Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Reminiscent



Don't give MSNBC the credit, other than to allow host Joe Scarborough to bring on as he regularly does, this sober, moderate National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Jonathan Greenblatt explains

I see these videos. I see these images of mass protestors breaking into buildings, barricading furniture, and loo, I'm reminded of January 6. That's what this looks like to me. I mean, we talk at ADL about right-wing extremists, about masked Proud Boys showing up at school board meetings, about Oath Keepers wearing masks. I look at this and this is what I see.


 


At the tent encampments and the demonstrations, most protestors are not wearing masks. However, some are, in contrast to the pro-Israel counter-protests, in which nary a mask can be found. With spring- and in some cases, summer- weather bursting out across the USA, masks have not appeared because of cold weather or the threat of Covid-19 outdoors.

In the protests which are not peaceful, much of the pro-Hamas crowd is donning masks. The individuals are not children and realize they are breaking the law, endangering the peace of the university community, and actively supporting a deadly terrorist group. Then, keeping one's identity is wise, as many of the protestors (being an insurrectionist does not preclude protesting) did on January 6, 2021.


 


Greenblatt continues

And let's be clear about one thing. The students who are doing this, the groups that are behind it, SJP, Palestine Movement, their response to the President's speech last night was Columba will burn. I mean, these students, we shouldn't treat them like children when they're hardened activists. 

It appears Greenblatt was referring to the Palestine Solidary Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine. (Such radicals once advocated a Palestinian state, a reasonable demand. Now we are to believe there already is a Palestine. Militant bigotry can blind one to his own contradictions.) And in darkness, a few hours after the 2:00 p.m. deadline set by the Harvard president for disbanding the camps had passed, demonstrators in Hamilton Hall (according to one pro-Israel student)

zip-tied the door handles together and then broke the windows, bashed the windows with hammers and put these metal bike locks around the door handles. They put the bike lock on the first set of doors is what I saw and then they were bringing tables, the heavy black metal tables from the eating area that's right in front of Hamilton Hall, and had a group of people push them up against the door handles as a barricade and then people were also bringing furniture from Hamilton Hall to barricade inside.

All in the name of peace.. Some protesting students do want a cease fire to bring about a blessed state of peace and love. However, the leaders of the the protests, and the groups they represent, yearn for destruction at home and death to Israel. 

An investigation of their funding should be undertaken by the Justice Department because of the  the danger continued chaos poses to higher education and the obvious parallel in tactics to the 1/6/21 uprising.  Violent rebellion must be confronted and resisted by law enforcement and the courts.



Sunday, April 28, 2024

Also Criminal, But That's Another Issue


Cenk Uygur claims that Bill Maher is wrong that "no one likes protesters for Palestinians," except among Maher's "super-rich, warmongering crowd." However, if Uygur wants to find elitists, he need only find a mirror.
 

Bad news, Cenk! We "elitist" Americans (actually, YouTube) have the tape (actually, video) in which Maher stated 

Someone needs to tell the people who block traffic in the name of a cause- no one likes you.... In case you haven't seen what's going on lately, activists for ending the war in Gaza have taken to gathering on roads and bridges and stopping commuters from crossing. It happened last week in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle. They also blocked traffic here on the 405- but no one noticed.

What they did notice is this- that you have to be pretty dumb to think that the way to bring people around to your point of view is to make them want to pick up their kids from day care. And that's what most normies are thinking. I have a kid. I have a job. And yes, thee are some injustices on both sides in the Middle East just as there are injustices all over the world but I'm going to be late for work, some thing you protestors on the bridge seem to have the luxury of not having to worry about, which seems kind of privilege-y. You can glue your hands to the street because your hands don't have to do any work today.



Citing being late for work or having to pick up children at day care, Maher could have added "must get a family member to the airport, to the doctor's office or a job interview on time, or to the hospital for a life-threatening condition." 

But he made his point, though to Uygur, it's only elitists who need to get to day care. And only the super-rich, he appears to believe, need to get to work on time. 

Perhaps Uygur, as his own boss, isn't aware of the importance to some employees to arrive at a job at the time required. More likely, his hatred of Israel is blinding him to this sort of reality.  Another reality: when the general election campaign actually begins, there will be seemingly endless video of young people closing down bridges and voters won't associate the criminal behavior with Bill Maher or even the war in Gaza. 

It will be linked (unfairly) to Democrats, Joe Biden and others, and possibly to crime in the inner cities. Dramatized for maximum effect, it will be directed to those "super-rich, elitist, warmongers" who are displeased that their routine or emergency trips, and their very lives, are deemed irrelevant by the protestors who block traffic. The latter will be seen as they are: arrogant, privilege-y, and impressed by their own virtue.

