Monthly Archives: June 2013

To Russia with Love?

So our boy Snowden finds himself enjoying airport accommodations whilst awaiting his chariot ride to South America (Ecuador?). Putin gets the last laugh by refusing to extradite and China drug it’s feet long enough for Ed to make a clean getaway.

Wikileaks is apparently providing logistical support (and acting as de facto mouthpiece).

What has Snowden given to foreign governments? Anything? If so, my support for him ends right now.

If not, I’m still in his corner. Despite the diplomatic egg on Obama’s face that this situation has created, until proven otherwise (as much as that is possible in this case) I’m going to support this guy.

What he did was illegal for sure…but from where I sit, it was done for the right reasons. In this day and age of Infotainment, media ownership and a profound lack of critical reporting, if Snowden does NOT do this…the debate remains under covers.  Exactly where the NSA wants it. And believe me folks, this is a debate that is sorely lacking in our post 9/11 world.

This administration has been coy at BEST with regard to the level our government intrudes on our privacy.  Our Director of National Intelligence flat-out lied about it.  Hmmm, I’m not feeling a whole lot of trust towards these guys at present.

President Obama has told us that it’s necessary and saves lives. Maybe so but how about you set up an independent commission and grant them full access into PRISM and God knows what other Black Op programs you guys are running. That would go a long way into gaining my trust back.

Too many good people are willing to look the other way in the face of a government official telling them it’s for their own good and that their children will sleep safer at night.

I’m sorry, but I call bullshit.

It’s time for accountability.  You clowns have lost your “trust” card and you need to get Snowden back in the US, acknowledge the moral rightness of his actions (if they are proven so; if he’s a spy, then prosecute or render until you’re blue in the face) and grant him a pardon.

Fix the damn issue and quit shooting the messenger.

You are beginning to look and sound like a bunch of amateur fascists…

PS:  The castration of the Voting Rights Act by SCOTUS adds another level of distaste in my mouth. If this was a Republican administration, I’d be screaming. That I voted for you makes it incumbent upon me to scream even louder.  Yes, I know SCOTUS is another branch of government, but c’mon guys.  You have created a PR nightmare. Somebody up there has got to have the common sense to keep this mess from spiraling out of control…and into the hands of the Republicans.

Advertisements

Crossing the Line…

2575803_G

I’m a former ice hockey player. I led my league in penalty minutes. I fought…a lot. I was considered an “enforcer” on my team. The funny thing is, I’m not that guy “in real life”. I’m not even remotely tough and a “real” fight scares the hell out of me. I was a shy kid in high school when I played hockey and never had a fight outside the rink.

Fighting in sports is different. When I was on the ice, I felt part of a team and felt the rush of adrenaline that the violence of the sport infuses in you. There is an esprit de corps in team sports that creates an all-for-one mentality as well.

Which leads me to last nights brawl between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers (disclaimer, I’m a Dodger/Angel fan). While I appreciated the boys attempts a satiating my hunger for violence after my beloved LA Kings were knocked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the origin of the brawl itself was disturbing.

In sports, no matter the sport, there is an unwritten code. Others may argue all day that it’s the result of machismo gone wild, but I embrace that part of our male psyche…I feel that it’s an acceptable nod to our inner caveman.  In fact, in both ice hockey, and baseball, the violence that you typically see is strictly confined to the playing arena and rarely do the emotions transcend that: witness the grand tradition of the post-game handshake at the end of a hockey playoff series.

What happened last night was wrong. In a nutshell, in baseball, if you drill my guy, I drill yours…but the drilling traditionally occurs anywhere BUT the head. A 90 mph fastball to the noggin can kill a human being, if not end their career. Ian Kennedy of the DBacks hit Dodger rookie sensation Yasiel Puig (see photo above) in the face. This is simply not done and as multiple baseball pundits have pointed out, if you can’t control the location of the pitch, you don’t throw inside to hit a player. Predictably,  Dodger pitcher Zach Greinke nailed a DBack player…in the back…where you are supposed to do it. Typically, this ends the affair…score settled. But Ian Kennedy sees fit to throw at Greinke’s head on his next at-bat…igniting an ugly brawl, characterized by violence among members of the coaching staffs, which is RARELY seen. But these old-timers respect the code of the game and took exception to the arguably criminal recklessness of Kennedy.

