News flash: Thug-cops (and those who love them) get other cops killed

Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, speaks during a news conference after the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers were transported from Woodhull Medical Center, Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, in New York. An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, killing one and critically wounding a second before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Associated Press photo

Ironically, the likes of New York City cops’ union president Patrick Lynch, who, steeped in his big-mouthed white-male privilege, probably would defend every and any murder by cop, is much more likely to get cops killed than are anti-thug-cop demonstrators or progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Lynch is shown above braying at a news conference in New York City yesterday after two city cops were shot to death by an apparently mentally ill young black man, who beforehand had posted online, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”)

That two New York police officers were ambushed and shot to death yesterday by a young black man apparently claiming that it was retribution for the deaths of the unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of white cops is deeply unfortunate. But the politicization of the murders by the staunch, shameless defenders of white-male privilege and abuse of power, such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Patrick Lynch, the aptly-surnamed president of the city’s Patrolmen’s “Benevolent” Association, compounds the misfortune.

To be clear, first and foremost, when one human being kills another by gun, unless the killing is in actual self-defense, the person who pulled the trigger is to blame. And in a case like the ambush of the two New York cops (whose names were Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40), we must assume, I think, that the trigger man, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who went on to shoot himself to death after he murdered the two cops, was mentally ill (duh). (It’s not being widely reported, from what I can tell, but before Brinsley shot the two police officers yesterday, he had shot and injured his ex-girlfriend, so his state of mind yesterday went beyond anti-cop sentiment, apparently.)

But in this case, if we must blame someone other than the apparently mentally ill trigger man, as Lynch and Giuiliani have blamed anti-thug-cop demonstrators, progressive New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, then I pick Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City thug-cop who killed Eric Garner — on video. There is some amount of blood, methinks, on his choke-holding hands.

Given that Pantaleo’s murder of Eric Garner happened in New York City, I assume that that murder by cop had more of an immediate influence on Ismaaiyl Brinsley than did the more distant killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri (which, as I have written, I cannot conclude was a murder by cop, but the Garner case is pretty fucking clear-cut).

White cops’ reactions to the push-back for the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, et. al., and their reaction to the murder yesterday of two of their own starkly reveals their dangerous, fascistic mentality for all of us to plainly see. (Indeed, they’re too fucking stupid and too over-privileged to even try to sugarcoat their not-so-crypto-Nazi-like mentality.)

As Salon.com’s Joan Walsh accurately put it recently, Patrick Lynch and others like him very apparently believe that cops, especially white cops, are apart from and above the rest of us (as well as apart from and above the law), and that they should be fairly wholly immune from civilian oversight, since we stupid civilians who pay their paychecks couldn’t possibly know anything about policing, but should leave every micro-detail of every matter to the mostly-white cops. We clueless civvies should shut the fuck up, keep our tax dollars flowing to the cops, and not worry our pretty, stupid little heads about anything that the cops, who are wholly beyond reproach, do (or fail to do).

The bottom line is this: Cops who refuse to obey democratically elected civilian rule (unless they are given patently unlawful orders) should be removed from duty. Immediately.

The New York cops who have taken to turning their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio in his presence are not simply exercising any First-Amendment rights that they might possess in their capacity as police officers. They are announcing that they, in their estimation, reserve the right to refuse to submit to civilian authority when they deem such authority is a threat to their out-sized white-male privilege.

To me, it is little different for New York thug-cops (most of whom are steeped in white-male privilege) to turn their backs to their democratically elected mayor because they disagree with his political viewpoints than it would be for members of the U.S. military to turn their backs to the democratically elected president of the United States of America because they disagree with his or her political viewpoints.

Given cops’ training and resources (that, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the tax dollars of us stupid civvies) — and given cops’ veneer of probable innocence in every killing that they commit — rogue cops are much more dangerous than is the typical street criminal, and we stupid civvies allow rogue cops to proliferate at our own peril.

This is a growing cancer that we need to cut out right now.

Patrick Lynch, who advocates the insurrection of New York City’s police officers against their democratically elected civilian oversight, should step down or be removed from his position of authority that he abuses. How Lynch apparently has the support of his fellow cops when his words and actions only inflame tensions between cops and the public — thus putting cops at even further risk – eludes me, other than that an awful lot of cops must just be so fucking stupid as to participate in a deeply dysfunctional dynamic that increases the likelihood of even their own deaths at the hands of an enraged public.

