Issues of the Day
Happy Anniversary to my Bride of forty-five years today.
We will be away from the computer for a day, so no blog tomorrow.
THE FERGUSON FEEDING FRENZY
The most poisonous “-ism” now infecting Ferguson, Missouri, is not virulent racism. It’s viral narcissism.
Over the past two weeks, the impoverished St. Louis County suburb has become a magnet for self-absorbed publicity seekers of all colors and agendas.
Perhaps the most repulsive species on display in Ferguson is the Journalisto Vanitatis. This breed of egotistical East-Coast reporters can be easily identified by its ever-present appendages: a smartphone and smart glasses. For the J.V., the story is all about “me, me, me!” Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were among the first and most prominent Beltway journos to parachute into the Ferguson protests.
Admiring media colleagues hang on the J.V.’s every tweet and selfie. When Reilly and Lowery were “arrested” (that is, detained briefly and released) amid the chaos, they morphed into civil rights heroes. Both complained indignantly about not being read their “Miranda rights.” Never mind that they were neither arrested nor interrogated, the two basic preconditions for Miranda warnings.
The J.V.’s have been hailed for their “courage” on the “front lines” — like veritable 21st-century versions of Audie Murphy and Ernie Pyle! Of course, Audie Murphy and Ernie Pyle would know real bullets when they saw them. But Reilly revealed his abject cluelessness this week when he hysterically tweeted a photo of what he thought were “rubber bullets.” They turned out to be high-capacity… ear plugs.
Not to be outdone, J.V. Chris Hayes of MSNBC squealed about being threatened with mace and simpered about being confined in a press area — created by police for the safety of meandering interlopers gawking at rioters and looters. Later, he breathlessly trumpeted seeing a “dead body,” which turned out to be neither dead nor a body.
While New York journalists have applauded reporters making themselves a part of the story, locals demonstrated their own opinion of MSNBC’s journalism on Monday night — by pelting Hayes and one of his co-anchors with rocks.
A close cousin of the Journalisto Vanitatus is the omniscient Albinus Hipsterex. These white progressives can’t resist the opportunity to raise their fists and chant “F**k the police” to show they’re down with the cause. Leftovers from the defunct Occupy Wall Street movement are now occupying West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson to make excuses for the vandals and thieves victimizing immigrant-owned convenience stores. The absurdity of these critters was best illustrated earlier this week in a candid photo of a trio of Albinus Hipsterii: two bandana-clad, tattooed anarchists strapping a gas mask onto a young woman sporting a tie-dyed shirt stretched across her heavily pregnant belly.
Next on the scene: Canis Celebritus — also known as the Celebrity Hound Dog. Rapper Nelly best epitomizes this attention-seeking creature. He jetted down to Ferguson to preach peaceful social justice. Some in attendance took note of the wealthy rapper’s ostentatious protest attire: massive diamond earrings as big as some of the rocks protesters hurled at hapless Hayes. Not-so-wise Nelly told residents not to “overreact,” while accusing police of purposefully inflaming protesters in the same breath. He lectured the crowd to have a plan. But when asked to outline his own, he said he didn’t have one, and his large megaphone went silent.
Accompanying Canis Celebritus are members of the infamous class of hucksters who belong to a class I’ll dub Divisio Demagogus. Chief agitators include Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Marc Lamont Hill, Van Jones and Malik Shabazz. These race-hustling pot-stirrers have made their names concocting hate-crime hoaxes, inciting violence against police and deepening racial and ethnic division for decades. Their total lack of self-awareness never ceases to amaze. Hatemonger Shabazz, who repped the lying Duke lacrosse rape case liar, dropped into Ferguson to proclaim: “We’re not going to let agent provocateurs ruin things tonight.”
From the L.A. riots to Hurricane Katrina to Ferguson, an eternal truth endures: Tragedy is the mother of poisonous pretension.
Cell Phone Video Emerges That Refutes St. Louis Cops Version of Shooting
Judge for yourself:
St. Louis- On Tuesday, while tensions continued to simmer in Ferguson, just a few miles away 25-year-old Kajieme Powell was gunned down by St. Louis cops
Contrast: David Cameron Suspends Vacation Over Foley Killing; Obama Heads Back To Vineyard
Yesterday, a video depicting the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley was posted on YouTube. The jihadist in the video spoke with a London accent, prompting questions about whether the man was in fact a British national.
In response to these questions, British Prime Minister David Cameron suspended his vacation and vowed to get to the bottom of the situation. Obama, on the other hand, returned to Martha's Vineyard late Tuesday evening to rejoin his family on vacation. A statement was released through a spokesman late last night that said Obama was "appalled" by the gruesome beheading.
The Prime Minister has broken off his holiday in Cornwall after just a day, having previously said that he would return "immediately" if the situation in Iraq deteriorated.
He made the announcement after Philip Hammond said that it appeared that the Islamic State extremist who beheaded Mr Foley is British.
President Obama went back to his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Tuesday evening following less than 48 hours in Washington, leaving people puzzled over why he came back in the first place.
Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.
Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the president just wanted to return to the White House for a series of meetings, but the explanation was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, since Obama rarely interrupts his vacations.
This is unacceptable behavior from the president, and he should look to Cameron for guidance on how to handle a situation like this. It isn't even confirmed that the man in question is British (for all we know, he could have been taught English by a Londoner or is a heck of an impressionist), yet Cameron recognized the gravity of the situation and did the appropriate thing by suspending his vacation.
It's no wonder ISIS thinks they can walk all over us.
Rubio: It's Clear ISIS Has Already Declared War on the U.S.
The horrible barbarism of ISIS is just starting to impact and affect Americans directly. Katie wrote up the grisly news yesterday that 40-year-old American journalist, James Wright Foley, was allegedly beheaded by the terrorist group. (I haven’t seen the video, nor do I intend to, but the carnage speaks for itself).
As of this writing, ISIS' savage claims cannot be substantiated -- but the administration is nonetheless "appalled" by these recent developments. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda’s newest ally now claims to have another American in captivity, and is threatening to kill him too if the U.S. doesn’t stop their ongoing and effective airstrike campaign against ISIS in northern Iraq.
Even so, former CIA Director Mike Morell argued that even if he is assassinated, “we cannot let something like this stop us” from taking the fight to the enemy (viaNoah Rothman):
In fact, we should pick up the pace here. The definition of terrorism is political violence…so we should mark this date down because this is ISIS’ first terrorist attack against the United States.
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a presumed presidential hopeful himself, condemned ISIS today in clear and unequivocal terms. Here is what he said:
“The brutal execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIL is the latest example of the evil and barbarism of these terrorists. My thoughts and prayers are with the Foley family and with other Western hostages who at this hour are still being held.
“Just as Al Qaeda’s initial killings of Americans abroad foretold the carnage they would unleash within our borders, this barbaric beheading of a defenseless hostage is the clearest indication to date that ISIL has declared war on the United States, on the American people, and on freedom loving people everywhere.
“For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out a systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views. ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their view of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.
“I remain deeply concerned that despite the preponderance of evidence that proves ISIL is a fundamentally evil and dangerous terrorist threat to the United States, President Obama continues to appear unwilling to do what is necessary to confront ISIL and communicate clearly to the American people about the threat ISIL poses to our country and to our way of life.
The president will convene a press conference today to address the alleged beheading of James Wright Foley, and its implications. Stay tuned.
Ferguson mayor pledges to recruit black officers as city breaks silence
By St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
FERGUSON -- City leaders have not had a significant presence at the nightly demonstrations that often turn into police standoffs, but on Tuesday the city announced steps it hopes will improve race relations and bring "nighttime quiet and reconciliation."
The police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown has transformed a section of Ferguson along West Florissant Avenue into a demonstration zone at times filled with tear gas.
"It is our hope that as we continue to work for the well-being of Ferguson, residents will stay home at night, allow peace to settle in, and allow for the justice process to take its course," the city said in a statement. "We owe it to our children to be able to return to school and work together peacefully for Ferguson's future."
The city has pledged to work to help increase black applicants to the county's police academy, raise funds to secure dash and vest cameras for all officers, develop programs and incentives to encourage residency of police officers in Ferguson, work with schools to engage young people and provide resources for growth, and rebuild the West Florissant business district.
In an interview, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles said he is working to bolster minority hiring in a police department that has just three black officers on a force of 53. But he cautioned that it will take time.
"We don't hire a new cop every year," Knowles said. "Every time we do, we are rushing out there to find an African-American officer. It's a problem that we're committed to working with others to fix."
Knowles said a problem is that the pool of black officer candidates is low and that other larger departments are better at recruitment because they can pay more and offer more opportunities for advancement.
But Knowles fought back against criticism that he and five of the six City Council members are white in a city that is two-thirds black.
"They (city residents) hate me so much that I'm running unopposed," Knowles said of his re-election efforts.
Knowles was elected mayor in 2011 at age 31. He had served on the City Council before that.
The City Council members have been quiet during the unrest. They have referred all questions to a public relations firm in Chesterfield hired by the city. They are:
--Tim Larson, a research and development manager at Hunter Engineering. In 2011, he was appointed to fill a vacant position on the council and was later elected to a full term in 2012.
--Keith Kallstrom, a retired military veteran whose city biography says he "strongly believes that a safe and prepared city is an asset to any family raising children in Ferguson."
--Dwayne James, a senior sales coordinator for Jacobs Engineering. First elected in 2006, James is the city's only black council member.
--Mark Byrne, a managing partner for the law firm Fischer & Byrne. Byrne's online biography says his focus is to build stronger neighborhood associations, "making sure that Ferguson remains fiscally responsible."
--Kim Tihen, a former administration assistant who later served as a Ferguson police officer for four years. The city's website says her focus is on "crime prevention, fiscal responsibility, and increased communication between city officials and residents."
The city's website doesn't list biographical information for council member David Conway.
