NEWSTAINMENT LOSES A FAVORITE SON (TEMPORARILY)

Posted in Televison with tags , , on February 17, 2015 by fulanigirl

“Newstainment” is my word for the disastrous conflation of news and entertainment that passes for news in our country now. Ever since corporations started expecting news broadcasts to pay for themselves or better yet, turn a profit, we’ve seen the growth of “celebrity” newscasters. In that world, a favored son recently took a fall. Of course, I am talking about the suspension of Brian Williams. I don’t care much whether he was suspended or not. If he made up the story or embellished it over time, he should have been suspended. But the real issue is, did he get himself into  trouble because he was trying harder to be famous, then he was trying to accurately relay the news. The news should be the story, not the reporter of the news. I have a hard time trying to picture Walter Cronkite appearing on a comedy show. And, even when Tom Brokaw appears on a popular show, he talks about the news. He doesn’t lose his gravitas, he doesn’t try to make the story about him. If Williams comes back, he should decide whether he wants to be the news or report it.

…..just something I was thinking about…

PEANUT BUTTER AND MEASLES

Posted in Education, Health Matters with tags , on February 17, 2015 by fulanigirl

So, I can’t send my grand kid to school with a peanut butter sandwich because some kid might be allergic to peanuts, but some  parent who doesn’t trust modern science, can send his or her unvaccinated kid to his school and make the whole school sick? And that makes sense to whom?

….just something I was thinking about…..

WHO DESERVES A FURLOUGH?

Posted in Politics with tags , on September 30, 2013 by fulanigirl

Can we furlough Congress? Maybe they need to experience what it is like to be off the government dole for a while.

….just something I was thinking about …

HOLDER SPEECH ON MANDATORY MINIMUMS

Posted in Criminal Justice, Politics, race with tags , , , on August 18, 2013 by fulanigirl

In another interesting criminal justice story, U.S. Attorney General Eric  Holder, who really has not been a beacon for the protection of rights during his term, spoke at an American Bar Association convention last week and announced he was instructing his prosecutors to rethink their adherence to strict mandatory minimum sentences for low level offenders.  It has taken thirty years for law enforcement to accept what criminal justice experts said long ago, the mandatory minimum polices are unsustainable economically and ineffective from the perspective of accomplishing rational sentencing policy. In the meantime, we have incarcerated more people than any other democracy in the world, we have ruined hundreds of minority communities throughout the country and destroyed hundreds of thousands of families in the process. Not to mention the fact that most states followed suit and adopted federal strategy on mandatory minimums. Some have already rolled back because of the economic burden such policies create, but many states have not. Will it take another 30 years before rational sentencing returns completely?

 

…just something I was thinking about……

NYPD STOP & FRISK HELD UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Posted in Criminal Justice, Politics, race with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2013 by fulanigirl

There was some interesting news out of New York this week. Judge Shira Scheindlin released her opinion in Floyd v. City of New York, the case that alleged NYPD was making its stops based  on racial profiling, thereby violating the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of black and Latino New Yorkers. The judge agreed. In an opinion that  is 195 pages long (no, I haven’t read the whole thing yet) the judge refuted the city’s claim that the police in the majority of these cases were using legitimate legal authority.

Judge Scheindlin remarked that in some areas a white man and a black man could be engaged in the same innocent behavior and the black man would be pulled over by the police as being suspicious.  Of course, Mayor Bloomberg was outraged by the opinion saying he would appeal and that the case would lead to deaths in NY, but the judge had anticipated that response, as it was the Mayor’s favorite on the subject. Scheindlin said that might be true if the policy was actually stopping  people who committed crimes, but she pointed out that the data from the police shows that 90% of the people they stop are not arrested or issued a summons. In other words they are innocent of any criminal conduct.

The judge clearly thought this one through. She did not ban the stop and frisk policy, noting the Supreme Court has ruled that the police do have the right to do stop people temporarily and pat them down under certain conditions. The legal basis for that still holds. What Scheindlin is now prohibiting is the specific way New York City Police Department carries out its policy. As far as Judge Scheindlin is concerned,  the police can still stop and frisk but they must have a legally sound basis to do so.  She appointed a lawyer who was a former prosecutor to assist the police department in adjusting their policies and she also suggested the city might need federal oversight from the Justice Department.  Police Commissioner Kelly took to the newstalk airwaves this Sunday to say her ruling would lead to an increase in crime in New York. Again a refusal to acknowledge the racism that goes on in the NYPD. This is clearly pandering towards whites in the city to make them feel afraid.

The ruling is very well reasoned and does away with the fiction that blacks and Latinos are treated fairly by the police. Now, whether in practice changes can be made to give real relief to the people in the targeted communities remains to be seen. There were several wonderful op-ed pieces in the New York Times this week. If you have the time check them out. As usual  since the Times went to a paid format, I will not provide all the links as I do not want my readers harassed to pay the New York Times money.  The case is easily found through Google search.

 

…just something I was thinking about …

THE DEATH OF SHAME: WEINER PART 2, 3,…..

