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“Obama Loves America, But Not The One Giuliani Does”: Clearly Part Of The Permanent Conservative Strategy Of ‘Otherizing’ Obama

Rudy Giuliani oversold it, naturally. In an attempt to save America from the grip of a president who’d already been in office for six years, or perhaps just desperate to get back into the headlines, the former New York mayor and presidential also-ran said Wednesday, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” And then, to make matters worse, he insisted his remark wasn’t racist because Obama “was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools, and most of this he learned from white people.”

“This isn’t racism,” he added. “This is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism.”

On the list of hateful things uttered about Obama by his political adversaries, this one is near the bottom (and that’s saying something). After all, Giuliani wasn’t questioning Obama’s parentage, nationality, sexuality, or his children’s behavior. By comparison, simply saying the man doesn’t love America seems tame, merely a softer brand of birtherism (a line of attack Giuliani once rejected). It’s clearly part of the permanent conservative strategy of otherizing Obama, of which birtherism was one of the most openly racist examples.

The irony, of course, is that Obama’s childhood and family background perfectly fit the conservative fantasy that Giuliani promotes. Obama was the child of an immigrant and a woman from the heartland, raised partly by a grandfather who helped liberate a Nazi concentration camp while serving our country and a Rosie-the-Riveter grandmother who worked on the Boeing assembly line during World War II. By any Norman Rockwell-ish estimation, that’s about as American as you get.

As a New York Daily News editorial put it:

It is impossible to say which is more appalling:

Giuliani’s willful ignorance of Obama’s heritage (his grandfather served in World War II while his grandmother worked on a B-29 assembly line); Giuliani’s division of the country into right-thinking Americans (Republicans) and unworthy others; or Giuliani’s sense that he had hit on a winning political tactic in poking the hornet’s nest of haters.

And yet, we should not be so surprised; this is what Giuliani does. Rather than seek to mend the racial division during David Dinkins’ term, Mayor Giuliani saw an opportunity, instead antagonizing the city’s communities of color. He charged William J. Bratton, the police commissioner then and now, with implementing the ineffective and unjust “broken windows” strategy. And we can’t forget his unflinching support of the New York Police Department in the wake of abuse after abuse—when police sodomized Abner Louima with a broomstick, and when they gunned down unarmed black men like Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond. Now, with words like these about the president, Giuliani is trying to create racial divisions on a national level.

But if we simply dismiss Giuliani’s latest remarks as a joke and then move on, we’ll miss an opportunity ourselves. His words were “un-American” in the sense that they were an ad hominem attack on a sitting president. In another sense, though, they were quintessentially American. Our country’s history is full of agents like Giuliani who provoke racial strife and spew stereotypes that benefit the privileged class. Obama wasn’t raised with the same kind of “love of country” that Giuliani was because the president grew up as a member of a group whose social mandate from birth, for survival’s sake, is to engineer change in a society—to correct the very systemic disadvantage that Giuliani is desperate to save.

Giuliani is probably right: Obama doesn’t love America, not the one Giuliani does. But the inverse is true, too: Giuliani doesn’t love America, not the one Obama is trying to build.

 

By: Jamil Smith, The New Republic, February 20, 2015

February 22, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Racism, Rudy Giuliani | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How Dangerous Is Police Work?”: Being A Policeman Is One Of The Safer Jobs You Can Have

After the senseless death and tragic funerals of two young New York City policeman, cops have got to be thinking about assassination. “I want to go home to my wife and kids,” said a cop to the New York Post.” I am concerned about my safety.”

On NBC’s Meet the Press,” NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton said that cops across the country “feel under attack”

They have good reason to worry. Getting killed is a hazard in many occupations, but there is one glaring difference between death risks of law enforcement officers and those of other dangerous occupations: only police officers face the threat of murder as a part of their job. No one is out trying to kill fisherman or loggers or garbage collectors.

A cop on the street endures daily contact with drunks, the mentally disabled and violent criminals. They endure life-and-death situations on a daily basis.

However, the misconception that police work is dangerous, propagated by the media and police unions, could become a self-fulfilling prophecy— especially, if police believe that they are going into deadly battle when they head out on patrol. They are likely to be nervous and trigger-happy and might affect their decision-making in a stressful situation.

