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IN POLITICALLY CORRECT SAN FRANCISCO: SAVE LIVES, BECOME A VILLAIN

In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 17, 2021 at 12:37 am

“I am extremely disturbed by the state of the law today, and yet I am duty bound to adhere to the law.  Under current law, police officers do not have to retreat, police officers don’t have to use the minimum force necessary.” 

So said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, almost in tears, on May 24, 2018.  

The reason: He could not file charges against the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) officers who shot a drugged-up, knife-slashing assailant to death on December 2, 2015. 

The dead slasher: Mario Woods, a known gang member, armed robber and car thief. 

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Mario Woods

At 26, Woods—born on July 22, 1989—had a well-documented history of criminality:

  • He was an active member of the notorious Oakdale Mob infesting the predominantly black Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco.
  • His gang-related activities included armed robbery; attempted armed robbery; shooting incidents; being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm; car theft; driving a stolen car; and being involved in an automobile injury accident while fleeing from police.
  • In 2008, he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon.
  • In 2009, he was one of six gang members added to the provisions of a 2007 gang injunction against the Oakdale Mob.
  • Under the terms of this injunction, Oakdale Mob members are forbidden to engage in gang-related conduct within a four-block safety zone.
  • Among those prohibited activities: Possessing guns or dangerous weapons; possessing illegal drugs; loitering with intent to sell drugs; intimidating witnesses or victims; using threats to recruit or retain gang members; defacing property with graffiti.
  • In 2012, he was sentenced to seven years in state prison for armed robbery. (He had already spent almost three years in County Jail.)  He was released in 2014.

On December 2, 2015, San Francisco police officers took a report from a 26-year-old Bayview man who had been slashed in the left shoulder.

He and a female friend had been eating in a car parked in front of an apartment building. They saw a man “walking back and forth on the sidewalk talking” to himself, according to the police report.

The man—wielding a knife—reached into the passenger’s side of the car. The passenger opened the door to push the assailant away.  

When he got out of the car, the man slashed him across the left shoulder. Bleeding heavily, the passenger—who was also black—fled to San Francisco General Hospital.  

Two officers responded to the crime scene. Police radioed in a description of the attacker, and more officers joined in the search.

Minutes later, officers spotted Mario Woods, who matched the suspect’s description. When he saw the officers get out of their car, he pulled a knife from his jeans pocket and said: “You’re not taking me today.”

The two officers drew their pistols and ordered Woods to drop the knife. 

“You better squeeze that motherfucker and kill me,” said Woods.

Still refusing to drop the knife, Woods was hit with three nonlethal beanbag rounds fired from a 12-gauge weapon.

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12-gauge Beanbag shotgun rounds

A woman repeatedly yelled to Woods: “Oh, my God, drop it!  Drop it!”

A fourth beanbag from a 40mm gun hit Woods. Although he crouched on one knee, he still held the knife. Then he quickly regained his balance and stood up.  

dose of pepper spray had no apparent effect on him.

A crowd gathered—and an officer moved toward them to warn: “Back up!”

Suddenly, Woods moved toward the crowd.

The officer stepped into Woods’ path, to keep him from reaching the bystanders.  

As Woods kept advancing, the officer fired his pistol. So did four other officers, riddling Woods with bullets. 

The autopsy revealed that Woods had methamphetamine, marijuana, anti-depressants, cough syrup, nicotine and caffeine in his system.

Two of the officers were black—as was Woods. But in Uber-liberal San Francisco, police are widely regarded with suspicion, if not outright hostility.  Especially when a black suspect is involved.

Predictably, Black Lives Matter called for a protest and vigil on December 3, 2015.

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On January 25, 2016, San Francisco’s then-Mayor Ed Lee requested a federal investigation into Woods’ death.

And San Francisco Supervisor David Campos introduced a resolution to name July 22—Woods’ birthday—as “Mario Woods Day.”

On January 26, 2016, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Campos’ resolution.

The effort sparked outrage from the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) which represents rank-and-file officers.  

In a letter addressed to the Board of Supervisors, POA President Martin Halloran wrote:

“It will be a hurtful day to [the families of SFPD officers killed in the line of duty] if this city’s elected officials decide to recognize and honor an individual that preyed upon our most vulnerable citizens.”

Woods’ mother, Gwen, was elated by the vote: “Sometimes you have to stand up and look life in the eye. Everyone can’t be bullied.”

Except those her son victimized.

Since December 2, 2015—the date of Woods’ shooting—blacks had demanded the firing of Greg Suhr, chief of the San Francisco Police Department and a 35-year veteran of the force.

On May 20, 2016, Shur was forced to resign at the request of then-Mayor Ed Lee. 

Thus do criminals become heroes and sworn law enforcement officers villains in Politically Correct San Francisco.

BIDEN NEEDS A LESSON FROM MACHIAVELLI

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 16, 2021 at 12:07 am

On June 7, The PBS Newshour examined perhaps the foremost issue of our democracy: The For the People Act.

Since November 3, 2020, when former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election, he has spread The Big Lie: That the election was “stolen” from him.

