Tag Archives: racial profiling

Cops’ first robo-killing is probably the scariest part of a week full of horrors

Corrected below (on Monday, July 11, 2016)

Last night in Dallas, Texas, cops for the first time ever used a robot to kill a perp on American soil, actually claiming that it was the only way. If we let this horrific abuse of police power pass, do we civilians not face routine robo-killings by the thugs of the state in the future? (Above is pictured one of the cops’ killing machines from the original movie “Robocop.”)

What a spectacularly fucked-up week it was, just after the Independence Day holiday on Monday, ironically.

The shooting deaths on Tuesday and on Wednesday of 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and 32-year-old Philando Castile near St. Paul, Minnesota, both of them black men, by white cops sure looked unnecessary.

It’s true that we don’t have every piece of information, and nor do we have full video footage of everything from beginning to end — the Sterling videos that I have seen start just before he is shot to death in a parking lot, and the Castile video starts after he already has been shot in a car (and is dying) — and the officers involved in the shootings deserve to be tried in real courts of law, not in the court of public opinion (which these days is held largely if not mostly on the Internet), but from what we know thus far, the shootings sure appear to have been wholly unnecessary.

My best guess is that these were spooked, adrenalized cops who were too trigger-happy, and, in a society in which black men’s lives are at the bottom of the pecking order where the value of human life is concerned, these cops just weren’t very concerned about not shooting first and asking questions later.

Then came the shooting deaths of five cops last night in Dallas (not far from where JFK was assassinated) by an-as-far-as-we-know-right-now militarily trained lone wolf, 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a black man of the Dallas area who reportedly had claimed that he especially wanted to kill white cops for the wrongful killings of black men by white cops.

On NPR today I heard the head of the nation’s largest cops’ union embarrass himself by stating that the shootings of cops because they are cops need to be treated as hate crimes. 

He further embarrassed himself by actually stating that just as we shouldn’t hate others because of the color of their skin, we shouldn’t hate anyone because of the color of his or her uniform (yes, he actually used those incredibly corny words). He asserted this as though the problem that so many of us have had with our cops actually were the color of their uniforms, or, OK, the fact in and of itself that they are cops — and not, oh, say, their rampant abuse of power and deadly force, such as by blowing away unarmed or otherwise non-threatening black men and by otherwise abusing their power against people of color and other vulnerable minorities.

The cops have had a long history of abusing their power in the United States of America. Many of them have been little more than state-sanctioned thugs, and let’s face it: The cops’ main job is to maintain the socioeconomic status quo, a status quo that isn’t about liberty and justice for all.

That said, don’t get me wrong; I don’t advocate the killing of one member of a group because you’re pissed off at another member of that group, be that group a racial group, a religious group, an occupational group, or any other group of people. I believe that we must deal with individuals, and not with entire groups of people. Micah Johnson’s “logic” that because two white cops in Louisiana and in Minnesota apparently unnecessarily killed — maybe murdered (well, maybe it was manslaughter; it’s all in the intent) — two black men, he should kill cops (especially white cops) in Texas speaks for itself.

And let’s be clear in our thinking and in our words: Blacks didn’t kill those cops in Dallas; one apparently mentally ill, or at the very least seriously unhinged, young black man did. (I don’t assert that Johnson had no legitimate grievances, but murdering random cops because they’re cops isn’t OK.) And all (white) cops did not kill Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (and way too many others); specific (white) cops killed them.

The problem is when we hold an entire group of people guilty for the acts of a relative few. It’s a mistake that often has deadly consequences and that can spiral into something like a civil war.

On the issue of hate crimes, I don’t argue that Micah Johnson didn’t hate cops; he very apparently did. (Again, I don’t argue that he had no grounds for his hatred; I only point out that he apparently had that hatred.)

But let’s be crystal fucking clear on what a hate crime is. Wikipedia defines a hate crime thusly:

A hate crime … is a prejudice-motivated crime, often violent, which occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her membership (or perceived membership) in a certain social group.

Examples of such groups can include but are not limited to: sex, ethnicity, disability, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. …

“Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, … or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail).

Cops aren’t listed among the groups that so often are targeted in hate crimes, and implied but not explicitly spelled out in Wikipedia’s entry on hate crimes is the power differential that we have seen in the vast majority of hate crimes committed in the United States of America.

Whites who have committed hate crimes against blacks, for example, usually have far outnumbered blacks; ditto for “Christians” who have far outnumbered Jews and Muslims; heterosexuals and gender-conforming individuals who have far outnumbered non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals; etc. With the vast majority of hate crimes, it’s the relatively powerful who are targeting the less powerful to even the relatively powerless.

One thing that we can’t say about cops is that they are relatively powerless compared to the general population. Um, they are not. Sure, we commoners far outnumber the cops, but most of us commoners don’t have their arsenals or their training — or their being backed up by the U.S. military if they need such backup. (All of this is made possible with our own tax dollars, but that’s another blog piece.) And, of course, the cops often if not usually have the full cover of the “justice” system should they ever actually be held to account in a court of law. And, of course, they know this fact even before they unnecessarily shoot someone to death, carelessly (manslaughter) or even intentionally (murder).

Therefore, call what Micah Johnson did last night in Dallas an act of terrorism — the use of fear and/or violence to try to achieve a political objective — but let’s not fucking call it a hate crime and by so doing shit and piss on all actual victims of actual hate crimes, past, present and future.

Let’s not buy the cops’ union thugs’ bullshit rhetoric that cops (as a group) now are the poor victims when American history is filled with incidents of cops’ thuggery against the populace, usually the relatively powerless.

Clearly, having had the first black man in the Oval Office hasn’t magically solved our problems. We, the people, have much work to do, primary among which is to devise non-lethal ways of neutralizing individuals whom cops deem need to be neutralized. It’s unfuckingacceptable that shooting someone in the year 2016 still is seen as an acceptable way of neutralizing him or her.

With the technology that we have, we should have solved this problem years ago.

On that note, we, the people, also must NOT allow state-sanctioned killing by robot to become the norm.

The cops in Dallas last night killed Micah Johnson by affixing a bomb to a robot, directing the robot to Johnson’s vicinity, and then detonating the bomb. It was the first time that cops anywhere on U.S. soil used a robot to kill someone.*

What the fucking fuck?

A robot that can deliver a bomb can’t deliver a tranquilizer dart or a knock-out gas? Really? Blowing Micah Johnson up via R2-D2 was the cops’ only option?