The fact is: being a policeman is one of the safer jobs you can have, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.

In five years, 2008 to 2012, only one policeman was killed by a firearm in the line of duty in New York City. Police officers are many times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed by a criminal; nine NYC policemen attempted to take their own lives in 2012, alone. Eight succeeded. In 2013, eight NYPD officers attempted suicide, while six succeeded. If police want to protect themselves, a wise move might be to invest in psychiatric counseling, rather than increased firepower.

2013 had the fewest police deaths by firearms since 1887 nationwide.

The national figures vary widely from year to year. In 2014, police deaths in the line of duty, including heart attacks, spiked upward from 100 in 2013, to 126 in 2014.

But the trend has been clearly downward in the last 40 years. Police work is getting progressively safer compared with historical averages:

  • From 1970 to 1980 police deaths averaged 231 per year.
  • 1980 to 1989: police deaths averaged 190.7
  • 1990 to 1999: police deaths averaged 161.5
  • 2000 to 2009: police deaths averaged 165
  • 2013 to 2014: police deaths averaged 113.

Statistics are drawn from the police friendly National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund which also show that felony killings of police dropped by 50 percent from 1992 to 2013 from 10,000 to 5,000 annually per 100,000 residents.

Statistics are notably unreliable both from the federal government and from law enforcement friendly sites. The best statistics come from the New York City Police Firearms Discharge Reports.

The Report for 2013 noted the following:

—- In 1971, 12 officers were killed by other persons and police shot and killed 93 subjects.

—- In 2013, no officers were shot and killed and police killed 8 subjects.

To put the risk of policing in perspective: fisherman and loggers are 10 times more likely to be killed on the job than a police officer, a farmer is 2 times more likely to die on the job, according to national figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A logging worker is eight times more likely than a police officer to die on the job, and a garbage man is three times more likely to die while working.

The 10 Deadliest Jobs: Deaths per 100,000

  1. Logging workers: 128.8
  2. Fishers and related fishing workers: 117
  3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers: 53.4
  4. Roofers: 40.5
  5. Structural iron and steel workers: 37
  6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors: 27.1
  7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers: 23
  8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers: 22.1
  9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers: 21.3
  10. Construction laborers: 17.4

Out of approximately one million police and law enforcement personnel, with 126 deaths per year, the death rate for police is 12.6 per hundred thousand.

The most dangerous job in the U.S. is being president. Eight out of 44 presidents died in office, about 18 percent. Four were assassinated, just over 9 percent.

Most policemen killed on the job die in accidents (mostly auto), not from firearm assault, according to the FBI.

According to FBI figures (which are slightly different than other tabulations), 14 of the 76 police deaths in 2013, nation-wide, were due to auto accidents —- when the officer wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Tragic for sure.

Of the 76 cops who died in the line of duty in 2013, 18 of them were from gunfire. The rest were traffic fatalities or slips and falls.

Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 80.2 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.3 percent of incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 1.7 percent of the incidents.

About 40 percent of officers (30) who die in the line of duty are homicides, which would give police a murder rate of 3 per 100,000, compared with the average national murder rate for the general population of 5.6 per 100,000.

The average citizen of Chicago had a murder risk of 18.5 in 2012, more than three times the murder risk of policeman. Police killings are almost always classified as line-of-duty.

In reality, police don’t draw or fire their guns very much.

Many NYC cops never draw their weapons in their whole career. In New York City, only one cop in 755 fired his or her gun at a suspect intentionally in 2012. In 2013, only one of 850 officers fired a weapon at a suspect intentionally.

In 2012, 80.2 percent of officers who were assaulted in the line of duty were attacked with personal weapons (e.g., hands, fists, or feet).

4.3 percent of the officers were assaulted with firearms.

The reason a policeman’s job is getting safer is simple. There has been a dramatic drop in crime in the last two decades. Less crime means safer working conditions for the people who try to stop it.

