Archive for Race in America

All You Need to Know…

About Ferguson, MO:

A few days after 18-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri, White House officials enlisted an unusual source for on-the-ground intelligence amid the chaos and tear gas: the Rev. Al Sharpton, a fiery activist who became a household name by provoking rather than pacifying.

Sharpton—once such a pariah that Clinton administration officials rushed through their ribbon-cuttings in Harlem for fear he’d show up and force them to, gasp, shake his hand—arrived on the scene 72 hours after the shooting at the request of Brown’s grandfather, who had admired his advocacy on behalf of the family of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

But if the old Al Sharpton would have parachuted into Ferguson to rile up the masses, the Obama-era Al Sharpton trod a more gingerly path to justice. Over the years, the 59-year-old former Brooklyn protest leader turned MSNBC talk-show host has embraced a new identity, one that reflects his evolution from agitator to insider with all that implies. In Ferguson, Sharpton established himself as a de facto contact and conduit for a jittery White House seeking to negotiate a middle ground between meddling and disengagement. “There’s a trust factor with The Rev from the Oval Office on down,” a White House official familiar with their dealings told me. “He gets it, and he’s got credibility in the community that nobody else has got. There’s really no one else out there who does what he does.”

Because most people who do what he does are in jail. Hustler, agitator, bigot, parrot.

What a charlatan. Obama, I mean. Sharpton’s not sophisticated enough.


Want to Stop the Violence in Ferguson? STFU

What, pray tell, is the relevance of this?

Attorney General Eric Holder told residents of Ferguson, Missouri — the scene of heated protests since the death of an unarmed teen — that he understands their mistrust of law enforcement, saying as a black man, he too has been confronted by police.

“I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said at a meeting Wednesday with community leaders and students at the Florissant Valley Campus of St. Louis Community College, according to excerpts of his speech.

Holder recounted to the group of 50 how he was stopped in New Jersey twice, accused of speeding as officers searched his car.

“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said.

Me, too, Eric. I was once in a car that was pulled over by the State Police on the Mass Pike. We were suspected of something, told to show our hands, get out of the car, prepare to be searched, the whole shebang. At one point, I looked at my companion, smiled ruefully, and shook my head in disbelief. One of the staties demanded to know what was so funny. When I declined to answer, he stormed around the car, got into my face, and screamed “WHAT’S SO FUNNY?!?” (This was many years before Joe Pesci’s famous scene in Goodfellas.) I can still see his angry face, distorted in a rictus of hate. His colleagues had to tell him to cool it.

Oh, did I mention he was black?

Whatever we had been suspected of, we weren’t guilty of even speeding or changing lanes without signaling. We were let go with barely an apology for the stop, yet not a word of regret for the behavior the trooper with anger issues. Talk about humiliation. Talk about anger. Talk about “the impact it had on me”. I’ve been down with the struggle ever since.

As a white man, I don’t doubt that Holder has felt unjustly singled out by the cops from time to time. Like I said, I been there. But what relevance is that to the case of Michael Brown? Is he declaring in advance of an investigation Brown innocent of any crime or provocation? Is he likewise declaring Officer Wilson guilty of racial profiling and shooting an innocent man?

There are facts in this case, many still to be learned, but Holder has just taken a steaming leak all over them. (Likewise the dumbass Gov. Nixon—figures—who called for a “vigorous prosecution” of the case. Before the facts had been presented to a grand jury!) Holder’s statements about his experience are almost as self-centered as Obama’s observation that if he had a son, the boy might look like Trayvon Martin. And? So?

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Is Michael Brown Trayvon Martin?

By which I mean, did he initiate the violence and leave his victim with no choice but to shoot to save his life? Because that was Trayvon Martin.

And it’s beginning to emerge that that was Michael Brown:

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department’s top brass told

“The Assistant (Police) Chief took him to the hospital, his face all swollen on one side,” said the insider. “He was beaten very severely.”

According to the well-placed source, Wilson was coming off another case in the neighborhood on Aug. 9 when he ordered Michael Brown and his friend Dorain Johnson to stop walking in the middle of the road because they were obstructing traffic. However, the confrontation quickly escalated into physical violence, the source said.

“They ignored him and the officer started to get out of the car to tell them to move,” the source said. “They shoved him right back in, that’s when Michael Brown leans in and starts beating Officer Wilson in the head and the face.

