Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King On The Dignity of Work Versus "The Oinkers"

How can we most effectively fulfill the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King? I think the first step is to stop electing Republicans~ Thom Hartmann on the MLK day edition of his Progressive radio program (1/19/2009).

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that all work has dignity. Naturally he was a strong proponent of Labor and of a Minimum Wage (MW) that was also a living wage.

MLK: So often we overlook the work and the significance of those who are not in professional jobs, of those who are not in the so-called big jobs. But let me say to you tonight that whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth. (AFSCME Memphis Sanitation Strike, April 3, 1968).

This is in stark contrast to Conservatives who view "menial" labor workers as the lowest of the low. These are jobs that should either be outsourced to low wage countries (if they can be); or the workers should be paid as low a wage as possible (by doing away with the MW).

An 8/28/2013 Slate article reminds us that "one of the demands at the March on Washington was for a $2 minimum wage, which would be $15.27 an hour adjusted for inflation today".

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom or "The Great March on Washington"... was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history and called for civil and economic rights for African Americans. It took place in Washington DC. Thousands of Americans headed to Washington on Tuesday August 27, 1963. On Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech in which he called for an end to racism (Wikipedia: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom).

Meanwhile, on the other side we have Conservative/Libertarian memes that say the minimum wage is "racist" (OST #23) and that people in "menial" labor jobs who are protesting for higher wages are "oinking" for them.

Libertarian Blog Commenter: It's like the McDonald's workers doing work worth about $8 an hour and oinking for a handout of $15 an hour without doing a single thing to earn this amount. Other than oink for more money. (1/6/2015 AT 3:58pm).

Gee, I wonder where this commenter got the idea that this type of labor is worth $8 an hour? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the MW is around that amount ($7.25, currently)? A MW that today would be in the $15 an hour neighborhood if that $2 an hour MW - the one that those who participated in MLK's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" believed should be paid - actually was (although the MW "peaked at about $10 in 1968, measured in 2014 dollars).

So the "oinking" is only for a MW that is comparable to what was being paid in 1968. But I don't think these people believe in the dignity of work. Their only concern is that wages be forced down to as low a level as possible so as high a percentage of profits as possible can be diverted to the plutocrats. The people who are doing the REAL oinking, in my opinion.

I say that anyone who opposes a MW below what it was in 1968 is on the side of the oinkers. And they stand in opposition to those who believe in the dignity of work, as Martin Luther King did. But what would you expect from someone who referred to (what he views as) menial labor as a "chimpanzee jobs" - and believes that these kind of jobs should be outsourced to 3rd world countries where laborers are wage slaves forced to work under unsafe conditions and for wages so meager that they often commit suicide (SWTD #165)?

Obviously these people believe there is some work that does NOT have dignity (and should be done by "chimpanzees" in low wage countries). Huh... maybe OPPOSING a minimum wage is racist? Surely it is classist. Yes, it is absolutely not a bad thing to strive to improve your "human capital", but it is also not a bad thing to believe there is dignity in ALL work and that ALL workers deserve a wage they can live on.

As opposed to denigrating people who work at "lowly" jobs by referring to them as losers. And using derogatives such as "paper hat job" or "chimpanzee job" to refer to the work these people do. But drilling into the heads of people the meme that these "losers" don't deserve a living wage makes it that much easier to drive wages down... and transfer this wealth into the pockets of the plutocrats.

And it most certainly is the Republican Party (and Libertarians) that represents those who are desirous of believing they're better than these losers. Classists, racists and others whose self-perception is dependent on maintaining their egoism (the "rational self interest" Ayn Rand types that view many of their fellow humans as Looters, Moochers and Parasites/Lice). Which is why I agree that one of the first steps to fulfilling the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King is to stop electing Republicans (and Libertarians).

SWTD #276, wDel #72.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

On The Michael Brown And Eric Garner Grand Jury Decisions

Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal ~ Benjamin Spock (5/2/1903 to 3/15/1998) an American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the best-sellers of all time.

My view is that these decisions are bullshit. In regards to the Michael Brown case, I heard that "witness 40" - the individual who said Michael Brown charged his killer "like a football player, head down" - wasn't there and is a known racist liar. This concocted "testimony" has been cited many times on Fox Nooz (by Sean Hannity specifically) as "proof" that Darren Wilson's version of events were accurate and therefore the shooting was justified (Witness 40: Exposing A Fraud In Ferguson).

