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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,574

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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, 06:16 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, 12:22 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, 03:53 PM (13 replies)

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

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Aug 19, 2014, 02:17 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.)

[font size=3]Mark Kessinger[/font]

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 | Mon Aug 18, 2014, 11:40 PM (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, 10:20 PM (13 replies)

Lauren Bacall - Gay Bar Scene From Broadway Musical Applause

This is from a 1973 telecast of the musical "Applause!" (which, btw, was a musical version of the film, "All About Eve". Great scene!
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 13, 2014, 02:42 PM (3 replies)

Robin Williams I'm an Episcopal

As an Episcopalian myself, I particularly enjoyed this!

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Aug 13, 2014, 01:05 PM (12 replies)

NY Times: "Obama Warns of ‘Long-Term’ Iraq Strikes" (And we're off to the races!)

Who could have predicted it? Jesus Fucking Christ!

[font size=5]Obama Warns of ‘Long-Term’ Iraq Strikes[/font]

[font size=1]By MICHAEL D. SHEAR and TIM ARANGO AUG. 9, 2014[/font]

WASHINGTON — Laying the groundwork for an extended airstrike campaign against Sunni militants in Iraq, President Obama said Saturday that the strikes that began the day before could continue for months as the Iraqis build a new government.

“I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks,” Mr. Obama told reporters before leaving for a two-week vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. “This is going to be a long-term project.”

The president repeated his insistence that the United States would not send ground combat troops back to Iraq. But he pledged that the United States and other countries would stand with Iraqi leaders against the militants if the leaders build an inclusive government in the months ahead.

Hours before Mr. Obama spoke, Sunni militants in northern Iraq ordered engineers to return to work on the Mosul Dam, the country’s largest, suggesting that the extremists who captured the dam last week after fierce battles with Kurdish forces will use it, at least for now, to provide water and electricity to the areas they control, and not as a weapon.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Aug 9, 2014, 12:53 PM (28 replies)

NY Times: A Healing That Wasn’t: Liberal Activists and the Police Assail City Hall--and my comments

Several comments I posted to this article were published. They appear below the excerpt.

[font size=5]A Healing That Wasn’t: Liberal Activists and the Police Assail City Hall[/font]
[font size=4]After Chokehold Death, de Blasio Seeks a Tricky Balance[/font]

Mr. de Blasio had hoped for a healing moment last Thursday at City Hall, gathering police officials, clergy members and social activists to show that New Yorkers could unite after a black Staten Island man’s death in police custody. But the event quickly turned into a spectacle.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, unaware he would be asked to share the stage with William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, delivered a provocative attack on law enforcement as Mr. Bratton sat stone-faced, inches away. With Mr. Sharpton to his left and Mr. Bratton to his right, Mr. de Blasio sounded more moderator than mayor, trying to mollify both.

It hasn’t worked. By Wednesday, as police unions threatened a slowdown, Mr. Sharpton and scores of liberal activists were making plans to ratchet up pressure on City Hall, hoping to force an end to the so-called broken-windows approach to policing — cracking down on little crimes to deter bigger ones — that Mr. Bratton pioneered and that Mr. de Blasio has so far defended. “We really need to step up on this,” Mr. Sharpton told the group, recommending a march this month across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Now, Mr. de Blasio is turning to his closest advisers, including the strategists who guided his mayoral campaign and crystallized his position against stop-and-frisk tactics, to help him better communicate his message.

< . . . >

And here are my posted comments:

Mark Kessinger
9 hours ago
The hoped-for healing that didn't take place will never, and indeed can never, occur so long as the NYPD considers itself above the law and unaccountable to the citizens it purports to serve. And if anyone thinks that saying the NYPD regards itself as being above the law is an overstatement, consider this: in October 2011, when 16 police officers were arraigned on corruption charges in the ticket fixing scandal (whereby police officers "fixed" traffic and parking tickets for each other, and their families and friends), hundreds of off-duty police officers converged on the Bronx Courthouse to CHEER their corrupt colleagues (all of whom pleaded guilty), to JEER the prosecutor, and to insist that ticket fixing was, in Patrick Lynch's words, "part of NYPD culture." Yes, Mr. Lynch -- it WAS part of the NYPD culture; and that's (part of) the problem! It was a disgraceful demonstration that displayed utter disregard for the law the NYPD is supposed to uphold, and utter contempt for the citizens it serves.

And for me, and I suspect many others, the PBA and Mr. Lynch have long ceased to have any credibility in these discussions because of their history of reflexively defending anything any member of the NYPD does. The louder the NYPD complains about civilian oversight and accountability, the stronger case it makes that such accountability and oversight is, in fact, very much needed.

Mark Kessinger
3 hours ago
I agree that inviting the Rev. Sharpton to be present at the briefing was ill-advised, for the simple reason that his polarizing presence provides to defenders of police thuggery an all-too-convenient, ready-made distraction to seize upon (as indeed they have) to shift attention away from the issue at hand, which is hyper-aggressive, hyper-violent policing on the part of the NYPD.

Mark Kessinger
3 hours ago
For those who defend the "broken windows" policy of aggressive enforcement of petty "quality of life" violations, a question: can anybody honestly claim that his or her quality of life is diminished one iota by a guy selling untaxed cigarettes down the block?

Mark Kessinger
42 minutes ago
In all of the discussion about whether police used appropriate force or not in arresting Mr. Garner, of the pros and cons of "broken windows" policing, and of whether or not Mr. Garner resisted arrest, there remains one question I have not seen addressed anywhere. That is, why was it even necessary to take Mr. Garner into custody at all? Why could not the police have simply issued a summons?

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Aug 7, 2014, 04:30 PM (3 replies)
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