“Go Right Ahead” Parenting


Have you ever found yourself asking another parent to – well, parent – their kid, and they refused?

Here’s a great article about that “undeparenting” phenomenon, which is as bad – if not worse – than helicopter parenting.

However, too few parents seem to be preparing their children to be successful as human beings. An essential element of this is instilling empathy. The word derives from the German word einfühlung“feeling into”and it’s at the root of good manners. It involves caring about how another person is feeling and being motivated to help them feel better, which often requires compromising on your own needs and desires.

The author calls it “go right ahead” mommying, as it indulges the kid’s every whim, regardless of how it might be affecting others around them.

This isn’t about kids who are having legitimate tantrums or meltdown – every parent has experienced that embarrassment when your kid screams bloody murder in a public place while you’re just, I don’t know, trying to buy a pair of shoes. This is, instead, about kids who are behaving rudely and, when asked by strangers to stop, the parent and kid refuse.

It’s ok to demand that your kids act respectfully and to teach them empathy. It helps prevent them from growing up to be assholes.

What Is and Isn’t a Troll

Right Wing Talk Radio (artist’s impression)

The idea of talk radio call-in shows should be, theoretically, about an intellectual back-and-forth where people share opinions and knowledge, and perhaps reach common ground, or at least listen to a different perspective and perhaps think a bit.

But that’s not what happens. Most talk radio is right-wing hosts taking calls from right-wing callers, and if politics is on the table, dissenting opinions are strictly forbidden. Instead, the callers each try to out-do the host; if the host says Obama is a communist, the callers will insist that he’s … well, they’ll just agree and maybe add “fascist” into the mix because hey, why not?

So here’s a few minutes’ worth of audio that shows what happens when one local talk radio host faces a dissenting opinion on his Facebook page. (Screeners make sure dissent seldom makes it to air).

Labeled as “trolls”, the people who disagree are banned and blocked, sent to a sort of cyber-gulag, leaving the host and his followers safe from any opinions or views that do not mirror their own.

That’s pretty amazing, right? Right down to the “little gook in me” quip near the beginning, referring to President Obama as a “boy”, and the painfully inappropriate minstrelsy.

I can understand a person being upset about being called a racist if they don’t believe they are, but that’s not even what the offending commenter said. This is a childish over-reaction to a fair comment about a relevant topic – not at all trolling under any definition. If you disagree, engage and debate. If you shut them down, you’re just confirming for everyone that your opinion is factually and intellectually bankrupt.

This is why I have Sirius, WBFO, and WEDG on heavy rotation in my car. I want to be informed or entertained. I don’t want to be angry, and I don’t want my commutes to be hate and sedition all the time.

Demand Better from Washington

Torture is illegal.

Torture is shameful.

Torture is immoral.

Torture doesn’t work.

Pick whichever one of those works for you.

The CIA lied about it to Congress and the Administration lied to the American people.

Many in the American right are freaking out because, when you get past the pretexts, they simply love torture. They think it shows strength and leadership, and that waterboarding or making a guy stand for hours in the cold on his broken legs is magically going to produce good information.

But if you need proof that the CIA’s torture program was not just illegal, but morally depraved, consider they even tortured the guy who “sang a like tweetie bird” on his own. We shoved hummus up guys’ asses for freedom. 20% of the detainees shouldn’t have been there. There was no meaningful oversight. As most people thought, sadistic federal retiree Dick Cheney’s name is all over the report.

The CIA’s torture program was worse than anyone thought, and produced nothing worthwhile. It was ended by President Obama in 2009.

What was revealed yesterday amount, frankly, to war crimes, and this – from the CIA – isn’t good enough:

As noted in CIA’s response to the study, we acknowledge that the detention and interrogation program had shortcomings and that the Agency made mistakes. The most serious problems occurred early on and stemmed from the fact that the Agency was unprepared and lacked the core competencies required to carry out an unprecedented, worldwide program of detaining and interrogating suspected al-Qa’ida and affiliated terrorists. In carrying out that program, we did not always live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves and that the American people expect of us. As an Agency, we have learned from these mistakes, which is why my predecessors and I have implemented various remedial measures over the years to address institutional deficiencies.

You want to argue that these detainees deserve it because they were murderers and terrorists? Some of them were, some of them weren’t. But if you’re comparing our behavior to that of our brutal mass murderer enemy, that’s a pretty low standard.