The act of policing needs to be safer. Use body cameras. Cut down on the number of traffic accidents. Mandate the use of seat belts on duty. Enforce better and more professional training to avoid dangerous situations, and offer better counseling to deal with the stress of the job.

Attacks on police are a great media story, but if the false narrative — that policing is getting more dangerous — continues to spread it will have a significant effect on how police do their jobs —- making them more fearful than they already are, with increasingly deadly results for the general public.

 

By: Blake Fleetwood, Ten Miles Square, The Washington Monthly, January 15, 2015

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Crime Rates, Dangerous Occupations, NYPD | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Support Your Local Police, Or Else”: A Lot Of Cops Don’t Understand That They Owe Respect To The Citizens They Are Sworn To Protect

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief of Police William Bratton should do the one thing they would never dare do to fix the attitude of their police force. They should fire a thousand cops.

In the midst of their hissy fit over the mayor’s lack of adoration for the men and women in blue, the cops are refusing to enforce the law. Arrests in New York City are down 66 percent and citations for petty offenses and traffic violations are down 94 percent from the same week a year ago.

In short, the reaction of the New York cops to being told they sometimes do a bad job is to do the job worse.

De Blasio’s sin is failing to fully back the police who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man selling cigarettes on a street corner. He had the effrontery to suggest that the people peacefully demonstrating against killing an unarmed man committing a minor crime might have a point. He even said he had to train his own mixed-race son how to deal with police officers so he wouldn’t get killed. He knows his city and his cops.

Even before the assassination of two officers in their car, the police circulated a self-righteous petition saying de Blasio has not given cops the “respect they deserve,” and disinviting the mayor from future police funerals. It says in part that the mayor’s “attendance at the funeral of a fallen New York City police officer is an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice.”

The mayor got off wrong with the cops by campaigning for office against the unconstitutional “stop and frisk” policy that had the police bracing an inordinate number of young, black, poor and Latino men randomly on the street. Then came the Eric Garner mess.

Now some police officers actually blame de Blasio for creating an anti-police atmosphere in which two officers were randomly assassinated. At least three times now, New York police officers in uniform have engaged in a political demonstration by turning their backs on the mayor; once in person and twice at the funerals of fellow officers. Chief Bratton, revered as the cop who has turned around policing in America, weakly said it was “inappropriate.” Since when is it merely “inappropriate” to conduct politics in uniform?

The people who carry guns and wear uniforms in the name of public service have to respect and obey civilians and civilian authority or else they are an occupying army. And that’s what everyone demonstrating in the streets of America is complaining about. Too often, the cops act like an occupying army.

Cops demand reverence and special treatment because they claim they “lay their lives on the line” every day protecting the public. They do not. Most police work, like any other job, is routine and boring. No doubt, police officers encounter terrible and dangerous situations that most of us never do, but they aren’t laying their lives on the line every day.

And in some places in America, the cops are the biggest danger innocent civilians face.

Several dozen police officers are killed on the job every year. It’s true and it’s terrible. But the most deadly profession in America is being a lumberjack. More fishermen, aircraft pilots and roofers die on the job every year than cops. Police work is not even among the top ten most dangerous professions.

As a journalist, I’ve seen cops on the job for 35 years. I’ve seen them do great and brave things. I’ve also seen them being mean, arrogant and stupid. I’ve seen cops in Boston beat up demonstrators. I saw the Los Angeles police abandon their city in a riot to prove how necessary they are. I’ve seen cops bully black kids and beat up reporters. More than once I’ve had a cop say to me, “I don’t care what the law says.”

Police officers do not “deserve” respect. Like anyone else in this world, they have to earn it. What a lot of cops don’t understand is that they owe respect… to the citizens they are sworn to protect, and to the civilian leaders they work for.

I’d like to see Bill de Blasio and Chief Bratton walk down a row of New York cops refusing to do their job and poke them in the chest saying, “Yo .. turn in your badge; You, you’re a disgrace. Get out.” Then the cops would have every right to turn their backs on the mayor. And get the hell out of the station house.

 

By: Brian Rooney, The Blog, The Huffington Post, January 5, 2015

January 6, 2015 Posted by | Bill de Blasio, NYPD, Police Abuse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Thin-Skinned Blue Line”: Civilian Authority Is The Essence Of Democracy

To the New York police officers who turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at a slain officer’s funeral: How dare you.