On the basis of that lie, Republicans in 47 states have introduced 361 bills to make it harder to vote.

As of June 21, 2021, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote. 

Among those states affected: Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas and Utah.

Georgia:

  • Bans giving food and water to voters in line;
  • Severely restricts mail ballot drop boxes;
  • Allows Right-wing groups to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters; and
  • Gives the GOP-controlled legislature sweeping powers over election administration.

Arizona:

  • Wants to add new requirements for casting a mail-in ballot and make it harder to receive one. 

Florida:

  • Intends to ban mail ballot drop boxes.

Michigan:

  • Republicans introduced eight bills adding new voter ID requirements for mail voting and forbidding election officials to send out absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Congressional Democrats have countered with the For the People Act.  Among its provisions:

  • Expand early voting and registration across the country in federal elections;
  • Block states from purging their rolls of voters;
  • End partisan gerrymandering;
  • Force large donors to disclose themselves publicly.

“It is something that is obviously very critical right now,” said  PBS Newshour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins. “We see rising in this country both sides talking about democracy and voting rights and what’s happening at this moment.

“[West Virginia United States Senator] Joe Manchin…would be the 50th vote that Democrats would have for this in the Senate. They have 49.

Senator Manchin.jpg

Joe Manchin

“And here’s what he said [on] why he opposed it: ‘I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy. And for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.’

“Notable, he did not have any substantive problems with the bill that he raised. Instead, he said, the issue is there are no Republicans on board. Democrats, of course, have a real problem with that. They say, we think Republicans are going to play games here and block this bill.

“This Manchin decision is a body blow to this legislation. It is not dead yet, but it is in real trouble. It’s unclear if, when [New York Senator] Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader [in the Senate] will bring it back up.”

There has been a great deal of speculation—by Democrats and political correspondents—on Manchin’s motives for opposing this legislation.

Some believe he’s a Right-winger in Democrats’ clothing. Others think he wants to increase his clout on behalf of his state, West Virginia. 

Manchin’s motives, however, are not important. Eliminating his opposition is.

And the man who has the power to do this is President Joe Biden.

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

Joe Biden

All that he needs to do is invite Manchin into the Oval Office for an off-the-record talk, which could open like this:

“Your state has two Coast Guard military bases. By this time next week, it will have only one—because I’m going to close down the other. You can also forget about those highway-repair projects you’re expecting to start. And I’ve been informed we have far too many post offices in West Virginia, considering its small population….”

Suddenly, Manchin will get the clear message: “Biden is the big dog on this block, not me.”

He will also grasp that his constituents will blame him, not Biden, for the resulting chaos and hardships they face from the upcoming closures. 

This is precisely how President Lyndon B. Johnson dealt with Congressional members who dared oppose his prized legislation. And it worked.

Joe Biden has spent 44 years in Washington, D.C.—as a United States Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009; and then as Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

But he seems to have never read Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous warning in The Prince:

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

For how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin rather than his preservation.  A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good. 

And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.

Whatever his motives, Manchin is clearly willing to allow Republicans to suppress the voting rights of millions of non-Fascist Americans.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, saying it was better to temporarily suspend some liberties than to lose the Union to a treasonous Confederate victory. 

President Joe Biden now faces a similar moment of crisis.

Republicans are working to corrupt the democratic process to reinstall a proven criminal and traitor in the Oval Office. This is no time to “fight” a party of Adolf Hitlers with the appeasement tactics of a Neville Chamberlain.

AN EVERYDAY THREAT TO GOVERNMENT

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 14, 2021 at 12:05 am

It’s wonderful to believe that when you have a problem, you can write your local / state / federal representative and s/he will “give it my fullest attention.”

Unfortunately, it’s also usually a mistake.

Two cases on the futility of expectations:

Case #1: On August 12, a man I’ll call Mark, wrote a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. The subject: The disgraceful performance of San Francisco’s Municipal Railway (MUNI) bus lines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark had previously complained to MUNI and his member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors—without result.  So now he decided to literally make it a Federal case:

“MUNI bus drivers are the highest-paid in the nation: The average MUNI driver makes $79,617, 51% above the national average bus driver salary of $52,730. This pay is 27% higher than the combined average salaries of drivers in Dallas, Boston and Atlanta.

“Yet  for  more  than  a  year,  many  of  these  drivers  have  been  ‘earning’ their pay by staying at home—or  going on  what  amounts to  an  extended vacation at the expense of San Francisco voters and MUNI riders.”

Muni | SFMTA

Many bus routes, Mark wrote, had been eliminated. This forces riders to cram themselves aboard the first bus available—making it impossible to “maintain social distancing” as recorded messages aboard MUNI buses advise.

Other routes have been substantially altered, with passengers learning this only after they are deposited far from their expected drop-off point.

These changes are especially difficult for elderly and/or disabled riders.

Mark suggested that Buttigieg threaten MUNI with:

  1. The loss of the Federal monies it now receives through the Department of Transportation; and
  2. An Americans With Disabilities lawsuit on behalf of San Franciscans now unable to receive the transit services they need.

