…the Bleacherman has entered the stadium…

Sometimes, as I night after night watch the newest American tragedy unfolding nightly in Ferguson, Missouri, I wonder what is the bigger malfeasance; the death of Michael Brown, the violent protests, police over-reaction or the blatant, careless and often unprofessional, self-serving demeanor of the press, politicians and political activists in rushing to pass judgment in order to get their point made and smiling faces on television.

The situation in Ferguson is a textbook case of too many people talking way too much. It is a textbook case of how the press can manipulate a story to fit its own agenda. It is an example of political activists and community leaders purposely massaging and manipulating facts to fit a highly polarized, very narrow minded agenda.

As this blogger has stated several times in prior posts, the death of Michael Brown is as much a travesty as it is a tragedy. In many instances, the actions of local politicians, news reporters, government officials and police command is a perfect story of stupidly, arrogance, racial prejudice ( white vs black and black vs white) and total and inexcusable incompetence.

There are now two opposing stories of what happened on the day Michael Brown was shot and killed. One, supported by the accounts of several witnesses, paints a picture of a cold-blooded killing where an officer draws his gun on a man standing in the street with his hands raised.

The rebuttal, offered by friends of the accused police officer and by unnamed witnesses, suggests that Michael Brown bull-rushed the officer and given the man’s size and girth the officer, fearing for his own safety and in an act of perceived self-defense, opened up and starting shooting.

So whose story do you believe? The news media, wanting to add fuel to the fire and profiting over extending the conflict as long as possible, tends to frame the issue in favor of the pro Michael Brown witnesses. Law enforcement is siding with one of its own.

So who is right and who is wrong?

When the preliminary autopsy report was revealed, the Michael Brown faction jumped on it saying that supported their contention that the facts clearly show that Mr. Brown was murdered in cold blood by the officer. They point to the fact that there was no trace of gunfire residue on the deceased’s body which, in their minds, absolutely confirms that the shooting was not at close quarters. There are entry/exit wounds on the arm that these same people say clearly shows that Michael Brown’s hands were raised above his shoulders in a surrender posture.

New anchors, so-called and self-labeled analysts and on the scene babbling brooks of senseless information known to us as reporters affirmed over and over again that the autopsy’s conclusions were affirmations of police misconduct.

Protesters held signs reflecting the same. Each were using (and in my opinion abusing) the findings of the autopsy to affirm the guilt of the police officer in question.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. All the autopsy did was to suggest possibilities. The only thing that was unequivocally affirmed was that Mr. Brown was shot six times – four to the arm, two to the head. Period! The county’s autopsy suggests that there was marijuana in Mr. Brown’s system which really does little to establish anything relevant and add to the process of determining what happened that fateful day.

All the while, Michael Baden and Shawn Parcells – the two people hired by Brown’s family to conduct the independent autopsy – stated over and over again that it was too early to make any firm conclusions. Yet, Daryl Parks, the Brown family’s attorney, ran to the microphone and said the results clearly supported the contention of Brown’s family that their son was killed as he was trying to surrender and that Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot their son should be immediately arrested for murder.

BUT THE INDEPENDENT FORENSIC AND PATHOLOGY EXPERTS DID NOT SAY THIS. Before any conclusions could be made, Baden and Parcells said that they needed to look at toxicology reports, Michael Browns clothing and x-rays before issuing a formal report.

Even Sunday night’s use of tear gas was a case of media and protesters jumping to conclusions. The likes of Chris Hayes lamented over the indiscriminate and unwarranted need to use tear gas yet, almost in a whisper, it was mentioned like an unread footnote that shots were fired and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the police. Another footnote, unmentioned by our unbiased press, was the fact that the police command post was on the verge of being overrun by a surge of protesters.

Everyone talks about justice but the justice they seek is the justice that fits in best with their own self-serving agendas. When it best serves the news media, facts and truth are sacrificed for a tendency to jump to conclusions in order to keep the fires of a tired story raging and advertising revenue pouring into network coffers.

The press cries because they believe their first amendment right to document and report on the Ferguson crisis is being impeded by the police. But the first amendment does not give them the right to become part of the story and that is what their zeal or recklessness is actually doing. Where is Walter Cronkite?

