A Tarnished Star

Four words.
Bill Cosby is over.
Most likely he will never spend a night in jail. Most likely he will spend the sunset years of his life dragging his ass from civil courtroom to courtroom. Most likely he will spend a great deal of time looking out a window and asking himself, “How did this happen to me?”


You did it to yourself, Bill.

I can no longer defend Bill Cosby any more.   To defending his darkened and tarnished soul imperils my own. It imperils every Black man who defends Cosby and denigrates the women whom have called him out for his trespasses against them.

I wanted to believe Cosby.  I desperately wanted to believe. I wanted to tell myself this was all a horrible, horrible mistake and there was a reasonable, plausible explanation.

But a lie cannot live forever and there have been too many women, too many awfully similar accounts, too many who were intimidated and ridiculed and humiliated into silence, who repressed their pain and have only now found their voice and are speaking up loudly and clearly: A beloved and powerful man drugged me and raped me and nobody believed me.

How can I cry for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin and not cry for Tamara Green, Barbara Bowman and yes, Janice Dickinson too? How can I righteously decry violence against Black men by White cops and not decry violence against White women by a Black man? Just how much of a hypocrite am I willing to become to protect a sacred cow?

All out of alibis.

All out of alibis.

I don’t want to be a fool and only a fool could believe all these women are making shit up merely to trash Bill Cosby. The conspiracy theories behind JFK’s assassination would pale into insignificance in comparison to what degrees of delusion one must submit to believe Cosby is an innocent being pursed by spurned starlets.

That is a level of deliberate blindness I can’t deal with. While I will always cherish Cosby for the man he was, I must turn my back on the man he has turned out to be.  The Cosby I thought I knew, the Cosby I watched on I Spy and The  Electric Company and Uptown Saturday Night and The Cosby Show was a mirage, a fake, a fraud, a public image that masked a deeply sick man and serial sexual offender.
Bill Cosby is a rapist.

What changed my mind? Beverly Johnson did.    As America’s first Black supermodel, it is not easy to dismiss Johnson when she in writes in Vanity Fair how Cosby assaulted her and how she overcame her initial reluctance to tell  her story.

…I struggled with how to reveal my big secret, and more importantly, what would people think when and if I did? Would they dismiss me as an angry black woman intent on ruining the image of one of the most revered men in the African American community over the last 40 years? Or would they see my open and honest account of being betrayed by one of the country’s most powerful, influential, and beloved entertainers?

As I wrestled with the idea of telling my story of the day Bill Cosby drugged me with the intention of doing God knows what, the faces of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other brown and black men took residence in my mind.

Beverly Johnson: It takes an icon to take down an icon.

As if I needed to be reminded. The current plight of the black male was behind my silence when Barbara Bowman came out to tell the horrific details of being drugged and raped by Cosby to the Washington Post in November. And I watched in horror as my longtime friend and fellow model Janice Dickinson was raked over the coals for telling her account of rape at Cosby’s hands. Over the years I’ve met other women who also claim to have been violated by Cosby. Many are still afraid to speak up. I couldn’t sit back and watch the other women be vilified and shamed for something I knew was true.

When I sat down to write my memoir in 2013, I pondered if I should include my Cosby experience. I didn’t want to get involved in a he-said/she-said situation. Now that other women have come forward with their nightmare stories, I join them.

Finally, I reached the conclusion that the current attack on African American men has absolutely nothing to do at all with Bill Cosby. He brought this on himself when he decided he had the right to have his way with who knows how many women over the last four decades. If anything, Cosby is distinguished from the majority of black men in this country because he could depend on the powers that be for support and protection.

First, the pennies fell from my eyes. Second, I felt nauseous over what I could now clearly see.

I apologize for doubting. I apologize for being a Cosby apologist. I apologize to Janice Dickinson and all the women I’ve been so flippant and dismissive and callous and cruel toward. I’m sorry for my appalling ignorant insensitivity.

Mostly though I’m sorry for aiding and abetting a sexual predator.

I wanted to believe in the myth of Bill Cosby. Letting go of what I thought I respected and admired for even longer was harder than I thought it would and it hurts. This is something very hard for me as a Black man to say to White people. It hurts to lose a Black success story. There are so many Black failures and fuck-ups rubbed under your nose in that you yearn for and look long and hard for a brother who seems to be doing it right.

Cosby wasn’t just the first leading man on television.  He was one of the funniest comedians ever.  He proved it for decades on television, on film and onstage.   He championed jazz music, a genre near and dear to my heart.  Cosby didn’t forget his roots as he gave back to Black colleges with endowments and financial support.   Education was a cause he and his wife Camille championed.   What was there not to like about the man?

As it turns out, plenty.   But it was all whispers and shadows.   Easily ignored and easily dismissed as spurned women or calculating starlets trying to shake some dollars out of a Black hero with deep pockets.    Even as the numbers of women coming forward grew and changed, what stayed the same was their stories.   A young woman meets, an older and powerful man who seems to have an interest in their career or just a good time and he’s glad to help, but first drink this.