The source claims that there is “solid proof” that there was a struggle between Brown and Wilson for the policeman’s firearm, resulting in the gun going off – although it still remains unclear at this stage who pulled the trigger. Brown started to walk away according to the account, prompting Wilson to draw his gun and order him to freeze. Brown, the source said, raised his hands in the air, and turned around saying, “What, you’re going to shoot me?”

At that point, the source told, the 6 foot, 4 inch, 292-pound Brown charged Wilson, prompting the officer to fire at least six shots at him, including the fatal bullet that penetrated the top of Brown’s skull, according to an independent autopsy conducted at the request of Brown’s family.

Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket in the fracas, and was left dazed by the initial confrontation, the source said. He is now “traumatized, scared for his life and his family, injured and terrified” that a grand jury, which began hearing evidence on Wednesday, will “make some kind of example out of him,” the source said.

Darren Wilson sure sounds like George Zimmerman:

One difference between Trayvon and Michael is that Trayvon wasn’t doing anything wrong when he encountered Zimmerman (until he attacked Zimmerman, that is).

Michael Brown, on the other hand, may well have been doing something wrong:

Michael Brown was identified as a suspect in a strong-arm robbery of a box of cigars moments before he was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson, police said Friday.

In an afternoon press conference, Ferguson, Mo. Police Chief Thomas Jackson said Wilson did not initially make a connection between the robbery and Brown,whose death spurred violent protests and unrest in the St. Louis suburb over the past week.

Wilson stopped Brown and a friend because “they were in the middle of the street, blocking traffic,” Jackson said.

Hours later, however, Jackson told a slightly different story to CNN and NBC, saying that Wilson noticed Brown was carrying a box of cigars that had been reported stolen. Wilson, he said, initially stopped Brown for blocking traffic, but as he began driving past Brown, he noticed Brown was holding cigars.

At that point, Wilson “made the connection” that Brown might have been involved in a theft that had just been broadcast on police radio, Jackson said.

The discrepancy over the cigars may be an issue, or it may mean nothing: we haven’t heard Wilson’s story from his own mouth yet. Indeed, the large man strong-arming the store owner may not be Michael Brown (though the outfit of the robber appears to match that of Brown from post-mortem news photos).

What matters is that there is an alternate telling of the events of that day, with plenty of witnesses (and accompanying evidence) to attest to it, that depicts Michael Brown as anything but the innocent victim of racist police brutality. Which raises the question of what have the last several nights of rioting been all about?

Have Revs. Sharpton and Jackson helped or hurt? Has the presence of the New Black Panthers helped or hurt? Who are the alleged “provocateurs”, and where do they come from?

Out-of-town criminals are inciting violence and hijacking peaceful protests in Ferguson, police said early Tuesday, with officers coming under “heavy gunfire” in the Missouri town.

At least two people were shot in the violent overnight melee and 31 people were arrested – with some of those detained coming from New York and California, Johnson said.

When even the Black Panthers are blaming outside provocateurs, it suggests the violence and outrage is staged, manufactured. All the town leaders want it to stop, the clergy want it to stop, Michael’s parents want it to stop. Yet it continues.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know—but Ferguson, MO resembles a Broadway production more than it does a modern lynching.

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Silver Lining Watch

Good news out of Ferguson, MO!

MSNBC anchors Chris Hayes and Craig Melvin were pelted with rocks during the network’s live coverage of the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.

“The scene here, just honestly 15 minutes ago, was calm, but it is the case now here and has been the last eight nights that as soon that things can go from just quiet and calm to incredibly tense and contested. And as you can tell people are angry,” Hayes observed

Gosh, Chris, how do you suppose that happened?

HOWARD KURTZ: Some are doing a good job. Some grandstanding in my view. I was surprised to CNN’s Jake Tapper say the police shouldn’t be out there in riot gear because there was no threat. And part of the polarization and this does get into a racially divisive case that reminds us all too much of the Trayvon tragedy. You have MSNBC kind of acting as the Michael Brown Defense Network led by Al Sharpton who speaks with families, speaks at rallies, comments on his show.

Anything else?

TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC: I think it’s one thing to say there is no racial undertone here but then in practice, it’s almost like an apartheid state. When you look at the school board not a single African-American on the school board yet the community is 70% African-American. You have three black police officers on a force of 53. You talk about ladders of opportunity, young people feel there are none. The schools, many are failing. The state is embroiled in controversy about a transfer program. And so while he says it, he’s probably listening to his constituents.