(Yes, indeed, in addition to the likes of Daniel Pantaleo, I blame the likes of Patrick Lynch also for the deaths of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, since Lynch so steadfastly publicly has stood behind the indefensible Pantaleo. Liu and Ramos, unfortunately, very apparently paid the price for the likes of the thuggish Pantaleo and Lynch.)

In the meantime, we, the people, must not shrink, and must never shrink, in the face of the abuses of power by our mostly-white-male cops. It is unfortunate that two New York City cops were gunned down yesterday by an apparently mentally ill young man. But the lives of cops are not more valuable than are the lives of civilians, as the thug-cops believe and wish all of us simple-minded civvies to believe.

The murders of Ramos and Liu yesterday are no excuse to stop the work that has begun to ensure that our law-enforcement officers nationwide, most of them steeped in their white-male over-privilege, do not abuse their power.

Indeed, the thug-cops’ public reaction to all that has been taking place over the past several months demonstrates that we, the people, cannot stop now.

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No good options for Sony Pictures with ‘The Interview’

This photo provided by Columbia Pictures - Sony shows, from left, Diana Bang, as Sook, Seth Rogen, as Aaron, and James Franco, as Dave, in Columbia Pictures' "The Interview." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures - Sony, Ed Araquel)

Associated Press image

Seth Rogen and James Franco are shown in a still from “The Interview,” a movie that Sony Pictures Entertainment has put on indefinite hold because of threats made by apparently-North-Korean hackers to retaliate should Sony release the movie not only in movie theaters, but in any other form.

I don’t recall that at any time in my life was a movie not released because of terrorist threats.

Sony Pictures Entertainment has taken criticism from many for deciding not to release “The Interview,” starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as a team who ultimately assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Sony’s decision not to release the movie as planned on Christmas Day wasn’t enough; hackers who have been identified as probably North Korean apparently demanded in an e-mail to Sony that “anything related to the movie, including trailers” be removed from the Internet and that Sony “never let the movie [be] released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy,” as though it were possible for Sony to police the entire Internet and prevent all leaks or acts of piracy.

The Associated Press reports that “Sony Pictures has been removing all signs of ‘The Interview’ from its websites and taken its trailers off YouTube. On Wednesday, the studio canceled its Dec. 25 release after the hackers made threats of violence against theaters showing the film. Sony has said it now has no plans to release ‘The Interview.’”

While I doubt that any actual terrorist attack at a movie theater would have been committed had “The Interview” been released as planned — North Korea has no operatives within the United States, to my knowledge, and as North Korea doesn’t want its inhabitants to leave the Asian nation at all, I don’t really see the United States ever crawling with North Korean operatives  — I imagine that Sony would like to avoid any lawsuits or negative publicity (or both) should any such terrorist attack actually happen, even though such an event is fairly highly unlikely.

While I would like to see Sony at least release “The Interview” on DVD and streaming, as it would any other theatrical release, I imagine that Sony doesn’t want to have to worry about further problems with North Korean criminals in the future. Sony Pictures Entertainment is, after all, first and foremost a business. Its No. 1 reason for existing is not to enlighten us or even to entertain us, but to profit from us, and if Sony perceives that releasing a film would or could cost it more than if it withheld the film, Sony’s probably going to withhold the film.

“Team America: World Police” (which was distributed by Paramount Pictures) went off without a hitch in 2004 (I saw it at a movie theater and I’ve seen it on DVD), but maybe that’s because the late Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was portrayed by a puppet (and was not assassinated technically; at the end of “Team America” his human body is destroyed, but from his body a cockroach emerges – Kim Jong Il actually is [or was…] an alien in the form of a cockroach, you see – and flies off in a miniature spaceship, promising to return). And maybe it’s that Kim Jong Un is a lot more sensitive than was his daddy.

Just as “Team America,” had it never been released, probably wouldn’t have been a great loss to American culture, the pulling of “The Interview” (as much as I’ve liked some of the work of Franco and Rogen in the past) also probably isn’t a huge loss to American culture. We can take some comfort in that, I think.

We can assert that Sony Pictures Entertainment shouldn’t cave in to terrorist threats, but at the same time, should any terrorist attack actually occur at any movie theater showing “The Interview,” we then would lambast Sony’s greed that put dirty profits above precious human lives (and, as I noted, I would expect at least one lawsuit to ensue).

As much as I’m not into sticking up for corporations, I don’t see that Sony really could win in this case (except that if I were in charge at Sony, “The Interview” probably would, minimally, get an online and/or DVD release…).