  

Friday, April 26, 2024

Feelings on Campus



In "The Campus-Left Occupation that Broke Higher Education," George Packer of The Atlantic concludes

Elite universities are caught in a trap of their own making, one that has been a long time coming. They’ve trained pro-Palestinian students to believe that, on the oppressor-oppressed axis, Jews are white and therefore dominant, not “marginalized,” while Israel is a settler-colonialist state and therefore illegitimate. They’ve trained pro-Israel students to believe that unwelcome and even offensive speech makes them so unsafe that they should stay away from campus. What the universities haven’t done is train their students to talk with one another.

Well, of course not. They have failed to train their students to do so because of the current emphasis not on what is actually said or done but upon the impact of statements or actions. Packer explains

The muscle of independent thinking and open debate, the ability to earn authority that Daniel Bell described as essential to a university’s survival, has long since atrophied. So when, after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Jewish students found themselves subjected to the kind of hostile atmosphere that, if directed at any other minority group, would have brought down high-level rebukes, online cancellations, and maybe administrative punishments, they fell back on the obvious defense available under the new orthodoxy. They said that they felt “unsafe.” They accused pro-Palestinian students of anti-Semitism—sometimes fairly, sometimes not. They asked for protections that other groups already enjoyed. Who could blame them? They were doing what their leaders and teachers had instructed them was the right, the only, way to respond to a hurt.

Right-wingers could gloat that colleges, especially of the elite nature, what Reverend Jeremiah Wright (also Frederick Douglass and the Apostle Paul) have said in a different context: Whatsoever you sow, that you also shall reap. However, most of them, ironically pro-Israel (rhetorically pro-Jewish), ,have embraced the same reasoning. One of the most prominent:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott urges swift punishment after police arrested more than 20 people while dispersing an anti-Israel protest that pro-Palestinian demonstrators held at University of Texas in Austin.

“These protesters belong in jail,” Abbott writes on social media.

“Students joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.”



The statement from the President of the University of Texas was excellent. At least as quoted, the governor of Texas did not urge swift punishment of individuals because they broke any laws or disrupted operations of the university or of its students. He condemned them for "joining in hate-filled, antisemitic protests."

It appears that Abbott's ire was invoked not because student protestors misbehaved or committed criminal offenses but because their words were hateful and bigoted. The greatest crime is not to be wrong or illegal but to be insensitive. This has been the guiding principle of much of the woke left for several years but gained energy during the black lives matter protests in the summer of 2020. A report from that time noted

A statue of Confederate soldier John B. Castleman was removed from the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood in Louisville on June 8. According to a report by the Courier-Journal, the city plans to move the statue to Cave Hill Cemetery, where Castleman is buried.

The University of Kentucky in Lexington said on June 5 that a mural, which has previously been a source of controversy on campus, will be removed. Students have protested racist images of black people and Native Americans in the mural.

The mural may have been bigoted and/or may have painted a false image of blacks and tribal peoples. Yet, that apparently was not the basis of the decision. Instead

In an email to students, the university’s president, Eli Capilouto, recalled “a conversation with one student about the mural who stopped me cold with the observation that every time he walked into a class in Memorial Hall, he was forced to reckon with the fact that his forebears were enslaved.”

The university president did not want to hurt the student's feelings, did not want him to take offense. He believed that the problem was not the mural itself. It was in the response, justified or not, to the art. 

Universities have been particularly partial to these priorities and so have been prone to punish speech more readily than behavior. And now the right, as represented by the governor of Texas, denounces protesters not for their actions but because some of their language is anti-Semitic and hateful. It makes individuals feel unsafe, apart from being unsafe, and is disagreeable and discomforting, perhaps even  painful. That should not be the primary issue but, for institutions of higher learning, what goes around, sadly comes around.

 


Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Double Standard




Before NYU business professor Scott Galloway made his cogent points, Joe Scarborough himself spoke sense, remarking

One of my pet peeves- one of your pet peeves- seems to be that, you know, 2,000,000 people have been killed in the Sudan civil war. I haven't seen a protest at NYU for that. Assad killed 500 Arabs. I didn't see colleges burned down. Five hundred thousand Arabs killed by Assad. Sadaam Hussein killed over a million Muslims in wars- gassed them. I didn't see protests there.

Two million killed in the civil war in Sudan is an exaggeration. However, according to The Guardian in February, "tens of thousands" have been killed in the civil war begun in 2023." A report the same month by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted there "multiple indiscriminate attacks by both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in densely populated areas... between April and December 2023" and there had been "more than eight million" people displaced by the conflict. (No doubt the number has since increased.) Even as of mid January, an estimated 500,000 people had fled Sudan into eastern Chad.

The slaughter of Sudanese should bring to mind the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted the "terrorists perpetrated hundreds of individual, purposeful acts of barbarism- executing babies, murdering parents protecting children, raping women as corpses of their friends lay beside them."