He kept us all in the dark.

Until  Johnson came forward it was possible to rationalize why Cosby was remaining stolidly silent.   Until Beverly Johnson came forward it was conceivable to invent scenarios to explain away the allegations.   Until Beverly Johnson came forward it was possible to keep up, however dim, some small hope Cosby might not have been guilty of the terrible things the women were saying he had done.

Beverly Johnson cancelled all that.  No more lies or alibis.  No more illusions.   This is not a conspiracy.  This is not mass hysteria.   This is it.   It’s over for Bill Cosby.

It hurts to lose a man you’ve admired. It hurts to lose someone who was a father figure. It hurts like hell.  But my father wasn’t a rapist. My father was not Bill Cosby.

It hurts me to say I’m sorry to anyone I offended, outraged or disappointed. It hurts, but it would hurt more not to say five little words: Bill Cosby is a rapist.

It hurts to type those words.   It would hurt more not to.

…And Justice For All?

cop car on fire

These are my last words for the foreseeable future on the series of shooting by the police of Black men and it’s not because I don’t have more to say.   Actually it’s more that this is a topic that first fills me with blind, irrational anger, followed by nauseated disgust and finally fatalistic pessimism.    It’s unhealthy to allow any one subject become so pervasive it becomes all-encompassing, so I have to let this go and move on.

This is going to be long, but I hope it makes sense.

There’s a degree of certain cognitive dissonance associated with the killings of Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford II among the other recent examples of cop-vs-civilian citizens.

Only the most angry of anarchists could boldly state there is no need for the police. Time and again it has been demonstrated the police are the only organization between order and chaos. Whether it’s some thoughtless neighbors blasting their music too loud in the wee hours or an old woman who’s fallen down and can’t get up or a child doesn’t arrive home after school or some guy has just rear-ended your brand new Chevy, there needs to be the person who comes along and makes a crazy world sane again for a while.

Most of us were brought up to respect police as figures of authority worthy of respect equal to that of doctors, lawyers, clergy and politicians. They were the Good Guys protecting us all from the Bad Guys.

Of course, the reality is never that black and white and the cracks in the facade become even more acute when the reality is Black and White.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

Akai Gurley: Protected and Served to Death.

I don’t know if Akai Gurley was a good man who didn’t deserve to die in a darkened staircase or a bad man who would have likely met with a bad end sooner or later. But what I do know is when something happens and keeps happening and it’s always reasoned away and waved off as merely “an accident” that isn’t an explanation as much as it is denial.

It didn’t surprise me when Darren Wilson walked. Mike Brown was viewed as a threat. It didn’t surprise me when Daniel Pantaleo walked. Eric Garner was a physically unhealthy man who refused to be taken into custody without resisting. It didn’t surprise me when the cops who blew away John Crawford II in a Wal-Mart walked because he had no business walking around with a realistic looking BB gun.

Neither did Tamir Rice so it won’t surprise me if Officer Timothy Loehmann walks despite being judged unfit for duty by a small town police force but apparently OK for the Cleveland cop shop.

That same dysfunctional Cleveland cop shop following a U.S. Justice Department investigation into acts of excessive force recently agreed to a consent decree which will doubtlessly lead to possibly hundreds of officers fired and forced into retirement. Getting bad cops off the street is a help to good cops, but you’ll rarely hear them say it out loud.

I have communicated with several ex-cops and those who aspired to be cops and they comment regularly on  a discussion board I patronize on several officer related shooting threads as well as high-profile non-police involved deaths such as the Trayvon Martin and Renisha McBride cases. They offer insights and perspectives on police procedure, protocol and perspectives civilians are on the outside of peering in. They offer a valuable contribution in the ongoing process of building bridges and not walls between the police and the community.

However, when it comes to matters of police misconduct, corruption and brutality, their default setting seems to be to close ranks with their brethren in blue and fall back to the now familiar stance of “us vs them” and if you aren’t one of us, you must be one of them.

Frank Serpico was one of “us” until he broke the cop code of silence and testified about corruption in the NYPD. Hollywood made Serpico the flawed hero in a movie starring Al Pacino, but the NYPD still regards him as a snitch, a rat, and a villain.

Want to see a hero cop? Frank Serpico qualifies.

Serpico says police brutality now is as bad as police corruption was back in his day and for many of the same reasons: a permissive culture that looks the other way, closes ranks, protects bad cops and persecutes good cops trying to do their jobs the right way.

And today the Blue Wall of Silence endures in towns and cities across America. Whistleblowers in police departments — or as I like to call them, “lamp lighters,” after Paul Revere — are still turned into permanent pariahs. The complaint I continue to hear is that when they try to bring injustice to light they are told by government officials: “We can’t afford a scandal; it would undermine public confidence in our police.” That confidence, I dare say, is already seriously undermined.

Things might have improved in some areas. The days when I served and you could get away with anything, when cops were better at accounting than at law enforcement — keeping meticulous records of the people they were shaking down, stealing drugs and money from dealers on a regular basis — all that no longer exists as systematically as it once did, though it certainly does in some places. Times have changed. It’s harder to be a venal cop these days.

