11/28/2014

In Brief: Many Police Do Not Just Shoot Unarmed People Who Are Resisting or Attacking Them

Just a quick list of things that cops do when they're not shooting unarmed people who threaten them:

1. From New York, about a week ago: "A Southold Town police officer reportedly used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue a Greenport man who was allegedly drunk and attacked the officer Monday."

2. From Minnesota, in October: "In response to his resisting officers, Johnson 'was sprayed with department-issue chemical irritants and forced outside.'" That's Tom Johnson, backup defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings, a notably large person.

3. From Massachusetts, in July: "Pepper spray had no effect on the suspect [who was on PCP and attacking officers] and it ultimately took numerous police officers and four sets of strung together handcuffs and leg shackles to get the man under control."

4. Finally, most poignantly, from Missouri, in September: "As the officer began to cuff the man, Turnbough reportedly turned and attacked him, tackling him to the ground and placing him in a choke hold." Another officer maced Jeffrey Turnbough, who had told police that he had a knife on him.

This list is endless. Not one of these men died attacking or resisting a cop, even though shooting them would have been faster and less painful for the cops being hit and strangled. In fact, most cops, when confronted with an unarmed, violent person, use mace and/or a Taser (since most police officers don't care if they're uncomfortable) and/or wait for backup.

Darren Wilson was scared. Scared people make stupid decisions that endanger others. Scared cops, apparently, get away with their stupid decisions. 

(Note: Remember that Wilson said he didn't want to mace Michael Brown when Brown was supposedly attacking him up close. But when they were out in the open, with distance between them? Why not? Why shoot instead of mace?)

11/27/2014

A Thanksgiving Prayer from the Conquered

The Paiute Medicine Song

Now all my singing Dreams are gone,
But none knows where they have fled
Nor by what trails they have left me.
Return, O Dreams of my heart,
And sing in the Summer twilight,
By the creek and the almond thicket
And the field that is bordered with lupins!

Now is my refuge to seek
In the hollow of friendly shoulders,
Since the singing is stopped in my pulse
And the earth and the sky refuse me;
Now must I hold by the eyes of a friend
When the high white stars are unfriendly.

Over-sweet is the refuge for trusting;
Return and sing, O my Dreams,
In the dewy and palpitant pastures,
Till the love of living awakes
And the strength of the hills to uphold me.

(If you want a more contemporary piece, the poem "American Towns" by Laura Da', a member of the Eastern Shawnee tribe, will remind you that we wiped away a people, but the names they gave places remain.)

11/26/2014

In Brief: Something Else That's Wrong with Darren Wilson's Story of the Shooting of Michael Brown

There is one aspect of Officer Darren Wilson's actions in his confrontation with Michael Brown that hasn't received much attention, but it has been bugging the shit out of the Rude Pundit. By his own admission, Wilson got out of his car and chased Brown, who he knew was unarmed. Wilson said that he fired several shots when Brown supposedly turned and charged him. By his own admission, Wilson missed Brown with some of the shots. Then he fired again, another series of shots, some of which missed and some of which hit Brown, killing him. "I don't know how many I shot," Wilson told the grand jury, "I just know I shot it." We can hope that "it" means the gun and not Brown.

This all took place in the middle of the day at the Canfield Green Apartments, a public housing project in Ferguson that has far, far more than its fair share of crime and poverty. Wilson killed Brown on August 9, a little after noon. It was a summer day; school didn't start until August 25. So in the middle of a housing project, with apartments and people all around, Officer Darren Wilson made the tactical decision to fire wildly at an unarmed man who was posing no threat to anyone except him.

As many have said, Wilson could have gotten back in his SUV and awaited backup. But, no matter what you think happened, we know that Wilson decided the best course of action was to fire ten bullets, no matter who might get hurt. We also know that some of those shots hit the apartment buildings around Wilson and Brown. And we know that Wilson is pretty damn lucky he didn't hurt or kill anyone else while he was firing his gun over and over.

So the conclusion here is that Darren Wilson just didn't give a damn who might be collateral damage, not in a neighborhood that Wilson called "antipolice." Fuck those people, right? Surely, though, cops are trained on how to use their guns in situations where innocent people might be around. Certainly, they are told that in occupied, residential areas, you should shoot only if there are absolutely no other options. Of course, cops must be told that the safety of the public is their primary concern, not their own safety in the heat of a moment against an unarmed man.

Or maybe not. Maybe cops are told that they are the law and that's that, especially in places like Canfield Green or Oakmont or Northwinds, and that enforcement of the law is the only objective, lives and safety of others be damned.

