The Silence was Deafening

The Silence was Deafening

Ted Folkert

January 23, 2015

Sometimes silence is more deafening than loud noises. Sometimes it speaks louder than words, says more than words – you know, like your mom used to do when she just glared at you when you were out of line – you got the message, loud and clear, and you knew what was coming next – and it wasn’t a smile.

Watching the SOTUS by POTUS, the State of the Union Speech by the President of the United States, the other evening was inspiring as President Obama was proposing his plans to: promote child care benefits for working parents, reduce the costs of college education for graduating high school students, increase the minimum wage for the benefit of those who simply can’t earn enough to sustain a reasonable standard of living, assure equal pay for women, cut taxes for those in, or striving for, a middle class way of life, protecting the earth’s precious resources, deal with the effects of climate change, take a less aggressive approach to policing the world – and other goals that might benefit the entire population and help to assure a more sustainable future life for our kids and our kids, kids.

The “silence that was deafening” was the silence on the Republican side of the aisle, the smirks, and the looks of fear and disgust from those whose only fear is not continuing to be reelected to office through the generosity of the rich and powerful corporations and individuals. Every mention of a social program that might benefit the greater population was met with silence and disgust by the trickle-down theorists, those who carry water for the lobbyists for the behemoth banks and corporations who rule the world, defraud us all, hide their profits in foreign countries, and laugh all the way to the bank, while they poo-poo any mention of programs that strengthen the country for the future – programs designed to enhance educational opportunities, improve health care, lend a lifting hand to those struggling to survive, and, in general, strengthen our society of honest, hard-working families hoping for a decent future for their loved ones.

And then, to break the silence, they offered up Joni Ernst, who campaigned as “the hog castrator”, with her huge disingenuous, all-teeth smile and frightening glare, as she talked about her wearing bread-wrapper-covered shoes in the snow and having to serve customers at the donut shop – how terrible – kind of like John Boner having to sweep the floor in his dad’s bar. Makes you want to cry along with both of them. Hell, they probably had to walk through three feet of snow, barefooted, five miles, uphill both ways, to school and back. We are lucky they survived, so they can tell us the dreadful, hard luck, drenched-in-poverty, stories – poor creeps.

I hope everyone watched this show.

I hope everyone realized where our lack of attention to the election of good leaders has gotten us.

I hope everyone is as saddened as I am with the dysfunctional congress that we endure, the uncaring ignorance that congress reeks of, the impossibility of any reasonable plan for the sustainability of our planet, of the ignoring of our crumbling infrastructure – as they allow enormous wealth to be created each and every day without reasonable taxation, as they allow enormous wealth to pass from generation to generation to generation, tax free, while the workers, those who do the heavy lifting in this country, carry the load of taxation and pay for the infrastructure provided for the wealthy to gain more wealth.

It is time they paid their fair share.

It is time the wealthy pay tax on the capital they have captured by virtue of the infrastructure and markets we provide.

It is time they pay a larger share of their excessive corporate salaries to fund the benefits that they so willingly receive and enjoy, as they barricade themselves from the working class – in their little world behind walls and gates.

Think about it!

Help us elect better leaders, please!

 

John Lewis, Selma and Bloody Sunday By: Lonnie Shalton

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – 2015

John Lewis, Selma and Bloody Sunday

By: Lonnie Shalton

It all started so quietly – in 1940:

Construction was completed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma. The bridge was named in honor of a man who led Alabama’s Ku Klux Klan as its “Grand Dragon of the Realm” and served in the U.S. Senate from 1897 to 1907.

John Lewis was born in Troy, Alabama, about 90 miles from Selma.

Some 25 years later, John Lewis led a march across that bridge and added a new and tragic milestone to the Civil Rights Movement: “Bloody Sunday” (March 7, 1965). This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the 28th year that John Lewis is serving as a member of Congress.

In his autobiography Walking with the Wind, Lewis details his journey from the lunch counters of Nashville to the bridge at Selma to the halls of Congress. As a college student in Nashville, he embraced the teachings of nonviolent resistance and became a leader of the 1960 sit-ins. It was here that he proudly began his string of 40 arrests in six years. The success in Nashville received wide recognition and many of the students became leaders in the growing Civil Rights Movement, most notably as part of the newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1961, SNCC joined forces with CORE for the Freedom Rides designed to integrate public transportation in the South. Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders and was beaten unconscious in a Birmingham bus station in Bull Connor’s jurisdiction.