Posted in Elections, Politics with tags , , , , on August 17, 2013 by fulanigirl

I have been trying all summer to say something about the brazenness with which Anthony Weiner popped back onto the scene  in New York, when he announced he was entering the primary for a run for mayor.  Sptizer’s announcement that he was running for Comptroller was bad too, but Weiner definitely took the cake for being arrogantly bold. I wrote one post, erased it, wrote a second, didn’t post that either. Then a title from the BBC web  page caught my attention.  I think the reporter nailed it on the head. It uses to be in the past, that if you committed a transgression while in public office, you would slip quietly away from the public eye. Oh no! Not any more. And Weiner’s case is particularly bad because he clearly has some mental health problems with regard to the sexting. A friend of mine says he should be called a digital flasher because he has substituted a raincoat for a telephone screen. I thought that was an interesting observation and an important one too because flashers are sex offenders, not misguided telephone users!

The more curious issue is why was he getting traction in the polls before it was revealed he hadn’t been quite as honest and open about those dalliances as he first represented. New York just went through a painful series of revelations about how Assemblyman Vito Lopez had sexually harassed his female staff for years. Council to the Assemble had to resign for failure to investigate the allegations and Sheldon Silver is still feeling the heat over his failure of leadership in the matter. So, why?! Why would New Yorkers want another power tripping, narcissistic man running for office?! Weiner is down in the polls now and can’t recover, but he’s still ahead of a legitimate candidate…. that is scary stuff

Of course, there’s also a footnote to the Spitzer story. One of his opponents, Kristin Davis, was a former madam. How rich is that? The leading candidate had to resign as governor because he had a habit of being serviced by prostitutes and his opponent is or was a madam! That would have been funny enough, but last week she was arrested for selling prescriptions drugs…. the madness continues.

But yes, the query is, exactly as the BBC put it. What happened to shame? I think the internet killed it….

…just something I was thinking about…

AND SO THE VERDICT IS IN…..

Posted in Criminal Justice, Oppression, Politics, race with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2013 by fulanigirl

I guess it is time for me to say something about the Zimmerman “not guilty verdict.” It’s been almost sixteen months since I first mentioned Trayvon Martin. During those months I have spoken publicly about the case, been interviewed by multiple reporters and sat on panels discussing race and criminal justice. One of the reporters I’ve dealt with for over a year  called me this week. I guess we needed to bring closure to our year long conversations and I’m sure he was searching for answers as to how the verdict could come in as it did. I reminded him that in probably our first or second conversation, I told him that the best the parents of Trayvon Martin could hope for was that some bill with his name on it would be passed in Florida because there was little probability of a guilty verdict.

As usual, my take on this issue is just a little different. Yes, the outpouring of grief and shock at the verdict is understandable. Those poor parents lost their child again in that court room and yes, it sends the message that the lives of our black sons, brothers, fathers, cousins and uncles have little value in the face of deeply held stereotypical and racist views about the inherent criminality of black people.  I think people who follow me are pretty sophisticated on these issues but for anyone who doesn’t get why Zimmerman’s actions can be racist, let me just explain quickly. Regardless of whether Zimmerman identified himself as Hispanic/Latino, he can still be racist. Latinos come in all colors and can hold all kinds of beliefs infused by racism. This is not a new concept and there is plenty of literature, both anectodal as well as empirical, about racism within the Latino community, both towards other Latinos as well s towards other ethnic groups. So please, let us not be ignorant about the complexity of racism.

To me the real question about the case is why did black communities across the country think Zimmerman was going to be convicted? Do you not remember Bernhard Goetz, Koon, Powell, Briseno and Wind – the cops who beat Rodney King, the scores of police in NY who routinely kill black men with impunity? It is amazing to me that in a time when every single right we fought for during the civil rights movement has been systematically undone, we as a people still hang on to the hope that if we just let justice take its course, we will be vindicated. That’s nonsense. But it does go  to show how far we have moved from our histories of activism to sitting comfortably on the sidelines with our big screen TVs, thinking we have made it.  The black people who grew up in Florida in the 1950’s knew a white man could kill them if he wanted to. The same was true in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. The killing got slicker in the 80’s and 90’s but it still happened. Somehow we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that its different now. It is not, its just that the march to the “not guilty” is slower and more public.

I watched Al Sharpton’s press conference the other day. I don’t mind admitting I’m not a big fan of Sharpton, but he was on point like I’ve never seen him be on point before. He announced the beginning of a political and legal campaign to go after the states who adopt these “Stand Your Ground” laws and after the lobbyists who promote them. The campaign will start in Florida. The goal is to demand that we be treated as  full citizens with the same right to life that every other citizen has. Wake up black folks. If you want to put meaning to the death of this young man, let it propel you off your sofas and from in front of those TVs. Let it remind you that in this America we have never gotten any rights without a fight. A reinvigorated, political activism.. now that would be a  much better tribute to Trayvon than anything the state of Florida could do.

…just something I was thinking about …

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