump supporters, who had wanted him to endorse Trump.

While Cruz outlined the typical ultra-right wing talking points, he then urged everyone to “vote their conscience”. Apparently that was stinging to the Trump supporters’ ears, because, well, maybe they have no conscience.

And what a spectacle: Cruz and his wife escorted out of the hall for their own safety. So much for freedom of speech or listening to opposing views. But then politics is rough and tumble and in the past there were violent incidents at conventions.

I’m no Cruz fan, and I think the Republican Party has really gone off the deep end this time, but I agree, one should vote his or her conscience — and that could be for Hillary Clinton or I guess Donald Trump — they are the only two who have a chance of winning.

Tonight is the turn of the man himself, Trump. It will be interesting to hear. I have heard him on at least one occasion speak in complete English sentences and maybe he will tonight.

I have to admit, he has caught the imagination of among many who see the United States as becoming something they do not recognize. Some of it is racism, some of it is rightful resentment of an upper class who not only take advantage of working class people who are Democrats or who follow the Democratic Party ideology, but of working class Republicans. Or just ordinary folks who hold no real ideology, except personal freedom and the right to make a living.

But I am definitely not a Trump supporter. I kind of like the tone of his vice president pick, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, more inclusive, even if I don’t go along with the ultra-ring wing stuff.

Yeah, vote your conscience, I say, but don’t sell your soul.

Oh, and I almost forgot. There was something curious in Cruz’s speech or at least the text I read. It spoke of we (Republicans?) passed the Civil Rights bill and ended Jim Crow. My memory is that the Party of Lincoln about 100 years after the Civil War turned into a party that voted against civil rights for black people (and all). Maybe Mr. Cruz should read up on some not-so-old U.S. history.


Following is my just previous post:

Like so many people, I am too busy working to keep fully informed on the ongoing Republican convention, except since I drive a truck I have caught some of it on the radio, but I feel way behind.

But what is this about Republicans supporting veterans? Correct me if I am wrong but it is Republicans who vote against spending bills that would be required to properly care for veterans. Of course it is probably Democrats too.

And I think it is an outrage that any veteran wounded in war does not get top-notch medical care immediately and all at the expense of the rest of us. We send them to war or they go in our name at the direction of our government, we owe it to them. If I were president I would simply order it done and see who would complain. Of course this would only be for veterans actually wounded in combat or in the combat theater.

And jumping around, what is this “lock her up” chant concerning Hillary Clinton. I think it is a bit over the top. We’re not some third-world or Latin American country that throws the opposition into jail. And as far as I know, Mrs. Clinton did not pull a Julius and Ethel Rosenberg thing and give away the atomic bomb secrets. As far as we know she commingled personal email with governmental email, some supposedly classified but we don’t know for sure that it was actually classified at the time or why it was classified and there has been no evidence presented that any supposedly classified info got into the hands of our enemy from what Mrs. Clinton did.

(And anyway, the government is classify crazy as I understand it. It classifies information that had already been public knowledge or something as innocuous as the daily lunch menu.)

But while we are on the subject, should we prosecute George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and others for falsifying intelligence to lead us into a war we had no business waging and that has led to instability in Iraq and the whole region around it and has led to the growth of the Islamic State terrorist group?

And I wish I had heard the Ted Cruz speech. Don’t care for Cruz, but an enemy of my enemy (Trump) could be a friend of sorts…

Yeah, I’m a bit behind here, but hope to catch up and have a more thorough comment on things by the weekend if not sooner.


Republican higher ups who are participating resort to rationalization or avoiding direct questions in support of Trump…

July 19, 2016

My blog posts are always essays, but I don’t have time for a full one, due to needing sleep for my real job. But a word caught my eye in something I was reading:

While many leaders in the Republican Party are not attending the ongoing convention in Cleveland, others are reluctantly supporting Trump. The writer I was reading wrote that they are rationalizing their support — had no time to read further, but I have already seen and heard these people avoiding direct questions — even the VP nominee, what’s his name, did so when being grilled by 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl.

It’s all rather pathetic and would be laughable if it were not so serious.

I was going to write that the GOP as we have known it is dead, but then again, once every four to eight years we say that about one of the two major parties but it seems they always come back to life.

 

 


Deadly Sunday morning attack on Baton Rouge police a call to action everywhere…

July 18, 2016

UPDATE (Monday, 7-18-2016): In what might be called a cruel irony, one of the police officers murdered Sunday in Baton Rouge was black — ironic because the gunman supposedly was angry at white officers shooting black suspects. Three other officers were wounded, one reported on Monday to be fighting for his life with a head wound. The gunman was shot dead.


 

Communities affected by the controversy of police shootings of black suspects, and maybe potentially affected ones (everywhere?), need to have meetings right now between the police and citizens and there needs to be clear guidelines on police stops and detention and a transparency that makes covering up racism or even the appearance of racism in police departments all but impossible. This is a crisis that affects people of all races. It affects the free movement of people in a free society. I am talking about talk, but what I mean is action, and action now.


My initial post on this from Sunday (7-17-16):

 

 

So I’m taking a day off from work and then I check the internet and there has been another attack on police, this time in Baton Rouge, La., with three feared dead and several others wounded, and this coming on the heels of at attack in Dallas, Tx, where several police officers were killed and wounded (plus at least one civilian). All supposedly over the controversy of white police officers gunning down black people in questionable traffic stops or encounters (even with videos we do not necessarily know the whole story, and may never, in these incidents).