To date—one month later—Mark has not received even the courtesy of a reply, let alone seen a positive change in MUNI’s operations.  

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Pete Buttigieg

Case #2:  Janet, a chef in Los Angeles, was fed up with getting Spam calls on her cell phone. Each time she got one, she blocked the number. Being on the national Do Not Call Registry, she believed she had an airtight case to take to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which regulates the airways.

So she called the FCC and spoke with one of its representatives.

She said that she had saved to her phone the numbers of Spam callers—and she was prepared to turn these over to the FCC.

The FCC’s rep applauded Janet’s willingness to turn over this information.

“Then what happens?” asked Janet.

“We’ll put it into our files.”

In short: the FCC had no intention of acting on the Spam-caller numbers that Janet was prepared to turn over.

Did you submit a net neutrality comment to the FCC? Are you sure?

Janet didn’t hide her disappointment: “If someone went to the FBI and said, ‘I’m being shaken down by the Mafia,’ and the FBI said, ‘Well, we’ll put this into our files’ but wasn’t willing to do anything more, how many people do you think would be willing to report crimes to the FBI?”

The FCC rep admitted that this would greatly reduce the willingness of the public to report crimes to the FBI. But she made no effort to help Janet stop the harassing Spam calls.

Incidents like the ones above are a potent reason why so many people have lost their trust in government—at all levels.

Untold numbers of average citizens feel their elected officials—and the agencies they administer—don’t care about their problems. Even worse, they believe—accurately—that if they were wealthy contributors to the Democratic or Republican party, their complaints would be addressed promptly.

On April 24, 2016, CBS’ longtime documentary series, “60 Minutes,” aired a segment titled “Dialing for Dollars.”  

It opened with the following: “The American public has a low opinion of Congress. Only 14 percent think it’s doing a good job. But Congress has excelled in one way. Raising money. Members of Congress raised more than a billion dollars for their 2014 election. And they never stop. 

“Nearly every day, they spend hours on the phone asking supporters and even total strangers for campaign donations—hours spent away from the jobs they were elected to do. The pressure on candidates to raise money has ratcheted up since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. That allowed unlimited spending by corporations, unions and individuals in elections.”

Coat of arms or logo

In short: Members of Congress—the branch that writes the laws governing the lives of 328.2 million Americans—have essentially become telemarketers.

People who write to their members of Congress expect at least the courtesy of a reply addressing their concerns within a reasonable period of time. Many constituents will not receive even that.

Or the “reply” they receive arrives weeks or months later—and opens with: “Thank you for writing me to support my bill….”

Usually they haven’t even heard of the bill cited—and couldn’t care less about it. As they scan the letter—no doubt drafted by a low-level staffer—they search in vain for an offer of help, or at least empathy. 

Millions of Americans will have no other contact with government officials than this. And it will convince them that if government isn’t their enemy, it’s certainly not their friend.

AMERICA–LIKE AFGHANISTAN–HAS ITS OWN TALIBAN: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, RELIGION, Social commentary on September 9, 2021 at 12:06 am

Bernardo Gui was the chief inquisitor of the Dominican Order during the Medieval Inquisition (1184 – 1230s). 

Gui closely studied the best methods for interrogating “heretics.” He set forth his findings in his most important and famous work, Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis. or “Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness.”

Here’s how such an interrogation might go:

When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, “Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.”

Interrogator: You are accused as a heretic, and that you believe and teach otherwise than Holy Church believes.

Accused Heretic: (Raising his eyes to heaven, with an air of the greatest faith) Lord, thou knowest that I am innocent of this, and that I never held any faith other than that of true Christianity.

Interrogator: You call your faith Christian, for you consider ours as false and heretical. But I ask whether you have ever believed as true another faith than that which the Roman Church holds to be true?

Accused Heretic: I believe the true faith which the Roman Church believes, and which you openly preach to us.

Interrogator: Perhaps you have some of your sect at Rome whom you call the Roman Church. I, when I preach, say many things, some of which are common to us both, as that God liveth, and you believe some of what I preach. Nevertheless you may be a heretic in not believing other matters which are to be believed.

Accused Heretic: I believe all things that a Christian should believe.

Interrogator: I know your tricks….But we waste time in this fencing. Say simply, Do you believe in one God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost?

Accused Heretic: I believe.

Interrogator: Do you believe in Christ born of the Virgin, suffered, risen, and ascended to heaven?

Accused Heretic: (Briskly) I believe.

Interrogator: Do you believe the bread and wine in the mass performed by the priests to be changed into the body and blood of Christ by divine virtue?

Accused Heretic: Ought I not to believe this?

Interrogator: I don’t ask if you ought to believe, but if you do believe.

Accused Heretic: I believe whatever you and other good doctors order me to believe.

Inquisitor: Those good doctors are the masters of your sect; if I accord with them you believe with me; if not, not.

Accused Heretic: I willingly believe with you if you teach what is good to me.