So a wave of grief met a mean-spirited blue wall of silence. And how did they know the slain officer, Rafael Ramos, would have wished for an ugly political stunt amid bagpipes and farewells in his memory?

The nation’s eyes watched conduct unbecoming and saw salt poured in an open wound over violent police practices toward black men. The staged insubordination was a gauntlet thrown down to de Blasio’s first place in the chain of command and to the citizens of New York who elected him in 2013.

Whether the mayor “turned his back on them” by speaking of his worry for his biracial son Dante has nothing to do with it. Whether he questioned a fatal chokehold of a nonviolent black man, Eric Garner, by a scrum of police officers has nothing to do with it. Personal opinions are not the point. The point is, the mayor is the mayor.

If the invective of Patrick Lynch, president of a large police union, incited the silent mob action, it does not justify it. To state there’s blood on the mayor’s hands, as Lynch claimed, is an outrage. It was too much for Republican Rudy Giuliani, the tough-talking former mayor.

Time-out for a hard-headed moment of truth. Civilian authority is the essence of democracy. A public uniformed police or military rebellion is absolutely un-American. The Pentagon tried to do the same thing to President Bill Clinton, when he was new to his job, led by Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who openly opposed Clinton’s gays in the military reform. At first, military leaders did not give Clinton the respect he was due as the elected commander in chief.

Both Democrats, Clinton and de Blasio came in on a tide that signalled social change in the military or the police department. De Blasio campaigned on making police contacts and tactics such as frisking less hostile. That’s what the majority of New Yorkers want from the police, more peace, and that’s what they should get.

On city streets, civilians have lost a lot of ground to police since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The trend is that police officers have become overly aggressive toward people of color as we (white) people act timid and deferential. In an age of homeland anxiety, many of us bought into the narrative that the police were, by definition, heroes. That’s just not so.

In New York, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Ferguson and so on, respect is the ideal, but let’s make it a two-way street. For his part, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton found the funeral spectacle “inappropriate,” as he put it on the Sunday shows. And so were the Puritan witch trials. Maybe Bratton fears a mutiny, as he walks a mighty fine blue line.

To recap, thousands of police officers flocked to the funeral of Officer Ramos, who died in the line of duty. Not all police officers turned their backs in protest at de Blasio’s eulogy for the fallen officer, fatally shot in his squad car. But hundreds of officers did, standing outside a church in Queens.

Maybe it’s time to rethink our collective view on a famed, beloved city police force in popular culture. Now all of America got to see a different, dark side of that police force, and it’s not true blue.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, December 29, 2014

December 30, 2014 Posted by | Bill de Blasio, NYPD, Police Violence | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Broken Windows Policing”: Eric Garner Was Choked To Death For Selling Loosies

The controversial deaths of African Americans Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of white police officers don’t just speak to racial divides and raise questions of discriminatory law enforcement in America.

In very different but related ways, they raise fundamental questions irrespective of race about how policing gets done. Unless we want to subject ourselves to endless repeats of similarly tragic events, we need to confront and work through both the militarization of police and commitments to so-called broken windows policing.

In August, Brown was shot and killed during a struggle with Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who was ultimately not indicted by a grand jury. Whatever else you can say about the case, it was the ham-fisted overreaction to protests by the Ferguson and St. Louis County police forces and the Missouri National Guard that catapulted the story to prominence. The Ferguson story captured the national conversation because it showcased the ubiquitous militarization of police that has been proceeding apace, often with the help of liberal politicians, during the past 40 or more years.

Indeed, just earlier this week, four members of the Congressional Black Caucus made a “hands up” gesture on the House floor to show solidarity with Brown and Ferguson protesters. Yet each of the members who raised their hands—Yvette Clarke, Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Hakeem Jeffries, liberal Democrats all—voted against “an amendment in June that would’ve limited the transfer of military equipment from the Department of Defense to local police agencies.”

