Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Christmas

Avedon Carol and Stuart Zechman were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. First topic was generated by Matt Stoller's piece, previously referenced here, on Why the Democratic Party Acts The Way It Does. Other homework for that segment includes the DLC document "The Hyde Park Declaration: A Statement of Principles and a Policy Agenda for the 21st Century". But the other topic was how we came to be the kind of country where respecting the authority of the police in all circumstances is so important that citizens can be killed for not doing it. So maybe homework should include this article from 2005: "Justices Rule Police Do Not Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect Someone."

Maybe we should call them the Supreme Clique, anyway, since they won't talk to anyone who isn't on the same page and they can't even figure out what the cops are supposed to be for. I mean, seriously: "Supreme Court: It's OK for Cops to Guess Wrong About What the Law Is: A robust 8-1 majority of the Supreme Court ruled today that, contrary to folk belief, ignorance of the law is a perfectly good excuse - as long as it's a cop who's claiming ignorance." 8-1! Well, thank goodness Democrats keep appointing all those liberals to the bench, eh? I was almost afraid I'd find out the dissenter was one of the Republican appointees, but it was Sotomayor.
- And then there's always more from Scalia, who unsurprisingly found an interesting defense of torturing suspects on the grounds that it isn't "cruel and unusual punishment" of people who've already been convicted.

"Why it's so rare for police to be prosecuted for killing civilians, explained in 2 minutes" - Well, no, it explains why it's hard to convict them (because that's a defense argument), but it doesn't explain (a) why grand juries just don't happen to indict them and (b) why seeing someone being perfectly non-threatening scares a supposedly trained police officer to the point that they shoot them without, at the very least, being laughed off the force for being a pants-wetter. It doesn't explain how someone with so little sense of proportion that they kill harmless old men who don't want to go to the hospital or guys who are suspected of not paying a parking ticket or any number of other non-violent, non-felony infractions is on the force in the first place. Even cops who very definitely are not even close to following procedure use fatal choke-holds on such people and don't get prosecuted - but worse, the head of the police union describes this behavior as "good police work". What's that about? Claiming you shot an elderly gent in wheelchair because you were "in fear for your life" should be a firing offense just on the grounds that no one that easily frightened should be on the force, period. And these are the things the media should be talking about, instead of crap like this.
- Cenk says, "American Cops Kill With Startling Frequency Compared To Other Nations"
-Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post, "What America's police departments don't want you to know"

There were some demonstrations recently. All over the country. People just don't seem to like the idea that the cops can shoot you with impunity, it seems. Anyway, the media worked pretty hard to give the impression that nothing much happened that day and hardly anyone turned out for it, but that doesn't appear to have been true.

"Rabbis Recite Kaddish, Jewish Mourning Prayer, For Eric Garner, Later Arrested In NYC Protest"

The Constitution-free Zone

Mary Landrieu's bitter end: Why her complaints about Democrats abandoning her ring so hollow

Journalism furore: Buncha writers quit The New Republic in outrage and solidarity. Lotta people wonder where these principled journalists were when they did things like, oh, publishing all that crap on The Bell Curve as if it weren't a bunch of already-debunked racist crap. Ta-Nahisi Coates, for example. Wonkette explains what happened and puts it all in context. Via Atrios, who referred to it all as "The Most Entitled Whinefest In History."

The Mary Sue, "New UK Legislation Bans Female Ejaculation, Facesitting, Some BDSM From Streaming Porn"
- The F Word, "Restrictions on porn that protect no-one"
- Guardian, "Bound and gagged: the women urging a repeal of the porn laws"

History Department: Robert Moses, The Power Broker, and why the public wasn't overwhelmingly grateful.

"South Dakota Sadly Forced to Cancel 'Don't Jerk and Drive' Campaign ."

Stephen Colbert interviews Jamie Dimon Smaug.

Smokey Robinson on being black

Damn, I missed my chance on day 10 of the Headline Advent calendar.

"Virginia DMV Revokes World's Greatest License Plate"
- Well, I rather liked this one, too.

Hark! A Vagrant is a different kinda comic. Michael Abbot particularly wanted to call my attention to the one on Ida B. Wells.

Nichelle Nichols, still inspiring them.

James Brodie's comment on an earlier post's link to Dobie Gray performing "Drift Away" was, "The Neville Brothers would cover Drift Away. While Aaron would be the obvious lead, I can hear Art in there too. Poppa Funk!" And I thought, "That is such an obviously perfect idea that it must already be on YouTube." But, truthfully, I was disappointed. Gray's slower tempo leaves more room for the kind of vocalizations Aaron is so good at.

Stonehenge by Ikea

A Game of Shoes

The Avengers: An photograph

"Scottish Colloquialisms" featuring Karen Gillan

Enterprise Dance Floor (Star Trek Stabilized!)

