No Good Cops

I don't make the laws, I just enforce them

The comedian Todd Glass does a podcast I like for its improvisational spirit and quirky humor. “The Todd Glass Show” is popular with stoners, comics, anti-establishmentarians and everyone else who digs Todd’s antic energy and nimble mind. Todd is Todd. He’s real. He’s honest and open and entertainingly transparent, and what you mostly hear is a kind and compassionate soul who really does believe We, the collective We, can and will do better. Todd’s an optimist.

He’s also, paradoxically, a big fan of police “ride-alongs.” He’s done many over more than 30 years, and throughout the 140+ episodes of his show Todd’s talked about them occasionally, usually to convey the sense of excitement of being in a real live police car with lights and sirens and real live policeman with a uniform and badge and a gun.

Many of us have a thing for men in uniform, . . . → Read More: No Good Cops

Privacy Shmrivacy

Activists Rally In New York In Support Of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

The comedian Pete Holmes used to do a bit about how Facebook was actually a giant government conspiracy to get us to give up our privacy rights. Three years ago, it seemed funny.

That a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe Edward Snowden ought to be tried for high crimes – treason is the offense of choice – instead of lauded as an activist making all of us wiser suggests that Pete’s joke might in fact be the truth.

As Lawrence Wright recently reported in The New Yorker, the CIA knew Al Qaeda was in the USA two years before 9/11. None of the sixty or more people at the Agency who knew about the operatives cooperated with colleagues at the FBI. (Many of these folks were subsequently promoted for reasons that remain unclear.) Edward Snowden broke the law, and war-mongers like California’s grouchy . . . → Read More: Privacy Shmrivacy

What Has 2014 Wrought?

colorado-weed map

There once was a magic crystal ball that “fell” to Times Square on the stroke of Midnight. When the magic ball dropped, 2013 changed into 2014. And suddenly everything was different.

Well, not everything. Orwellian doublespeak was still flourishing. Time Warner was still telling their customers that an impending 18% price increase was in fact a new and, in their words, “great” promotional rate extended to their most valued patrons. Auntie Dianne Feinstein, she of the oxymoronically named Senate Intelligence Committee, was still insisting that Edward Snowden was a traitor, not an American hero, even though a federal judge had found that the secret government surveillance programs he exposed (the ones Auntie Dianne and her legislative cabal secretly authorized) were illegal, and even though the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Guardian were calling on the Obama administration to offer clemency to Snowden in . . . → Read More: What Has 2014 Wrought?

The Slow Motion Holocaust

a typcial black male

Identification, ostracism, confiscation, concentration, and annihilation.

Those are the key steps in all genocides. We haven’t yet accomplished the final solution, the annihilation part, but we’ve done a brilliant job of the first four steps in our slow-motion holocaust against the American Underclass, the perpetually poor lowest ten percent of our society. The clever part, the really insidious part, is that while perpetrating our crime we’ve avoided the international community’s approbation. Indeed, we’ve earned begrudging praise for figuring out how to warehouse our unwanted black males and uneducated white trash behind bars, where they can’t hurt our precious children. And we’ve built a profitable, fast-growing new industry to boot: the for-profit prison business. So long as there are plenty of useless poor folk lying about playing dominoes and smoking weed, we’ll always have plenty of bodies to fill the cells, keeping the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, . . . → Read More: The Slow Motion Holocaust

The House I Live In

House Ilive in

Eugene Jarecki’s award-winning documentary, “The House I Live In,” is necessary viewing for anyone who mistakenly thinks continuing our disastrous War on Drugs, declared by Richard Nixon in 1971, is a good idea. The genius of this film is that it examines the toll our national folly and hypocrisy takes not only on entire communities of poor people, but also on the law enforcement personnel who do the manual labor for America’s splendid Prison Industry. By systematically dismantling the Drug War’s lies and propaganda, “The House I Live In” speaks truth to power. There’s plenty of shame to go around — but the bulk of it rests on the conscience of anyone (such as Barack Obama) who thinks incarcerating drug users accomplishes anything but the destruction of lives.

