All Bad Things Must Come To An End

Jesse and Walt:  Who's Bad?

Jesse and Walt: Who’s Bad?

If I had to predict which down-to-the-wire drama had more Americans watching enthralled; the looming government shutdown or the last episode of Breaking Bad,  I like my odds of the last adventure of Walter White coming out on top.

As far as finales go, my heart will always be with the “Family Meeting” closer of The Shield. All debts were settled, our hero/anti-hero received a punishment that was the cruelest, yet most fitting of fates and he was left with nothing. It was the most satisfying end of any television show I have seen.  I’m a fan of Breaking Bad but I was a fanatic for The Shield.     That doesn’t stop me from totally understanding why the whole damn country seems to have gone nuts for Breaking Bad (or at least the 10 million who watched the conclusion).

But if you’re going to be second-best, “Ferlisa”comes as close to perfection as it gets.   Vic Mackey and Tony Soprano were two bad men whom viewers watch only get badder.   Walter White evolved from a good man forced to do bad things to a bad man who enjoyed doing bad things.   I think I know what’s going to be on the top of my Xmas list as I can’t wait for the complete box set so I can  compulsively watch it all over again

We have evolved as audiences to expect our heroes to be milk drinkers devoid of flaws and imperfections and the villains to cackle with gleeful malice as they rub their hands with sadistic pleasure over their next act of depravity.    Walt is a tragic figure and Jesse Pinkman a pathetic one and both get what’s coming to them.   They set their feet on this road and they have to travel it all the way to the bitter conclusion.   Gilligan wrote and directed “Ferlisa” so if you love or hate it, he gets all the credit or all the blame.   I’m confident when we look back fondly on Breaking Bad in five years more fans than not will find the way things played out to have worked well, if a bit too tidy in some ways.

When you give an actor a role like they’ve never had before and may never have again,  the time to develop that character and are blessed with superb writing, dialogue, stories, direction and other actors to work with as Bryan Cranston was you have to know you have hit the lottery.   Cranston will never be thought of again as the goofy dad of Malcolm In the Middle and Aaron Paul has been no less of a revelation.   Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, and Bob Odenkirk are among the many actors who deserve shout-out for their performances.

I won’t say anything about the episode until everyone has had an opportunity to watch it if they recorded on their DVR for later.  There’s no shortage of great summations of the end episode if you watched it live.   Either way I hope you share my enjoyment of the show despite coming late to the party.

You’re going to be waiting quite a while to find something as great as Breaking Bad was.

Good people, bad people, dead people.

Good people, bad people, dead people.

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Hey, You Gays! Stop Eatin’ My Pasta!

“I am sorry. Really sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve never been so sorry. I’m a sorry son-of-a-gun. Sorry. Real sorry. “

This will not end well…

Barilla is a famous name in Italian pasta. And it seems they don’t have a taste for gays.

If you check your local supermarket here in the states, or in Europe, you’re bound to see Barilla’s products with the familiar red label. They’re a big, worldwide brand.

Well, the Chairman of the privately owned company, Guido Barilla, got himself into some hot water yesterday when he told an Italian radio show that Barilla is a company that “likes the traditional family.” And therefore, you’re not going to see any gays in Barilla’s advertising. And if gays don’t like it, “they can always go eat someone else’s pasta.

    “Non faremo pubblicità con omosessuali, perché a noi piace la famiglia tradizionale. Se i gay non sono d’accordo, possono sempre mangiare la pasta di un’altra marca. Tutti sono liberi di fare ciò che vogliono purché non infastidiscano gli altri”.

    (translation)

    “We won’t include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family. If gays don’t like it, they can always eat another brand of pasta. Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn’t bother anyone else.”

When Mr. Barilla’s remarks went over about as well as a bowl of burnt pasta, he later issued an apology. One of those “sorry if you took offense at my offensive remarks” half-assed apologies so popular these days.

“With reference to statements made yesterday, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they have hurt the sensibilities of some people. In the interview I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family.

Barilla added how sincere and heartfelt his commitment to diversity is.

He also said that he has “the utmost respect for any person, without distinction of any kind,” and “the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.”

Well, that should certainly make it all better. Let’s hug it out!

See all of this stuff?  Don't buy ANY of it.

See all of this stuff? Don’t buy ANY of it.

