The purpose of torture is not getting information. It’s spreading fear. (Eduardo Galeano)
The syllabus. Today’s disquisition is broken down as follows.
The Sony Hack scandal. Amazingly fascinating for reasons I can’t fathom. It’s larcenous, to be sure. But you have to wonder what idiot in their right mind would ever put such scurrilous communications in emails, as in IN WRITING! Have we all lost any sense of the perils of open source emailing? And Sony’s retained the formidable barrister David Boies to scare the hell out of media, the Hollywood Reporter reports. It’s a mots fascinating concept and idea. Think of it as dealing in stolen property, in effect.
In [a] letter, first reported by The New York Times, Boies referred to leaked Sony documents as “stolen information” and demanded that the files be ignored, or destroyed if they had already been downloaded.
“We are writing to ensure that you are aware that SPE does not consent to your possession, review copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information,” the letter reads.
9/11 rudiments. As it’s mentioned in every other sentence as to torture justifications, wouldn’t it be nice if people had an idea of the facts? But be very careful because if you dare to delve too greatly or deeply into the truth of 9/11, well, you’ll be called a truther. Or worse. You must pledge fealty to the concept of the official story and never ever question the validity of the story.
Torture. Un-American beyond any possible appreciation. Critically and absolutely against American principles, tenets and the Geneva Conventions themselves. Plus, it doesn’t work to elicit information.
CRomnibus. Beyond the pay grade of most Americans. The idea of backing up derivatives transcends and traverses all and any semblance of rational thought.
Protesters march in New York, carrying signs depicting the haunting eyes of Eric Garner.
The eyes have it. As symbols go this one’s hard to beat. The message and power are breathtaking.Too bad Eric Garner’s not the best case to be made, but it’ll have to do.
But don’t listen to this podcast if you want to be mollified. Either way. There’s no specific right or wrong here. Nothing Manichean or apodictic. This is a nuance minefield. It’s years of perceived and actual police excess but this time it’s been accompanied by a deliberate and powerful activism, the likes of which New York City, in particular, hasn’t seen for decades.
Eric Garner and Michael Brown are not good cases to clearly exemplify raw and unbridled police excess as both resisted arrest, confronted the cops and contributed in large part to the tragic and deadly escalation of their cases. You simply can’t get past these facts. Brown charged Officer Wilson; Garner resisted arrest. That is not to say that the police acted appropriately or professionally in any wise. In fact they may have. The point is that’s not the point. There are better cases. Fact. Kelly Thomas, Dillon Taylor, Gil Collar, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice — these are better examples of clear excesses. Easier to digest and grasp by all parties and factions. Woefully bereft of pithy memes and hashtag messaging.
My Nine-Point Plan I commend to you for your perusal and review. It lists and adumbrates my suggestions and recommendations as a necessary start.
There are white folks who want nothing to do with the suggestion that police act inappropriately and excessively. They believe that it’s racial bellyaching, promoted and exacerbated by poverty pimps and racial arsonists. And they’re wrong.
There are people of color who, perhaps habituated to yet another example of police shooting, want nothing to do with the suggestion that Eric Garner and Michael Brown had anything to do with precipitating their own tragic ends. They see Messrs. Brown and Garner as police victims, simple. And they’re wrong as well.
This issue requires careful consideration and rational analysis and, moreover, critical thinking skills. Keep the sloganeering and the catchy meme rhetoric. I want solutions. Not an Instagram moment or a retweet.
Breaking the Set. Abby Martin of RT’s Breaking the Set and I enjoy a spirited and targeted discussion on all that is the latest in Eric Garner and the problems associated therewith. Abby’s without peer in getting down to the the tacks of brass and — get this — allotting adequate time to discuss, dissect and digest an issue.
As the country moves past its initial and collection reaction and shock to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, the issue is now what to do after. Specifically, what needs to be done to move forward and how to both prevent and deal with the next (inevitable) tragedy. Herein is my nine-point plan.