. . . → Read More: The House I Live In

To Protect and to Serve and to Text

Officer Fink can drive, text AND police his beat

Terminal 3 at LAX is where we go when booked on Alaska Airlines. We’re familiar with the terminal’s passenger screening area, where, last week, an angry white male drew a gun and began shooting TSA agents, killing one, wounding many others, and sending hundreds of terrified bystanders running for safety out of emergency exits and onto the tarmac. The gunman was eventually chased down and shot near the food court, far down the hallway from where he entered.

Although each terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is designed slightly different than the others, with minor variances in how traffic flows through checkpoints, they have a common design feature in the security zones: a desk or observation post manned by an armed Los Angeles Airport Police officer. Sometimes two.

A police officer with a gun. A fellow citizen authorized to use deadly force in exchange . . . → Read More: To Protect and to Serve and to Text

Money Well Spent

192897-us-davis-police-lt-john-pike-dousing-seated-students-with-pepper-spray

California’s overseers of worker’s compensation awards have determined that Lt. John Pike, the University of California cop who pepper-sprayed non-violent student protesters as they sat peaceably on the ground, is entitled to $38,000 from state taxpayers in light of the actual pain and acute stress suffered as a result of the incident. Seems Officer Pike got thousands of unpleasant emails, text messages and letters questioning his fitness to protect and serve the students of California, which really bummed him out. He filed a claim over the summer.

The state Division of Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board said the ruling “resolves all claims of psychiatric injury specific or due to continuous trauma from applicant’s employment at UC Davis.” The decision, “is in line with permanent impairment as calculated by the state’s disability evaluation unit,” UC Davis spokesman Andy Fell announced.

Great! That explains everything perfectly. A brave defender of . . . → Read More: Money Well Spent

Muzzle the Bums!

panhandler with values

The government shutdown didn’t last long enough last week to stop a federal judge from overturning an Arizona anti-begging law. He said it was unconstitutional. He said it infringed on the “free speech” rights of beggars.

Since when do beggars have rights? (We already know they don’t have choices, since beggars can’t be choosers.) The City of Flagstaff clearly understood the difference between tax-paying, property-owning, police-protected citizens and worthless bums. During a one-year period monitored by the busybodies at the ACLU, Flagstaff police arrested an estimated 135 bums on “suspicion of loitering to beg.” In some cases, the offenders were jailed, which maybe was a better place to spend the night than underneath a freeway overpass. The ACLU filed a federal suit on behalf of a 77-year-old-woman who was arrested when she asked a hard-working and perspicacious undercover officer for bus fare. (And if that’s not a . . . → Read More: Muzzle the Bums!

To Fail Too Big

bank_error_in_your_favor

Remember back in 2008, when it was decided by those who decide such things that Lehman Brothers wasn’t too big to fail, and the planet’s financial infrastructure melted down? Remember when the mortgage bubble built from “collateralized debt” burst like cheap balloons?

It’s been five years. Memories fade. You may have already forgotten that the bankers behind the economic collapse were permitted to (re)write the legislation regulating their anarchic industry. And that not one of them went to prison. Or ever faced a trial. Or were even charged with any crimes.

Malfeasance of such obviousness and grotesqueness would shame the normal person. The bankers, though, resorted to a kind of persuasiveness typically found at the end of a gun barrel. The masterminds behind the massive fraud convinced their political assets in both of the parties they control that the banks were too big to fail. The banks . . . → Read More: To Fail Too Big

Sanitary Mafias

The Godfather of hand kisses

Opportunistic petty criminals, the kind that go after old lady pocketbooks and unattended bicycles, generally aren’t very organized. They don’t have thorough long-range plans and an extensive network of colleagues to help coordinate their heists. Most unsuccessful criminals are desperate loners, independent contractors of malfeasance who can never stay one step ahead of The Man.

The ones that have their act together, the ones who run their illegal enterprise just like a profit-seeking business would, we call “organized crime.” Various mafias — the Italian, Russian, Mexican, Jamaican, Serbian, and Salvadoran chief among them — have earned our grudging fear and respect for their organizational discipline and managerial excellence. These mafias know what they’re doing. They’d be on the cover of Fortune if only what they were doing was legal – or at least as legal as gaming the energy markets and flipping a distressed homeowner’s property just . . . → Read More: Sanitary Mafias