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July 20th, 2016

The Roy Cohn Branch Of The Family

I see the Roy Cohn branch of the family had its day at the GOP convention the other night

milogopparty

Headlined by the guy who just got the boot from Twitter for his racist and misogynist attack on Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, an achievement considering the open sewer Twitter has allowed itself to become, on the same order as being too disgusting even for an S. Clay Wilson comic. He’s also the guy behind the “Gamergate” attacks on women in the gaming community, and Twitter was his useful tool for that one too.

“Growing up gay wasn’t that f**king bad.” he declared from the podium, adding without any apparent irony, “…I still don’t see the reason why the left-wing press mollycoddles and panders to an ideology that wants me dead.” So he’s changed his tune a bit since a year ago when he declared “If I could choose, I wouldn’t be a homosexual.” If I could choose, you wouldn’t be one either guy. Perhaps you and Phil Robertson could have drinks together and ponder which abrahamic religions quote Leviticus with more style.

He was followed by Pam Geller who began with a joke: “A jihadi walks into a gay bar, and the bartender says, ‘What’ll you have?’ The jihadi says, ‘Shots for everyone!’”

Ha ha. And half that convention floor would have helped buy them for him Pam, and the other half would have paid for his defense lawyers. Especially after seeing the artwork on those walls there.

And that artwork…try to look past the fact that they’re all barely, if that, of an age of consent. Photos of comely young guys are just fine by me. Swell even. But I’m a photographer and I can’t avoid seeing these images on another level, and what leaps out at me immediately is the predatory gaze in all of them. These photos aren’t about young male beauty but about young male naivete. The photographer invites you to look upon them not as objects of beauty and desire but as prey. Easy pickings.

Which fits nicely into the convention vibe though doesn’t it? It’s a cliché that when you scratch a homophobe you find a misogynist and vice versa. So the gay republican who reviled in organizing gamergate attacks on women on Twitter, and immediately zeroed in on the most socially vulnerable of the actresses in the new Ghostbusters movie, the one black woman, has his party zone plastered with images of teenage boys as sexual junk food. Because as nearly, if not exactly one-hundred percent of that convention floor would tell you, homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. And if you hate all those other homosexuals enough, you don’t have to know how much you hate yourself.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Roy Cohn Branch Of The Family

July 12th, 2016

The Rot Is Not At The Top

Here’s the new Hillary Clinton attack ad on Donald Trump. Basically it’s about how The Donald cheated a trusting small businessman out of his fee for designing and building Trump a nice clubhouse for one of his golf courses..

 

 

Is anybody really surprised by this? No, no…not just that it’s Standard Operating Procedure  for Trump, not just that the man who could do this to a trusting small businessman is the likely GOP presidential nominee. No. Is anybody really surprised that the GOP grassroots of this day and age in America, really, really love him?

Think about it. They don’t want unskilled service workers to earn a living wage if it means their fast food and WalMart purchases might cost a bit more. They don’t want racial or ethnic minorities, women, gay folk, anyone who isn’t them to have an equal share of the American Dream, but they still want them to do the work of building America. They want their goods and services, but they don’t want to pay a living wage to the people who provide it. They want their job opportunities, but they don’t want their service workers and their kids to have a shot at decent  jobs too, because then they might start holding their heads a little higher, and expecting fair treatment. They want their kids to get a good education, but they won’t support the public schools if it means they’re helping the kids from poor families get one too; but they still want those kids to serve them their burgers and pizza and ring up their purchases, preferably for next to nothing.

To call them cheapskates is ennobling. They’re plunderers, just like The Donald, perfectly in tune with the general republican mindset these days, and with the same entitled, grandiose view of themselves Trump and the lot of them have.  Of course they like him. They say you take the measure of a nation not in how well it treats its well off, but by how well it treats its poor. Another way of looking at that is, if you’re the sort who would take advantage of someone who is utterly at your mercy, can anyone else really trust you?

Here’s a lesson for all you small business owners who think the republicans are better for business. The man who  helps you cheat your employees out of a fair wage, will steal everything from  you  too and laugh in your surprised  face.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Rot Is Not At The Top

June 13th, 2016

The Hate Excuser’s Song

owen_jones_leaves

This is par for the course, whenever an act of violence against gay people makes national, let alone international headlines. The pushback to erase the motivation of anti-gay hate from the crime, divert attention onto something else, real or fabricated, comes quickly after from all the usual suspects, and is forceful. And when challenged on it, they just dig their heels in. In a few months to a year there will be articles from right wing “think tanks”, and documentaries purporting to prove that homophobic animus had nothing to do with it at all, and that those of us who kept pointing it out are ourselves guilty of politicising a terrible tragedy to support the Gay Agenda. It is all so predictable. Because to acknowledge the hate that motivated it, might lead to questions about the climate of hate, and those who cultivated it for votes, and money.