Back to Mr. Guido Barilla, (whose name and hair alone should supply plenty of material for late night comedians for a week or so,) I wonder what his thinking process was?  This moron just told an entire part of the population he doesn’t want their business and they should go support his competitors.

Does he not realize non-gays might also choose to stop eating Barilla pasta as well because obviously consuming too much of it not only makes you fat, it also makes you a raving homophobic douche nozzle?

What could go wrong with that strategy?  Besides everything?  Barilla’s “apology” ain’t gonna cut it. He should do something nice for the Italian LGBT community as an act of contrition.

When you own a business that is dependent on maintaining a positive image with your customers, you don’t need a M.B.A. to know it’s bad business to permit your personal prejudices to become an issue of public record.    With pasta the option is always there to switch to a competitor or make your own.  Guido should have remembered that and someone should have shoved some spaghetti in his big flapping mouth.

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Cancel The Ted Cruz Show!

“You want me to stick this microphone WHERE?”

This was the week the new fall season of television got underway. Did you catch The Ted Cruz Show this week?

Limited production values.  Lousy acting.  Boring script.  If there ever was a program that deserved cancellation before the debut, Senator Cruz’s phony filibuster to defund Obamacare was definitely it.

Terrible Ted hopes he call bullshit the American people into believing he has the votes to repeal President Obama signature domestic accomplishment (he doesn’t) and that he isn’t operating out of craven calculation and cynically pandering to the GOP wing-nuts in hopes of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 (he won’t).

What makes me sick is how some purer-than-thou liberals actually sided with Cruz when he came out against bombing Syria in retaliation for Bashir al-Assad using chemical weapons against civilians.   All of sudden Cruz was being called “principled.”  That’s what I can’t stand about some liberals is how they will deep French kiss their worst enemies if they happen to agree with them on something.

If Cruz endorsed motherhood, the flag and apple pie, I’d be opposed to all three. I don’t want to on the same side as Cruz on anything.   I can’t believe a principled liberal like a Paul Wellstone, Howard Metzenbaum or Ted Kennedy would crawl in bed with a rattlesnake like Cruz and expect him not to bite, but such is the sorry state of contemporary liberalism.

Normally, there would be an issue or two where I could find common ground with Cruz, but my distaste for the smug bastard makes it impossible for me to even WANT to find common ground.

The TED talk by Cruz lasted 21 hours and 19 minutes.   He talked about how terrible/awful/no good Obamacare was.  He said most senators have bad haircuts and wear cheap suits.  He professed his fondness for White Castle hamburgers.  He read from Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Showing my age here, but I remember when the Senate was once dubbed “the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.”   Reading Dr. Seuss does not seem to rise to that level of debate  Cruz missed the point of the story.  By the end , the protagonist ends up liking green eggs and ham.   Does that mean Cruz really likes Obamacare?

When his time expired the Senate voted 100-0 to move to consider the legislation from the House to keep the government open and paying its bills with Democrats vowing to strip the defunding poison pill out of it.

That’s right. One hundred to zip. When he was through showing off and wee-weeing in his Depends, Cruz voted to go ahead and proceed with the legislation he claimed he’d talk about until he dropped.

Which only made this particular bit of political theater more of a pointless farce than it already was. The only purpose it accomplished was to give a first-term, junior Senator a spotlight.   Cruz delights in being abrasive and pushing his mug into every passing camera even if it means he doesn’t actually get much done in the Senate.

Mission accomplished.

The Cat in the Hat responds to Senator Cruz invoking “green eggs and ham.”

The Cruz style of politics as a contact sport is where you piss into a glass, toss in an ice cube, declare it to be lemonade and roll your eyes in shocked disbelief as to why everyone isn’t lining up for a swig.

Because no matter whether you’re pulling for the Duluth Democrats or the Rockford Republicans, most Americans don’t care which side wins as much as they care about stuff getting done. Simply calling attention to yourself by being the loudest and rudest a-hole standing on a table and pounding on your chest doesn’t do dick but annoy everyone in earshot.

Cruz wouldn’t be the first newbie to the Senate who gambled the best way to the top is not by the long slog of building a legislative record of accomplishments (Obama sure didn’t) and in Washington, even exhibitions of unbridled ambition this naked aren’t unusual.