Still, one day I’d like to see “The Interview” at last, in one format or another, and we have the apparently-North-Korean hackers, with their terrorist threats, to thank for that. It’s a movie that I probably would have skipped otherwise, at least in its theatrical release.

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Cubans have much more to lose in closer ties with the United States

FILE - In this July 31, 2004 file photo, Cuba's President Fidel Castro, left, and his brother, Minister of Defense Raul Castro, attend a Parliament session in Havana, Cuba. The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union devastated the Cuban economy, but the country limped along, first under Fidel and then, after he fell ill in 2006, under his brother Raul, head of the Cuban military. On Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, the U.S. and Cuba agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera, File)

Associated Press photo

The 88-year-old Fidel Castro won’t live forever, and Cuba is about a lot more than Fidel Castro. (Castro is shown above in 2004 with his brother, Raul Castro, who took over as the leader of the island nation in 2008 due to Fidel Castro’s failing health.) The United States should have restored diplomatic relations with Cuba decades ago, and the tiny but loud minority of right-wing Cuban Americans need to shut the fuck up and for once put the greater good of Americans and Cubans above their own bitterness and selfishness — and humble themselves and remind themselves that the majority of the American people twice elected President Barack Obama to represent the United States on the global stage.

One of U.S. President Barack Obama’s best moves is his decision to open diplomatic relations with the government of Cuba after more than 50 years of a pointless cold war with the island nation.

For all of the selfish whining of the tiny but loud minority of Cuban-American wingnuts — who always have been a bunch of fucking ingrates who believe that they should control U.S. foreign policy — ironically, Cubans have a lot more to lose than do Americans should the United States and Cuba ever become super-cozy.

The typical Cuban, after all, has better access to higher education and health care than does the average American. The typical Cuban’s life expectancy is close behind the typical American’s and Cubans’ life expectancy ranks No. 1 among the Latin American nations.

Cuba has universal health care (yes, health care is a human right, and shouldn’t be an opportunity for profiteering) and Cuba’s literacy rate of 99.8 percent beats the United States’ rate of 99 percent.

Not that Cuba is perfect, perhaps especially on the measure of freedom of speech, but, of course, the United States, which, among other things, calls torture “enhanced interrogation” (someone recently remarked that that’s like calling rape “enhanced dating”) and slaughters scores of innocent civilians by drones in the name of “democracy,” isn’t exactly a paragon of human rights itself, is it?

However, would it benefit most Cubans for American corporations to muscle back into the nation and turn most Cubans into wage slaves, like most Americans are? (Capitalism is, after all, wage slavery that of course creates insane socioeconomic inequality.) Are Cubans really just itching for such wonderful imported American “freedoms” as crushing student-loan debt, wage slavery and bankruptcy from insane health-care costs?

You’d think the rabidly wingnutty Cuban Americans would salivate over the idea of turning Cuba into a cash cow for the corporations again, as it was when darling-of-the-right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista, who couldn’t sell out the people of Cuba enough to American corporations for his own benefit and the benefit of his fellow elites, was in power.

But what’s up the right-wing Cuban-American ingrates’ asses is that they expect the U.S. government to maintain a cold war with Cuba on their behalf for eternity. They believe that their bitterness against Fidel Castro, who overthrew dictator Batista in the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, should be reflected by U.S. governmental policy toward Cuba in perpetuity.

(Batista, by the way, fled Cuba on January 1, 1959, with hundreds of millions of dollars he’d taken through obscene corruption and after having slaughtered as many as 20,000 of his political opponents. This is the kind of man, like murderous Chilean dictator Agosto Pinochet, who gets the support of the right wing.

If you think that I’m full of shit, know that President John Kennedy said of Batista that his was “one of the most bloody and repressive dictatorships in the long history of Latin American repression” and that Kennedy wrote this:

I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries. That is perfectly clear.

Um, yeah.)

To open diplomatic relations with another nation is not to agree with everything that nation does and has done. Certainly the U.S. government and the governments of China and Russia don’t agree on everything, but they maintain diplomatic relations nonetheless.

The teeny-tiny minority of right-wing Cuban-Americans and their supporters (including, of course, the craven politicians who want right-wing Cuban-Americans’ money and votes, such as right-wing Cuban-American scumbags U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida) need to shut the fuck up and put the greater good of the American people and the Cuban people above their own selfish political agendas, and they need to wake the fuck up and stop expecting the rest of us, the vast majority, to maintain their insane cold war of more than five decades.