But an even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.
I tried to be an honest cop in a force full of bribe-takers. But as I found out the hard way, police departments are useless at investigating themselves—and that’s exactly the problem facing ordinary people across the country —including perhaps, Ferguson, Missouri, which has been a lightning rod for discontent even though the circumstances under which an African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot remain unclear.

Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on “the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” the reports were never issued.)

It wasn’t any surprise to me that, after Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, officers instinctively lined up behind Darren Wilson, the cop who allegedly killed Brown. Officer Wilson may well have had cause to fire if Brown was attacking him, as some reports suggest, but it is also possible we will never know the full truth—whether, for example, it was really necessary for Wilson to shoot Brown at least six times, killing rather than just wounding him. As they always do, the police unions closed ranks also behind the officer in question. And the district attorney (who is often totally in bed with the police and needs their votes) and city power structure can almost always be counted on to stand behind the unions.

In some ways, matters have gotten even worse. The gulf between the police and the communities they serve has grown wider. Mind you, I don’t want to say that police shouldn’t protect themselves and have access to the best equipment. Police officers have the right to defend themselves with maximum force, in cases where, say, they are taking on a barricaded felon armed with an assault weapon. But when you are dealing every day with civilians walking the streets, and you bring in armored vehicles and automatic weapons, it’s all out of proportion. It makes you feel like you’re dealing with some kind of subversive enemy. The automatic weapons and bulletproof vest may protect the officer, but they also insulate him from the very society he’s sworn to protect. All that firepower and armor puts an even greater wall between the police and society, and solidifies that “us-versus-them” feeling.

Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

At 77, Frank Serpico is an old man and old men are susceptible to being scoffed at as behind the times and out of the loop. Even the film was made over four decades ago. Yet, Serpico says he loved being a cop. He just wishes he could have been allowed to be the honest cop he wanted to be and not the threat he became because he refused to be a dishonest one.

I honestly do not believe most cops are racist, but in all honesty, there are racists who are cops.  Their default setting is to side with the cops because they were cops that is no less understandable than mine is to side with a Brown, Garner, Gurley, Rice, Martin, Ferrell, Grant, Bell or Diallo because I look like them.

I’ve said before nobody needs the protection of the police more than the Black community. If Black people are disproportionately killed by the police, and more specifically, by White police officers that is in no small part due to the disproportionate numbers of Blacks committing crimes and incarcerated for those crimes. But that’s a much more complicated problem than finger-pointing idiots like Rudy Giuliani or Charles Barkley can resolve with their simplistic solutions.

Serpico doesn’t have all the answers to society’s ills either, but he does have some suggestions deserving of being included in any discussion of the bloody schism between cops and communities of color.

1. Strengthen the selection process and psychological screening process for police recruits. Police departments are simply a microcosm of the greater society. If your screening standards encourage corrupt and forceful tendencies, you will end up with a larger concentration of these types of individuals;
2. Provide ongoing, examples-based training and simulations. Not only telling but showing police officers how they are expected to behave and react is critical;
3. Require community involvement from police officers so they know the districts and the individuals they are policing. This will encourage empathy and understanding;
4. Enforce the laws against everyone, including police officers. When police officers do wrong, use those individuals as examples of what not to do – so that others know that this behavior will not be tolerated. And tell the police unions and detective endowment associations they need to keep their noses out of the justice system;
5. Support the good guys. Honest cops who tell the truth and behave in exemplary fashion should be honored, promoted and held up as strong positive examples of what it means to be a cop;
6. Last but not least, police cannot police themselves. Develop permanent, independent boards to review incidents of police corruption and brutality—and then fund them well and support them publicly. Only this can change a culture that has existed since the beginnings of the modern police department.

If Number One of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in Cleveland, Timothy Loehmann might have remained a washed-out small-town cop and never moved on to become a big-city cop and Tamir Rice might still be alive instead of shot down in less than three seconds when Loehmann encountered him.

police-brutality

If Number Two of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York, Peter Liang might have been paired off with a more experienced veteran officer instead of another rookie like himself.

If Number Six of Serpico’s reforms had been in place in New York and Ferguson, Missouri, the grand jury decisions not to indict Pantaleno and Wilson might be less subject to suspicions of prosecutors manipulating the results.

There will never be a solution to the problem of police brutality and community hostility until all sides involved own up to their own vested interests, sacred cows and protected turf. Any meaningful progress means giving up, compromising, hammering out and forging a new deal between polarized enemies.

I don’t want to view the police as an occupying force. I need them to tell my noisy neighbors to turn that racket down as much as anyone else does. At the current state of things, I’m far less concerned about ISIS or Ebola taking me out than I am Officer Friendly doing me in because he didn’t like a gesture I made during a traffic stop.

Don’t tell me being a cop is a tough, thankless gig. Who doesn’t know that? Any cop who was expecting applause should have never cut their hair, formed a rock band and learned how to play Van Halen’s “Eruption.” Most cops never pull their guns to shoot anybody. When they do most times they’re justified and every time they have to kill someone they don’t have to be probed like a visit to the proctologist.

