Tag Archives: prison

Ununited States

purplemapJaquandor asks:

How do we solve the police brutality problem? To what extent is it a part of a larger problem with our society, indicating a deep and abiding devotion to punitive violence? I see police brutality as another facet of the problem that leads to our awful prisons and our enormous prison population.

First, I need to note the killing of two New York City police officers on December 20. It was correctly described as an assassination, and I mourn their deaths.

At the same time, I believe the remarks of Rudy Guiliani, blaming their deaths on President Obama as amazingly irresponsible, as well as untrue. The problem of excessive force by the police exists in a small, but significant number of cases. And it’s not “anti-police” when New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who is white but married to a black woman, instructs his children, and especially his son with the great ‘fro, in specific ways to cautiously and politely deal with the police.

Others, including former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had some legal problems of his own a while back, suggested that the shootings were ultimately encouraged by de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and that “they have blood on their hands.” He told Newsmax: “The people who encouraged these protests — you had peaceful protesters who were screaming ‘kill the cops’ — the so-called peaceful protesters. Who was encouraging these protesters? De Blasio, Sharpton and other elected officials and community leaders. They encouraged this mentality. They encouraged this behavior.”

Anyone who has ever been to a protest – I have attended more than a few in my time – knows that there are occasionally outliers at these events, people whose positions don’t jibe with the organizers’ intents. So would it be better that such Constitutionally-protected demonstrations be quashed?

That, BTW, was what the Tea Party folks said when a couple people killed two Las Vegas police officers in June 2014, that those cop killers, who had rallied with Cliven Bundy, along with people who POINTED GUNS at law enforcement officials, did not represent the movement.

Jon Stewart got it right when he said one can grieve the loss AND worry about the police overreach; they are NOT mutually exclusive.

To the question: I should note that not all the excessive violence is directed toward young black males. For instance, TX SWAT team beats, deafens nude man in his own home, lies about arrest; judge declines to punish cops or DA. There seems to be a need by some police to quash all possibly illicit behavior. If Eric Garner WERE selling individual cigarettes in Staten Island, it certainly wasn’t a felony.

I’m not sure of the cause of ALL the violence. I once posited on someone’s website the theory that these first person shooter games might have some effect on the cognitive understanding of life for some people, but was told by gaming experts that there’s “no relationship.” Maybe, maybe not. I’ve wondered about this at least since Vietnam, when one could drop the precision bombs without having any discernible understanding. And now war can really tidy, with people in the middle of the US dropping bombs on people half a world away; looks very much like a video game to me.

I AM convinced that the tremendous rise in the prison population, mostly for non-violent drug use, which I wrote about extensively, is a major contributor. Prison is, I’ve been told, a great school for becoming a better criminal.

Surely the militarism of the police, with all that post-9/11 money doled about by the federal government has led to a war zone mentality. But even in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military had a plan of engaging with the communities, whereas in the urban centers of the US, some of the residents feel like the police are an occupying force.

Maybe all the things that keep us disconnected from our surroundings – surburbia, synthetic food, our personal electronic devices, the bile that comes from commenting anonymously on social media – matter. SOMETHING is fueling a general rage – road rage, online rage.

Bottom line, though: the anger in the community is not just that there are excessive uses of force. The problem is that there appears to be lack of accountability for the actions. I’ve heard the body cameras for police will be a solution. But there WAS footage of Eric Garner dying. Police video would have not likely change the “no indictment” outcome. Did you see that the Ferguson prosecutor allowed witnesses that were “clearly not telling the truth” to the grand jury?

It may be that guns make police less safe, their jobs more difficult and communities less trusting. Or maybe it’s just the human condition.

This is a long way of saying, “Makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.”

Uthaclena wonders:

Okay, here’s one of my ponders: can the United States survive as a united entity? SHOULD it be a united entity, or would it be better off broken up so that the racist, theocratic barbarians can abuse themselves and leave the rest of us alone?

There are lots of precedents in the 20th century suggesting that this is a terrible idea. The creation of the state of Israel did not lead to peace in the Middle East. I learned from watching the Sanjay Gupta episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots Continue reading Ununited States

Felony disenfranchisement: keeping the ballot away

felonvotingThe Significant Other of a good friend of mine wrote on Facebook:

I think that Felony Disenfranchisement should be kept in place forever. Our Supreme Court ruled the that the 14th Amendment gives all states the right for deny ex-convicts to vote..To put it simply “” If you broke our laws and were not able to follow our laws”,,””I for one ,,do not want to give you the “”right”” to elect those who make our laws “GET IT” ????

I was sorely tempted to let it go, but there was something about “GET IT” ????” that just pushed a button.

I replied: “That notion suggests that there is no forgiveness, no chance at redemption. Current laws forbidding felons from voting make it harder for them to reintegrate into society, essentially facilitating recidivism. I TOTALLY disagree.”

Specifically, there are several reasons why disenfranchising felons who have served their time is a very bad idea:
Continue reading Felony disenfranchisement: keeping the ballot away

April Rambling: Buy the niece's new album, and end Daylight Saving Time

rjcoldfact
New album from Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact the debut release from San Diego-based eclectic soul/funk band. RJ is my niece, my sister Leslie’s daughter.
From NBC San Diego: “Not everything on April Fool’s Day was a joke. Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact released their self-titled debut and it’s no laughing matter. Channeling everyone from Candi Staton and Betty Davis to Morcheeba and Brightback Morning Light, these 12 tracks of soul and funk are stunners. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.”
Another review.
In this picture, she’s the one in the blue dress.

After watching this video, I’m even more convinced than I was before: Daylight Saving Time is a waste of time. Having tried to schedule a phone call from the UK at a point when the US is in DST and the UK has NOT yet moved to British Summer Time, I know of which the speaker is talking about.
Continue reading April Rambling: Buy the niece's new album, and end Daylight Saving Time

V is for a Virginia Slave Law

The one television program the Daughter and I watch together is an NBC show called Who Do You Think You Are? It involves stars looking back at their genealogy. An episode we saw recently featured actor Blair Underwood, which I hope you can find here or here or here at the third notch 21 minutes in, with him walking down the steps.

What Underwood discovers is that one of his ancestors at the end of the 18th century, Samuel Scott, actually owns property in Virginia. He is distressed, though, to discover Continue reading V is for a Virginia Slave Law