While Israel, in response to that devastating attack, is recklessly accused by its critics of committing "genocide," actual genocide is transpiring in Sudan,  Attacks often have appeared to be indiscriminate." In one atrocity last year, "six Arab paramilitary commanders and militia leaders" are believed to have "directed their forces to shell densely populated displaced-persons camps and districts in the city with "rockets and mortars," much of it "directed at the ethnic African Masalit tribe," then the majority of the city of El Geneima. 

Scarborough continued

Yet, your school is shut down now because Israel is responsing to the worst attack against Jews worldwide since the Holocaust. Help us sort through that. Again, I don't know algebra but I'm pretty good at the common denominators here and why there's no common denominators in all of them, just that it's Jews defending their homeland because if you look at the numbers, they don't add up.

They don't add up in part because of the enormity of the attack of October 7, in which Hamas "killed more than 1300 Israelis and third-country nationals, including at least 29 Americans, in a country whose population is less than 10 million. In America, that would be equivalent to killing nearly 40,000- 13 times more than the number of Al Qaeda victims on 9/11." Recognizing the importance of context:





As author Dara Horn explained three years ago in "People Love Dead Jews"

the last few generations of American non-Jews had been chagrined by the enormity of the Holocaust- which had been perpetuated by America's enemy, and which was gross enough to make antisemitism socially unacceptable, even shameful. Now that people who remembered the shock of those events were dying off, the public shame associated with expressing antisemitism was dying, too. In other words, hating Jews was normal.

It is not only American non-Jews who were shocked by the Holocaust who are dying off. It is also American Jews who were shocked (and beyond) by the Holocaust who no longer are alive. The mixture of young, ignorant American non-Jews with the naivete of young Jews, who have grown up in the safety and security of American society, is proving very toxic.

 
              

Monday, April 22, 2024

No Self-Awareness


Oh, for those simpler times. On June 25, 2020, as Blacks Lives Matter/black lives matter protests raged, United States Representative Ayanna Presley eloquently, if misleadingly, asserted

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of every black family that has been robbed of a child. On behalf of every family member that has been forced to see their loved one lynched on national television. Driving while black, jogging while black, sleeping while black. We have been criminalized for the very way we show up in the world. Under the harsh gaze of too many black bodies seen as a threat- always considered armed...

Black lives matter is a rallying cry for the people. It's time. Pay us what you owe. Our black skin is not a crime.


          


Listening to Representative Pressley, you could be forgiven to fear that if you stepped outside your home at a random time, you would see police systematically murdering black people ("lynched... driving while black, jogging while black, sleeping while black.")  Of those left alive, they were arrested- criminalized- merely for being black, "the very way we show up in the world." 

Fast forward less than four years and, well, it seems the Black Lives Movement, which pushed for less policing and less  has at best failed miserably, at worst, backfired.

The organization and the movement it spawned pushed for less policing and less incarceration. It is now almost four years since the whole of American society was encouraged to reimagine criminal justice enforcement because of the horrific, televised murder by one police officer of one black offender in one major midwestern city. And now we have this:
 

Nearly four years in from the demands the attack on the "carceral state" and demonization of law enforcement, Representative Pressley again appeared on the House floor and remarked

Mr. Speaker, Walgreens is planning to close yet another pharmacy in the Massachusetts 7th, this time on Warren Street in Roxbury, a community that is 85% black and Latino. This closure is part of abandonment of low income communities by previous closures in Mattapan and Hyde Park, both in the Massachusetts 7th. 

When a Walgreens leaves a neighborhood, they disrupt an active community and they take with them baby formula, diapers, asthma inhalers, life-saving medications and of course, jobs. These closures are not arbitrary and they are not innocent. They are life-threatening acts of racial and economic discrimination.


 


They are acts taken reluctantly because the stores no longer generate a reasonable profit, perhaps any profit, in their location(s). The company is in business to make a profit and if they could do so, even by increasing security or other significant changes, they would remain.

Medicaid reimbursement for prescription medicine, critical in low-income areas, is lower than for many private prescription plans. Nonetheless, with Walmart and Target, as well as Walgreens, citing losses from theft in decisions to close stores in urban (generally low-income, majority-minority) neighborhoods, it is blaringly obvious that shoplifting has materially harmed poor people.

Difficulty staffing police departments, prompted by the black lives movement and exacerbated by the pandemic, has played a role, as have lax prosecutors and lenient judges. Yet, Pressley and fellow radicals will not acknowledge what through most of the country has become increasingly obvious: the movement they championed in the months following the murder of George Floyd has unleashed ugly consequences. 

These include a backlash among voters who, against evidence, believe that violent crime has burst out like spring. And it includes also a rise in theft which plagues communities that can least afford it, which particularly need the baby products and prescription medication Pressley cites. If she acknowledges the error of her rhetoric of 2020-2021, she should be welcomed back as if the prodigal son. Ideology, however, is more likely to remain a stumbling block.