No, the cops blew Johnson up because he’d killed cops, and they wanted their instant revenge on him. The actual justice (well, “justice”) system might have allowed him to live, so they, the cops, had to be the prosecutors, judges, juries and executioners, you see.

And by so doing, the cops only further demonstrated last night that they have become a serious problem that we, the people, need to solve — lest the cops’ killer robots come for us next.

Correction (Monday, July 11, 2016): My bad: Apparently the cop who shot Philando Castile to death is Mexican American, not white. (In the viral video, only the cop’s forearms are visible, and he is light-skinned, so I’d thought that he was white.)

This is a rather ironic photo of the cop:

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016, is shown taking part in the Standing of the Memorial Guard event during Law Enforcement Memorial Day and National Peace Officer's Day at the Minnesota Capitol in May 2014. (Courtesy of city of Falcon Heights)

(No, it’s not a Photoshop job. It was taken two years ago and it’s from here.)

The cop, named Jeronimo Yanez, has claimed, via his attorney, “This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun.” (Of course, it’s not like any cop actually would admit it if his [or her] shooting death of someone had been racially motivated…)

Our society’s racial pecking order is fairly ingrained, it seems to me, and we can internalize and act out that pecking order unconsciously, methinks.

I just can’t imagine Philando Castile having been shot to death as he was had he been white (or perhaps Asian or Latino).

*NPR quotes a subject-matter expert as saying that bombs/explosive devices affixed to robotic devices have been used by the U.S. military in Iraq, but that last night’s was the first such use here on American soil.

Indeed, our police are becoming more and more militarized, and we, the people, fail to put a stop to this anti-constitutional bullshit at our own peril.

I vehemently oppose the use of armed/weaponized robots or drones to kill civilians on American soil — and their use in all other nations should be prohibited as well.

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It’s another summer of race-relations hell, but I believe it is getting better

In this undated photo provided by the Bland family, Sandra Bland poses for a photo. The family of Bland, who was found dead in her Texas jail cell, assert that she would not have taken her own life, but authorities are pointing to mounting evidence that they say shows she hanged herself. (Courtesy of Bland family)

Associated Press image

Sandra Bland (shown in a family photo above) very apparently died for having driven while black in Texas. That conclusion is fairly inescapable. That said, Dear Black People: Hulk Hogan (like Donald Sterling and Paula Deen) is not The Spokesperson for White People. Just putting that out there. (Hogan is photographed below with his daughter, whose relationship with a black man induced him to use “the ‘n-’ word” repeatedly eight years ago on, um, a sex tape…)

Brooke Hogan Defends Dad Hulk with a Poem

Maybe I have a short memory — maybe this comes up every summer, when we have hot temperatures and hot tempers — but this summer seems to be a repeat of last summer, in which race relations were at the fore.

I’m not saying that race relations shouldn’t be discussed nationally — clearly, we in the United States of America have many unresolved, ongoing issues and problems surrounding race (and many other things) that we have to solve, as they won’t simply go away by themselves, as much as we might wish that they would — but at the same time, it seems to me that so many people benefit from the continued interracial strife that they have no real interest in resolution.

White supremacists and black supremacists, for instance, derive their senses of identity, meaning and purpose from continued interracial conflict. I don’t expect them to hold hands for a rousing round of “Kumbaya” any time soon. And, of course, as I’ve noted, race relations aren’t only binary, aren’t only black and white or black vs. white or vice-versa; we see from Donald Trump’s brand of politics that attacking Latinos can pay off politically within the right wing, just as attacking Jews paid off politically in right-wing Nazi Germany.

And, of course, race-based reportage does quite well in the media, and the media corporations that profit from it know that fully well.

This is not to downplay or minimize very real injustices, such as the fate of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. I agree with Matt Taibbi’s assessment that however Sandra Bland died while captive in a Texas jail earlier this month, because she very apparently was pulled over in the first place primarily or only because of racial profiling — and therefore apparently was subjected to race-based harassment by the law-enforcement officer who pulled her over — the Texas law-enforcement and criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system officials were responsible for everything that happened to her afterward.

When I say “responsible” I mean morally, ethically and karmically responsible, of course; unless it can be proved conclusively that Bland did not die by self-strangulation, of course no one in Texas will be charged with murder, despite the headline of Taibbi’s piece that proclaims that “Sandra Bland Was Murdered.”

Personally, were a law-enforcement officer to stop me, whether I were on foot or in a car or on a bicycle or whatever, and/or give me any directive and/or request that was not blatantly unreasonable, I probably would comply with his or her order or request. I probably would not argue with him or her. An illegal stop or arrest usually can be sorted out later. The time and place of the stop or arrest probably is not the time and place at which the legality or illegality of it is going to be officially, legally established.

That said, Taibbi notes that “Law-and-order types like to lecture black America about how it can avoid getting killed by ‘respecting authority’ and treating arresting cops like dangerous dogs or [swarms of] bees.” 

I don’t want to come off as one of those kinds of white people, and I do view — for years now I have viewed — the primary role of law-enforcement officers and the criminal/“criminal” justice/“justice” system not as maintaining public safety, the safety of us commoners, but as maintaining the socioeconomic status quo; the taxes of we, the people, fund the cops and the court system, but they function primarily not for our benefit, but primarily to keep the rich — a disproportionate number of them right-wing white people — firmly in power.

And true, of course we shouldn’t have to regard our cops like dangerous animals that might go off on us at any moment, but when the reality, at least for the time being, is that often we do, the safest thing to do then is to regard them as such, it seems to me. You might call that cowardice or caving; I consider it to be survival. You will be less able to celebrate your victory of being right and the cop being wrong when you are in a hospital bed, and you won’t be able to celebrate your victory at all if you’re dead.

The mouthiest that I got with a law-enforcement officer that I can remember is when I was at a pro-labor-union protest at the California state Capitol in late February 2011 and the state police (officers of the California Highway Patrol, especially one of them) were enforcing supposed rules, regulations and ordinances on those of us of the pro-labor crowd while they allowed the anti-labor “tea-party” traitors who were there only to heckle and try to provoke us from across the street to do the same things that we were doing, with complete impunity. I pointed this out to Officer Friendly (and reported his actions later to the CHP).

My sense of that situation is that cops, most of them being right-wing themselves, tend to crack down much harder on left-leaning groups of people than on right-wing groups of people, since they usually agree with the latter.