Speaking of criminal, I had to chuckle while watching the fight last night…as the players were throwing haymakers, an LAPD officer stood just a few feet away, keeping an eye on the crowd, but taking no action to intervene in an incident that, had it occurred on the street, would have had the officer screaming for back-up into his radio. Another example of the acceptance that this type of violence has in our society. But this one was different…uglier and precipitated by the childish actions of one pitcher.

I’m writing this as I watch these two teams play the rubber game of their series.  I applaud the Dodgers and especially pitcher Zach Greinke for their actions last night and scold the DBacks and their cowardly pitcher Ian Kennedy. Don’t step into an arena that you are not qualified to participate in.

Don’t cross the line…it could have been a lot uglier and likely will be next time.

PS: On a side note, I’m considering starting a “sports-only” blog…if it happens, I’ll let you know and thanks to everyone for your support!


Throw Us a Rope Mr. President

Whether Edward Snowden turns out to be the modern day version of Daniel Ellsberg, or simply an opportunistic, overachieving ITT Tech grad (as some pundits suggest), this much is clear:  Mr. President, you’ve a crisis of confidence on your hands.

Until recently, I was your biggest fan.  You won me over during your first campaign (okay, even before) and I’ve steadfastly remained in your corner until, well, until your drones and your sham FISA court, and your Gitmo (remember Gitmo sir, that place that you promised to close by now?) and your inability to express the razor-sharp reasoning that leads your administration to continue to operate outside the Constitution. OK, your Justice Deparment will argue that your policies are within the letter of the law but let’s get real…even if that’s true (and I don’t believe it is), you’re a big boy and we both know perception is reality, PARTICULARLY in the political arena.

So here’s the deal Mr. President: your actions have forced me into a segment of society I’d rather not invite over for dinner…the right wing conspiracy theorist. The Tea Partiers. The NRA fascist. The Fox News contingent. Yecch. I don’t like it here and I want to go home.

I want to go back to the audacity of hope that you promised us. The moral commitment that we came to expect from you. If it remains, it is well hidden. What we SEE is a President generally willing to compromise with the right (in a spirit of cooperation that has long since left the station) and a President that is willing to forgo the message of hope that you instilled in all of us.

Do the right thing Mr. President. Be clear with us why these draconian measures are necessary. Tell us exactly why the balance has swung so far into the infringement of our civil liberties. If you can’t do that, then make it stop…NOW.

I can’t be your only supporter that has become disenfranchised with the military-industrial complex that you oversee…and perpetuate. You’re throwing us to the wolves (Fox-es) Mr. President and your legacy is being critically injured through your actions and inaction.

Throw us a rope…


‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’

(via guardian.co.uk)

(via guardian.co.uk)

So says Edward Snowden, the former NSA analyst who has come forward as the source of recent NSA “leaks” involving the government’s role in gathering intelligence information.

Some personal perspective: I spent several years as a firefighter, ultimately reaching the rank of Captain. We, by necessity, work very closely with law enforcement. Both agencies are public, para-military organizations. I witnessed first-hand abuses by law enforcement, both physical and constitutional. On one occasion, I saw a deputy take a homeless teen behind a building and “talk to him”…the teen returned ruffled and bruised. It was clear what the “talking to” involved. I don’t have a monopoly on witnessing this kind of “stretching the rules” but I mention it to gain some insight on the matter at hand. The police departments that I worked with were willing to break the law to advance what they collectively saw as a greater good. In many, if not most cases, I agreed with their actions at the time. It’s called “group-think” and it’s very east to succumb to in this line of work.

Now let’s up the stakes by, say, infinity…you are the United States Government and you are mandated with protecting your citizens from an increasingly sophisticated enemy, Jihadists from non nation-states that do not follow the conventional rules of warfare.

After 911, I think it’s safe to say that I and many others felt that “all bets were off” in the immediacy surrounding the horrible attack. But with time comes perspective and a return to sanity, and a return to a “normal” state of non knee-jerk responsiveness that has apparently continued unabated in the security apparatchiks of this country.

I discussed John Kiriakou recently here and my outrage at his imprisonment for essentially calling out his government for not playing by its own rules.

Now Edward Snowden. He contends that the level of governmental intrusion is far greater than we have been led to believe, and based upon my personal experiences, I believe him. We are only being exposed to the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our governments anti-terror programs. Journalist Jeremy Scahill’s new film and book “Dirty Wars” promises to shine further light on these dark recesses of our national obsession with “security”.