That doesn’t give cops a license to kill and a badge does not bestow extra rights the rest of us don’t get.

It is not playing the Race Card to wonder why there are so many encounters between unarmed Black men and armed White cops end up fatal for the Black men. If the shoe were on the other foot and White cops were being mowed down by Black assailants would there any puzzlement of what the hell is going on?

The agitation of a New Black Panthers plotting acts of murder and revenge against persons and property deserves condemnation by any responsible citizen, but so does Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association when he calls Pantaleo “a model police officer.”

The demagoguery has to end. The distrust has to end. The polarization and politicking has to end. I want to say it can end if all sides resolve to find a way to come together and force it to end. Yet while I try to be hopeful because it doesn’t make much sense to be anything else or you might as well not get up out of bed, I can’t say I’m optimistic.

Reconciliation is possible but not if our differences remain irreconcilable. We can wait for the next Akai Gurley or Eric Garner or Mike Brown or Tamir Rice to come along and do this now familiar dance over again; five steps back and no steps forward, but if police reform is impossible a  revolution against the police is inevitable.

The odds are excellent we won’t have to wait too long to find out.

oscar wilde

Ijeoma Oluo’s 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops.

Sometimes it isn’t so much that I’m at a loss for words than it is the words of somebody else says it so much better.

Not everyone reads New York magazine, but then not many people read magazines at all anymore.  I’m one of the holdouts.   I still subscribe, buy and read magazines and probably will as long as they keep featuring excellent writing such as this.

Following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner the reaction of many Americans has run the gamut from shock, confusion, anger, apathy and resignation.   Ijeoma Oluo, a marketing manager, writer and mother of two boys added another emotion:  righteous rage.

Here are a series of Tweets published in New  York (along with links) by Ms. Oluo of the 25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops:

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo

Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddies and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her. Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you. Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you. I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.

Ijeoma Oluo writings can be found as a contributor to xojane and her personal blog.

The System Didn’t Fail. It Was Supposed to Work This Way.

Great White Hunter.

“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world’s most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.”
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

In the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson and the return of violent unrest in Ferguson, I’ve read and heard a lot about how Blacks and Whites need to stay calm and have a rational discussion.

Okay. Let’s calmly talk rationally about the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer last Friday, why don’t we?

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A Cleveland police officer fatally shot Tamir Rice immediately after leaving his moving patrol car while his partner stayed at the wheel, surveillance video shows.

The video showed Wednesday by police captures the Saturday afternoon shooting at a West Side recreation center in which 12-year-old Rice was shot.

The video contains no audio.

A rookie officer pulled the trigger, said Jeffrey Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association.

Police were sent to the Cudell Recreation Center at Detroit Avenue and West Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. when someone called 9-1-1 to report a “guy with a gun pointing it at people.”

The caller told dispatchers twice that the gun was “probably fake,” but that detail was not relayed to the responding officers, Follmer said.

Over the past few days I’ve read so much amateur analysis, part-time forensic experts and ex-cop war stories and “woulda/shoulda/coulda” scenarios made up of skewing some facts and misinterpreting and excluding others of what happened and all the while with fawning deference for Support Your Local Police Officer no matter what because gee they do a tough damn job and they are they only thing that stands between the nice people and the jungle predators.

Frankly, it makes me want to vomit.

I see no point in holding a rational discussion with anyone who can rationalize the actions of a murderer. A rational discussion serves no purpose when the intent to shame and embarrass one member of a racial minority into apologizing for the actions of a few while assuaging the fears of the majority that “we’re all not like that.”

I have no interest in having a rational discussion with anyone more upset by broken windows and the looting of cheap stores and shoddy merchandise and are untroubled by a young man losing first his life and then his humanity.  They shrug it off with a blase “Well, I wasn’t there but he must have done something to deserve it.”

Something like boosting some smokes, jaywalking and maybe smarting off to a cop? Yeah, that’s some serious flaunting of the law there. Better pump 12 in him since he’s such a big target.

a System cannot fail

“A system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect.”W.E.B. Du Bois

A rational discussion is a pointless waste of time when the same “rational discussions” have followed after the cops killed Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Patrick Dorismond, Darrien Hunt, Joseph Ferrell,

Now add Tamir Rice to the roll call of the dead. What happened to him wasn’t a shooting. It was an execution. The trail of Michael Brown’s blood has flowed all the way from Ferguson, Missouri to Cleveland Ohio.

Some say the problem is the BB gun Rice was carrying looked too realistic.   Okay,  I see how that come lead to complications but how about training rookie cops better so they don’t zoom up to a 12-year-old suspect and fucking immediately blow him out of his shoes? Would that work?  Shoot first, shoot last and keep shooting and asking no questions later is a prime example of piss-poor policing. You could paint the toy guns in all the colors of the rainbow and it still wouldn’t stop some of these trigger-happy cretins.