…the Bleacherman has left the building…

A NEED FOR POLICE MILITARIZATION

Posted: August 17, 2014 in Politics

A NEED FOR POLICE ‘MILITARIZATION.’

…the Bleacherman has left the stadium…

It is hard for anyone to ignore the bombardment of news and commentary coming out of Ferguson, Missouri. It is not a pretty sight. One can only think of words like disgraceful and revolting in trying to describe the turmoil confronting not just the citizens of a small Missouri town, but the nation as a whole.

After watching hours of media coverage, I sometimes wonder if the cable news networks and their plethora of opinionated correspondents and cue-card reading hosts are actually reporting on what is happening on the ground or are they, with their almost staging of events, fueling the intensity of an already tension filled atmosphere in Ferguson.

Unfortunately, where there is tension, there is emotion and where there is emotion, there is an opportunity form publicity hungry extremists and fringe players to step forward and seize upon the pandemonium and promote their own self-serving (usually) political agendas.

Volatility is fed by passion and passion usually breeds its own unique brand of over-reaction. Whatever side of an issue one finds themselves on, it is easy to fall victim to the emotions and leave common sense and linear analysis behind.

The site of armored personal carriers, mini tanks, helmeted and bullet-proof vested troops occupying one of our cities have left many Americans appalled, shocked and in a state of fear. What we have been witnessing on our television sets a libertarian’s “E” ticket ride at Disneyland. What is more orgasmic to the likes of Rand Paul than a tyrannical government’s military running amuck on the streets of American cities.

What I am most afraid of is what appears to be the fast growing sentiment of a large and growing number of American journalists, politicians and concerned citizens that is demanding the “demilitarizing” of many metropolitan police forces. I find this to be very short-sighted and disconcerting.

Before I am lynched by my fellow ideologues on the left, I must state that I am appalled by the over-the-top response displayed by the Ferguson, Missouri, police agencies in responding to the protests over the killing of Michael Brown.

What we have witnessed was a pathetic abuse of police power and authority. The actions taken by the local police was a profile in intimidation, provocation and almost racial discrimination in nature. What I saw was not policing. What I saw was an insane and idiotic display of a foolish tactical deployment of police presence. Whoever was designing, implementing and controlling the police game plan was just plain incompetent, if not just plain stupid.

I must admit that I am a product of the sixties and civil disobedience is very much in my blood. There is a valid purpose in protest and there is a valid purpose in police making sure that they protect the community they serve from over-zealous protestors and fringe elements who only seek violent disorder.

I have witnessed over-aggressive actions by protestors and over-aggressive reactions by police. To control a protest without impeding or infringing upon first amendment rights takes the walking of a very fine line that must separate citizen protest and police reaction. It is incumbent upon both sides to navigate to a path where protest and community protection are not mutually exclusive of each other.

Smarter and more knowledgeable people than I am will debate the police tactics and strategies employed by the Ferguson city police. As long as cable news can continue to milk advertising dollars out of this tragedy, the situation will be discussed over and over again.

Was the show of force we witnessed on Thursday night in Ferguson warranted? Hell no. Is the call for police disarmament warranted? Also, hell no.

I think it was MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell who said that the police are not being paid to die in order to protect and serve their communities. Just as the Michael Browns of the world deserve protection, the everyday cop on the street deserves similar protection.

The people of Ferguson don’t want to be judged by the actions of a few who seek to exploit an explosive situation. So, too, police officers should not be judged by the actions of a small group of bad cops.

The world is changing. Threats to the peace of our cities and municipalities are growing more terrifying than ever. Thanks to Second Amendment foolishness, citizens are now allowed to carry automatic long rifles as they walk down the aisles of their local Target store. High powered guns and large capacity magazines are available without background checks at gun shows. Criminals have more access to more lethal weapons than in the past. Terrorism is on the rise.

In December, 2012, two police officers were shot (one was killed) while trying to serve a warrant. In March, 2014, four officers of the Indianapolis police force were shot while trying to serve a warrant. Again, four months later, two police officers were shot while – once again – trying to serve a warrant. Can you blame the police for riding in an armored vehicle when trying to serve a warrant?