To the Rude Pundit, everything you need to know about Darren Wilson is in his own version of that moment, whether he's describing it accurately or not. Someone should ask him, "Did you think for one second about the other people who you might end up shooting? Did you even think they were people?" Or perhaps "Would you have shot like that in your own neighborhood?"

11/25/2014

The Obligatory Blog Post About Michael Brown

This is the obligatory blog post about the grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department on any charges related to his shooting of Michael Brown. It is obligatory because the author feels he has to write about it for himself, not for anyone else.

In the obligatory blog post about Michael Brown, the author rages about the injustice of the grand jury's decision. He expresses sympathy for the rioters without saying that he himself has never been in a riot. The author gives some sociology of the act of rioting as justifiable protest. He questions the decision to make the announcement at night. He quotes terrible things conservatives said about the decision and the protests after, just as a way to make you, the reader, angrier. However, the author adds that he has more sympathy for Michael Brown's family and friends because, of course, he does.

In the obligatory blog post about Michael Brown, the author demonstrates that he has spent time reading the testimony given to the grand jury. He points out inconsistencies that appear damning, like that Wilson told a detective that he didn't grab for his mace because he couldn't get to it, but Wilson told the grand jury that he didn't go for his mace because he was afraid it would spray back at him. The author talks about the dehumanizing way that Wilson described Michael Brown, as a "demon" or "grunting," how Michael Brown's size was brought up numerous times, as if the 6'4" 210 lb. Wilson was facing a giant. The author wonders how Wilson could have gone through the thinking he claims he did while he says he was being beaten by Michael Brown. The author bemoans the potential for cops to lie, giving examples of when it has happened before. He informs you that the best way to figure out who is lying is through a trial, not a grand jury proceeding.

In the obligatory blog post about Michael Brown, the author expands his focus to include many different subjects, like the statistics on grand jury indictments in cases where the police have shot someone versus the statistics on crimes in general. He delves into other cases as points of comparison, like Eric Garner or Kajieme Powell, both killed by cops. The author then quotes Wilson's testimony on how the neighborhood where he shot Michael Brown is "antipolice," and asks if the police are killing people, why would it not be anti?

In the obligatory blog post about Michael Brown, the author talks about racism in the United States, how the unbridled id of the internet allows it to flame like the cars burnt last night in Ferguson. He brings up Fox "news" as an example of the mainstreaming of hate, and then he transitions to the other news networks, demonstrating how their anticipation of the violence that would follow a failure to indict was a kind of bloodsport for ratings. The author gives cursory comments on how President Obama's words last night could have been much stronger.

The obligatory blog post about Michael Brown ends with a call to action and a call to fight. Against what or against whom, the author fails to note.

The author publishes the obligatory blog post about Michael Brown. He posts it with a heavy heart, although he is unsure why, a feeling of impotence overwhelming him. Later on he realizes that it's because, no matter how much he sympathizes with the protesters and with the Browns, he, being white, will never know what they feel. He knows he will never understand what it is like to look at the police and wonder if they are going to make him a target. He will never know that fear, the fear that Michael Brown no doubt had in the back of his mind, followed by the useless yet constant belief that if you resist, if you don't submit to their power, if you fight back, you might win, even though, time and again, we are shown that you won't.

11/24/2014

Republicans Can't Give Up the Benghazi Lust

You can't unfuck yourself. Once you've fucked, you can't go back. You can claim you are a virgin, sure. You can even make some kind of magical pledge to your god, who has nothing better to do than wave his wand, like the Wizard of Oz, and say, "There. You're unfucked." But you know the truth: you've fucked and been fucked. So the best thing you can say is that it was a mistake and hope everyone moves on. Or you could just claim that, despite all evidence to the contrary, you remain unfucked and always have been.

Republicans can't unfuck themselves on how they've used the events of September 11, 2012 at the United States's temporary mission facility in Benghazi, Libya. They have crowed endlessly about how the deaths of four Americans is the product of incompetence, a cover-up, or outright evil. They have come up with conspiracies about why then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice dared to use talking points that were based on incomplete intelligence when she spoke to Sunday talk shows in the aftermath of the attacks. Republicans have been fucking Benghazi for over two years. It hets up the blood of the base over how that nigra president personally ordered the murder of our Libyan ambassador or something. And it makes Hillary Clinton look like she's some kind of America-hating supervillain.

Except report after report has said the whole thing is bullshit, a political game. But, in the wake of the latest report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, at least we know the rules of the game. They're something like, "Never give up. Never surrender." Truly, with seven reports now saying pretty much the exact same thing - no cover-up, no intelligence failure, nothing beyond a few preventive security fuck-ups that will be corrected - Benghazi is like climate change for Republicans. No matter how many facts are proven, the true believers will never say that reality is real.

