Thursday, July 11, 2013


The Case Against STOP AND FRISK
            We have heard it all before.  This will handcuff the police… Crime will explode…The public safety will be at risk!”
            These were just a few of the law enforcement pronouncements that emerged more than four decades ago after the Supreme Court of the United States leveled the, now famous, Miranda decision.  It was widely regarded that allowing law enforcement to violate a basic right of persons only suspected of a crime or misdemeanor was the best way for police officers to properly do their job.  Now, more than forty years later, we are faced with the same excuses as police forces are allowed to run roughshod over the Fourth Amendment under the auspices of public safety using the policy called STOP AND FRISK.
            Having executed more than half a million Stop and Frisks annually, the New York Police Department has discovered only a negligible number of guns.  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contends that even finding one gun, which might save one life, is worth the 600,000 or more invasions into the lives and liberty of, mostly black and Latino men.  If this wholly corrupt policy of Stop and Frisk is supposed to be about guns and gun violence, why are hundreds and thousands of non-gun carrying men of color being subjected to the criminal justice system for drug possession?
            Award winning syndicated radio host and television personality, Don Imus, has raised millions of dollars for charity throughout his career.  His wife is a best-selling author who specializes in diet and environmental issues.  They run a non-profit cattle ranch in New Mexico hosting teenagers afflicted with cancer, sickle cell anemia and those siblings of victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  In the past, Mr. Imus has related a story wherein a couple of homicide detectives, on a routine canvass, entered his home to question if he had seen anything relating to a recent murder in his neighborhood.  According to Imus, a bunch of cocaine was out in full view at the time.  Imagine the difference in all of the aforementioned lives and their families had those homicide detectives informed the Narcotics Division to get a search warrant for Mr. Imus’ premises.  Now realize all of the damage done, educational and job opportunities lost, and the untold grief experienced by the multitude of individuals and their families, almost exclusively black and Latino, who have been charged with drug possession under the guise of gun violence prevention.
            Police Departments have been using Stop and Frisk to bolster their arrest records and federal funding as part of the decades of failure of the War on Drugs.  A more honest approach would have been for the courts to allow the confiscation of illegal drugs but the release of all suspects who were not in possession of a firearm.  In August of 2012, the NYPD discovered a massive weapons cache at a home in Astoria.  And in December of that same year, another major weapons arsenal was found in Greenwich Village.  Another cache was discovered in Staten Island.  Yet tens of thousands of Stop and Frisks did not, and do not, occur in those neighborhoods.   
            President Obama was targeted and Attorney General Eric Holder was called on the carpet before Congress when it was discovered that, under an ill-advised sting operation dubbed FAST AND FURIOUS, started during the GW Bush administration, weapons were lost and a federal agent was killed.  However, persons of color are dying on the streets of major American cities by the hundreds, from illegal guns, and the US Congress is silent.
            It is well known that many of those guns are purchased out of state and subsequently sold on the streets of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere.  Yet the Congress has had no public hearings and called no ATF agents, supervisors or directors to testify as to their lack of effectiveness into the interstate transportation of guns, nor have they subpoenaed any Governors to testify as to how a gun purchased in their state(s) wound up killing an innocent person a thousand miles away.  The death of one ATF agent as a result of a botched government program and the deaths of four diplomats at the hands of a zealous mob in Benghazi, Libya ignited the 24 hour news media as Congress allegedly vowed to get to the bottom of these tragedies.  However, in neighborhoods of people of color where five deaths might be considered a calm month, the US Congress sees no such national crisis.
            This targeting of minorities, under force of law, is not a new phenomenon.  The inferior status of Jews was established in September 1935 by the Nuremberg Laws.  According to the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE HOLOCAUST, these laws “officially revoked the civil equality won by Jews in the period of the Emancipation and gave legal force to racist principles… to separate the Jews as individuals and as a group from the rest of the population.”   The Nazi policies were “calculated to eliminate the Jews from public and social life, take away their civil rights, and crush them economically.”  Edward B. Westermann confirms these policies in HITLER’S POLICE BATTALIONS.  He writes, “The regular police also played an important role in enforcing discriminatory ordinances and statutes… including the enforcement of the provisions of the “Nuremberg Laws” of 1935.”
            The use of Stop and Frisk as a rationale for curbing gun violence should not be heralded as legitimate.  There are several methods of policing that can also be used to stem the waves of gun violence.  The police can use excessive force, coerced confessions, quarter officers in suspected homes, conduct warrantless searches and refuse to honor the Miranda decision.  However, there exists well-documented, historical reasons among the American legal landscape as to why these methods will not be employed.  And they are the very same historical reasons why the policy of Stop and Frisk should be halted.
It has not been outlawed because incarcerating and marginalizing persons of color for dubious reasons is also something we have heard before.  It was infamously noted by Chief Justice Roger Taney in his Dred Scott v. Sanford majority opinion.  Blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


In his best depiction of faux outrage on a recent MEET THE PRESS, Sen. John McCain asked host David Gregory, “Do you care that four Americans are dead?”  There are so many relevant questions that could have been fired back at McCain’s insistence on keeping the murders in Benghazi on his front burner it is hard to know where to begin. 