Lewis became chairman of SNCC in 1963 and that put him on the stage as one of the “Big 6” to address the March on Washington that concluded with the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King. Lewis was by far the youngest speaker and is the sole survivor. The march was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but as Lewis had warned, it did not offer any true help on the right to vote. And the Klan proved the point. From June to September of 1964, the SNCC voting registration campaign of Mississippi Freedom Summer counted over 1,000 arrests, 80 beatings, 35 shootings, 35 church burnings, 30 bombings and 3 murders.

In the aftermath of Mississippi, Selma took center stage. SNCC had been working with a local group in Selma where less than 1% of eligible blacks were registered. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined in the effort in 1965 and planned a 54-mile march to the state capital in Montgomery. On Sunday, March 7, Lewis and Hosea Williams of King’s SCLC led 600 marchers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge where they were brutally attacked by state and local “lawmen” with tear gas, billy clubs and bullwhips. Mounted troopers trampled over many protestors. Lewis was among the many hospitalized marchers and suffered a fractured skull. An ABC news crew rushed film to the network which interrupted that night’s movie broadcast of Judgment at Nuremberg. The TV audience was huge and the parallel to the racist atrocities in the movie added to the impact.

Although King had participated in some prior Selma protests, including being jailed in February, he was not there on Bloody Sunday. He was in Atlanta preaching at his church and rushed back to Selma after he got word of the attacks. He invited ministers of all faiths to join him, and hundreds showed up overnight. He called upon President Lyndon Johnson for action. Johnson believed that voting rights progress was needed, but he and civil rights leaders had disagreed on how soon Congress could be pushed to act. Bloody Sunday removed all doubt and prompted Johnson to address Congress on March 15: “At times history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week at Selma.”

With a court order in hand and protection from Federal troops, King, Lewis and others were finally able to lead a march that left Selma on March 21 and arrived in Montgomery on March 25. The crowd grew from an original 3,200 to 25,000 as they reached Montgomery. King’s speech at the end of the march includes his well-known quote: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” And the arc did bend. Less than five months later, President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Lewis, a member of Congress since 1987, knows that the battles are not over. Last year on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, he remarked “If you ask me whether the election [of Obama]…is the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream, I say, ‘No, it’s just a down payment.’ There are still too many people 50 years later that are being left out and behind.” The arc of the moral universe still needs bending, and justice inequality continues to smolder as a divisive issue in current race relations.

But Lewis remains steadfast in his belief in a nonviolent approach. In the aftermath of Ferguson, his Twitter messages reminded all that “Nonviolence is the only path to justice. Violence solely serves to feed the hungry beast of oppression…Only love can overcome hate…It’s good to disturb the order of things, to show signs of discontent, but it must be peaceful, orderly and disciplined.” The man who sat at the lunch counters, rode the buses and marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge would know.

Please remember that the MLK holiday is not just recognition of the past, but also a hope for greater justice in the future. Congressman Lewis often delivers this message by quoting an old gospel refrain and asking others to join him to…

KEEP OUR EYES ON THE PRIZE.

 

 

 

Mario Cuomo – Spokesman for the disadvantaged

Mario Cuomo – Spokesman for the disadvantaged

Ted Folkert

January 6, 2015

Well, we lost a good one the other day – we actually let a good one get away – we should have convinced him to run for president when we had the chance in 1992. Many of us liberals tried, but he declined.

As we all know, he was Governor of New York for many years, and his son, Andrew, is now Governor of New York.

Mario Cuomo, whose eloquence and inspiration I had the lasting pleasure of enjoying a few years ago in Los Angeles at a business gathering, could give you goose bumps – he could give you a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. If you had a liberal bone in your body, you hung on every word he said, which he spoke with such eloquence and articulation that you would just keep saying yes, yes, yes – under your breath.

