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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 6,253

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A first-rate -- and much needed -- NY Times Editorial: Mr. de Blasio’s Call for Harmony

Mr. de Blasio’s Call for Harmony

< . . . . >

Two families in Brooklyn — and the larger family of New Yorkers and the New York Police Department — are mourning the deaths of two officers who were shot in ambush by a criminal on Saturday. His deranged act has inflamed rifts between the police and Mayor Bill de Blasio and between the police and the public, and it posed a grave test of Mr. de Blasio’s leadership.

So the mayor’s plea on Monday for everyone to stand down, to put aside protests and bitter words, at least until the funerals are done, was an understandable bid for civic calm. Fair enough. Anything that even briefly silences the police union leader Patrick Lynch, whose response to the killings has been to slander Mr. de Blasio as a bloody-handed accomplice to murder, is worth supporting.

But the moment for discussion and argument will soon return. And that moment will demand forceful truth-telling, to counter the lies and distrust that have clouded this tragedy.

< . . . . >

The protests for police reform should not be stifled — they should be allowed to continue, and be listened to. The protesters and their defenders, including Mayor de Blasio, need offer no apologies for denouncing misguided and brutal police tactics and deploring the evident injustice of the deaths of unarmed black men like Eric Garner. As Mr. de Blasio noted on Monday, a vast majority of demonstrators are “people who are trying to work for a more just society,” a mission that has nothing to do with hating or killing cops. Those who urge violence are on the fringe, Mr. de Blasio said, rightly denouncing them and urging New Yorkers to report them.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Dec 23, 2014, 07:29 PM (7 replies)

NY Times: Killer had a history of mental illness

This supports my contention that the man was mentally ill. And in that case, one cannot have an intelligible discussion about cause and effect with regard to his motivation.

Officers’ Killer, Adrift and Ill, Had a Plan

< . . . . >

What exactly pushed Mr. Brinsley to fatally shoot two police officers before shooting himself is not clear. But by Sunday evening, several things had become obvious. He had an extensive history with the police, having been arrested 20 times — mainly for petty crimes like stealing condoms from a Rite Aid drugstore in Ohio. He spent two years in prison after firing a stolen gun near a public street in Georgia.

Mr. Brinsley had also suffered from mental problems. Relatives told the police he had taken medication at one point, and when he was asked during an August 2011 court hearing if he had ever been a patient in a mental institution or under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist, he said yes. He had also tried to hang himself a year ago, the police said.

By this year, Mr. Brinsley had become isolated. He was estranged from his family. His on-again, off-again relationship with Shaneka Thompson, 29, who works for the Maryland Department of Welfare and serves in the Air Force Reserve, was off again. By Saturday, he had seized on the deaths at the hands of police officers of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., focusing his rage against the authorities. In his short life, during which Mr. Brinsley failed to finish high school, to hold a steady job or, seemingly, to commit even the smallest crime without being caught, thoughts of revenge seemed to be the one thing giving him purpose.

“Most of his postings and rants are on the Instagram account, and what we’re seeing from this right now is anger against the government,” Robert K. Boyce, the Police Department’s chief of detectives, said at a news conference on Sunday. Chief Boyce added that one of those posts showed a burning flag, and in others Mr. Brinsley talked of the anger he felt toward the police. There were, Chief Boyce said, “other postings as well, of self-despair, of anger at himself and where his life is right now.”

< . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 22, 2014, 02:30 AM (21 replies)

And a second Times comment, to a different article on the same subject (cop killings)

I guess the editors like this one!

Mark Kessinger
4 Hours Ago

Much of the criticism of the Mayor de Blasio has centered on his public discussion of a painful conversation he and his wife had with their mixed race, teenage son about the need for extreme caution in any dealings he might have with police, suggesting that talking about this discussion in public was somehow not "supportive" of the NYPD. This is totally off the mark, and in a number of ways.

The mayor has a responsibility to support BOTH the police department and the citizens of New York. But "support" in the context of the job of mayor does NOT mean toeing the PBA's line in every instance. It is not the mayor's job to 'support' a police department's dysfunctional dealings with a particular community. And support for the NYPD is not the samet hing as endorsing its shortcomings. As a leader, where there is an identifiable problem between police and a particular community -- and there clearly IS such a problem here -- support means identifying the problem and taking steps to remedy it. And that is exactly what the mayor has done. Better relations between the police and those they serve are in the interest of BOTH the police and the public.

Besides all of that, though, many of those who now criticize the mayor for even having that conversation with his son are the same folks who, just a week ago, were complaining that parents of black kids don't teach their kids to be sufficiently respectful.of law enforcement. Seems to me that is exactly what the Mayor was doing with his son. So which is it?

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 22, 2014, 12:24 AM (9 replies)

A comment I posted to the NY Times reportage of the two murdered officers

The text of a comment I posted to the NY Times' reportage on the murder of the two police officers:

Mark Kessinger
5 hours ago

I am thoroughly appalled and disgusted by Lynch's statement as well as some of the comments here suggesting that Mayor di Blasio bears any responsibility for the actions of some crazed gunman who had murdered shot his ex-girlfriend prior to killing the two officers, and then killed himself immediately after. Irrespective of what the gunman said in an Instagram message, clearly there was a lot going on with this guy that had nothing to do with the death of Eric Garner, and certainly had nothing to do with anything the Mayor said or didn't say. Neither the fear of police officers nor the rage over the failure to hold police accountable for the death of Eric Garner originated with the Mayor. In fact, by expressing a degree of empathy with the protesters' concerns, the mayor may have actually helped to ease tensions as compared to what they might have been had the Mayor taken the kind of belligerent tone embraced by the PBA. And the entire NYPD should be ashamed of the spectacle of fellow officers turning their backs to the mayor, effectively exploiting the tragic deaths of these two officer in service of trying to gain an upper hand in their disagreements with the Mayor. It was juvenile and disgusting.

