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Posts Tagged ‘NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT’

TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COPS AND DRUGS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 3, 2022 at 12:16 am

It’s a movie that appeared in 1981—making it, for those born in 2000, an oldie. 

And it wasn’t a blockbuster, being yanked out of theaters almost as soon as it arrived. 

Yet Prince of the City remains that rarity—a movie about big-city police that:

  • Tells a dramatic (and true) story; and
  • Offers serious truths about how police and prosecutors really operate. 

It’s based on the real-life case of NYPD Detective Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in the film). 

Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in “Prince of the City”)

A member of the elite Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Ciello (played by Treat Williams) volunteers to work undercover against rampant corruption among narcotics agents, attorneys and bail bondsmen. 

His motive appears simple: To redeem himself and the NYPD from the corruption he sees everywhere: “These people we take from own us.” 

His only condition: “I will never betray cops who’ve been my partners.” 

And Assistant US Attorney Rick Cappalino assures Ciello: “We’ll never make you do something you can’t live with.” 

As the almost three-hour movie unfolds, Ciello finds—to his growing dismay—that there are a great many things he will have to live with. 

Treat Williams as “Danny Ciello”

Although he doesn’t have a hand in it, he’s appalled to learn that Gino Moscone, a former buddy, is going to be arrested for taking bribes from drug dealers. 

Confronted by a high-ranking agent for the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Moscone refuses to “rat out” his buddies. Instead, he puts his service revolver to his head and blows out his brains.  

Ciello is devastated, but the investigation—and film—must go on. 

Along the way, he’s suspected by a corrupt cop and bail bondsman of being a “rat” and threatened with death. 

He’s about to be wasted in a back alley when his cousin—a Mafia member—suddenly intervenes. The Mafioso tells Ciello’s would-be killers: “You’d better be sure he’s a rat, because people like him.”

At which point, the grotesquely fat bail bondsman—who has been demanding Ciello’s execution—pats Danny on the arm and says, “No hard feelings.”

It’s director Sidney Lumet’s way of graphically saying: “Sometimes the bad guys can be good guys—and the good guys can be bad guys.”

Prince Of The City folded.jpg

Lumet makes it clear that police don’t always operate with the Godlike perfection of cops in TV and films. It’s precisely because his Federal backup agents lost him that Ciello almost became a casualty.  

In the end, Ciello becomes a victim of the prosecutorial forces he has unleashed. Although he’s vowed to never testify against his former partners, Ciello finds this is a promise he can’t keep.

Too many of the cops he’s responsible for indicting have implicated him of similar—if not worse—behavior. He’s even suspected of being involved in the theft of 450 pounds of heroin (“the French Connection”) from the police property room.

A sympathetic prosecutor—Mario Vincente in the movie, Rudolph Giuliani in real-life—convinces Ciello that he must finally reveal everything he knows.

Ciello’s had originally claimed to have done “three things” as a corrupt narcotics agent. By the time his true confessions are over, he’s admitted to scores of felonies.

Ciello then tries to convince his longtime SIU partners to do the same. One of them commits suicide.  Another tells Ciello to screw himself:  “I’m not going to shoot myself and I’m not going to become a rat.”

To his surprise, Ciello finds himself admiring his corrupt former partner for being willing to stand up to the Federal case-agents and prosecutors demanding his head.

The movie ends with a double dose of irony.

First: Armed with Ciello’s confessions, an attorney whom Ciello had successfully testified against appeals his conviction. But the judge rules Ciello’s admitted misdeeds to be “collateral,” apart from the main evidence in the case, and affirms the conviction.

Second: Ciello is himself placed on trial—of a sort. A large group of assistant U.S. attorneys gathers to debate whether their prize “canary” should be indicted. If he is, his confessions will ensure his conviction.

Some prosecutors argue forcefully that Ciello is a corrupt law enforcement officer who has admitted to more than 40 cases of perjury—among other crimes. How can the government use him to convict others and not address the criminality in his own past?

Other prosecutors argue that Ciello voluntarily risked his life—physically and professionally—to expose rampant police corruption. He deserves a better deal than to be cast aside by those who have made so many cases through his testimony.

Eventually, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York makes his decision: “The government declines to prosecute Detective Daniel Ciello.”

It is Lumet’s way of showing that the decision to prosecute is not always an easy or objective one.

The movie ends with Ciello now teaching surveillance classes at the NYPD Academy. 

A student asks: “Are you the Detective Ciello?”

“I’m Detective Ciello.”

“I don’t think I have anything to learn from you.”  And he walks out.

Is Danny Ciello a hero, a villain, or some combination of the two?

On this ambiguous note that the film ends—an ambiguity that each viewer must resolve for himself.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 20, 2022 at 12:12 am

On August 23, 2021, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The shooting occurred as officers attempted to arrest him. Blake was tasered as he scuffled with police. When he opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots, striking him four times in the back.

Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, and may never walk again.

Protests followed.

Kenosha County declared a state of emergency overnight on August 24 after police vehicles were damaged, a dump truck set on fire, and the local courthouse vandalized. Police urged 24-hour businesses to close owing to armed robberies and shots being fired. Up to 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were deployed to maintain public safety.

Missing from the story—in most news media—has been one crucial fact:

At the time of the shooting, Blake faced a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree sexual assault in connection with domestic abuse on July 6. 

The officers had come to arrest Blake for violating a restraining order stemming from that complaint. A 911 call on  August 23 alerted them that Blake was at the home of his alleged victim. 