Mandatory special prosecutor assigned in police shootings. DA’s will be prohibited from handling prosecutions of police officer shootings and/or deaths within their jurisdiction regarding officers whom they must necessarily deal with on a daily basis.
Police union messaging. Police unions must not be viewed as adversarial to the public and must tailor their message and directives avoiding at all costs ostensible tone-deaf insensitivity.
Civilian ride-along programs. The public simply has no idea of what police do. Increased participation in ride-along programs and similar liaison programs will help dramatically especially when combined with media and social media outlets highlighting the efforts.
Media instruction and tutelage as to what police do. The public and media think that arrests are invitations to cooperate. They must understand the rather brusque process of surrender and the danger to police of “pretty please” seizure.
Education of public as to grand jury process. The ham sandwich myth must be forever corrected and eliminated altogether.
Reevaluation and ultimate reversal of 1033 programs. Programs providing for militarization of police agencies fuel subliminal antagonism and exacerbate the inherent problems.The historic firewall between civilian law enforcement and military operations as in Posse Comitatus must be enforced.
Mandatory camera programs. Cameras proved invaluable in establishing a level of transparency in the Eric Garner case. Without them, no facts would have been readily available. The ACLU has instituted programs allowing for citizens to download apps for smartphone use to document and record questionable and suspect police behavior.
Expansion of Citizen Complain Review Boards and CCRB-like programs. Civilian jurisdiction in reviewing police abuse claims creates the perception of cooperative involvement and community investment.
Police-civilian liaisons. Emphasis on community policing and symbiotic cooperation is encouraged versus antagonistic coexistence.
A multiple exposure picture of Tesla nonchalantly reading a book sitting in his laboratory whilst his “Magnifying transmitter” is generating millions of volts.
Mutual admiration society. I recently sat down with a great man and friend of mine, the inimitable and ineffable Robert Downey Sr., anent a topic of our mutual fascination: Nikola Tesla, the world’s most famous unknown scientist and inventor. A giant who dwarfed Edison, in particular. How could someone of this man’s dimension and contribution be for all practical purposes shelved by modern history? Is he the Israel Bissell of his time? Who’s Israel Bissell?! See?
A mensch and a prince. Bob Downey is a most unique and accomplished filmmaker, whose résumé infra, speaks for itself. I provide it in toto as I love its style and cadence.
Underground filmmaker, midnight movie maven, existential cosmic joker and surrealist film freak extraordinary — Robert Downey, Sr. was the clown prince of the Beat Cinema scene in its golden age. Inspired equally by the Marx Brothers and Samuel Beckett, Downey’s absurdist wit and jazz film style made him a critics’ darling and audience favorite in the 1960s New York arthouse scene, and later a cult movie sensation in the 1970s with classics like Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace. These early works are as barbed as Lenny Bruce, as absurd as Alfred Jarry, and as out-to-lunch as Eric Dolphy. Rough around the edges and all-around hilarious, Downey’s first films stand as landmark works in the history of American independent cinema.
The high summit and confab. But herein, we discuss this Brobdingnagian genius whose contributions include – just to name few – alternating current, light (fluorescent bulbs and the Tesla coil), radio, remote control, robotics, the electric motor, the laser, wireless communication and limitless free energy. Even in the field of ufology, Tesla is frequently mentioned in his connections to anti-gravitic propulsion and free energy. The scope and range of this man are nonpareil. We’re also pleased to note how younger generations have taken to his history and legacy. And it’s about time.
Please enjoy this discussion on Tesla (along with an encomium and paean to the great American playwright, screenwriter and novelist, Paddy Chayefsky). And make sure you pic up a copy of Bob’s referenced book Lightning in His Hand: The Life Story of Nikola Tesla by Inez Hunt.
Prolegomenon. There is an old joke about a man looking for a watch on Broadway when it was lost in the Bowery; when asked why he was looking on Broadway instead of where the watch was lost he replied “the light is so much better here.” Similarly, activists don’t use the incident that best exemplifies their cause, they use the most highly publicized event that can be linked to their cause, even if that link is tenuous. Because the light is so much better.