And ratings. Perhaps in a few years ABC 20/20 will do a documentary explaining how it was all really a drug deal gone bad…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Hate Excuser’s Song

May 4th, 2016

When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

This video is making the rounds in the Internet Tubes…

Angry Woman In Walmart Throws A Fit Over Man Using Food Stamps

As a child sits in the man’s shopping cart looking on, the woman complains about how she is paying for his food  with her tax money.    

“You know,  I put in 50-60 hour weeks… trying to provide for my family,” the man says, although some of his words are unclear.

“You’re not providing for it, I am,” the woman snaps back.  “The government is.”

The grim joke here is the government is also providing for this woman. As the article notes, she’s shopping at WalMart.  Many of their workers need food stamps and other assistance because WalMart won’t pay a living wage. Without a doubt she’s shopping there, perhaps for the convenience if it’s a nearby store, but most likely for the Every Day Low Low Prices….stuff that costs less so she doesn’t have to spend more.  I’d have told her the rest of us are supporting her too. But I don’t shop there.  

The man suggests she complain to her lawmaker or vote Republican.  

“Oh, trust me, I am not a bleeding heart fucking liberal,” the woman answers.

I’m shocked, shocked.  No lady, you’re a typical American of a particular type that likes to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of someone else. If your household is making enough you don’t need assistance then you can afford to shop somewhere they  pay their employees enough they don’t have to go on public assistance. That poor man and his kid have fewer choices than you do. They need the low cost of goods and assistance even then to buy them. You just want the  cheap goods the rest of us taxpayers are making possible by providing WalMart employees public assistance.  

So who’s really the freeloader? It’s you lady. It’s you.

angry_walmart_lady

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Did The Social Contract Start Including Everyday Low Low Prices?

January 6th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

I think now my little Twilight Zone fantasy can be better. As I wrote it the other day it’s kinda obvious. What it needs is more of that humanity Serling and the writers he brought on board back in the day gave it. (and yes, I’ve been tweaking it ever since I put it up, but I think now I’ll just stop…). I think now that a better progression through the events of history would be if the men around Fearless Leader gradually began to see how wrong it was for them to appropriate the history of those events for themselves, and the tragedy of those who actually did come face to face with tyrannical state power, and as each change of scenery happens more and more of them begin to question what it was they were there to protest in the first place, and turn to the people they suddenly find themselves with and…apologize for comparing themselves to them.

And as they do this, fewer and fewer of them pass on to the next scene in history until the only one left is Fearless Leader, who never learns the lesson.

And maybe the last scene isn’t Tienanmen Square and instead of Sand Creek it’s that wildlife preserve but during the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and Fearless has been dropped in the middle of a roundup of the Indians who once lived there but were force marched out so the white land owners could move in. With the Union Soldiers is one of the old Land Barons mentioned at the beginning of the episode but he has his father’s face and he tells Fearless that they have to get off His land and Fearless says (not really getting that he looks like all the other Indians to this man) wait…not me…it’s our land…at which Land Baron shoots him…or the soldiers drag him off…and we get the closing narration…

standoff land history

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling…(continued)

January 5th, 2016

Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

This came across my Facebook stream, in relation to the militia kooks occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon…

twilight zone oregon federal building standoff-sm

In case you haven’t read by now, the militia heros that declared themselves ready to occupy the cottage at the preserve  by force of arms for years if necessary until the government ceded the land to them…didn’t bring with them any food…

19492266-standard

Internet ridicule has swiftly followed…

send snacks

Somewhere else I read they were also asking for socks.

This is all very good snark material, but that picture of Rod Serling got me to thinking about what he’d have possibly made of all this. The Twilight Zone wasn’t merely comic book  weird tales and amazing stories. Within  its otherworldly take, Serling took on the social, moral and political issues of his time, and because his stories were so good as to be timeless, ours as well. The more you  watch those old black & white episodes, the more you  appreciate what he managed to accomplish in the Hollywood system, and the more you miss him. If TV was a vast wasteland back then, it’s a toxic landfill now.

