New York’s “Finest”, indeed…

The NYPD is up to its old hijinks again. This time, they choked to death a 43-year-old asthmatic father of six on a Staten Island sidewalk for — allegedly — selling untaxed cigarettes. The entire exchange, of course, was caught on a cell phone camera.

It’s the same thing we’ve seen dozens of times before, both in New York and elsewhere. The police show up and bully a guy for no fucking reason at all, slam him to the ground when he understandably becomes indignant, and then stand around with their thumbs up their asses while he slowly dies handcuffed on the sidewalk. They know they’re assholes. They know they’re on camera. They simply do not give a shit.

If there’s a silver lining to this particular case, it is that the City of New York is taking a serious look at the “standing around with their thumbs up their asses” phase of this procedure. Somewhat perturbed by the lack of action taken by EMTs as Eric Garner lay unresponsive — to the point where bystanders were pleading with them to give Garner CPR — they have decided to toss four of these turdwads on desk duty pending an investigation.

Meanwhile, the officer who actually deployed the chokehold — a maneuver banned by the NYPD for reasons that should now be obvious — has been stripped of his badge and gun.

All of these are positive steps taken by the De Blasio administration, but they will prove wholly inadequate in the long run if preventing police killings is the City’s ultimate goal. The problem runs deeper than choke holds or the inaction of officers. The problem is societal. If the public is of the opinion that criminals who resist arrest — for whatever crime, for whatever reason — deserve whatever ill fate befalls them, then we should expect to see shit like this with marked regularity, and we do.

Just last year the Albuquerque Police Department, subject to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, was found to be engaged “in a pattern or practice violating residents’ Fourth Amendment rights” and of deploying deadly force in an “unconstitutional manner”. In the four years prior to the USDOJ investigation, APD had killed 23 people and wounded 14… an officer violence rate outstripping both New York and Chicago.

But what do the people of Albuquerque do? Protest, of course… in support of officers who shoot and kill their neighbors. And they sang the same refrain we’ve heard a thousand times before:

“They’re a group of highly trained professionals who do a great job,” said Janet Mitchell from Albuquerque. “They do a wonderful job. They don’t get the luxury of second guessing everything they do like the public does.”

“I’m here to support the police. I think they have a hard job and the community needs to stand behind them,” said Lou Devens from Albuquerque.

Policing is a hard job. Police are oftentimes required to make split-second decisions. So fucking what? They get to kill people with impunity? Really?

Imagine the world we’d live in if people showed the Postal Service the same deference they showed their police officers.

 

The only person who can stop a bad guy with a howitzer is a good guy with a howitzer

Unless said bad guy steals your howitzer and shoots at you from twenty miles away.

Which is, more or less, what ISIS intends to do.

The group is now firmly entrenched in their holdings and the Iraqi military, as before, is reluctant (or unable) to launch an offensive against them. The 52 American-made and supplied M198 155mm howitzers they captured ought to come in handy; they can park them up to 25 miles away from Baghdad and shell the city with pinpoint accuracy, thanks to the M982 Excalibur GPS-guided 155mm artillery shells they also happened upon in the pillaging. (more…)

In Extremis

The Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled yesterday that craft-superstore chain Hobby Lobby could, on religious grounds, exempt itself from a federal law that required contraception be covered under employees’ health plans. It was a bad ruling, but an entirely unsurprising one given the five conservative Republican justices’ positions on the issues of “religious freedom” and corporate personhood.

The majority opinion, written up by Justice Alito with Justice Kennedy concurring, is as intellectually stimulating as a well-placed boot heel to the balls:

In our constitutional tradition, freedom means that all persons have the right to believe or strive to believe in a divine creator and a divine law. For those tho choose this course, free exercise is essential in preserving their own dignity and in striving for a self-definition shaped by their religious precepts. … It means, too, the right to express those beliefs and to establish one’s religious (or nonreligious) self-definition in the political, civic, and economic life of our larger community.

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Romantic racism

Perusing the internets a while back, I came across this picture posted on a prominent pro-liberal web forum:

1145669097_1380901537

 

The image certainly reflects the mentality of a very vocal subset of liberals who, right or wrong, see western civilization as having gone off the rails. They are a people who desire a simpler existence uncomplicated by the deleterious effects of mass production, corporate capitalism, and a materialist, consumer-oriented culture. Like the Beat-generation before them, these “modern primitives” have latched onto fringe cultures they feel buck against the dominant culture in their own societies. We’ve all met them; they are the  ones throwing money at Deepak Chopra or pretending to be Native Americans. While it is worth pointing out I generally disagree with their assessment of western cultures, that’s not what bothers me about the picture. Rather, what gets me is the unashamed, flagrant, and patently illiberal racism of the whole thing. (more…)

Iraq is for lovers

According to the New York Times, President Obama is now considering military options in response to a rapid ISIS takeover of northern Iraq. I don’t envy him. Whatever decision he makes is likely to turn into an enormous clusterfuck.

Someone Set Up Us The Bomb

Speculation is the force will be limited to airstrikes or targeted drone strikes. While that’s preferable to putting boots on the ground, these strikes will be of little consequence so long as ISIS remains holed up in cities like Mosul, Tikrit and Samarra. ISIS isn’t strong, numerically speaking, and there are plentiful places to hide and/or shield one’s self with non-combatants. That should be enough to give Obama pause. Killing extremists does not kill extremism; any collateral damage taken in these Sunni-majority cities could easily reignite simmering sectarian conflict boost ISIS’ popularity in the region.

Neither, however, can we sit on our hands and let this play out. Take a look:

Courtesy GoogleEarth

Courtesy GoogleEarth

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