What is unusual is how bound and determined Cruz is to sharpen his elbows and jab in the ribs either Democratic foe or Republican ally as if neither one of them can respond with an act of payback that chops him off at the ankles.   If being the darling of right-wing radio and blogs is all it took to win the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz would have it locked up and Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and all the other potentials could skip 2016. However, just being the darling of right-wing radio and blogs is not the same thing as being the darling of the party elders and the big shots who write the checks and Cruz is not that guy.

Washington is a small town with big egos and long, ugly memories. Cruz hasn’t been there long enough to know this, but 2016 is still far enough away for him to learn

“Damn. I think that Negro and the cop spotted me!”

“We Are Not Monsters.”

What cause is worth waging war against children? An evil one.

In a world of sin and sadness as saturated in blood and violence as this one is, it’s difficult for any event, no matter how tragic or how big the body count to linger in the consciousness before a fresh new atrocity blasts onto the news cycle to hold our attention for about as long as a moth flitting around a light.

I’m not so much numb as to the shooting sprees perpetrated by killers such as Aaron Alexis as I am overwhelmed.   Before I can fully process the 12 victims of Alexis’ rampage at the Washington Navy Yards, I’m whipsawed into an even more senseless slaughter of innocents as terrorists lay siege to a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya and gun down terrified men, women and children.

Everyone agrees how terrible a terrorist attack is, but there is no consensus about what needs be done about them.    All that ever happens is security experts try to harden the defenses of the now exposed soft target,  bury the dead and wait inevitably  for the next city to join New York, London, Madrid, Bali, Mumbai, Moscow and now Nairobi as targets.

Prior to the attack, most Americans had never heard of al-Shabaab.   As it is typical for a country that pays more attention to entertainers than foreign policy,  the matters of failed nations like Somalia don’t register on our radar until events force celebrities off the TV screen and dead bodies sprawled on a mall’s floor onto it.

Kenya can’t say it wasn’t warned. Ever since October 2011, when 4,000-odd Kenyan troops were summarily dispatched across to the border into Somalia with a mandate to hunt down and destroy al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group has been promising a massive, bloody revenge. Although it was always tempting to dismiss al-Shabaab’s hyperbole as empty, Comical Ali-style bluster, the group has form when it comes to revenge.

The militants of al-Shabaab in training.

Remember it is only three years since the last major terrorist attack in Africa, when 76 died in twin bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala as they watched the World Cup final. This was in direct response to Uganda’s military intervention in Somalia, involving thousands of Ugandan soldiers operating under the aegis of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Of course, being warned is not the same as being able to prevent these kinds of attacks. Nairobi’s gunmen were clearly inspired by the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, which analysts said at the time could be the template for terrorism of the future. Easier and cheaper than bombs, requiring just a handful of machine guns, plenty of ammo and a few men (and, in Nairobi, at least one woman) willing to die for their cause. And without going on full, permanent lockdown, what can cities do to prevent such an attack?

Still, in the light of this weekend’s tragic scenes, it is worth revisiting Kenya’s sudden decision to get itself involved in Somalia. Unlike Uganda’s internationally approved military support for Somalia’s fragile central government (along with troops from Burundi, and more recently Djibouti and Sierra Leone), Kenya’s was a unilateral intervention that took everyone by surprise. And their goal was less about restoring stability in Somalia and more about wiping out al-Shabaab and establishing a de facto buffer state between the two countries, a buffer state it hoped would keep Somalia’s instability from spilling over its borders and threatening Kenya’s vital tourism and shipping industries.

There were many stories of survival from those who lived through the carnage at Westgate Mal, but none like the courage shown by where a brave little boy who shamed a gun-wielding terrorist.

This is how innocence ends.

Elliott Prior, a four-year-old from Windsor, Berkshire, told a gunman who was approaching his injured mother during the attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, “You’re a bad man, let us leave,” a comment that led to the gunman sparing the boy and his family and asking for forgiveness.

Prior, his mother, Amber, a film producer who had been shot in the thigh, and his six-year-old sister had been hiding beneath a meat counter for an hour and a half before the gunmen found them. The four-year-old stood up to gunman, who abruptly took pity on the family, giving both children Mars candy bars and saying, “Please forgive me, we are not monsters.

The gunman allowed the family to leave; Prior’s mother also rescued two other children, including a twelve-year-old whose mother had been killed, on the way out.

There has never been and there will never be a cause worth building it upon the bodies of dead children.   Nothing justifies the mass murder of civilians.

