Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Home Sweet Home

   Gaston Hall at Georgetown University has a special place in my heart, soul and memory because of some service held there in conjunction with my law school graduation over 25 years ago so whenever I get an invitation to go back to listen to any lecture or for any event I am honored,  humbled and can't believe such a magnificent place exists each time I go there.

   Today was a particularly beautiful day because Georgetown has launched  with a lecture a Global Initiative cross -disciplinary series in which they will address through study, research, and lectures the pressing issues of the day on Development, Governance, Security and Environment/Global Climate Change/Warming.

Georgetown was founded of course originally by a Bishop and staffed with a bunch of French Jesuits,  things I am extremely fond of- Jesuits and French people. Staring at the wall in the front waiting for the World Bank Group President to address the collection of academicians, community leaders and supporters and students, I noticed for the first time the words painted at the top of the wall spelled "WISDOM" and painted just below that "Ad Majorim Dei Gloriam."   The later phrase is the Jesuit mantra meaning all for the greater glory of God. The two phrases go together- the greatest wisdom is found in action, contemplation, study, and all activity done for the greater glory of God. That was nowhere more evident than today when the President of Georgetown Jack DeGoia presented the President of the World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Kim, who spoke without notes for a solid long stretch on how the Bank is combatting global pandemics (Ebola, Aids, etc.)  and poverty. Here is where practical real world "Kingdom Come" work meets the wisdom of two college Presidents (the World Bank President was President of Dartmouth prior to coming to DC).  Georgetown has a mission to make the love of God real for the whole world which in a real practical sense involves saving it. And here was the gauntlet laid down for all listening, attending, blogging from afar and watching on c-span or wherever those cameras were from: THIS IS THE GENERATION THAT CAN ERADICATE POVERTY IN THEIR LIFETIME. It is possible. And the World Bank President dares everyone to coordinate in a cross disciplinary way to do it.  Dr. Jim Kim spoke about how much health efforts in Africa keeping people alive in the face of global pandemics have helped the economies of countries affected by Aids and Ebola outbreaks.

     The World Bank President has an American accent, and was  raised in Iowa (where my grandparents were from).  Its probably my (admitted) American bias that I assumed he wouldn't have an American accent but a Korean one just from photos I saw of him. I recognize that form of perhaps not so subtle bias, but Dr. Jim Kim wants us to recognize a far more insidious form of unsubtle bias, a mind-mold that says we can't do anything to save millions of Africans, so why try. It's Africa after all. He is brilliant, also an infectious disease medical doctor and he noted that it was possible to successfully treat people if you asked basic questions like are the drugs that cure or manage this on or off patent, can they be made generically cheaply (In India??) rather than be resigned to not treating people because of the cost of western drugs. He isn't a man who takes 'can't' for an answer.

    Georgetown is a beautiful place. Not just because of the softly falling snow on the lawn that will sprout rose bushes in the Spring, but because of the Spirit of the people there who involve the best and the brightest around Washington to challenge people to think what is possible, what is worthy and what can we do together to change the world to bring His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.

  Someone pinch me. World Bank Group President meets Georgetown President under a wall painted "WISDOM" .  God must be smiling.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Freedom of the Press and people who can't take a joke.

   The French equivalent of masked gunmen storming with bombs and rifles Comedy Central headquarters and assassinating John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver happened in Paris.
The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were the French national heroes of political satire sacred cow lampooning.
An entire press office was blasted off the earth. This has been called France's 9-11.

Whoever did this heinous disgusting atrocity regardless of motive are the lowest life form that ever existed. As Satire is essential in and to democracy it seems an assault on democracy itself.

Former French Justice Minister Robert Badinter has called the editorial cartoonists France's 'soldiers of liberty.' Massive crowds have gathered all over Paris intoning "Je Suis Charlie" in solidarity. Candles are lit, banner waiving and chanting is heard around Paris' classic landmarks in protest.

Tomorrow France has declared a National Day of Mourning.

The Washington Post will publish some of Charlie Hebdos cartoons in solidarity.

Statements of condemnation of the acts have issued from no less than the Pope, French Imams,
President Hollande, Obama, NY Governor Cuomo and many other dignitaries who appreciate the gravity of the act.