Someday, a local police SWAT team is going to have to respond to a situation of something much more dangerous and volatile than a lone man barricaded in someone’s house or business. Someday the police will have to confront well trained and well-armed terrorists who are more eager to die than surrender. Can you blame the police for wanting the most protection that is available?

We owe it to the men and women of law enforcement to protect them as best we can. We owe it to the officers AND THEIR families. If they need armored vehicles and high powered rifles and thick armor plated vests, we should provide those to our first responders.

The problem in Ferguson, Missouri, was not the armored carriers; rather, it was how and when they were deployed. Let us not put in jeopardy the men and women of law enforcement simply because some police chief had too much gung-ho cowboy for breakfast and felt that the only way he could express his bravado was by deploying an atom bomb during a knife fight.

…the Bleacherman has left the building

…the Bleacherman has entered the building…

It seems that the once again the United Kingdom is out to screw up the world.

The roots of many of today’s geo-political problems can be traced back to the pompous arrogance of the once great British Empire. History reflects a culture where British policy makers loved to draw up and define the geographic borders of its colonies as if they were playing on a meaningless game board. The Brits motto was, “consequences be damned, all hail and all benefit for Britannia.”

Over and over again, the United Kingdom’s foreign policy wizards engaged in a game of enslaving and barbaric delusional colonial boundary drawing. It was Darwinian to the core; a geo-political game of mixed martial arts fight to the death in the octagon. The Brits did not care if they put two warring ethnicities together to populate a piece of geography under a flag not so common to any one constituency. They only cared about raping the country of its natural and valuable resources. They divided and they subjugated. They bought, sold and traded territories like they were merely rectangles on a Monopoly board. And in the process they forever fucked up the world.

Once again the Brits are out to destroy the world. Once again, in an ethnocentric flashback to past glory, Great Britain is defining morality on its self-serving terms.

A few days ago, the British government announced that it will suspend 12 military licenses for export to Israel if the current ceasefire in Gaza does not hold. Somehow, everything is now Israel’s fault.

Brilliant!

So if Hamas unilaterally breaks the cease fire under the pretense of Israel not caving into all of their extreme demands and begins to fire rockets at Israel; Britain, in all its anti-Israel bias, will punish Israel. Once again, Britain is supporting terrorists. It is a repeat of how they dealt with their “Jewish problem” in Palestine in the years following the end of World War II. They were quick to disarm the Jews and looked the other way as Arab armies prepared to move against the newest UN mandated nation-state.

So I ask British Business secretary Vince Cable this one question: Why are you absolving Hamas of any responsibility in this current conflict?

Is the British Business secretary lamenting over the fact that only three Israeli citizens have died in Hamas rocket and mortar attack? Is the British secretary giving validation to Hamas’ rocket attacks aimed at Israeli cities? Is the British secretary totally discounting the suffering of Israeli citizens living in fear of the next rocket attack on their cities?

So yet again, British self-importance and conceit is going to make an already bad situation even worst. Once again, Britain is playing Monopoly with the well-being of some far off land. Once and for all, Britain must admit to itself that the sun HAS set on the late and not-so-great Empire.

I say this to you, Mr. Secretary: The first Hamas rocket that penetrates Israel’s Iron Dome defense and kills innocent Israeli citizens – their blood is on your hands.

…the Bleacherman has left the stadium…

…the Bleacherman has entered the building…

Dear Joe Scarborough:

Hey, Joe: I must say that I am very sorry that so many of us blessed with simple minds do not have the vast intellectual capacity that you often claim to have. So you must forgive us if we cannot grasp your complex and super-sophisticated logic and reasoning. We, down here in the valley of single cell intellect, must make do with the limited cerebral power God has entrusted us with to address the many and varied problems of our complex, confusing and contradicting world.

We’re just not as smart as you are, Joe. What can I say?

But, Joe, sometimes, on those very rare occasions where you could possibly be wrong about something, you need to lower the thick walls that surround your massive ego and listen to us down here where the simple minded dwell. Maybe we are not as smart and as articulate as you, but we do have a much clearer, much more focused view of the complexities that exist beyond what you claim is our comprehension.

