The Insanity of the Republican Party


America is headed towards a very dark place if they choose to believe the likes of Sharon Angle, the Republican candidate for US Senate in the state of Nevada.  Like so many others of her ilk, now running for public office she is able to make up statements to scare, intimidate, frighten voters into believing  her acts of demagoguery are what will save this Republic or that she alone, and the rest like her have the best interests of the people of America at heart.  I can’t imagine how or why anyone can think lying to make one fear their neighbor or fellow citizen is in the best interest of social order, but Angle is doing it and with gusto.

“My thoughts are these, first of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States,” she said. “It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States.”

 

This seems to be a recurring theme among racists Islamophobes, that a group of people can somehow take over the US,  supplanting the US Constitution with Islamic law.  Such beliefs should be enough to disqualify a person for public office because it shows an ignorance of the US political system; how detailed and involved a process it is that takes the participation of the entire electorate; that changing the Constitution cannot be imposed on people, yet Angle et.co are able to get people to fear that possibility.  Simply look at the city council of Dearborn, Michigan which has no Muslim members on it to consider the possibility what Angle suggests even more ludicrous.

What did happen that Angle failed to mention is what could very well happen, no doubt has happened in her state and at every level of government power and authority; the law enforcement arm of authority over-reacted in making an arrest because someone failed to adequately satisfy the arresting officer they were obeying his/her orders fast enough and with sufficient obsequiousness to avoid arrest. This has happened if officers are responsible for any event that puts them in contact with the public in any place in America.  The blogger Will Griggs has written extensively about this interaction between police and the citizens they are supposed to protect; routinely police see themselves as the sole authority when in contact with non-officers, without any allegiance to any ideology except their own.  The idea that the excesses made by Dearborn police were done on behalf of Islamic law, is as irresponsible as claiming torture or police brutality is done in the name of capitalism or democracy.  Moreover, the court system remedied the plaintiff’s arrest by finding them not guilty of the charges brought against them.  This finding of innocence was done by a local court by the way which further undermines  the spurious charge made by Angle of some vast Sharia conspiracy taking place in Dearborn.  None of that matters to the forces of demagoguery like Angle who presents a focal point for other like minded racist Islamophobes who despite all the evidence of their prosperity in ways far greater than the very people they want others to fear continue to play the victim game suffering from the interminable weight of Islamic sharia investing America’s shores.

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Florida Minister says he won’t back down-UPDATE


The minister in Florida who wants to have a burn the Quran day on September 11 says he won’t back down from doing it and I say good for him!  It is his constitutional right to burn copies of the Quran, the religious book of Muslims.  Let’s not forget we live in a country where  it is the right of any American to burn the US flag, and we all remember the turmoil  reaching that decision caused America. It is one of the “hazards” of living in a free society; protested speech against patriotic or religious symbols is not illegal. American Muslims more than any other group, should understand that,  and  should register their disagreement with the burning  of Qurans act,with thoughtful and or provocative editorials like this one ,  or planned  peaceful  protests like this,  for even though what Jones wants to do is legal it is morally reprehensible.  That’s as far as his opponents should take it, however.

It is this type of dissent  Muslims should expect from  those who oppose their building of a masjid near the site of the former WTC buildings; one may disagree with the building of the Cordoba House at Park 51, and may protest the  building going up there, however it is the right of the supporters of that project, codified by the legal authorities responsible, for the house to be built there and Cordoba House’s supporters should proceed with resolve to see it through  even during times of  intense opposition to it AND  the opponents should resign themselves to the inevitability of its completion .  What will then become a true battle of ideas a distinction between those who oppose book burning versus those who oppose a religious house of worship will be how the different groups express their opposition and accept the rule of law.  In other words, the behavior of the opposition will have more of an impact on the public debate about the presence of Islam in America than the action which spurs that opposition.   America will have to choose between those who promote racist, stereotypical, violent reaction to protected speech and religious freedom and those whose opposition is principled, respectful or thoughtful.

Given America’s past inclination to mob/racist rule the outcome is not so certain and definitely not in the near future.  One of the reasons why we must have this frank discussion about race in this country is because the racist template we’ve set for ourselves over the years  allows us to insert whatever group of the day we want to hate into  it and then hurl invective and discriminatory actions at them which we try to make into law to suppress them.  We still have not managed to steer clear of this disease because we haven’t really tried to cure it. Saddle up America, here we go again; we’re in for another  protracted campaign for the soul of this country.