Thanks to Pat Hininger for finding “the speech”, which Mario blessed us with at the Democratic Convention in 1984. What a magnificent speech, from the heart. I have heard lots of political speeches, like most everyone, but never one to compare to Mario Cuomo’s masterpiece.

The speech was meant as a response to Ronald Reagan’s description of America as a shining city on a hill, the key to the Republican’s political success.

“This nation is more a tale of two cities than it is just a shining city on a hill,” Cuomo said. “There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces you don’t see, in the places you don’t visit in your shining city.”

Here it is: http://wapo.st/1I3ahyF

Please listen – you won’t be sorry. I think you may have a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye.

President Obama – progress in spite of unbridled resistance – Lonnie Shalton

December 31, 2014

Comments offered by Lonnie Shalton, Kansas City attorney and longtime friend of many of us, as well as all democratic, progressive thinkers.

“Many of my partisan friends of the Democratic persuasion are pretty down on Obama. I have my own gripes with his style and some substance, but the cartoon in this morning’s paper was a good simple reminder of progress that has been made in spite of the worst Congress possible.

And Congress is not likely to change for many, many years. Two former Congressmen, Republican Tom Davis and Democrat Martin Frost (also my law partner in our DC office) have written a book that reflects the difficulty in changing the makeup of Congress.  You start with the natural sorting of the population, enhanced by clever gerrymandering, and throw in the current rules on campaign funding – there are few opportunities for an upgrade. The rise of non-disclosure PAC money has also had the effect of reducing the power of the political parties and makes every member of Congress a potential lone wolf – not a good recipe for party discipline and compromise legislation. The statistics are quite compelling.

The book is The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis, http://www.amazon.com/PARTISAN-DIVIDE-Congress-Crisis/dp/1619331284/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1420044027&sr=1-1&keywords=the+partisan+divide.

I know my political pals will have some easy comebacks on my Obama “defense,” but hey, it’s hard out there being a President.

And without Obama, what would have been the progress on immigration changes, Cuba, military gay rights, saving the auto industry, climate progress/China, the new Federal judges….

Obama was a little slow on gay marriage, but he got there.  Thank you Helen Windsor: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/09/30/the-perfect-wife.

Not so long ago, naysayers were pointing to Putin as the great leader compared to Obama – how’s that lookin’?

Obama did fail to work well with Congressional Republicans who would have cooperated with him.  Not.

Obama is often compared unfavorably to Bill Clinton who many hail as the great compromiser with Republicans – he did experience cooperative success in getting rid of Glass Steagall (that had kept banks out of some risky businesses), passing welfare reform to keep the poor from cheating and protecting the US from gays with the Defense of Marriage Act. Hillary’s health care plan was a no-show.  He didn’t start any wars, but also did not inherit any.  The budget side was good, helped along by the tech industry profits (somewhat offset by the bubble). And that darn government shutdown that prompted using interns.  Were we better off with Clinton than Bush-41 or Dole?  You betcha (think no further than two Supreme Court appointments).

The Clinton years also started good times for some taxpayers – A married couple earning combined salaries of $150,000 in the poppy Bush years paid $35,650 in taxes;  rich folks taking in $150,000 via passive investments paid $34,158. Through a series of changes that started with Clinton, and embellished by W and, yes, Obama , the number for that couple has been reduced to $24,138 and for the passive investor to $8,385. This tax inequality will of course not change as long as Wall Street has strong influence on Presidents and Congress.  Not holding my breath.

I took the tax numbers from a good post yesterday by Ted Folkert, an old friend from our Young Democrats days:  http://www.commongoodblog.com/uncategorized/abusive-taxation/.  One of my favorite quotes in Ted’s post comes from Gilded Age bank baron Andrew Mellon who questioned the distinction between the income from wages earned by those whose only capital is their “mental and physical energy,” which is “limited in duration and diminished by old age”, and those whose income continues regardless of health or age and then descends to their heirs.

On top of all that, we now have to suffer politics without The Colbert Report to aid in our nightly relief.  Jon Stewart will need to work overtime.

