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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,419

Journal Archives

Veterans, in particular, should be outraged over the Senate Report

In light of the torture report, I should think every veteran would be outraged at the fact that when the abuses at Abu Graib came to light, the Bush administration was permitted to foist total responsibility onto a few low-ranking Army grunts, while administration officials were permitted to deny any culpability whatsoever.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 11, 2014, 03:37 PM (6 replies)

"We tortured some folks" is right up there with . . .

. . . the infamous, "Mistakes were made," as a rhetorical distancing device.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 11, 2014, 03:26 PM (71 replies)

Responding to the "If he couldn't breathe, he wouldn't be able to talk" argument

One of the most common arguments I've heard with respect to Eric Garner by those wishing to defend his killers is that if he really couldn't breathe, then he wouldn't have been able to say, "I can't breathe." But this is a bogus argument. As any classically-trained singer can attest, the vocal folds actually require an astonishingly small amount of air to pass through them to be able to produce enough sound to utter a few short words. That doesn't mean one is able to inhale enough air to provide sufficient oxygen for the body's need, particularly since oxygen only comprises about 21% of the air we breathe anyway -- and it's the oxygen, not the other stuff, that the human body requires.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 8, 2014, 08:27 PM (12 replies)

On the "popularity of DU" threads . . .

A couple of points:

First, all of it -- every theory on why the number of clicks might be down on DU -- is idle, useless speculation. And those theories are being used as a cudgel for various factions each seeking to gain the upper hand on this board (IMO).

Second, has it occurred to anyone how totally narcissistic it would look to anyone having a look at this board over the past week to see all of these navel-gazing threads, while the country is coming apart at the seams over events in Ferguson and Staten Island and the war in Iraq is being revived? I mean, seriously folks?
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 4, 2014, 03:34 PM (7 replies)

Of prosecutors, indictments . . . and ham sandwiches

The old axiom that, "a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich if he wanted to," must now be assumed to carry an implied corollary: "If a prosecutor doesn't want to try a case, he could steer a grand jury away from indicting a Ted Bundy."
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 4, 2014, 02:27 PM (1 replies)

NYPD cop who choked Eric Garner wasn’t indicted — but man who recorded the incident was

Disgusted and infuriated, both with the grand jury's decision, and with this:

NYPD cop who choked Eric Garner wasn’t indicted — but man who recorded the incident was

While a Staten Island grand jury decided on Wednesday not to indict the New York City police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner, prosecutors were able to secure an indictment against the man who filmed the fatal encounter.

< . . . . >

Authorities argued that Orta stuffed an unloaded gun inside 17-year-old Alba Lekaj’s waistband outside a hotel. But Orta has said that the charges against him were trumped up as retaliation for filming Garner being grabbed from behind by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. The city’s medical examiner determined that Garner’s death was a “homicide by chokehold.”

“When they searched me, they didn’t find nothing on me,” Orta said to the Advance regarding his arrest. “And the same cop that searched me, he told me clearly himself, that karma’s a b*tch, what goes around comes around,” Orta said, adding later, “I had nothing to do with this. I would be stupid to walk around with a gun after me being in the spotlight.”

< . . . . >

Just before Orta’s indictment, his wife, 30-year-old Chrissie Ortiz, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking another woman. Ortiz had also called the charges against him “total B.S.”

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Dec 3, 2014, 07:33 PM (6 replies)

So, maybe it's just me . . .

. . . but I find all of the self-righteous moralizing and indignation over the question of "legal" versus "illegal" immigration to be passing strange coming from citizens of a country that owes its existence to entitled Europeans who sailed uninvited to a different continent, where they proceeded to steal land by violent conquest from those who already lived here, with zero regard for those native inhabitants' laws. Just sayin'.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Dec 2, 2014, 01:36 PM (9 replies)

What is NOT particularly helpful with regard to Ferguson

In another thread, the question was asked, how is burning of black owned businesses helpful. It probably isn;t, but that isn't really the point of rioting anyway -- more on that in a moment. But if there is one thing that can definitely be said to be unhelpful with respect to Ferguson, I believe it is this: the sympathy of white liberals with the folks of Ferguson that comes couched in smug, glib moralizing about the indefensibility of rioting.