UPDATE

Jones did back down and if anyone can understand the reasons why he did so, please explain them to me.  The man who claimed to have received messages from God  is unfathomable, sick, crazy in the head and one as intimately  familiar with him as his own daughter has come out and said so.  There’s even mention of  a mental disorder here as well. Why we, citizenship media as well as corporate media gave him so much of our time, bandwidth and news print is one of the mysteries of life.  A “pastor” with a minuscule congregation of about 50 managed to hold the entire world hostage with his delusions of grandeur and his fear injected venom which paralyzed a nation, diverted its attention from a more pressing national agenda than his personal dementia and left us, after his ‘never mind’ moment feeling used and abandoned from it all.  We deserve it….we put in way too much time feeding the ego of a man whose ego is as large as any other megalomaniac or larger, being called by a US Army general, the Secretary of Defense, the FBI, the NYC police chief and countless others who otherwise wouldn’t give you the time of day can be very gratifying, but what did all of that give us, the People?  It revealed for us that dark side of our collective nature that loves to be frightened and angered; it allowed the haters in our midst to feed us their daily ration of  hatred and loathing for “others” who are really “we”, “us”.  Someone wrote on their headline, ‘Florida Pastor Makes National Jackass of Himself’….and my answer would be no he didn’t.  He made jackasses out of us.

Political Zionism’s justification for death and destruction


For some in the religious movement of Israel, the killing of perfectly innocent people is permissible

When we approach a non-Jew who has violated the seven Noahide laws (The seven Noahide laws prohibit idolatry, murder, theft, illicit sexual relations, blasphemy and eating the flesh of a live animal, and require societies to institute just laws and law courts)and kill him out of concern for upholding these seven laws, no prohibition has been violated.

In any situation in which a non-Jew’s presence endangers Jewish lives, the non-Jew may be killed even if he is a righteous Gentile and not at all guilty for the situation that has been created..

Hindrances—babies are found many times in this situation. They block the way to rescue by their presence and do so completely by force. Nevertheless, they may be killed because their presence aids murder. There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.

After looking at these pictures from Gaza I can’t help but think that while there are those who may want to distance themselves from the above quotes, such sentiment expressed therein is actually the policy of the IDF, for the moment, in its interactions with Palestinians.

Sage Advice


In light of all the controversy surrounding the Henry L. Gates arrest, I offer this advice to him and anyone else who may have to deal with the police.  Don’t say a word, unless you are in the presence of your lawyer.

Police Brutality in a ‘with us or against us’ society


brutalityThe public displays of police brutality caught on tape are stark, violent, gut wrenching, heart breaking, and indicative of an age old problem of us and them politics.  It used to be such rawness wasn’t seem by most of us in main stream society, because it was done to “other” people secreted away in “their” communities and never under the omnipotent eye of video cameras but times have certainly changed and today can police brutality smack us in the face as powerfully as it does the victim at the end of an officers arm, baton, taser, gun.

The most egregious example of brutality involved an EMT with a patient on the way to a local hospital in Oklahoma.  There’s a video on youtube if you can bear to watch it without hurling either your lunch/breakfast/dinner or your computer through the nearest window.  In that video an Oklahoma highway patrol officer berates the EMT driver for not pulling over while he, the trooper tried to pass.  The video was shot by a family member of the patient riding in the ambulance.  In that video you can see the victim of the police brutality calmly tell the family member who was shooting the video to remain calm, not interfere with the patrolman, stay out of the way, don’t do anything to provoke the officer and let the EMT people handle it.  The person giving this advice was the one assaulted by the officer, who literally had both hands around the neck of the technician!  It was like watching a legal lynching, and given the characters and setting it probably felt that way for many who saw the incident.  The EMT, Maurice White had done nothing to provoke this officer who felt justified in trying to restrain him by choking him?

Another widely publicized example of brutality where size, experience, weight were far more on the side of the law enforcement officer than the victim is the case of Malika Calhoun, a teenager who was pummeled by a King County sheriff’s deputy, Paul Schene in Seattle, Washington, because she was “lippy” an offense for which police assault is most likely NOT the punishment.  The video can be seen at the link below.

One wonders whether the offending officer treats women as callously in his social reactions with them as he did in this professional encounter with a teenaged girl.  Regardless there is no excuse for such excessive physical force and one can only hope the officer is relieved of his duties permanently.

What is distressing is in each of the examples mentioned above, the offending officer had a partner with him who did nothing to restrain him, or even is not responsible for revealing the brutality to their superiors or the public in general.  In both cases officers were caught by the unblinking eye of video cameras they either ignored or didn’t realize were present filming their indiscretions.  In many cases, therefore, I would assert the partners of the offending officers are just as responsible for the brutality we see as the assaulting officer himself, and should be disciplined as well.