Restraining order - Wikipedia

A sample restraining order

The restraining order stemmed from a criminal complaint, which accused Blake of breaking into the home of a woman he knew and sexually assaulting her in May. The victim told police she was asleep when Blake broke in at 6 a.m. and said, “I want my shit.”

She told police that Blake used his finger to sexually assault her. She said the incident “caused her pain and humiliation and was done without her consent.” 

After Blake left, she realized her keys were missing and “immediately called 911,” the complaint said.

An arrest warrant was issued on July 7.

On August 9, 2014, a similar police/media incident had occurred.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Brown’s 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson claimed that Wilson shot him in the back. Wilson claimed he shot Brown after the latter charged at him.

An FBI investigation found that there was no evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender or said “don’t shoot” before he was shot. It also found that Brown was struck six times, all in the front of his body.

The shooting ignited nationwide protests. 

Yet many of the media “covering” the story refused to note that, shortly before his shooting, a video camera taped Brown robbing a grocery store and manhandling its owner.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Had this been more widely noted, “Saint Michael” would have been seen as a mere thug who learned that assaulting a cop wasn’t the same as attacking a store owner. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a former black security guard, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black van on which the letters "EAPOLIS" is seen, with a license plate ending "ICE". One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.

Death of George Floyd

Across the nation, cities were convulsed by protests—including those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among these: Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Walnut Creek and San Francisco itself.

On May 30, an initially peaceful protest march exploded into looting shortly before 9 p.m. as looters broke off and began smashing shop windows and ransacking stores in Union Square and on Market Street.

Among stores looted: A Sak’s Off-Fifth Avenue, an Old Navy clothing store, a Cartier Boutique and a Coach store. Looters especially targeted CVS and Walgreens drugstores. Liquor stores and a BevMo were also hit.

“Thirty businesses were looted or destroyed,” said David Perry, from Union Square Business Improvement District. 

Undoubtedly many of victims of those looters and arsonists had been horrified by the Floyd killing. But many of them undoubtedly lost sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement as they surveyed the wreckage of their stores. 

Store owners were infuriated at having to replace stock that had been stolen or destroyed. And employees resented having to clean up the wreckage. Some stores no doubt were forced to close, leaving their former employees suddenly jobless.

And President Donald Trump quickly moved to capitalize on that resentment. His brand of “divide and rule” politics brought him to the White House in 2016. And he was determined to play on white fears of further black crime to win a second term.

White fears of black crime are reflected in the crime rate statistics for New York City.

While Blacks make up 24.3% of New York City’s population, they comprise:

  • 58.0% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 40.7% of its rape arrests;
  • 34.6% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 59.4% of its robbery arrests;
  • 51.8% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 51.7% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 71.6% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 48.5% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 54.7% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 45.9% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 51.8% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 60.0% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

This is admittedly unfair to those blacks who are law-abiding citizens. But the fear factor will continue until crime rates among blacks start falling dramatically.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 19, 2022 at 12:10 am

On May 16, a white supremacist shot and murdered 10 people and wounded three others at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York. 

Eleven victims were black; two were white. 

The mass shooting has once again ignited calls for gun control and a national dialogue on race.

Undoubtedly the motivation for the killings was race. But the sensationalistic publicity given this crime obscures a brutal truth ignored by liberals—and blacks:

Blacks kill far more blacks than whites do. And blacks are responsible for a disproportionate portion of crimes.

Blacks make up 13% of the American population, according to the 2010 census of the United States.

But they committed 52% of homicides between 1980 and 2008, according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Only 45% of whites were offenders in such cases.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims.

In 2008 blacks were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. And they were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims.

According to the FBI, blacks were responsible for 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, in 2013.

From 2011 to 2013, 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black.

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest—from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning—later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

For the NYPD, 1972 proved to be a tumultuous year. Among those challenge faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners. Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book—Target Blue: An Insider’s View of the N.Y.P.D.—Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen—of ten—murdered in 1971. 
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this—and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my Italics].”

Related image

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • Whites, 63%;
  • Blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 50 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2019:

Family Secrets | Blue Bloods Wiki | Fandom

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims

  • Black (56.6%)
  • Hispanic (31.2%)
  • White (4.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (6.9%) 

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Suspects

  • Black (62.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.8%)
  • White (3.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees

  • Black 58.0%
  • Hispanic 35.2%
  • White 3.3% 
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 3.0%

Rape Victims

  • Black (38.4%)
  • Hispanic (35.4%)
  • White victims (18.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.0%)

Rape Suspects

  • Black 46.5%)
  • Hispanic (34.8%)
  • White (10.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Rape Arrestees

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (45.4%
  • )White (6.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Image

NYPD Headquarters at One Police Plaza

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims

  • Black (33.8%)
  • Hispanic (37.3%)
  • White (21.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (41.6%)
  • Hispanic (37.5%)
  • White (12.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (34.6%)
  • Hispanic (47.4%)
  • White (11.3%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (6.4%)

Robbery Victims

  • Hispanic (39.5%)
  • Black (29.5%)
  • White (14.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (15.6%)

Robbery Suspects

  • Black (66.2%
  • Hispanic (27.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific islander (2.3%)

Robbery Arrestees

  • Black (59.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.2%)
  • White (5.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.2%)

Misdemeanor Assault Victims 

  • Black (39.7%)
  • Hispanic (36.5%)
  • White (14.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (9.0%)