This is a problem situation which has to be resolved by addressing the issue of the realism of the toy and the overkill response of the cops. You have to start demilitarizing the warrior cop mindset when they zip around in their cars, never know anything about the people in the neighborhoods they patrol and start trying to change the adversarial relationship between cops and communities of color. Until both sides meet each other halfway nothing will ever change.

Changing the “I am a hammer and everything is a nail” philosophy of the warrior cop would help.  Community policing isn’t a new idea and has had both its unqualified successes and dismal failures, but an adversarial relationship between cops and the communities they patrol is poisonous. Nothing positive can come from cops calling civilians as “fucking animals” while the civvies serenade the cops with a chorus of “Fuck the Police.”

The cops have the bullets and the weaponry to fight the community, but the community has bullets and weaponry too. Neither side can win so where does that get us to but M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction)?

 

ferguson

White critics think violence and destruction are indefensible. They need to ask what brings people to react this way. Tweet by Steve Chapman

Darren Wilson resigned from the Ferguson police department and possibly with a million dollars raised from supporters for a trial he was never going to face.  Like George Zimmerman before him, Wilson has become the recipient of  charity from supporters who hate the idea just because you shoot and kill and unarmed teenager that’s no reason you should be punished for it.

A million dollars. Imagine that. Who would have thought one dead Black kid was worth that kind of money?  For Darren and George, despite being the ones with the guns its okay to take Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin’s lives a long as they claim were frightened for theirs.  Not only will you go free, you’ll get paid too!

Get rich or kill trying.

While rioting is terrible a riot is not the most terrible thing.   People never really understand something until it happens to them and sometimes not even then.

Peace will never be present where justice is absent.

It's settled down for the moment, but at any moment Ferguson could go up in flames again.

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Deconstructing Cosby

No more excuses for The Cos.

I didn’t plan of writing about Bill Cosby today. I really didn’t. I had another post almost done, but I need to get this out first and then maybe I’ll be finished with it. Somebody compared Cosby’s swift fall from grace to that of another beloved icon: Michael Jackson. That’s a pretty apt comparison with one huge difference, I accepted early on Jackson probably was a serial pedophile. I didn’t want to believe it but I could not not believe it.

I’m having a bit more difficulty with Bill Cosby: Serial Rapist.

I watched a few old Cosby routines on You Tube with my wife today. We laughed at the same jokes we had laughed at before. I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Cosby Show. Too many precocious kids and ugly ass sweaters for me, but in my parents home Thursday nights at 8:00 were set aside for the latest in life with The Huxtables and don’t you dare call for the next 30 minutes.

I’ve lost a lot of respect for Bill Cosby over the past few days. But I’m not gonna act new like I never laughed at any of his jokes, enjoyed any of his films or thought highly of him. Doing that would make me a big of a liar as he is. I never stopped liking Michael Jackson’s music. What I stopped liking was Michael Jackson.

I will not try to purge myself and seek absolution for committing the sin of having enjoyed Bill Cosby. And I’m not quite there where I can say I no longer like Bill Cosby.

While I have my doubts–serious doubts –all the accusations against Cosby are legitimate, it goes beyond the realm of possibility to believe all the accusations are not.

Ex-model and reality TV star Janice Dickinson became the first celebrity to accuse Cosby.

Which leaves only one logical conclusion: Bill Cosby is a rapist. Equally logical, it also follows that in the sorry spectacle that is shaming of the beloved and respected comic, he is getting exactly what he deserves. While it is true in a court of law, Cosby likely has little to fear, the court of public opinion can dispense its own harsh justice against him.

As of yet, the jury is still out. Most Americans, especially African-Americans still hold Cosby in high esteem. But as the slow drip-drip-drip of rumors, allegations, and graphic horror stories continues that could gradually change.

Unless and not until Cosby sits down and gives straightforward, candid and tough answers to straightforward, candid and tough questions, the only result that can come from a manipulative and patently fake attempt to play on the public’s sympathy for a grizzled old comedian is more smoke and more mirrors.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the première of The Confessions of Cliff Huxtable.  Bill Cosby only played Cliff Huxtable.  He wasn’t Cliff Huxtable.  Maybe he played everybody else too.
The flood of accusers coming forward only confuses the credibility of the true victims of Bill Cosby with the publicity seekers. I keep hearing, “These women aren’t asking for money, so why would they lie about it?”

One does not have to have to ask for money to receive money for telling the world their version of the story. One can receive a great deal of attention they might not otherwise receive if they didn’t tell their story when its hot news. How many of us were talking about Janice Dickinson last week? Not many I would guess.

Cosby is running out of friends.

I want due process and equal justice for Bill Cosby. An accusation is not evidence, but enough accusations is evidence that SOMETHING is happening. Cosby is an American icon and watching an icon slowly crumbling is an ugly and unpleasant spectacle. But rape is uglier and whatever hell Cosby is going through is nothing compared to what the women he may have victimized went through for years.

I’m trying REAL HARD to be what Fox News only says they are: “fair and balanced.”   But its never been a secret that Cosby had a taste for women he wasn’t married to.  Cosby hung around the Playboy Mansion for years and it wasn’t just for the shrimp at the buffet.