How does this get to the us and them theme of my title?  There has always been this idea among law officers that they were the last bulwark against a marauding public hell bent on destroying all we hold dear….almost the same thing said about the Muslim hordes we’ve told we must  detest and distrust.  Police who got carried away in the performance of their duties were exempt from punishment and their excesses were viewed with a blind eye, or a wink and a grin by superior officers because cohesion of the “force” was more important than the rule of the law.  The public that these offices were sworn to protect and serve were all too often the victims of these officers who found purpose in protecting one another from “them” the public.  There was nothing to restrain them, except an all too infrequent application of the rule of law against them.  In some cases that worked, however!  Witness Norm Stamper’s claims.

Forty-three years ago I was an idealistic, vaguely liberal 21-year-old when the San Diego Police Department hired me. The last thing on my mind was taking to the streets to punish people. And lest there be any doubt about the department’s policy, the police academy, even then, drove it home: excessive force was grounds for termination.

So, why did I abuse the very people I’d been hired to serve?

Not to get too psychological, I did it because the power of my position went straight to my head; because other cops I’d come to admire did it; and because I thought I could get away with it. Which I did–until a principled prosecutor slapped me upside the head and demanded to know whether the U.S. Constitution meant anything to me.

It comes down to this: real cops, those with a conscience, those who honor the law, must step up and take control of the cop culture.

The turnaround for this officer was the application of the law AGAINST him, not by him, for his illegal activity; that was all that was needed to get him to see the error of his ways, and likely spare a lot of innocent people from his lawlessness.  This brings me to the present and where we are as a country.  We pride ourselves in being a country where the rule of law reigns supreme, is equally applied to all and insures a social harmony that preserves our values and way of life.  That said, we should see and insist  the rule of law apply to lawless law enforcement officers as well as lawless politicians, no matter how high they are in the political hierarchy.  Doing so preserves our way of life as vigorously as fighting terrorists on foreign soil.  This notion that we have to aggressively fight an external foe that means us harm in ways that are universally considered illegal with no legal consequences to us is the type of hubris which causes nations to disintegrate, diminish and disappear over time at varying rates of  speed.  The polarization of such a society into those who are the enforcers and those who are the victims of that enforcement leads to civil unrest and violence, certainly anathema to our ‘way of life’, yet both sides would claim vociferously they are defending it!  There is no other recourse than the unwavering application of the law against all who break it.  Doing so restores confidence in all to the principles which this country was founded, and gives meaning to those who’ve sacrificed for it.

What does 50 billion dollars get you?


aircraft_carrierThe more I think about Bernard Madoff and his crime of stealing 50 billion dollars of other people’s money the more I’m amazed at what he got away with.  Fifty billion dollars gets you about 10 Nimitz class nuclear powered aircraft carriers and I don’t see anything like that  parked in front of his NYC apartment or in the garage of any of his houses or those of his relatives.  So in addition to wondering how much is 50 billion US dollars is the question, where did it go? That’s a whole lot of money.  Even if it’s squirreled away somewhere, there’s no chance Madoff himself will be able to use it since he’ll be in prison for the rest of his life, and at 70 years of age, that might not be long.

Finally there’s the question, how did this guy manage to steal such a large amount of money from so many people over so long a period of time without getting caught?  The  answer is Madoff has connections who ignored pleas to  officials over a number of years of Madoff’s crimes that he was crooked.  Let’s not forget we’re not talking about a couple of million dollars.  At the time officials were warned Madoff had already squandered several billion dollars and as early as 2001 people were saying there’s something rotten in Denmark with this guy.  Now, I would just love to blame the Republicans for this 50 billion heist because they were the ones who were negligent, and ignored Madoff until the end of Bush’s term.  But accounts claim that Democrats were the recipients of Madoff’s stolen money with contributions he gave to Democratic office holders/seekers, so the responsibility for regulatory blinders  is  no doubt shared.  The question then becomes, is there anyone  in government who thinks it’s wrong to steal 50 billion dollars?  Apparently not. Are all politicians and their political appointees  that crooked?  Apparently so. Fifty billion dollars can buy a lot of influence as well.  Spread out over several decades among money hungry, greedy politicians, no doubt that amount of money can vanish, but with huge rewards for the one distributing it.  It wouldn’t take much for a politician to turn a blind eye to repeated requests to investigate someone who is lining their pockets with untoward amounts of money.

I’ve often read about sleeper cells of Islamic terrorists in the US, which haven’t been discovered yet by the way despite the repeated claims of their existence, but Madoff’s financial manipulation and graft are on a scale that Muslims and any other terrorists would “die” for.  Quite simply, Madoff’s stolen money was used to influence legislation for Madoff’s interests and those of his clients.  He did that while wearing expensive suits, a firmly entrenched member of the financial side of society who was loved and respected by all, yet he bought politicians and advanced causes, especially his own, that were in direct contravention to the interests of America.  He should be water boarded until he tells us where the money went, to whom and for what purpose.  Nothing less than that should be acceptable.