Inquisitor: You consider it good to you if I teach what your other masters teach. Say, then, do you believe the body of our Lord, Jesus Christ to be in the altar?

Accused Heretic: (Promptly) I believe that a body is there, and that all bodies are of our Lord.

Interrogator: I ask whether the body there is of the Lord who was born of the Virgin, hung on the cross, arose from the dead, ascended, etc.

Accused Heretic: And you, sir, do you not believe it?

Interrogator: I believe it wholly.

Accused Heretic: I believe likewise.

Men like Bernard Gui—and Franklin Graham—do not seek a golden future. They crave to return to a “golden” past—which includes the power Christians once held to forcibly impose their religious beliefs on others.

Among those slated for forced conversions by the Religious Right:

  • Atheists
  • Jews
  • Women
  • Homosexuals
  • Lesbians
  • Non-Christians
  • Liberals

To gain absolute secular power over the lives of their fellow Americans, the Religious Right will support any candidate, no matter how morally despicable. 

During the 2016 Presidential race, evangelicals—and their leaders such as Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr.—fervently supported Donald Trump, despite:

  • His being twice divorced;
  • His multiple affairs (including one with porn star Stormy Daniels);
  • His documented ties to Russian oligarchs and Mafia chieftains;
  • His viciousness, greed, lying and egomania.

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Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell, Jr., at Liberty University

And they continue to fervently support him.

They expect Trump to sponsor legislation that will—-by force of law—make their brand of Christianity supreme above all other religions. 

Legislation such as The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This was signed into law on March 26, 2015, by Mike Pence, then Governor of Indiana.

This allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to violate their religious beliefs.

Unofficially, its intent is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

Thus, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons now has the legal right to refuse to do so.

And a hospital can legally turn away a gay patient if it wants to.

Islamic countries are notorious for their persecution of non-Muslims. Now the Religious Right wants to impose its own version of sharia law on American citizens.

AMERICA–LIKE AFGHANISTAN–HAS ITS OWN TALIBAN: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, RELIGION, Social commentary on September 8, 2021 at 12:06 am

American Right-wing elements relentlessly claimed that President Barack Obama was waging “a war on religion.”

GOP candidates like Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney intended to make this a major theme of their respective campaigns for President.

Obama supported a woman’s right

  • to obtain abortion—including in cases of rape and incest;
  • to obtain birth control; and
  • to obtain amniocentesis (pre-natal testing).

By promoting women’s rights, Obama was “waging a war against religion”—according to American fascists.”

Since access to such medical procedures as birth control and pre-natal testing has long been entirely legal, what’s all the fuss about?

It’s simple: The Right is not waging a “war for religious liberty.”

It’s waging a bitter struggle to establish a government that uses force or the threat of it to impose reactionary religious beliefs on religionists who do not share such religious beliefs.

And on atheists or agnostics, who share none at all.

These Rightists and their theocratic allies have less in common with Jesus Christ than with Tomas de Torquemada (1420 – 1498), the infamous Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition.

Christ never ordered the torture or death of anyone. Torquemada—claiming to act in “defense” of the Roman Catholic Church—presided over the deaths of at least 2,000 “heretics.”

Tomas de Torquemada

Nor did these unfortunate victims of religious fanaticism meet their death quickly or painlessly. They died by perhaps the cruelest means possible—by being burned alive at the stake.

Torquemada didn’t hesitate to pronounce someone a heretic. He “knew” who such people were. They were Jews, Muslims, atheists. They were “lapsed Catholics” who, in his view, failed to show fervent devotion to the religious authorities—like himself—who tyrannically ruled their lives.

For such people, Torquemada believed, the only road to salvation lay in being “cleansed” of their sins. And nothing burns away impurities like fire.

But before the fire-stakes came the fire-mindset: The arrogance of “knowing” who qualified as “saved” and who would be forever “damned.”

Unless, of course, his or her soul had been “purified” by fire.

“Heretic” burned at the stake

Fundamentalist Christians can no longer sentence “heretics” to the stake.

But the mindset that ruled the Spanish Inquisition has not disappeared. It has been vividly displayed by no less a religious authority than Franklin Graham, son of America’s most famous preacher, Billy Graham.

Franklin Graham

Appearing on the MSNBC program, “Morning Joe,” on February 21, 2012, Graham was asked if he thought that Barack Obama, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney qualified as Christians.

On Obama: “Islam sees him as a son of Islam… I can’t say categorically that [Obama is not Muslim] because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.”

On Santorum: “I think so. His values are so clear on moral issues. No question about it… I think he’s a man of faith.”

On Gingrich: “I think Newt Gingrich is a Christian, at least he told me he is.”

On Romney: “Most Christians would not recognize Mormons as part of the Christian faith. They believe in Jesus Christ. They have a lot of other things they believe in too, that we don’t accept, theologically.”

Thus, Graham pronounced as “saved” a notorious multiple-adulterer like Gingrich. He also gave a pass to Santorum, who married a woman who had lived “in sin” with an abortionist for six years.

But he unhesitatingly damned a longtime churchgoer like Obama or a devout Mormon like Romney (whose faith, most evangelicals like Graham believe, is actually a non-Christian cult).