All of that being said, life is good.  Happy New Year

Your humble apologist,

Lonnie”

Abusive Taxation – the Worker’s Tax

Abusive Taxation, the Worker’s Tax

Ted Folkert

December 26, 2014

The gap in wealth and income is one of our most talked about topics in the noise media these days. And rightly so. This supports the cliché that my parents used to quote, which has now become even more a reality – the rich get richer and the poor are still poor.

In order to figure out who to blame or thank for this, depending upon your place in the income/wealth stream, we can use some calculations from a tax guy – Joe, the tax guy.

Joe Anthony explains it to us in his recent article, How to make taxes fair again, published in the Los Angeles Times today.

Joe tells us about the tax policies that penalize us for being middle class or less and rewards us for being in the higher earnings bracket (or racket, depending on where you stand on the issue). He tells us that a married couple earning $150,000 from two jobs will pay three times as much federal income tax as another couple earning the same amount from an investment.

This all started about 20 years ago with Bill Clinton, or as some of us like to call him, Bull Cliptem. When Bull took office these two couples would have paid nearly the same tax, $35,650 for the wage earners and slightly less, $34,158, for the investors, a $1,500 bonus for not working.

By the time George W. Bush, or as Molly Ivins called him, Shrub, took office the amount of taxes for these two couples, thanks to Cliptem and his brilliant advisers, would have been $33,607 for the wage earners and $23,025 for the investors. I guess in order to understand how this came about and how it helped the Common Good we would have to interview Cliptem’s financial advisers, Larry Summers, Sandy Weill, and Robert Rubin, all Wall Street graduates, beneficiaries, and self-proclaimed spokesmen for the common good of the people. However, to avoid a lengthy dose of political hyperbole, financial bewilderment, and self-aggrandizement, we will omit that exercise.

Now, in 2014, after Shrub’s income tax cuts and rearrangement, and after Obama’s income tax rearrangement, the wage earners would pay $24,138 and the investors would pay $8,385, or about one-third of the tax paid by the wage earners. How does that sound? Yes – correct -unbelievable! But that is the way it is. Like my parents used to say, the rich get richer and the poor are still poor

Even in the 1920s, the era of the “robber barons”, the “roaring 20s’, the “gilded age”, the sentiment was in favor the wage earners. Even Andrew Mellon, filthy-rich (as Mom would have said), extremely wealthy, bank baron, Treasury Secretary, spoke of the distinction between the income from wages. whose earners’ only capital is their “mental and physical energy”, which is “limited in duration and is diminished by old age”, and those whose income continues regardless of health or age, and then descends to their heirs.

And for this one-more penalty for not being rich, one-more unneeded benefit for those born of wealth or born of greed, we can all thank the self-serving financial community and the self-serving leaders they elect with their campaign funding.

Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Think about!

Read the article by Joseph Anthony: “How to make taxes fair again”, published in the Los Angeles Times today.

 

More human behavior in the news

More human behavior in the news

Ted Folkert

December 24, 2014

It is Christmas Eve as we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the birth of Jesus – the icon of the Christian religious faith. I am sure Jesus had plenty to say about human behavior.

Obviously, everyone did not pay heed. Many examples of pathetic and unbelievable human behavior are yet presented to us on a daily basis, although the attention to them is scant and the lessons learned from them seem nonexistent.

  • Two police officers in New York were assassinated while sitting in a police car. A perhaps mentally deranged, or perhaps hired gun, criminal who felt compelled to make a revengeful statement, shot them in cold blood. They had no chance to defend themselves. He later took his own life. Police Chief William Bratton speaks about this tragic event: “It’s not easy being a cop in America today. The dangers are still existent despite crime having gone down dramatically over the last 20 years. It’s a tough job, as we’ve seen in some instances, a thankless job. They have done a remarkable job, they’re keeping crime down … they’ve been restrained when face-to-face with demonstrators chanting “kill the cops”.

After this senseless murder, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Manhattan chanting: “Black lives matter, hey-hey, ho-ho, these racist cops have got to go.”