Is all this justified?  Is it okay to wiretap and spy on your own citizens and God knows what else will be revealed? Maybe it is…maybe these actions, taken clearly outside the letter and intent of our Bill of Rights are vital to our collective safety. But here’s the deal…in order for us, you know, the citizens of the country that employ you, to make an informed decision, we need transparency. We need to be brought into the loop just enough to know if what you guys are doing is both necessary and just. And right now, with an absolute lack of transparency, we simply have President Obama “assuring” us that it’s not invasive and it’s in our best interest.

Mr. President, I’ve voted for you twice. I admired your background as a Constitutional Law Professor. You are lying to us and you have lost my support. Until you can convince me that these draconian measures are CRITICAL to our well-being, you are simply another corporate talking head. Another minion of the military-industrial complex furthering our descent into fascism.

I have no illusions that this blog will not be “flagged” in some third-party corporate “metadatabase”…and that’s a shame. My father fought and nearly died in two wars to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. I served over 20 years protecting the public in the emergency services field and I am not about to roll over on the principles of this country.

I want answers.

I want transparency.

And I want more people like Edward Snowden to come forward and do the right thing…


If You Have Any Remaining Illusions…

(via salon.com)

(via salon.com)

…that life is fair or that the United States of America’s justice system maintains any semblance of integrity…let’s consider the case of John Kiriakou.

Kiriakou is the former CIA analyst/case officer sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for…well…whistleblowing.  He wrongly disclosed the name of a CIA agent to a reporter (the name was NEVER relseased) in the context of expressing his concerns that the CIA and the Bush Administration was conducting an illegal torture program…waterboarding.

You can parse this a couple ways…yes, he broke the law, he admits this. There was no negative consequence, no threat incurred by his release of the agent’s name. The threat he incurred, the hornet’s nest he unleashed, was the result of being an American employee of a federal agency who had the guts to call bullshit on a policy that ran counter to everything we stand for as a country…torture.

The politics of torture can be debated another day. The bottom line is that it is immoral at best and illegal at worst…by our own friggin’ standards it’s illegal. Kiriakou calls this out and he is imprisoned. NONE of the spymasters or Administration/Justice Department officials have been indicted for this crime. Not one. None.

Having spent a career as a public servant in a government agency, I am acutely familiar with how difficult it is to break the culture of silence inherent in these organizations. Kiriakou did so at tremendous personal and professional risk.

He now sits in prison. Not the federal facility  (a low security “camp” that prosecutors and his defense team and the judge agreed upon) but a “prison”.

If you have retained a shred of faith in the justice system and concepts of propriety and fairness to now…consider our prison industrial complex. Mr. Kiriakou has offered up a fascinating narrative of his experience thus far. It is rife with the cultural and racial realities of prison life and most presciently, exposes the culture of dehumanization so common in these facilities. The prisoners are human beings folks…to allow their dehumanization while we turn a blind eye to it inflicts much more injury to our national consciousness than theirs individually. Disagree? Why don’t we just line them up and shoot them then…as so brilliantly stated in Eugene Jarecki’s masterful film, “The House I Live In” we are witnessing “the Holocaust in slow motion”.

We are better than this.

We have imprisoned the guy that tries to do the right thing and thrown him into a cesspool of penal dysfunction.

And the men and women who committed the original crime rest comfortably in the vacancy of their souls.

I can hear the clinking of the ice in their cocktail glasses now…


reluctantjoy

Achieving Happiness Inspite of Myself

Jonathan latt

All the things you don't care about in one place!

theunravelingonion

learning life's lessons with an awkward giggle

L7 Bike Adventures

A couple's traveling adventures by bicycle

LADOT BIKE BLOG

Have fun while traveling, ride a bike!

Fisticuffs and Shenanigans

It was all fun and games, until the fisticuffs and shenanigans... -Deutschmarc

KingMidget's Ramblings

Pull up a chair. Let's talk.

Gino Michael Pellegrini

Education, Race, Mixed Race, and Multiculturalism

giorge thomas

it is what it is

Biking in LA

SoCal's leading source for bike news, from around the corner. Or around the world.

Cycling in NY

A blog from an average guy, cycling in NY

The Conejo Valley in the 70's & 80's

Sharing Photos And Stories About The Conejo Valley In The Good Old Days

eryn b good

trying to behave

All Seasons Cyclist

Real World Product Reviews For Avid Cyclists

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

The House Of Positive Vibes

Presented by The Average Jim's Playground

Los Angeles Boudoir Photography

Documenting the human condition with sensuality and complexity