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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 5,876

Journal Archives

Taking a pass on the annual national orgy of reliving 9/11

Pausing to reflect on those who died on that day is one thing. But most of what passes for "remembering 9/11" these days amounts to trying to relive, by way of video, the events of that horrible day. This does nothing to honor those who died. As far as I am concerned, watching the videos from that day is rather like a parent, whose son was killed in a horrific traffic accident that was caught on surveillance video, watching that video again on every anniversary of their son's death. It is maudlin. It is unhealthy. If that parent were a friend of ours, we would urge him or her to get professional help. Watching these videos over and over again, year after year, and telling ourselves we are doing it to "remember" those who died, reduces the lives of those who died to the manner of their deaths, rather than the lives they lived. No, we're not "remembering" those who died; we're remembering, and in many cases, deliberately and self-indulgently trying to relive, how we felt on that day -- which has little or nothing to do with those who lost their lives.

Rather than this annual orgy of emotional self-indulgence, I submit a far better way of honoring those who died would be to focus our efforts on making the world a better place. For my part, I took a few moments when I woke up today to reflect on those who died, and those who were left behind. But, thanks but no thanks on the disaster porn.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 11, 2014, 09:53 PM (9 replies)

"Oceania was at war with Eurasia; . . ."

" . . . therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia." (George Orwell in 1984).

Think about it.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Sep 11, 2014, 03:54 PM (44 replies)

Hillary: Kissinger Stands Up for American Values

I have no words for this. Is this really who we want to field in 2016? Aaargh!

Hillary Clinton Praises a Guy With Lots of Blood on His Hands
In lauding Henry Kissinger, the possible Democratic presidential nominee goes far beyond her usual hawkish rhetoric.
By David Corn | Fri Sep. 5, 2014 1:44 PM EDT

<. . . .>

Sure, perhaps there is secretary's privilege—an old boy and girls club, in which the ex-foreign-policy chiefs do not speak ill of each other and try to help out the person presently in the post. Nothing wrong with that. But former-Madam Secretary Clinton had no obligation to praise Kissinger and publicly participate in his decades-long mission to rehabilitate his image. In the review, she calls Kissinger a "friend" and reports, "I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state. He checked in with me regularly, sharing astute observations about foreign leaders and sending me written reports on his travels." She does add that she and Henry "have often seen the world and some of our challenges quite differently, and advocated different responses now and in the past." But here's the kicker: At the end of the review, she notes that Kissinger is "surprisingly idealistic":

Even when there are tensions between our values and other objectives, America, he reminds us, succeeds by standing up for our values, not shirking them, and leads by engaging peoples and societies, the sources of legitimacy, not governments alone.

Kissinger reminds us that America succeeds by standing up for its values? Did she inhale?

Corn goes on to remind us of the "values" Kissinger upheld in places like Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Cambodia and Bangladesh. He continues:

<. . . . >
And there's more. Kissinger's mendacity has been chronicled for years. See Gary Bass' recent and damning book on the Bangladesh tragedy, The Blood Telegram. There's Seymour Hersh's classic, The Price of Power. In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens presented the case against Kissinger in his full polemical style. As secretary of state, Kissinger made common cause with—and encouraged—tyrants who repressed and massacred many. He did not serve the American values of democracy, free expression, and human rights. He shredded them.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Sep 5, 2014, 07:47 PM (179 replies)

Lions and tigers and bears (and ISIS), oh my!

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Sep 3, 2014, 03:29 PM (0 replies)

Actually, I appreciate when people announce their departures . . .

. . . particularly if it is someone whose postings I make a point to read. I see it as a courtesy, so folks don't have to wonder whether someone is ill or has died.

It was claimed that folks who feel the need to announce their departure from this group have developed an "unhealthy relationship with ... a discussion board of mostly anonymous people," my own experience with discussion boards, and in the early days of the internet, with email discussion groups, has led me to believe that when you read what someone writes over an extended period of time, when you read about the things they care passionately and deeply about, as well as about the things they dislike or don't care about, in fact you really do get to know a person rather well, even if the name attached to those writings is just an email handle.