Saturday, April 20, 2024

One of Our Own, Or So He Says



So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented

I got to tell you something. As much as people may have been appalled by Donald Trump's statement weeks ago, talked about black folks, he's hearing about how black folks find him relatable because of what he's going though is similar to what black Americans have gone through, he wasn't lying. 

He was telling the truth. When you see the law, law enforcement, court system, and everything else being exercised against him, that's something that black folks throughout this nation can relate to with some of our historic, iconic figures. We've seen that happen throughout society. So no matter what race, what ethnicity you may emanate from, we relate to you when you're suffering like that because we know we have. That's what he articulated. 

First, let's get something out of the way.  The "we" (in "we've") is doing a lot of work here. Smith appears not to have grown up in poverty and attended college at Winston-Salem State University, to which he received a basketball scholarship. He wrote for the school's newspaper, earned a degree in mass communications, and became a well-respected print journalist thereafter.

Smith thereafter became a well-respected print journalist and is now an extraordinarily successful media personality. He is paid approximately $12 million annually by ESPN. Good for him! With both of his parents hailing from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, he is not generational African American, unlike the "our historic, iconic figures" to which he apparently is referring.

So Smith is not from a line of persons descended from individuals brought to the American shore by Europeans and subjected to slavery. Nor has he ever been arrested. Good for him- but "we" is doing a lot of work here.

Smith contends that "black folks find (Donald Trump) relatable" because "what he's going through is similar to what black Americans have gone through."

In the space of thirteen months, Donald Trump has been indicted four times, with all charges pending, comprising 88 counts of alleged lawbreaking. Stephen A. Smith runs with an  unusual crowd if he believes the typical black American has faced four indictments. That is not the situation in any part of the country.

Nor, evidently in contrast to Smith's view, are the charges lodged against Trump similar in any way to those innocent or guilty blacks face.  He has been indicted for allegedly violating Georgia's anti-racketeering law by urging a Republican secretary of state to "find" him enough votes to overcome an electoral deficit. 

He has been indicted in Washington, DC for mishandling top secret- including nuclear- documents- at his Florida estate, valued at $18 million to $37 million; for falsifying business records, allegedly because he wanted to hide an extra-marital affair with a pornographic movie actress because he was running for President.; and for trying to overturn overturn an election by defrauding the federal government and conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding ("January 6").

This doesn't sound similar to most blacks I know; Stephen A. Smith's experience may be different. However, the extremely wealthy Smith is pushing Trump propaganda not merely because they both are part of the fortunate .1%. Not all of the super-rich agree with Smith- so take it away, Charles!

 



On an episode of (the now-cancelled) King Charles, ex-NBA superstar and current TNT star Charles Barkley remarked "if I see a black person walking around with a Trump mugshot, I'm going to punch him in the face." After the inevitable controversy, King the following week persuaded Barkley to explain that he wasn't really going to roam the streets looking for blacks to punch out. Nevertheless, he explained

for him (Trump) to compare a white billionaire of stuff he did not because of stuff- like black people in trouble for stuff they did not deserve to do. But for him to compare that to black peoples' plight, that's just stupid on their part....

If you're wearing a Trump mugshot around, you're a freaking idiot.... But if you got a Trump mugshot and Trump sneakers on, you cross over a line that you cannot get back.... My message is very clear. If you think Donald Trump is under the same umbrella as black people, you're just stupid.

The following day on his own program on Sirius XM, Smith added "It seems to me that they're ("the Democrats") trying to use the law and the courts. They've clearly politicized this thing with Donald Trump and the courts because can't come up with a strategy to offset the momentum he's clearly gained."

Against the wishes of most Democrats, Attorney General Garland- obviously a reluctant Prosecutor- waited and waited before moving on evidence of Trump's criminality, eventually settling on a Special  Prosecutor. Moreover, recent polls show Biden gaining on Trump rather than vice-a-versa. It is not being "politicized," but rather being handled by an independent judiciary. If Smith had specific evidence indicating otherwise, he'd spit it out. But, no.

If you had told me 24 months ago that a well-educated, well-dressed professional journalist such as Stephen A. Smith would be carrying water for Donald J. Trump while the former "Round Mound of Rebound" would be a sensible straight-shooter, I wouldn't have believed it. We live in strange times.



 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Overwrought Reaction


Take the "L" and just move on.

 162 Democrats joining Republicans to attack free speech and condemn a phrase that advocates one thing—freedom—is what voters mean when they say Democrats aren't working for us.
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After twenty-nine invocations of "whereas,"  the House of Representatives resolved that

the slogan, "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," is outrightl (sic) Anti-Semitic and must be strongly condemned; this slogan is divisive and does a disservice to Israelis, Palestinians, and all those in the region who see peace; this slogan rejects calls for peace, stability, and safety in the region; this slogan perpetuates hatred against the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and anyone who calls for the eradication of Israel and the Jewish people are Anti-Semitic and must always be condemned.