You can imagine it opening  with the militia, (which Twitter quickly dubbed Y’all Qaeda) talking to reporters from the front door of the cottage. Perhaps the local sheriff steps forward to beg them to leave peacefully before anyone gets hurt. The townsfolk don’t want you here, we’re a peaceful law abiding community, the men you’re defending were found guilty of setting fires on public land by a jury of their peers. They could have killed those firemen and rangers. Please…just go…before anyone gets hurt. And the militia spokesman with the cameras rolling (this is late 1950s TV) just recites his boilerplate about freedom, tyranny and the lawless federal government taking our land and persecuting the ranchers. Waving his rifle in the air he says he and his men will occupy the land  for as long as it takes and like the patriots who fought for America  they too are willing to die for their cause if it comes to it.  

…at which point the camera might pan over to Rod Serling, who might say something along the lines of…

Meet [name of militia leader], American patriot, who with his men has just invaded a small wildlife sanctuary in a remote part of Oregon to  defend freedom from the  scarecrows contained  within pamphlets and newspapers printed  by extremist madmen. But tonight those scarecrows will step off the printed page  and accept his challenge,  because what he and his men don’t yet realize is the land  they have  occupied…is in the Twilight Zone.

The camera backs away from the militia news conference, and begins to pan over a gathered small crowd watching the proceedings. We hear the militia man arguing with the sheriff in the background, while various townsfolk express their opinion that they should leave before someone gets hurt. Others that they have a point, the federal government doesn’t seem to listen to the people anymore. Someone says they’d listen if more of us voted.  Somebody else whispers that they’re not fighting for the ranchers, they’re fighting for the old land barons  who owned  everything here including the  water, before the government cut them down to size.  

The camera comes back to the scene in front of the cottage. The sheriff warns the militiaman that the longer they stay the more likely someone will get hurt. The man repeats his claim that they are willing to die in the  fight against tyranny.

The scene changes to night. The camera pans from armed  watchmen outside to the interior of the house, where we see these guys are  just playing soldier. They brought plenty of ammunition but nobody figured on food and the water to the cottage  had been  turned off for the winter. There is some argument about what to do next, but the leader is still in control. Unfortunately, he’s just a schoolyard bully in a grownup body. He has neither military experience nor common sense.  They bed down for the night.

Then they wake up  to find themselves in a Jewish ghetto surrounded by SS men. They have some weapons,  but now there is a military force  arrayed around them, not a small town sheriff and a few men.  Now we see what they’re really made of and none of them are even close to soldier material, nor martyr either: they’re cowards and it shows right away, first in the leader, who like all bullies collapses into a self pitying heap when confronted with anyone bigger and stronger. His men quickly follow. The Jews in the room with them look on in disgust. The soldiers  outside begin firing.

They all die. Then they wake up again in teepees at Sand Creek surrounded by soldiers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then they wake up again and they’re in a southern black church during the civil rights days surrounded by a lynch mob led by the local sheriff. Again the cowardly behavior. Again the looks of disgust from the people in the church.

Then they wake up in a small house in ancient Rome, there is a makeshift cross on the wall…Roman centurions are  outside. The men rend their togas and try to wave white surrender flags out the windows while the Christians inside look on  in disgust. The centurions  break down the door, charge inside with their short Roman swords…

…and they wake up in Tiananmen Square…

…at which point the camera pans over to Rod Serling, who might look into the camera and say something along the lines of…

Every  tyrant is a thief and every thief a potential tyrant, and the  items of value for their  taking are  more than simply  money and land, but also culture, history, and valor. These things, intangible though they are, contain the sum of all wealth and human nobility that  ever was  and will ever be, and while they may be  stolen and worn  for a time, they can only be lived  by the those who have earned them. A word of warning to anyone  who would cast themselves in the role of martyr in the defense of liberty: you might just get an audition…in the Twilight Zone…

Of course, Rod Serling would write  a better story and better words to speak to the camera than I could ever put in his mouth. But a kid who grew up in the black & white TV days can still imagine what it would have been like.

ammon-bundy-bw

 

tiananmen_square-bw  

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Some Days You Really Miss Rod Serling

November 5th, 2015

Respect

There’s a lot of well justified anger over what happened in Houston Tuesday. And as always, you hear complaining that by venting that anger the losing side isn’t respecting the democratic process.