Similarly, Garner’s death in July after being placed in a chokehold is not simply about race. It’s about community policing and the ability of top brass to enforce restrictions on beat cops’ behavior. As cell phone footage of the incident makes clear, the police approached the 43-year-old Garner after he had helped to break up a fight on a busy street in Staten Island. The cops were less interested in the fight than in asking Garner whether he was selling loose cigarettes or “loosies,” which is illegal. “Every time you see me, you wanna arrest me,” says Garner, who had a rap sheet for selling loosies and was in fact out on bail when confronted.

Footage of the incident shows New York Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo placing Garner in the chokehold that was the main cause of death according to the coroner, who further ruled the death a “homicide.” (Police at the scene initially claimed that the asthmatic, 350-pound Garner had suffered a heart attack). Like Wilson, Pantaleo was not indicted.

Why were the cops so hell-bent on stamping out the sales of loosies, which typically sell for 75 cents a pop in Staten Island (and two times or more that in Manhattan)? New York City boasts the highest cost for cigarettes in the nation, with a pack ranging anywhere from $12 and up. The city lays its own taxes on top of the state’s, in an effort both to raise revenue and discourage use of tobacco.

The result is a thriving market in sales of loosies and black-market cigarettes more generally (for a fascinating look of how the market in loosies operates, check out this 2007 study published by the National Institutes for Health). Since 2006, the tax on cigarettes in New York have risen 190 percent and cigarette smuggling has risen by 59 percent, writes Lawrence J. McQuillan of the Independent Institute. Whether it’s liquor, drugs, or cigarettes, when you try to stamp out something consenting adults want, you cause as many or more problems as you ameliorate.

Stretching back to the Rudy Giuliani years, the NYPD has been committed to “broken windows” policing, which focuses on stamping out misdemeanor offenses and “quality of life” issues such as graffiti that proponents say lead to more serious crime. “Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes,” Giuliani argued in the 1990s, “but they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other.”

Last January, the city passed stronger penalties for selling loosies and other illegal cigarettes and in early July, reports the Daily News. The NYPD’s Chief of Department, Philip Banks, specifically called for crackdowns on loosie sales in Staten Island. “Among the specific public complaints of illegal activity in that area included the sale of untaxed cigarettes as well as open (alcohol) container and marijuana use and sale offenses,” an NYPD spokesman told the News.

Police Commissioner William Bratton introduced broken windows policing to the NYPD when he was first hired by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1993, and he is continuing its use while serving under current Mayor Bill de Blasio. But just as the response to Ferguson protests raised questions about the sagacity of outfitting local cops with military grade weapons and gear, the death of Garner and other non-violent suspects is forcing a debate over broken windows. “I don’t think it’s a necessary police tactic,” City Councilman Andy King told the News. Councilwoman Inez Barron argued that “such enforcement ‘leads to confrontations like this [one].’”

As in most cases involving social science and broad cultural trends, supporters and critics of broken windows policing can marshal seemingly irrefutable evidence in favor of their position. There’s little question that New Yorkers support arrests for low-level offenses. A Quinnipiac Poll of New Yorkers in August found that 60 percent of respondents agreed that “when a cop enforces some low-level offense…it improve[s] quality of life.” Only 34 percent said it increased neighborhood tensions, with “very little difference among black and white voters.”

Yet clearly something has gone horribly wrong when a man lies dead after being confronted for selling cigarettes to willing buyers. Especially since, as even Bratton has acknowledged, the chokehold applied by the restraining officer is prohibited by the NYPD’s own rulebook. Does the commissioner really control his officers, and is it time to rethink nanny state policies that create flourishing underground markets?

The conversation over the militarization of police started by Ferguson is well under way and has already yielded real change: In the name of transparency, more police departments and the federal government are calling for the use of wearable body cameras that will at least capture parts of confrontations like the one that ended in Michael Brown’s death.

It’s past time to have that same sort of open conversation about broken windows policing. It’s safe to say that noboby thinks selling loosies is a capital offense, but if the police cause the death of a man they are taking into custody by using chokeholds, things get pretty murky very fast.

 

By: Nick Gillespie, The Daily Beast, December 3, 2014

December 6, 2014 Posted by | Criminal Justice System, Eric Garner, Police Brutality | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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