We Didn’t Start the Fire. They Did.

Baltimore riots 1968: The Past is Prologue (AP Photo)

 

Regarding the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray which have metamorphosed into throwing rocks at the police, looting stores, burning buildings including a newly constructed senior center, this can all be explained as a simple matter of logic.

Too much of THIS:

Eventually gets you THIS:

A riot is of course, a terrible thing.  They are often started because a terrible thing happened to start a riot.

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“The poor suffer twice at the rioter’s hands. First, his destructive fury scars their neighborhood; second, the atmosphere of accommodation and consent is changed to one of hostility and resentment. “
—- Lyndon B. Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...

The President and the Preacher understood riots in different ways. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I later heard somewhere, or read, that Malcolm X telephoned an apology to the reporter. But this was the kind of evidence which caused many close observers of the Malcolm X phenomenon to declare in absolute seriousness that he was the only Negro in America who could either start a race riot-or stop one. When I once quoted this to him, tacitly inviting his comment, he told me tartly, “I don’t know if I could start one. I don’t know if I’d want to stop one.”
― Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Robbing stores, stoning the cops and burning your own neighborhood down and ripping shit up solves nothing, helps no one and will only make a terrible tragedy a horrible one.   The family of Freddie Gray should have been respected enough not to send his city up in flames and every looter, every criminal, every wannabee revolutionary who thinks they’re doing this in Gray’s name is lying to themselves.

They are not lying to me, because I fully expected this which puts me ahead of the mayor of Baltimore, the police chief and the governor of Maryland who all misread the signals.  Bad may get worse but the rioters didn’t start the fire.  The cops did and it’s too late to turn back now.  This fire has smoldered for years and it must burn itself out.   More damage will be done before it’s over and possibly more people will die, but if only someone had taken control of the Baltimore Police Department Freddie Gray might still be alive and the city wouldn’t be in flames.

Maybe this time they will learn.   They never have before.

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The Liberation of Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch and some guy hanging out.

After being held hostage by a ruthless Republican majority for an absurd 164 days,  Loretta Lynch,  President Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder at the Justice Department was easily confirmed by the Senate by a margin of 56-43 with ten Republicans voting for the first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General of the United States.

And it’s about damn time.  Lynch’s wait was longer than the last seven Attorney Generals combined.   Normally, I despise The Huffington Post, but give the devil his due; they were right on point with how ridiculously excessive the delay was for Lynch.

Look at Lynch’s predecessors. John Ashcroft waited 42 days to get confirmed as President George W. Bush’s attorney general. Janet Reno waited just 29 days to be confirmed as President Bill Clinton’s attorney general. If you add up the number of days the previous seven U.S. attorneys general waited to be confirmed, and combine them, that’s still less than 163 days.

“Gazillions of mosquitoes were born, lived to be old in mosquito years and died in less time than Lynch has been waiting. Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears and Dennis Rodman all got married and filed for divorce in less time — combined! For the love of God, Earth was created in less time.

There was NO justification for the Senate holding Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General hostage. Absolutely none. Lynch waited 10 times longer than the average attorney general nominee and had waited longer than the first 54 a.g. nominees combined from the presidencies of George Washington to Woodrow Wilson.

Both sides of the Senate share the blame for the historical delay. Harry Reid could have pushed for Lynch’s hearings and floor vote to be conducted while Democrats still controlled the Senate, but he punted to Mitch McConnell, who proceeded to put the nomination in the deep freeze while Republicans squabbled with Democrats over the unrelated sex-trafficking bill.

Lynch’s nomination was supported by wild-eyed liberals like Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani, former FBI director Louie Freeh and former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This was a moderate and mainstream career prosecutor President Obama selected, but from the shabby way the McConnell Senate treated her you would have thought she was the second coming of William Kunstler.

Finally on the job.