What we have so far are suspicions, allegations, rumors and thoughts of what may have happened. A few verifiable facts would be nice before we hang Bill Cosby from a tree.   In a courtroom accusations aren’t enough to convict, but in social media they certainly are enough to kill.

People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.
~ Bill Cosby

Yeah.   You have fun with that.

Cosby: “Hey, Hugh! Check out the tail on that bunny!” Hefner: “Bill, isn’t this how you got in trouble in the first place?”

 

Bill Cosby: American Dad…and Rapist?

“So you see, what happened was…”

Bill Cosby’s PR firm had an idea. They put out a request across the Internet to create memes about the 77-year old comedian, actor and philanthropist.

The Internet responded. Oh, did it ever.

On Monday, the comedian — or whomever was in charge of his social media — put out a challenge with a jovial picture of Cosby in a cap: “Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme.”

The Internet immediately reacted, but probably not in the way Cosby expected.

“Claire, have you seen my … nevermind, found my raping hat!” tweeted Trill Withers over the cap picture.

“My two favorite things (–) Jell-O pudding & rape,” tweeted E.J. Coughlin over a photo of Cosby smiling.

“Look at this wacky shirt I’m wearing (–) also I am a serial rapist,” tweeted Jason Steele over a picture of a thumbs-up Cosby in a patterned shirt.

Now comes the social media fiasco.

For years, Cosby has denied the rape allegations. In February, after Newsweek ran an interview with one of the purported victims, Tamara Green, Cosby’s representative said, “This is a 10-year-old, discredited accusation that proved to be nothing at the time, and is still nothing.”

Nine years ago, when Green was interviewed by Matt Lauer on the “Today” show, his lawyer issued a statement: “Miss Green’s allegations are absolutely false. Mr. Cosby does not know the name Tamara Green or (maiden name) Tamara Lucier and the incident she describes did not happen. The fact that she may have repeated this story to others is not corroboration.”

In the case of Andrea Constand, who sued Cosby in 2005 over an incident the year before, Cosby says the sex was consensual.

At the time of Constand’s lawsuit, Cosby had been in the news for a sexual affair once before. In 1997, a woman named Autumn Jackson claimed to be Cosby’s love child. Cosby admitted to a relationship with Jackson’s mother but denied paternity. Jackson was later convicted of extortion.

Cosby has been accused by 13 women of rape. Vulture published a timeline of incidents since 2002. The story took on new life when comedian Hannibal Buress called out The Cos during a performance.

At Mic.com, Maureen Shaw wondered, “Why do celebrities seem to get away with sexual assault? Cosby isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, mainstream celebrity to be accused of sexual abuse. This past February, Dylan Farrow accused Woody Allen of sexually assaulting her. Then there’s CeeLo Green, Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, R. Kelly — the list goes on and on. And yet, these men’s careers rebounded and their accomplishments somehow overshadowed any wrongdoings.

As one of Cosby’s victims, Barbara Bowman, explains, “The media creates this idealized image of celebrities: that they are untouchable, that they’re not one of us. … I don’t think people want to believe it; to believe would shatter the illusion.” Specifically in the case of Cosby, Gawker nailed it: “Basically nobody wanted to live in a world where Bill Cosby was a sexual predator.”

Correction:  Accused sexual predator.   The predomination of accusations does not equate to a preponderance of evidence.

Bill’s got less friends now than when he wore that shirt.

Reading the CNN and Vulture articles is unsettling to say the least and deeply troubling even for someone like myself who has a great deal of respect for Cosby. It’s difficult to shrug off the multiple incidents as ambitious gold diggers scheming for a payday. There may not yet be a fire burning, but Cosby’s good name and reputation has certainly suffered serious smoke damage.

If it is unfair to brand the women whom have accused Bill Cosby of rape as being schemers or liars, it is equally unfair to convict Bill Cosby as a rapist without further proof–any proof.

It’s important to note that for all the troubling allegations and damning information that has gone from a slow drip to a raging torrent, Cosby has never been indicted, arrested, prosecuted, convicted or sentenced for rape. He’s been accused and the accusations were enough for him to settle the cases for money in exchange for silence. Silence is golden and buying silence has allowed Cosby to keep his golden halo from being tarnished as a sexual predator.

I am not objective about Cosby. I’ve laughed at his stand-up, watched his television shows and films and generally agreed with his sometimes harsh critiques of Black Americans. I won’t call him a role model or a hero but I will call him a man I respect.

I’m not yet convinced of Cosby’s guilt merely because The Internet and a hostile lynch mob of bloggers have found him guilty. The Internet rushes to judgment and get things wrong often.  It might be wrong again.

If it is proven Bill Cosby has put his pudding pop in somebody’s Jell-O against their will I will never respect him again.

But I won’t be happy about it.

Plausible is not the same thing as proven and preponderance is not the same thing as evidence.   Being found guilty in the court of public opinion in not the same thing as being found guilty in a court of law and thank goodness for that.    When death comes by a thousand cuts of ugly innuendo and unproven allegations, that’s not justice, that’s wrong.