If you think that the American government’s moral and legal standards should be equal to that of al Qaeda or Daesh, what does that make us?

Demand Better from Albany

Albany is a brick shithouse of institutionalized corruption. The people we sent to nominally represent us in Albany are incapable of reform, unwilling to be bold and aggressive, and nothing more than a preening flock of charity cases in Brooks Brothers suits and fat per diems.

It doesn’t matter what I write or what you say – Albany isn’t going to change because it has no reason to try.

213 nobodies get paid big bucks (by WNY standards, anyway) to do nothing. Everything is directed and produced by the governor, the Senate President, and the Assembly Speaker. Unless you’re represented by Sheldon Silver or Dean Skelos, your Assemblyperson and Senator go to Albany generally to moisten seats and rubber stamp stuff.

If they’re good girls and boys, they might be given some money to send home for road projects or other public works, and they get to stand there at the ribbon-cutting and look important.

It’s all a charade.

The upstate gun huggers will quickly tell you that Andrew KKKuomo is a Nazi Mussolini Duce.  That’s foolish. Albany’s a dictatorship, it’s true, but it’s a dictatorship of the bureaucracy. The Albany nomenklatura is typically resistant to change and anything that might shake up the status quo; after all, change means someone’s likely to lose a job, and we can’t have that.

It’s been like this for decades – it was 10 years ago the Brennan Center outlined a set of reforms that would be necessary for New York State government to resemble a contemplative legislative body, yet we’re still talking about it today. Everything from unfunded mandates to three-men-in-a-room to weak campaign finance to vague financial disclosure to a lack of transparency and deliberation have been talked about, and proposed solutions largely ignored. State authorities operate like it’s the 1950s, and do so with poor oversight and budgets that are off the regular state books.

Even when people think that there might be some scant hope of even modest reform – like that undertaken first by Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, now being handled and investigated by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, we get commissions that are abruptly shut down in favor of an on-time budget deal.

An on-time budget is more important than widespread corruption?

Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos are so afraid or opposed to investigating corruption that they make “end the Moreland Commission” a budget dealbreaker? Cuomo claimed he got accountability reforms which gave him enough cover to end the Moreland, but it’s all window dressing.

That’s before we delve into Cuomo’s own alleged meddling in the commission’s work.

How do we know Albany’s and Cuomo’s “we’re policing ourselves!” is all nonsense?

Thanks to Ass’t US Attorney Preet Bharara and the New York Times, we’re finding out more about what’s really going on.

Actually, before we get to Greg Ball and George Maziarz, let’s flash back a few years to a former member of the WNY Albany delegation who was arguably the worst in recent history – Antoine Thompson. This guy, who tried to explain why we even need a State Senate to begin with:

RIGHT. Antoine Thompson, whose staffers destroyed documents en masse when Mark Grisanti beat him in 2010. Antoine Thompson, who used campaign cash to take a vacation very serious and totally above-board trade junket to Jamaica.

Antoine wasn’t the only one.

Republican Senator Greg Ball took trips to Cancun and Acapulco, paid for with campaign dollars. It appears that Speaker Sheldon Silver is under increasing scrutiny for not disclosing all of his outside income, as required by law. Specifically, the New York Times points out three outstanding issues:

■ Powerful politicians — including the governor himself — continue to exploit a loophole in state law that allows corporations to funnel huge donations to them in smaller gifts that disguise the true sources of the money.

■ Lax personal financial disclosure laws, critics say, give corrupt legislators a way to mask political payoffs under the guise of part-time jobs. A 2011 reform presented as requiring disclosure of some clients was so narrowly drawn as to be meaningless, and another enacted this year allowed enough wiggle room that lawmakers could well continue to avoid scrutiny.

■ The line between political donations and outright bribery remains murky. Some politicians used their campaign treasuries as piggy banks for personal expenses, the commission’s investigators found, and bank records showed that lawmakers had failed to report some donations and expenditures altogether. A new, beefed-up Board of Elections enforcement unit has yet to show its strength.

The LLC loophole is what lets Carl Paladino give what amounts to unlimited campaign donations in any given cycle. While corporations can only give $5,000 in any given cycle, LLCs are treated instead as people. So, for the cost of an LLC filing fee, a donor can now repeatedly max out at $60,800 per cycle to any candidate for statewide office under each separate LLC. It also helps keep the true source of the money somewhat opaque.