On edit: I have been advised that the gunman's attempt to kill his girlfriend was unsuccessful, thus, in the interest of accuracy, I have struck the word 'murdered' and have replaced it with the word 'shot.' I cannot edit my original comment in the NY Times, and thats why 'murdered' still appears, albeit as strikethrough text. In any case, the gunman's lack of success is not germane to the point I was making.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Dec 21, 2014, 04:07 PM (72 replies)

The implications of the WAPO Poll on Torture

(NOTE: I originally posted this as a comment to an article at Salon.com.)

have been mulling over the Washington Post poll for several days now, asking myself what it says about us, as a society, that nearly two-thirds of us seem to think there are circumstances under which torture is justified. They cling to this belief no matter how often you point out to them: (1) that the CIA did things that we executed Japanese soldiers for at the end of WWII; (2) that we are signatories to, and were largely the authors of, the Geneva Conventions which specifically state that there are NO extenuating circumstances under which torture may be justified; (3) that our own laws, as well as international law, prohibit torture; (4) that nearly 1 in 5 of the detainees whose torture is outlined in the Senate report were innocent people whom the CIA had improperly detained; (5) that our use of torture increases the likelihood that our own soldiers will face a similar fate in future wars; and that, besides all of the foregoing, (5) torture doesn't (and didn't in this case) yield reliable information (it produces information, but not necessarily, or even likely, good information),

There seems to be a rather widespread notion that the events of 9-11 represented an attack so uniquely horrific in the history of civilization as compared to anything that had ever befallen any other country in history, that this country, in its response, was alleviated of any and all moral constraint -- including the constraint of confining whatever response we might make to those who were actually responsible. 9-11 was certainly horrific -- living in New York at the time (and still today), I witnessed it up close and personal. But the idea that any civilized nation is ever free of moral burden or constraint in its response to ANY challenge should horrify us all.

As I think about it, though, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. This lust for torture is, I believe, of a piece with the widespread support in this country for capital punishment, which continues long after most of the rest of the civilized world has recognized it as the barbaric practice it is, despite ample evidence that it has little, if any, deterrent effect and that on occasion innocent people are put to death.

This torture lust is consistent, too, I believe, with a country in which there is a widely shared appetite for punishing those who have the misfortune to be poor by taking away many of the very support systems that might enable them to rise out of their poverty, thereby virtually guaranteeing that they will remain poor, and will continue to be punished for it.

Finally, there is the glaring hypocrisy of the fact that so many of the same folks who defend lawless conduct by the CIA are also those who, just a week or two ago, were lecturing African American communities about the need to educate their children about "respect for the law" and "respecting police officers." If we, as a nation, refuse to hold our government accountable for unlawful behavior and permit our own government to show utter contempt and disrespect for our own, as well as international laws, how can we -- indeed, how dare we -- expect any such respect on the part of our own citizenry?
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Dec 19, 2014, 12:02 AM (5 replies)

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

I am nor much of a fan of Gov. Cuomo, but this is a pleasant and welcome surprise -- the second one of the day (along with the news about Cuba)!!

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

The state has had a de facto ban on the procedure for more than five years, predating Mr. Cuomo’s first term. The decision also came as oil and gas prices continued to fall, in part because of surging American oil production, as fracking boosted output.

, . . . . >

Dozens of towns and cities across New York have passed moratoriums and bans on fracking, and in June, the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that towns could use zoning ordinances to ban fracking. Opponents have also consistently protested at the governor’s public events and during his successful re-election campaign, where his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, called for legalizing fracking.
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Dec 17, 2014, 01:33 PM (1 replies)

Mike Lukovich: America's History Makeover

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Dec 14, 2014, 09:42 AM (5 replies)

All of these conservatives making excuses for, even cheerleading, torture -- . . .

. . . it's hard to know what to make of it. I mean, I remember a time when conservatives used to lecture everybody else about the evils of moral relativism and 'situational ethics!'
Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Dec 14, 2014, 01:05 AM (1 replies)

Doctors: Rectal Rehydration Is Not A Medical Procedure (but we mustn't be sanctimonious, right?)

But hey, don't anyone get all sanctimonious now!

Doctors: Rectal Rehydration Is Not A Medical Procedure

Contrary to Michael Hayden's Very Serious Claim, doctors say the digestive system is a one-way street.

< . . . >

IB Times:

Two of the most brutal CIA interrogation tactics revealed in the Senate’s report on torture are little-known techniques called “rectal feeding” and “rectal hydration.” The backlash to the exposure of the techniques was swift, but former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden defended them Thursday as “medical procedures” necessary to get fluids into dehydrated detainees and were not used as “a method of interrogation.”

Doctors and psychiatrists, however, said they have zero medical application and are nothing more than full-bore torture methods that no medical professional should ever be a party to. More than that, they are well-documented forms of painful, humiliating torture that have been used since the Middle Ages and the Inquisition, doctors said.

“This is a variation on a medieval form of torture in which the intestines were swollen up with fluid in order to cause pain," said Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School and board member of the Center for Victims of Torture, both of which are in Minneapolis. "You can’t feed somebody this way. And so, for the U.S. government to claim that this is some sort of feeding technique, that’s just totally bizarre,” he said. “Because there is no physiological way for any nutrients to be absorbed in the colon, any medical participation in this rectal feeding procedure is medical participation in torture.”

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Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Dec 13, 2014, 01:05 PM (115 replies)

Michael Hayden Defends 'Rectal Rehydration' as a 'medical procedure'

Just how fucking sick ARE these people? (video at link)

Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Dec 13, 2014, 10:58 AM (22 replies)
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