Misdemeanor Assault Suspects 

  • Black (51.1%)
  • Hispanic (33.0%)
  • White (9.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.6%)

Misdemeanor Assault Arrestees

  • Black (47.2%)
  • Hispanic (35.8%)
  • White (10.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.6%)

Felonious Assault Victims   

  • Black (45.1%)
  • Hispanic (34.4%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (7.7%)

Felonious Assault Suspects

  • Black (53.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (7.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.8%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees

  • Black (51. 8%)
  • Hispanic (33.1%)
  • White (8.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.4%)

Grand Larceny Victims

  • Black (24.4%)
  • Hispanic (23.0%)
  • White (35.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (15.7%)

Grand Larceny Suspects

  • Black (50.5%)
  • Hispanic (23.5%)
  • White (11.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.9%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (51.7%) 
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (13.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.0%)

Firearm Arrest Population

  • Black (71.4%)
  • Hispanic (24.2%)
  • White (2.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Shooting Victims

  • Black (70.9%)
  • Hispanic (23.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.6%)

Shooting Suspects

  • Black (74.4%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.1%)

Shooting Arrestees

  • Black (71.6%)
  • Hispanic (24.1%)
  • White (2.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.5%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population

  • Black (45.0%)
  • Hispanic (40.2%)
  • White (9.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (4.9%)

Drug Misdemeanor Arrestees

  • Black (48.5%)
  • Hispanic (35.3%)
  • White (12.5%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (3.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Victims

  • Black (35.5%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (18.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (42.4%)
  • Hispanic (34.2%)
  • White (14.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.7%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (45.9%)
  • Hispanic (31.9%)
  • White (16.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.1%)

Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (54.7%)
  • Hispanic (28.6%)
  • White (11.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.0%)

Petit Larceny Victims

  • Black (31.6%) 
  • Hispanic (29.9%) 
  • White (28.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.7%)

Petit Larceny Suspects

  • Black (53.8%) 
  • Hispanic (26.8%) 
  • White (15.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Petit Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (44.7%) 
  • Hispanic (32.5%) 
  • White (17.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Victims

  • Black (38.5%) 
  • Hispanic (29.8%) 
  • White (19.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.2%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Suspects

  • Black (51.0%)
  • Hispanic (29.6%)
  • White (14.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Arrestees

  • Black (44.9%)
  • Hispanic (33.3%)
  • White (16.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims

  • Black (39.79%)
  • Hispanic (37.0%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.3%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Suspects

  • Black (60.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.4%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

Juvenile Arrest Population

  • Black (60.0%)
  • Hispanic (32.0%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

BARBARIANS CAN’T BE CIVILIZED

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 16, 2021 at 12:07 am

On July 8, President Joseph Biden said that America would withdraw its armed forces from Afghanistan by August 31, thus ending the nearly 20-year war.

“How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk?” Biden said to those calling for the United States to extend the military operation. 

To put the consequences of this effort into human terms:

On December 21, 2015, a suicide-bomber rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol.  Six American troops and an Afghan were killed.

One of the dead was Joseph Lemm, 45, a detective and 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department. A technical sergeant in the New York Air National Guard, he had been deployed three times—once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.

Joseph Lemm - Tunnel to Towers Foundation

Joseph Lemm

Lemm left behind a daughter, Brook, 16, a son, Ryan, four, and his wife, Christine.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff on December 23 in Lemm’s honor.

“Staff Sergeant Joe Lemm served this nation with the selflessness and bravery that embodies the U.S. Armed Forces and the NYPD,” Cuomo said in a statement. 

Lemm’s death was a double tragedy—that of a dedicated man who should not have died so needlessly. 

A total of 2,312 US military personnel in Afghanistan have died and 20,066 have been wounded since 2001. The cost of military operations is put at $824 billion.

The history of American conflict in Afghanistan began on September 11, 2001.

On that date, 19 Islamic hijackers slammed two jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

A fourth plane, headed for the White House or Capitol Building, failed to reach its target when its passengers rioted—and the hijackers dove it into a Pennsylvania field.

The mastermind of the attacks was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire then living in Afghanistan, under protection by its ruling thugocracy, the Taliban.

The administration of President George W. Bush demanded his immediate surrender to American justice.

The Taliban refused.

So, on October 7, 2011—less than one month from the 9/11 attacks—American bombers began pounding Taliban positions.

The whole point of the campaign was to pressure the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden.

But the Taliban refused. Bin Laden holed up in the mountains of Tora Bora, and then ultimately escaped into Pakistan.

After December, 2001, American Intelligence completely lost track of Bin Laden. CIA officials repeatedly said he was likely living in the “no-man’s-land” between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Thus, there was no longer any point in pressuring the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden

Still, the United States continued to commit forces to Afghanistan—to turn a primitive, warlord-ruled country into a modern-day democracy.

There was, admittedly, a great deal to detest about the Taliban:

  • When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they turned soccer stadiums into execution plazas for mass beheadings or shootings.
  • Taliban “fighters” have proven their “courage” by throwing acid into the faces of women who dared to attend school.

Taliban religious police beating a woman

  • On August 8, 1989, the Taliban attacked Mazar-i-Sharif. Talibanists began shooting people in the street, then moved on to mass rapes of women. Thousands of people were locked in containers and left to suffocate.
  • The Taliban forbade women to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative and wearing the burqa—a traditional dress covering the entire body. Those who disobeyed were publicly beaten.

Yet, as horrific as such atrocities were, these did not obligate the United States to spend eternity trying to bring civilization to this barbaric country.