Maybe Cosby doesn’t deserve to be considered innocent until proven guilty any more than any other suspected sexual predator, but he doesn’t deserve it any less.

 

Mugging and acting cute isn’t going to make this go away, Bill.

 

The Republicans Are Really Proud of Their New Special Black Friends.

If you close your eyes, you'd never know they were Black.

“Sure, we’re Black, but we’re not angry Blacks like Obama.”

 

Geraldo Rivera, hack “journalist” and one of the world’s most useless human beings took to Twitter to unleash his righteous rage upon the NAACP for not joining in on the celebration after the elections of Tim Scott in South Carolina to the Senate and in Utah, Mia Love became the first Black Republican woman elected to the House. Rivera sniped on Twitter, “The NAACP refuses to embrace the success of Republicans Senator Tim Scott and Rep elect Mia Love because though black they are not victims.”

This is obviously a REALLY BIG DEAL for the G.O.P. as they can’t stop talking about how superbad it is that they have finally voted for a Black man to the Senate and a Black woman to the House.  Democrats are a little less hyped because they have done this for decades.

It’s less impressive when you consider Scott won with 88 percent of the White vote, but only 10 percent of the Black vote. White South Carolina voters believe and trust Scott will represent their interests while Black South Carolina voters disbelieve and distrust Scott will represent theirs. We don’t have a similar breakdown for Love, but in Utah? Take a wild guess.

If there’s a reason I should take any special pride in Scott and Love’s personal triumphs nobody has explained what it is.  Aren’t Republicans supposed to be the party that says race is no big thing?   Well, let’s be gracious in defeat and extend congratulations to the GOP’s token Black friends and particularly Love who becomes the first Black Republican woman elected only 45 years after Shirley Chisholm did the same thing for the Democrats.

I’m long past getting hyped over putting Black faces in formerly White places. Once elected what a Black politician does next matters more than being the first. The ascendancy of Black conservatives in South Carolina and Utah may be a cause for celebration in conservative circles but it’s no big deal for Black Americans whom are not conservatives.

Love had her high-profile moment at the 2012 Republican National Convention but it didn’t spark an exodus from the Democratic Party by African-Americans and remarks like these won’t either.

She told the Desert News in 2012 that if elected, she would join the Congressional Black Caucus and “try to take that thing apart from the inside out.” She accused black Democrats of “demagoguery,” saying, “They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn’t [any]. They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame.”

Racism is only a problem today, she told Newsweek, as long as people allow themselves to be victims. “I’m no victim. I’m perfectly comfortable in my skin. My parents always told me, In order for people to see you as an equal, you need to act as an equal and be an equal, not make excuses for what you look like. I’m proud of having the skin color I have. It’s a feature I’m not ashamed of.”

“I’m a much bigger asshole than you are!”

Going by The World According to Mia the only reason a Michael Brown or Eric Gardner or Trayvon Martin became victims isn’t because they were Black but because they allowed themselves to be victims. If only they had realized that before they were killed they might still be alive!

I’m sure Love will be a credit to the race she doesn’t believe matters and to all the Republicans who will trot her out, squeeze in tight, cheese for camera, point to her as the only Black Congressional representative and squeal with glee, “See! We got one! Look at how diverse we are”

Forget Love’s race. Forget her gender. Close your eyes and listen to her words and she sounds the same as Allen West, Tim Scott, Gary Franks and J.C. Watts did when it was their turn to be the Black Special Friend of the White Republican Party.

I really don’t know enough about Love yet to decide one way or another. What I do know doesn’t give me any cause to believe she gives a shit about issues of importance to me or will be any different from every other Black Republican before her.

My heroes have always been more like Martin and Malcolm, and not Clarence and Condoleezza. I don’t have a problem with Black conservatives whom have a functional spine and speak their mind and not simply parrot the party line. I have a huge problem when they bring nothing new to the table and are only about their personal advancement.

A true Black hero has a love for Black people and I don’t get that vibe from these two.  I won’t say Love is an Aunt Jemima, but it’s clear she’s no Angela Davis.

Mitt meets all the Black people who voted for him in 2012.

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The Last Democrat Standing

Down? Yep. Out? Nope.

 

Hey, Democrats! Let this be a lesson to you. If you run like a coward don’t cry when you get shot in the back. Run away from Barack Obama. Refuse to say whether you even voted for him like Alison Lundgren Grimes before Mitch McConnell turned her into so much yard waste. Deny, dodge, and fake it all the way to Election Day, but it won’t save an extraordinary putrid crop of nominal Democratic candidates from humiliation. The waxing the Democrats received from the Republicans was the voters saying, “We see through your act.”

Grimes lost to McConnell which is fine by me.  Better a committed enemy like McConnell in your face than a sometime ally like Grimes quivering behind your back.

It’s hard to see it now crawling from the wreckage, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing for the Dems. This should be a teachable moment. Whatever your strategy was, whatever the consultants and the pollsters and the experts told you would work but clearly didn’t, whatever delusion you labored under telling a dude who won two presidential elections to stay the hell away from you because he’s suddenly a loser, it’s over now.