A meme that’s long gone. Take a look, a gander at this image. Norman Rockwell painted this (“The Runaway”, shown here) for a Saturday Evening Post cover that was published September 20, 1958. The imagery is perfect. Understanding cop — with a lot of time on his hands — reasoning with a lad who ran away. What would today’s version be? A kid sedated by a psychotropic cocktail, under lock and key or recovering after having been Tasered or beaten (or worse) for mouthing off to a cop. This is the crux of the problem: the militarization of the police. The destruction of the idea and notion that they’re to help and assist and not necessarily kick ass and take down names.
Compare this theme with today’s.
Seeming disparity of coverage and concern. Kelly Thomas, Dillon Taylor, Gil Collar. White guys beaten and shot to death by cops: white, non-white and black. (I still don’t know what the hell non-white means.) It’s relevant, it’s pertinent and it needs to be explored. Not because that excuses any alleged police overreaction but because it adds perspective. It adds light. The problem is endemic, inherent and knows not race as a primary factor. Correlation versus cause are two distinctly different considerations. Critial thinking and precise issue analysis are needed desperately.
Let me be brutally frank. I hate, no! I loathe discussions that victim categorize by race. What is this? Are we keeping a tally? No, that’s not the basis of my indictment. If a behavior is wrong, if a reaction is unwarranted, it’s wrong simply because it’s wrong. Likewise you can’t excuse wrongdoing simply because it’s rare and infrequent. A black suspect mistreated by cops is as wrong as a white suspect mistreated by cops. Cops who are trained professionals, I might add.
But what I cannot understand is the selective categorization of victim demographics. Yes, without a doubt, there are discrepancies between white and black treatment. True. The history of police treatment is marred and horrible to be sure. But issue analysis and critical thinking a required here. Let’s stick to the particular issue and framework that this disquisition attempts to address. Work with me in this one.
What the problem is and has been is an attitudinal militarization of police that has been exacerbated by the recent injection of 1033-like programs into police departments already burdened by historically entrenched and intrinsic racism. Without a doubt. let’s be clear: Racism has existed, the disparate treatment of criminal detainees and suspects still exists. Fine, let’s all stipulate to that and move on.
Here is the gravamen of my indictment.
Police training and institutional mindsets need immediate and drastic revision.
The celerity in the use of deadly force must be addressed. Alternatives to force and dispute resolution must be included in officers’ arsenal.
Racial arson, especially when fueled by those who seek to enjoy pecuniary gain, must be decried and attacked for what it is.
The mainstream media must seriously readdress the way in which it covers incendiary matters, especially in view of the 24/7 cable news wheel that feeds data and coverage without surcease with no recognizable sense of proportion, sobriety or responsibility.
The notion of the peace officer has gone the way of RoboCop. So long, Sheriff Andy. The message of the role of officer must be retooled and readdressed.
The principles of Posse Comitatus must be revisited to readdress the division between civilian law enforcement and military.
Good luck explicating this perspective. Ted Baxter and Ron Burgundy would be proud.
On November 28, 2014, I appeared with RT‘s Ameera David discussing inter alia Ferguson, the grand jury process Missouri style, Bob McCulloch and the entire slew and lot of all those involved and concerned.
Howard Beale: “We’ll tell you anything you want to hear, we lie like hell. “
There were wonderful days of radio per-Rush. In The Enduring Spirit of Howard BealeProfessor James Tracy interviews yours truly for a lively and boisterous tête-à-tête. In it, such gems and bromides as the following infra were gleaned. Here, I quote myself. A fascinating proposition.
It was in the glory days of talk radio before everybody wanted to be Rush, or the Wannabes came along–when it was interesting, when you had local. You had people who really did not belong on radio, people who did not have stentorian voices, as did and do I not. I’ve been described as Joe Pesci on helium. My favorite is Curly Howard on Benzedrine. People had personality [and] perspective. And then Rush came along and simultaneously revamped, rekindled, and reinstituted AM radio as a viable commercial property, and simultaneously destroyed it by inspiring all of these right wing Rush wannabes who were talentless, and still are in many respects.