The phrase is "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" is not a call for a pluralistic society. The Palestine national movement aims for a Palestinian state, not for intermingling of races, nationalities, or for individuals of varied religious faith. It is a fairly explicit call for the land of Palestine to be strictly for those supporters consider Palestinian, for a land which is judenfrei. It is clearly anti-Jewish or, in the words of the House of Representatives, anti-Semitic.


 


Words have meaning. In asserting that the phrase "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" must always be condemned, the House is not demanding that any individual must be stopped from using the slogan nor punished for doing so. It is not an abridgement of "free speech." The resolution is inconsistent with the cause of free expression but the First Amendment is silent on the issue of "free expression," mandating only free speech. If freedom of expression were constitutionally protected, a lot of public colleges and universities would be in more hot water than they are.

Fortunately, the use of the noxious- albeit clever and rhythmic- phrase cannot be prohibited or penalized with this resolution. The legislative action is non-binding. It is tantamount to an expression of support for Israel as a Jewish state against those who would like to see it eradicated. .There are bigger fish to fry for the radical left, including attacks on colleges and universities in the name of combatting anti-Semitism.

Merely symbolic and virtually meaningless, it is at worse, it is virtue-signaling; at best, it is virtue-signaling. Yet, Justice Democrats choose to blow smoke up the rear end of the public and claim the phrase merely calls for "freedom" which, ironically is in greater abundance for Palestinian residents of dreaded Israel than for Palestinians virtually anywhere else in the Middle East. The organization should have given the House resolution only the attention- none- it deserves, suck it up, and reserve their dishonesty and hatred for something substantial.



Monday, April 15, 2024

The Simpson Verdict Was a Manifestation of Inequity



On Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher, the conversation eventually was steered (abruptly) to the death of Orenthal J. Simpson. The host made a few remarks, a couple of them dangerously misleading, reflecting conventional wisdom..

Bill Maher remarks (at 41:30 of the video, if it were still available) 

I think what it was, I think black folks knew very well that he did it and I don't blame them one bit for cheering him on. I mean, when you're on the wrong end of the justice system- first of all, as they have been, when they finally got one, even though he was not exactly the best recipient of that.

For what it's worth, poll(s) at the time indicated that most blacks believed Simpson was innocent. Through the years, more blacks (as most whites) came to realize that the Hall of Famer was guilty as charged. More whites did so, also, though both at the time of the trial and years later, more whites than blacks believed Simpson committed the two murders.

The unchallenged belief that blacks "got one" is inaccurate. And Maher was correct that Simpson was not "the best recipient" of the mercy extended, not only because he was guilty but also because he strove to represent himself as not black. "I'm not black, I'm O.J." he would famously assert.

Maher continued

I mean, of course, when we saw that split screen of white people going (mock horror expressed) "oh, my God, oh my God, justice has not been done" and black people screaming in joy- totally understandable. You can't have two completely different histories in American and then expect people to have same reaction to that.

Understandable, yes, the way it's understandable that (some) individuals devoted to Donald Trump believe that the insurrection/riot of 1/6/21 was an inside job, a set-up by the FBI to entrap patriotic Americans so they could be tossed into jail.  By all indications, the protesters acted on their own, resisted by law enforcement officers who were overwhelmed by the numbers and anger of the crowd.

Similarly, the evidence against Simpson was so overwhelming that rational dissenters could have realized they were exposing themselves as ignorant by expressing their joyful exuberance at the verdict. Instead, this should go down (but won't) as the beginning of the "all exuberant emotion is good, especially if it will be filmed" movement in society.

Conceding that the defendant was in fact culpable, Maher added "It was a miscarriage of justice but for white people to be that upset about the one time, the one time a black guy gets off, I thought that was the gross part about it."  Asked by guest panelist Gillian Tett whether "it's different now," Maher said

it is different now. Everything is different now. There's a whole complete different generation that never experienced the kind of racism that the people alive in 1994 who were born in whatever, 1964, 1954, anything like that, they did experience. So would there still be a lot of that reaction? Of course, for understandable reasons.

A moment later, he clarified 

It was payback and on a very larger scale, that's happening in America and will happen for decades to come because the legacy of our despicable racial past doesn't go away in a generation. It takes a very long time. Even people today, younger people, maybe they didn't have anything terrible to happen to them but they're like "yeah, but I know what you did to my grandfather and that was some s_ _ _ and I love him so I'm mad for him. That's not going to go away in my lifetime or yours.