Say what you want about the Republicans. Say they hate science and reason and logic and plain ol’ common sense. Say what they’re for anyone with an I.Q. higher than a cold glass of water should be able to see is nothing but rank bullshit designed with only helping the wealthy and corporations. Say they deep french kiss extremists, racists, homophobes, rape advocates, environmental terrorists, war monger, dictators, arms merchants, tax cheats, vigilantes, xenophobes, gun nuts, and religious fanatics.

Say whatever you want but don’t say the Republicans don’t stand for something even if that something is horrible.

I hate your guts and you hate mine but we both hate Obama.

Mr. Cruz and Mr. McCain don’t like each other, but both despise Obama.

 

What do the Democrats believe in? Besides believing they just got their asses kicked?   Act like swine and you get butchered with the hogs.

At some point after another of these Democratic debacles, liberals and progressives (no, they are not the same) are going to wise up to what conservatives already know: political parties are a vehicle and it’s not the masses but the ideologues who offer the direction it goes in. If you want some real Left-wing politicians whom really believe in liberal politics, then you’re going to have to fight your way in, kick the party bosses and detached from reality dinosaurs out and stop being afraid of calling yourself an upper-case “L” for “Liberal” because its going to piss off talk radio and Fox News.

As long as your enemy defines you and you don’t define yourself, you’re playing their game and its a game that can’t be won. They hold all the cards and all the Democrats are doing is gasping for air like a beached whale.

Ma Pelosi and Pa Reid have got to go!

 

Now the Republicans are the dominant force in American politics, I’d like to take this opportunity to both extend both a “congratulations” as well as “welcome back.” Welcome back to the role of participating in the political process, a role the GOP abdicated on January 20, 2009 when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

The Republicans opted out of their historic role as the opposition party and instead opted in for aggressive open hostility toward the newly elected president as they denied him both respect and cooperation as they ignored Obama’s initiatives, blocked his nominees, sniped, sneered and took every cheap shot they could at every turn.

The lesson for the Republicans is to hide how far to the Right you really are. Talk about how much you love your family while soft music plays real pretty in the background and how you’re committed to building strong communities, safe schools, being a watchdog for the middle class and their money while hiding you’re a sock puppet for money and power and just how deeply up your ass the hand of the Koch Brothers goes. And it works! Being bastards pays off.
But that’s politics. Don’t play if you can’t stand losing. The GOP has had six years of sitting on the sidelines, but that doesn’t mean they’ve done nothing. They laid back in the cut hatching schemes and making plans. There’s a reason the stock market soared today. For Big Business happy days are here again, Whatever nominal resistance Obama and the Democrats offered to their plans has been brushed aside.

The Republicans have a window of opportunity and it will only be open for a short time before the 2016 presidential elections. With a solid grip on the House (because gerrymandering works too!) and the Democrats in the Senate reduced to trying the same foot-dragging cockblocking tactics Mitch McConnell and company pulled off so successfully, they are going to ram so much legislation thru and on President Obama’s desk he’s going to be swamped under a series of bad bills he won’t possibly be able to veto them all.

Oh, for sure, Obama’s going to need a shitload of Bics to put his “HELL TO THE NAW!” on the trash McConnell and John “Agent Orange” Boehner are going to send up 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but he’s got no allies, no good will build up and no help coming.

McConnell meeting with President Barack Obama.

“Nothing personal Mr. President, but I’m going to make your life hell for the next two years.”

Obama is The Last Democrat Standing. He’s marginalized, surrounded by enemies and all empty on friends. Now might be a good time to start working on his post-presidency memoirs and he might want to skip the State of the Union address for the next two years. It’s not as though he’s gonna get anything done.

Still, there’s no reason for Obama to act as though the GOP has a national mandate.   As the president pointed out  in his post-election press conference only two-thirds of voters bothered going to the polls.   Obama’s refusal to bow down to the Republicans was pounced upon by the pundits as proof that the president still wasn’t getting how discontented the American people are with him.   Despite the overwhelming losses, the side effect of Republicans taking control of Congress may free Obama to be more bold and less passive as his presidency winds down.

Going forward, the Democratic brain trust (is there such a thing?) will try to shake off the shellacking they took and try in 2016 to rally around a presidential candidate not named Obama. Good luck with that. While Hillary Clinton is the preemptive front-runner because neither Elizabeth Warren (too green) or Joe Biden (too goofy) can win, the evil mind of Karl Rove and other Republican mad geniuses are already preparing traps for her even Jigsaw from the Saw movies couldn’t dream up.

I want the Republicans to do well.  Not because they’re going to do anything for me, but if  they enjoy some success, maybe that would frighten the Democrats to rebuilds, reinvents, reinvigorate and revitalizes itself  and finds a way to winning  in non -presidential years

One more thing: Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should both be voted out of their leadership roles by their shriveled caucuses and immediately resign from Congress They’re old, obsolete and in the way.   For the Dems to move into the future they need to shake off the dead hand of the past.

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