The Somali group, al-Shabaab, says it carried out the attack in retaliation for Kenyan military intervention in Somalia.  There has been no definitive number of dead and wounded yet, but the most recent number from CNN is 61 civilians, six security forces, and five terrorists dead with 175 wounded and 11 al-Shabaab members in custody.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced at the end of the four-day siege, “Kenya has stared down great evil and triumphed.”

If this is a triumph who needs defeat?  These ruthless men and women claim they aren’t monsters but they use monstrous means to achieve evil goals.

The Westgate Mall in Nairobi became a slaughterhouse.

 

To Serve and Protect…and Kill

Randall Kerrick: killer. Jonathan Ferrell: killed

Jonathan Ferrell survived a crash that totaled his car.  He did not survive a fatal encounter with a scared cop.

The phrase “trigger-happy” is not one to be casually applied. Here it seems completely right.    If Office Randall Kerrick was afraid of Jonathan Ferrell he had no business being a police officer.

Ferrell’s size (he was a former football player) doesn’t mean Kerrick had to pull his gun and fire…
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire
…and fire.

You get my point?

Kerrick fired 12 shots. Ferrell was hit with 10 bullets.

Do the math.

12 shots. Ten hits.

Jonathan Ferrell's family wants justice for him.

Jonathan Ferrell’s family wants justice for him.

That’s not stopping a man.  That is massacring a man.

Just how dead did Ferrell have to be before Kerrick felt safe?

Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter. His lawyers were in court Tuesday for a first appearance on the charge. Kerrick, 27, did not attend. The judge scheduled an Oct. 7 probable cause hearing for Kerrick.

After the hearing, defense attorney Michael Greene declined to take questions but said of Kerrick: “His actions were justified on the night in question.”

Kerrick joined the police force after working as an animal control officer.

Animal control officer.”

That’s a nice euphemism for a dog-catcher.

That had to be a step up in prestige for Officer Kerrick. Going from hunting down runaway poodles to gunning down accident victims.

What happened to Jonathan Ferrell was a gross overreaction and is indefensible.   Kerrick had no business being given a gun and a badge.  This is why the toxicology results will be extremely important in determining what Ferrell’s state of mind was. Unless Ferrell was drunk or high, I can’t see any way to categorize his death as anything but an outrageous example of incompetence and police brutality.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see his killer walk free and be back on the beat. Disgusted? Yes. Surprised? No.

I would like to be able to tell my son he has nothing to fear from the police. Then I remember he is a tall, big young man and somebody might consider that to mean he’s scary and potentially dangerous. Psst…and he’s Black.

I’d be a damn fool to tell my son he nothing to fear from the police.    Blacks killed by other Blacks seem to be only ones that end up being punished.

Georgia Ferrell,  Jonathan’s mother told CBS News she forgave Kerrick.

“I do forgive him,” Georgia Ferrell says. “I so forgive him, but I do want justice.”

I hope she gets justice.  I have serious doubts she will.

Survived Car Crash. Killed by Cop.

Ferrell was a responsible man, not a criminal. He shouldn’t be dead.

Remember when you were in school and Officer Friendly came to class and told you , “the police officer is your friend?”

Some are. Some aren’t.

Sometimes you can’t tell until it’s too late.

A North Carolina police officer who authorities say fatally shot an unarmed man as he sought assistance after he crashed his vehicle early Saturday morning has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the man’s death.

Authorities in Charlotte say former Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University football player Jonathan Ferrell appears to have crashed his car down an embankment about 2:30 a.m. and then knocked on the door of a nearby residence shortly after looking for help.

The homeowner opened the door thinking it was her husband. When she realized it was 24-year-old Ferrell – a stranger – she closed the door and called 911, according to reports.

When officers arrived, they found Ferrell a short distance from the home, and he matched a description given by the homeowner, police said.

The statement said officers approached Ferrell to investigate the original call. Ferrell ran toward the officers and one officer fired a taser, however it failed to discharge, police said.

Ferrell continued to run toward police when Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, fired his weapon, hitting Ferrell several times, according to WSOC. Ferrell was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities said Kerrick fired his weapon with ‘excessive’ and ‘unlawful’ force.

A wrecked vehicle was later discovered in woods nearby.