And, in pursuing that goal, both the Bush and Obama administrations repeatedly overlooked the following realities:

  • Hamid Karzai, the “president” of Afghanistan (2001-2014) didn’t believe in democracy—despite American claims to support his efforts to bring this to Afghanistan.
  • His authority didn’t extend beyond Kabul, and he was viewed by most Afghans as an illegitimate ruler, imposed by America.
  • The same can be said for his successor, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
  • American soldiers in Afghanistan felt surrounded by enemies and hamstrung by unrealistic orders to win “hearts and minds” at the risk of their own lives.
  • The Taliban poses no threat to the security of the United States.
  • Afghan “insurgents” are fighting American forces because (1) they are in a civil war; and (2) they believe their country has once again been occupied by foreigners.
  • Counterinsurgency was preached as the key to defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan—where it hasn’t worked.
  • Americans entered Afghanistan without an exit strategy.

All these truths applied just as firmly to America’s failed misadventure in Vietnam.

Almost 50 years ago, American “grunts” felt about their so-called South Vietnamese allies as American troops now feel about their Afghan “allies.”

Dr. Dennis Greenbaum, a former army medic, summed up how Americans had really felt about their supposed South Vietnamese allies.

“The highest [priority for medical treatment] was any U.S. person. The second highest was a U.S. dog from the canine corps. The third was NVA [North Vietnamese Army].

“The fourth was VC [Viet Cong]. And the fifth was ARVIN [Army of the Republic of South Vietnam], because they had no particular value. The only thing below them was the civilians,” said Greenbaum.

When you despise the “ally” you’re spending lives and treasure to defend, it’s time to pack up.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 1, 2020 at 12:02 am

On August 23, Jason S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The shooting occurred as officers attempted to arrest him. Blake was tasered as he scuffled with police. When he opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots, striking him four times in the back.

Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, and may never walk again.

Protests followed. Kenosha County declared a state of emergency overnight on August 24 after police vehicles were damaged, a dump truck set on fire, and the local courthouse vandalized. Police urged 24-hour businesses to close owing to armed robberies and shots being fired. Up to 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were deployed to maintain public safety.

Missing from the story—in most news media—has been one crucial fact:

At the time of the shooting, Blake faced a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree sexual assault in connection with domestic abuse on July 6. 

The officers had come to arrest Blake for violating a restraining order stemming from that complaint. A 911 call on  August 23 alerted them that Blake was at the home of his alleged victim. 

Restraining order - Wikipedia

A sample restraining order

The restraining order stemmed from a criminal complaint, which accused Blake of breaking into the home of a woman he knew and sexually assaulting her in May. The victim told police she was asleep when Blake broke in at 6 a.m. and said, “I want my shit.”

She told police that Blake used his finger to sexually assault her. She said the incident “caused her pain and humiliation and was done without her consent.” 

After Blake left, she realized her keys were missing and “immediately called 911,” the complaint said.

An arrest warrant was issued on July 7.

On August 9, 2014, a similar police/media incident had occurred.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Brown’s 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson claimed that Wilson shot him in the back. Wilson claimed he shot Brown after the latter charged at him.

An FBI investigation found that there was no evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender or said “don’t shoot” before he was shot. It also found that Brown was struck six times, all in the front of his body.

The shooting ignited nationwide protests. 

Yet many of the media “covering” the story refused to note that, shortly before his shooting, a video camera taped Brown robbing a grocery store and manhandling its owner.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Had this been more widely noted, “Saint Michael” would have been seen as a mere thug who learned that assaulting a cop wasn’t the same as attacking a store owner. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a former black security guard, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black van on which the letters "EAPOLIS" is seen, with a license plate ending "ICE". One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.

Death of George Floyd

Across the nation, cities were convulsed by protests—including those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among these: Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Walnut Creek and San Francisco itself.

On May 30, an initially peaceful protest march exploded into looting shortly before 9 p.m. as looters broke off and began smashing shop windows and ransacking stores in Union Square and on Market Street.

Among stores looted: A Sak’s Off-Fifth Avenue, an Old Navy clothing store, a Cartier Boutique and a Coach store. Looters especially targeted CVS and Walgreens drugstores. Liquor stores and a BevMo were also hit.

“Thirty businesses were looted or destroyed,” said David Perry, from Union Square Business Improvement District. 

Undoubtedly many of victims of those looters and arsonists had been horrified by the Floyd killing. But many of them undoubtedly lost sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement as they surveyed the wreckage of their stores. 

Store owners were infuriated at having to replace stock that had been stolen or destroyed. And employees resented having to clean up the wreckage. Some stores no doubt were forced to close, leaving their former employees suddenly jobless.

And President Donald Trump has quickly moved to capitalize on that resentment. His brand of “divide and rule” politics brought him to the White House in 2016. And he’s determined to play on white fears of further black crime to win a second term.

White fears of black crime are reflected in the crime rate statistics for New York City.

While Blacks make up 24.3% of New York City’s population, they comprise:

  • 58.0% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 40.7% of its rape arrests;
  • 34.6% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 59.4% of its robbery arrests;
  • 51.8% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 51.7% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 71.6% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 48.5% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 54.7% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 45.9% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 51.8% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 60.0% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

This is admittedly unfair to those blacks who are law-abiding citizens. But the fear factor will continue until crime rates among blacks start falling dramatically.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 31, 2020 at 12:22 am

Blacks make up 13% of the American population, according to the 2010 census of the United States.