Six years later, in 2018, Graham defended President Donald Trump, a notorious womanizer and multiple-adulterer, against charges that, in 2006, he had slept with porn star Stormy Daniels.  

“I believe at 70 years of age the president is a much different person today than he was four years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago. He is not President Perfect.”

This differs greatly from his position on President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky: “If he will lie to or mislead his wife and daughter, those with whom he is most intimate, what will prevent him from doing the same to the American public?”

It’s easy to imagine Graham transported to the French city of Toulouse in the 14th century. And to imagine him wearing the robes of Bernardo Gui, the chief inquisitor of the Dominican Order during the Medieval Inquisition (1184 – 1230s).

Gui closely studied the best methods for interrogating “heretics.” He set forth his findings in his most important and famous work, Practica Inquisitionis Heretice Pravitatis. or “Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness.”

In this, he offered a vivid example of how such an interrogation might go. The following is taken from that manual:

When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, “Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.” 

This is not a dialogue between equals. The Inquisitor literally holds the power of life or agonizing death over the man or woman he is interrogating.

AMERICA–LIKE AFGHANISTAN–HAS ITS OWN TALIBAN: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, RELIGION, Social commentary on September 7, 2021 at 5:07 pm

Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old columnist in Saudi Arabia, decided to celebrate the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammed in a truly unique way.

Hamza Kashgar

In early February, 2012, he posted on Twitter a series of mock conversations between himself and Muhammad:

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.”

“On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.”

“No Saudi women will go to hell, because it’s impossible to go there twice.”

The tweets sparked some 30,000 infuriated responses. Many Islamic clerics demanded that he face execution for blasphemy.

Kashgari posted an apology tweet: “I deleted my previous tweets because…I realized that they may have been offensive to the Prophet and I don’t want anyone to misunderstand.”

Soon afterward, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, then King of Saudi Arabia, ordered his arrest.

King Abdullah bin Abdul al-Saud January 2007.jpg

Saudi King King Abdullah 

Kashgari fled to Malaysia, another majority-Muslim country. He was quickly arrested by police as he passed through Kuala Lumpur international airport. Three days later, he was deported to Saudi Arabia.

Human rights groups feared that he would be executed for blasphemy, a capitol offense in Saudi Arabia.

After nearly two years in prison, Kashgari was freed on October 29, 2013. Kashgari used Twitter to inform his supporters of his release.

Outrageous? By Western standards, absolutely.

Clearly there is no tolerence in Saudi Arabia for the freedoms of thought and expression that Americans take for granted.

Meanwhile, Right-wing American ayatollahs are working overtime to create just that sort of society—where theocratic despotism rules the most intimate aspects of our lives.

One of these is the former GOP Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. In early January, 2012, he said that states should have the right to outlaw birth control without the interference of the Supreme Court.

Rick Santorum

In an interview with ABC News, Santorum said he opposed the Supreme Court’s ruling that made birth control legal:

“The state has a right to do that [ban contraception]. I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a Constitutional right. The state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have.

“That’s the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court—they are creating rights, and it should be left up to the people to decide.”

In the landmark 1965 decision, Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court struck down a law that made it a crime to sell contraceptives to married couples. The Constitution, ruled the Justices, protected a right to privacy.

Two years later, in Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Court extended Griswold by striking down a law banning the sale of contraceptives to unmarried couples.

Santorum has left no doubt as to where he stands on contraception. On October 19, 2011, he said:

“One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘“Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’

“It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also…procreative.

“That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act….And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure.”

“How things are supposed to be”—according to Right-wing fanatics like Santorum and the evangelicals who support them.

Like the Saudi religious religious zealots who demand the death of a “blasphemer,” they demand that their religious views should govern everyone. That means Jews, Catholics, Islamics, atheists and agnostics.

American Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists fervently agree on the following:

  • Women should have fewer rights than men.
  • Abortion should be illegal.
  • There should be no separation between church and state.
  • Religion should be taught in school.
  • Religious doctrine trumps science.
  • Government should be based on religious doctrine.
  • Homosexuality should be outlawed.

The important difference—for Americans who value their freedom—is this:

The United States has a Supreme Court that can—and does—overturn laws that threaten civil liberties. Laws that GOP Presidential candidates clearly want to revive and force on those who don’t share their peculiar religious views.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

The same holds true—in a democracy—for candidates who seek dictatorial power over their fellow citizens. Don’t give them your consent.

WHAT IS TRUE FOR PIGEONS IS TRUE FOR BUMS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 2, 2021 at 8:47 am

The San Francisco Travel Association reported a total of 10.2 million visitors to the city in 2020, down 61.0% from a record high of 26.2 million in 2019.

Total spending by visitors was $2.3 billion, down 77.7 percent from a record high of $10.3 billion in 2019, including spending on meetings and conventions.

Much of the drop-off could be attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic.

But another—and major—reason lay in a subject the city’s politicians refuse to acknowledge: The overwhelming presence of what they euphemistically called “the homeless,” but which is more accurately described as DDMBs: Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums.