The "understandable reason(s)" that there still would be "a lot of" blacks who now would celebrate a similar outcome in a similar case is perception, not reality. The perception- in the media and among the power elite- seems to be that the common "miscarriage of justice" in the USA is predominantly racial in nature. Maher cites the "two different histories in America" as explaining the discrepancy in reaction of whites and reaction of blacks to the not guilty verdict.

The two different histories extend to treatment by the criminal justice system (and policing, which came into play in the trial, courtesy of the infamous Mark Furman). It was "the one time a black guy gets (got off" because black guys, even less than white guys, have enough money to get off.  The discrepancy in history was not, ultimately, the reason Mr. Simpson was not convicted.

The defendant's "dream team" of attorneys included eleven lawyers, four of them prominent- F. Lee Bailey, Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, and Alan Dershowitz. No one- even a white, Christian, land-owning male- is able to hire so much talent without being very, very wealthy. A typical defendant cannot afford to hire even one private attorney and if he is able, she probably is someone not at the top of the legal heap. Although no one who would know for sure is talking, estimates are that Mr. Simpson's defense cost approximately five million dollars.

That is the numeral "5" followed by 7 digits. Without deep pockets- earned by being a phenomenal professional football player, effective celebrity pitchman, and mediocre actor- Simpson would not have been able to sniff an effective defense. And he did so while being black because- in the world of criminal justice as in most of society- black or white is far less important than green.

Thus, it's not only Bill Maher who is mistaken. A professor of Afro-American Studies was quoted by The Washington Post soon after Simpson's death maintaining that racial divisions persist "because we haven't repaired the social fabric in a way that we like to pretend we have because we fall back on race and racism at the drop of a hat or a drop of the glove in this case."

Nonetheless, that's not the only reason racial divisions persist. We also fall back on race and racism because we fail to acknowledge the impact of other, more important factors in some matters.  The jury, including eight blacks and only one white,  did (as Maher noted) believe that the acquittal of OJS constituted a rare victory for a black man in a system beset by racial prejudice. However, the verdict was less an aberration or correction than it was reinforcement of the most significant feature of the criminal justice system;  not white makes right, but money can buy most defendants out of most of the trouble they face. 

The vast majority of whites, and an even greater percentage of blacks, are not wealthy enough to put on an effective defense. And so while we can join Bill Maher in debating whether racism will prevent blacks from getting a fair shake in the future, most will not because they lack the financial resources to put on a fight. Marc Watts, who covered the trial for CNN and is now with the African American Leadership Forum, has stated "many African Americans believed that O.J. Simpson was the revenge verdict. It was the one black people had won in response to some of the ones black people had lost."

No, sorry; black people, few of them in the same universe as Simpson financially, lost rather than the almost universal view that they won one. The video (from seven years ago) below, portrays the trial, as has been typical, as being about race. There is a lesson, as Bill Maher might put it (if he understood), of "happening in America and will happen for decades to come." However, the lesson is less about the importance of race than of the importance of class. 



     





Saturday, April 13, 2024

Shedding Tears Over the Death of Orenthal James Simpson



Orenthal James Simpson has died, and he leaves behind an impressive, in a manner of speaking, record of misbehavior.

In 1964, Simpson as a juvenile had his first run-in with the law. In 1989, he was arrested after wife Nicole Brown Simpson, who went to the hospital with severe bruising and cuts, told the police "he's going to kill me, he's going to kill me." Orenthal pled guilty to spousal abuse and was fined and placed on probation.

The year after Orenthal and his wife divorced in 1992, Mr. Simpson broke into the rental home occupied by Nicole and the (ex-) couple's two children. Nicole called the police and reported "he always comes back."

In June of 1994 Mr. Simpson stabbed to death Mrs. Simpson and an acquaintance, Ron Goldman, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Orenthal immediately fled to Chicago, then promptly returned to Los Angeles, dumping somewhere along the line the knife he used. Simpson failed to appear after the L.A. Police Department, through the suspect's attorney, offered Orenthal a chance to surrender. Simpson was arrested after the famous "white Ford Bronco" chase.

Simpson in October, 1995 was acquitted, as is almost universally believed, because a majority of the jury was black. However, in February of 1997 a civil court jury found him liable for the murder of Goldman and responsible for beating Nicole on the night of the murders.

Over the next dozen years, Simpson is accused of a burglary and theft at a girlfriend's house, with no charges filed; acquitted of a felony; had his home searched by federal law enforcement in response to a drug-smuggling scheme; lost a civil suit filed by DirecTV over signal stealing' and arrested after he broke into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal memorabilia which he later claimed was his own  property. For that he was ound guilty of weapons, robbery and kidnapping, sentenced to thirty-three years in prison and granted parole in 2017.

So what in the Almighty was this all about?


 


So I'll say this.  Our thoughts are with his families during this difficult time, obviously with his families and loved ones. And I'll say this- I know they have asked for some privacy and we're going to respect that. I'll just leave it there.