  • In Oregon, a shooter wounded two boys and girl at a high school, which may be gang related according to Portland police.
  • In Atlanta, two homeless men were shot and killed as they slept on the streets of Atlanta. Both were shot repeatedly. A man was arrested and charged with the murders.
  • In Bagdad, young girls of the Iraqi Yazidi religious group are committing suicide, their only means of escape from the Islamic State captors who torture and rape them. They apparently were given clothes that looked like dance costumes and were told to bathe and wear the clothing. A 19 rear old girl named Jilan cut her wrists and hanged herself. There are hundreds of them still captive with no prospect for the ordeal to end soon. The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority, persecuted for generations in Muslim communities as Satanists because of their beliefs, which include elements of Christianity and Judaism. Thousands of Yazidi women, men and children have been abducted and been forced to convert to Islam, sold, or given as gifts to militants. The claim by the captors is that virgin captives can be raped immediately and that there is no prohibition on sleeping with prepubescent girls.
  • Tamir Rice, a 12 year old black Cleveland boy was shot through the stomach and died at the hands of a white police officer who claims that the toy air gun he was holding was mistaken as a real gun. Apparently, a dispatcher received a 911 call about a person with a gun and sent a police car to the scene. Cleveland Police Officer Timothy Loehmann jumped out of his car and saw Tamir, who was displaying the toy gun. The death has been ruled a homicide. The two officers have been placed on limited duty. Prior to the incident the U. S. Justice Department found that Cleveland police officers use excessive force far too often.

These are all current events in the news. I am sure there will many more to report in the next few days.

But another example of sad and inexplicable human behavior is worthy of mention here.

  • It occurred in 1944 in South Carolina in the Jim Crow South. Eight year old, Aima Ruffner, and her 14 year old brother, George Stinney, Jr. were asked by two white girls where to find some fruit called “may pops”. They said they didn’t know and went on home. Aima later testified this story in a court hearing. The next day George was arrested and charged with the murder of these two girls. He was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and executed by electrocution within three months’ time. A 14 year old black youth – arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and executed, all by white people.

Now, seventy years later, George’s conviction was vacated by a South Carolina judge, who cited “fundamental, constitutional violations of due process” – “a truly unfortunate episode in our history.”

The family then fled their home fearing a white mob was coming after them. George was buried in an unmarked grave.

Human behavior – it never ceases to amaze me.

Think about it!

 

Comments regarding Of Human Behavior

Comments of Jordan Smirl, college student at College of the Ozarks:

I think there’s a flaw in your historical reasoning. You stated that “More people have died over religion than for money or power or anything else.” While I’m not going to defend the actions of many religious groups throughout history, that’s simply an untrue statement. Just look at the numbers. In World War II, 73 million civilians and soldiers lost their lives, plus another 11 million taken in the Holocaust. That’s a total of 84 million people dead because of political ideologies. That’s the equivalent of the First Crusade being fought 2,100 times over–and that’s with a high estimate of total deaths. Even though there have been numerous religious wars and uprisings in history, they have never come close to matching the scale of modern wars driven by power politics.

To be fair though, I think you’re making a good point. Human life is far too often devalued by extremists in different religious groups, and by governments that just see them as numbers on a page. I believe that the issues each human deals with are the same ones people have dealt with from the beginning of humanity. The only thing that has changed is our access to exponentially growing technology, and in regard to human aggression, that’s only brought more deaths to mankind. Whether or not humanity can change, I’m not sure. But it’s important for all of us to fight the daily battle of containing our aggression, pride and greed for the sake of those around us.

Comments of the author:

Thanks Jordan, for your insightful comments. These articles are meant to invoke thought and promote positive conversation regarding the challenges of the human condition, human behavior, and the benefits of good leadership, which we sadly seem to lack. You are probably correct about the number of lives lost due to religious conflicts, as well as for various other sad reasons, however, the numbers cannot be tallied from previous centuries when many of the crusades, wars, and battles were provoked and fought by religious organizations such as those of the Catholic popes who had their own armies.

As another consideration, WWII could be construed by some as religious rather than political, particularly that part of the war that occurred in Europe, since one of Hitler’s primary objectives and obsessions was the murder all Jewish people, and, of course, Judaism is not a nationality or a political organization, it is a religion.

Nevertheless, the numbers are pathetic from all causes, which is my primary point.

