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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 10:39 PM
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Journal Archives

Hard to overstate importance of Hillary's debate appearance last night

...Trump is everything the republican party stands for and aspires to. What the millions watching the debate saw last night was the unvarnished version of republican party politics completely taken apart by Hillary Clinton.

Republicans might have been better served by someone who blurred the truth about their politics and agenda, like Congress regularly does, but Trump was more than willing to present the ugly side of the right wing in the debate. What republicans are left with is a radioactive political brand on everything Trump supported and defended in his ignorant bliss.

That, coupled with a presumptive President Clinton solidifying her position in the opposition, made for a convincing and compelling portrait of a national leader with a responsible agenda. With the republican party still unable to separate from their toxic nominee, their own most prominent source of opposition looked like little more than a bad joke on that debate stage; hypocritical, bitter, and profane.

It shouldn't be forgotten how every mechanization and manipulation republicans worked for almost a decade to be a thorn in candidate Clinton's side in this very election (looking at you Benghazi and Wikimail) were firmly laid to rest by Hillary in this final debate opportunity for Trump.

There was only one adult on stage last night; viewers witnessed only one person mature enough and prepared to be president. Hillary owned that contest and is well-poised to bring together millions of Americans to support her in the next one.

Almost unbelievable how awful Trump is at this, even expecting him to be a buffoon

Ethan Klapper ‏@ethanklapper 12h12 hours ago
Trump to go after Clinton's health tomorrow http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/19/us/politics/melania-trump-bill-clinton.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

...I don't believe there will ever be a ceiling to the idiocy coming from the Trump campaign and their candidate. Every time I think I've heard the worst from them, they manage to come up with something even more unbelievably stupid.

For tonight's debate, Trump plans to highlight Benghazi, Kenya, and Hillary's health. It actually hurts to try and understand such a ludicrous and almost juvenile strategy... that is, until you realize most of the Trump campaign is being run and promoted by the two-bit entertainer, himself. There's none of the sly pretense in Trump's politics that establishment GOP pols use to lubricate their political initiatives.

He clumsily exposes the banality behind their manipulations and waves it all around like a perfect fool in his hysterical campaign, providing an easy target for anyone with half a mind for what has been the totality of the republican political agenda throughout the past eight years; Kenya, Benghazi prominent among those.

In tonight's debate Trump will most assuredly destroy any political benefit of the invented scandals republicans labored for years to make relevant in this very election against Hillary Clinton. That's why so many prominent republican pols have shied away from his candidacy. He's screwing the pooch. Giving away the store. Dropping them in it.

We're not done handing Trump's ass back to them. This planned attack on Hillary's health tonight is one more opportunity for the public to see the naked ugliness that undergirds republican politics. Let the sideshow begin.

Republicans want to draw the line now, after normalizing racism and bigotry with every Trump gaffe

...every outrage they ignored or dismissed to support Trump in this campaign. THIS is what outrages them, above all else?

How likely is it that they didn't already know of the depths of Trump's vulgarity and abusiveness toward women? How is it they missed the rape charges; the sexual assault charges and settlements; the endless stream of vulgarities Trump committed to Twitter...?

Does this uprising of theirs mean all of the rest of Trump's nonsense was acceptable to them?

Or, could it be they've really been embarrassed and appalled, all along, that Trump is their standard-bearer and were just waiting for a seminal moment like this AH video to galvanize their opposition and fall in behind the rest of the civilized and mature world in denouncing the serial misogynist?

Tell you what, I'm not here to shield Trump supporters too stupid and craven to stand up to this loser from the consequences of their reckless politics. Republicans compromise our values like this every day. Pretending to care now is far too late, and too little, to redeem their hollow party.

Oh, and good luck changing horses this late in the contest...

Andrew S. Ginsburg ‏@GinsburgJobs 2h2 hours ago New York, NY
It is too late for the GOP to rid itself of the Trump stench http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-hot-mic_us_57f85ea9e4b0b6a4303277b6?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 … via @HuffPostPol

The GOP has limited, if any, options to replace Trump on the ballot and they all depend on him actually choosing to quit. But regardless of what happens, it cannot cleanse itself of his stench. At last not yet.

In all likelihood, a cleanse wasn’t available even by the time that Graham urged his fellow Republicans to jump ship. After all, when the South Carolina Republican made that plea, Trump had already called Mexican immigrants rapists, proposed a full ban of Muslims entering the United States, and had a well-known reputation as a misogynist. To have taken an off-ramp then would have been to imply that those prior moments didn’t rise to the status of disqualifying.