This one, released Friday, was an actual bipartisan effort, led by Republicans and the committee's chair, Mike Rogers. You know how everyone supposedly wants a golden age of hand-holding in accomplishing something in DC? This report is it. And it's blissfully clear in taking on all the bullshit that has been flogged by Benghazi-bungling believers. There was no stand down order, no denial of air support, no intelligence failures because there was no intelligence of a specific attack. "The CIA received all military support that was available," it says on page 23. No officers were forced to stay silent or polygraphed. No super-secret CIA activities, including a "no" to Rand Paul's allegation that the CIA was using Libya to ship arms to Syria.

The worst things you can say are that the State Department should have provided more security (always a solid hindsight conclusion) and that the intelligence was such a clusterfuck right after that anyone speaking about the incident was going to get shit wrong. Was Susan Rice supposed to say, "No comment" on the attack? The report says, "In fact, intelligence assessments continue to evolve to this day, and investigations into the motivations of the individual attackers are still ongoing." You got that? We still don't know everything. And, to remind you, that's in a bipartisan report from a committee with a majority of Republicans.

So, of course, in his individual statement on his own committee's report, Mike Rogers keeps the conspiracies going, especially as they relate to Susan Rice and the State Department because, well, as you can read above, you can't unfuck yourself. So he blames the Obama administration for not providing enough security (the budget for which was cut by the Republicans in Congress) and for having a "failed" foreign policy (although you might want to check the scorecard on dead Americans in Libya with Reagan). Sure, Rogers says, all that shit we said you did is demonstrably false, as my committee's report shows, but, fuck it, "there is responsibility for the tragedy," which somehow involves telling David Gregory what you were told happened.

The report prompted the Senate's prettiest debutante, Lindsey Graham, to go full Scarlett on CNN yesterday. Calling the report "full of crap" and "garbage" and "a lousy job" by the House committee, he said that everyone is being lied to by the CIA, that people were told to stand down, and that Susan Rice and those talking points are the gravest threat to the nation since the Great Taffeta Shortage of 1985. Graham added (and if you believe certain things about Graham's personal life, you will be delighted), "If the things I'm saying about this episode fail to bear fruit, it will blow up in my face. But I know Benghazi pretty well. And I can tell you that the people who have been looking at Benghazi in a stovepipe fashion have not come up with what I think is a reasonable explanation for all the shenanigans and the lack of being prepared on 9/11."

Don't worry, dear, sweet Graham and all the conspiracy theorists. There is still another report to come from the House Select Committee on Benghazi. You don't have to worry about unfucking yourselves until that one clears the Obama administration, too.

11/21/2014

Things That Wouldn't and Won't Happen in the Wake of President Obama's Immigration Action

Last night, President Barack Obama announced a compassionate, legitimate executive action for undocumented immigrants in the United States. Predictably, as happens when any politician acts to take care of the poor and disempowered, Republicans lost their fucking minds or were just lost and confused, predicting all sorts of doom for the future for Obama. Please, bitches. Stop being such obvious liars.

1. Republicans were never going to pass immigration reform. It wasn't going to happen. They had a chance to pass the Senate bill, which had megabucks for "border security," but House Speaker John Boehner, fearing the base of his party, wasn't ever going to vote on it, nor a future bill unless it's a bullshit, worthless one.

2. On NPR yesterday, Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, made all kinds of possible threats. Again, fucking please. Cole said that Republicans, when they run the Senate, might not approve of any of Obama's nominees for anything. Motherfucker, Republicans blocked most of that when they were the minority. What do you think was gonna happen now? They were never gonna approve shit.

3. South Carolina's Jeff Duncan said that the Republicans could force Obama to veto spending bills (and somehow convince people that Obama shutdown the government). If immigration was not an issue, Republicans would threaten a shutdown over something else. It's not your regular tactic.

4. Texas Senator John Cornyn said that Obama "poisoned the well" for cooperation. Man, you bastards poured arsenic into that thing in 2009.  Stop acting like your best buddy betrayed you. Stop acting like, if Obama hadn't done this, it was gonna be two years of grab-ass and giggles between the President and Congress.

5. As far as what won't happen, the House might impeach Obama, sure. But they won't get him out of office. You're not gonna arrest him, and you're not gonna successfully sue him. What the GOP is gonna do is figure out how the hell to save face with Latinos while keeping the crazies who vote in the primaries satisfied. So that probably means huffing and puffing and not doing a goddamn thing.

6. By the way, as far as prosecutorial discretion goes, most Republicans sure weren't upset when the Justice Department didn't pursue charges against Wall Street investors and bankers who nearly tanked the economy. That was fucking amnesty. This is a simple, humane act. It's not being dicks, something the right just can't imagine.