It’s a bullshit argument,  and maybe also yet another indication of the race to the bottom in Texas education. Respect for the process is one thing, respect for the beliefs and opinions that led to a particular outcome is another. You respect the democratic process by working within the system to change outcomes you dislike. That doesn’t mean you have to treat anyone’s ignorant prejudices as anything other than ignorant prejudices. Prejudice does not gain respectability by virtue of there being a lot of it.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Respect

October 2nd, 2015

The School Shooting…No, Not That One A Few Days Ago…No Not The One Before That One…

I’m going to just write some thoughts as they occur…

  • David Gerrold, who I follow on Facebook not so much for his fiction as his willingness to talk about how it is to work in TV and Hollywood, while lambasting NRA extremists wrote what I think is the right take on the Second Amendment. You see people arguing about the “well regulated militia” part and either ignoring that part about “the right of the people” or insisting that the one overrides the other. Gerrold said essentially that taken together they mean “the people” have a right to own guns, but that “well regulated” part means congress has the power to regulate them. Yes. That works for me. It makes complete sense.

    I keep bringing this up: We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense, but our shared spaces convey shared obligations and responsibilities. To the extent that government can require car makers to make their cars safe to drive on the public streets, make them not disgorge crap into the air everyone breaths, make everyone get a license to drive on them, and tell localities exactly how to erect signage on those streets, and what sort of markings streets must have, so that the streets are safe for Everyone to drive on, it can also limit what sort of weapons you can bring into public spaces, which public spaces must of necessity be weapon free (oh…say…courthouses…polling places…Schools!) and require licensing to show that you know how to handle them safely and that you understand the law.

    This is just common sense as far as I see it. Public space that is too dangerous for the public to use is a contradiction. It’s not a public space if nobody sane dares go there. And as to the notion that more guns makes public spaces safer…well:

  • The nutcases were babbling initially that the school was a so-called “gun free” zone, and of course, blaming that on the carnage. But it wasn’t a gun free zone after all, and furthermore, there actually Were people on campus carrying guns. They didn’t intervene for the staringly obvious reason that they were afraid the police would mistake them for the shooter if they did. Be nice if the More Guns On The Streets The Better crowd would try to understand this.

    We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. The role of government is to secure our rights. And a vital part of that is a police force that keeps the peace. How anyone sees that a dozen or so armed people fighting it out on the streets with a spree killer amounts to civilization is beyond me. The police have to handle these situations and they can’t if everyone is a potential threat. At best a weapon gives you better odds at getting the hell out of there, or staying alive while ducking and covering. But you can’t do more than that or else you are contributing to the chaos of the event.

    Most of us in this life aren’t prepared to engage a shooter, even if we take our guns out to the range on a regular basis. At best we can train ourselves to handle firearms safely, hit what we’re shooting at, know what our limits are, and maybe keep our homes, loved ones and our own butts alive if the worst happens suddenly. But dealing with violent crime is the sort of specialty skill you have a trained police force for, so the rest of us can go on with the business of civilization. They keep the peace. That is their job. A country were everyone needs to bear arms to keep the peace is better described as an anarchy, not a democracy. And there’s a reason why anarchy and civilization are mutually contradictory terms.

    We have the right to self defense, and to the means of self defense. That’s a right that is obvious in the context of democracy. But that’s the limit of it. If you want to play with military grade weapons and go after the bad guys, join the army or your local police.

    And if you can’t make the cut there…take that as a lesson. Most of us can’t either. Respect the ones that can. Let them do their job. It’s a really important one.

  • I could wish I saw nearly as much passion about the recent news story of how Alabama, the birthplace of The Voting Rights Act, is once again moving to deny black Americans the right to vote, as I see now about gun control. Oh there is anger and activism on that issue without a doubt. But the anger, the take no prisoners fury, on this one issue is incomparable. And it is disturbing. There are so many of us who are gun owners, who believe the second Amendment confers a right on individual Americans as opposed to militias (one supposes not the sort of militias as the ones that came to Cliven Bundy’s defense…) to own a gun, who can be talked to about this, and worked together with to achieve some good sane sensible gun regulation. If only we could be talked to in terms other than we’re crazed gun nuts with Dirty Harry fantasies of killing people. Please. We are not that. We enjoy the shooting sports. We believe we have a right to self defense.   We don’t have fantasies about overthrowing the government. In fact, if I could point to one thing about right winger rhetoric on guns that absolutely drives me nuts it’s the notion that our guns are a defense against tyranny.   No.   The ballot box is our defense against tyranny!

    Now…look at this…

    alabama-dmv-closures
    The entire article is here.

    This is how we loose our precious democracy. The belly laugh is the same people who are bellyaching about needing their guns to defend themselves from tyranny, are the same ones making damn sure only folks like themselves are allowed to vote, or have any say in their government. Tyranny? Why goodness no…they just want Their country back is all.   So I have a question for all my liberal friends who are as heartbroken and appalled as I am at the level of gun violence in this country: What change do you think is going to be remotely possible in a nation where only republican votes matter?