But they committed 52% of homicides between 1980 and 2008, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Only 45% of whites were offenders in such cases.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims.

In 2008 blacks were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. And they were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims.

According to the FBI, blacks were responsible for 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, in 2013.

From 2011 to 2013, 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black.

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest—from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning—later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

It proved to be a tumultuous year in the NYPD’s history: Among those challenges Daley and his fellow NYPD members faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.  Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners. Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book—Target Blue: An Insider’s View of the N.Y.P.D.—Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen—of ten—murdered in 1971. 
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this—and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my Italics].”

Related image

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • Whites, 63%;
  • Blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 49 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2019. Its introduction states:

“The reports below present statistics on race and ethnicity compiled from the New York City Police Department’s records management system.”

Family Secrets | Blue Bloods Wiki | Fandom

Then follows these statistics:

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims

  • Black (56.6%)
  • Hispanic (31.2%)
  • White (4.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (6.9%) 

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Suspects

  • Black (62.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.8%)
  • White (3.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees

  • Black 58.0%
  • Hispanic 35.2%
  • White 3.3% 
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 3.0%

Rape Victims

  • Black (38.4%)
  • Hispanic (35.4%)
  • White victims (18.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.0%)

Rape Suspects

  • Black 46.5%)
  • Hispanic (34.8%)
  • White (10.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Rape Arrestees

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (45.4%
  • )White (6.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Image

NYPD Headquarters at One Police Plaza

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims

  • Black (33.8%)
  • Hispanic (37.3%)
  • White (21.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (41.6%)
  • Hispanic (37.5%)
  • White (12.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (34.6%)
  • Hispanic (47.4%)
  • White (11.3%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (6.4%)

Robbery Victims

  • Hispanic (39.5%)
  • Black (29.5%)
  • White (14.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (15.6%)

Robbery Suspects

  • Black (66.2%
  • Hispanic (27.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific islander (2.3%)

Robbery Arrestees

  • Black (59.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.2%)
  • White (5.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.2%)

Misdemeanor Assault Victims 

  • Black (39.7%)
  • Hispanic (36.5%)
  • White (14.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (9.0%)

Misdemeanor Assault Suspects 

  • Black (51.1%)
  • Hispanic (33.0%)
  • White (9.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.6%)

Misdemeanor Assault Arrestees

  • Black (47.2%)
  • Hispanic (35.8%)
  • White (10.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.6%)

Felonious Assault Victims   

  • Black (45.1%)
  • Hispanic (34.4%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (7.7%)

Felonious Assault Suspects

  • Black (53.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (7.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.8%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees

  • Black (51. 8%)
  • Hispanic (33.1%)
  • White (8.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.4%)

Grand Larceny Victims

  • Black (24.4%)
  • Hispanic (23.0%)
  • White (35.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (15.7%)

Grand Larceny Suspects

  • Black (50.5%)
  • Hispanic (23.5%)
  • White (11.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.9%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (51.7%) 
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (13.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.0%)

Firearm Arrest Population

  • Black (71.4%)
  • Hispanic (24.2%)
  • White (2.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Shooting Victims

  • Black (70.9%)
  • Hispanic (23.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.6%)

Shooting Suspects

  • Black (74.4%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.1%)

Shooting Arrestees

  • Black (71.6%)
  • Hispanic (24.1%)
  • White (2.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.5%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population

  • Black (45.0%)
  • Hispanic (40.2%)
  • White (9.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (4.9%)

Drug Misdemeanor Arrestees

  • Black (48.5%)
  • Hispanic (35.3%)
  • White (12.5%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (3.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Victims

  • Black (35.5%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (18.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (42.4%)
  • Hispanic (34.2%)
  • White (14.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.7%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (45.9%)
  • Hispanic (31.9%)
  • White (16.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.1%)

Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (54.7%)
  • Hispanic (28.6%)
  • White (11.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.0%)

Petit Larceny Victims

  • Black (31.6%) 
  • Hispanic (29.9%) 
  • White (28.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.7%)

Petit Larceny Suspects

  • Black (53.8%) 
  • Hispanic (26.8%) 
  • White (15.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Petit Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (44.7%) 
  • Hispanic (32.5%) 
  • White (17.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Victims

  • Black (38.5%) 
  • Hispanic (29.8%) 
  • White (19.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.2%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Suspects

  • Black (51.0%)
  • Hispanic (29.6%)
  • White (14.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Arrestees

  • Black (44.9%)
  • Hispanic (33.3%)
  • White (16.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims

  • Black (39.79%)
  • Hispanic (37.0%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.3%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Suspects

  • Black (60.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.4%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

Juvenile Arrest Population

  • Black (60.0%)
  • Hispanic (32.0%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

A REALISTIC PORTRAYAL OF POLICE CORRUPTION—AND JUSTICE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 29, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Almost 40 years later, “Prince of the City” remains that rarity—a movie about big-city police that:

  • Tells a dramatic (and true) story; and
  • Offers serious truths about how police and prosecutors really operate. 

Released in 1981, it’s based on the real-life case of NYPD Detective Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in the film). 

Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in “Prince of the City”)

A member of the elite Special Investigating Unit (SIU) targeting high-level narcotics dealers, Ciello (played by Treat Williams) volunteers to work undercover against rampant corruption among narcotics agents, attorneys and bail bondsmen. 

His motive appears simple: To redeem himself and the NYPD from the corruption he sees everywhere: “These people we take from own us.” 