I am sure that religion has a very positive effect on human behavior when it comes to the Christian faith today, but not at all positive with some of the other religious beliefs, such as is overwhelmingly exemplified each and every day and has been a dominate source of massive, unnecessary pain, suffering, and death for the last decade and longer, with no apparent end in sight.

 

Of Human Behavior

Of Human Behavior

Ted Folkert

December 18, 2014

Human behavior never ceases to amaze me. Maybe we could have a worldwide cease fire for the New Year. That would amaze me.

Okay, “Maybe I’m a dreamer”, like John Lennon sang, “but not the only one”.

Technology advances at the speed of light, even as we speak. By the time I finish writing this piece of superficial opinionating, there will probably be a new form of digital communication available which will make punching keys no longer necessary. Perhaps a device that reads your mind and transcribes your every thought, advances such thoughts to a higher level of thinking, edits the message to accommodate your target audience and places it in the minds of every conceivable person who may have interest in being made aware of it, with your digital signature attached. This is digital behavior, or scientific behavior, or technological behavior – not humanistic behavior.

All the above hyperbole is more feasible and more likely than a change of human behavior. How does human behavior remain stuck in the 15th century mold while everything else advances at breakneck speed? We no longer need adding machines, typewriters, stenographers, dictation machines, dictionaries, encyclopedias, pencils or erasers. We don’t need recordings, tapes, or CDs. We don’t even need books any longer. Soon we will no longer need coins or bills as a means of exchange, although it hasn’t been that long since we were trading chickens for cows and milk for bread. But we seem to still need killing each other.

How much have we progressed in human behavior? Today we read and listen to reports of 141 innocent people in Peshawar being murdered for no reason other than that the murderers were sending a message, settling a score. Human life must have no value, at least less value than an expression of opinion. Every other day we hear about innocent people murdered because they were practicing the wrong religion, worshipping the wrong god, or worshipping in the wrong way. None of this is for money or for food or possessions, it is all for principles, for power, for messages, such as: do it our way or you will all be murdered, don’t rain on my parade or you will be murdered, do as I say or you will be murdered, follow me or you will be murdered.

No one could possibly count the lives lost by the actions of someone doing God’s work with a sword. More people have died over religion than for money or power or anything else. No one could possibly count the lives lost by those seeking or retaining power, including our major religious organizations, as our history books will attest. No one could possibly count the lives lost for reasons of territory, economic advantage, ways of life, disobedience of power.

If we could count the refugees around the world, those who have left their homeland for their own safety and survival, we would be astonished at the number. It is obviously in the millions. Human behavior – what a simple term that is so impossible to explain or anticipate. What a hard thing to alter. Every time we think we have improved human behavior, 30 or 100 or 1,000 or 1 million people are needlessly displaced from their homes or murdered.

Let’s just name a few countries where we are murdering each other on a daily basis for inexplicable reasons, not just an occasional murder for revenge or jilted love or money, but mass murder to prove a point or gain power or territory or privilege – or to force religious principles on others. How about Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan – it might be easier to name the countries where all is peaceful.

Human behavior. Unpredictable. Inexplicable. Unalterable. Unimaginable. Unnecessarily brutal. Shamelessly administered. How will we ever improve human behavior?

John Lennon sang about it:

Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people, Living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too,
Imagine all the people, Living life in peace,
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one.

His song speaks volumes. It says in a few words what could fill a tome. It seems so simple. Imagine!

We read the history books about the nature of human behavior centuries ago and shake our heads in disbelief. Future generations will read our history books and shake their heads in disbelief. Our human behavior is little, if any, better than that which we read about – and it isn’t getting any better. So where do we start? Who wants to go first? How do we communicate it? We have the United Nations. It, of course, seems useless. There is no functioning behavioral disciplinary system – only idle threats. We have economic sanctions which only seem to exacerbate festering relations, strengthen resolve, and bolster the resistance to peaceful resolution. And then we have the Veto power of the big “important” countries, so that nothing can be done to alter their behavior against their will.

Please help us elect better leaders, not only here but the world over. It is the only way to improve human behavior. The message must come from the top down, but it must be started and demanded from the bottom up, from a groundswell of the proletariat, and for the common good.