Knowles, who has spent almost his entire life in Ferguson, said the council members are working to improve relations and will be announcing future initiatives.
Knowles said he has been out in the city every day but has stayed away from the nighttime gatherings that turn violent. But he pledged to remain active in the community as it seeks to heal.
"We should be looking out for your neighbors every day of the year," Knowles said.
Follow reporter Nick Pistor on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nickpistor
The Bias of Eric Holder
By Associated Press
Eric Holder talks about the nation's civil rights struggles in a way no previous U.S. attorney general could — by telling his own family story.
As he increasingly pushes his Justice Department to protect voting rights and end unfair prison sentences and police brutality, Holder has drawn on personal history to make the case that the nation has much work to do to achieve justice for all. It's a legacy he'll likely draw on when he travels Wednesday to Ferguson, Missouri, to supervise the federal investigation of the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.
Holder tells how his father, an immigrant from Barbados proudly wearing his World War II uniform, was ejected from a whites-only train car. How his future sister-in-law, escorted by U.S. marshals, integrated the University of Alabama in spite of a governor who stood in the schoolhouse door to block her. How as a college student, he was twice pulled over, his car searched, even though he wasn't speeding.
And Holder recalls that the slaying of black teen Trayvon Martin in 2012 prompted him to sit down with his own 15-year-old son for a talk about the way a young black male must act and speak if confronted by police — the same talk his father had given him decades earlier.
"I had to do this to protect my boy," the nation's first black attorney general said at an NAACP convention last year.
President Barack Obama is sending Holder to Ferguson to bring the full weight of the federal government into the investigation of the death of another young black man, Michael Brown, who was unarmed when a white police officer shot him multiple times Aug. 9. Daily and nightly protests, sometimes marred by rioting and looting and met with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets from police, have rocked the suburban St. Louis community since.
Holder has led an unusually fast and aggressive Justice Department response to the local case, sending teams of prosecutors and dozens of FBI agents to investigate and arranging a federal autopsy on top of one by local authorities.
Still, protesters in the streets say they aren't convinced justice will be done. Holder's record on civil rights and personal commitment may help reassure the community when he visits.
"It's a powerful message," said William Yeomans, a law school fellow at American University who worked in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for more than two decades. "He's the embodiment of law enforcement, and the positive contribution he can make here is to assure the community that the federal government is taking very seriously the quest for justice in this incident."
Holder reinvigorated a civil rights force at Justice, Yeomans said, that had been scaled back and demoralized during President George W. Bush's administration.
Holder's department has been especially strong in going after police misconduct, both through criminal civil rights cases and lawsuits against police departments, Yeomans said.
His civil rights push got off to a difficult start, however.
Shortly after taking office in February 2009, Holder called the United States "a nation of cowards" when it comes to talking about race in a Black History Month speech. Conservative backlash was swift. Holder quickly toned down his rhetoric while quietly rebuilding the division.
For much of Holder's early tenure, his public profile was shaped by battles over how to prosecute terror cases, the use of armed drones to kill terror suspects overseas and his handling of various Obama administration controversies. A 2012 vote in the Republican-controlled House made Holder the first sitting Cabinet member ever held in contempt of Congress over his refusal to hand over without preconditions documents involving the Fast and Furious gun investigation.
More than a dozen Republican lawmakers have called for his impeachment for not prosecuting anyone in the Internal Revenue Service for targeting conservative groups and for his department's probes of journalists linked to news leaks.
But over the last three years, civil rights has moved to the forefront, starting with Holder's opposition to state voter ID laws that make it harder for the poor to cast ballots. He compared Texas' voter ID law to a poll tax, the now-illegal fees imposed across the South for decades to block African-Americans from voting. The Justice Department is now suing Texas and North Carolina over their voting restrictions.
"Over the past three years, the department's Civil Rights Division has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in its history - including record numbers of hate-crimes cases," Holder noted in April.
Holder has indicated he's unlikely to stay on as attorney general through the end of Obama's second term, but says he has more to accomplish before departing. That may partly explain his accelerated push for equal treatment under the law.
He has worked on easing mandatory sentences, especially for nonviolent drug offenses that have a disproportionate impact on black men.
Holder ordered his prosecutors to stop charging many drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences, pushed a U.S. Sentencing Commission proposal to lower guideline penalties and backed legislation to give judges more discretion in sentencing.
"This focused reliance on incarceration is not just financially unsustainable," he said in March, "it comes with human and moral costs that are impossible to calculate."
He used the Martin killing two years ago to criticize "stand your ground" gun laws in states like Florida. The Justice Department is investigating the 17-year-old's death but has yet to say if it will file federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who said he killed Martin in self-defense and was acquitted in a state trial.
Holder even partnered with the Education Department to try to change the so-called "school-to-prison pipeline," where minority children — especially black students — are suspended and expelled at a rate that's three times higher than that of white children.
AP writers Pete Yost and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
G’ day…Ciao…….Moe Lauzier