However, on that day in February 2011 there were many people around, and many if not even most had their “smart”phone or other video-recording devices out, so it’s not like this cop was going to do anything to me for simply having complained to him about his and his cohorts’ unfair treatment.

What happened in the Sandra Bland case, from what I can tell, was that two stubborn people clashed, which often is a recipe for disaster. Sandra Bland probably felt that she had been racially profiled because she probably had been. I’m guessing that her mindset was that she wasn’t going to take it. The cop, conversely, wanted her complete compliance with his commands, which he did not get. Again: It was a recipe for disaster.

While the cop had the right to ask her to step out of her vehicle — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it is not a violation of one’s constitutional rights (in and of itself) to be told to get out of a vehicle when stopped by a law-enforcement officer — whether or not the cop who stopped Bland had the right to ask her to put out her cigarette is much grayer.

One retired law-enforcement official interviewed by the Los Angeles Times stated, “No one, including a police officer, wants to get a burning cigarette jammed into their face or eye; it’s basic procedure. The officer asked politely if she would mind putting out her cigarette. The violator then raised her voice, actively resisted multiple lawful directions to get out of the car. The officer requested a backup officer to respond. The officer raised his voice several times in what turned out to be a futile effort to overcome that resistance.” (Consider the source of that loaded quote, of course.)

Why, exactly, the cop asked Bland to put out her cigarette I’m not sure. While a still-burning cigarette could be used as a weapon, it seems to me that most likely the cop just wanted to abuse his authority and control, and perhaps to test his control over Bland.

Of course, he might be someone who is bothered significantly by cigarette smoke that is close by; I am one of those people, and I hate it when people smoke in public and I have to deal with their smoke.

But while Bland was non-compliant, the cop, who, because he had a lot more power in the interaction than did Bland (he had not only a lethal weapon but also the full force of the Texas “justice” system, which he knew always is going to give him the benefit of any doubt, behind him), had that much more responsibility than did Bland to keep the interaction from escalating.

Yet the cop threatened to “light” Bland “up” with his Taser — Tasers are supposed to be used defensively, not threatened to be used as a bargaining chip, as far as I understand — and when Bland, who at this point had been grabbed by the cop by the wrist, proclaimed that she had epilepsy, the cop replied, “Good.”

Only because there was video and audio of this did the cop’s Texan superiors Orwellianly understate that the cop had violated the department’s “courtesy policy.” Otherwise, the cop probably would have lied about the entire interaction (including how wholly professional and polite he had been), and his lies would have been taken as gospel.

As I do, another police expert who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times correctly puts the onus on the cop:

Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and former Florida police officer, said Enicinia [the cop’s name is Brian T. Encinia; he is Latino] missed several opportunities to deescalate tension and should have explained in calmer tones what he was doing and why.

“He certainly has the legal authority to get her to step out of the car,” Stoughton said. “But in this case, if he is exercising his authority because she defying his direction to put out the cigarette, then that is more based on his ego than public safety…. Just because it is legal to order her out of the car doesn’t make it a professional approach in modern policing.

“This is a systemic problem with policing,” Stoughton said. “There is emphasis on compliance over cooperation.”

There are no laws that require an officer to order alleged violators to extinguish a cigarette in their car during a traffic stop, he said.

“It was a request, not an order,” he said. “If a person was out of the car, then an officer could determine it poses a safety threat and order it be put out. But it is hard to argue that inside the car.”

Again, Encinia might have a hard time breathing around cigarette smoke, as I do, but again, he had significantly more responsibility than did Bland to prevent the interaction from spinning out of control, but he fairly clearly had little to no interest in doing that, and perhaps he even wanted an ego-boosting fight with her. (I don’t know, since I wasn’t there, and since even if I had been there, I’m pretty intuitive but I am not telepathic.)

In a nutshell, I suspect that being a black woman with, presumably, an Illinois license plate on her car, Bland was profiled as being a certain type of individual who is not welcome in the deep-red state of Texas and therefore was pulled over — and had that not happened, she very most likely still would be alive.

While what happened to Bland (if she indeed did take her own life) does not match the legal definition of murder, of course, it is difficult to impossible for me not to conclude that she was killed by systemic injustice. She was, in effect, killed for being black (and perhaps also for being from out of state, and from a blue state) in Texas. She was killed by the actions and the inaction of many, many people. And of course black lives matter.

And then there is Hulk Hogan, who this past week was in the news, Donald-Sterling style, for having been recorded repeatedly using the word “nigger” in a sex tape that was made eight years ago and later was leaked. (Apparently Hogan was not pleased that his daughter was in a relationship with a black man. [Donald Sterling, recall, similarly didn’t like his girl-toy associating with black men.])

“This is not who I am. I believe very strongly that every person in the world is important and should not be treated differently based on race, gender, orientation, religious beliefs or otherwise,” the Hulkster has proclaimed.

That’s not very credible. It’s not absolutely impossible that Hogan truly has had a change of heart in the past eight years, but as most people develop their belief systems early in life and tend to keep them intact until death, it seems quite unlikely.

That said, Hogan is 61 years old and was born in Georgia and raised in Florida. (His fellow racist Paula Deen is 68 years old and also was born in Georgia, where she has remained.

Let’s please not presume that all (or even most) white people routinely throw around the word “nigger” in private. White racism (as is all racism) is largely a function of one’s age and one’s upbringing, including the region where he or she was raised and the region where he or she has been living for a while now (and how much racism has been prevalent and how much it has been tolerated — or even encouraged — in that region).

Donald Sterling is 81 years old; he was born in Chicago but apparently has lived in the Los Angeles area for the vast majority of his life. I chalk up his racism more as a function of his age than of his geography.

Socioeconomics, including one’s highest level of education and one’s income, also affect one’s level of racism, regardless of his or her race.

The likes of Hulk Hogan, Donald Sterling and Paula Deen are not spokespeople for the entire white race.

Thankfully, younger whites tend to be significantly less racist than older whites — as with homophobia, racism’s eradication probably depends mostly upon older people finally kicking off and taking their bigotry with them to their graves and urns — and again, with racism there are regional differences. There is no region of the U.S. that is entirely free of racism, of course, but some regions inarguably are much worse with racism than are others. (Fuck, I’m a white [albeit gay] guy and truly I would be afraid to drive through Texas. Perhaps especially with California plates.)