I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Think about it!

And Happy New Year!

Shame, disgrace, inhumanity, injustice – murder!

Shame, disgrace, inhumanity, injustice – murder!

Ted Folkert

December 9, 2014

It all started here in this great free country of ours in the early 1600s with the slave trade. We will never know how many lost their lives during the despicable transport of slaves here in the holds of ships. We will never know how many lost their lives at the hands of plantation owners and other slave holders. We will never know how many lost their lives simply due to racial prejudice, without committing a crime, without injuring anyone, just because of their color, their perceived non-humanness.

It is difficult for most to even imagine how such a practice, such inhumane conditions could exist even then, let alone today.

It was universally ignored for century after century – decade after decade – the killings unreported and unprosecuted. Disappearances never solved – murderers uncharged, untried, unpunished – even unmentioned.

Trayvon Martin brought it to light a couple of years ago. He was murdered in cold blood by this cowardly creep who walked after being found not guilty of murder. If it had been the other around, Martin wouldn’t have seen daylight for the rest of his life. As it turned out he never saw daylight again at the hands of a cold-blooded murderer.

Just some examples of improper policing and injustice that have been publicized recently include: Michael Brown, the unarmed jaywalker in Ferguson, Missouri, shot many times by the frightened police officer, an officer trained to deal with such situations – by calling for support or using other methods of subduing a suspect; Eric Garner, the unarmed guy selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk in Staten Island, confronted by police officers, disgusted with their continual harassment, subdued by numerous officers, died from a heart attack after pleading for relief from an illegal chokehold – by police officers who were trained for such encounters and had other means of subduing him; Bernard Bailey, unarmed, who came to town hall in Orangeburg County, South Carolina to protest a charge of a broken taillight, and was accosted and killed by a the police chief, who had followed Bailey to his truck; Akai Gurley, unarmed, killed by a police officer in New York City as he and his girlfriend opened a door into a stairway as the officer was patrolling the stairway.

We could write these stories for days and never mention a fraction of cases that went unpublicized, uncharged, unpunished – even ignored as a despicable practice of law enforcement has been allowed to prevail.

As Matt Tiabbi writes in the Rolling Stone:

“Nobody’s willing to say it yet. But after Ferguson, and especially after the Eric Garner case that exploded in New York yesterday after yet another non-indictment following a minority death-in-custody, the police suddenly have a legitimacy problem in this country.”

“This policy of constantly badgering people for trifles generates bloodcurdling anger in “hot spot” neighborhoods with industrial efficiency. And then something like the Garner case happens and it all comes into relief. Six armed police officers tackling and killing a man for selling a 75-cent cigarette.”

“That was economic regulation turned lethal, a situation made all the more ridiculous by the fact that we no longer prosecute the countless serious economic crimes committed in this same city. A ferry ride away from Staten Island, on Wall Street, the pure unmolested freedom to fleece whoever you want is considered the sacred birthright of every rake with a briefcase.”

“If Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon had come up with the concept of selling loosies, they’d go to their graves defending it as free economic expression that “creates liquidity” and should never be regulated.”

“Taking it one step further, if Eric Garner had been selling naked credit default swaps instead of cigarettes – if in other words he’d set up a bookmaking operation in which passersby could bet on whether people made their home mortgage payments or companies paid off their bonds – the police by virtue of a federal law called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act would have been barred from even approaching him.”

“There were more cops surrounding Eric Garner on a Staten Island street this past July 17th then there were surrounding all of AIG during the period when the company was making the toxic bets that nearly destroyed the world economy years ago. Back then AIG’s regulator, the OTS, had just one insurance expert on staff, policing a company with over 180,000 employees.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-police-in-america-are-becoming-illegitimate-20141205#ixzz3LS8pO9Vl

As Matt Taibbi says, police officers have a dangerous job.

But let’s face it, the police officers are confronted sometimes with the ills and attitudes of people who have been discriminated against, deprived of equal opportunities, deprived of equal standards of living and educational opportunities – who have continually been treated as second class citizens – unimportant to society, harassed by law enforcement for pettiness.