More later…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The School Shooting…No, Not That One A Few Days Ago…No Not The One Before That One…


Tangled Webs

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

blindsided

This is all of a piece with the cathedral of lies the homophobes have been building over the decades. All that junk science, all those lies about the lives of gay people, all that meticulously crafted misinformation. It was supposed to sway the masses and win them the culture war. Instead it’s cocooned them in a fantasy world. No, the Catholic church is nowhere near as gay friendly as the way more humane than Ratzinger ever was Francis is making it seem. But the same people at Liberty Council who have been manipulating Davis for their own ends, really thought they could manipulate the highest levels of the Catholic church too.

As my bitter Baptist grandma used to say, oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. And the first person you deceive when you start down that path, is yourself.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tangled Webs

May 21st, 2015

You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

Some years ago, a young adult fresh out of high school struggling to find a workable career path, I fell in with some friends of a friend who had a shop building custom speakers and sound equipment cases for bands. In addition to building speaker and equipment cabinets, they also had an impressive sound system of their own design capable of filling a theater, which they would rent out along with their services as sound guys whenever a band needed something a bit more than the bar sized sound systems they had with them.

To make a long story short, one day while I was out with them doing a gig somewhere in Virginia, the manager of the band we were working with noticed my little lambda necklace. This was back in a time before the rainbow flag, when the lambda was the recognized symbol of the gay rights struggle. He points at it and says somewhat belligerently “Why are you wearing the gay symbol?” This was a period in my life where I was still being careful who to come out to, but at the same time I’d made a resolution to myself not to lie if cornered. Well, I was cornered just then, and hoping for the best I told him it was because I’m gay, “We don’t allow gays in our crew he says. Bernie, one of the co-owners of the speaker shop, begins laughing and saying that I’m just joking. Somehow this only made me dig my heels in more. “No, says I…I’m gay.”

Next day Bernie fired me, taking pains to insist it wasn’t because I’m gay…I just wasn’t working out. Somehow.

Time passes…the universe expands… Some years later I run back into the old friend who connected me with Bernie and George (the other co-owner). How are things? Fine, how about you? Blah…blah…blah… As we’re busy catching up with what’s been happening in our lives, Glenn asks me if I’d heard about what happened to Bernie. No, says I, what’s up with him? He’s in jail, says Glenn. Couldn’t keep his hands off of under aged girls, he says.

Glenn eventually stopped talking to me after friending me on Facebook and being shocked, shocked, to discover what a militant homosexual I am. Oh well. On judgement day let it be said I would rather stand before my creator as an unrepentant sodomite, than have to account for some of the heterosexual lives I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes.

duggar_molester

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You Repent First. Take All The Time You Need…

May 1st, 2015

Except That The Reason You Hate Roe Has Nothing To Do With Abortion

Jeremy Hooper tweeted this today…

‏@goodasyou   If I were part of the “pro-life” movement, I’d be appalled at ham-fisted way anti-gay activists are selling “new Roe”

I heard a lot of this at the NOM Rally last Saturday. It was as if they’d accepted the fact that if not now then soon enough same-sex couples will gain marriage equality in the United States. There was a sense in it of The South Will Rise Again.   You heard it over and over: yes we were stunned by the Supreme Court decision in Roe, yes we were demoralized and weary, but we rose up and got to work, and began to chip away at Roe, and we never gave up, and behold now how we are on the very threshold of reversing that hated decision. We can do the same if the court rules for the homosexuals. Yes, yes, but Hardwick v. Bowers happened in 1986, thirteen years after Roe (1973), and seventeen years later it was gone, and with it every state sodomy law and Roe is still there.   You need to leave your cocoon of comfortable conceits about yourselves and your splendid little culture war and take a look at why that is.   If you can.

Start by taking a good honest cold-eyed level headed look at why you think opposing abortion is so much like opposing same-sex marriage, because the only way they can be similar is if you never regarded the central evil of abortion as being the taking of a life, but rather the freedom of women to choose their own sexual and reproductive destiny. Then you can make a plausible case that Roe and same-sex marriage are similar battles: one being about the freedom and equality of women, the other the freedom and equality of homosexuals, both being about people whose freedom and equality you regard as a threat to yours. The freedom to dominate women. The freedom to scapegoat and persecute homosexuals. Seen in that light, yours isn’t a struggle to deny freedom to others, but simply a matter of defending your own sacred god given freedoms.