There is a great article in the New Republic recently where they polled white folks in St. Louis and how people talk about what’s happening in the community. It’s on the people themselves for destroying their community and all the coded language. So there are clear issues here. I don’t know if he’s trying to do a P.R. move or what, clearly black folks in this community feel the long and terrible history here.

Another can of gasoline to throw on the fire?

On MSNBC this afternoon, network contributor Michael Eric Dyson said President Obama’s refusal to wade into the Ferguson situation is a “low point” for his presidency. Dyson said Obama “failed” black people and the nation for trying to come up with an excuse to “not speak about race.”

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: I think he has far more latitude than he’s exercised so far. He’s got the bully pulpit. Be a bully in the pulpit but don’t bully black people. Yesterday was a low moment in the Obama presidency because he distracted attention away from the facts of the case. A white police officer armed to the teeth with a gun has killed an unarmed black youth. The president turned this into a referendum, if you will, on internal machinations of black criminality and the politics of black respectability as opposed to the facts at hand. He was a poor teacher yesterday and he’s such a brilliant and insightful man, but he failed us not only as black people but he failed the nation.

He failed to deal with the particular instances not only of Michael Brown — he doesn’t have to deal with Michael Brown. The president said, I don’t want to put my thumb on it too much to weigh the scales of justice. Don’t even talk about Michael Brown. Talk about what led to Michael Brown. Tell us as a nation what happens when festering rage in a community then begins to ignite and then begins to consume not only that community but the people around the nation who are empathetic. So I think the president has a lot more latitude. Does he have opposition? Yes. But when he opens his mouth on Iraq, he’s opposed. When he opens his mouth on the environment, he’s opposed. When he opens hi mouth on gay marriage, he’s opposed. He’s oppose every step. Don’t use this as an excuse to not speak about race.

If anyone actually watched the poxy station I’d throw rocks at MSNBC, too, the patronizing bastards. This is about as close to shouting fire in a crowded theater as a “news” station can get.

PS: This can’t help.

Funeral arrangements have been set for Michael Brown, the 18-year-old man killed by police in Ferguson last weekend.

According to his attorney, Benjamin Crump, the funeral has been set for Monday, August 25, 2014 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church at 10 a.m.

Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy and Rev. Michael Jones will officiate.

Sharpton never knew and never even heard of Michael Brown until his death. Sharpton may prove one wrong, but one would be forgiven for thinking that inviting an MSNBC host and notorious race hustler (Tawana Brawley, Freddie’s Fashion Mart, etc.) to eulogize in this incendiary situation is a political stunt.


The Violence Has to Stop

In Ferguson, Crown Heights, wherever:

New York dignitaries from the Jewish and African-American communities held a joint press conference on Monday in Crown Heights, at the exact site where a young Jew was violently assaulted last Wednesday in the depraved “knockout game.”

The “game,” generally “played” by African-American youth and which consists of sucker punching generally visibly Jewish passersby, left 24-year-old student Avrohom Wolosow seriously injured by an out-of-the-blue punch to the face.

Then last Thursday, just a day after Wolosow was assaulted, a nine-year-old Jewish boy in the same neighborhood was likewise punched in the head by a group of three youths.

Speaking about the heinous attack on Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind called for an end to the anti-Semitic acts of violence.

“We have an obligation as Brooklynites and as New Yorkers to state: ‘that will not happen in our city,’” declared Adams.

When cities fall prey to violence, their citizens take logical steps:

Detroit police chief James Craig – nicknamed “Hollywood” for his years spent in the LAPD and his seeming love of being in front of the camera – has repeatedly called on “good” and “law-abiding” Detroiters to arm themselves against criminals in the city.

His words have not fallen on deaf ears.

Patricia Champion, a 63-year-old lifelong Detroiter, a grandmother and retired educator, decided to get her concealed pistol license – a CPL – two years ago after her son said he was increasingly worried for her safety. Champion, a resident of northwest Detroit, mostly keeps her gun, a 9mm Glock 19 that set her back $600, in her house.

“That’s why I got it: because I’m going to be in the house. Now, if somebody chooses to come in and I didn’t invite you, between the Glock and the dog, you’re gone. If one doesn’t get you, the other one will.”