‘We believe that vehicle belonged to the individual who was shot. It’s quite possible he was seeking assistance. Based on his accident, it was a pretty serious accident,’ Monroe said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the accident was so serious Ferrell would have been forced to climb out of the back window of the vehicle, WSOC reported. He apparently walked to the nearest house and banged on the door.

Monroe told a news conference that he didn’t think Ferrell was trying to rob the woman.

‘I don’t believe threats were made,’ the chief said.

‘He is pretty shook up,’ the chief said. ‘He’s devastated.’

Kerrick has been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police since April 2011.

Monroe said at a news conference that Kerrick was in custody. Police say he was charged with voluntary manslaughter after an investigation found that the shooting was excessive. He handed himself in on Saturday.

‘The evidence revealed that Mr Ferrell did advance on Officer Kerrick and the investigation showed that the subsequent shooting of Mr Ferrell was excessive,’ police said in a statement issued late Saturday.

jonathan-ferrell

‘Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.’

Two other officers at the scene have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a probe into the shooting, according to the station.

This isn’t simply a tragedy. It’s a travesty and it stinks like hell.

The word online is what happened to Jonathan Ferrell is a shadow of what happened to Trayvon Martin and  I really don’t want to see those shadows. No shadows, no echoes, no reminders, no similarities, none of it.

I want to assume this was a senseless case of mistaken identity and intentions.  But I don’t know if I can make that assumption.   Let’s recap the story as it appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

Ferrell moved to Charlotte in February after a stint at FAMU where he played safety on the school’s football team. He worked two jobs, one at Best Buy and another at Dillard’s department store.

Police said he drove a black Toyota Camry down a street that leads to the community’s pool, clubhouse and tennis courts. But the car crashed into an embankment about 2 a.m., police said. Investigators said they found no indication of alcohol use, but are waiting for toxicology tests.

I’m going to assume Ferrell was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his car ended up in an embankment at 2:00 a.m. It is possible he was, but I’ll assume he wasn’t until we know differently.

Ferrell apparently climbed out of the back window of his mangled car, police said. It was unclear whether he was injured, but he walked to a house just visible over the crest of a hill, about a quarter-mile away.

He started “banging on the door viciously,” according to Monroe.

I’m going to assume the police are not exaggerating when they say Ferrell banged on the door “viciously” of a residence he wandered to.  But I have a problem with the phrase “viciously.”  That is a pretty powerful descriptor. As a writer I know well how changing knocking on a door from “urgently” to “viciously” has an entirely different meaning.

Why is it “unclear” if Ferrell was injured in the crash? I assume we have to wait for the coroners report to decide what injuries were caused by the car wreck and which were caused by being shot down by the cop.

The woman who lives there at first thought the man knocking on the door was her husband, coming home late from work. But police said when she saw Ferrell, she thought he was a robber. She dialed 911, asking for officers to come to her home in the 7500 block of Reedy Creek Road.

I will make another assumption here: It’s 2:00 in the morning. Someone’s knocking/pounding on the door. Maybe you’re up watching TV. Maybe you’re asleep. Maybe Ferrell is in a panic, disoriented, hurt, distraught, pissed off–who knows? The lady of the residence–does she open the door and see a young Black man standing there pleading for help or does she look out the peephole and see a young Black man–maybe bloody and disheveled and looking like he just crawled out of the wreckage of a smashed car–banging the hell out of her door?

What would you do? Open the door? Let a total stranger in your home at an ungodly hour? Grab your gun and tell him to get the hell off of your property? Call the cops?

Next is where it all goes ass end up.

jonathan-ferrell car 2

About 2:30 a.m., three Hickory Grove division officers responded to the call – Kerrick, 27, who’s been an officer since April 2011; Thornell Little, who joined the department in April 1998; and Adam Neal, who’s been an officer since May 2008.

They encountered Ferrell a short distance from the home, police said.  As the officers got out of their car, “Mr. Ferrell immediately ran toward the officers,” according to a police statement. It said Ferrell moved toward Kerrick.

Little fired his Taser, but police said it was unsuccessful.

Police said Kerrick fired “several” rounds, striking Ferrell “multiple times.” He died at the scene.

Police gave no additional details Sunday.

Ferrell had no criminal record in North Carolina and a 2011 misdemeanor charge in Florida that was dismissed.

I’m going to assume Ferrell saw the cops roll up. Maybe the thought went through his mind, “Oh thank heaven. The cops are here.”

