Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Movement Movement

It was a most moving moment. “Mothers of the Movement” lined up across the Democratic National Convention stage in Philadephia Tuesday night, sharing their grief. The Movement? identifies them as mothers “whose children's names helped energize the Movement for Black Lives and the Black Lives Matter network.” 

According to the site, both groups were spawned out of the outrage generated by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, charged with murder for the fatal shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Florida in 2012. In the true Democrat style of never letting a good crisis go to waste, the DNC paraded out these women as part of their build-up for the evening. It was heart-rending; it was tragic. And it was despicable.

No parent should have to bury a child; no mother should have to mourn a life needlessly taken by violence. But there they were--eight women sharing their personal agony before the nation:

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, who at 17 was shot to death “in self-defense” by George Zimmerman while transiting his neighborhood;

Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of 28-year old Sandra Bland, found hanging in her Waller County jail cell after a traffic stop that escalated out of control;

Lucy McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis, a 17-year old shot during an altercation about loud music in a convenience store parking lot;

Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who suffocated in a chokehold during a confrontation with police over selling untaxed cigarettes on the street;

Cleopatra Pendleton, the mother of Hadiya, a 15-year old victim of Chicago’s out of control gun violence and failed gun control policies in that city; 

Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre, shot 14-times by a Milwaukee policeman after the mentally-ill man grabbed the officer’s police baton and attacked the him during a pat-down in a park.

Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, the 18-year old shot to death in Ferguson, Mo. when he rushed a police officer sitting in his car, and tried to grab the officer’s gun. 

Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant, a 22-year old who was removed from a BART train for passengers' complaints of fighting, shot while struggling with police.

Only three of the women spoke on Tuesday night’s program. They were eloquent, passionate, and pitiable. Fulton spoke of “common sense gun legislation,” and “saving the children.” In case you don’t know, those first four words are code for doing away with the Second Amendment. McBath vowed to “keep telling our children's’ stories,” hopefully so that no others have to lose a child to urban violence.  Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland, gave a powerful address, speaking about her daughter's unlawful traffic stop in Waller.

That traffic stop went south when Bland got mouthy. Was her death--suicide by hanging in the Waller County Jail--tragic? Absolutely. Was it preventable? Undoubtedly. But how did Sandra Bland come to find herself in jail; just where did that traffic stop go wrong? When Bland copped an attitude with the officer.

I ache for the losses of these women but I must also question the circumstances that placed their children at odds with society that resulted in their tragic deaths.

What did these mothers teach their children about respect? Not just for parents, but for any adult or elder or person of authority?  At what point did these kids decide it was okay to defy a policeman or escalate an argument with a stranger in a parking lot? What ever happened to common, genteel decency between human beings?

Where are the fathers of these children? Why is there no Fathers of the Fallen Movement for men who’ve lost sons and daughters? Where were the fathers of these eight young Americans last night? I saw no audience-scans by the TV cameras for these women’s husbands in the audience.  Were they not a part of their children's upbringing? Not to sound like a civics quiz, but—if not, why not?

If the Democratic party wants to heal this nation and truly unite our peoples, then let it begin by enabling families to mend; let it begin by encouraging families to remain whole. Call me old-fashioned, but kids need to be raised by a father and a mother—there are two kinds of discipline at work in that dynamic, velvet and iron—and they both require equal parts in a child’s education on how to behave in polite society, or even in impolite society.

Why is the Democratic party more concerned about funding for abortions and a woman’s “freedom to choose” than in investing in the nuclear family? Instead of continuing the shameful bribery begun by Lyndon Johnson's welfare programs that rewarded unmarried women for having children out of wedlock, why are married couples penalized for staying together, IRS?

As the Party of Hope, the DNC has been full of disappointments this week. But parading the mothers around, whose motherhood was snatched from them prematurely, is a new, all-time low.

Oh, and that ‘hands-up, don’t shoot’ malarkey is a myth, based upon a lie.
Michael Brown never said it as he was lunging for the Ferguson PD’s pistol.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Week That Was July 18, 2016


“That Was the Week That Was” was a BBC television show presented by David Frost in the 1960’s which parodied the news. In true British form, it was the kind of thing you’d like, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

The TV show created its own Brexit, of sorts, as ABC ran the Americanized version from 1963-64. I wonder what David Frost and friends would make of this week that was, July 2016.