We don't know the motives of these gunmen for certain or whether they acted on their own or were put up to it by someone or thing. But we do know what happened which is enough to say how very sad
and sorry that Paris and France experienced such a nightmare.

What do you say to a country when such an event takes place. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Be Brave. Do not be Afraid. We are with you. Yes, all of that. Transatlantic hugs, wish we were with you now, prayers for your safety and peace.

Most of all we wish to say however awkwardly diplomatically, We Love You Still and Always Will.

Je Suis Charlie Comme Toi.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Eric Garner Shut It Down March NYC: Columbus Circle

DA Mike Ramos Speaks Out in Support of Law Enforcement and Corrects Jon ...

The Fix Is In

Cried the Public

   at the apparent outrage of a number of white police officers trying to subdue a large black man (african-american, dark skinned american, whatever term is now descriptive and non-perjorative) in New York on Staten Island with one officer gripping him in a 'choke-hold' while another sat on him as he gasped 'I can't breath' over and over again.

     While it was difficult to believe in the Ferguson matter that a 12 person grand jury reviewing for months facts that made it look like a self-defense or fleeing felon causing danger claim could be valid, in this case, even the most hardened of conservatives are speechless. Its on video. And the only person who is being prosecuted is the videographer! Even the holy trinity of blonde talking heads, Ingram, Kelly and Sustern must be scratching their dark roots going "how do we spin this one!!" John Stewart says tragedy and time makes humor and bemoans "I need more time" to process something so wrong.

  New York is no stranger to questionable police profiling. Only recently have they started amending under Court order the 'stop and frisk' abuses that had many innocent blacks saddled with records for 'walking while black' in the wrong street at the wrong time. Blacks were stopped, rudely questioned and roughed up so the police could make their chits while stunned families saw their family members randomly picked on just to inspire terror it seems in the community. Legal battles (and an iphone recording creating evidence of one smart kid) made people look at it differently and forced change. Perhaps better community policing entails building trust not terror. A new paradigm.

   The recent no-bill return on indictment for the white cop with his tatooed buddies thrusting to the ground with his neck in a vice grip chokehold (a violation of police policy apparently) has more people on the street shouting "I Can't Breathe!" And suddenly it looks like modern day lynch mobs dressed in badges.

   The facebook post that got a lot of attention last night seemed to say it all: "America, You Are Broken." When its open season on black guys standing on the street because they are black guys standing on the street who may or may not be engaging in petty crimes-to be either shot dead, or choked to death or otherwise bullied into an early grave, what kind of country is this? The whole world watches us and shakes their head. How can a people so great, so innovative, so industrious, so creative, not fix this. Where is the political will? Why is this situation tolerated? Who are you people!

   One of my favorite Jesuit priests, Fr. James Martin, who has a family member in law enforcement, penned something poignant worth sharing here that I agree with one thousand percent:

You can support our country's police officers, as I do. I know a few police officers (as well as a former police officers) and I deeply admire them for putting their lives on the lines every day, something that I do not do. (Remember the police officers who sacrificed their lives, or who were ready to sacrifice their lives, on 9/11.) You can believe that the vast majority of law-enforcement officials are trying to do their best in often extremely complicated situations. I see that almost every day in New York. You can appreciate sometimes nearly impossible challenges of dealing with the volatile and dangerous people they must encounter. I see that too almost every day in New York. And you can understand that many of their decisions must be made in a split second, under the kind of pressure that few of us will know.
You can think all those things and still be appalled by the death of Eric Garner, who died after being subdued by police officers on Staten Island. His confrontation with police was captured on video and has been widely viewed:
At the beginning of the video, Mr. Garner seems belligerent. On the other hand he had, according to witnesss, just broken up a fight on the street. He was also under suspicion for selling "loosies," loose cigarettes, which is illegal. But Mr. Garner was also unarmed, and the chokehold or "vascular neck restraint" (or whatever one calls the maneuver shown in the video) and other subduing techniques led to his death. "The compression of his chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police," read the coroner's cause of death. (Chokeholds, by the way, are banned by the NYPD.)
As the video clearly shows, Mr. Garner, on the sidewalk, gasping for breath, chokes out the words, over and over, and calmly, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe." And then he dies.
You can admire police officers and still admit that they made a tragic mistake. You can support the justice system and still feel that justice has not been done . You can uphold the rule of law and still feel that the law is not being applied justly.
And if Mr. Garner had indeed just broken up a fight--being a peacemaker, as Jesus calls us to be--then it is an even more brutal tragedy.
I'm not a police officer, so I don't know what that life is like. I'm not an African-American, so I don't know what that life is like either.
But when a man says, "I can't breathe," you should let him breathe. And if he dies after saying it, then you should have let him breathe.