It’s 2:30 a.m. It’s night, there are street lights for illumination and the cops have flashlights. But they don’t know they’re responding to an accident scene. They are responding to a 911 call of a stranger rapping on a door.

Maybe he’s just drunk or stoned or mental. Maybe he’s dangerous.

You can’t assume good intentions.

Ferrell runs toward the cops. Is he shouting “Help me!” Is he cursing and making threats? Is he screaming incoherently? Does he have blood on his face, body and clothes from the crash or breaking out the back window of the car and crawling out?

The woman called 911 and reported Ferrell as attempting to break in her home. That would  change the perception of the responding officers that they were looking for a suspect, not a victim.

Who’s got time to wonder? This guy is running toward you. Maybe it looks like he’s charging you. You’ve told him to stop, raise your hands, lie on the ground, but he’s still coming! Don’t take any chances!

One cop pulls his Taser and tries to hit Ferrell with it. No good. It doesn’t work!  He’s still coming!

Kerrick pulls his gun and fires “several” rounds and hits Ferrell “multiple” times. He dies at the scene.

This is where I stop assuming.  The several rounds and multiple times turned out to be ten shots.  Pure and total overkill.   That wasn’t stopping a suspect.  That was an execution.

Why would Ferrell “charge” the cops? What does “move toward Kerrick” mean? Did Ferrell have something in his hands? Something that could be confused as a weapon? Was it something he said? Was he running toward the cops at all?

Two experts who study police use of force told the Observer on Sunday that they had never seen a police officer charged so swiftly in a shooting.

“That’s unheard of,” said Mike Bumcrot, a California-based consultant with the Police Policy Studies Council. He’s also a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective. “I was pretty dumbfounded.”

Bumcrot said internal affairs and homicide investigations into police shootings typically take weeks.

“I’ve never seen it happen that fast,” said Bumcrot. “The only thing I can figure is the officer must have made some statement … that really put him in a bind.”

Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina professor of criminology, said it’s “very rare” for a police officer to be charged with a criminal offense for using a weapon in the line of duty. Internal discipline, up to being fired, is much more common.

“I’ve never seen a criminal charge that quickly,” said Alpert. “Normally it takes a lot longer to figure out what happened.

Ferrell survived this crash, but not the cops.


Alpert said that the quick charging time could be completely reasonable, based on what investigators found.

“There’s no standard time,” he said.  He said a criminal charge is “reserved for really extreme cases.”

I’d say this case qualifies as “really extreme.”

Is the Charlotte police department avoiding any charges of “cover-up” by so swiftly charging Kerrick with a crime or are they insulating themselves from a wrongful death lawsuit and throwing a rookie cop to the wolves?

Why did police initially describe Kerrick’s shooting of Ferrell as appropriate and lawful,” but later change their tune to “excessive?”

So many questions. So few answers.

I’d like to be fair. I’d like to be reasonable. I’d like to assume this was simply a case of a bad accident that spiraled into a horrible tragedy.

I’d like that. But that requires a degree of objectivity  I ‘m not certain I should extend to Kerrick and the other cops.

Jonathan Ferrell was not given the benefit of the doubt and he was presumed guilty (of something) and a trigger-happy cop overreacted and killed an innocent man.

Now we arrive to the question nobody really wants to ask: Does the race of Ferrell and Kerrick factor into this?

This is America. How could it not?

American Martyrs, American Shame

A better America today was born out of their tragic deaths.

A better America today was born out of their tragic deaths.

1963 isn’t only the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  It is also the grim anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history when acts of domestic terrorism were so prevalent in Birmingham, Alabama it was nicknamed “Bombingham.”

In a rare show of bipartisan unanimity, Republican and Democratic leaders gathered to honor the four girls that were slain when a bomb exploded in a Birmingham church in 1963.  Their deaths were credited with providing the impetus that led to the 1964 and 1965 Voting Rights Act.

House and Senate leaders Tuesday formally awarded Congress’ highest civilian honor to the families of four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing nearly half a century ago that is now regarded as one of the most horrific acts of violence of the civil rights era.

The Congressional Gold Medal was posthumously presented in Washington on Tuesday to Addie Mae Collins, 14; Carole Robertson, 14; Cynthia Wesley, 14; and Denise McNair, 11.

