Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kucinich on Ferguson

When things get weird it's good to have someone like Dennis Kucinich around. He's the most
under-appreciated and wrongly ridiculed politician and former politician in this cockeyed country.

His piece on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri is, as all his writing always has been, astute, calm, persuasive.


Militarized Police and the Threat to Democracy.

Kucinich should have been, if not president, then holding some post of importance in the administration. Instead, what did he get? Gerrymandered out of his congress seat. Most people would have said "F..k you!" found a teaching post or retreated into the background to write non-fiction or novels. Not he. You can take Kucinich out of the state, but you can't take the statesman out of Kucinich.


mike said...

I can't say that Kucinich is unique with his perspective on Ferguson and-or the militarization of the local police. Even your unfavored Obama has vocalized similar concerns as Kucinich. I usually watch NBC's Brian Williams' National News and he's espoused a similar refrain with footage to match.

That shouldn't distract or dilute Kucinich's message, though. I do realize he's one of the few that has consistently delivered a clear message over the last decade and voted contrary to his conservative colleagues.

In the Huffpo link, bullet point #1, he states that in 2007 he was against the troops-on-the-ground-in-USA bill. That was the Bush-Cheney era of fear-mongering. We are constantly re-evaluating decisions and laws passed by congress during that regime. I always refer to the Ben Franklin quote:
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the life & writings of Benjamin Franklin

It's also interesting that the USA is re-visiting issues from the mid to late 1960s. Racial tension in the 1960s was devastating, as was the utilization of militant force by the police and national guard over racial and political demonstrations. Extant racial issues have been arising from our half-black, half-white, black POTUS, but discussed in a politically correct forum of denial. Is it any surprise that this issue would boil-up?

One essential point Kucinich does not address in the Huffpo essay is the rampant militarization of the citizens of the USA. Too many Americans possess enough high-powered weaponry to eliminate most police forces across the nation. Is it any wonder that the police are attempting to one-up the citizens with their cache of military surplus goods?

I just saw on the news that new video of the original confrontation in Ferguson has surfaced lending more support toward the "murdering" officer. Don't get me wrong, I would think that the officer would have used non-lethal means, such as a stun gun, to incapacitate Michael Brown.

Michael Brown doesn't appear to be the sweet, college-bound, young adult that he was first portrayed, either...the security video of his theft of cigars indicates a different persona, though the theft and shooting incidents are unrelated.

The USA has accrued a number of varying statistics that substantiate the accusations of unfair and disproportional treatment of blacks. The Trayvon Martin incident was almost a tipping-point, but the Eric Garner (choke-hold, resisting arrest) and now Michael Brown (resisting arrest) are serving as metaphors for racial subjugation.

The Uranus-Pluto conjunction has matured to the square...may we live in interesting times...LOL.

♥ Sonny ♥ said...

I have to agree with what Mike said about us or the world even, somewhat revisiting the '60s..

geez, we're having a big ole fuss with Russia again.

almost everything today is about Race.

Our freedoms began to get chipped away at after 9/11 to the point they are now almost unrecognizable.

those of us who protested for women's rights want to puke when we see how those gals under 40 especially are very busy about the business of selling themselves cheaply using the sex factor.

at this pace can, seperate water fountains and June Cleaver be far behind? perish the thought.

I hate to use such a Baptist phase but dang if we aren't "backsliding" lol.

or maybe we're just following the obvious path of the human entity- its born,can't feed itself
and pee's n poops in its pants, much later it can barely feed itself and pee's n poops in its pant.
round n round we go and where we stop, nobody knows.

Twilight said...

Sonny ~ I wasn't in the USA in those dark days, I only read about events then. I can see echoes of that same pattern - in individual outbreaks of protest against a specific injustice, which become violent due to police action.

I don't think the nation has slid back all the way to how it was in the late 1960s (or would ever be likely to) , but some symptoms are recurring, begging for solution/cure.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I don't favour Obama mainly because he likes to "talk a good game" then leaves it at that.

Yes, others have said much the same as Kucinich, true. I'm impressed that he still cares after the shitty treatment he's had at the pens and mouths of so many.

I've been a supporter of DK since I first arrived on these shores. He was the only one back in 2004 making any sense, far as I could see. Hardly anybody else saw him in the same way though.

I doubt that lack of gun control on citizens has anything at all to do with militarization of police, unless it is a good excuse to keep ramping that up? The same administration has it in their hands to deal with both issues. Do they? Will they?

I've read about Michael Brown's cigar theft, also that Eric Garner had some minor illegal issue in his background...these were nothing near enough to warrant what happened in either case. Choking to death and shot in the head !! It doesn't matter whether the two guys were sweet as they come or downright nasties, what happened to them was criminal, nothing changes that.

As we are never likley to have people such as Dennis Kucinich in charge, all we can do is watch in horror as this astrological era unfolds before our eyes. We might learn - but if we did it'd be a first!

Gigi said...

I really don't think this is about retro-politics. it is useful to present it as a blast from the past: something we have all seen before, very comforting.

I saw a "poverty-map" of Ferguson, contrasting the numbers below the poverty-line in 2008 (the year of the great collapse)and today. it was eye-opening.

I think we cannot realise what is happening while we persist in viewing it through the same 50-year old lense - the one given us by the media racking their archives. Sharpton's presence simply showed how out-of-date and irrelevant that aanalysis is.