Friday, November 28, 2014

And the winner is in….

Republicans or no one.

   predicted to win the White House if a Dem ran against Minnie Mouse. In 2016 they will have won the House the Senate the White House and the Farm.

Why? One word:  FERGUSON

  This name, of a place no one knows really or has been to except it appears to be a ghetto attached to Saint Louis,  sparked a national obsession over race relations, police brutality and presumed racist cops. We saw a town and the cars in it go up in flames for days.

   Twelve citizens called a grand jury in a different town, with no particular beef reviewed piles of forensic, and physical evidence for months, and heard witness testimony as to how a shooting of a black male by a cop went down.  They could ask questions. For months and months an apparently completely false narrative was peddled by professional race mongers, hustlers, racqueters, and profiteers in the media who generated memes like his hands were up in surrender, he was a little ten year old with headphones on (the picture NBC/MSNBC keeps showing when he was shot as a nearly 300 pound looking 18 year old), and he was just an innocent little kid shot dead for no reason by a bad white cop. He was the poster boy symbol of police brutality and the R word.

   This was deliberately dishonest. Apparently his hands were not up, he was shot as an angry fleeing felon of around nearly 300 pounds who assaulted a police officer after robbing a store who resisted arrest and refused to respect the officer's request to "Stop, or I'll Shoot." Criminals who assault, taunt and bully cops get shot. No one should be surprised at that. It happens to idiots of every race.

   Is there seething animosity toward police in minority communities. Yes. Is there injustice in the minority community regarding unfair sentencing ? Perhaps. Should this kid's death be the funnel for all historic black rage such that an entire town should get torched because we can know that the grand jury made a mistake? Absolutely Not- no excuse. Completely unjustified to torch a town. The fact that the media ginned this up to this degree guaranteeing that people would feel a misplaced sense of deep unfairness is scandalous. Criminal even.

    Everyone feels when anyone loses a child. Its painful, its aweful and its tragic. Every kid or adult sitting in a jail has or had a mother. Its sad or tragic when people turn 'bad.' But Mike Brown, from the looks of the video of the robbery (owned by the way by a dark skinned Central Asian person) went 'bad.' He bullied the guy and shoplifted with a 'what are you going to do to me' attitude. He apparently assaulted a cop and 'tussled' with him to get his gun to shoot him in his car. Then he bolted.

   The grand jury determined that this wasn't a 'he said/she said' apparently in reviewing the forensic and physical evidence which included blood on and/or in the car. A grand jury doesn't get paid from a wrongful death suit, doesn't get paid by media to peddle ratings grabbing results and doesn't get paid to cover for a cop. A grand jury is impartial and there are ways to kick people off if they are suspected of being partial.

    The level of dishonesty doesn't end there with hyped false memes and exaggerated false claims of racism.

   Lawrence O'Donnell, a reliable left sided MSNBC commentator was the straw that broke the donkey's back last night because he devoted a segment to accusing an Assistant District Attorney of intentionally misleading the jury by giving them an old 'Fleeing Felon' statute that he claims was overridden in 1985 because she didn't answer the question as to whether the US Supreme Ct. over-rides the 'Fleeing Felon' rule. In fact, the Fleeing Felon rule was not completely over-ridden but clarified by the Supreme Court to mean deadly force could only be used when the officer was in fear of the physical safety of himself or others due to the actions of the fleeing felon. That was what was evidenced, that was what was proved, and that is what justified the fact the officer was not indicted.

    The Supreme Court recognizes that an officer doesn't have to wait to be shot first to shoot a fleeing felon. After Brown assaulted the officer and ran he was a fleeing felon.