But let’s try!  Gregory could have asked the Arizona Senator why he was holding Sen. Hagel, designee for Secretary of Defense, to answer for the State Dept. and the White House national security team. Or he could have asked why a Defense Dept. nominee would  be privy to information of an ongoing investigation not involving the Defense Dept.  Better yet, David Gregory could have asked John McCain if he, Sens. Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz care that almost 2000 Americans have died of gun violence since December right here in the United States.  Are the lost lives of those 2000, also their fellow Americans, any less worthy of the outrage he feigns for the four killed in  Benghazi?

It is difficult to pinpoint which of his losses since the 2000 campaign toward the presidency has transformed John McCain from a respected and honorable statesman into a bitter, intransigent shill for the hard right conservative movement which has cared more about damaging any positive aura, idea or legislative proposal surrounding President Obama than they care about the positive progress of the nation and its citizenry.

Any consumers of the Fox News Channel’s primetime lineup following the Sept. 11th Benghazi attack would have been hard pressed to know that a presidential election was taking place in less than 60 days as those hosts reverted to an all Benghazi all the time information station.  It left those consumers virtually unaware that Latino-Americans, nationwide, were organizing to re-elect the president.  And, having garnered approximately 72% of the Latino vote, Barack Obama has compelled, even some of the more strident Congressional Republicans, conservative think-tank operators, and neo-conservative radio and television talk show hosts to get serious about a less than harsh avenue of immigration reform for long time undocumented immigrants.

Almost immediately after the Nov. 6th election, Sen. McCain went on the record for his approval of comprehensive immigration reform because, “We keep losing elections!”  While the GOP’s sudden concern about Latinos in America is touching, it is woefully transparent.  Instead of looking to future elections, why are they not concerned about young Latinos bullied into gangs, the substandard schools they attend, their lack of available work, the level of violence heaped upon them and the discriminately high levels of placement into the criminal justice system that they, and black Americans suffer for offenses that their white fellow citizens, often, walk away from with less than slaps on the wrist.  The plight of full-blooded Americans, complete with birth certificates and citizenship papers, has been ignored simply because of their language, ancestral culture and color of their skin.  Are they not Americans also? 

Why does the multitude of violent deaths among these American citizens not garner a similar level of concern from Sen. McCain?  Are they not our future diplomats, future police officers, future Connecticut schoolteachers and future congresswomen from Arizona?  The debate over common sense gun legislation, in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has once again put the subjects of movies, video games and mental health at issue in an effort to understand Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, etc.  Yet the tone and character of the discussion changes drastically when the deadly events are the Long Island Railroad, DC sniper(s), and a New York Wendy’s Restaurant – carnage all perpetrated by black men.

We are being inundated with thoughts and questions as to why white males, often from two parent and/or well-to-do middle class homes and having quality educations can suddenly go off the deep end.  Yet we engage an entirely different mindset regarding black and Latino men because poverty, poor nutrition, substandard schools and healthcare, and the repeated, court sanctioned, humiliation of their 4th Amendment rights should have no deleterious effects.

After Barack Obama’s re-election, the GOP, once again finds itself soul-searching on how best to ‘reach out to black and Hispanic voters.’  The murders of Chris Stevens and his colleagues in Benghazi, while devastatingly tragic, could still have occurred in a more secure, better guarded consulate if overrun by an army of armed fanatics.  Sen. McCain and his fellow Republicans can better serve this nation by not scapegoating the Chuck Hagels, the State Dept. and the White House for their own political gain and start making a sincere effort of outreach to the multitudes of people of color in this nation who continue to shun them at the ballot box.  And they can do so by starting to have a frank and honest discussion about keeping them alive. 


Sunday, March 3, 2013

True or Fal$e

"The President got his tax increase!"  That is the Congressional GOP position as to why they will not compromise on additional revenue(s) by closing tax loopholes.  That position is false

During the fiscal cliff negotiations, the Republicans offered to close tax loopholes as their solution to raising revenue rather than the president's plan of raising tax rates.  However, they offered no loopholes that they were willing to close.  Having agreed to raise tax rates on the top earners to avoid the fiscal cliff, an intransigent GOP is unwilling to look at raising additional revenues because "The President got his tax increase!"  He did not!

President Obama's plan, and the plan voted for by the majority of the American people, was to raise the income tax rate on earnings over $250,000.  The president compromised and agreed to increase the earnings rate to over $450,000 before the new rate kicks in.  So the claim that the president got his tax increase is patently false.  Obama's tax increase falls short by $200,000 of earnings for each high earning taxpayer.

Therefore, it is only fair and balanced that the GOP compromise and agrees to close tax loopholes which they claimed they were willing to close during the fiscal cliff negotiations.  And it is incumbent upon President Obama, his party, and his supporters to insist that no further cuts will be on the table until the Congressional GOP meets the president halfway on the issue of revenue(s) by agreeing to close many of the absurd tax loopholes that benefit only those in the top 2% who receive them to the detriment of the rest of the country.