His only condition: “I will never betray cops who’ve been my partners.” 

And Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Cappalino assures Ciello: “We’ll never make you do something you can’t live with.” 

As the almost three-hour movie unfolds, Ciello finds—to his growing dismay—that there are a great many things he will have to learn to live with. 

Treat Williams as “Danny Ciello”

Although he doesn’t have a hand in it, he’s appalled to learn that Gino Moscone, a former buddy, is going to be arrested for taking bribes from drug dealers. 

Confronted by a high-ranking agent for the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Moscone refuses to “rat out” his buddies. Instead, he puts his service revolver to his head and blows out his brains.  

Ciello is devastated, but the investigation—and film—must go on. 

Along the way, he’s suspected by a corrupt cop and bail bondsman of being a “rat” and threatened with death. 

He’s about to be wasted in a back alley when his cousin—a Mafia member—suddenly intervenes. The Mafioso tells Ciello’s would-be killers: “You’d better be sure he’s a rat, because people like him.”

At which point, the grotesquely fat bail bondsman—who has been demanding Ciello’s execution—pats Danny on the arm and says, “No hard feelings.”

It is director Sidney Lumet’s way of graphically saying: “Sometimes the bad guys can be good guys—and the good guys can be bad guys.”

Prince Of The City folded.jpg

Lumet makes it clear that police don’t always operate with the Godlike efficiency of cops in TV and films. It’s precisely because his Federal backup agents lost him that Ciello almost became a casualty.  

In the end, Ciello becomes a victim of the prosecutorial forces he has unleashed.  Although he’s vowed to never testify against his former partners, Ciello finds this is a promise he can’t keep.

Too many of the cops he’s responsible for indicting have implicated him of similar—if not worse—behavior. He’s even suspected of being involved in the theft of 450 pounds of heroin (“the French Connection”) from the police property room.

A sympathetic prosecutor—Mario Vincente in the movie, Rudolph Giuliani in real-life—convinces Ciello that he must finally reveal everything he’s done.

Ciello had originally claimed to have done “three things” as a corrupt narcotics agent. By the time his true confessions are over, he’s admitted to scores of felonies.

Ciello then tries to convince his longtime SIU partners to do the same. One of them commits suicide.  Another tells Ciello to screw himself:  “I’m not going to shoot myself and I’m not going to rat out my friends.”

To his surprise, Ciello finds himself admiring his corrupt former partner for being willing to stand up to the Federal case-agents and prosecutors demanding his head.

The movie ends with a double dose of irony.

First: Armed with Ciello’s confessions, an attorney whom Ciello had successfully testified against appeals his conviction. But the judge rules Ciello’s admitted misdeeds to be “collateral”—apart from the main evidence in the case—and affirms the conviction.

Second: Ciello is himself placed on trial—-of a sort. A large group of assistant U.S. attorneys gathers to debate whether their prize “canary” should be indicted. If he is, his confessions will ensure his conviction.

Some prosecutors argue forcefully that Ciello is a corrupt law enforcement officer who has admitted to more than 40 cases of perjury—among other crimes. How can the government use him to convict others and not address the criminality in his own past?

Other prosecutors argue that Ciello voluntarily risked his life—physically and professionally—to expose rampant police corruption. He deserves a better deal than to be cast aside by those who have made so many cases through his testimony.

Eventually, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York makes his decision: “The government declines to prosecute Detective Daniel Ciello.”

It is Lumet’s way of showing that the decision to prosecute is not always an easy or objective one.

The movie ends with Ciello now teaching surveillance classes at the NYPD Academy. 

A student asks: “Are you the Detective Ciello?”

“I’m Detective Ciello.”

“I don’t think I have anything to learn from you.”  And he walks out.

Is Danny Ciello a hero, a villain, or some combination of the two? It’s with this ambiguity that the film ends—an ambiguity that infuses America’s clearly hopeless “war on drugs.”

RIGHT-WINGERS: TRASHING HEROES, CHEERING VILLAINS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 28, 2020 at 12:34 am

In Serpico (1973) audiences were led to cheer on the lonely and dangerous efforts of incorruptible Frank Serpico (Al Pacino) to combat widespread payoffs within the NYPD.

And even though a wounded Serpico is forced to resign from the NYPD, he leaves behind the Knapp Commission to investigate widespread police corruption.

Serpico imp.jpg

The audience was not led to root for the men who dedicated their lives to deceit and corruption.

But for Right-wingers, the opposite is the case. Supporting those who peddle lies for profit is considered a patriotic duty. And so is attacking those who dare to stand up against lies and corruption

Case #1:

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, a mentally unstable, 20-year-old gunman, slaughtered 20 school children aged six and seven and six adult staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut.

Enter Right-wing broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who hosts The Alex Jones Show from Austin, Texas. 

On his program in January, 2015, he said: “Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.”

On August 1, 2018, families of four students and two educators who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones.

Alex Jones Portrait (cropped).jpg

Alex Jones

Michael Zimmermann [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

According to the complaint: 

“The Jones defendants concoct elaborate and false paranoia-tinged conspiracy theories because it moves product and they make money. Not because they truly believe what they are saying, but rather because it increases profits.” 

Typically, Jones responded to the lawsuit with more lies:  

“This is all out of context….And it’s not even what I said or my intent. I’m not going to get into the real defects of this, I’m going to wait until it’s thrown out with prejudice.”