Obama did not choose Lynch to provoke the Republicans.  Anyone he nominated would do that.   It doesn’t take much to set off nuts like Ted Cruz.   Never one to pass on an opportunity to throw bloody chunks of red meat to his brain-dead devotees, he denounced Lynch as “lawless” and then was the only senator to skip the vote.   What an asshole.

It was not about partisanship, but pragmatism that led Obama to tap Lynch to be Holder’s successor.   She is not a committed Leftist, progressive or liberal. She’s a career prosecutor with impeccable legal credentials. Not being an ideological purist made her confirmable and even then she faced an unprecedented degree of stonewalling and footdragging from the obstructionist Republican-led Senate and all this for a job she won’t even have in two years.

Lynch will likely be a less controversial A.G. than Holder who never backed away from a fight with Republicans on the Hill whom  are probably toasting his departure.   Will Lynch handle the harassment from Congressional Republicans as well?   She’ll likely get her as the GOP have plenty of investigations planned for the last two years of the Obama Administration.

I’m past the point where putting a person of color or woman in a place formerly occupied exclusively by straight, Christian White males is a reason to raise my glass.   Under Holder and Obama, the Justice Department has declined to indict anyone for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.   Will Lynch be any different in the cases of Tamir Rice or Walter Scott?  I’m keeping an open mind, but my expectations are low.

I take pride in Loretta Lynch becoming the nation’s first female African American Attorney General, but when I disagree with her decisions, it will be no different than when I disagree with the first African American President.

If You’re Ready for Hillary She’s Ready for You.

Give a big hand for the little lady.

 

Having lived in the public spotlight for so many years and being accused of being everything from a closeted lesbian to a murderer, taking swings at the Hillary Punching Bag has a fun activity for her opponents since the early Nineties. That is not to say there isn’t more to know about Clinton including more stuff she doesn’t want us to know, but there isn’t a candidate living who hasn’t had her past scrutinized as closely as Hillary Rodham Clinton and the opposition research folders runneth over already.

She wouldn’t bother running if she wasn’t ready for all the guns that will be trained on her, but that’s nothing new.  Even if there’s no one like Barack Obama in 2008 waiting in the wings to deny her the party nomination (and there isn’t), Clinton is the most formidable candidate in either party running.  She’s setting the pace and everyone is trying to keep up with it.

There’s a chance Jim Webb, Joe Biden, Marty O’Malley, Bernie Sanders or Lincoln Chafee steps up to the mic and throws down with Hillary in an epic rap battle. Not much of a chance, mind you.   As for Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Macro Rubio and all the rest of the crew in the Republican Clown Car, they have to fight it out among themselves first before they can step up to take down Clinton.

In some ways it works  to the benefit of the Republicans all the buzz is on their side with the scrum they’re about to engage in. After all, they are the ones whom have been out of the White House for eight years.   They need to convince the American people to step on the lot and test drive all the shiny new models on display in the showroom and their best sales pitch is do you really want the 2016 Hillary that hasn’t changed a thing besides swapping out the CD player for an iPod?

The front-runner is 19 months away from the finish line.

 

Already Clinton is being beaten up because she’s not the warmest woman in the world.  Likability is an overrated trait in politics.  It’s more important to have a president who can handle the forest fires big and small that come across their desk every day instead of whether  they’re a good guy to tip back a beer with.   If Clinton comes off as stiff and unapproachable, that’s not a deal-breaker for me.   An aloof Hillary is better than a friendly Ted Cruz.

As far as not being tested if she doesn’t receive a credible primary challenger, the only bad aspect for Hillary is it allows the Republicans to  attack relentlessly.   While they are all taking free shots at Clinton, she has to choose between reacting and responding or try to ignore it until the GOP finds their hitman to send after her.   It’s the Republicans who will get to set the parameters of the debate in the general election if Clinton sits back and plays defense.

In the 19 months between now and November 2016, the men and women running for president will be asked many questions. Some smart ones, some silly ones, some stupid ones.   Here is one anybody who wants the job should have to answer.