The ceremony was held five days ahead of the 50th anniversary of their tragic deaths inside the walls of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, honored the legacy of the four slain girls, who were preparing for Sunday worship when they died.

“There was no safety for those four little girls. Not even Sunday school,” Reid said. “But there really was salvation. Not only for the four young ladies, but for a nation.”

He added: “That outrage sparked by the deaths of these four innocents ignited the civil rights movement like nothing had up to that time.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that on the day of the bombing virtually every stained glass window in the church was blown out — except for one bearing the image of Christ leading a group of children, with his face missing.

“The symbolism was potent,” McConnell said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, teared up near the end of his remarks when he said: “Once again, our children have led us to this simplest of notions: They bring us together.”

For one day Republicans and Democrats remember they are Americans first.

For one day Republicans and Democrats remember they are Americans first.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, addressing a statute of Rosa Parks, said: “We won’t disappoint you.”

Pelosi was alluding to the recent Supreme Court decision upending a key anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which she had referenced earlier in her remarks.

The girls were killed when a bomb planted outside the church by white supremacists exploded. The brutal attack sent aftershocks across the nation and triggered violent clashes between police and protesters.

Today, the bombing — and the outrage and reflection it prompted — is widely credited with helping to spur passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The church, which had a predominantly African-American congregation, served as a gathering place for civil rights leaders and activists.

Past recipients of the medal include civil rights icon Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

It’s nice now and then for our elected leaders to act like leaders instead of blind partisans.

We could use a lot more of that sort of thing.

The next time someone points their crooked little finger at a some extremist or terrorist who kills children for their own twisted cause, we should take a moment to recall extremism and terrorism right here is as old and American as apple pie and the 4th of July.     Racial segregation is America’s greatest shame and the scars it left on this country’s soul have yet to fully heal.

Ndamukong Suh: Blowing Up In Public

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues. (photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

This is when we noticed Mr. Suh had anger management issues.
(photo: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

Ndamukong Suh has a job.   On fall Sunday afternoons he wreaks havoc on offensive linemen and terrorizes quarterbacks.  This is something the 6-4, 307 pound defensive tackle, who was the number two overall draft pick in 2010 by the Detroit Lions, excels at.   He is big, nasty and mean.

He is also the dirtiest player in the NFL.    Suh doesn’t simply play hard and intimidate opposing players.   He tries to punish them.   Even after repeated fines and suspensions as well as a one-on-one meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell,  Suh remains undeterred and unrepentant in his roughhouse style of play.

The 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, Suh has also the physical and mental gifts to be a dominant force in the league, but his wrecking ball approach has gotten him in trouble from the beginning.

As a rookie, Suh was fined twice for hard hits on quarterbacks Jake Delhomme ($7,500) and Jay Cutler ($15,000).  He was fined again for using an opponent for leverage on a field goal ($5,000). In 2011, Sue was $20,000 lighter in the wallet for a vicious preseason hit on Andy Dalton. Last year, Suh was fined $30,000 for kicking Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the groin on Thanksgiving.

Suh must not like playing on holidays because it was on Thanksgiving in 2011 when he was  suspended two games for stomping on the arm of Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.   Last season , he tried to top that with his kick to Matt Schaub’s man zone.

“I’m not a dirty player. Would a dirty player do this?”

That ugly incident and Suh’s total denial that he had done anything wrong is when “dirty player” and “Ndamukong Suh” became synonymous.

Suh didn’t wait long to get back into the rotation of hot topics on sportstalk radio.   On opening week against the Minnesota Vikings,  Suh’s teammate De’Andre Levy intercepted a pass and rumbled toward the end zone.   Trailing behind in pursuit was Vikings center, John Sullivan.   On a change of possession such as an interception or fumble recovery NFL rules state a player can’t be blocked below the knee.  It’s a nasty and illegal hit that can blow out a man’s knees and end his career.   Suh, a defensive team captain, should know this rule.

If he did it didn’t matter.  Suh came up from behind Sullivan, dived at his knee and took Sullivan down in a heap as he crumpled in agony.   Levy went on to score only to have the TD wiped out due to the clipping penalty Suh picked up.   Fortunately for Sullivan, he wasn’t badly hurt.

Chalk it up to dumb luck because Suh’s dumb play could have had far worse consequences than six points coming off the scoreboard.

Sullivan told an interviewer,  “I don’t think he was trying to hurt me,” Sullivan said. “But there need to be consequences when guys don’t respect the careers of other players.”