The Glock doesn’t need to be walked four times a day. And it obeys orders without getting a cookie in reward.

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Out of Town

I’ve been waiting to address the ado in Ferguson, MO until I can figure out what the hell happened and is continuing to happen. I’m going to keep waiting.

But as for what happened to America’s great cities, and the black people who live therein, I have something to say:

The Reverend Jesse Jackson is, to the surprise of all thinking people, right about something: “A spark has exploded,” he said, referring to the protests and violence in Ferguson, Mo. “When you look at what sparked riots in the Sixties, it has always been some combination of poverty, which was the fuel, and then some oppressive police tactic. It was the same in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Los Angeles. It’s symptomatic of a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression, seen in Chicago.”

A question for the Reverend Jackson: Who has been running the show in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, and in Los Angeles for a great long while now? The answer is: People who see the world in much the same way as does the Reverend Jackson, who take the same view of government, who support the same policies, and who suffer from the same biases.

This is not intended to be a cheap partisan shot. The Democratic party institutionally certainly has its defects, the chronicle of which could fill several unreadable volumes, but the more important and more fundamental question here is one of philosophy and policy. Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities — have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.

Bingo. And to repeat: “This is not intended to be a cheap partisan shot.” I used to be a Democrat, a progressive, if you will. But I grew out of it. I realized, as Kevin D. Williamson puts it, that my “wishful thinking” had no bearing on the “hopeless reality”. I came to accept the wisdom and certainty in Margaret Thatcher’s observation that “the facts of life are conservative”.

But the facts of our cities were anything but:

For years, our major cities were undermined by a confluence of four unhappy factors: 1. higher taxes; 2. defective schools; 3. crime; 4. declining economic opportunity. Together, these weighed much more heavily upon the middle class than upon the very wealthy and the very poor. In the case of Philadelphia, the five counties in the metropolitan area have had a mostly stable population, but the city itself lost more than a quarter of its population between 1950 and 2000 as some 550,000 people fled to the suburbs or beyond. How many people matters, but which people matters, too: They were the ones with the means and the strongest incentive to relocate. Over the same period of time, Chicago lost a fifth of its population, Baltimore nearly a third. Philadelphia is one of the few U.S. cities to impose a municipal income tax (one of the taxes Mayor Rizzo raised), creating very strong incentives to move across the line into Delaware County or Bucks County. This is sometimes known as “white flight,” but that is a misnomer: In Detroit, the white middle class got out as quickly as it could — and the black middle class was hot on its heels. Upwardly mobile people and those who expect to be — i.e., those with an investment in the future — care a great deal about schools, economic opportunity, and safety. And they know where the city limits are.

The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black. The most pronounced economic inequality in the United States is not in some Republican redoubt in Texas but in San Francisco, an extraordinarily expensive city in which half of all black households make do with less than $25,000 a year. Blacks in San Francisco are arrested on drug felonies at ten times their share of the general population. At 6 percent of the population, they represent 40 percent of those arrested for homicides. Whether you believe that that is the result of a racially biased criminal-justice system or the result of higher crime incidence related to socioeconomic conditions within black communities (or some combination of those factors) what is undeniable is that results for black Americans are far worse in our most progressive, Democrat-dominated cities than they are elsewhere. The progressives have had the run of things for a generation in these cities, and the results are precisely what you see.

So, if you want fewer Fergusons, you know what you have to do:

Our cities need economic growth and opportunity, functional education systems, and physical security. And where have our few urban success stories come from? We saw a dramatic turnabout in crime and public disorder in New York under Republican Rudy Giuliani, and we’ve seen periods of relatively good governance in two-party cities such as San Diego. At the moment, our most prosperous cities are those such as Houston, cities that are themselves Democrat-dominated but embedded in heavily Republican metropolitan areas or states, and which govern in a way that is much friendlier to enterprise and middle-class interests than is the style that has long predominated in places such as Philadelphia or Detroit.

Houston or Detroit? Your call.

PS: In 1950, Detroit was the fifth largest US city, at about 1,850,000; Houston was 14th, at less than a third the size, 596,000. Today, their places are reversed: Houston is 4th at almost 2.2 million, while Detroit is 18th at barely 700,000. Just sayin’.


Good News, Bad News

First the bad news: you’re racist. The good news?