We’ve just concluded the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that culminated in the crowning of a thrice-married businessman as that party’s nominee for the presidency of the United States in his first-ever political race. Surrounded by a cast of family members, each of whom in their own right could make a fair pitch for any public office in the land, Donald J. Trump has managed to fracture and forge alliances with factions in and out of the party. It’s going to be an interesting ride to November.

The Democrats’ national convention convenes next Tuesday in Philadelphia. Former first-lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton is expected to be anointed that party’s choice to run against Donald Trump. 

In contrast to the RNC, where the families of victims of terrorism, foreign and domestic, addressed the convention, the Democrats are proposing to allow the family members of police shooting victims to speak at their convention, including  Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown—the Ferguson, Mo. man who was shot by police when he lunged through the window of a patrol car for an officer’s gun. The “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” farce is based upon a false narrative of that encounter.

One final contrast between the tales of two conventions: For Thursday night's introduction of her father, Ivanka Trump looked stunning in a $138 dress from her own design line, available on the rack at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s…as opposed to the outfit worn by Hillary Clinton in April for her “every woman” speech at the New York primary win—reportedly a Georgio Armani jacket with a MSRP of $12,485.

The week saw the 5th Circuit Court strike down Texas’ Voter ID law, and a judge imposed a short deadline to fix it—solutions must be in place by the November general election. I will tell you that when the ruling came down, our own state senator, Paul Bettencourt was immediately on the phone barking orders to shore up the damage, and press ahead with corrections.
My solution: Purple Ink on index fingers…or a simple thumbprint.
This can’t be that hard.

The week ends with tragedy in Germany, as reports of multiple shooters at a Munich shopping mall targeted children, and were heard to shout, “Allah Akbar,” as they fired pistols into crowds in the mall and on the streets outside.  Wonder who's behind that?? At this hour, no one has been arrested, and the city is on lockdown.

The World is at War.
The enemy is radical Islamic extremist terrorism.
That was the week that was.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

By Their Kids Ye Shall Know Them

Until last night I was ambivalent about Donald Trump.
Until last night I was still open to accepting Ted Cruz, warts and all.

Until last night I was hopeful that the rift in the Republican party between the Trumpsters and the Never-Trumper's could be mended.

Until last night.

Last night Ted Cruz revealed his true character. Last night Ted Cruz revealed his amazing intellect and disappointing shallowness of purpose. Last night Ted Cruz exposed his ugly dark side as a politician and was found lacking as a statesman. He may have spoken his conscience, and encouraged the rest of us to vote according to ours, but his words rang hollow as he proved he was willing to sacrifice the good of the country and the fabric of the party for his own personal pride and political ambition.

Last night the Republican party showed what's best about its leadership, and revealed a few fissures and cracks in its mantle. The irrefutable proof of the righteousness of the Republican cause is easy to display; managing to encircle all of its factions, and direct its energies in one direction continues to remain elusive. I remain optimistic in the abilities and talents of those who've been anointed by the party to lead; their records of achievement and success, humanity and humility, and ability to learn and continuously correct course in order to remain fixed on a True North bepeaks an underlying determination to see that this great American experiment in democracy "shall not perish from this earth." Thank you, Abraham Lincoln.

The Republican Party isn't perfect, doesn't have all the answers, and isn't the end-all be-all to what ails America. In some instances, the Republican Party remains part of what's wrong with America, with its obtuse positions and unwavering tunnel vision. But to its credit, the Republican Party has taken its calcium supplements in the past week, grown a spine, and even one or two cojones.

The Republican Party's nominees, Donald Trump and Mike Pence, are the only two men standing between a united states of America as we have known it, and the political, civil, and fiscal anarchy a Hillary Clinton presidency would surely bring raining down upon us.
In the words of Princess Leia, "help us, Obi-Don, you are our only hope."

Laura Ingraham
(Credit: Brent Clanton)
This week has seen a parade of personalities and politico's, large and small, tramp  across the stage for Trump in Cleveland. Standouts, as expected, have been Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell; former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Pat Smith, the mother of US Foreign Service Officer, Sean Smith, whose life was taken in Benghazi. Dr. Ben Carson also left his mark by equating Hillary Clinton to Lucifer. It was a memorable moment. Media maven Laura Ingraham's shout out to Clinton last night was also a highlight.

Eric, Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Donald Trump
But the highlights of the week have become the very personal, very inspiring messages from the offspring of The Donald. The intelligence, poise, articulation, and passion exhibited by Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and Tiffany Trump, to date, have been the best expressions of the Republican Nominee's ability to lead, inspire, and nurture a nation. I anticipate nothing less from Ivanka tonight, who I once suggested in jest might be a suitable VP running mate. She may prove that also to be true.