There is little doubt that the abomination known as Jean-Pierre wanted to "leave it" at sympathy for the Simpson family, which had issued a tweet which included "his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."  By contrast, the father and the sister of Ron Goldman, in neither their statement to NBC News nor a subsequent statement sent to reporters, asked the public for privacy or anything else.

(As any believing Christian will tell you, "grace" is "unmerited favor." Why the Simpson family would suggest that the favor of privacy is unmerited is curious.)

This incident bears a similarity to the occurrence in 2024 of International Day of Transgender Awareness on the same day as Easter Sunday. The President could have merely signed a standard proclamation recognizing transgender day, but he went much further. He attacked "extremists" for "proposing hundreds of hateful laws that target and terrify transgender kids and their families" while decrying "the bullying and discrimination that transgender Americans face." Biden blamed these unnamed individuals for "worsening our Nation's mental health crisis," described the Administration's efforts on behalf of the transgender community, and pledged "my entire Administration and I have your back."

All on Easter Sunday, which the President later realized he had to acknowledge, thus issuing an anodyne statement of recognition. 

As of this writing, the Administration still has not noted the murders of two innocent people, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Those murderers were, beyond of a shadow of doubt, committed by Orenthal James Simpson. As longtime sportscaster Bob Costas, a friend of Simpson until the latter slashed two people to death, put it

If I could give him the benefit of any doubt, I would. And I'm sorry I have to say this on the day that he passed away, but someone asked me once "do you think O.J. did it"? I said "yes." They said "why"? I said "because I live on this planet."

Joe Biden and Karine-Jean Pierre live on this planet, as do the Republicans, who criticize the President for a weak economy which is very strong, declining oil production which has risen to record levels, and  the rising crime in cities which is not occurring. Of course, expressing sensitivity for the death of a convicted felon rather than to the families of two individuals he earlier murdered is not in their wheelhouse.

But that doesn't absolve the President of responsibility for considering Transgender Visibility Day more important than Easter, nor for being more concerned about the death from chronic disease of an elderly criminal than for his victims.  Something is askew in the values at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and at some point someone will notice. 



Thursday, April 11, 2024

Blind Obedience


Some day, somewhere a reporter or news host will ask Representative Mike Lawler of New York why he is so fond of Benjamin Netanyahu.


In his speech in the House chamber on March 14, Majority Leader Schumer

-called on "the Israelis, the Biden Administration, the Qataris, the Egyptians, and anybody else at the (negotiating) table" to "continue doing everything possible to get to a deal" which would include freeing every hostage;

-encouraged the USA to "provide robust humanitarian aid to Gaza and pressure the Israelis to let more of it get through to the people who need it;"

-urged the Israeli government to "prioritize the protection of civilian casualties when identifying military targets;"

-noted "Hamas has heartlessly hidden behind their fellow Palestinians by turning hospitals into command centers and refugee camps into missile-launching sites" whose "soldiers use innocent Gazans as human shields"- and berated "most media outlets covering this war and many protesters opposing it" for placing "the blame for civilian casualties entirely on Israel;"

-recommended "a negotiated two-state solution- a demilitarized Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in equal measures of peace, security, prosperity ,dignity and mutual recognition;"

-criticized as "a fatal impediment to progress" those Palestinians who "don't acknowledge how their insistence on an unequivocal 'right of return' is a fatal impediment to progress;"

-lamented that "many people, especially on the left, seem to acknowledge and even celebrate this right to statehood for every group but the Jews;"

- recognized that "Israel moving closer to a single state entirely under its control would further rupture its relationship with the rest of the world, including the United States;"

-noted that the "four major obstacles to peace" are "Hamas and the Palestinians who support and tolerate their evil ways; radical right-wing Israelis in government and society; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu;

-urged "all sides" to "reject from the river to the sea thinking;"

-suggested "there is enough strength in the Arab world to get President Abbas to step down and to support a gradual succession plan for responsible Palestinian leaders to take his place;"

-advocated "normalization with Israel" by "Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations" as "the foundation of a grand bargain in the Middle East that will finally make meaningful Palestinian statehood a reality;"

-proposed that the USA "demand that Israel conduct itself with a future two-state solution in mind;"

-asserted that "holding a new election once the war starts to wind down would give Israelis an opportunity to express their vision for the post-war future"- but that the USA should not try "to dictate the outcome."

It's a long list- but that's the point. All you hear from Republicans such as Lawler is that Chuck Schumer wants the Israelis to interfere with the affairs of another nation and remove Benjamin Netanyahu. To some, recommending that Israel have another election- after the war starts to wind down- is to overthrow a legitimate leader and 1/6/21 was a mere riot. And what you hear from the media when Republicans simply and trivialize this speech in this manner is.... nothing. No correction or even a follow-up question.