So when Mr. Cuomo’s campaign wanted to nail down what became a $1 million multiyear commitment — and suggested “breaking it down into biannual installments” — the company complied by dividing each payment into permissible amounts and contributing those through some of the many opaquely named limited-liability companies it controlled, like Tribeca North End LLC.

Brazen. But it gets even worse.

Documents the [Moreland] investigators obtained provided unusual insight into what watchdog groups had long asserted: Corporations were strategically dividing up huge contributions to maximize their giving — and their influence. The use of limited-liability companies concealed the magnitude of their gifts from public view.

In one instance in 2012, the Real Estate Board of New York solicited donations for Lewis A. Fidler, a Brooklyn Democrat who at the time was running for a State Senate seat (whose previous occupant had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes).

James Whelan, a senior vice president for the board, a major lobbying force, emailed a Durst executive, Jordan Barowitz: “If you could find one of your more obscure LLCs, that would be grand.”

The Moreland Commission saw closing the LLC loophole as an easy fix, but since its disbanding, the loophole – which isn’t so much a “loophole” as it is a specific part of the law as it stands today – remains in place.

When it came time to examine the ways in which legislators were spending campaign cash for dubious, non-campaign-related purposes, retiring Senator George Maziarz (R-Newfane) “stood out”.

Investigators scrutinizing his campaign spending from 2007 through 2013 found more than $28,000 at stores like Pier 1 and Michaels; $7,500 at Shutterfly, the photo-printing site; and $7,850 for reading material, including a stop at a Borders store at Kennedy Airport.

The Moreland Commission fired off subpoenas to see what books and photos Mr. Maziarz’s campaign had bought.

Investigators also learned that Mr. Maziarz’s campaign had failed to disclose $147,000 in contributions and $325,000 in spending.

His campaign had written more than 300 checks to cash, totaling $137,000; about one-fifth of the checks were never reported to the Board of Elections.

A lawyer for Mr. Maziarz, Joseph M. LaTona, declined to comment. Mr. Maziarz, whose spending is now the subject of a federal investigation, did not seek re-election this year.

And guys like Maziarz have the stones to claim that Democrats are spendthrift? In addition to his Mexican vacations, Greg Ball,

… also traveled repeatedly to Austin, Tex., where he paid $4,000 in bar and restaurant bills — along with a $160 charge at Brooks Brothers. Those trips were, in a way, less surprising: Mr. Ball, who did not seek re-election this year, is fond of Texas, and recently announced that he would move there after leaving office.

Among the unusual outlets for spending from his campaign accounts was Tough Mudder, the organizer of extreme obstacle-course races. (Mr. Ball posted Facebook photos showing him crawling through the mud in a Tough Mudder race in 2012, and said at the time that he was trying to raise money for charity.)

Tough Mudder?!

Anyhow, you’d figure that the State Board of Elections would be on top of – and investigating – complaints of campaign finance irregularities brought to its attention, right? You’d be wrong.

The Moreland Commission saved even harsher criticism for the sleepy Board of Elections. In a preliminary report released in December 2013, the commission wrote that the board had “largely abdicated its duty to enforce our election and campaign finance laws.”

In fact, the board sometimes seemed to be avoiding investigations altogether.

Its policy dictated that anonymous complaints never be investigated, regardless of the information they contained.

Forget DAs doing it, either.

Lastly, the issue of legislators’ outside pay is coming under intense scrutiny, and if you want to know why the Moreland was shut down, look no further than Sheldon Silver and an abrupt change in the way he discloses his non-state income. Not just Silver’s firm, but the Moreland subpoenaed several law firms in hopes of verifying that these legislators were actually showing up to work, or whether their continued employment might be, e.g., an effort to skirt campaign disclosure laws.

Suspicious that some lawyer-legislators were holding no-show jobs, Moreland Commission investigators subpoenaed their law firms for building access-card data and sign-in sheets, invoices, expense reports and records detailing their clients.

Lawmakers became infuriated over the scrutiny, calling it a witch hunt into the legislative branch. Law firms went to court to block the subpoenas, as did the Senate and Assembly.

Mr. Silver’s law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, argued that it was irrelevant “what time Sheldon Silver enters and exits” its office building each day.

The litigation was unresolved when the Moreland Commission shut down.