I support diplomatic relations with Cuba because Cuba has much to teach the United States, which, of course, just might be just what the Cuban-American wingnuts fear most.

But, again, it is Cubans, not Americans, who have the most to lose in significantly close ties between the two nations.

The specter of Cubans once again being oppressed by the craven corporate America is, in fact, the only reason that I would or could oppose diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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Run, Liz, run!

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, after Senate Democrats voted on leadership positions for the 114th Congress. From left are, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Warren, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Associated Press photo

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachussetts speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., last month. Warren has the support for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination of Democracy for America and MoveOn.org, the latter of which has just created Run Warren Run, a campaign to draft Warren to run for the White House. Below is a bumper sticker produced by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an apparent take-off from Howard Dean’s proclamation that he represented “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” (Which, apparently, Dean borrowed from the late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone.)

Progressive political activist groups MoveOn.org and Democracy for America (the latter of which grew from Howard Dean’s campaign for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination) have thrown their political weight behind U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

In online voting last month, Warren was the choice of 42 percent of Democracy for America’s membership (myself included), with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders at No. 2 (with 24 percent) and Billary Clinton at No. 3 (with 23 percent). After 81 percent of MoveOn.org’s membership (myself included) recently voted that MoveOn should encourage Warren to run for president, MoveOn launched the Run Warren Run campaign, which is at runwarrenrun.org.

In response to MoveOn’s move, Democracy for America today began another online survey of its membership, simply asking, “Should DFA draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president?” The survey closes on Tuesday. (DFA’s website indicates that if enough DFA members vote yes on drafting Warren, DFA would have its own draft-Warren effort, but it seems to me that DFA and MoveOn [and other progressive groups] could and probably should work together instead of in parallel, duplicating efforts.)

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s home page right now prominently features an article on and an image of Elizabeth Warren and offers for sale in its store (via its home page) a T-shirt that reads “I’m from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.” (When you click through to buy the T-shirt, however, you see an image of the T-shirt that reads “I’m from the Elizabeth Warren wing of American politics.” I’ve sent the PCCC an e-mail to find out, I hope, which of those two not-so-subtly different messages the T-shirt [and the bumper sticker that you also can buy] actually convey.) I see no Billary gear (or gear for any other politician) offered up on the PCCC’s website.

The Clintonistas and other assorted unimaginative and dismissive types blow this stuff off, no doubt, but remind yourself that your Democratic Party primary voters and caucus goers are significantly further to the left — that is, progressive — than are your general election voters among whom Billary might not do too terribly (should she get that far).

And recall that Billary “Crown Me Already” Clinton came in at third place in the 2008 first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, behind the No. 1 Barack Obama and the No. 2 John Edwards, a stunning blow from which she never recovered, eventually losing, of course, to Obama.

Given that Billary is not the choice of the majority of MoveOn’s and Democracy for America ’s membership of progressives (nor, of course, is she the choice of the PCCC), how well can she do in Iowa in 2016 (and in the following 2016 primary-season contests) if she has a viable, more progressive (well, just an actually progressive) challenger?

But Elizabeth Warren won’t run, you protest.

It’s true that in the end she might not run – it remains, after all, her choice – but it sure would be easier for Warren to run with these outside progressive groups clamoring for her to run, wouldn’t it?

Warren truthfully could point to popular demand as having compelled her to jump into the race.

Such popular demand would give her at least some degree of political cover from the anti-democratic “Democrats” who believe that anyone who dares to challenge Queen Billary’s Claim to the Throne in the Oval Office should be excommunicated from the Democratic Party (if not executed altogether; yes, Billary would make a great decapitation-happy Red Queen).

If Warren does indeed run after all and the Clintonistas are too shrill in their anti-democratic attacks that no one should oppose Billary the Great for the party’s presidential nomination, they will look like the anti-democratic fascists that they are.

Even if Warren ran for the 2016 nomination but lost, surely she’d come in no lower than at second place, positioning her well for future presidential contests.

I can’t see Warren politically losing, really, from running for the White House right now.

If Billary Clinton wins the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, however, we all lose — whether she wins the general presidential election in November 2016 or not.

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Adieu, Landrieu; it’s long past time for Democrats to stop kissing red-state ass

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in New Orleans. (Gerald Herbert, AP)

Associated Press photo

Gee, maybe her very own country-Western song would have saved “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana from being denied a fourth term in the Deep-South state. A campaign appearance by Billary Clinton (who does have her very own country-Western song) apparently wasn’t enough.