Suh doesn’t respect the careers of other players.  He lumbers around stadiums crashing into people and acts the innocent when asked why he seemingly doesn’t care if he hurts someone.  For two consecutive years he’s been named the NFL’s dirtiest player  and if wants to make it three years he’s well on his way.

Suh has lost more than $342,000 in fines and missed game checks due to player-safety violations. He can afford it.  He’s made more than $51.7 million in his career from the Lions so far.

“It’s unfortunate that that had to happen and it kind of overshadowed his performance, but we stick with him. He’s a guy that’s an integral part of our team and a great player on defense and hopefully we can put this behind us and just move on.”  said a happy Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford who is relieved he is on the same team as Suh and can’t be hit by him.  Presumably.

Suh remains unapologetic and shrugged off the fine (which he is appealing) and the cheap shot on Sullivan.  “Really you just play football, that’s all I can do,” Suh told reporters. “… I don’t change, I’m going to always play tough, hard, that’s the way I was brought up at Nebraska, where I really learned football from the Pelinis and that staff and continue to play hard, play blue-collar football.”

“I think it’s just, player safety is the league’s concern,” Suh said. “You’ve got to only respect it, and that’s one of the reasons I spoke to Sullivan as we walked into the halftime, and he understood where I was coming from. No hard feelings and same thing if he cut me so forth, so on, no hard feelings and go from there.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz has been an apologist and enabler for Sue’s dirty play since he came into the league.   After the win over the Vikings at the post-game press conference Schwartz made it clear he had no regrets for Suh’s bonehead play which negated a touchdown.

“I’m not (going to) apologize for any win. We won this football game. There (were) a lot of positives in this game. We were resilient, we played hard, we played physical, and we went out and beat a playoff team at home in the opener, and I’m not (going to) apologize for anything this team did.”

Schwartz is one of the most mediocre coaches in the NFL.    He’s been with the team since 2009 and compiled a record of 23 wins to 42 losses, with one division championship.  The Lions have never made it to a Super Bowl and they never will with Schwartz coaching the team.

Here’s the problem for the Lions:  They have a bad coach leading a mediocre team starring the league’s dirtiest player in a bankrupt city.  If it wasn’t for Calvin Johnson, the Lions would be right down there with the Jacksonville Jaguars for lack of watchability.

Suh isn’t going to change how he plays over a record-setting $100 thousand fine.   He says he’s not going to change.  Schwartz—who is no Bill Parcells or Bill Cowher type of take-no-shit coach—doesn’t have the balls to tell Suh, “Your dumb plays are killing us, so knock ‘it off before I bench your ass!”

What does $100K fine mean to somebody with a $51 million contract?  That’s nothing but a speeding ticket to Suh.  You pay the fine and go right back to speeding.

In 2011, Suh asked for and received a meeting with Goodell to find out exactly how aggressive his style of play could go before going too far.  He emerged from the conversation promising to continue to play his way, but within the rules.

“The way I play, the way I have played in the past, is to continue to play within the rules and just have an understanding of what they look for,”  Suh said.  “I’m the type of person that doesn’t like to repeat mistakes. That was the main thing that, more or less, (Goodell) was emphasizing. I haven’t made the same mistakes I made in the past.”

That’s half-true.  The mistakes continue to happen but they are happening to different players.

Despite efforts to regulate, control and reduce the violence of pro football there is an unspoken code of conduct among the players and cheap shot artists who seem to be deliberately trying to hurt others make themselves a target for retaliation.  It only takes one offensive lineman to blindside, leg-whip, crackback block, or set Sue up for a high-low hit that seriously injures him or ends his career.

ESPN football analyst Herm Edwards, a former coach and player himself issued a caution to Suh and Schwartz.

“You as a coach, you have to make this young man understand, ‘If you want to continue to have a long career in this league, look, there’s only so much I can do,'” Edwards said. “They can fine you. They can take games away from you. But when the players that play against you, they watch you on tape, you’re setting yourself up.”

“Right now, the way you’re going, these players know how to fix it.”

Actions have consequences.  If Ndamukong Suh doesn’t find a way to harness the fury he plays with and channel it into a less malicious approach to playing defense, someone is going to fix him in a way that could leave him broken beyond repair.

Don’t drop bombs on Syria. Suh can do the job.