So let’s be honest here. Your fight over Roe was never about the fate of unborn children. But that was always staringly obvious. Your political henchmen are busy taking food out of the mouths of the Born children, grinding the public school system into the dirt, keeping healthcare out of the reach of poor families.   So who really believes that you actually give a rat’s ass about the welfare of kids.   And let’s continue being honest and admit that the fight over same-sex marriage isn’t about homosexuality either.   Religious freedom…sure…if you define religious freedom as the freedom to scapegoat an innocent minority for your own failures of moral character because, and you would know this about yourselves better than anyone else, Christ on the cross just isn’t enough to wash your sins away.

So yes, from your point of view it’s easy to see how since you’ve been maintaining the fight against Roe, and even winning at chipping away at it, you can do likewise with same-sex marriage, should that be necessary. Perhaps you’ve forgotten your own rhetoric about abortion being a holocaust. Perhaps that holocaust keeps slipping your mind for some reason. Perhaps you never actually cared about all those millions of dead babies half as much as that women who can decide their own reproductive destiny aren’t yours to keep barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen anymore. But here’s the thing: nobody sane understands that gay couples getting married is like killing babies. The more you keep insisting it is, the more the rest of the country is going to see what their gay neighbors have seen and had to stomach for decades: you people are nuts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Except That The Reason You Hate Roe Has Nothing To Do With Abortion

April 30th, 2015

Less Than Toilet Paper

I’m sharing this entire Facebook post from Marci Tarrant Johnson  one of the Public Defenders working at Baltimore City Central Booking today.  I saw the other day that one of the protesters accused Wolf Blitzer on CNN of thinking a broken window was worse than a broken spine. But it’s the broken respect for the rule of law here in America that leads to broken spines in, police vans, with prisoners inside that are being given “screen tests“.  Rioting in the streets is amateur  business. Take a look at what professional disrespect for the rule of law looks like…here…

OK…here it is…

I’m going to try to keep this as brief as I can, but I’ve been asked by several people about Central Booking today, so I’ll give you guys the shocking highlights. As much as I’d like to, I can’t describe the particulars of some of the more egregious arrests, due to attorney/client privilege issues, but I would like to describe the Civil Liberties violations, and the deplorable conditions which people have had to endure.

As many of you know, more than 250 people have been arrested since Monday here in Baltimore. Normally when you are arrested, you are given a copy of your charging documents and then you must see a commissioner within 24 hours for a bail determination (“prompt presentment”) and given a trial date. If you are not released after the commissioner hearing, you will be brought before a judge for a review of the bail set by the commissioner. None of this was happening, so we sent some lawyers to Central Booking yesterday to try to help. I heard, however, that only 2 commissioners showed up, and the correctional officers only brought about 9 people to be interviewed because the jail was on a mysterious “lock-down”.

Today we were divided into two groups. Some of the lawyers were assigned the task of actually doing judicial bail reviews for as many folks as they could get interviewed and docketed. I was assigned to the other group. We were the “habeas team”, and we were to interview folks that we felt were being illegally detained, so we could file writs of habeas corpus. Governor Hogan had issued an executive order, extending the time for prompt presentment to 47 hours. We believed that this order was invalid because the governor has no authority to alter the Maryland Rules. As a result, all people who were being detained for more than 24 hours without seeing a commissioner were being held illegally.

Knowing all of this, I was still not prepared for what I saw when I arrived. The small concrete booking cells were filled with hundreds of people, most with more than ten people per cell. Three of us were sent to the women’s side where there were up to 15 women per holding cell. Most of them had been there since Monday afternoon/evening. With the exception of 3 or 4 women, the women who weren’t there for Monday’s round-ups were there for freaking curfew violations. Many had not seen a doctor or received required medication. Many had not been able to reach a family member by phone. But here is the WORST thing. Not only had these women been held for two days and two nights without any sort of formal booking, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ACTUALLY BEEN CHARGED WITH ANYTHING. They were brought to CBIF via paddy wagons (most without seat belts, btw–a real shocker after all that’s happened), and taken to holding cells without ever being charged with an actual crime. No offense reports. No statements of probable cause. A few women had a vague idea what they might be charged with, some because of what they had actually been involved in, and some because of what the officer said, but quite a few had no idea why they were even there. Incidentally, I interviewed no one whose potential charges would have been more serious than petty theft, and most seemed to be disorderly conduct or failure to obey, charges which would usually result in an immediate recog/release.