   Its one thing to gin up false claims of racism, its another for a non-criminal lawyer (O'Donnell) to falsely accuse an Assistant District Attorney on national television of a degree of prosecutorial misconduct -something that would get her disbarred-  by name-that jimmied a grand jury- and I am beyond offended. Its outrageous. She is owed an apology.

   Its way over the top. The lengths the media,  and the race arsonists and hustlers, have gone to justify their misplaced indignant outrage that a kid who shoplifted, a robbery suspect who assaulted a police officer, resisted arrest and fled was shot dead is beyond unpalatable -its dishonest.

  And every Republican Presidential candidate from here till the turn of the century will play that "Burn this Bitch Down" clip to show just how off the wall out of their minds the established race narrators
will go to excuse people from having to create their own enterprise to advance their own lives and instead blame white cops and all whites who think law and order is a good thing as 'racist.'

   America is not going to 'heal' so long as people continue to be dishonest about the real hinderances to advancement in these black communities where a good portion of the disposable income in excess of government benefits comes from illegal petty drug trades generating contempt for all law enforcement.  Lack of Education is only part of the problem. Lack of Opportunity isn't as bad as perceived lack of opportunity. The socio-economic problems are not all whities fault. And whitie is getting sick of being blamed.

    Are there any real pragmatic solutions? Here are a few basic no brainer  things that have been suggested to make people feel comfortable that the cops are not being racist but doing their jobs:

1. small cameras on all cops on the beat
2. create a police academy in Ferguson and recruit from the community raising the number of black officers. Provide full scholarships for kids from the community who wish to go to the Police Academy, recruit heavily from the local schools.
3. involve the kids in church-community-police activities to generate trust and admiration of police.
4. create more police mentoring programs of black youth in Ferguson and St. Louis at large.

   And even when that is all done there will still be people who, every single time a black kid is shot by a cop will insist the kid is the reincarnation of the Angel Gabriel and the cop was a racist bastard who just likes to go out for no reason popping off the heads of black kids.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Rare Day

When I Pen a partisan diatribe. I try to see all sides. Its supposed to make a better advocate.

   But its now necessary. The President is going to issue some kind of unilateral statement on immigration reform tomorrow. Horrah. Finally. Good for Him.

   Senator Barbara Boxer has given a pointed speech where she notes that over the last 60 years, Presidents of both parties have taken immigration action of some kind on 40 different occassions. No one saw it as unconstitutional, threatened to shut down the government, or sue the President.

  She noted that 17 months ago the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill. It was passed by the Senate and the House did not act on it. Ever hear the phrase 'Do Nothing' House or Congress? That is because their response to a bipartisan immigration reform bill was to do exactly nothing. No Action.

  The President waited and waited and waited to sign a bill. Nothing. None came. It should be called the 'Sit on Your Hands and Suck Your Thumb House' Really annoying. So the President is going to do what the President should do and take responsible action to fix a serious problem.

We have a serious problem at the border. We have a serious problem enforcing the laws that exist. We have a serious problem in the way we are currently treating people who are here, who came here
with legitimate asylum claims. We aren't processing them fairly because evidence can't be ascertained fairly. People fled a civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s. They cannot go back because there is nothing to go back to in some cases. They and their children are American for all practical purposes in all but passport.

   Stories of how families are torn apart with some family members sent back to Central America after being mistreated in immigration detention facilities are too numerous to let go unnoticed. People who have been here contributing to society, paying taxes, raising their kids to be responsible people, educating them in American schools should not be subjected to cruelty of banishment and return to a place they don't know as home any more. This is home.

   I can't listen to people like Laura Ingram or any of the right wingnutty talking heads blast Obama's constitutional theories. They just look too white and too blonde to get it. There are massive numbers, 11 million roughly that we know of, people who have made their life and home here and we should 'Welcome the Stranger'- because families of  EVERYONE except native americans came from somewhere else, and because its the only kind thing to do.

We are not a nation of bullies who rip children from their parents arms to lock them up. We don't need to create that kind of trauma and destruction of families. We can be a kinder gentler place. Did we forget that we are supposed to Love Our Neighbors?