LB said...

This whole situation is a tragedy, one growing bigger by the day. Since we live in a world where powerful weapons can be used by civilians to commit crimes, I have mixed feelings about the militarization of police and don't think I can add anything to the discussion other than to say it appears police in Ferguson have sometimes been over zealous, provocative and inconsistent in their handling of protestors.

As far as the rest goes - a young man lost his life, a mother her son, and a community is being torn apart. Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the latest violence, something other members of the community will likely begin to feel if these businesses aren't able to recover.

In the absence of facts, most people have already made up their minds. No matter what the forensics show, I don't think it will matter much. People on both sides of the issue will twist the facts to suit their beliefs or political agendas.

I *hope* we can all agree how just because someone commits a strong-armed robbery (one where no weapon was involved but where force or intimidation was used to take property), it doesn't mean the person deserves to die.

On the other hand, to some extent at least, it does speak to a person's state of mind and proclivities. Especially when the two events occurred within a few minutes of one another. My understanding is Michael's friend has admitted it was them.

I originally watched the video on CNN, but since I couldn't find the link, here's another one to the complete store video:

Whatever happened between Michael Brown and the officer (Darren Wilson) who shot and killed him, at this point the truth seems less important than people's feelings and perceptions about what justice means.

Until I learn more I'm trying to keep an open mind. I feel for the officer involved too, in that he's been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.

I watched an interesting interview on CNN this morning with an expert talking about how officers are trained to aim at the chest, not to kill but to more effectively disable. I mention it because I was surprised to learn police officers aren't taught to aim at less vulnerable body parts.

In addressing the issue of why an officer would use a gun instead of pepper spray (or a stun-gun, as mike suggested) to incapacitate a suspect, she made the point how each and every decision made by an officer needs to be viewed within context. Things can happen quickly. She also said most officers aren't trained sharp shooters, which means even if they don't intend to kill someone, their aim may not be very good.

My elderly father was once punched out (knocked down) by an officer when he stood up for a homeless guy who was being unfairly harassed. My dad was a big guy with a big presence, so I think the officer was surprised when my dad (who was a lot more fragile than he looked) fell. To his credit, the officer immediately helped him up and after making sure he was okay, sent him on his way. Not to excuse it, but maybe the officer (initially) perceived my dad as a threat, I don't know.

We never seem to learn, no matter how bad it gets, though we think we do. I watch the news and am constantly frustrated by our lack of compassion for one another, our lack of insight into deeper issues. Very few seem brave enough to look at or talk about what's really going on.

Twilight said...

Gigi ~ I see the reto- part more about general atmosphere than detail of events or reasons for them.

There's always something stressful going on for someone, of course, but it seems during past months one thing has followed another with unusual rapidity here and abroad. Astrologers put it down to patterns made by outer planets, cyclic patterns, not clearly seen until decades have passed though.

Inequality has to be part of the problem in Ferguson, irrespective of racial issues. I don't feel well-equipped to make much comment, not knowing the area involved at all.

Militarization of police is going on in many other areas though, and likely to cause future trouble.
John Oliver dealt with the issue briefly in his HBO show on Sunday.
Police forces being equipped with armoured vehicles and tanks, police wearing camo outfits - etc. in areas most unlikely to be the source of anything much worse than the odd felony or DUI.

There's something rotten at the heart of it all, and something that wasn't there in the 1960s, I suspect.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thank you for your thoughtful observations. There's not much I can add, except perhaps to say that it seems that this event and others similar are just the surface indication of something deeply wrong, not just in Ferguson, but at the heart of the USA. If the underlying cause isn't dealt with, as in diseases of all kinds left untreated, the situation will deteriorate and begin to surface more and more, in a variety of ways - as a disease will do.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Sorry for the weird spacing in my comment, with more paragraphs than I'd intended. I'm going through one of those periods where as I'm typing away, my computer moves my words (or individual letters) somewhere else - which makes it tough to edit.:)

mike (again) said...

"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver"
"Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization"


Twilight said...

LB ~ It read well - that's the main thing. :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks for adding that video.

LB said...

Twilight ~ I have to add how there's no question it's very wrong, not to mention extremely *dangerous*, to point loaded guns at peaceful protestors. Also very wrong to use tear gas to move people along who have lawfully and peacefully congregated in a spot they were previously told they could be in, though I don't condone violence (or threats of violence) against the police either - doesn't matter if it's a water bottle, a fist or a weapon.

Whenever we dehumanize someone, it makes it that much easier for them to dehumanize us. It's a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.

What I don't get is how, with all the additional police presence, they still weren't able to prevent a lot of the looting and destruction of property that occurred. A lot of their efforts seem disorganized and counter-productive.

I realize the police have a hard job - I've had to call on them many times, so I'm grateful when they show up and treat *everyone* calmly, lawfully and with respect. I've had some good experiences and some not so good ones - I have lots of stories. Being human, some are better suited for the job than others.

I watched a CNN Town Hall meeting last night and one of the African American panel members commented how our responses are often "colorized" - and he wasn't referring exclusively to White Americans. He meant *all* of us.

Twilight said...

LB ~ It's a disappointing and worrying situation, all round - for the people of Ferguson, and for the many decent police officers around the land who will face flak because of what has happened in Ferguson. Worst of all for the family of the murdered youth.