The left left a long time ago. The prototypical leftie cannot fathom any possibility that Darren Wilson was not indicted, that no true bill was rendered, that he’s not cracking rocks upstate or in the Greybar Inn for any reason other than institutional corruption and/or judicial putrescence. They simply can’t. They’ve signed on to the trope that the fix is in, that McCulloch gamed the system and that any chance for justice has left the station. For it seems that these juridical autodidacts and overnight Internet Perry Mason wannabes have gotten it through their thickened Neanderthal crania that justice hasn’t been served here and it must be because this untethered and out of control prosecutor and/or this racist system have struck again. Where were they I ask when runaway grand juries were working overtime in indicting ham sandwiches à la Wachtler like the swing shift at the Carnegie? No, the refrain is that Mad Dog McCulloch gummed up the juridacture works and plied the jurors grand with mountains of data, reports, witnesses and labyrinthine testimony and they were plumb tuckered out and threw in the towel. That’s their story and there sticking to it, I reckon.
Missouri is to the grand jury process what Florida is to the electoral. First, just what is the grand jury anyway? Well, Jethro, I’m glad you asked. To put it succinctly, no one knows. No, seriously. It’s a funky kinda outboard tribunal of whacky star chamber outliers that can serve as an investigative as well as accusatory body but is basically the indentured bitch of the prostituter, er, prosecutor. (I’m not kidding.)
Somebody wake Nino. In United States v. Williams 504 U.S. 36 (1992), Mr. Justice Scalia delivered the majority opinion and in part noted thusly as to the tenuous and rather fascinating role of the tendentious little brother to Torquemada. Read this beaut, the highlighted in particular. After all, that’s why they’re highlighted.
“[R]ooted in long centuries of Anglo American history,” Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420, 490 (1960) (Frankfurter, J., concurring in result), the grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. It ” `is a constitutional fixture in its own right.’ ” United States v. Chanen, 549 F. 2d 1306, 1312 (CA9) (quoting Nixon v. Sirica, 159 U.S. App. D.C. 58, 70, n. 54, 487 F. 2d 700, 712, n. 54 (1973)), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 825 (1977). In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people. See Stirone v. United States, 361 U.S. 212, 218 (1960); Hale v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43, 61 (1906); G. Edwards, The Grand Jury 28-32 (1906). Although the grand jury normally operates, of course, in the courthouse and under judicial auspices, its institutional relationship with the judicial branch has traditionally been, so to speak, at arm’s length. Judges’ direct involvement in the functioning of the grand jury has generally been confined to the constitutive one of calling the grand jurors together and administering their oaths of office. See United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 343 (1974); Fed. Rule Crim. Proc. 6(a). [e.s.]
Huh? Did you dig that? (1) It belongs to no branch of the “institutional government” and (2) its relationship to the courts is “at arm’s length.” WTF, indeed. Translation: They be on their own. So let me return to the initial point that was made, how can the archetypal left rant and rail anent and against the grand jury in the case sub judice when even Nino has nary a clue of what they do and are? Because it’s nothing to do with fact but feeling and fad.
Bless their hearts. Think Progress in the subject of inspiring a hugely cited social media Twitter meme sequence likewise cites Scalia in Williams:” [N]either in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.” And from this they took this to indict the Ferguson grand jury and Wild Man McCulloch. What a stretch. But that’s the essence and politics of the left-right paradigm. Not to mention, they simply have no idea of what the feck they’re talking about.
“Now, you see my fists? … They’re getting ready to f— you up … If you don’t start f—— listening.” Fullerton Police Department Officer Manuel Ramos told Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic, as he was beaten to death.
Remember Kelly Thomas. Remember how a jury acquitted two Fullerton police officers charged in the savage beating and death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia. Remember how that jury reached a not guilty verdict notwithstanding and despite their viewing video, audio, and images of the sickening incident that shocked many courtroom and media observers and sparked protests in the streets of Fullerton. This is a man who died at the hands of his badged executioners, a man who didn’t deserve to die. A man who seemed to have slipped through the media’s attention span of a gnat.