We all share you valid concerns over the deaths of the innocent women and children of Gaza. It is both a tragedy and a human travesty. And we support your views being aired on your show. And most of us know that by doing so is not an act of anti-Semitism. Foolish but not evil nor anti-Jewish in anyway.

War is always a picture of mankind at its worse. Show me a war or conflict where civilians did not die and I’ll show you a war that never happened except in a Hollywood movie.

You suggest that the pictures of pulling dead and wounded children out of the bombed out rubble of Gaza is hurting Israel and helping Hamas. And yes, I agree with you. To a point.

A different, more simple perspective is needed. If Israel stops its military campaign because the pictures of dead civilians is too much for the world to bear and Hamas continues its relentless rocket fire into Israel, then Hamas has won the war and claims not only victory against its sworn enemy but also validates the tactic of using dead and wounded civilians as a highly effective military weapon.

In simple terms, by simply focusing on the horror that is unfolding on our TV screens and condemning one part of a bigger picture, you mitigate all that is at stake in this conflict. Israel may take a public relations hit and Hamas may see some temporary uplift in its domestic and international standing. But as the reality of the destruction of civilian homes and state infrastructure sets in, as the Palestinians realize that Israel cannot and will not totally lift the siege so long as Hamas seeks the total annihilation of the Jewish state, then and only then will the people of Gaza realize that Hamas is only interested in war and not in the well-being of the people it claims to govern.

Israelis have long ago learned the lesson that only Jews will step forward to save Jews in trouble. Yes, Joe, Israel must take the PR hit. It must do what is necessary to stop the rocket fire and destroy the tunnels dug deep into Israel. Failure to do so would be a tragic mistake that would only set the table for the next conflict. Think about the consequences if Israel unilaterally stops its military campaign and months later a rocket fired from Gaza slips by Israel’s Iron Dome defense and takes out part of a Tel Aviv neighborhood. Think about terrorist infiltrators sneaking into an Israel kibbutz and killing scores of innocent civilians. Does that even the score? Can Israel, with pictures of its dead and wounded civilians on world television, then claim the moral high ground and level Gaza?

So as you cry for the women and children of Gaza, cry for the women and children of Syria, of Iraq and of central Africa. Cry for the tens of thousands of civilians killed by Americans during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Cry for the innocent women and children killed by American drone strikes.

If your going to condemn something, which is your right and I will never question your motives for doing so; at least think in simple terms about the consequences of your condemnations.

…the Bleacherman has left the stadium…

…the Bleacherman has entered the building…

Mahatma Gandhi said it better than anyone else. “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

As the UN condemns Israel for it artillery strikes on UN schools being used as refugee shelters, the war continues to rage, the innocent continue to die and exaggerated demands for cease fires keep the world press busy typing less than objective diatribes condemning the ubiquitous consequences of the conflict in Gaza .

Speaking pragmatically and not geopolitically, one thing is for certain. The fighting needs to stop now. The talking, the finding of a long lasting and mutually advantageous resolution to the conflict, needs to start now. Forget the preconditions. Hamas needs to stop firing rockets and sending infiltration teams into Israel. For its part in the process, Israel needs to stop the massive bombardment of Gaza and commit to negotiate in good faith.

We need to stop the blame game. No one is innocent in war. In the words of Ernest Hemmingway, a man who has experienced the horrors of war, “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

The people of Gaza deserve to live in an environment conducive to expanding and enriching their lives. Major parts of Israel’s blockade must be lifted. Freedom of movement must be protected.

Israel deserves to live in an environment free of the threat of rocket attacks or infiltrators sneaking into their cities from tunnels dug from Gaza. Hamas must at the very least acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

The UN (and the world press) should spend less time blaming one party or another for specific incidents of this conflict. It should spend more time and energy to get BOTH sides to stop shooting at each other.

And as a footnote, the tears being shed by the UN over the children killed at the UN school are hollow. (All the world cries for those children – for all the children killed in this conflict.) But where are the UN tears for the thousands of children now being killed in Syria? Where are the tears for the hundreds of thousands of children dying across central Africa?