Since Graham’s comments, it’s been only more of the same. Trump publicly started a fight with a Gold Star family (questioning whether the mother of a fallen soldier had been forbidden from speaking because of her religion). He retweeted a blatantly anti-Semitic image. He accused the current president of founding the so-called Islamic State, suggested that gun enthusiasts take out Hillary Clinton, and called a Miss Universe winner fat ― and then later defended himself by saying that she was indeed fat. It was revealed he had likely not paid federal income taxes for 18 years and he publicly stoked the birther conspiracy theory before delivering a half-hearted disavowal.

In prior campaigns, each of these moments would have individually proved catastrophic. But if Trump showed one political gift, it was in his ability to move on from calamity, even if it meant stepping into the next. When elected Republicans didn’t withdraw their endorsements, they not only helped normalize this behavior, they weaved it into the party’s image. By the time they got around to expressing horror at his hot-mic moment, it rang painfully hollow...

That stench? It’s not new. You just couldn’t smell it anymore.

read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-hot-mic_us_57f85ea9e4b0b6a4303277b6?


Donald Trump’s Comments About Groping Women Are The Least-Surprising Thing Ever

Most of the press looks to have figured out they don't need to prop Trump up to get ratings

...and viewership.

There was a record debate audience, and I'll bet even more people will tune in to the next one just to watch Trump weasel, squirm, and fail.

Think about how he's spent his public career in entertainment flaunting his wealth and posing as the king of the world. That has to grate on countless Americans struggling to make ends meet. I mean, most folks likely accepted that his self-inflating nonsense was just bad theater, but it's a sobering affront to imagine he could be in direct control of the levers of our government and democracy.

He could say and do whatever he pleased on teevee... who out there in the real world really gave a damn? But, he's stepped into an arena where WE are in control. That's delicious, irresistible opportunity to put this braggart in his place; give him a taste of the rejection he's been dishing out for decades with impunity.

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero

. . . this is an essay/article I wrote on September 10, 2006. I'll stand this up here today against whatever Cheney is still babbling about.

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero
by Ron Fullwood September 10, 2006

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot

Is there anything more repugnant than hearing bin-Laden's taunting words so close to the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks? I don't mean the latest video he sent Bush to amp up the president's fear and smear campaign. I'm not thinking of the grainy shots of bin-Laden greeting his accomplices out in the open air of his mountain refuge.

Bush has been practicing his new protection scheme this past week with a series of speeches in which, as the explainer-in-chief, he's been methodical and zealous in his elevation of Osama bin-Laden; carefully reciting the most offensive and threatening of the terrorist's statements and dispatches. Beginning in the second in his series of speeches, Bush chose the moment right after he had remarked on the "flood of painful memories" and the "horror of watching planes fly into the World Trade Center", to amplify bin-Laden's gloating remarks that the attack was "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind." On Sept.11 he'll travel to New York's 'Ground Zero' looking for a pile of rubble and a bullhorn to elevate himself and talk down to us from some lofty perch.

Bush is desperate to revive and re-animate the demoted specter he had called his "prime suspect" in 2001. "I want justice," Bush had said then. "There's an old poster out West… I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' Six months after the attacks, however, he simply turned away from his 'hunt' and acted as if he didn't care anymore about catching him. Our forces had Bin-Laden cornered at Tora Bora, and then, he was allowed to escape into the mountains. "I don't know where he is," Bush replied when asked why the terrorist hadn't been caught. "I-I'll repeat what I said, Bush sputtered, "I am truly not that concerned about him."

It's five years from the date of the attacks, and Bush has finally found cause for concern. His party is poised to lose their majority in the House and, possibly, in the Senate. Voter opposition to Bush's occupation in Iraq has pulled his republicans down in the polls and threatens to take away the power that enabled him commit the troops to Iraq and keep them there. The specter of Osama bin-Laden is the only wedge Bush has to rally his dwindling base and convince voters that his party should be allowed to continue to lord over the authority they squandered in the five years since the attacks.

It's strange to hear Bush bring up bin-Laden. Bush has barely mentioned the terrorist since he claimed to be unconcerned about his whereabouts. In fact, the Senate went ahead and unanimously passed a Democratic amendment this week which restored the Pentagon's bin-Laden unit charged with finding the terrorist that Bush just up and closed without offering an alternative strategy or effort. In Bush's updated, 'National Strategy for Combating Terrorism' that he references in his speeches, Osama bin-Laden is mentioned only once, in a reference to his 'privileged upbringing'. Dredging up all of the offensive rhetoric from bin-Laden now is designed to re-inflate those emotions that were so raw right after the horror unfolded; that uncertainty and anxiety which made Americans fold in the face of his consolidation of power.