Downtown San Francisco

Christian Mehlführer, User:Chmehl [CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D

In 2012, the association conducted a survey among San Francisco residents, who named tourism the city’s most important industry.

Yet San Francisco’s political establishment seems determined to destroy its main source of city revenues.

They do so by catering to a population whose legacies include the following:

  • The city’s sidewalks reek of human feces and urine.
  • Pedestrians must tread carefully to avoid used hypdermic needles and empty cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages.
  • Sleeping bags and tents litter sidewalks, making it hard to pass by—especially for the elderly or those using canes or wheelchairs.
  • Elevators in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system are often unusable because “homeless” people urinate in them.
  • Restaurants have been forced to close because they’ve become havens for DDMBs. A Burger King at Civic Center Plaza recently suffered this fate. So did a McDonald’s in the Haight Ashbury district. 
  • Tourists—and residents—are daily forced to sit next to filth-encrusted men and women who reek of urine and/or feces in restaurants and movie theaters, as well as on buses.

Bum passed out near the Cable Car Turnaround on Powell

So what are San Francisco’s politicians doing to curb these offenses against public health—and the tourism industry on which the city depends?

They’re opening a series of “Navigation Centers” to invite even more DDMBs to San Francisco.

According to the city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing:

  • “A Navigation Center is an asset to a community.”
  • Such Centers are “a form of Temporary shelter that are low-barrier and high-service, have 24/7 access, and connect clients to resources and services to help them exit homelessness.”
  • Services offered include: Health care, benefits counseling, mental health care, housing assistance, substance abuse treatment and employment services.

Since 2015, eight Navigation Centers have been opened throughout San Francisco; six are in operation.

Among the “amenities” they provide:

  • Meals
  • Privacy
  • Space for pets
  • Space separate from sleeping areas
  • Laundry
  • Access to benefits
  • Wi-Fi

While city officials increasingly cater to the drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums who comprise most of this population, San Francisco’s reputation as a tourist mecca is increasingly threatened.

“The large homeless population in San Francisco is more of a mental health and humanitarian issue, although it has affected the tourism and related industries,” said Christian Tong, operations manager for Intrepid Urban Adventures in San Francisco.

“Whether a visitor is staying in Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach or Union Square, they’ll most likely run into a few of the city’s homeless people, with the largest concentration in the Tenderloin neighborhood.” 

“A few?”

Current estimates peg the homeless population of San Francisco at about 7,500. And it hasn’t changed much during the last 10 years. In 2019, an estimated 2,831 members of this population were sheltered. Another 5,180 were unsheltered. This made for a total of 8,011.

Many DDMBs refuse to enter the city’s available shelters. Some claim these places are dangerous—understandably since they’re peopled with drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums.

But another reason why many of these shelters go unused is they don’t allow their guests to drink up or drug up. 

The city spends about $300 million each year on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by 8,011 provides the figure of $37,448 per DDMB.

Just as roaches flock to areas where huge quantities of food is available, so will DDMBs continue to flock to San Francisco. Especially if other cities/states don’t cater to them.

And while San Francisco politicians are going all-out to provide for DDMBs, they’re fighting a war against those who feed pigeons in parks. This includes posters erected by the Department of Public Works, which read:

“Large population of pigeons is a health hazard. Our huge feral pigeon population is a health hazard and creates many problems in the city.

“Pigeon droppings dirty public spaces, do costly damage to buildings, and can spread life-threatening diseases, especially to the elderly and immune-deficient. Their nesting materials block drains and harbor parasites like bird mites. Pigeon food makes a mess and attracts rats.

“Feeding pigeons promotes over-breeding. Pigeon feeding produces over-breeding.

“Pigeons are harmed when fed. When you feed pigeons, you are not doing them a favor. They lose their natural ability to scavenge and survive on their own.

“Pigeon over population leads to overcrowded, unsanitary conditions and produces sick and injured birds. A smaller flock is healthier and does less damage.”

Substitute “DDMBs” for “pigeons” and you have an accurate description of what San Francisco’s policy toward these people should be.

WHY REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY WANT TO GUT “OBAMACARE”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 1, 2021 at 8:43 pm

On June 17, CNN ran a headlined story on its website: “Here’s Why Fighting the Affordable Care Act Means So Much to Republicans.”  

The story opened: “For the third time in the last nine years — and this time by a convincing 7-2 vote — the Supreme Court knocked out a Republican effort to invalidate” the Act.

The Justices said that the challengers of the law did not have legal “standing” to bring the case.

Opponents of the law were not harmed by the provisions they were challenging, the Justices ruled. The reason: Congressional Republicans had eliminated the penalty for failing to buy health insurance.

Republicans believed that eliminating the penalty would allow them to attack the entire law. They assumed that without the mandate—a pillar of the law when it was passed—the rest of the Act should fall, too.