Yet Mr. Cuomo marveled at how much the subpoenas sent to outside law firms — including Mr. Skelos’s employer, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek — had discomfited lawmakers. “I’m surprised these guys weren’t fired,” Mr. Cuomo told members of good-government groups last spring. The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, whose office took control of the Moreland Commission’s files around that time, revived some of its investigations, including several involving lawmakers’ outside income.

Mr. Silver quickly became a focus of prosecutors’ interest.

Two people with knowledge of the matter said prosecutors have issued federal grand jury subpoenas to some of the same law firms that resisted the commission’s subpoenas, including Weitz & Luxenberg and Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. (A spokesman for the former firm declined to comment; the latter did not respond to messages.)

If you’re, say, a plaintiff’s law firm paying a legislator hundreds of thousands of dollars for what might be a no-show job, and that legislator also happens to be a huge and powerful obstacle to any attempts at tort reform, how is that not just outright bribery?

It’s time New Yorkers started demanding meaningful legislative and governmental reform, resulting in a true deliberative democracy. We do this by rejecting the notion that Albany pols are re-elected without any opposition. We do this by demanding results that go beyond a few dollars here and there for public works projects.  We do this by limiting the perverse influence that money has on state politics, and by demanding true and full transparency of where the money comes from, and where the money goes.

I won’t hold my breath.

NYAG Wants to Prosecute Police Violence Cases

Courtesy of my friends at the new and improved Albany Project comes news that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman formally asked Governor Cuomo to transfer the investigation and prosecution of excessive police violence cases over to the AG’s office.

The problem stems from the fact that local DAs and police work hand-in-hand as colleagues, and there are questions as to whether these cases are taken seriously and prosecuted as vigorously as non-police violence cases.

DAs are already opposed to the idea.

In the wake of the gobsmackingly unreasonable and astonishing refusal by a Staten Island grand jury to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner, Governor Cuomo demanded a “soup to nuts” review of the justice system, but for some reason lawmakers who think themselves “law and order” types are resisting any such query.


Not just that, but in the minds of some of these mostly Republican “law and order” people, that term doesn’t apply to cop conduct. Even body cameras, additional training – not to mention the use of special prosecutors for police brutality cases – appear to be non-starters in New York State.

Now, it’s up to Governor Cuomo to decide whether to let Schneiderman’s office take excessive force cases. Albany Project isn’t hopeful,

No way he hands Schneiderman a victory, even if it means denying meaningful justice for victims of police violence.

NYCLU Sues Erie County Sheriff

The New York Civil Liberties Union is suing the Erie County Sheriff’s Office over its use of cellphone surveillance. The Stingray device is used by law enforcement to locate and track people; it mimics a cell tower, prompting a cell phone to transmit its location and identifying information.

Although a warrant is not always needed for some surveillance, sometimes it is.

Via Slate


The problem isn’t just broad-based surveillance of people’s cell phone signals, but the fact that law enforcement agencies refuse to comply with Freedom of Information requests seeking data on how and how often the Stingray is used.

NYCLU is suing the Erie County Sheriff over its refusal to turn over information on its use of Stingrays, pursuant to FOIL:

“The Sheriff’s Office has spent more than $350,000 since 2008 on this surveillance equipment – it is ridiculous for them to suggest they have no paperwork or records on the matter,” said NYCLU staff attorney Mariko Hirose. “The blanket denial of our entire request, without any explanation, only underscores their wholesale disregard for the right to privacy.”

She also questioned the sheriff’s claim that the information the NYCLU is seeking could reveal criminal investigative techniques or endanger the life or safety of a person. She said the information “will enhance the public’s understanding of the sheriff’s use of Stingrays.”

The NYCLU says the surveillance devices were developed for military use and are about the size of a briefcase. It says the devices mimic cellphone towers and surreptitiously prompt cellphones in their vicinity to deliver data to them.

“Armed with Stingrays,” it says, “law enforcement can – without any assistance or consent from cellphone carriers – pinpoint a person’s location in the home, in a place of worship or in a doctor’s office, collect the phone numbers that a person has been texting and calling, and in some configurations, intercept the contents of communications.

“Stingrays also can be used to conduct mass surveillance on people in an area, whether for a protest or a lecture or a party,” it says. “Even when used to target a particular suspect, Stringrays sweep up information about innocent individuals who happen to be in the vicinity.”