It is time we acknowledged what they are saying: “Our lives are important too, give us a break, treat us the same as you would treat us if we were white, we have loved ones, we have ambition, we are seeking a good life – a life with opportunities for becoming educated, working hard, raising our kids, and looking forward to a better future – we aren’t asking for special treatment, we are asking for equal treatment.”

Every police department must be retrained to deal with these situations in a reasonable manner, with some compassion, some understanding, some patience, and some willingness to use the least harmful law enforcement necessary to control situations of perceived law violations. Cases with questionable conduct by law enforcement should be decided by a court of law, not a hand-picked grand jury. Our laws call for a jury of our peers, not a white jury or a white grand jury in a black community.

Whatever happened to common sense? Did it get eliminated along with government for the common good?

Think about it!

Every thing isn’t going to be all right?

Every thing isn’t going to be all right?

Ted Folkert

December 4, 2014

My old handball buddy Bill Sharp used to jokingly say “Don’t worry, nothings gonna be all right.”

Bob Marley used to sing to us, in his inimitable way: “Don’t you worry – About a thing – Every little things – Gonna be all right”

Well, he knew that wasn’t so. He knew every little thing wasn’t going to be all right because he had lived the life he was born into. He lived the life of racial discrimination, the life of disenfranchisement, the life of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair that was impossible for most of his people to overcome – even though they sang their song of hope – “We shall overcome.” Although Bob Marley tried to make it better, he left too soon, before the job was done. And the job is still a long way from being done.

The most recent perfect examples of racial prejudice and disenfranchisement have been dominating the news recently, not because the noise media truly believes the real impact of this reminder of second class citizenship that we make evident each and every day for the disenfranchised, but because it gets viewers so they can sell advertising.

Ferguson, Missouri and New York City have made it loud and clear once again. In Ferguson a frightened police officer shot Michael Brown to death. It seems apparent that Michael Brown was a bully, but it certainly seems that the officer could have backed off somewhat, could have taken other measures to arrest or subdue him. He wasn’t wanted for any serious crime at the time but was merely jaywalking. Although I would sympathize with the officer somewhat, he didn’t want to get hurt and Brown was much bigger that he, but a case could be made that he used excessive force, which may have warranted legal resolution for the sake of justice and closure for family members for what was perhaps a wrongful death. Instead there was a decision not to charge and not to have a public court hearing.

And even before this case has cooled off, in New York City several police officers subdued and unintentionally killed Eric Garner for allegedly selling cigarettes, obviously using a chokehold on him, which is prohibited for the use of police officers, and then ignoring Garner’s pleas for relief until he was dead. Could they have backed off? Could they have taken other action? Could they have let him go and arrested him later? Was he harming anyone? The answers are yes, yes, yes, and no. Nothing that could be reasonably construed as warranting such drastic action seemed to have occurred. He was a big man but there were several officers and Garner was not armed.

So, putting yourself in their place, would you be infuriated by these two incidents? Would these incidents remind you of discriminatory policies that have been festering for several hundred years? Discriminatory policies which have been a way of life for blacks, unequal to the treatment of others, harsher enforcement, harsher surveillance, harsher treatment, harsher penalties. Combine this with extreme disadvantage in employment opportunities, living conditions, educational opportunities, and health care and you get the idea of what the impact must be on these second class citizens.

These are just two isolated incidents that became prevalent in our minds recently. The facts of unequal justice are overwhelming.

Check out these numbers:

From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people.

African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population

African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites

Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population

According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%

One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime

1 in 100 African American women are in prison

Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug

5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites

African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months). (Sentencing Project)

35% of black children grades 7-12 have been suspended or expelled at some point in their school careers compared to 20% of Hispanics and 15% of whites.

If you want more of these facts they are readily available.

Bill Sharp thought he was kidding when he said nothing is going to be all right.

Bob Marley knew everything wasn’t going to be all right

We need drastic changes in law enforcement hiring, training, practice, and control of police officers. They have a tough job but they have options in dealing with unarmed suspects and incidents like we have been shaking our heads over recently make it imperative that something be done now – before all hell breaks loose – and before another victim of improper law enforcement results in mass violence against discrimination.

Everything isn’t all right!

Think about!