Thus, the irony: Through their latest effort to destroy the Act by de-funding it, Republicans had unintentionally saved it before the Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

The law is now providing access to healthcare for a record 31 million Americans, who would not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

In addition, the Act continues to:

  • Eliminate the “pre-existing condition” excuse insurance companies had used to deny coverage to those who most needed it;
  • Provide a range of no-cost preventive services;
  • Allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 26;
  • Expand the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

“With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it’s here to stay,” President Joe Biden tweeted that same day.

“BFD” referred to his remark, caught on a hot mic when he told then-President Barack Obama in 2010 the law is a “a big fucking deal.”

Why have Republicans pursued its demise so relentlessly? J.P. Morgan once said: “A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing. One that sounds good, and a real one.”

The story outlines the reasons that sound good: 

“For the GOP base, the ACA is about a view of the country that the government is the answer to all of our problems.

“It’s also tied into their lingering distaste for former President Barack Obama, whose name is literally melded with the law.

“And a belief that the media treated Obama’s ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ lie and the disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website allowing people to sign up for a plan with kid gloves because, well, bias.”

Let’s take a quick look at each of these points.

  • Millions of Right-wingers hate the Federal Government and openly call for its overthrow. This they vividly demonstrated on January 6 when they tried to illegally retain Donald Trump as President. They hoped to prevent the selection of Joe Biden as the legitimately-elected President of the United States by storming the Capitol Building.
  • Racism forms a major component of the GOP’s appeal to older, white, Right-wing voters. So having the name of the first black President unofficially stamped on the law (“Obamacare”) serves as a constant spur to their hatred.

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling.

Barack Obama

  • Obama’s promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”: The promise backfired because the law stated that those who already had medical insurance could keep their plans—so long as those plans met the requirements of the new healthcare law. If their plans didn’t meet those requirements, they would have to obtain coverage that did
  • The “disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website”: That happened immediately after the law became effective on March 23, 2010. The sheer rush of uninsured people hoping to finally gain access to medical care proved too much for the website. But over time those bugs got ironed out.

Now for the real reason Republicans have furiously tried to destroy the Act—one that the writer did not mention. It is also one that no Republican dares admit.

And like so much else in the Republican agenda, it is rooted in the methods employed by the Third Reich.

On June 22, 1941, German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler sent three million soldiers smashing into the Soviet Union. During the first six months—June to December, 1941—German armies lured huge Soviet forces into gigantic “cauldron battles,” surrounding and exterminating them. 

An estimated 5.7 million prisoners of war fell into German hands. The Germans found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them. But their mandate demanded that they keep marching ever forward.

So they simply imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and wasted no food or medical care on them. Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

Soviet prisoners of war behind barbed wire at Falstad Camp May 8th 1945. The picture is probably taken after the Norwegian prisoners left the camp. (Photographer: Unknown / The Falstad Centre)

Soviet POW’s

Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing, shelter—and medical care—you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. Or rigged vote-counts.

Most Americans—ignorant of history—cannot accept that their politicians can be as evil as those in other nations. For those needing access to affordable healthcare, voting Republican could turn out to be a fatal mistake.

GENERAL SHERMAN’S ADVICE TO JOE BIDEN

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 31, 2021 at 10:14 am

When Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, was close to death, he asked his doctor: “What act of my administration will be most severely condemned by future Americans?”

“Perhaps the removal of the bank deposits,” said the doctor—referring to Jackson’s withdrawal of U.S. Government monies from the first Bank of the United States.

That act had destroyed the bank, which Jackson had believed was a source of political corruption.

“Oh, no!” said Jackson.

Then, his eyes blazing, Jackson raged: “I can tell you. Posterity will condemn me more because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as a traitor than for any other act in my life!”

John C. Calhoun had once been Vice President under Jackson and later a United States Senator from South Carolina. His fiery rhetoric and radical theories of “nullification” played a major part in bringing on the Civil War (1861-1865).   

John C. Calhoun

Calhoun was an outspoken proponent of slavery, which he declared to be a “positive good” rather than a “necessary evil.” He supported states’ rights and nullification—by which states could declare null and void federal laws they deemed unconstitutional.

Over time, Southern states’ threats of “nullification” turned to threats of “secession” from the Union—and then civil war.

The resulting carnage destroyed at least 750,000 lives. More Americans died in that war than have been killed in all the major wars fought by the United States since. 

When it ended, America was reinvented as a new, unified nation—and one where slavery was now banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Equally important, the Federal Government had now set a precedent for using overwhelming military power to force states to remain in the Union.

But in 2012, within days of Barack Obama’s decisive winning of another four years as President, residents across the country filed secession petitions to the Obama administration’s “We the People” program.

States whose residents filed secession petitions included:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (state), West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Abraham Lincoln dedicated his Presidency—and sacrificed his life—to ensure the preservation of a truly United States.

And Robert E. Lee—the defeated South’s greatest general—spent the last five years of his life trying to put the Civil War behind him and persuade his fellow Southerners to accept their place in the Union.

But today avowed racists, fascists and other champions of treason are working hard to destroy that union—and unleash a second Civil War.