We have Osama bin Laden’s home address. We know he’s going to be there, but we can’t send in the Navy Seals, Delta Force or The Expendables. It’s too dangerous. We need to take him out with a drone, but there are women and children in the house with bin Laden and if we take him out we’re going to take them out too.

We’ve waited for years for this opportunity. We miss him now and we might have to wait years more before we get this opportunity again.

Mr. (or Mrs.) President, what are your orders?

Anyone who wants the job of being the President of the United States who isn’t ready to say, “Take him out,” is instantly disqualified and should be kept as far away from the Oval Office as possible.

Peek-a-boo! Hillary sees you!

Every man who’s ever been president has had to choose those whom get to live and those who have to die then deal with the consequences of their actions.   It’s cool if want your president to be someone could borrow your lawn mower and you wouldn’t have to bang on their door to get it back, but be sure you choose one who can also be the biggest, coldest bastard in the world if the situation calls for it.

There is little doubt Hillary Clinton could give the order.  She and Bill might have looked like peace and love hippies in the day, but on the global stage, she’s no latte-slurping Lefty.

It’s not that’s she is too old, or overly aggressive/ambitious, or entitled or too scandal-plagued, or electing her would effectively be Obama’s third term.  The best argument to be made against another Clinton as president is “What’s so different about Hillary in 2016 than 2008?”

If Hillary can’t win that argument she loses.

Live. Die. Repeat.

Running feet do not trump flying bullets.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

A Black man.  A car.  A White cop.   Black man runs.  White cops shoots.  Black man dies.   White cop arrested and charged for killing the Black man.

Sound familiar?  It should, but it’s not Walter Scott being gunned down as he runs away from Officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina.   It’s Jonathan Ferrell, the 24-year-old former Florida A&M football player whom in September 2013 survived crashing his car in Charlotte, North Carolina only to be shot down when Officer Randall Kerrick shot Ferrell 12 times striking him with 10 shots. Crawling from the wreckage of his car a, bloody and disoriented Ferrell banged on a frightened woman’s door and officer responding to the 911 claim he rushed them.

Then, as with Scott, a Taser was used by the cops against Ferrell and failed to stop him.  There was also a dash-cam video of Kerrick killing Ferrell, but it was never released publicly.   Kerrick was fired, indicted and faces trial…oh hell, I don’t know.  SOMETIME in 2015.  Or maybe next year.  Or maybe never.  It’s hard to say with any certainty.

Despite all the absolute certainty repeatedly expressed in this thread that Michael Slager is guilty as sin for murdering Walter Scott, please remember there was video of Rodney King being beaten and Eric Garner being choked to death and we all know how those cases turned.

Slager has a new attorney who has a reputation of taking on tough cases and winning them including a cop accused of killing a suspect.  Slager will get his day in court (or he may not if he isn’t indicted) and he is entitled to mount a defense,  In the hands of a skilled attorney up can be turned to down and what looks an absolute certainty now can become an acquittal if only one juror finds there is reasonable doubt.

That’s the one upside of being completely cynical about successfully prosecuting and convicting a killer cop; when it doesn’t happen you’re never shocked by it.

If I wanted to I could update my blog with nothing but updates of cops shooting Black men.   I could, but I don’t want to. If I never wrote another post about a Black man killed by a cop, I’d be thrilled.

But racist police brutalizing us is a growth industry and business is good. Cops beating up, beating down and fucking up the world of Black people is an common event. It’s common practice.  Beaten.  Brutalized.  Bloodied.  This shit HAPPENS EVERY DAY. No holidays. No days off. No breaks. No pause. No let up of boots up the ass and on the necks of Black people.

Slam dunks are for the basketball court, not a court a law. A video is not a conviction.  There have always been cops whom  kill unarmed suspects, plant weapons on them and walk away from it and that is what would have happened had not someone filmed it.