Frankly I didn't buy this "charging" baloney from the beginning. No sane person would charge someone shooting at them. It's utterly ridiculous. But now that we know Sandra McElroy (AKA "Witness 40") lied - coupled that with the fact that Brown was over 100 feet away when Wilson started firing - I'm thinking this is looking more and more like murder. As for WHY Wilson decided to murder Brown, I can't say. Either incompetence (he panicked) indicating the guy should never have been a cop to begin with, or racism. Or a combination of the two.

I do know, however, that there ABSOLUTELY should have been a trial AND that the prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, did not get an indictment because he didn't want one. According to the Washington Post, McCulloch's "father, a police officer, was killed by a black suspect... [and, during his career as a prosecutor] four times he presented evidence to a grand jury in [a police shooting] case and didn't get an indictment; now he can add a fifth". (Bob McCulloch's pathetic prosecution of Darren Wilson).

Not only that, but Bob McCulloch knew Sandra McElroy was lying BEFORE he allowed her to testify before the grand jury! McCulloch said "there were people who came in and, yes, absolutely lied under oath [but] I thought it was much more important to present the entire picture" (St. Louis prosecutor McCulloch says he knew Witness 40 lied to Ferguson grand jury).

Right. As for the Hannity-quoted Witness 40, McCulloch admitted, "this lady clearly wasn't present when this occurred". Then why the hell did he allow her to testify? A 12/17/2014 FireDogLake article asserts that McCulloch "should be investigated for conspiracy to suborn perjury"... and I agree. McCulloch is more to blame for this fabricated testimony being presented to the jury (and influencing their decision) than Witness 40 (who may suffer from some "serious mental health issues").

Hopefully this unethical misconduct by McCulloch is followed up on. And then there is the fact that Darren Wilson appears to have lied under oath.

Officer Darren Wilson testified that he knew about the theft of a box of cigarillos from the Ferguson Market, before encountering Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson. However, Officer Wilson's supervisor testified that he spoke to Wilson after the shooting, and that Wilson "did not know anything about the stealing call". In an apparent effort to turn unreasonable actions into a reasonable excuse to pull the gun out, Wilson connected the stop to the call about the in-store theft. (FDL article, "Over Easy: Transcripts show #DarrenWilson Lied to the Grand Jury" by Masoninblue, 11/26/2014).

So Wilson was not thinking Michael Brown might be the suspect who supposedly stole a box of cigs, Michael Brown didn't punch officer Wilson causing a "broken eye socket", and Michael Brown did not "charge" Wilson. Brown also wasn't 35 feet away from Darren Wilson's SUV. It was actually 148 feet (Police Lied: Michael Brown Was Killed 148 Feet Away From Darren Wilson's SUV).

So, tell me... how the hell could Darren Wilson fear for his life from someone who was SO far away AND not "charging" him? Shooting so many damn times (10 shots according to this article) suggests to me that maybe Wilson didn't want Michael Brown to survive to tell his side of the story.

As for the killing of Eric Garner by officer Daniel Pantaleo - that homicide was ON TAPE - and still no indictment. I believe the Black community has good reason to be angry - and I support them in their protests demanding change. And I also view any cop - or head of any cop organization - that speaks out against any protestor (such as the St. Louis Rams players who ran onto the field and did the "hands up, don't shoot" pose) to be a part of the problem.

In regards to the mentally ill individual who killed two NY City cops in "retaliation"... he was NOT "incited" to violence by the protestors! I've heard this meme and view anyone propagating it to also be a part of the problem. The protestors are opposed to needless killings, and the murder of these cops - officers that weren't White and had nothing to do with any unjust killings of unarmed Black males. People have a right to protest and I think those who are trying to pin this on the peaceful protesters in an effort to slime them is reprehensible (a-holes such as Rudy Giuliani and this guy).

Only a few idiots chanted about wanting dead cops (idiots who later said they didn't mean it). Those idiots are a minority and not representative of the protestors at large. In fact, Eric Garner's widow said (in regards to the officer shootings) "I know what they're going through to lose a loved one right before the holidays, and everything is so sad, and I would ask that everyone that is protesting with us, please protest in a nonviolent way. My husband was not a violent man so we don't want any violence connected to his name".