Good for NYCLU. It’s not that law enforcement shouldn’t have this tool; it’s that we have a right to know how it’s used, and whether it’s being appropriately used.

Obama Channels Presidents Romney and Gingrich

In 2012, Mitt Romney told Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin that by the end of his first Presidential term (i.e., 2016), he would get the unemployment rate “down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower”:

HALPERIN: Would you like to be more specific about what the unemployment rate would be like at the end of your first year?
ROMNEY: I cannot predict precisely what the rate would be at the end of one year. I can tell you that over a period of four years, by a virtue of the polices that we put in place, we get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent, perhaps a little lower.

He later went on Fox News to repeat his promise, and added,

“People all across the country are saying, ‘Wow, 6 percent sounds pretty good,’”

Mitt Romney lost. So, how did the unemployment rate do under Marxist Fascist n0bummer?

Well, consider this:

1. During George W. Bush’s second term, the US saw a net loss of 671,000 jobs. So far, in President Obama’s second term, the U.S. has a net gain of 4,784,000 jobs.

2. Friday’s jobs report showed 321,000 new jobs, and 91% of them were not in health care, showing that other sectors are showing signs of growth, confidence, and improvement.

3. Here’s how employment has gone, starting with the 2008 Bush economic collapse:


Courtesy @ddiamond

In 2012, President Newt Gingrich blamed President Obama for high gas prices, claiming that he had a plan to bring prices at the pump at or below $2.50/gallon. Just about anyone with a brain dismissed Gingrich’s promise as utter nonsense. The President has no power over global oil prices, much less the cartel of oil producing nations. The price of gasoline had climbed during the last decade with turmoil and supply disruptions arising out of the Iraq war, and was exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina, which took a huge chunk of America’s refining capacity offline. Gas prices plummeted in late 2008 / early 2009 thanks to the global economic downturn, but oil prices soon rebounded and until recently had been north of $100/bbl.

But OPEC leaders recently were unable to agree on production cuts to prop up the price of oil, and prices have plummeted – both crude and at the pump. The average price for a gallon of gas right now is reaching $2.50 nationally.


Of course, when you compare the national average to Buffalo, you get higher spikes locally, and much slower responses to drops in prices.

Even if you compare us to Rochester, it’s evident that Buffalo seems to be taken advantage of.

I don’t think it’s because we’re at the end of some pipeline, and it can’t be taxes. It’s something else, and it’d be nice if someone figured out what.

But if you look at the national average, Gingrich’s dopey promise is coming true. The national average for a price of a gallon of gas is close to $2.50, and that’s under President n0bama.

So, thankfully we didn’t have to do a thing – the economy has been making improvements in spite of Congressional gridlock and malfeasance, such as the 2013 shutdown. The price of gas has fallen in recent months because of things that have happened in the global marketplace, rather than by Presidential fiat.

As consumers find they pay less to fill up cars that are now significantly more fuel efficient than 20 years ago – the average MPG has jumped from 20 to 25 just since 2007 – that’s money back in their pockets and helps to stimulate other spending. American crude oil production has skyrocketed since Obama took office, thanks in large part to shale oil (not to be confused with hydrofracking, which produces natural gas).

So, more efficient cars help to lower demand, and a combination of increased domestic production, and OPEC stalemate help to keep supplies high, and even with a rebounding domestic economy, we’re seeing gas prices come down to Gingrichian levels.

The current unemployment rate is 5.8%, which outperforms what Mr. Romney promised might happen under him by 2016. December’s jobs report represented the 10th straight month of job gains surpassing 200,000.

Thanks, President Obama!

Mike Madigan’s Defamation Per Se

An open letter to Mike Madigan, tea party activist and former candidate for Congress.

Dear Mr. Madigan:

On November 26th, you published two items to your Twitter account, reproduced and linked-to below:

Please be advised that these Tweets are patently false, misleading, and defamatory.


1. I am not “obsesed w” [sic] or “stalking” Kathy Weppner or any member of her family. “Stalking” is a crime in New York, and in accusing me of committing this crime, your defamation is actionable per se.

2. I did not take “her name”; i.e., I am not the person behind the @kathyweppner4ny Twitter account, nor have I started or maintained any Twitter account to parody or otherwise comment on Kathy Weppner or her campaign. More to the point, there is not a single syllable that I wrote or spoke about Kathy Weppner that was not done under my own name.