Bush's own initial reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 was a mix of paranoia and bluster as he cast the fight as a defense of 'freedom' that he said the attackers wanted to 'destroy'. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," he declared in an address to a joint session of Congress. In his statement at the signing of the "anti-terrorism," Patriot Act, in October 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush claimed that the measure would counter the threat of enemies that "recognize no barrier of morality and have no conscience." He sought to assure that the measure "upheld and respected the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution." He ends his statement with a pledge to enforce the law with "all of the urgency of a nation at war."

However, the President neglected to tell us which war he was referring to. The anti-terrorism measure was cobbled together in a few short months to take political advantage of the urge in Congress for a legislative response to the terrorist attacks, despite the president's claim that the bill was "carefully drafted and considered." It was a direct assault on the liberty, privacy, and free expression of all Americans.

From that document came a flood of legislative 'remedies' that would take advantage of the administration's blanket excuse of 'national security' that they and their minions in Congress draped over every stalled piece of legislation that could be remotely tied to their 'war on terror'.

But, their transparent politicking with their new anti-terror tools had nothing at all to do with catching the perpetrators they said were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Their hunt became eclipsed by the violence their Iraq diversion had produced. Iraq became a terror magnet, just as Bush had planned. Instead of just "fighting them over there", our occupation had the effect of producing more individuals with a grudge who would do our troops, our interests, and our allies harm.

No amount of saber-rattling at Iran, showdowns with North Korea, or escalation of troops in Iraq to further prop up the crumbling Maliki regime can substitute for bringing bin-Laden to justice. Five years on the loose has made the terrorist into an inspiration for others who have been provoked by the mindless collateral killings by the U.S. in Bush's dual Mideast occupations. Yet, Bush has decided to elevate bin-Laden even more in his speeches and remembrances leading up to the 9-11 commemorations.

In Bush's radio address for Sunday, he speaks of a 'solemn occasion' and proceeds to muddy it up with more of bin-Laden's taunts. The president advances the terrorist's call for a Caliphate as he bids us to "hear the words" of the terrorist. "Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks, "A great step toward the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous Caliphate," Bush tells us. "Al Qaeda and its allies reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels."

Hear the words of Osama bin Laden," Bush says about his partner. In their respective protection schemes, both use the extreme violent reactions of the other to justify their self-appointed roles as saviors and protectors of their followers. Both are counting on their words to elicit fear among their minions and their foes alike, but, Bush is playing bin-Laden's surrogate in this latest promotion; elevating the terrorist to a political equal, looking to give bin-Laden's words a place in our commemorations; hoping Americans will focus on the barbarity and zeal of the attacker rather than his own inability to suppress and capture him.

So, Monday, in his 9-11 commemoration tour, Bush will return to Ground Zero, looking for rubble and a bull horn to elevate his made-up role as protector-in-chief. But, the residents there have gone on with their lives, removed the debris, and paved over the hallowed ground for politicians to come and preach, and for others, to pray.

All that is left in that city of the tragedy of September 11 are survivors and memories; and dust; the scattered remains from those pernicious, poisonous mountains of dust that exploded from the towers as they fell. The dust of the humanity of innocents and terrorists alike co-mingled with the debris, hovering for an eternity before it fell down upon the city; memories and the past inextricably mingled in the miasmic haze.

Bush can do nothing this September 11 except stir up settled dust from that hallowed ground; stirring up resentments and recriminations, deliberately soiling his immaculate cloak. He will not be there to unify our nation, as it had come together on its own right after the attacks. He's coming to Ground Zero with bin-Laden's specter on his sleeve, looking for a political lift out of his swaggering militarism.

He will be looking to widen the divide that he's been nurturing since he ascended to power between those who have resisted his imperious grab for false authority in the wake of the violence, and those who still believe that he's protecting them with his blustering militarism and assaults on our own civil liberties.

However, there is no pile of rubble and humanity left in New York, or anywhere else, that Bush can stand on and bullhorn his way back into the nation's confidence. Some of the disturbed dust has revealed a shameful, reckless indifference to catching bin-Laden, as those individuals in the top echelons of our government who were responsible for directing our nation's defenses ignored the myriad of reports coming from the agents in the field. His 'War on Terrorism' has been nothing more than a scam unleashed against the liberties of blameless Americans, and his collateral military campaigns have had a unifying effect among those combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan who would resist his swaggering imperialism and consolidation of power.