But to the situation at hand. This to me seems like some kind of civil insurrection, and it threatens our democracy. Also in this current attack, it is reported the ambusher has or had a high-powered automatic weapon.

And this folks is what we are getting by allowing the free flow of weapons in society.

Other civilized western democracies don’t allow this. That does not mean they are free from harm — I know, France. We can never be totally safe. But it is these automatic assault rifles and other weapons of war that are the problem. There are too many of them in circulation and they are too easy for nut cases to get.

If this assault on the police continues, ironically, we might be headed for a police state.

We need to stem the flow of weapons. We need take steps now to ensure the public that racist police officers are being weeded out, and that people are not detained solely on the basis of their color. But we also have to make it clear to the public that obeying lawful police orders when they are given without hesitation is not just an option, it is a must. Police cannot be effective if they cannot command respect and exercise their lawful authority — it is for our own protection.

We need to respect the police and the police need to respect us.

If ever the police nationwide needed some community relations work it is now. They also need our support.


Back to college only to become a truck driver, but in the end success of sorts…

July 17, 2016

When I was in my mid 30s, after spending something like a decade and a half in small-time journalism, I went back to college and completed my four-year degree. My dad wondered why I did not major in Journalism since that is what I had been working in. I chose political science.

Coincidentally that is the major both my dad and one of my brothers chose. My dad was a journalist and the brother is a lawyer. On my return to college I took three Spanish language classes and thoroughly enjoyed them. I had tried to take Spanish in high school but just could not catch on and dropped out. Actually I was kicked out for not showing up to class.

I went back to journalism after college because what else could I do? I tried to apply for other things but people could not get past my newspaper background. I applied at a law office because I had obtained a paralegal certificate in college. But the lawyer remarked to me hesitantly: “so you are used to telling the truth”. I did not know how to answer that question, apparently, although I tried. I didn’t get the job.

I’ve told that story before. But it is a true story. I should explain that the firm was one who represented firms being sued for personal or on-the-job injuries. It was in their interest to deny claims by people who had been injured. I had told a fellow student about the job. He was an ex paramedic. He got the job. Maybe I should not have told him. But then again, I don’t think I was right for the job.

I did not try very hard, I admit, but I failed to get any jobs in politics or lobbying. Early on I  volunteered to write a speech or statement for a woman who was running for the office of county clerk. She had been on the staff of the clerk’s office for years. I had dealt with her as a reporter and she had been very helpful. I think she figured I owed her. I got nothing for it. Never talked to her again. She won the election.

After failing to get any other jobs after returning to college I landed a job at a small daily newspaper after I told the editor on the phone that I had just gone through an interview at another small daily and the editor there was very insulting and that I had no intention of going to his interview to be insulted. I said, you have my resume and clips, if there is a problem, tell me now and let me save the trip. He said come on down. I got the job. I only stayed there a year. I moved on. Not up. Just on.

After a few more years in small-time journalism I finally made a break for it and became a truck driver.

I have made a lot better money (although nothing to brag about really) and have been able to go to Spain twice and use my Spanish.

Plan to go again this year.

I call that a success, finally.

Strange how things sometimes work out in the end.

 

 

 

 


Justice Ginsburg was just telling it like it really is about Trump, and should apathetic and ignorant people really be able to vote?

July 16, 2016

What is the saying? Evil triumphs when good men do nothing? Something like that.

And that is why I think Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not wrong to criticize Republican presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump, even though she later walked it back, saying her remarks were ill advised.

She was just doing what Trump is always mistakenly credited with doing: telling it like it is.

True, supreme court justices should not meddle in politics. They need to stay within their limits so as not to do damage to our constitutional separation of powers, and likewise the other branches (executive and legislative) must respect the court in its domain. But we are in uncharted waters.

A totally unprepared man has used his celebrity to demagogue his way into the presidential race and even hijack one of our two major political parties. I mean we depend upon these two parties in our system to provide our leadership — but Trump has turned the whole election process into some kind of reality TV (which of course is the misnomer for something that is phony) spectacle.

He has no sense of civics, good government, democratic (small d) principles, or even civility.

Now if he loses in a landslide I can relax. But the thought that the masses would rise up and put someone like that in office makes me wonder if all people should be allowed to vote. It could be that an apathetic and ignorant public is its own worst enemy.

Unfortunately, Trump is just taking advantage of the void not being filled by true and inspiring leaders who actually listen to and try to in the best way they can represent the interests of all their constituents, not just the big money donors and special interests. Sure a politician cannot ignore his or her supporters, but there is also a solemn duty to represent all.

During most of my adult life I think one flaw in our politics at the national level is that it often comes down to tweedle dum or tweedle dee (elites stick together). Not so much so this time around. There seems to be a clear contrast between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

With Hillary Clinton we are presented with the stability and predictability of a mainstream elite, professional politician. And, despite her reputation for mendacity (but don’t most politicians have that?), she does seem to support progressive ideals for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial society, while not being anti business or capitalist.

With Trump we get someone who changes his tune from day to day and minute to minute and who insults people based on race and sex and who threatens freedom of the press (calling for a tightening of libel laws). He’d like to overturn the high court’s Sullivan v. New York Times decision so if he were to become president he could have more control over the media by being able to sue anyone who said anything unflattering about him. We can’t have true democracy without an unfettered free press that can report on and expose the doings of our leaders. Or would you just be more comfortable if the government ran the news?

(In Sullivan v. New York Times the high court basically held that in order for a public figure to successfully prove libel he or she must prove that there was malice.)

I’m with you Ruth, tell it like it is. Don’t apologize.