(I am not troubled by the similarities between Melania Trump's comments and those made by the current First Lady a few years back. Mrs. Trump speaks five languages, loves her adopted country, and expressed what many of us believe to be true about why America remains the greatest country in the world. She has assimilated nicely; Michelle Obama until only recently, for the first time in her adult lifetime, was "proud of my country.")

Minnesota Democrat David Bly once said, "your children will become what you are…so be what you want them to be." By the end of the week, the world will have seen four, living examples of the kind of leadership skills Donald Trump will bring to bear in addressing the needs of our nation. We already know the skillset his opposition is prepared to inflict upon our country. 

I don't think we can survive another four years of that while the Republican Party "regroups."
I don't believe the party will regroup around  a man who has already shown he's betting against the party's pick. My disappointment in Ted Cruz is only surpassed by my optimism in Mr. Trump's abilities to lead. You need only look at his kids to know why.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Crime is Crime

One week ago a deranged gunman with a grudge against whites and cops fired his weapon into a peaceful protest march in downtown Dallas, killing five law enforcement officers and wounding seven others. In a macabre irony, the protestors chanting anti-police slogans found themselves in need of their feigned antagonists’ protection as the gunfire echoed through the buildings. Marchers ran away from the gunfire; first responders ran towards the shooting.
It was the deadliest attack on law enforcement in America since 9/11.

(Photo Credit: CNN)
On Tuesday’s (7/12) broadcast of CNN Newsroom, the Senior Editor of Ebony Magazine, Jamilah Lemieux opined that applying the “hate crime” label to the murders was “tricky territory,” inferring such specialization of  murder should be reserved for special classes. 

"When we use a phrase like ‘hate crime,’ Lemieux explained, “we’re typically referring to crimes against people of color, people of various religious groups, LGBT people, people who have been historically attacked, abused, or disenfranchised on the basis of their identity.” Lemieux stated she “wasn’t comfortable” terming the shootings a “hate crime.”

(Photo Credit: FOX News)
On Wednesday (7/13), Texas US Sen. John Cornyn introduced legislation that would make the killing of a peace officer a federal crime. In Texas, murdering any law enforcement officer is already a Capitol Offense, generally punishable by death. And so the vortex spirals upwards, or downwards, depending upon your perspective.

To be clear—what happened in Dallas is tragic, horrific, and indefensible. I’m not sure what’s to be gained by adding an additional label like ‘hate crime’ to the menu, or escalating the crime category: People are still dead.

Crime is crime. Murder is murder. And hatred is hatred, regardless of how it is expressed. Do we really need to designate the killing of one class or race of people more egregious than others? And does being convicted and executed under Federal law make the convicted killer forfeit his life any more than under current statutes?

I find the argument upon which Black Lives Matters is predicated not only a false narrative but offensively racial as well. The officer-involved shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York City—both tragic—spawned the specious “hands up, don’t shoot” meme, and set the torch to community relations between law enforcement and segments of society with whom they have to deal. 

“There’s so much that we do not know about what took place, what motivated this person,” Lemieux whined on Tuesday. “We only have the one account of law enforcement. We haven’t had the opportunity to really look into his history in a meaningful way," she said.

Actually, we know quite a bit about the shooter whose name I’m not going to further publicize by mentioning here. In multiple phone conversations with police negotiators, he made it abundantly clear the shootings were in retaliation for his perception of treatment of blacks by police officers. White police officers. He even asked how many he’d gotten. Tit for tat. An eye for an eye. 

Here’s what else we know about the shooter one week later. Dallas police discovered bomb-making materials in his house, neighbors observed him practicing tactical military exercises in his back yard, and he contributed material to a Black Power website. Ironically, his stepmother is white. 

Which gets back to the whole premise of re-categorizing criminal activity. Whether or not the killings are deemed “hate crimes,” the victims are still most assuredly dead. They’re not any deader because they were hated. 

Classifying the murder of a peace officer as a federal offense, as opposed to your regular, run of the mill murder, may provide for a whole other suite of options for prosecutors, but the victim is still the victim and is still…dead. And really, what lunatic armed with a rifle and bellyful of criminal-grade hatred is going to take pause and think, “wait—this will be a federal offense” before squeezing the trigger with a blue uniform in his sights?