I cry real tears for the children of Gaza and for the children of Israel being forced to live much of their lives in bomb shelters. I also cry for the overlooked and ignored children of Syria and central Africa.

But the inept and impotent UN has no right to shed tears for one group of children and not for all the children who are buried every day in conflicts around this stupid war loving world of ours. The fighting in Gaza, the war in Syria and Iraq and the mass starvations of children has turned the world into one big Rwanda; a time and place where UN incompetence, insincerity and impotence compromised its reputation forever.

As a footnote: before I could post this blog, a 72 hour ceasefire has been agreed to by both Israel and Hamas. I pray that the guns stay silent for a much, much longer time.

I also read that Palestinian President Abbas is thinking about filing war crime charges against Israel. So it is okay for Hamas to fire rockets at Israeli cities? So it is okay for suicide bombers to blow up civilian buses? So it is okay for suicide bombers to blow up students at Israeli universities? Stop the blame game. Neither side is without sin.

…the Bleacherman has left the building…

…the Bleacherman has entered the arena…

Several days ago, I read the commentary, “Calling out Israel’s Campaign against Palestinians is not anti-Semitism”. It appeared on the website, ‘Politicususa.com on July 22, 2014 and was authored by “Rmuse.”

In many ways I agree with the author’s overall view that the Palestinians have for decades now been a people lied to, victimized and sacrificed like pawns on a chess board. I also agree that happening to the civilian population of Gaza in this recent outbreak of violence is an absolute tragedy. Whatever an individual’s geopolitical views are, one cannot ignore the unfolding tragedy that is happening right in front of us as Hamas and Israel prove that even adults can’t play nice in the sand box.

The Bleacherman is an old hippie – the operative word here being old. He grew up believing in the words of poets and song writers who painted a picture of a world that can be a beautiful place to live in if we somehow found a way to nest the powers of peace and love in our souls.

Yet, unfortunately, the words of the Arthurian idealist ring so hollow today. There is no room for idealism and altruistic visions in the microcosm of geopolitics.

The Bleacherman’s objection to Rmuse’s commentary rests in who he blames for the situation in the Middle East. He finds Israel to be the sole and exclusive party at fault. Rmuse gerrymanders the facts so much in order to satisfy his indictment of Israel, that ‘truth’ has been banished into oblivion by his accusatory hyperbole.
For more decades than anyone of us want to remember, Arab and Jew have been fighting over a narrow patch of land to call home. Each side claims ownership and seeks to destroy the other. Generations of Arab and Jewish children are indoctrinated into hating the other side. Hate has become part of the genetic makeup of both Arab and Israeli. And when one is born to hate, born to distrust, born to cynicism and suspicion; violence becomes second nature.

Rmuse, in setting the groundwork for his commentary, opines that supporting Israel has become “the hallmark of American patriotism” and if someone who attacks Israel for its actions or inactions, one is condemning oneself to be seen as committing an attack on God, being anti-Semitic and assaulting the holy Bible and affronting the basic tenets of Christianity itself.

A little over dramatic and an exaggeration on steroids, I would say.

Rmuse continues his march towards self-proclaimed righteousness by bloating his hate-filled bravado by proclaiming that innocent Palestinians civilians were “herded onto a Native Amercing-like reservation under threat of annihilation or tricked into going there with a false promise of being granted a homeland.”

There is no doubt that, in 1948-1949, there were forced and often violent migrations of Arabs out of the land that Israel was about to claim under an armistice brokered by the United Nations. There were also similar forced and sometimes violation migrations of Jews from land ceded to Jordanian control and referred to as the West Bank. What is also true was the fact that Israel offered to accept up to 100,000 refugees back into Israel (out of a total of about 700,000) but the Arab nations, not wanting to even tacitly recognize Israel’s existence, refused the offer.

Instead, for the most part, Arab nations “housed” the Palestinians in horrid refugee camps; promising that soon, Israel would be wiped out and the Palestinians would be allowed back into their homes. This false promise, a promise made to the Palestinians by surrounding Arab nations, was the lie. It was perpetrated not by Israel but by Arab nations who to this day, except for Egypt and Jordan, want to pretend that Israel does not exist.