Another example a person who are a part of the problem would be Patrick Lynch, the police union president, who said Mayor Bill de Blasio has "blood on [his] hands". There will always be bad actors (on any side of an argument) - so painting all the protestors as somehow responsible for "inciting" violence - in regards to the to NY police officers who were assassinated in this case, Pat Lynch has (along with the officers who turned their backs on de Blasio when he visited the Woodhull Hospital for a press conference) is bullpuckey.

The shooter (Ismaaiyl Brinsley) who executed officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu should have been tried and sent to prison (if he hadn't killed himself) - same as Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo. The "tried" part, in any case.

Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo are bad cops who should have been charged (with at least Manslaughter). Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were (by all accounts) good cops and the victims... quite similar to how Michael Brown and Eric Garner were victims. Although their killers got off scot-free.

Pantaleo "has been sued three times for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of other blacks he and fellow cops arrested" (USA Today 12/4/2014). As for Wilson, although it has been asserted that he was a good cop with a clean record, a blogger on the Daily Kos notes that prior to 2010 "use of force complaints were not kept in an officer's personnel file".

So we don't know if Wilson has ever been accused of using excessive force. We do know, however, that he was previously fired from the Jennings MO police force because there was "so much tension between white officers and black residents, that the city council finally decided to disband it" (Washington Post). This is hardly an indictment against Wilson, but it does mean he cut his teeth as an officer in a job where there was a "disconnect between the community and the police department".

Perhaps this explains why Wilson thought it was OK to swear at Brown and Johnson for (supposedly) jaywalking, nearly sideswipe them when backing up his vehicle, and then hit them with his door (according to witnesses). Obviously this kind of behavior is uncalled for when dealing with a minor offense such as jaywalking. Perhaps he just felt like giving two young Black men a hard time? I surely don't know. I do know, however, that his story does not add up. The Brown family lawyer described Wilson's narrative as "absurd from beginning to end" and I agree.

I think that Pantaleo, on the other hand, did not mean to kill Eric Garner. He simply didn't care he might be endangering the man's life by putting him in a chokehold and forcing him to the ground. This is evidenced by the fact that nobody listened to him when he said he couldn't breath. Apparently they didn't believe him.

In my opinion the cops involved just didn't give a shit. It was reckless endangerment and depraved indifference... and, given the past excessive force complaints against Pantaleo, it was only a matter of time before he seriously hurt or killed someone. This isn't the kind of person who should be a cop, IMO.

As for what should be done going forward, I think that special prosecutors should handle cases where cops shoot and kill civilians. When prosecutors who work WITH cops to prosecute the bad guys are called on to prosecute a cop - that creates a conflict of interest. The prosecutor doesn't want to alienate the officers they rely on to make their cases. I say AVOID the conflict of interest and have a special prosecutor handle these kind of cases.

When you work with cops every day you definitely gain more respect for their difficult work. And you need them to help you make your cases (every prosecutor has experienced having a police officer catch an attitude, sometimes in the middle of a trial, and purposely ruin your case because they don't like you).

And finally policing is like most other employment - a few people do most of the work. So prosecutors see the same cops over and over, and they bond with them. It's not so much that they excuse egregious misconduct as that they cast a blind eye. Nothing irks a cop more than an elitist prosecutor treating him or her like "some suspect".

So the problem stems from the culture of the prosecutor's office, compounded by the fact that, like most lawyers, prosecutors are competitive and ambitious and the way you move ahead is to win your cases, and the way you win cases is get your star witnesses - the cops - to go the extra mile. All that makes it really tough to try to send one of them to prison (The System Must Counteract Prosecutors' Natural Sympathies for Cops by Paul Butler. NYT Opinion Pages, 12/4/2014).

Why not let a 100 percent neutral party decide if there should or shouldn't be a trial when the suspect is a cop? Even if you disagree with EVERYTHING else I've written here, I don't see how anyone could argue that this would be a bad idea. Although, if you're the type of person who believes cops are never wrong, they always do right and there are absolutely no bad ones... not even one... then you might be strongly in favor of staying with the current system, a system that isn't as impartial as it could be.

Since the 15th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents objectivity, in that justice is or should be meted out objectively, without fear or favor, regardless of identity, personal wealth, power, or weakness; blind justice and impartiality... Excerpt from the Wikipedia page: Lady Justice/Blindfold.

SWTD #275