Case #2:

On September 23, 2019, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg indicted world leaders at the United Nations for failing to act on climate change:

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Image result for greta thunberg on twitter

Greta Thunberg

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” President Donald Trump tweeted sarcastically above a link to Thunberg’s speech. 

CNN’s Chris Cillizza immediately recognized the sarcasm: “Unfortunately, it’s not at all surprising that Trump saw fit to make fun of Thunberg’s passion and emotion. This is who he is — a schoolyard bully who doesn’t differentiate between a 16-year-old girl and Joe Biden. Or a Gold Star family. Or a prisoner of war. Or white nationalists and those protesting their ideology of hate.” 

Fox News host Laura Ingraham juxtaposed Thunberg’s speech with a clip from the 1984 horror film Children of the Corn, joking, “I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate.”

Ingraham’s brother, Curtis, wrote: “I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize.”

Many American commentators attacking Thunberg are tied to the Heartland Institute, funded by Big Oil, and which promotes climate science denial.

Other critics of Greta owe their allegiance to the Koch family, owners of the U.S.’s largest private energy company.

Case #3:   

Dr. Anthony Fauci has served under six Republican and Democratic Presidents as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

Since COVID-19 struck the United States in January, he has dared to speak the hard truth about the pandemic—and the Federal Government’s failure to combat it.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

in doing so, he has occasionally contradicted President Trump’s statements filled with ignorance or outright lies. For example: Trump has been loudly touting hydroxychloroquine, used for treating malaria, as a miracle cure for COVID-19.

Yet Fauci has pointed out there have been no scientific trials of the drug for its effectiveness against Coronavirus. Given the medical condition of some patients, it could even prove fatal. 

Trump resents that his own popularity is steadily falling as COVID cases and deaths rise—and he offers only rosy predictions that “one day it will be gone.”

Trump’s supporters are equally furious.

On July 21, Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) the House Republican Conference Chair—and the only female member of the House GOP leadership—was attacked by members of her own party.

Her “crime”? Supporting Fauci. 

Representative Chip Roy (Texas) complained that Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, has retweeted some of Cheney’s tweets supporting Fauci. 

Like Holocaust deniers, Right-wing shills like Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham and Chip Roy can’t afford to admit the corruption of the causes they support.

By demanding “Prove it!” and then attacking all evidence put forward, Rightists hope to keep their critics on the defensive. 

Thus, the best course to take when a Right-winger makes a claim: Assume it’s a lie—because it is.

BOOING THE HEROES, CHEERING THE VILLAINS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 26, 2019 at 12:04 am

It used to be a staple of dramatic movies: A lone crusader, battling heroically against the corruption of entrenched bureaucracies.

In Serpico (1973) audiences were led, frame by frame, to cheer on the lonely and dangerous efforts of incorruptible Frank Serpico (Al Pacino) to combat widespread payoffs within the NYPD.

And even though a wounded Serpico is forced to resign from the NYPD, he leaves behind the Knapp Commission to investigate widespread police corruption.

Serpico imp.jpg

At no time, though, was the audience led to root for the men who dedicated their lives to deceit and corruption.

But for Right-wingers, the opposite is the case. Supporting those who peddle lies for profit is considered a patriotic duty. And so is attacking those who dare to stand up against lies and corruption

Consider the following:

On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, a mentally unstable, 20-year-old gunman, slaughtered 20 school children aged six and seven and six adult staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut.

Enter Right-wing broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who hosts The Alex Jones Show from Austin, Texas. 

On his program in January, 2015, he said: “Sandy Hook is a synthetic completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured. I couldn’t believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids. And it just shows how bold they are, that they clearly used actors.”

On August 1, 2018, families of four students and two educators who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones.

Alex Jones Portrait (cropped).jpg

Alex Jones

Michael Zimmermann [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

According to the complaint: 

“The Jones defendants concoct elaborate and false paranoia-tinged conspiracy theories because it moves product and they make money. Not because they truly believe what they are saying, but rather because it increases profits.” 

Thus, a reasonable person would understand that Jones meant the massacre was staged and the deaths were fabricated.

Typically, Jones responded to the lawsuit with more lies:  

“This is all out of context….And it’s not even what I said or my intent. I’m not going to get into the real defects of this, I’m going to wait until it’s thrown out with prejudice.”

Ernest Hemingway said: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.”  More proof of this came on September 23.

On that day, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg indicted world leaders at the United Nations for failing to act on climate change:

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Image result for greta thunberg on twitter

Greta Thunberg

Those who “talk about money”—and their Right-wing shills—were quick to strike back.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” President Donald Trump tweeted sarcastically above a link to Thunberg’s speech. 

CNN’s Chris Cillizza immediately recognized the sarcasm: “Unfortunately, it’s not at all surprising that Trump saw fit to make fun of Thunberg’s passion and emotion. This is who he is — a schoolyard bully who doesn’t differentiate between a 16-year-old girl and Joe Biden. Or a Gold Star family. Or a prisoner of war. Or white nationalists and those protesting their ideology of hate.” 

Right-wing commentator Michael Knowles called Thunberg—who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome—“a mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left.”

Fox News host Laura Ingraham juxtaposed Thunberg’s speech with a clip from the 1984 horror film Children of the Corn, joking, “I can’t wait for Stephen King’s sequel, Children of the Climate.”

Fox News came under fire on Twitter for these attacks.  Retreating quickly, the network issued the following statement: “The comment made by Michael Knowles, who was a guest on The Story tonight, was disgraceful—we apologize to Greta Thunberg and to our viewers.”