3. “Bullying”: Weppner was a candidate in an adversarial election, and under no circumstances did I “bully” her. Unless you believe that using Weppner’s own words and beliefs against her within an electoral context is “bullying”, in which case we might have a fun time examining your past pronouncements.

Furthermore, like stalking, harassment is a crime in the State of New York, and accusing me of same is also libel per se. I have not gone after Weppner’s family in any meaningful way, and I was not the person who captured images from her childrens’ apparently open Facebook accounts in order to criticize them.

I am not @kathyweppner4NY, and I have committed no crime. Although I am arguably a public person, you accused me of “taking” Weppner’s “name” via that Twitter account with no proof whatsoever of that fact.  You didn’t even bother to ask. Under the law, you made your false statement of fact on that point with actual malice; i.e., with reckless disregard to its truth or falsity.

I tried to respond on Twitter, first with anger, then with humor, but you have chosen repeatedly to ignore me, so I find myself forced to make this demand.

As such, demand is hereby made that you immediately delete the aforementioned Tweets, and issue a retraction to your followers. If not removed before December 16th, I reserve the right to take any further action I deem necessary, including, but not limited to, seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me directly.

(The foregoing was sent to Mr. Madigan yesterday by email and via Facebook message. I have not heard back, but he promptly blocked me on Facebook, indicating receipt.)

The United States of America is the Most Tolerant Nation in the World

The United States of America is the most tolerant nation in the world.

  • We tolerate the highest number of homicides among industrialized nations.
  • We tolerate growing and harmful inequality.
  • We tolerate black on black crime.
  • We tolerate white on white crime.
  • We tolerate citizen on citizen crime.
  • We tolerate ignorance.
  • We tolerate racism. 
  • We tolerate violence.
  • We tolerate our crumbling infrastructure.
  • We tolerate mistreatment of veterans.
  • We tolerate poverty, and blame its victims.
  • We tolerate endless wars in Asia.
  • We tolerate sexism.
  • We tolerate female income inequality.
  • We tolerate cultural stereotypes.
  • We tolerate xenophobia.
  • We tolerate anti-Semitism.
  • We tolerate discrimination and hatred cloaked in the mantle of “religious freedom”.
  • We tolerate religious persecution.
  • We tolerate religious discrimination and violence.
  • We tolerate homophobia.
  • We tolerate rape and the rape/bro culture.
  • We tolerate everyone’s guns.
  • We tolerate outrageous and ridiculous CEO pay.
  • We tolerate homelessness.
  • We tolerate poverty.
  • We tolerate the erosion of the labor movement.
  • We tolerate the erosion of the middle class, which built this country.
  • We tolerate the deification of the super-wealthy as “job creators” who are above law and policy.
  • We tolerate people not having access to health care.
  • We tolerate our idiotic, wasteful health “insurance” system.
  • We tolerate truancy.
  • We tolerate the assault on public education.
  • We tolerate religious fanaticism.
  • We tolerate government overreach.
  • We tolerate governmental corruption.
  • We tolerate do-nothing incumbents, year after year.
  • We tolerate unlimited money in politics.
  • We tolerate hate speech and hate radio.
  • We tolerate the dictatorship of the bureaucracy.
  • We tolerate institutional reluctance to modernize and change.
  • We tolerate not being the best at things, and we tolerate not caring about it.
  • We tolerate economic and political theories long proven to be nonsense.
  • We tolerate cops killing unarmed people for minor offenses.
  • We tolerate government violence and police brutality.
  • We tolerate segregation.
  • We tolerate the privatization of essential public services.

Like I said, America is the most tolerant place in the world. We need to stop using that word as something positive.

When used in that context we mean to say, be nice to one-another. Don’t discriminate or be hateful. But that’s a given. We should replace the wishy-washy trope of “tolerance” with “kindness” or “acceptance” if not silence.

For instance, if you do a Google image search of “tolerance”, it’s replete with pictures of the “COEXIST” bumper sticker, and people being kind to others. No one is urging anyone to be tolerant of the list shown above.  “Tolerance” of terrorism, assault, or murder isn’t on the table.

We should aspire to be more than – better than – just “tolerant” of people’s differences, but embrace the good and combat the bad – together.

Stop being so damn tolerant. Start being kind and just.