You don’t know it:

We white Americans all-too-seldom reflect upon the issue of racism, because we don’t have to. We don’t have to think about it, because the system is set up to benefit us, at the expense of people of color, without our ever doing anything mean or unkind, so it is very easy never to even notice how life is for someone not in our majority. [Call me a grammarist, but that's a run-on sentence. Ed.]

Racism has often been referred to as a “cancer” on and in society. But that has never struck me as terribly apt or helpful, despite its obviously negative connotation. So I began wondering what a more helpful metaphor might be for racism and its on-going effect on many of our citizens. And for some reason, it occurred to me that many of the things we say about being infected with HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS, are true of racism:

Many people who are infected don’t know it. Those infected by racism are largely oblivious to it. It operates behind the scenes and barely shows itself in the early stages. It can be an important part of who we are and how we operate without our knowledge. And because the system is set up to benefit us, we can easily believe that racism is something that other people get. Understanding our being white in a racist society is akin to getting a fish in an aquarium to understand the concept of water – it is simply the medium in which we swim, the reality that supports us and in which we thrive without so much as a passing thought.

If we (white Americans) are the fish swimming in the racist medium in this simile, oblivious of our privilege, who are the schoolkids and frazzled parents on the other side of the glass pointing at the sharks and tortoises? African Americans? Do they enjoy the spectacle as much as my kids used to? Probably not.

But he’s not done with lame metaphors:

The only way to know if you’re unsuspectingly infected is to get tested. Testing is a voluntary and intentional act. It starts with realizing and admitting that I might be infected. It is painful to learn that we might be intentionally or unintentionally racist, and since we usually shy away from painful things, we avoid conversations and situations that might reveal the ugly truth. The “test” for racism is a lot less scientific than getting tested for HIV, and it involves having conversations with people of color (and other race-aware white people) about their experiences. It means listening to the words of people who have indeed experienced racism, and then believing that it is true for them – even if it is not true of our experience. And then it means searching our souls for ways in which we have colluded with a white-majority society in perpetuating such an unjust system.

Resistance to being tested comes from the fear of what changes may be in store if I’m “positive.” The scary thing about finding out if one has been infected is that if I have, then I will need to change some things about my life. If I open myself to understanding how I participate in and benefit from a racist society (even if I have no personal animosity at all toward people of color!), then I will undoubtedly have to decide if I’m going to resist the racism in myself and seek to dismantle it in the society.

Viral load can be reduced to undetectable levels, but it never goes away. And at least for now, it’s an incurable condition. Undoing racism in ourselves is a life-long process. We all acquire “default settings” in our growing up – that is, standard ways in which we tend to view the world and organize/understand our experiences. We can intentionally go in and change these default settings, but it takes our being intentional and vigilant – or else, the default setting reasserts itself, and without even thinking, becomes our standard operating procedure.

We’re all racist (we whites anyway); we don’t even know it; and there’s nothing we can do about it. Oh well, have a nice day.

But again, the metaphor fails to hold. Once a death sentence, HIV is treatable; infected people can live long, healthy lives. I observe without blame that HIV was spread through drug use and promiscuity. It was treated (if not cured) through the efforts of millions and millions of dollars and the united efforts of government and medicine. The victims of racism should be so lucky.

But all is not lost:

I am a recovering racist, and similar to a recovering alcoholic, who may not drink but who will always be an alcoholic, I must constantly monitor and manage my internal “settings” about race.

So, while you may always remain a racist, you can be a “dry” racist. Where does he come up with this nonsense?

That default setting in me was shaped in my childhood, spent in the segregated south, complete with separate drinking fountains and lunchrooms.

Wait a minute! That’s not my “default setting”. I was raised by hyperliberal, socialist, atheist, anti-racist lunatic parents. My crazy father voted for Eldridge Cleaver for president in 1968! My loopy mother left her young kids to go march in Mississippi in 196-whatever! I never drank from a segregated fountain, never rode on a segregated bus. I never called nobody n**g*r, and recoiled in horror on the rare occasions when I heard anyone else do so. And I’m hardly special. Explain to me how I, or millions raised just like me, am racist.

If I’m “guilty of being white”, can I just pay a fine and get on with my life? Actually, can I just get on with my life? Guilt is optional, and I’m opting out.