Bush spoke of "vigilance" at the end of his radio address. "With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom," he says, "and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. That's an amazing contradiction to his own strident use of our nation's military to overthrow and occupy two sovereign nations in his term. It's a load of hubris from Bush, who has pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq "as long as he's president", and has bequeathed the disaster to "future presidents.'"

Abraham Lincoln spoke of our responsibility to vigilance at a debate in Edwardsville, Illinois, on September 11, 1858:

"While the people retain their virtue and vigilance," he said, "no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years."

"What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoast, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not the reliance against the resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle."

"Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is the preservation of the spirit, which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere." Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your down doors."

"Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage," Lincoln warned, "and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."

We must resolve ourselves to vigilance against Bush's campaign to divide Americans into those who support his terror policies that he regards as patriots; and those who resist his imperious assaults on our civil liberties, diversion of forces and resources to Iraq, and his failure to catch the perpetrators defined in the very authorization that he claims gives him the power to ignore our nation's laws and our Constitution, that he portrays as traitors.

"By the frame of the government under which we live," Lincoln said, "these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals."

Come, November we must hasten the return of our democracy to our hands. No amount of fear-mongering from Bush and his murderous specter should be allowed to stand in the way. Bush should not be allowed to dictate our future to us, using the voice of this terrorist's violence.


So how perfect is Hillary's 'Stronger Together' theme for her presidential bid?

Hillary made one of the most visionary choices ever in defining her candidacy on such a personal and socially conscious level.

'Stronger Together' is the perfect response to Trump's divisive rhetoric. It confronts the bullying and threats with a firm resolve to unite, and invites Americans to move forward together against the obstruction and self-interest which is the hallmark of the republicans' cynical political racket.

Trump presents us with the opportunity to face the heart of the republican wall of opposition to progress, head on, by keeping what unites us at the forefront of our political efforts. It's a brilliant strategy - a strong rebuke to trump republicans, and a perfect rallying point for a political movement.

Ruby Cramer ‏@rubycramer Jan 25
What @HillaryClinton believes, and has for nearly 50 years:

When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma

Zerlina Maxwell ‏@ZerlinaMaxwell 19h19 hours ago
When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/black-pain-gone-viral-racism-graphic-videos-can-create-ptsd-like-trauma/#.V5ZDvzmfOGA.twitter

____Escaping the imagery can be nearly impossible, especially as online users post commentary and news updates. For some, it can merely be a nuisance. But research suggests that for people of color, frequent exposure to the shootings of black people can have long-term mental health effects. According to Monnica Williams, clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville, graphic videos (which she calls vicarious trauma) combined with lived experiences of racism, can create severe psychological problems reminiscent of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“There’s a heightened sense of fear and anxiety when you feel like you can’t trust the people who’ve been put in charge to keep you safe. Instead, you see them killing people who look like you,” she says. “Combined with the everyday instances of racism, like microaggressions and discrimination, that contributes to a sense of alienation and isolation. It’s race-based trauma.”

A 2012 study found that black Americans reported experiencing discrimination at significantly higher rates than any other ethnic minority. The study, which surveyed thousands of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, also found that blacks who perceived discrimination the most, were more likely to report symptoms of PTSD. Although African-Americans have a lower risk for many anxiety disorders, the study reported a PTSD prevalence rate of 9.1 percent in blacks, compared to 6.8 percent in whites, 5.9 percent in Hispanics, and 1.8 percent in Asians.

Social media and viral videos can worsen the effects. During the week of Sterling’s and Castile’s deaths, a scroll through timelines of black social media users could uncover subtle expressions of mental and psychological anguish, from pleas for others not the share these videos, to declarations of a social media hiatus. Williams says that’s not unusual. These expressions of anger, sadness and grief can hint at something much more serious.

“It’s upsetting and stressful for people of color to see these events unfolding,” she says. “It can lead to depression, substance abuse and, in some cases, psychosis. Very often, it can contribute to health problems that are already common among African-Americans such as high blood pressure.”

read more: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/black-pain-gone-viral-racism-graphic-videos-can-create-ptsd-like-trauma/#.V5ZDvzmfOGA.twitter

...found this to be disturbingly true a few years back which led me to seek help and completely remove myself from contact with the media (including DU) in order to recover. I couldn't understand what was happening, at first, but it became disturbingly clear that my nearly daily focus on issues relating to black killings were leading me into a declining mental state; things like weeping uncontrollably and uncharacteristically quick to anger.