The holding cells are approximately 10×10 (some slightly larger), with one open sink and toilet. The women were instructed that the water was “bad” and that they shouldn’t drink it. There are no beds–just a concrete cube. No blankets or pillows. The cells were designed to hold people for a few hours, not a few days. In the one cell which housed 15 women, there wasn’t even enough room for them all to lay down at the same time. Three times a day, the guards brought each woman 4 slices of bread, a slice of american cheese and a small bag of cookies. They sometimes got juice, but water was scarce, as the CO’s had to wheel a water cooler through every so often (the regular water being “broken”.)

My fellow attorneys and I all separately heard the same sickening story over and over. None of the women really wanted to eat 4 slices of bread 3 times a day, so they were saving slices of bread TO USE AS PILLOWS. Let me say that again. THEY WERE ALL USING BREAD AS PILLOWS SO THAT THEY WOULDN’T HAVE TO LAY THEIR HEADS ON THE FILTHY CONCRETE FLOOR.

Interviewing these women was emotionally exhausting. Quite a few of them began crying–so happy to finally see someone who might know why they were there, or perhaps how they might get out of this Kafka-esque nightmare. These women came from all walks of life. We interviewed high school students, college students, people with graduate degrees, people with GED’s, single women, married women, mothers, the well-employed, the unemployed, black women and white women. Almost all of them had no record. Those that did, had things like dui’s and very minor misdemeanors. Our group didn’t interview any of the men on the other side, but my colleagues reported very similar situations. On the men’s side there were journalists and activists, as well as highschool kids with no records, barely 18 years old.

As we were getting ready to leave, we heard that many of these folks might be released without charges, after being held for 2 days. When we returned to the office, our amazing “habeas fellow”, Zina Makar, single-handedly filed 82 habeas petitions. That is when we heard that 101 people were released without charges. I’d like to think that the amazing legal response to this injustice played a large part in their release, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it. They may be charged later, but I’m guessing most of them won’t based on how minor their alleged infractions are. There are still over a hundred folks in there that need to see a commissioner and/or a judge, but hopefully we have thinned the ranks a little, and we will keep fighting until everyone has received due process. (We are concerned about these folks potential bails, as we are hearing about bails in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for misdemeanor charges).

I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk. The moment we view some individuals as more important than others, we cheapen ourselves. At the very essence of our democracy is the right to question and stand up to authority. During these trying times, we should all keep that in mind.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful picture that was taken today of one of the women who was released without charges. Her husband had been waiting outside CBIF trying to find something…ANYTHING out about when she might be charged or released. This was taken moments after she walked out the door…..

released in baltimore

This is why Baltimore keeps paying out millions in lawsuits that might otherwise be spent on our crumbling infrastructure. But pay attention to what this lawyer says at the very end…

I’ll wrap this up by reminding everyone that all lives matter. We are all human beings. And we are Americans, and as such we are afforded protections under the law, the guilty and innocent alike. If one person is denied due process, we all suffer. If one persons rights and freedoms are trampled on, it’s not only a reflection on all of us, but it puts our own liberty at risk.

We’ve all seen how the wingers love to wave the constitution around like it means something to them. Yet they are completely fine with all of this as long as it’s happening to everyone they hate…the darkies, the dirty f*cking hippies, anyone and everyone as long as it isn’t them. If this is your idea of liberty and justice than the U.S. constitution is less meaningful to you than a roll of toilet paper.

So next time one of them talks at you about how much they love the constitution, next time some winger starts babbling that Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary or someone, anyone in government whose policies they don’t like is VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION and they’re all against that, laugh in their face.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Less Than Toilet Paper

April 29th, 2015

How About Not Throwing So Many Of Those Fathers In Jail Then?

This came across my Facebook stream just now. It’s the kind of thing that just sets me off and I start seeing red. No…first I see a face. My Mom’s face.  Then I see red…

danger_moron_at_work

 

I was raised by a single divorced mother you drooling brick-brained ideologue and her son’s police record is a hell of a lot cleaner than your’s is.

But… But…

I had good public schools to go to…which you want to take away from America’s kids.

Even in a time when women made less than 60 cents on the dollar than a male co-worker for doing Exactly the same job my mom could still afford to raise a child back in the 50s and 60s. And that was because we had an economy that benefitted middle class and service workers like my mom. …something else you want to kill so your rich benefactors can buy more yachts. All those high paying union jobs gave paychecks to people who actually bought goods and services with them instead of gambling at the Wall Street casino. But your kind hates unions.

Mom was able to afford health care for me when it was desperately needed, after I came down with Scarlet Fever when I was 6 and then was laid up in bed for months with complications. Once upon a time working people and even a poor working single mother could afford health care for their kids. And you are trying to kill off the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Mom could afford to feed me, even on her meager salary back then. It wasn’t a fabulous diet I had back then but I never went to bed hungry. And it was reasonably healthy You want to take food stamps away from poor kids and let the food industry feed everyone else junk.