Riots of the type unfolding in Ferguson are not, first and foremost, attempts to be 'helpful. Riots like these are expressions of pent up frustration and rage, undertaken by people who have lost all faith in any of the normal, purportedly "helpful" channels or processes. They do not function according to carefully calculated strategies of what is likely or not likely to help a given cause. They are expressions of raw emotion on the part of people who are desperate, and who feel that their grievances have not been heard . . . by design. Instead of asking whether the actions of the rioters is 'helpful,' maybe a better question to ask is, "Is their rage justified." I believe it is.

Some will argue that while the rage in Ferguson may be justified, violence and looting never are. Well, perhaps, but when it gets to the point that people feel they must riot in order to be heard, then they are already way past a point where they see any value in recognizing a society's norms for what is considered to be "justified." This is a community that feels it has been denied justice, not just in the case of Michael Brown, but in case after case across this country over many, many years. Thus for anyone to preach to this community about behaving in a manner that is "justified" is clueless, as well as being smug and condescending in the extreme. This is not to suggest that rioting is 'right,' but rather that for the folks involved in these riots, categories of "right" and "wrong" seem to be little more than cruel illusions, rendering these terms largely irrelevant and useless in engaging the issues in any kind of constructive way.

What I believe the people of Ferguson need right now is a lot less sympathy, and a lot more empathy. Try to imagine the depth of the rage you would feel it were your children, or your community's children, whom society had decided could be summarily executed by police, their killers facing virtually no accountability whatsoever. How many times would it have to happen before you were overtaken by cynicism towards terms like "justice" and "the rule of law."

A friend of mine tonight put it like this:

Is the violence and chaos upsetting, regrettable, and unfortunate? Certainly. Is it occurring because nobody's taken the time to calmly and rationally explain to the rioters why rioting is bad? Fuck you."


Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 05:11 AM (72 replies)

A Lutheran pastor's eloquent response to Ferguson

I had to share this deeply moving reflection on Ferguson posted on Facebook by my friend, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman, former Lutheran bishop of Metro NY, and a pastor under whom I worked as organist/choir master for eight years in Bogota, NJ. Steve has deep roots in St. Louis, as an alumnus of Concordia Seminary there, and as one whose grandfather was president of the same institution.

Stephen Bouman

I am listening to the Q and A of the prosecutor in Missouri who has just shared that there will be no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown with profound sadness and memories which still haunt me. The rhetoric is flying, with one mass email from an organization saying that black lives do not matter in St. Louis, Missouri. I don't believe that, but I am sad that it can look that way, especially in our society where racism is still embedded in overt and subtle ways across our communities and institutions. I am sad that this process did not allow the evidence to go forward and leaves people wondering about its fairness, and certainly does not indict or exonerate anyone.

But mostly I am sad that Michael Brown is dead, that his family is grieving, and that the death of young black males by police still happens too often in our communities. And I am sad that a rite of passage in young black lives is to learn survival skills as they learn how to negotiate being out and about in the world and encounters with law enforcement.

I am sad that police will be painted by the same broad brush. And I am sad that Ferguson will continue be a beleaguered community, where nothing changes in the laws and habits which contributed to Michael's death, and also as a place for demonstration of rage from far beyond its borders.

The memories are about Philip Panell, a young black male killed by police in Teaneck, New Jersey during my years as a pastor there. Amadou Diallo, an African immigrant in the Bronx killed by thirty six police bullets reaching for his wallet, in the wake of which some of our pastors were arrested for taking part in demonstrations at the police headquarters.

Do we as a church have anything to say in a world which refuses to truthfully admit that we have a problem of race and poverty in our communities? Will our leaders in church and society have the resolve to face it with courage and hope? I'm sad, because tonight I am not sure.

My deepest sadness is for Michael's parents and family. May their child rest in the arms of our Good Shepherd.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 01:22 AM (0 replies)

The real danger of Ferguson . . .

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 25, 2014, 12:38 AM (9 replies)
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