PS: If self-diagnosis involves “having conversations with people of color”, do we get to take note of their “intentional or unintentional racism”? We “typical white people” have our failings, but I think it’s more to do with our being people than with our being white. I think black people are our equals in this as in all other ways.


Patronizin’, Degradin’, Grandstandin’

This ain’t right:

“There’s a loophole in the tax code that lets a small but growing group of corporations leave the country; they declare themselves no longer American companies just to get out of paying their fair share of taxes — even though most of their operations are here,” Obama explained in his normal tone.

Then, things just got weird.

“It hurts our country’s finances, and it adds to the deficit and sticks you with the tab — because if they’re not paying their share and stashing [-in'] their money offshore, you don’t have that option,” Obama said of the tax trick. “It ain’t right. Not only is it not right, it ain’t right. It ain’t right. I hope everybody is clear on the distinction. There are some things are not right. And then there’s some things that just ain’t right. And this ain’t right.”

It was as if Chris Rock’s character Mays Gilliam from “Head of State” was trapped in President Obama’s body on stage in Kansas City.

President Obama mimicking [-in'] and mingling [-in'] with celebrities while the crises at the southern border and abroad ensue? “That ain’t right,” our lawmakers might say.

Never mind that the US has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. That to pay such usurious rates voluntarily is not in the interest of the shareholders or the clients of any business. Payin’ taxes is patriotic didn’ you know?

But he weren’t done:

I am repulsed by his faux populism, but let me quote someone else on the subject:

Samuel L. Jackson has blasted Barack Obama for ‘promoting mediocrity’ in the United States by ‘dumbing down’ the way he speaks to ordinary Americans.

In an expletive-filled tirade about – of all things – grammar, Jackson told the President to ‘be f*****g presidential.’

The Holywood legend, who publicly backed Obama in 2008 and 2012, questioned why the Harvard-educated former law professor chooses to drop the letter ‘g’ from the end of his words.

‘First of all, we know it ain’t because of his blackness, so I say stop trying to “relate.”
‘Be a leader. Be f******g presidential. Look, I grew up in a society where I could say “It ain’t” or “What it be” to my friends.

‘But when I’m out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I f*****g conjugate’.

What’s that, Jesse? You don’t like it either? Speak up:

Not everyone’s a critic, however:

[Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a “light-skinned” African American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama’s race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.

Reid had to apologize, but he was right on all counts. And boy does Obama want to have a dialect now, be it “Negro” or “dumbed down”.


And the Beat(ing) Goes On

Remember Steve Utash? I do, but no reason you should.

Justice forgot him too:

We watched the system at work.

We watched the court proceedings and saw a judge dispense punishment in the beating of Steve Utash last spring.

We watched — and waited — for justice.

We’re still waiting.

Utash was 54 years old and weighed 155 pounds when he was attacked. He was beaten after he did what many drivers don’t: He stopped to check on a child he accidentally hit with his truck.

He was beaten so severely that doctors had to place him in a medically induced coma for 10 days. Within weeks, police found only four of the 12 to 20 men — and one teen — who set upon him near the corner of Morang and Balfour.

The men pleaded guilty, and their sentences — the last one announced in court yesterday — totaled 7.6 years.

So the bottom line is this: Utash, who was nearly killed by a mob on Detroit’s east side, will spend more time recuperating than the men who beat him will spend in prison.

Utash suffered brain damage. It’s not clear what faculties he will regain, or when.

The prosecutors were rightly outraged:

The sentences for two Detroit men given jail time and probation in the mob beating of Steven Utash will stand, a Wayne County Circuit Court judge ruled.

Judge James Callahan denied motions Friday by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office that sought the resentencing of James Deontae Davis, 24, and Latrez Cummings, 19, said Maria Miller, a spokeswoman with the prosecutor’s office.

Callaham sentenced Davis — who admitted striking Utash, a 54-year-old tree trimmer from Clinton Township, and took a plea deal — to five years of probation with the first year to be served in jail. According to prosecutors, based on the sentencing guidelines, Davis should have been given 19 months to more than three years of incarceration.

Cummings was sentenced to three years of probation with the first six months to be served in jail. His sentence also drew opposition from the prosecution.

“We think the sentences were not appropriate to the crime,” Miller said. “A decision will be made regarding how we will proceed.

What about my man, the irrepressible Wonzey Saffold?