And even on that meager salary she could buy me books to read.

Face it Paul…you don’t give a good goddamn about those inner city kids. Broken homes is it you’re worried about? What ruins more marriages than money problems? You are making home life for everyone but the rich worse and worse so they can have more and more and more and you’re bellyaching that kids don’t have fathers? I’m laughing in your face. It isn’t lack of fathers that drove those kids into the streets, its lack of any concern whatsoever for the rest of America you can’t see from inside your nicely furnished cocoon. They’re just little people. If you and your kind were really concerned about them not having fathers, maybe so many of them wouldn’t be in jail right now for piddly sh*t that very few white men ever face arrest for, let alone jail time. Maybe the life those kids are looking wouldn’t be a school-to-jailhouse pipeline.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How About Not Throwing So Many Of Those Fathers In Jail Then?

April 1st, 2015

Everything New Is Old Again

God this takes me back…

Kentucky Argues Gay Marriage Ban Not Biased

Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration is arguing in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that Kentucky’s ban on gay marriage isn’t discriminatory because it bars both gay and straight people from same-sex unions.

I haven’t heard this particular sophistry in a long long time. It was a popular back in the 1990s when I was arguing with bigots on the USENET forum alt.politics.homosexuality.   One dimwit in particular, a certain Steven Fordyce, just would not let go of it. Yes, yes…and when the Soviet Union banned Christianity that didn’t discriminate against Christians because atheists had to obey those laws too.   Back in 1894 Anatole France in her novel The Red Lily penned the definitive retort to this kind of argument…

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.

Then again, for brutal simplicity there is always Orwell…

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Everything New Is Old Again

March 29th, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

This came across my Facebook stream this morning…one of many stories about the so-called Religious Freedom bill the governor of Indiana signed into law the other day…

Swarens: Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law

Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Pull the other one. I’ve seen apologists spinning criticism of the Indiana law as some kind of militant gay hysterics, that the law has nothing whatever to do with discrimination against gay citizens, it’s just about preventing government from forcing The Devout to violate their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs.   We all believe that people should be free to practice their faith don’t we?   But in Georgia a similar law was amended to make it clear that it wasn’t a license to discriminate and rather than pass it with that amendment they withdrew it. And in Oklahoma when a legislator proposed that businesses wanting protection under that law had to post signs alerting customers they would not serve anyone if it violated their religious beliefs, that law was also withdrawn.

Laws like these aren’t actually originating in the various state legislatures. The new thing is to first cook up a law in a right wing legislative think tank like ALEC and then pass it around to friendly state representatives. If you want to know the purpose of these ersatz religious freedom laws, ask the folks pushing them on the states…

Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer): “Dear Indiana legislators: any legislation “clarifying” RFRA will be abject surrender to the homosexual agenda. Don’t do it.”

I’m sure part of the song and dance now is  Don’t Say The G-Word during hearings on the law. But there’s plenty of talk about what the purpose is elsewhere and if you doubt the actual legislative purpose take another look at what happened in Georgia when they added the clarity that Pence claims now to be seeking.   Or take a look at this image from GLADD…

gladd_indiana

There will be no clarification forthcoming, Pence knows it, this is just wash, wash, washing his hands before the angry multitudes.   What?   What?   I asked the legislature for Clarification…they did not provide any…so don’t blame me!

Some of you may recall a lot of this started when a same sex couple wanted a wedding cake and the bakery refused, citing their Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs. There have been several more cases like that, but in the one case I’m thinking of, I think it was the Colorado bakery, what hasn’t gotten as much press was a local radio station had various people go to that same bakery and ask them to bake cakes for divorces, out of wedlock births, heterosexual couples shacking up but not getting married, and so on…and they were perfectly willing to bake those cakes. Just not the one for the gay couple. I don’t think that even qualifies as Sunday Morning Christianity.

The ninth commandment is you don’t tell lies about your neighbors. There needs to be one for telling lies about yourself. Because, really, that’s where soul rot begins. All this yap, yap, yapping now about how everyone is completely misinterpreting Indiana’s law would be hilarious on The Daily Show but it’s pathetic to watch people really saying these things with a straight face. Anyone saying this law has nothing to do with nullifying the effect if not the reality of same-sex marriage needs to go look in a mirror and ask that poor lost soul staring back at them which is worse: repeating a lie because you don’t want people to know the truth, or repeating it because you don’t want to know the truth.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Thou Shalt Not Tell The Mirror Lies

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