The Palestinian people have suffered because they have been treated as pawns; expendable pawns in a greater conflict. There are no innocent parties here. Israel, Arab nations and militant groups like Hamas share blame for the disaster that has fallen upon the Palestinians.

To solely blame Israel for their plight is a manipulation of history and does nothing to move the ball towards peace. Yes, the West Bank is under occupation. That is a fact. But what does Rmuse suggest? That Israel unilaterally simply pulls its troops back across the arbitrary lines drawn before the 1967 war? Would such a move really bring peace to the region? Or, without a comprehensive peace plan and mutual recognition of each other’s right to exist as a Palestinian and Jewish State, would such a move be the seminal act of a more horrific and horrible war?

Can you imagine the consequences if Hamas began firing rockets at Israel from downtown Hebron or East Jerusalem?

It is easy to blame one side or the other; especially when both sides bear equal guilt. The Palestinians want an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank but refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State. It takes two sides to end war and make peace.

More than a half century ago, Golda Meir said that peace could only come to the Middle East once Arab nations love their children more than they hate the Jews.

So let us all show that paramount in our lives is to love our children. Make peace.

…the Bleacherman has left the arena…

…the Bleacherman has entered the arena…

Once again, the United Nations has proven to be a total waste of time, money and property. The land it occupies in New York should be immediately turned over to Donald Trump for development. At least it would do some good by producing some tax revenue for the city and state of New York.

The United Nations reflects a history of incompetence, ineffectiveness and total impotence. It talks the talk but never walks the walk. Its human rights organizations are so biased and self-serving that one can only laugh at their declarations and condemnations.

A week ago, a representative of the UN’s Human Rights Organization indicated that Israel was violating international laws that prohibit the targeting of civilians. What, of course, was conveniently and politically omitted from this condemnation were the facts that, one, Hamas admittedly uses human shields and purposely locates its missile launchers in civilian residences and places of worship and to is targeting civilian populations when it sends its missiles into Israel.

The doctrine of fairness sometimes is a principle foreign to the United States.
Yes, it is true that Palestinians are dying while Israelis are running into their bomb shelters. The asymmetrical result of the current fight is largely due to Israel’s development of its anti-missile system, Iron Dome. I imagine things would be much easier for the UN if dozens of Israelis were killed by Hamas. It would make the “death counts” much more even and then give an element of reality to the UN’s make believe, fairy tale view of the world much easier to digest.

As international pressure continued to build on Israel to end its conflict with Hamas and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza enclave, Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said the Israeli military must abide by international law. This, of course, dismisses Israel’s right to self-defense and in a de-facto gesture of omission, affirms Hamas’ right to send missiles aimed at Israeli cities.
Pillay went on record to say, “We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes. Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

So I guess, according to Mr. Pillay, the UN’s only measure of lawlessness is in body counts. (I didn’t know that United States Army General William Westmorland, of Viet Nam fame and failure, had such policy influence some nine years after his death.)

The truth is that the UN can only be measured by its failures. Its history is marked by ineptness and impotence.

In Sri Lanka, the UN did its ubiquitous lip service dance by declaring how appalled it was over the situation but did absolutely nothing to stop the fighting. The UN did nothing to neither stop the Serbs from their ethnic cleansing madness nor interfere with the Khmer Rouge’s reeducation murders and death camps.

And let us not overlook the UN’s failures on the continent of Africa. In Darfur, Sudan and Rwanda more than a million have died and the number keeps growing. The UN simply tries to feed the survivors rather than actually intervening to try to stop the genocide.

In 1967, the UN had positioned its forces on the border between Egypt and Israel. These troops were to act as a buffer between the two warring nations. However, in May of that year, President Nasser of Egypt demanded that they get out of his way. He wanted to attack Israel. The UN quickly complied and weeks later both sides were engaged in a shooting war.

Great job, UN! Great job!

So my message to the United Nations is stop pretending that you are an unbiased organization seeking world peace. Stop using up good real estate that Donald Trump can develop. Stop taking up and abusing valuable parking spaces in New York City. Stop Wasting US tax dollars that are paid to you as dues.

If I want to see good drama, Broadway is only a few blocks down the street.

…the Bleacherman has left the arena…