The speech of Majority Leader Schumer was not anti-Israel, as Mike Lawler and some other Republicans have portrayed it.  The government of Benjamin Netanyahu facilitated the funding of Hamas by Qatari for several years. it obtained more than a year before 10/7/23 what The New York Times terms a "blueprint" which was followed "with shocking precision."  Last July, Israel's signal intelligence agency "warned that Hamas had conducted an intense, daylong training exercise that appeared similar to what was outlined in the blueprint."

That warning was rejected by the military as Qatar continued to prop up the government in Gaza. However, Netanyahu was obsessed with hatred of the Palestinian Authority and the possibility of creation of a Palestinian state.

It's not clear that the likes of Lawler and Donald Trump are particularly fond of Israel. But Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted for fraud, breach of trust, and accepting bribes in three separate instances. And he has been trying to limit the power and oversight of the judiciary in order to centralize power in the office of Prime Minister. And he laid the groundwork for the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history.  

The Senate Majority Leader had the temerity to suggest that the Israeli voters have a chance- sometime in the near future- to render their judgement on their Prime Minister. However, many Republicans are fiercely loyal to Netanyahu, who undoubtedly reminds them of their own party's beloved leader.  That may not fully explain the fondness toward the Israeli Prime Minister but it certainly seems to be a worthy point of inquiry.

-

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

No Joke


Following the the weekend fundraiser for Donald Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, New York Jets owner and multi-billionaire Woody Johnson honed his skills at stand-up. Appearing on Jesse Waters' Fox News show, Johnson remarked

It will be a safer, better pace. There will be less crime. He's extremely compassionate. People don't know that. He's extremely funny. I think people are starting to appreciate his sense of humor. And, uh, he just impressed all of us once again. I think that the overwhelming thought was, yea,  this is just the beginning for us. Everybody in that room was ready to step up hard.

And they allegedly did step up hard, to a reported tune of over fifty million dollars donated by a group justifiably confident that a President Trump would cut its taxes substantially.

A President has virtually nothing to do with crime, though if Trump unleashes local and state police as he promises, crime may drop a little in the short run and increase considerably in the long run, as a view of police as the enemy of the neighborhood is reinforced.

Johnson may not have recognized the irony of his his claim that the 45th President is "extremely compassionate." Evidently oozing compassion is the President who willfully separated children of immigrants from their parents; referred to deceased American veterans as "losers" and tortured prisoners of wars "suckers;" significantly curbed access to food stamps for hungry Americans; implemented policies which eliminated health insurance for hundreds of thousands of children; and told police "when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, just just seen them thrown in, rough. I said 'Please don't be too nice. When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just seen them thrown in, rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice." And who could forget this demonstration of compassion for handicapped individuals?




If Donald Trump were compassionate, he wouldn't now be the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, would not have become President, and would not even have been his party's nominee in 2016. The lack of compassion is his brand- he alone will figuratively bash in the heads of liberals and, as the 1/6/21 insurrection displayed, perhaps physically. I am your retribution.

Nonetheless, Woody Johnson's portrayal of Trump as compassionate crime-fighter, soft but tough, was not his most dangerous assertion. Worse, if voters are to buy the act, is his assessment of Trump as "extremely funny. I think people are starting to appreciate his sense of humor." Let us not forget one of the most telling of Trump's comments when in a rare burst of honesty on June 23, 2020 the President

insisted he was serious when he revealed that he had directed his administration to slow coronavirus testing in the United States, shattering the defenses of senior White House aides who argued Trump’s remarks were made in jest.

“I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear,” Trump told reporters, when pressed on whether his comments at a campaign event Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., were intended as a joke.

“We have got the greatest testing program anywhere in the world. We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world, and we have the most of them. By having more tests, we find more cases,” he continued.

Administration officials as high ranking as Vice President Mike Pence have scrambled in recent days to clean up Trump’s statements from his weekend rally, where he reprised his dubious logic regarding testing rates before an arena of supporters.

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people,” Trump said during the rally. “You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”

I don't kid. Die-hard Trump voters know that; it's one of the reasons they're not Haley or Pence or Tim Scott or Doug Burgum voters. They're confident he says what he will do and will do what he says. He's authentically loud, mean- and serious. 

When Donald Trump says he'll be a dictator on Day One. Steve Bannon asserts "this is just not rhetoric. We're absolutely dead serious." Kash Patel, undoubtedly on Trump's short list for Attorney General, states "yes, we're going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who rigged presidential elections.." And Trump himself has made clear his intention to weaponize federal law enforcement and prosecute political opponents, Joe Biden and others.

Take Donald Trump literally and seriously. He's not joking.



Subservient

The husband-wife (or, rather, wife-husband) duo of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and Martha-Ann Alito nee Bomgardner flew an upside do...