Wonzey Saffold, 30, received a sentence of six to 10 years in prison, in part because of previous convictions.

His courtroom demeanor didn’t help, I’m sure:

Saffold, who was seen showing his middle finger to cameras at an earlier court hearing, was scolded by Callahan on Thursday for not pulling his pants up.

“It’s disrespectful to walk into a courtroom looking like that,” Callahan said.

Paige mentioned his client’s demeanor after court.

“He has a certain swagger in the courtroom that people don’t understand, but he’s remorseful,” Paige said. “He regrets it.”

Here’s hoping he does ten years inside “regretting” it.


African American Journalist On The Damage Done By Liberal Policies

This looks like a good book

Jason Riley writes for The Wall Street Journal and appears on Fox News. I look forward to reading this:

Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience.

“Please do not do any more good in my country,” he said. “We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done.”

That is essentially the message of an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is Please Stop Helping Us. Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum wage laws to affirmative action quotas.

This book untangles the controversies, the confusions, and the irresponsible rhetoric in which issues involving minimum wage laws are usually discussed. As someone who has followed minimum wage controversies for decades, I must say that I have never seen the subject explained more clearly or more convincingly.

Black teenage unemployment rates ranging from 20 to 50 percent have been so common over the past 60 years that many people are unaware that this was not true before there were minimum wage laws, or even during years when inflation rendered minimum wage laws ineffective, as in the late 1940s.

Pricing young people out of work deprives them not only of income but also of work experience, which can be even more valuable. Pricing young people out of legal work, when illegal work is always available, is just asking for trouble. So is having large numbers of idle young males hanging out together on the streets.

When it comes to affirmative action, Jason Riley asks the key question: “Do racial preferences work? What is the track record?” Like many other well-meaning and nice-sounding policies, affirmative action cannot survive factual scrutiny.

Some individuals may get jobs they would not get otherwise but many black students who are quite capable of getting a good college education are admitted, under racial quotas, to institutions whose pace alone is enough to make it unlikely that they will graduate.

Studies that show how many artificial failures are created by affirmative action admissions policies are summarized in Please Stop Helping Us, in language much easier to understand than in the original studies.

More at the link. Looks really interesting.

- Aggie


What Do We Want? H2O! When Do We Want It? Now!

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.

It IS the gentle rain from heaven:

It’s a basic human right: water.

Course it is. It says so right in the Declaration of Hydration: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Perrier. If it wasn’t a basic human right, why did God cover 70% of the world with it? You can take head down to your nearest stream, lake, or ocean, and help yourself to (almost) all you like. (As long as your human right doesn’t deprive others of theirs’.)

The only thing you can’t do is expect it to come out of your tap for free.

Capitalist bastards:

“We do have programs that do help those that are just totally in need; can’t afford it — but we also know that there are also people who can’t afford it would can not pay and we know this because, once we shut water off, the next day they are in paying the bill in full. So we do know that that has become a habit as well,” said Garner.

“At the DWAS Department — it’s not our goal to shut off water. We want people’s water on, just like they do; but you do have to pay for your water…That’s the bottom line.”

Forgive the gibberish in the quote. What she seems to be saying is that plenty of people can pay if you make them. You just have to make them.

But that’s not the plan:

[C]ould the United Nations soon help the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department provide the service to struggling customers?

Water department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner says it’s a possibility.

Garner said the reality is that nearly half of Detroit Water and Sewerage customers can’t pay their bills; and that has led activists to lobby the UN to step up and take action.

“If they do contact us we are willing to speak with them,” she said, adding “We owe it to the customers that are paying to collect from those that aren’t. Somebody has to pay for the water.”

And while Garner says water is “a God-given right,” she says there is a cost to move water from the water resource to the customer and that the infrastructure costs money.

According to the Free Press, the average Detroit water bill is now $75 a month — much higher than the nation’s average rate of about $40.

What’s up with that? Since when was something so clear guilty of color consciousness (Detroit being 80% black)?

Civilization works because the people within it agree to certain rules. We stop for red lights, take care of our children, pay our bills. When those sorts of self-responsibilities break down, civilization itself breaks down. So it has in Detroit, as it has in Haiti, Rwanda, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Bosnia. And when it does, we do often call in the UN.