“Dems, It’s Time to Dump Dixie,” proclaims the headline of a column by a Michael Tomasky (whom I’d never heard of until today) that will be interpreted as fairly sound advice for the Democratic Party or, perhaps, as a false-flag attempt to give Dems poor advice meant to harm them (the column does appear, after all, on the center-right website The Daily Beast). But probably, it’s more of the former than of the latter.

The occasion of the column is the double-digit defeat of Democrat-in-name only U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to her Repugnican Tea Party opponent this past weekend. Landrieu was the last remaining “Democratic” U.S. senator of the Deep South. (Wikipedia defines the “Deep South” as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina – and sometimes at least portions of Texas and Florida, too. These seven states, Wikipedia notes, were the first to secede from the Union.)

The advice that Tomasky gives to the Democratic Party – to “dump Dixie” – seems to be the advice that the party perhaps already has taken to heart; well before this past weekend’s election in Louisiana, the national party wisely decided to stop funneling campaign cash to Landrieu and to let her languish, dry up and blow away.

Tomasky concludes his column by proclaiming that “the Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying [to win congressional seats in the Deep South ]. If they [the Dems] get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.” (The link there is my own, of course, not Tomasky’s.)

Absolutely.

The likes of Repugnican Lite Landrieu – whose last-ditch, self-serving, desperate attempt to shove the Keystone XL oil pipeline down Americans’ throats for the deep pockets of the fat cats of Big Oil in order to save her Senate seat was incredibly pathetic (as was her defense of Big Oil even as British Petroleum was filling the Gulf of Mexico with millions of gallons of crude oil) – have only harmed, not helped, the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party’s lurch to the right, which started no later than during Bill Clinton’s reign (Wikipedia also notes that the Clintons’ home state of Arkansas sometimes also is included in the list of the states that make up the Deep South) and has continued during Barack Obama’s, doesn’t capture nearly as many Repugnican-leaning voters (who most often simply vote Repugnican instead of Repugnican Lite) as it turns off the Democratic Party’s base. And a party that stands for everything, that tries to please all people, in the end, stands for nothing.

Obama squandered too much of his presidency trying to sing “Kumbaya” with the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in D.C. He tried to negotiate with these terrorists, but you don’t negotiate with terrorists. Obama instead should have taken care of his base and not given a flying fuck what the enemy thought, since politically, he didn’t really have to. Had he done that, I surmise, he wouldn’t be spending his last two years in the Oval Office with both houses of Congress controlled by the enemy. Obama started off in 2009 with both houses of Congress controlled by his own party, and, had he played his cards right – instead of having wasted his political capital in trying to placate the implacable wingnuts – he could have maintained that political advantage to this day.

It’s long past time for the Democratic Party to start tending to its base. Obama’s failed experiment of “bipartisanship”* should have made this abundantly clear by now, but waiting in the wings, of course, is Billary Clinton, whose jaw-droppingly awful proxy country-Western music video on You Tube titled “Stand with Hillary” makes you wonder whether Billary approves of the video or not.

The New York Times’ Frank Bruni notes that “The video wasn’t produced by Clinton or her aides. But the people who did put it together [a “super-PAC” called, of course, “Stand with Hillary”] clearly followed the cues that they felt they were getting, and they read her intentions right.” I more or less concur, from what we know of Billary and the way she rolls.

I mean, the country-Western style of the video definitely seems to be geared toward the same shit-kicking voters to whom Billary apparently was trying to appeal when, as her 2008 effort to best Obama for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination grew more and more desperate, Billary (right along with the John McCainosaurus campaign) denounced Obama as “elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans” for having accurately described the mindset of rednecks (who, Obama correctly had asserted, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”**).

Because Billary wants to be Queen of the Rednecks, you see. But the majority of the rednecks don’t and won’t buy that a Democrat – especially one of the caliber of Billary Clinton – is truly One of Them (replete with her own country-Western anthem!), and true Democrats are put off by those who (like Billary) call themselves Democrats but who court rednecks more than they court the members of the traditional Democratic Party base (who simply are taken for granted, year after year after year).

I should note that the guy in cowboy garb in the “Stand with Hillary” video, who was lip-synching someone else’s vocals, calls himself apolitical and says that the video was just another paying gig, that he may or may not vote for Billary for president should she be on the ballot in November 2016.