And where lovely white people like Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan are concerned, I do have a problem with violations of privacy, which would include being recorded secretly or having one’s consensual recording (such as a sex tape) taken from his or her possession and then leaked to others.

All of us have a constitutional right to privacy, whether we’re racist or not. Yes, that constitutional right to privacy would include being able to say even the vilest things within the privacy of our own fucking homes, much how the constitutional right to free speech enables us to say even the vilest things. It is at our own peril that we allow the constitutional right to privacy to fall to the wayside by not defending others when their right to privacy is violated. Defending their right to privacy is not the same thing as agreeing with their words.

And I don’t believe for a nanosecond that non-whites, in private, never make any racist or negative, race-based comments about members of other races or similar comments that they wouldn’t want leaked to the public. Again, all of us have the constitutional right to privacy, and it’s quite easy for us to be hypocrites and burn the likes of Donald Sterling and Hulk Hogan at the stake when we certainly wouldn’t want certain utterances of our own to be secretly recorded and publicized (or to be recorded for our own use but then publicized against our wishes).

Finally, it can come as no surprise that, the New York Times reports, Americans right now hold a dim view of race relations. The Times reported this past week:

Seven years ago, in the gauzy afterglow of a stirring election night in Chicago, commentators dared ask whether the United States had finally begun to heal its divisions over race and atone for the original sin of slavery by electing its first black president. It has not. Not even close.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President [Barack] Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.

The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.

Respondents tended to have much sunnier views of race relations in their own communities.

For instance, while only 37 percent said they thought race relations were generally good in the United States, more than twice that share, 77 percent, thought they were good in their communities, a number that has changed little over the past 20 years. …

That 77 percent of the poll’s respondents believe that race relations are pretty good in their own communities but that only 37 percent of the respondents believe that race relations are generally good in the nation as a whole demonstrates two things, I suspect: One, that a lot of Americans probably live in neighborhoods that aren’t very diverse — Americans tend to self-segregate by race (and by other demographics, such as income and age) — and so, surrounded mostly by people like themselves, there isn’t a lot of race-based conflict in the typical American’s daily routine.

And two, having a journalism degree and valuing the First Amendment, I’m not a knee-jerk blame-the-media type, but race-based news/“news” stories, because they get viewers and readers hot and bothered and so they get the media outlets viewers and readers (and thus more money), I surmise would lead us to believe that interracial relations are significantly worse than they actually are.

I don’t at all mean to downplay what happened to Sandra Bland or to Eric Garner or to Walter Scott or to way too many others. Their deaths/murders of course needed to be reported within the news/“news” media. I mean only to point out the simple fact that when interracial relations go smoothly, very rarely is it ever considered to be “newsworthy.” When interracial relations go significantly badly, especially if death or violence or property destruction is involved, all of us hear about it.

And in today’s instantaneous media environment, we hear about it instantaneously. And no media outlet wants to be seen as being outdone by the others, so we have wolf-pack journalism/“journalism,” and so when something is in the news/“news,” we see incessant, relentless coverage of it until it’s taken over by a new outrage or tragedy or debacle.

That we hear primarily only of the bad gives us a skewed view of how horrible things actually are. Your chance of dying in an airplane crash is 1 in 11 million. Your chance of dying in a vehicular crash, however, is 1 in 5,000. But horrific plane crashes that the media cover relentlessly make flying in airplanes seem to be much more dangerous than it really is.

Not too dissimilarly, I believe, the vast majority of interactions between cops and civilians end without injury or death. Most cops actually are not out to harm or to kill anyone (most — of course, no one wants to experience, or should have to experience, the exceptions to that rule).

And Hulk Hogan and his ilk are not representative of all or even of most white people. A sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) white people…” is as likely to be as bullshit and as racist as is a sweepingly generalizing sentence that begins with “(All) black people…” And to me it’s just as offensive and just as racist to paint all white people with the same broad brush as it is to paint all members of another racial group with the same broad brush. Respect needs to work both ways for it to work at all.

Of course electing Barack Obama as president in 2008 wasn’t the magic bullet that was going to slay racism in the United States of America once and for all. As the New York Times’ reportage indicates, however, many if not most of us apparently to some degree thought that it was, at least in the “gauzy afterglow” of his initial election.

But since Obama’s arrival in the White House didn’t magically wipe out racism — since racism is much bigger than is any one person, even the president of the United States of America — nor does Obama’s departure from the White House a year and a half from now mean that racism inevitably is going to get even worse than it is now.

It’s quite trite, but it’s quite true: racism’s eradication or its persistence is up to us, to each and to every one of us.

Had I been asked to take the New York Times’ poll, I’d have responded, truthfully, that I believe that race relations in the United States actually are getting better, not worse.

That probably strikes most as counter-intuitive, given what’s in the news/“news” these days, but I say that because although racial relations in the U.S. continue to be quite messy, we’re talking about them.

Not talking about racism perpetuates it. All of us, regardless of our race, need to continue to talk about racism and we need to continue to act to eradicate it.

It’s incredibly messy. It’s awfully ugly. But we must do it nonetheless.

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We’ll have to pry away the gun nuts’ ignorance and fear

Um, yeah, this is for illustrative purposes and is not anyone whom I know

I recently was tempted to write a post, in jest, that Colorado’s recent fairly devastating flooding obviously is God’s punishment for Coloradans recently having recalled two state legislators over their support of gun control, but, alas, I let that idea go.

Wingnuts routinely claim that this or that is “God’s punishment” for this or that — as a gay man, apparently, not only do I and my kind “deserve” “God’s punishment” of AIDS, but we also are the cause of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, etc., etc. — but whatever. I don’t believe in God, and so I don’t believe in “punishments” from “God,” and even if there were such a thing as a “punishment” from “God,” no mere human being truthfully could claim to be “God’s” spokesperson who truthfully can pronounce such “punishments.”

That said, the concept of karma makes sense to me, but again, who among us can be an arbiter of karma with any actual knowledge of its workings?

Guns, though, are, in a word, bad. For the very most part.

Those who love guns overwhelmingly are ignorant and thus fearful individuals. Therefore, as President Hopey Changey once put it (accurately), they cling to their guns. Their guns give them a false sense of safety and security, when, ironically, they cannot see that it’s their own ignorance and fear that contributes to the violent environment of which they’re terrified.