Beginning in about 1989, for a period of close to 10 years, I participated in a email discussion list called The Anglican Mailing List (devoted to matters of Anglican theology, spirituality and liturgy). It consisted of maybe 300-400 members, but about 150 of which were regular correspondents. In due course, many of us had occasion to meet in the flesh. We even organized some intentional reunions (in New York, Washington, DC, Phoenix and a few other locales). Although some folks, as it turned out, looked rather different than I had envisioned them, when it came to their personalities, in not a single instance did I find that their real-time personalities were at all different from their virtual personalities. Even though that list is now defunct, I have remained friends (in BOTH real and virtual time, thank you) with a great many of those folks to this day, and I still see many of them when the occasion permits.

I think it all depends on how you choose to approach a discussion group such as this one. If you approach it as a mere random collection of anonymous screen names, well, that's exactly what it will be. On the other hand, if you approach it as a community, and actually try to begin to understand the real, flesh-and-blood people behind the screen names and their postings, then it can be that, too. But hey, if that's not your thing, that's cool. But is it really necessary to armchair psychoanalyze those who view it differently from you?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 27, 2014, 07:16 PM (36 replies)

Horrifying video compilation of police "protecting and serving" over the last several years

Sorry, the video is embedded in the php script of a Facebook posting, so I couildn't just grab the direct link to the video.

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Aug 21, 2014, 01:22 AM (1 replies)

Professionalism and the Police

in addition to the horror of a summary execution of a citizen whose arms were raised in a sign of surrender, and the outrageously heavy-handed and militarized response to demonstrations, the attempts to quash reporting on the demonstrations, and overall bungling of the entire situation by the Ferguson Police Department, something else has really bothered me about all of this.

Yesterday, I watched a clip (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/17/police-threaten-reporters-ferguson_n_5686674.html ) in which police were telling the media to "get the fuck out of here," and threatening to 'shell' them if they didn't comply. In the initial encounter between police and Michael Brown, a cop is alleged to have said to Brown and his friend, "Get the fuck off the street!" Look, I'm no language prude, and am certainly not beyond dropping an occasional f-bomb of my own; but when did it become acceptable for police to address citizens in such a manner? When did standards of professional conduct fall so far that this became an acceptable way to address a citizen under ANY circumstances? I have to wonder how differently things might have played out had the cop said to Michael Brown something like, "Excuse me,. guys, but I need you to move off of the street and onto the sidewalk."

It seems as if police, not just in Ferguson but around the country, have become mighty thin-skinned about being 'disrespected.' Maybe my view of things is quaint or old-fashioned, but I was always taught that if one wished to be treated with respect, one first had to show it. Has anyone else been bothered about this aspect of the whole mess?
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Aug 19, 2014, 04:53 PM (13 replies)

Freedom of the Press in Jeopardy As Obama Goes After Times Reporter Risen

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Aug 19, 2014, 03:17 AM (1 replies)

Six actions that would greatly facilitate healing in Ferguson

(Note: I posted this as a comment yesterday to Charles Blow's New York Times column titled, "Frustration in Ferguson, which is an excellent piece btw.)

Mark Kessinger

There are a few, simple measures that would,I believe, go a very long way in facilitating the kind of healing so needed in Ferguson, MO:

(1) Police Chief Thomas Jackson should be asked to resign, and if he refuses to do so willingly, should be fired. His every move, from the day Michael Brown was shot up to today, has served only to make a very bad situation worse by further inflaming tensions;

(2) The entire 53-member Ferguson Police Department should be placed on an extended, paid administrative leave, possibly as long as 30-60 days, during which every member of the department would be required to attend intensive training/retraining in matters involving not only the law and department policies, but also in techniques of de-escalation and conflict resolution as well as racial sensitivity; during this period, ALL policing matters should be handled by either the state police or the national guard;

(3) a panel should be created to review and revise department policies regarding the use of lethal force and also recruitment, with the goal of eventually having a police department that is a better reflection of the demographic make-up of Ferguson then it now is;

(4) The Ferguson PD should be required to immediately divest itself of its Defense Department hand-me-downs;

(5) The Ferguson PD should be permanently barred from any further role in investigating either the shooting or the earlier robbery; and

(6) Officer Wilson should be arrested and charged.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Aug 19, 2014, 12:40 AM (3 replies)

Two events that opened my eyes to what police are capable of . . .

I've posted about these in the past, but given the news of the past week, it seems like an appropriate time to post about them once again.