11/20/2014

Who Cares How Much You Love Bill Cosby?: An Exorcism

If the Rude Pundit could write a letter to anyone who still defends Bill Cosby, it would go like this:

"Dear Friends of Cosby,

"In my apartment somewhere are two scratched up, worn out copies of two of Bill Cosby's earliest comedy albums, Bill Cosby...Right! and Why Is There Air?, purchased when they first came out by my father. When I was a kid, I listened to those endlessly. I could still to this day recite large chunks of 'Hofstra,' Cosby's routine about the weak men from his school, Temple, being destroyed by the big, dangerous men from Hofstra on the football field. Cosby's comedy, not his generic TV shows, not his crappy movies, his comedy was as influential in the development of my humor - no, my thinking - as any person who I didn't call 'Dad' or 'Mom.'

"Fuck Cosby. Fuck him hard.

"I know you want to defend him. I know you want to join with Whoopi Goldberg or Rush Limbaugh or any of the people who are begging that their beloved Cos, their Fat Albert progenitor, their surrogate TV father not be a serial rapist. Who gives a shit about your feelings? Who gives a shit about mine? The only people who matter here are Cosby and his alleged victims, now numbering at least 15, all with disgustingly similar stories, the MO of someone who knew exactly what he was doing.

"You say you can't possibly think about him in that way? That, for some reason, he might not be capable? Let me give you another way to think about the man:

"Bill Cosby invited your mother back to his room. It's possible. Many of these allegations are from a generation or two ago. Bill Cosby invited your mother back to his room at a hotel and, because, hell, this was Bill Cosby, your mother went. In his room, Bill Cosby offered your mother a drink. Your mother said, 'Sure,' and Bill Cosby mixed something at his bar while your mother sat down on the couch. Bill Cosby handed your mother the drink, which she thanked him for. While Bill Cosby watched, your mother downed the drink. Then your mother passed out in front of Bill Cosby. Bill Cosby picked your mother up and put her in the bed. Bill Cosby undressed your mother. Your mother woke up and tried to tell him to stop, but she was too drugged to do much more than weakly resist. Bill Cosby held your mother down, pulled down his pants, took his erect cock, and fucked her, even as she told him not to. Bill Cosby got off on that, on the struggle. When he was done, Bill Cosby pulled his pants on and left your mother naked on the bed with Bill Cosby's semen dripping between her legs. When she got up and left, your mother, who was very young at the time, who was living in the 1960s or 1970s, when many rapes were treated like they were part of a sexy game or what sluts deserved (times haven't changed that much), decided that there was no way she could possibly accuse the great Bill Cosby of having raped her.

"If you read that, I want that every time you think of Bill Cosby, you think of your mother being fucked by him. I want you to think about what your mother would have thought as she realized what was happening. I want you to think about your mother grappling with the actions and with the consequences. I want you to think about it because, if even one of these women is telling the truth - and, you know, one or two, maybe not, but 15? C'mon - that's what Bill Cosby did.

"Yes, you can make the argument that someone is innocent until proven guilty. And, legally, that's true. But we're not in court. And you can either believe that fifteen women are deranged liars or that Bill Cosby is a rapist. You can either believe that these allegations, which were first made over a decade ago and were mostly forgotten, are true or you can believe that fifteen women want to defame America's Pudding-Pop-pushing, Kids-Say-the-Darndest-Things hosting, sweater-wearing uber-Dad, who had to bury his own murdered son, for kicks and a bit of cash.  Who you choose says something about you, not the women.

"At this point, Cosby's got only a few options left. He could sue someone. Perhaps the women. Perhaps Hannibal Buress. If everyone is lying, he needs to sue someone. Celebrities do that all the time when someone tells lies about them. The easiest thing would be for him to go away. For good. You'll be okay without him. You didn't even know he was still around until the last few months. Unless there is someone more recent, he won't be prosecuted. Bill Cosby could just go away.

"And, yeah, he would have gotten away with it, for so very many fucked-up reasons. But the one that's making you who defend Cosby queasy is the one that those of us who say, 'Fuck Bill Cosby' already had to deal with. It's because you feel complicit. You watched him as it happened. You loved him as it happened. You laughed at his jokes as it happened. You bought his Kodak film, his sweets, his books, his recordings. God, it sucks for you, doesn't it? Fuck you.

"Chances are Bill Cosby is a serial rapist. That's a tragedy. Not for you. Not for Bill Cosby. Not for comedy. Not for America. But for the women he raped."

"Most sincerely,

"The Rude Pundit"