While I don’t advocate that the guvmint attempt to take everyone’s guns — a position that most of us on the left are accused of holding by the wingnuts — and while I generally support the Second Amendment, it’s incredibly bad public policy for fearful, ignorant people to have such easy access to guns.

When you are drunk and/or drugged and angry and/or frightened, or even sober but angry and/or frightened, maybe having easy access to a gun isn’t such a great idea.

Fucktards like wannabe cop George Zimmerman should not be allowed anywhere near firearms. Frankly, I suspect that he carried a gun while he played cop in that gated community in Florida because he wanted to shoot someone, and that Trayvon Martin was just the poor individual who was the victim of Zimmerman’s quest for a “reason” to shoot someone.

While I can’t see that Zimmerman, as the aggressor, was acting in actual self-defense, guns can be used for actual self-defense, but it troubles me than in the year 2013, when we have so many other technological achievements, cops and others deem a lethal firearm as the best or even the only way to practice actual self-defense in many if not most if not even all cases.

How many times do we read news stories about someone who was unarmed but who nonetheless was shot to death by cops, such as the unarmed 24-year-old black man Jonathon Ferrell, whom a young white cop shot 10 times in North Carolina this past weekend? From what I can surmise, Ferrell, who had just been in a car wreck, was in shock, and so he came in the direction of the cop, probably for help, but did the cop really have to shoot at him — 12 times (hitting him 10 times)?

How can any of us, with a straight face, claim that Trayvon Martin and Jonathon Ferrell were not the victims of racial profiling?

This isn’t all abstract to me; gun violence recently hit close to home.

My 25-year-old nephew sits in a jail cell in Phoenix after he shot and killed another man earlier this month. Details of the incident, as they have reached me through relatives and as I have been able to find them on the Internet, still are sketchy; my nephew claims that he was ambushed or about to be ambushed, that two or more other males had set him up and were about to perpetrate physical violence upon him (to “jump” him, in the parlance).

My understanding is that thus far, there is no witness who is disputing my nephew’s account, as the others who were present at the shooting have evaded the Phoenix police, who would love to question them.

From what details I’ve heard, if they are factually correct, my best guess is that my nephew at worst ultimately will be convicted of manslaughter, but conceivably could be acquitted for the reason of self-defense if he and his defense team can demonstrate that he used the gun in self-defense, which, I understand, Arizona law, like Florida law, allows.

My understanding is that my nephew owned and carried the gun entirely within Arizona law, and that before the shooting incident he had no violent criminal record.

I consider my nephew to be innocent of any crime until and unless he is found otherwise by a jury of his peers (and exhausts any and all appeals, should that happen), but would I choose to carry a gun in public like we’re still living in the wild, wild West?

No.

Do I want to even see people — those of the non-law-enforcement variety, I mean — carrying guns on their persons while I’m out and about in public?

No, absofuckinglutely not, and I’m thankful that I live in California, which is a “non-permissive open carry” state, and not in one of the “permissive open carry” (or otherwise more gun-permissive) states, such as Arizona and most of the red states.

Do you really fucking need to bring a gun into, say, a Starbucks?

It’s in the news today that Starbucks’ CEO has asked that Starbucks’ patrons don’t bring guns into Starbucks locations, but that in those states where it is not illegal to openly carry firearms, Starbucks won’t ask those who are packing pistols to leave.

Where it comes to our rights, our rights end where others’ rights begin.

We sane Americans — we non-gun nuts — have the right, when we’re out and about in public, not to have to see fucktards who shouldn’t be even allowed to own a gun openly carrying a gun as though we’re still living in the wild West. We have the right not to have to fear for our own safety because some fearful idiot is carrying a gun in the name of his or her own “safety.”

Americans have the right to protect ourselves, but, it seems to me, most shooting deaths in the United States of America are not the results of cases of actual self-defense, but are cases of murder, suicide and accidental shootings (and, I suppose I should add, cases of trigger-happy, jumpy cops, many if not most of whom are white cops who are racial profilers and who probably are too young and immature to be cops anyway).

When guns for the most part cease to be about actual self-defense, it seems to me, they have become a public menace, and no one has the right to pose a menace to the public.

At this point, I think it’s fairly safe to say, the widespread ownership of and easy access to guns in the United States causes more harm than good. (I don’t even need to mention the latest gun massacre on Monday that left 12 people dead at the Washington Navy Yard, because these gun massacres are so common in the U.S. these days.)

But gun control, as Colorado voters have just demonstrated, is an incredibly sticky political subject.

The ignorant and the fearful will cling to their guns, which, the late gun nut Charlton Heston famously declared, we’ll have to pry from their “cold, dead hands.”  That’s their way.

Trying to pry the fucktards’ guns from their still-living hands, though, perhaps is the wrong approach.

It’s the ignorance and the fear, I think, that we have to tackle first, because it’s their ignorance and their fear that makes the gun nuts cling so steadfastly to their guns.

After all, ultimately, it’s not guns that kill people. It’s ignorant and fearful people who, using guns, kill people…

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Boston bombers were tweeners — homegrown and from Chechen region

This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. (AP Photo/The Lowell Sun & Robin Young)

Associated Press image

Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, right, have been identified by law-enforcement authorities as the probable perpetrators of Monday’s twin bomb blasts during the Boston Marathon that killed three and maimed many others. The brothers came to the United States from the area of war-torn Chechnya about a decade ago. The older brother was shot dead by police and the younger brother remains on the run. Despite having expressed his support of Chechen independence from Russia and his support of Islam, the younger brother on a social networking website reportedly listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So the Boston Marathon bombing apparently was indeed an act of domestic terrorism, but the apparent terrorists weren’t anyone we had suspected.

Those on the right, apparently, were hoping for an Arab terrorist or Arab terrorists, fitting in nicely and neatly with the 9/11 scenario (15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and the rest from Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates [not one of them was from Iraq, I will add]).

There was the 20-year-old Saudi man — a college student — who was tackled by a bystander at the site of the Boston Marathon just after the twin explosions on Monday because of course the Arab-looking man in the crowd was the perpetrator (of course this young man was not the perp).

The right-wing rag the New York Post (which, along with Faux “News,” is owned by right-wing plutocrat Rupert Murdoch) yesterday ran a cover image of a 17-year-old high school track athlete (the one in blue with the blue duffel bag in the image below) and called him a suspect in the Boston bombing when he never was a suspect at all. The other “bombing suspect” in the image that the Post ran on its cover (the man with the black backpack) actually is the student’s 24-year-old track coach.

new york post

But the high-school athlete and his coach, who are from Morocco, look like the usual suspects — here is another image of them that the Post published, encircling their faces with big, red, attention-grabbing rings:

— and that, for the Post, was enough.