Oh, hey. It’s been a banner week for cops killing unarmed black people. First a grand jury in Missouri refused to indict Darren Wilson, who shot and killed an unarmed kid last summer from 150 feet away, and yesterday a New York grand jury refused to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer who killed an unarmed Eric Garner on Staten Island.

Let’s not forget the 12 year-old who was “open-carrying” a pellet gun, who was shot by a cop in Cleveland before he could so much as say, “stop” or “hands up”.

Unlike the case of Michael Brown, which raised much uncertainty due to the he said / they said nature of the evidence, the homicide of Eric Garner was captured on video.

Here it is.

I heard some people on the radio Wednesday talking about how Garner had a long rap sheet.


Garner was a city employee – he was a horticulturalist for the city. His rap sheet wasn’t for anything violent. It was for selling loose cigarettes and vehicle and traffic law issues. He was married with 6 kids. He was a man. He was a human being. He wasn’t a thug or any other epithet you can muster.

Garner was arrested while standing on a sidewalk. Seriously, that’s something you get arrested for? That’s not a ticket? Anyhow, Garner was standing on the sidewalk when police approached him, and he said, “I was just minding my own business. Every time you see me you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today!” After the cops tried to subdue Garner, and after he told the cop holding him in an illegal chokehold that he couldn’t breathe, Garner died.

Died. He died because he was standing on a sidewalk, and cops thought he might be selling loose cigarettes.

The video shows the whole thing.

How about now? Now is it ok with you if black people are angry and upset? Tell me more about how black people are supposed to trust and cooperate with law enforcement. Don’t try and change the subject to “black on black crime” this time – it was irrelevant then, and it’s irrelevant now. This isn’t about a neighborhood beef – this is about violence taking a life under color of law; this is a fundamental civil rights issue.

You want to go on Facebook or elsewhere and bitch about how racism is over, or how there was no racism before Kenyan Muslim Usurper n0bummer got into office?

Here are white people pointing assault rifles at federal agents. None of them went to jail, no one was arrested, no one was shot and killed on sight.

Now, I don’t know whether the cops in New York intended to kill – much less harm – Eric Garner, but that’s what happened. Cops are allowed to use reasonable force to do what they need to do – protect themselves, protect others, or subdue and arrest a suspect. Was the chokehold in this instance “reasonable force”? Could some other method have been employed to subdue and arrest this man who was standing on the sidewalk? This is why we have trials. But if a grand jury doesn’t bring an indictment, you won’t have a criminal proceeding.

And even when you do have a criminal proceeding against a cop who needlessly kicked a handcuffed, prone suspect repeatedly in the head, the cop gets away with a slap on the wrist. In Buffalo.

Should Garner have simply gone with the cops and not resisted? Sure, that would have been swell, too. But he resisted, so the police had the right to use reasonable force to arrest him. They did not have the right to end his life, however.

Don’t touch me, please. I can’t breathe.

A trial. That’s all that was on the table – arresting the officer and requiring that he answer for this homicide. Grand juries – secret law enforcement proceedings – are not where these things should be adjudicated.

There’s some consolation in the fact that the Justice Department is looking into this case, and the family will bring a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the cop and the city. But none of this can undo something that never should have happened.

Here’s the kicker – unlike high school graduate Michael Brown, who had enrolled in college – Garner couldn’t be accused of being violent or belligerent. In fact, just moments before he was killed, he had broken up a fight. He was a peacemaker. (By the way, even if it’s true that Michael Brown had cursed at a cop, it’s not a crime to curse at a cop.) From the Daily News,

But Esaw Garner and other family members said it was a trumped up claim.

“They’re covering their asses, he was breaking up a fight. They harassed and harassed my husband until they killed him,” she said. Garner’s family said he didn’t have any cigarettes on him or in his car at the time of his death.

She said she pleaded with police at the hospital to tell her what happened, but they brushed her off.

“They wouldn’t tell me anything,” she said.

I don’t think the cop on Staten Island was racist, and I don’t think he killed Eric Garner because he was black. But black lives matter, and the system should work for you no matter what your skin color.

The quip about grand juries being able to indict a ham sandwich has to do with the fact that the grand jury process is controlled completely by the District Attorney – if they wanted an indictment, you bet your ass they’d have gotten it. People in New York and Missouri are scratching their heads, wondering why these particular homicides don’t even merit a trial.

Just a trial.

The police are not above the law. A little justice isn’t too much to ask, is it?

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