Ingraham’s brother, Curtis, wrote: “I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize.”

According to a September 23 article in Teen Vogue magazine, “Attacks on Greta Thunberg Come from a Coordinated Network of Climate Change Deniers.” 

Specifically: “A large subsection of the commentariat driving the abuse of Greta is part of an established network of radical free-marketeer lobby groups — a network that has firm ties to the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science denial.”

Many American commentators attacking Thunberg are tied to the Heartland Institute, funded by Big Oil, and which promotes climate science denial.

Other critics of Greta owe their allegiance to the Koch family, owners of the U.S.’s largest private energy company.

Like Holocaust deniers, Right-wing shills like Alex Jones and Laura Ingraham can’t afford to admit the corruption of the causes they support.

By demanding “Prove it!” and then attacking all evidence put forward, Rightists hope to keep their critics on the defensive. 

Thus, the best course to take when a Right-winger makes a claim: Assume it’s a lie—because it is.

CIVILIZING THE BARBARIANS: A HOPELESS TASK

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2019 at 12:07 am

On February 9, 2017, Army General John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee he had enough U.S. and NATO troops for counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. 

But he needed more to sufficiently “train, advise and assist” the Afghan forces.

Today, there are 14,000 U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

To put the consequences of this effort into human terms:

On December 21, 2015, a suicide-bomber rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into a joint NATO-Afghan patrol.  Six American troops and an Afghan were killed.

One of the dead was Joseph Lemm, 45, a detective and 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department. A technical sergeant in the New York Air National Guard, he had been deployed three times—once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan.

IMAGE: NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm

Joseph Lemm

Lemm left behind a daughter, Brook, 16, a son, Ryan, four, and his wife, Christine.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered that flags on all state government buildings be flown at half-staff on December 23 in Lemm’s honor.

“Staff Sergeant Joe Lemm served this nation with the selflessness and bravery that embodies the U.S. Armed Forces and the NYPD,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Lemm’s death was a double tragedy—that of a dedicated man who should not have died so needlessly.

In short: It’s long past time for the United States to quit its failed mission to civilize Afghanistan.

The history of American conflict in Afghanistan began on September 11, 2001.

On that date, 19 Islamic highjackers slammed two jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

A fourth plane, headed for the White House or Capitol Building, failed to reach its target when its passengers rioted—and the highjackers dove it into a Pennsylvania field.

The mastermind of the attacks was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire then living in Afghanistan, under protection by its ruling thugocracy, the Taliban.

The administration of President George W. Bush demanded his immediate surrender to American justice.

The Taliban refused.

So, on October 7, 2011—less than one month from the 9/11 attacks—American bombers began pounding Taliban positions.

The whole point of the campaign was to pressure the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden.

But the Taliban held firm. Bin Laden holed up in the mountains of Tora Bora, and then ultimately escaped into Pakistan.

After December, 2001, American Intelligence completely lost track of Bin Laden.  CIA officials repeatedly said he was likely living in the “no-man’s-land” between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Thus, there was no longer any point in pressuring the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden

Still, the United States continued to commit forces to Afghanistan—to turn a primitive, warlord-ruled country into a modern-day democracy.

There was, admittedly, a great deal to detest about the Taliban:

  • When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they turned soccer stadiums into execution plazas for mass beheadings or shootings.
  • Taliban “fighters” have proven their “courage” by throwing acid into the faces of women who dared to attend school.

Taliban religious police beating a woman

  • On August 8, 1989, the Taliban attacked Mazar-i-Sharif. Talibanists began shooting people in the street, then moved on to mass rapes of women. Thousands of people were locked in containers and left to suffocate.
  • The Taliban forbade women to leave their homes unless accompanied by a male relative and wearing the burqa—a traditional dress covering the entire body. Those who disobeyed were publicly beaten.

Yet, as horrific as such atrocities were, these did not obligate the United States to spend eternity trying to bring civilization to this barbaric country.

And, in pursuing that goal, both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly overlooked the following realities:

  • Hamid Karzai, the “president” of Afghanistan (2001-2014) didn’t believe in democracy–despite American claims to support his efforts to bring this to Afghanistan.
  • His authority didn’t extend beyond Kabul, and he was viewed by most Afghans as an illegitimate ruler, imposed by America.
  • The same can be said for his successor, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.
  • American soldiers in Afghanistan feel surrounded by enemies and hamstrung by unrealistic orders to win “hearts and minds” at the risk of their own lives.
  • The Taliban poses no threat to the security of the United States.
  • Afghan “insurgents” are fighting American forces because (1) they are in a civil war; and (2) they believe their country has once again been occupied by foreigners.
  • Counterinsurgency is being preached as the key to defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan—where it hasn’t worked.
  • Americans entered Afghanistan without an exit strategy.

All these truths applied just as firmly to America’s failed misadventure in Vietnam.

Almost 50 years ago, American “grunts” felt about their so-called South Vietnamese allies as American troops now feel about their Afghan “allies.”

Dr. Dennis Greenbaum, a former army medic, summed up how Americans had really felt about their supposed South Vietnamese allies.

“The highest [priority for medical treatment] was any U.S. person.

“The second highest was a U.S. dog from the canine corps.

“The third was NVA [North Vietnamese Army].

“The fourth was VC [Viet Cong].

“And the fifth was ARVIN [Army of the Republic of South Vietnam], because they had no particular value,” said Greenbaum.

When you despise the “ally” you’re spending lives and treasure to defend, it’s time to pack up.

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