It was weird to me, at the time, never having experienced anything of the sort, but more understandable now that I've been more self-protective when accessing and viewing media on the net.

Michelle: "We lean on each other...we are always stronger together."

...just got home from work and listened to Michelle's speech again.

I'd highly recommend giving her speech a listen (or two, or three). I daresay, it will be some time (hopefully not another eternity) before we find such important truths spoken from that elevation; truths spoken from a perspective of a newly realized, newly actualized personal empowerment which will undoubtedly resonate throughout generations to come.

I don't think it's an accident that the revival of black political power the Obama presidency has ushered in has been met by a concerted and desperate campaign by the right-wing to demonize, denigrate, and disenfranchise black Americans who may now recognize a personal stake in our democracy, energized and inspired by Michelle's husband's historic achievement.

The unity of purpose which put Barack Obama in the position of power and influence is still alive in Hillary's historic campaign, buttressed by her own brand of inspiration, which will undoubtedly influence and inspire millions more to believe in the power of our democracy to advance their own ideals and ambitions into action.

Our primary and this nomination is an affirmation of the message the Obama coalition of voters brought to our nation that we are stronger when we act together, both politically and socially. All of the attempts to divide us can be effectively brushed aside if we can remember where we stood eight years ago; where we stand right now; together.

Thank you Michelle, for reminding us. May we never forget these inspirational days as we work to build on this dynamic presidency, together.


Trust and Accountability

I've read several articles and posts asking for 'solutions' and suggestions on ways to address the issue of 'white privilege' in America. These are certainly important questions worthy of consideration and debate. I hesitate to express even small criticisms of characterizations of what white privilege means - most often with these definitions coming from white individuals, which isn't something I feel is damning or seriously inappropriate.

That said, I do feel it's much more important to listen to the expressions of non-white individuals who feel subject to negative aspects and consequences of disparities in treatment, opportunity, or other realities of our existence in society.

Of course, while correctly pointing to the sometimes condescending or subjugating attitudes of some white people toward black individuals, it should be remembered that there are also stereotypes made and perpetuated against white Americans. The difference, of course, is the consequences in a majority white society in which black people are regularly discriminated against, judged, repressed, or attacked in a disproportionate measure by many in that white majority. Still, we should refrain from assuming these patronizing and subservient attitudes are universal and inherent in all white individuals; just as it's imperative to refrain from stereotyping black individuals.

Many black Americans, myself included, grapple with the way racism is so ingrained in all of our everyday insecurities about ourselves and others; and how its almost impossible for black Americans today to put aside those insecurities when so many perceptions of us and so many actions and attitudes of us are still so negatively skewed in ways which allow whites opportunities to define black lives outside of the boundaries of opportunity, acceptance, and understanding that they afford their own.

I had the opportunity to illustrate this to a former white soldier who had experienced verbal abuse upon his return home. He regularly characterized blacks who had run afoul of the law as 'thugs' and 'criminals' and I asked him to put himself in their place by questioning whether he thought he had served honorably and was a good soldier.
When he replied in the affirmative, I pointed out that he was able to remove his uniform and avoid the stereotyping that had motivated the people castigating him for his service; but that blacks had no way of removing their 'uniform' or changing the color of their skin which compels so many to associate them with the worst our society has historically labeled our race with.

Point is, we need to avoid entering into interactions with each other assuming the worst of what we believe or assume about each other. It's, perhaps, naive and disarming, but that's the only way we'll be able to move beyond these barriers of perception; on either side of the racial divide. Easier said, then done, I know - but, we can all do our part to push past these artificial and contrived images of ourselves. Our national history has affirmed this possibility. There's no reason at all to second-guess ourselves or become overly cynical about our respective intentions now.

What I'd really like to express here is that it's not reasonable to expect black Americans to respond to acts of racism directed toward them - or to racism directed toward other black Americans which has been highlighted recently with the increased profile of disproportionate killings of black individuals at the hands of white law enforcement officers - solely with an analytical focus on solutions; solutions like engendering trust between police and our community. It just seems, to me, strange to expect that black Americans would be able to generate attitudes like trust, acceptance, understanding, or respect in white individuals harboring the worst of instincts, beliefs, or fears toward their black counterparts.

We are, after all, imbued with as much personal pride and self-respect as the next person. We don't necessarily regard ourselves as subservient to anyone else's prerogative or initiative in every interaction. We should expect that we would be treated equitably in our interactions with others, in our interactions with authorities. It's perfectly understandable that we would act defensively when we are not, and we all know that defensiveness isn't always rational or accommodating.