Yet time and again, though the camera never lies, it doesn’t always lead to the truth and I have no faith it will in this case. The man behind the video, Feidin Santana admitted he gave serious thought to erasing the video.  Imagine how differently this story would have played out if he had.

If Slager is charged, he won’t be indicted. If indicted he won’t be put on trial. If put on trial, he won’t be convicted. If convicted, he won’t be imprisoned and he will NEVER be sentenced to death.   The good faith Americans place in the justice system is devout and guileless. unfortunately, the hard truth is their faith is all too frequently false and unfounded.  It’s more likely Slager walks away from this and U.S. Supreme Court precedent is why.

Maybe things will be different this time, huh?   Let’s all close our eyes, clap our hands and wish for ponies this Christmas too.

You have the right to remain silent. Forever.

Eliane Elias Goes Home Again With “Made In Brazil.”

E_-_Eliane_Elias_Photo_By_Philippe_Salomon
If you’ve never been to Brazil, consider Eliane Elias as a goodwill ambassador with Made In Brazil. It is a triumphant return for the pianist/vocalist to her native land to record her first album there since relocating to the United States in 1981.There is a delicacy to how Elias chooses and approaches the material. There is no genuflecting to pop music as there was on Light My Fire (Concord, 2011). Here Elias is all about adult emotions and days of “wine and roses” gorgeously captured on her original, “Searching.” Elias called upon Rob Mathes to handle orchestral arrangements on seven of the 12 tracks which were recorded in London at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Never overbearing or overblown, Mathes utilizes the strings to enhance the dreamily romantic atmosphere of Made In Brazil.
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You might think by now Elias would have covered the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic “Aguas de Marco (Waters of March).” After all she dedicated a tribute to her countryman, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim (Blue Note, 1988), but somehow she bypassed “Waters of March.” That oversight is remedied by inviting the vocal group Take 6 to join in with some R&B sweetness as Elias deftly provides a sparkling solo on the Fender Rhodes.When a musician is wearing as many hats as Elias is here as a producer, composer, lyricist, arranger, musician and vocalist there is an inherent risk of coming up short somewhere, but there are no notable lapses. Whether Elias is dueting with daughter Amanda Brecker on “Some Enchanted Evening” with band mate and husband Marc Johnson on acoustic bass or joined by composer Roberto Menescal who adds his vocals to “Você” and guitar on “Rio,” the results are nothing short of blissful perfection.Switching gracefully between English and Portuguese, Made In Brazil is a sensual, sexy, swaying journey through Elias’ native heart. Beyond any doubt it proves you can go home again.Elias has firmly established herself as an consummate talent whether she is behind the keyboard or in front of the microphone. The artist presented in these twelve tracks is an assured and polished professional who brings a subtle delicacy to this music. Made In Brazil is another glittering gem in Elias’ crown as the luminary leader of contemporary bossa nova, samba and Brazilian jazz.

Track Listing: Brasil (Aqualera do Brasil); Você; Aguas de Marco (Waters of March); Searching; Some Enchanted Evening; Incendiando; Vida (If Not For You)l Este Seu Olhar/Promessas; Driving Ambition; Rio; A Sorte du Amor (The Luck of Love); No Tabuleiro da Baiana

Personnel: Eliane Elias: vocals, piano, keyboards; Take 6: vocals (3); Mark Kibble: vocals (3, 6, 9); Amanda Brecker: vocals (4); Ed Motta: vocals (7); Roberto Menescal: vocals (2), guitar (2, 10); Marcus Teixeira: guitar (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marcelo Mariano: electric bass (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marc Johnson: acoustic bass (2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11); Edu Riberio: drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Rafael Barata: drums (2, 4, 5, 10); Mauro Refosco: percussion (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Marivaldo dos Santos: percussion (5, 9); Rob Mathes: orchestral arrangement

Record Label: Concord Records

Originally appeared at All About Jazz

Photo_by_Daniel_Azoulay_1268__2