I hope that the young men wrongfully called terrorism suspects because they were At the Boston Marathon While Arab sue the Post for libel.

I, on the other hand, had figured that the perpetrator or perpetrators of Monday’s bombing in Boston probably were along the lines of a Zeke or Jeb or Cooter or Skeeter, a homegrown, white, “tea-partying,” anti-federal-government-and-so-of-course-also-anti-tax type, such as we saw with Timothy McVeigh. I mean, a bombing on Tax Day in Boston, home of the Boston Tea Party.

It turns out that the actual probable perps of the bombing apparently are somewhere between the two stereotypical terrorist types of the “Islamofascist” from abroad and the terrorist from home. There is more to be learned, but that’s where it stands right now.

The probable perps of Monday’s terrorist attack in Boston reportedly were two brothers from the area of Chechnya (also called the Chechen Republic, which is part of Russia), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tamerlan, 26, reportedly was shot dead during a police shootout that took place in Boston between yesterday, when the brothers’ surveillance-camera images were released by the FBI, and early this morning, and Dzhokhar, 19, a student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, reportedly still is on the run. I hope that he is captured alive so that we learn more about the motives behind the bombing.

Being an American, I don’t know much about Chechnya, but there is Wikipedia, a blogger’s best friend, and from Wikipedia I see that Chechnya has a population of less than 2 million people, and that racially, the denizens of Chechnya are grouped as “Caucasoid,” Wikipedia notes, adding, “The majority of Chechens are dark-haired (medium to dark brown or black), but there are Chechens with blond or even red hair, while eye color ranges from blue to brown and skin tone is typically rather pale and light (though there are some Chechens with olive complexions).”

Arabs, anthropologically speaking, also are “Caucasoid,” but apparently among the Chechens there are some who look Anglo (all Anglos are “Caucasoid,” but not all who are “Caucasoid” are Anglo).

The right-wingers no doubt feel vindicated, however,  over the fact that (per Wikipedia) “Islam is the predominant religion in Chechnya. Chechens are overwhelmingly adherents to Sunni Islam, the country having converted to Islam between the 16th and the 19th centuries.”

But Chechens aren’t Arabs, the usual terrorism suspects in the eyes of many if not most Americans, and reportedly the Tsarnaev brothers came to the United States about decade ago as refugees from the war-torn Chechnya.

Because they (have) lived in the United States for about a decade, and because they came here when they were young, I still would call the Tsarnaev brothers homegrown terrorists, but, of course, not of the usual variety of homegrown terrorists.

My guess is that the older Tsarnaev brother influenced the younger, and that the older brother was quite unstable and the younger brother was quite impressionable, as younger brothers often are.

Yahoo! News notes that Tamerlan Tsarnaev reportedly had a wife and young child and that “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was remembered by former classmates as bright and personable, posted links to pro-Chechnyan independence sites on his social media page, and listed his worldview as ‘Islam.'”

Yahoo! News also reports that “in an emotional press conference,” the brothers’ uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, “said his nephews had brought shame upon his family, and called them ‘losers.’ He said they were not ‘able to settle themselves’ and were ‘angry at everyone who was able to.’ He said he did not believe they were motivated by the radical politics in Chechnya or their Muslim religion.”

Again, hopefully the younger brother will be captured alive and will tell us exactly what happened and why. His role might have been only as an accessory to his much more radicalized older brother, it seems to me.

The take-home lesson in all of this, it also seems to me, is that any chronically angry young man, foreign or domestic, white-skinned or brown-skinned, identifying as a Muslim or a Christian (or as a member of another religion), can perpetrate an act violence or even of terrorism — chronic anger and testosterone are a dangerous, explosive mix — and that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks in the future is to address, seriously and significantly, that which causes chronic anger in young men.

Chief among those causes here at home, it seems to me, is a lack of economic opportunity in the United States of America. In the so-called land of opportunity, our young people are struggling. And, despite their hard work and their struggle, they are told that their lack of progress is entirely their fault — certainly not the fault of the plutocratic system of the haves and the have-nots that actually has their failure built in, that has institutionalized it, pretty much guaranfuckingteed it, in fact.

Before you claim that I’m full of shit, know that while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (according to Reuters) on his Russian-language social networking website posted links to websites promoting Islam and Chechen independence from Russia, he listed his “personal priority” as “career and money.”

So while his Chechen birth gave him an identity as a Chechen/Chechen American and a Muslim, his most immediate personal concern apparently was “career and money.”

And over that issue, it seems to me, we Americans, who forfuckingever now have been perfectly complacent with our system of haves and have-nots that eats its own young, should be surprised — and probably thankful — that justifiably chronically angry young men of all identities in the United States aren’t blowing shit up all over the fucking place.

P.S. I have to note that while I find the pervasive presence of surveillance cameras in public to pose real threats to privacy, and to create an oppressive, Big-Brother-like atmosphere, one has to be impressed, I think, by the swiftness with which the apparent perpetrators of Monday’s terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon were identified by law-enforcement officials.

Once the FBI released the surveillance-camera images of the two suspects yesterday, it was just a matter of time before they were identified as the Tsarnaev brothers.

Update: I want to be accurate, so let me clarify: Apparently the Tsarnaev brothers might have come to the United States from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, and the brothers are (well, one is and one was…), according to media reports, “ethnic Chechens.” I am not certain of the exact nation of the brothers’ birth, but apparently they were born in one or both of the two neighboring nations of Chechnya and Dagestan.

Per Wikipedia, Dagestan has a population of about 3 million and, like Chechnya, its primary religion is Sunni Islam.

From Wiki, here is a map of Chechnya and Dagestan:

And here is a map of the larger area, known as the North Caucasus:

File:Chechnya and Caucasus.png

Second update: According to NBC News, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born in Kyrgyzstan and became a U.S. citizen on Sept. 11 of last year, and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was married to a U.S. citizen and had hoped to become a U.S. citizen himself, was born in Russia. The Associated Press reports that

Dzhokhar’s page on the Russian social networking site Vkontakte says that before moving to the United States, he attended School No. 1 in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus that has become an epicenter of the Islamic insurgency that spilled over from Chechnya. On the site, he describes himself as speaking Chechen as well as English and Russian.