I moved to NYC in 1982, right out of college. Having grown up in a very small, rural town in Pennsylvania, I was taught to view law enforcement as "the good guys," so when I moved to New York, I carried with me that default view of the NYPD. But I personally witnessed two incidents that forced me to see that my view of the essential goodness of the NYPD, and of police in general, had been very naive. Both of these incidents occurred during the Giuliani administration, and had I not witnessed them first hand, I might have had a hard time believing they actually occurred.

The first was in 1998, just a few days after the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. That event touched many people very deeply, myself included. Early one afternoon, I got word from a work colleague that there was to be an impromptu vigil in memory of Matthew at 59th & Fifth Avenue (in front of the Plaza Hotel) at around 4:30 p.m. He said that several other folks from the office were going, and invited me to join, which of course I did. My colleague said he thought it would be a pretty small affair, since it was basically just a word-of-mouth thing that had been organized within the previous 24 hours. The vigil's organizer's, as I understand it, expected maybe a couple hundred people to show up. So they, and everyone else, was shocked when something like 5,000 people assembled. Since we were overflowing the plaza area in front of the hotel, some folks decided perhaps the thing to do would be to make a silent march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park as a memorial to Mr. Shepard and a statement against the violence that took his life. The NYPD quickly stepped in to inform folks that under no circumstances would they be permitted to march, since they hadn't secured a permit in advance. But the crowd's emotions were simply running too high. The police were unprepared for the number of people, but they ultimately agreed to let the march proceed provided it remained on the sidewalk and didn't block traffic on Fifth Avenue. But there were simply too many people to be able to confine them successfully to the sidewalk (although the organizers did try), and the crowd began to spill out onto the avenue as the silent march proceeded.

At about 44th Street, the police managed to split the crowd in two, forcing on half to turn right onto 44th Street, in the direction of 6th Avenue. The police told marchers they would be permitted to go down 6th Avenue instead of Fifth. The crowd complied, because we were not there to pick a fight with the police; we merely wanted to complete our silent vigil/march. When about half of us had been herded onto 44th Street, it quickly became apparent that the police had laid a trap. About two thirds of the way down the block, there was a solid line of policemen in full riot gear, along with equestrian units. Once they got the entirety of the rear half of the crowd onto the block, they corralled us in from behind with netting. And then the line of policemen literally charged the crowd. Even the mounted units charged full speed ahead, with horses stepping on people. The policemen on foot and on horseback began indiscriminately swinging nightsticks at the marchers. Many were injured, and many were herded into police vans and arrested. I managed to get out by ducking into a camera store and pretending to shop. At the time I remember thinking to myself, "this cannot be happening here, in this country, in 1998." But it happened.

The second incident was some months later. I was riding the subway on my way home to Brooklyn in the wee hours of the morning. There were only three or four passengers in the car I happened to be riding in, one of whom was a sleeping homeless guy who had stretched out along the length of one of the benches. If the man owned shoes, he wasn't wearing them. His feet, obviously badly infected, were swollen, mottled messes of black and purple. At one of the stations, two transit police officers boarded the car. They went over to the homeless guy and tried to rouse him, but he couldn't immediately be roused -- he might have been drunk, or maybe he just hadn't slept in days. After a few minutes of shaking him, yelling at him, etc., none of which was successful in waking him, one of the officers took out his nightstick in two hands and swung it, baseball bat style, directly into the soles of the man's feet. Of course, the man immediately sat bolt upright screaming in pain. By then we were approaching another station, were the officers roughly dragged him from the car (presumably to ticket him). For those not from NYC, you can be ticketed for lying down on the subway benches. But this was 3 a.m. in the morning, when next to no one was riding the train, so it's not like he was preventing anyone from being able to sit. Yet these officers, in a display of wantonly thuggish abuse of power, had to make this poor soul's sad life that much more miserable. Cruel, sadistic assholes. They did what they did merely because the could. And they knew that in NYC, even if someone were to complain about their abusive behavior, such complaints generally disappear into the bureaucratic neverland that is the Civilian Complaint Review Board. They knew there would be no consequences whatsoever.

It nags my conscience to this day that I didn't say something to those two police thugs. But if I had, I very likely would have found myself at the business end of that nightstick. To witness that kind of brutality first-hand really changes a person's perspective -- or at least, it really changed mine.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Aug 15, 2014, 11:20 PM (13 replies)
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