Dear Santa

The annual Christmas porn

I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the comics and I enjoyed the movie, although I had a little trouble with Gamora as the bleeding-heart liberal of the group. And I think they should have gone with Drax's tats from the comics - he looks a bit pink with the ones he has in the flick. But hey, they got Rocket and Groot perfect, and that's what matters! Anyway, here's an Honest Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Moshe Feder says, "Chanukah starts Tuesday night and these guys do a great job with three holiday standards. (It's an irony of Jewish-American culture that our songwriters have written great Christmas songs, but nothing for Chanukah.)" This was fun to listen to.

"Blue Christmas with Porky Pig"


  1. Re: The New Republic, Freddie deBoer did God's own work:

    "The New Republic was never anything but a warmongering racist antileft trashpile and I hope the whole enterprise burns to the ground and if you are nostalgic about it you’re nostalgic for The Bell Curve, the war on Iraq, and Marty Peretz’s Muslim Hating Neo-Fascist Jamboree. The whole enterprise was corrupt right down to its colonialist bones and if some Facebook billionaire wants to turn it into Tinder For Politico Jagbags it could not possibly suffer in comparison. Shedding tears for Leon Wiseltier’s job is like worrying about what became of Stalin’s cat. I only pray for the day that your twisted obsession with Village bric-a-brac is performed by the unpaid interns that are the inevitable future of Big Media, which will be celebrated by you neoliberal clowns right up until some 17 year old earning nothing but 3 $9,000-a-credit-hour credits literally unplugs the keyboard from your workstation. Tell Stephen Glass I said hey and shut out the lights on your way out."

    1. Deserves a link [LINK] if for no other reason he wasn't done with 'em [LINK] at his Interfaces of the Word blog [LINK].

  2. Speaking of fascists, Antonin Scalia is certainly one.

  3. Colbert's interview with Smaug at your link was taken down by Viacom. Here's the link to the video at the Comedy Central site: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/509747/smaug

    1. Well, that bites, because they won't let me watch anything at Comedy Central. :(

  4. A particular dissenting opinion from a 1968 New York Court of Appeals case came to mind when I saw Avedon's link to a report about the recent U. S. Supreme Court ruling having to do with a near issue though the later case does stem from a far more horrific crime [my emphasis]:

    KEATING, Judge (dissenting)

    [240 N.E.2d 862] Linda Riss, an attractive young woman, was for more than six months terrorized by a rejected suitor well known to the courts of this State, one Burton Pugach. This miscreant, masquerading as a respectable attorney, repeatedly threatened to have Linda killed or maimed if she did not yield to him: 'If I can't have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you, no one else will want you'. In fear for her life, she went to those charged by law with the duty of preserving and safeguarding the lives of the citizens and residents of this State.

    Linda's repeated and almost pathetic pleas for aid were received with little more than indifference. Whatever help she was given was not commensurate with the identifiable danger. On June 14, 1959 Linda became engaged to another man. At a party held to celebrate the event, she received a phone call warning her that it was her 'last chance'. Completely distraught, she called the police, begging for help, but was refused.

    The next day Pugach carried out his dire threats in the very manner he had foretold by having a hired thug throw lye in Linda's face. Linda was blinded in one eye, lost a good portion of her vision in the other, and her face was permanently scarred. After the assault the authorities concluded that there was some basis for Linda's fears, and for the next three and one-half years, she was given around-the-clock protection....

    It is not a distortion to summarize the essence of the city's case here in the following language: 'Because we owe a duty to everybody, we owe it to nobody.' Were it not for the fact that this position has been hallowed by much ancient and revered precedent, we would surely dismiss it as preposterous. To say that there is no duty is, of course, to start with the conclusion. The question is whether or not there should be liability for the negligent failure to provide adequate police protection....

    What has existed until now is that the City of New York and other municipalities have been able to engage in a sort of false bookkeeping in which the real costs of inadequate or incompetent police protection have been hidden by charging the expenditures to the individuals who have sustained often catastrophic losses rather than to the community where it belongs, because the latter had the power to prevent the losses.

    Although in modern times the compensatory nature of tort law has generally been the one most emphasized, one of its most important functions has been and is its normative aspect. It sets forth standards of conduct which ought to be followed. The penalty for failing to do so is to pay pecuniary damages....

    [22 N.Y.2d 581] BREITEL, Judge. [with the opinion of the Court]

    This appeal presents, in a very sympathetic framework, the issue of the liability of a municipality for failure to provide special protection to a member of the public who was repeatedly threatened with personal harm and eventually suffered dire personal injuries for lack of such protection. The facts are amply described in the dissenting opinion and no useful purpose would be served by repetition....

    For all of these reasons, there is no warrant in judicial tradition or in the proper allocation of the powers of government for the courts, in the absence of legislation, to carve out an area of tort liability for police protection to members of the public....

    1. I'd like to say it was the clarity of Judge Keating's prose and the depth of his insight which made his dissent so memorable to me in the late '70s when I first came across it in a text of the Riss v. City of New York decision. However, if you scroll down to the second heading here [LINK], the 22 April 2004 one, and read the entry below that date maybe it wasn't the style and substance of Keating's opinion that made such an indelible impression on me after all. Perhaps it was more a vulgar interest I had in the accompanying Jerry Spring story line, told in part by a note uncharacteristically added to the text by, I suppose, a casebook editor.

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