Is it that Team Billary could find only someone who would be pro-Billary for pay? At any rate, that the guy in the video is a fake cowboy, a fake country-Western singer and a fake Billary supporter speaks volumes about Team Billary, methinks, including how insubstantial the candidate is herself.

I don’t assert that the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign should not be populist. Of course it should be. The party hasn’t done nearly enough for what remains of the middle class and the working class for many years now and desperately needs to return to its roots of socioeconomic equality and justice. Therefore, I’d love to see the likes of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders run for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. But wasting resources trying to convert those who never are going to support you anyway (as the desperate Billary tried to do in the spring of 2008, as the White House was slipping from her talons) is – well, a waste of limited resources.

The cultural stuff – such as country-Western music (for fuck’s sake), God, guns and gays – can, and should, take a back seat this next Democratic presidential cycle, in which populism should be the centerpiece, but should be limited to the discussion of socioeconomic issues that affect the common American, regardless of where he or she lives (and regardless of whether he or she likes country-western music or supports same-sex marriage).

If Billary indeed is on a trajectory to act, once again, like she’s Queen of the Rednecks, and the Democrats actually let this pass and allow her to become the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, then, it will be, I think, just as Harry S. Truman warned us: “If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time.”

We just saw the wisdom of Truman’s words in action this past weekend in Louisiana. We don’t have to see the truth of his words again in November 2016.

*In the speech that made Obama a political rock star at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama proclaimed that “The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. … We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”

Really? One people? Even those who say that he shouldn’t be allowed to give the State of the Union address?

I mean, does Obama, six years into his presidency, still believe his feel-good, fluffy words from 2004?

**To be fair, this infamous comment of Obama’s should be taken within its larger context of his preceding remarks, which you can find here.

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Cop in Garner death should be tried for homicide

This is a grab from a video showing thuggish New York cop Daniel Pantaleo putting a forbidden chokehold on Eric Garner in New York City in July, causing Garner’s death, according to both a medical examiner and a forensic pathologist. Yet Pantaelo’s “punishment” thus far has been only desk duty.

While there isn’t enough evidence — just conflicting testimony — in the August death by cop of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to ascertain whether the state grand jury got it right or not, a New York grand jury’s failure to indict New York police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July death of Eric Garner is fucking mind-blowing.

On July 17, Pantaleo put the 43-year-old Garner in a chokehold, reportedly for Garner’s resistance to being arrested for having illegally sold cigarettes. However, Garner’s resistance to being arrested, if there was such resistance, apparently was only verbal, not physical, and nor did he try to flee the scene.

Therefore, Pantaleo’s chokehold appears to be a textbook case of police brutality.

A bystander’s video of the interaction between Garner and cops that went viral shows several cops holding Garner down on the ground (including Pantaleo, holding Garner’s head down to the pavement), while Garner repeatedly pleads, “I can’t breathe!”

Garner, who reportedly had asthma, died — perhaps of asphyxia from status asthmaticus, which could be caused not only from a chokehold, but from the physical and emotional shock of suddenly being manhandled and dog-piled upon like he was.

In any event, while Pantaleo’s shameless fucking defenders blame Garner’s pre-existing health condition for his death — a textbook example of blaming the victim — a medical examiner and a forensic pathologist both concluded that Garner’s cause of death was homicide (death caused by another human being, in this case, by Pantaleo).

Video of Garner’s chokehold takedown went viral, and, as The Associated Press notes, “A second video surfaced that showed police and paramedics appearing to make no effort to revive Garner while he lay motionless on the ground. He later died at a hospital.”

“I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can’t protect themselves,” Pantaleo reportedly stated in a written statement. “It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner.”

Regardless of what Pantaleo’s intention was, his unnecessary, thuggish chokehold predictably could have caused harm or even death, and therefore, in my book, he at least is guilty of negligent homicide or manslaughter. Chokeholds, after all, are banned by New York police policy. Pantaleo clearly violated the establish standards and norms for his job -- we have the video proof of that fact — and because of that, someone died.

Pantaleo should have to pay the price for that, and his merely being put on desk duty is nowhere near justice in this case. Those paramedics and police who also failed to do their duty to Garner also should be punished. Minimally, their fitness to remain in their jobs should be ascertained.

I hope that Garner’s survivors sue the holy living shit out of Pantaleo, and I hope that the feds bring about the justice that the New York grand jury did not.

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Is Ferguson a symptom of black American panic?

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