I watched and listened a good while back as the highest official in the country, a black man, responded to the Eric Garner decision against prosecution of the officer involved by raising concerns over 'trust.' Trust in our justice system; trust in police practices; is such a remote and unlikely possibility to me right now that I'm almost ready to just tune the those sentiments out from any public official or officer who purports to speak down to me about trust from their positions of authority and influence.

Yet, there was something refreshingly direct in President Obama's statement which, perhaps, wasn't made as clear in the snippets offered along with news reports of the non-indictment of the cop filmed committing what was ruled a homicide, a murder of Eric Garner, by the city coroner. There was something in his statement which finally connected with my own thoughts and determination. The president used the word, "accountability," to buttress his concern about Americans "being treated equally under the law."

"I'm absolutely committed as president of the United States to making sure that we have a country in which everyone believes in the core principle that we are equal under the law," President Obama said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement," he continued.

"When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that's a problem. It's incumbent on all of us as Americans ...that we recognize that this is an American problem and not just a black problem. It is an American problem when anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law."

That sentiment, so eloquently expressed, I believe, is directly on point. To me, there is nothing short of accountability from these police officers and police departments which will assuage my concern and commitment. I don't see any way that 'trust' will ever be achieved without a clear avenue for accountability, both within the institutions and from our courts. Standards, training, and even cameras on officers are essentially meaningless without accountability for the actions of these officers and officials of the law. In the case of Eric Garner, for instance, strangleholds were already against police policy, and it's clear that filming the killing did little to effect accountability and justice for the assailant.

Moreover, there really isn't any provision of law which mandates 'trust' - or even understanding, or respect for each other - as a condition of our rights to equal treatment under the law. Those are certainly fine aspirations, but our rights are inherent in the Constitution which (improbably, at the time of its inception) asserts that we are all created equal. That's where our rights are drawn from, not from any expectation that we love or respect each other before they are administered fairly.

The only way to ensure proper management of departments and policy is for individuals employed to 'protect and serve' to fear for their own liberty or job security if they violate provisions or laws in their duties. There's far too much comfort in these police departments and impunity in the actions of their officers, creating an authoritarian atmosphere where officers feel safe in using excessive force without repercussions or serious rebuke.

That effort is going to require individuals in positions of power who respect those rights and who are committed to enforcing them. There's really nothing less which will bring about the changes many want to see in the disposition of these rights. The law is where our protests and demands originate and reside; the rest of those aspirations should flow from that demonstrated understanding of equal treatment in any legal reprimand from police or adjudication in court. We begin with our demands and exercise every instigation of democracy (and civil disobedience) to achieve them.

I also believe we're long past the point where blacks need to prove their worth to anyone to expect equal justice under the law. We need to force the system to adhere to justice, to respect our rights, no quarter. That effort isn't always going to be rational, accommodating, or solution based. We're only human, and there are consequences which can arise from angering a people or backing them into a corner. I don't expect the black community to stand still or just genuflect in the face of oppression. If the white community is uncomfortable with that, perhaps it's time to consider how they're going to modify the ways they interact with the black community. If not, perhaps they'd better buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Parade in a Small Town

I put together a small gif slideshow of 5 pics from a homecoming parade in a sleepy Charleston, W.Va. that my father participated in sometime at the later end of the 40's. It's a 'snapshot' in time, a window into a not-so-distant past. I think the mix of races in the crowd is fascinating.

My father's in one of the closer pics grinning at the camera. He retired from the Army when he got back from New Guinea after WW2 ended. He told me that on the way home after being shipped back to the base out West, he had to change train cars on the rest of the way back home to Pennsylvania from the integrated train to the 'colored' rail line when they reached the segregated towns.

This parade and the obviously interested crowd is also notable for the young folks who witnessed this fascinating and pretty unique (for the time) unit of black soldiers. I've always named the one photo with the single soldier strutting out in front 'Proud Soldier' for the one fellow's sense of pride and the apparent appreciation shown by the mix of residents of the town looking on . . .

We have a Fourth of July parade down our circular street every year. It's a bit of hometown magic - not large by any standard, but probably the nicest thing about this town.

Most of the adults start drinking first thing in the morning and there's a softball game later on in the afternoon with the two adjoining streets competing against each other.

Here's two short vids on facebook of the parade from a couple years back (I swear it looked just the same today, except for the clouds and impending rain) :



Happy July 4th, everyone!
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