The same AP story also reports that the two brothers “had come to the United States about 10 years ago from a Russian region near Chechnya [Dagestan, I presume], according to an uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md. They had two sisters. As kids they rode bikes and skateboards on quiet Norfolk Street in Cambridge, Mass.”

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Our national Rorschach test results

Updated below

NorthJersey.com image

We didn’t have just a bombing in Boston yesterday, did we? We had a national Rorschach test, didn’t we? We have seen what we have been predisposed to see, haven’t we?

The folks at Westboro Baptist Church say that yesterday’s terrorist attack in Boston was God’s punishment for Massachusetts’ having instituted same-sex marriage. I guess that would be God’s very delayed reaction, since Massachusetts instituted same-sex marriage way back in 2004.

Sadly and pathetically, police have questioned a 20-year-old man from Saudi Arabia attending school in Boston apparently primarily because he was At the Boston Marathon While Arab. Reportedly a bystander who had appointed himself a modern-day Paul Revere tackled the Arab man, who apparently looked suspicious! because he was an Arab-looking man running away from the blasts — go figure! I mean, the normal human response would be to run toward the blasts, into harm’s way, right? And what was an Arab man doing at the Boston Marathon anyway?

(The young Arab man’s roommate says that he’s very most likely innocent. I have to agree. This very most likely is a case of racial profiling, it seems to me. I hope that the Paul Revere who tackled the Arab man is brought to justice — that he at least is sued by the Arab man, if not also criminally prosecuted for the apparent assault and battery.)

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (another paranoid, right-leaning white man) has posited that the U.S. government perpetrated the bombings in order to discredit and oppress the members of the so-called “tea party” and like-minded individuals.

Never mind that such a so-called “false-flag” operation would be incredibly difficult to pull off. Who would be willing to perpetrate it, knowing that he (or she) might be caught and prosecuted one day? And who would order it to be done, knowing that he or she also might be caught and prosecuted one day? Think of the number of people who would have to cooperate in such an operation. How would you ensure that none of them ever talked?

And never mind that the “tea party” peaked a long time ago and today is a but a shadow of its former self. You would go that far to try to weaken or destroy the “tea party” or any other political group only if it actually had a lot of power and influence.

That the wingnuts pre-emptively claim that yesterday’s terrorist attack is only being blamed on the wingnuts in order to discredit the wingnuts does not mean, of course, that homegrown wingnuts did not perpetrate the crime.

Taken all together, it sure looks like homegrown wingnutty terrorism to me.

Besides being Tax Day, yesterday also was Patriots’ Day, a day that is obscure here in California but that is big in Massachusetts and in Maine. (Indeed, the Boston Marathon is held in conjunction with Patriots’ Day.)

Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in April. It was on Patriots’ Day in 1995 that homegrown wingnutty terrorist Timothy McVeigh, a disaffected young white man (if we want to do any racial profiling…), bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City.

So: Tax Day. Patriots’ Day (Timothy McVeigh’s chosen day for his act of domestic terrorism, in which 168 people were killed). The city of Boston’s symbolism of revolution against oppressive taxation and an oppressive government (McVeigh believed that he was crusading against an oppressive federal government). Massachusetts being a dark-blue state, a bastion of liberalism. (My guess is that a homegrown wingnutty terrorist most likely would attack a real or perceived liberal population rather than a conservative one or even a mixed one.)

Again, I can’t see the “Islamofascists” having perpetrated yesterday’s terrorist attack in Boston. This looks like an inside job to me, and by “inside job” I don’t mean by the Obama administration or by any part of the U.S. government (as much as a fan of the center-right Obama administration and the center-right U.S. government that I am not).

A professional “Islamofascist” terrorist organization would have killed more than just three people, it seems to me. This seems like a much more amateurish terrorist job.

The only real question that remains in my mind is how many people perpetrated yesterday’s terrorist attack.

My guess is that at least two or three people were involved, but I suppose that we can’t rule out a “lone wolf” like then-32-year-old Norweigan right-wing nutjob Anders Behring Breivik, who in July 2011 slaughtered 77 people whom he considered the enemy because he perceived them (correctly or not) as liberal.

Ironically, Breivik hates Muslims, as do his Islamophobic cohorts here at home, yet it seems to me that as a gay man and a left-winger, I’m more likely to be killed by one of these domestic “Christo”fascists that I’m ever likely to be snuffed out by an “Islamofascist.” I am much more concerned about our wonderful homegrown terrorists than I am about terrorists from abroad.

These are the results of my own Rorschach test, but my test results, I wager, are much more likely to be shown to be the actual case than are the other results that I’ve been reading about.

Update: My bad: Apparently Timothy McVeigh picked the date of April 19, 1995, to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building because that date marked the second anniversary of the siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993. April 17, not April 19, was Patriots’ Day in 1995. (Patriots’ Day was on April 19 in 1993, however.)

McVeigh may not even have been aware of Patriots’ Day, it seems to me.

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Bumbling Brewer belongs behind bars

Jan Brewer

Associated Press photo

Repugnican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a geriatric Barbie, is shown before the start of her first and last disastrous gubernatorial debate Wednesday night in Phoenix. Brewer’s speaking skills aren’t her worst crime, however; she very apparently has corrupt ties to the private prison industry, and the “breathing-while-brown” bill that she signed apparently was meant to send more business the private prison industry’s way.

Dorothy must have thrown some water on the Wicked Witch of the Southwest, Repugnican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, because Brewer had a meltdown on live television.

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed watching, over and over again, the clip of Brewer freezing on live TV as she delivered her opening statement in her debate Wednesday night with her Democratic challenger Terry Goddard (who now is Arizona’s attorney general) like a nervous elementary school child delivering a book report.

Brewer’s word choice in the debate was as sophisticated as an elementary school child’s, too. This is how she opened before having a painfully long Alzheimer’s moment of silence in which she appeared not to even be able to remember her own name: “I have, uh, [long pause] done so much, and I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I have become your governor in the last 600 days. Arizona has been brought back from its abyss….”

Yikes.

“We have changed everything”? “Arizona has been brought back from its abyss”?

Really?

The rest of the nation is still reeling from the devastation wrought not only by Hurricane Katrina but also by Hurricane George and Hurricane Dick, but under the governance of the Wicked Witch of the Southwest, Arizona is a magical oasis that has been “brought back from its abyss”?