On January 6, they illegally attacked the United States Capitol Building to halt the counting of Electoral College votes of the 2020 Presidential election. Their goal: Pressure Congress to overturn the election of former Vice President Joe Biden’s in favor of President Donald Trump.

Most of those traitors have not yet been brought to justice. And most importantly, the man who incited their treason—former President Donald Trump—has not been indicted, nor even arrested. He continues to enrage his followers by lying that the election was “stolen” from him.

And most of his 74 million voters stand ready to commit additional acts of violence to “restore” him to office.

President Joe Biden should follow Andrew Jackson’s example—before treasonous acts become the order of the day.

He should warn Stormtrumpers and Right-wing militia leaders that the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand ready to squelch further outbreaks of treason. And that he will send modern-day counterparts of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to wherever they are needed. 

Sherman’s March through Georgia

Sherman “made Georgia howl” through his now-famous “March to the Sea.” In a letter to his commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant, he expressed his formula for dealing with domestic terrorists:

“They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us. We cannot change the hearts of those people of the South.

“But we can make war so terrible that they will realize the fact that….they are still mortal and should exhaust all peaceful remedies before they fly to war.”

And Sherman’s counsel is backed up by none other than Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science. 

In his master-work, The Discouorses, he outlines the consequences of allowing lawbreakers to go unpunished:

“…Having established rewards for good actions and penalties for evil ones, and having rewarded a citizen for conduct who afterwards commits a wrong, he should be chastised for that without regard to his previous merits….

“For if a citizen who has rendered some eminent service to the state should add to the reputation and influence which he has thereby acquired the confident audacity of being able to commit any wrong without fear of punishment, he will in a little while become so insolent and overbearing as to put an end to all power of the law.”

HARASSMENT–AND HYPOCRISY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 13, 2021 at 12:05 am

On October 12, 2016, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times and People all published stories of women claiming they had been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.

Trump’s reaction: “Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication. The events never happened. Never.”

For “proof,” he attacked their physical appearance.

Of one accuser, Natasha Stoynoff, he said: “Take a look.  You take a look.  Look at her.  Look at her words.  You tell me what you think.  I don’t think so.  I don’t think so.” 

Of another accuser, Jessica Leeds, Trump said: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Whoever she is, wherever she comes from, the stories are total fiction. They’re 100% made up. They never happened.”

In short: They were too ugly for Trump to consider them worth sexually harassing. 

And he threatened:  “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

To date, Trump has not filed a single lawsuit for defamation. No doubt he realized:

  • He would have to take the witness stand and testify under oath; and
  • There was simply too much evidence stacked against him. 

By October 14, 2016, at least 12 women had publicly accused Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior. By 2020, the number had grown to 26.

Trump—who’s been married three times and often boasted of his sexual prowess—asked why President Barack Obama hadn’t had similar claims leveled against him.

The answer: Because there has never been the slightest hint of scandal about Obama as a faithful husband.

Related image

Donald Trump

Many Right-wingers defended Trump’s misogynist comments as mere “frat boy” talk.

Said Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager and commentator for CNN and Fox News: We are electing a leader to the free world. We’re not electing a Sunday school teacher.” 

And Fox News host Sean Hannity went Biblical to excuse Trump: “King David had 500 concubines for crying out loud!”

But Washington Post Columnist Micheal Gerson took a darker—and more accurate—view of Trump’s comments.  

Appearing on the PBS Newshour on October 7, 2016, Gerson said: “Well, I think the problem here is not just bad language, but predatory language, abusive language, demeaning language. That indicates something about someone’s character that is disturbing, frankly, disturbing in a case like this.”

In June, 2019, yet another woman came forward to accuse Trump—now President—of sexual assault: E. Jean Carroll, an advice columnist for Elle magazine.

Related image

E. Jean Carroll

Carroll alleges that Trump attacked her in the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996 at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York. 

She claims that, while gift shopping, Trump pressured her to try on lingerie and grabbed her arm to pull her toward the dressing room.

“The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips.

“I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.

“The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway —or completely, I’m not certain—inside me.”

True to form, Trump responded by exonerating himself on the basis of the woman’s appearance: “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type.” 

Then he accused the accuser: “Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda….

“It’s just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence. Worse still for a dying publication to try to prop itself up by peddling fake news—it’s an epidemic.” 

Also, predictably, he portrayed himself as the innocent victim of yet another vast conspiracy: “If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll or New York Magazine, please notify us as soon as possible.”

And, just as predictably, Republicans rallied around the President.

“Quite honestly, as somebody who had a front-row seat to the Kavanaugh hearings, we’ve seen allegations that were false,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “We’ll let the facts go where they are, but I take [Trump’s] statement at face value.”

“Yes, I believe the president.” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when pressed on whether he believed Trump.

There’s an old saying: “If one person tells you you’re drunk, and you feel fine, ignore him. If ten people tell you you’re drunk, you need to lie down.” 

More than a score of women have come forward to say that Donald Trump—the former President of the United States—is a sexual predator. 

Yet not one Republican was willing to say: “It’s time for him to leave.”

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