I’m just not so sure I want them anywhere near my drinking water:

The United Nations is facing a huge new lawsuit over the outbreak of cholera in Haiti that has widely been blamed on its peacekeepers, after 1,500 Haitian victims and their family members sued the international body in a federal court in Brooklyn in a class action.

The UN has consistently refused to accept any role in the disaster, and has claimed immunity from legal actions such as the one just lodged in Brooklyn, and a similar class action filed on behalf of a sample group of five Haitians last year. Latest figures suggest that more than 9,000 people have died in the outbreak, which has spread from Haiti to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico, with a total of about 700,000 having been sickened.

The legal action chronicles the mounting evidence that UN peacekeepers from Nepal carried with them the Asian strain of cholera when they arrived in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. The outbreak, which began in October of that year, was the first instance of cholera in Haiti for at least 150 years.

The first named plaintiff, Marie Laventure, is a Haitian living in Atlanta, Georgia, who has eight siblings still living in Haiti. She lost her father and stepmother to the cholera contagion.

In a statement, she said: “The death and injury caused by the UN cholera contagion in Haiti is heartbreaking. It has taken my parents and is threatening the lives of my young brothers and sisters in Haiti. Justice demands UN accountability for violating the most important human right, the right to live.”

Exactly. Detroiters may think they have a “right” to water, but it’s not one of the rights endowed by their Creator (Henry Ford). You can call in the UN if you like, Motown, or you can pay your bill. It’s your funeral.

PS: The article is too refined to mention how the cholera jumped from the Nepalese to the Haitians. Allow me: the Nepalese contingent dug their latrines in the same vicinity as the water supply for the refugee camp for the earthquake victims—literally violating the commandment not to sh*t where you drink. The rest is gastro-intenstinal history.


Driving While White Update

We’ve written about the case of Steve Utash, the Detroit tree-trimmer who hit a boy with his truck when the kid darted into traffic. He pulled over immediately and got out of his truck.

That was where his problems began.

And they ain’t over yet:

Crushed — that’s just one way to describe the Utash family Thursday night.

They are not pleased that all five of the men arrested for the mob beating of Steve Utash agreed to plea deals, meaning no trial, and likely lighter sentences.

Utash’s son said justice is not being served.

“It’s very frustrating. I seen it on the news and started crying. I don’t get this,” said Joe Utash.

Joe Utash admitted he doesn’t know all of the court and legal jargon, but he called the plea deals given to the suspects in his father’s beating case bologna.

“Me and my family are pretty upset about it,” Joe Utash said. “My dad is crushed.”

The brutal mob beating happened in April after Steve Utash accidentally hit a young boy with his truck.

The first to plead guilty for a deal was the teenager who police said threw the first punch.

Second, 18-year-old Bruce Wimbush took a deal in the case, pleading guilty to assault and admitting he punched Utash in the jaw.

Thursday, the other three suspects, Latrez Cummings, James Davis and Wonzey Saffold, all admitted to punching or kicking Steve Utash. They were scheduled to go to trial in August on charges of assault with intent to murder, but each pleaded guilty to a charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder.

“I feel all of them got a deal for nothing,” Joe Utash said. “They didn’t give anybody else up — everyone (else) seen the video — 15 people there. Two rat out three, everybody gets a deal, walks away with a deal but my dad.”

Joe Utash said his dad is slowly recovering and doesn’t want to talk much about the case.

“He’s like, ‘Oh, everything is going to happen in court.’ He’s been staying out of it because he trusts in God and in the system. Seems like they’re just skating through it. If he was going to get a deal he should have brought someone else to the table. All those people there and nobody brought anybody to the table. It’s like five people out of 15,” he said.

The prosecutors said they spoke to Utash’s brothers, who had no problem with the plea deal. They also said this spares Utash the ordeal of having to testify. But this is a middle-aged man, with a wife and adult children. Why talk to the brothers (unless the inarticulateness of the son is indicative of diminished mental capacity)? Surely, someone in Utash’s household should have been consulted.

I don’t know what the sentencing will be (The New York Times says 10 years is tops), but we can only hope for the longest possible detention for the kind of people who would try to beat to death someone who stopped to take responsibility for something that wasn’t his fault. (The video shows Utash had zero time to react.) Wonzey Saffold and his mates assured that in a similar situation, the driver will floor the gas pedal until he reaches Tierra del Fuego.

But Wonzey and his blurred-out middle finger don’t seem to give a fig:



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