What about Brewer’s other talking point, which is that the “illegals” have put Arizona into an abyss? Is Arizona in an abyss or has Brewer rescued it from an abyss? Which is it?

Brewer clearly isn’t fit to be governor even of Alaska. Her performance at her first and apparently final debate isn’t her only meltdown caught on tape. Rachel Maddow’s reportage of Brewer’s debate meltdown shows that Brewer struggles to speak coherently in public and that when confronted with questions from reporters who don’t lick her lily-white ass, like good reporters should, Brewer bolts like Nevada’s Sharron “Second Amendment Remedies” Angle.

And after her debacle of a debate performance, Brewer has refused to participate in any more debates from now until election day. (Her Democratic opponent has proposed that they have six debates.)

Yeah, that’s the fearless leadership that’s going to bring Arizona out of “its abyss” (or already has brought Arizona out of “its abyss” — I’m so confused…). What Arizona really needs now is an easily addled old woman who believes (as Sharron Angle believes) that the media’s job is to give her free positive publicity.

Years ago, as a reporter for the student newspaper at the University of Arizona in Tucson, I interviewed at some length Brewer’s Democratic opponent, Terry Goddard, who at that time had just been the mayor of Phoenix and was running for the governorship against Repugnican Richie-Rich frat boy Fife Symington III, who went on to beat Goddard but who later was forced to resign the governorship in disgrace after he was convicted of bank fraud in 1997.

I remember virtually nothing of my interview with Goddard (it was, after all, 20 years ago, and I don’t have a copy of the article that I wrote from that interview), but I remember being impressed with how intelligent and well-spoken — and thus virtually gubernatorially unelectable in Arizona — Goddard is.  

Seriously, though: intelligent, competent, honest politicians like Goddard don’t do very well in Arizona. Arizonans prefer crooked dumbfucks like racist Mormon motherfucker Repugnican dipshit Evan Mecham, the state’s first governor to be impeached and removed from office (under a cloud of financial fraud); the felonious Fife Symington III; and Jan Alzheimer — er, Jan Brewer, whose centerpiece for her campaign for the governorship (to which she ascended after Arizona’s elected Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, was tapped to become President Barack Obama’s secretary of homeland security) has been to assert that all of the state’s problems are caused by undocumented immigrants (mostly from Mexico) — even though a new study from the Pew Hispanic Center finds that illegal immigration to the United States between 2007 and 2009 was about two-thirds less than it was between 2000 and 2005. So illegal immigration is declining, not increasing.

There’s also the interesting angle that Brewer’s campaign manager, Chuck Coughlin, also does the public relations for the Tennessee-based private prisons corporation Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) — which apparently has stood to profit from SB 1070, which the Phoenix New Times appropriately called the “breathing-while-brown” law that the racist, white supremacist Brewer enthusiastically signed into law — and that a federal judge then appropriately struck down as unconstitutional.*

“What’s the big deal with the CCA contributions [to Brewer’s political interests]?” the New Times asks and then answers: “CCA operates six prisons in Arizona, three of which house detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

So apparently CCA helps Jan Brewer and Jan Brewer helps CCA by assuring that CCA has plenty of brown-skinned bodies to be incarcerated in its private prison facilities.

(Rachel Maddow also has been reporting on Brewer’s apparently corrupt ties to CCA; she did an excellent report on the matter here.)

Jan Brewer belongs not in the governor’s chair, but belongs behind bars for corruption, even though she only dutifully corruptly follows in the corrupt footsteps of her corrupt Repugnican (redundant…) predecessors Evan Mecham and Fife Symington III.

Even if she weren’t corrupt and racist and white supremacist, Brewer’s refusal to participate in any more debates demonstrates that she is utterly unfit to continue to govern Arizona, which she has made into a national pariah enough already.

P.S. I just saw this at the Arizona Republic’s website:

As for that opening statement, Brewer said in an interview [yesterday] that her mind went blank. “If someone had asked me my name, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them,” she said.

Shit, I was just joking (for the most part) when I referred to Brewer’s “painfully long Alzheimer’s moment of silence in which she appeared not to even be able to remember her own name.”

Apparently, according to Jan “What’s My Name?” Brewer herself, it was no joke.

If Arizonans actually elect this Alzheimer’s special, they’re even dumber that we of the rest of the nation already think they are.

*In a similar vein, the Los Angeles Times reports:

The U.S. Department of Justice [yesterday] sued a controversial and popular Arizona sheriff, alleging that his department was refusing to cooperate with an investigation into whether it discriminated against Latinos while trying to catch illegal immigrants.

The Justice Department said that Maricopa County [which encompasses Phoenix and is not on the border with Mexico] Sheriff Joe Arpaio was the first local law enforcement official in 30 years to refuse to provide documents in a federal civil rights inquiry. The federal government could withhold $113 million in funding from Maricopa County if Arpaio can’t produce records demonstrating that he avoids racial discrimination.

“The actions of the sheriff’s office are unprecedented. It is unfortunate that the department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the department’s Civil Rights Division…

Arpaio claims that the Obama administration is playing politics, of course, but the L.A. Times also notes that

In the summer of 2008, under President George W. Bush, the Justice Department launched a preliminary investigation into the allegations of racial profiling [by Arpaio’s office]. In March 2009, after President Obama had assumed office, the department expanded the inquiry into a full-fledged probe.

What the white supremacists who run Arizona (Brewer, Arpaio, et. al.) — and their white supremacist supporters — apparently don’t get is that each state has to follow federal law, including the federal civil rights laws, and so that Arizona doesn’t get to be the South Africa of the Southwest.

Arpaio, I have to say, is a major racist, fascistic asshole who deserves to be relegated to the dustbin of white supremacist history along with Jan Brewer.

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Al and Jesse, get right on it!

Los Angeles Lakers Rick Fox, center, holds his arms up in the ...

Associated Press photo

The caption for this AP photo reads: “Los Angeles Lakers [player] Rick Fox … holds his arms up in the air as he pretends to be arrested by ‘Star Wars’ stormtroopers at [the] Comic-Con International 2009 convention … in San Diego [yesterday]….”

Hmmm… Good fun or racial profiling?

After all, the arresting officers are white.

For laughs, Fox should have told the stormtroopers, “You don’t know who you’re messing with!” — which is what Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. reportedly told the white cop who arrested him…

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