Nothing To See Here Folks … Nothing At All

His name is Michael Christopher Estes … a name few of us have ever heard, even though he planted a bomb in the Asheville, North Carolina airport just over a week ago, on October 6th.  Now why do you think you’ve never heard of Michael Christopher Estes and his attempted bombing?  Look at his picture and see if you can guess.

estesIf you guess that this event was under-reported because he is a white man, you would be right.  Had he been Muslim, of Middle-Eastern, Hispanic or African-American ethnicity, this news would have played 24/7 on all of the major media outlets.  Trump would have been screaming ‘terrorism’ at the top of his lungs, claiming it supports his call for a Muslim ban and a border wall, and the name Michael Christopher Estes would, by now, be a household word.

You can read the details of the story on NPR, for it is not my purpose to re-tell the story.

This is not the only one this year that we likely didn’t hear about:

  • In February, a Florida man named Mark Barnett allegedly created improvised explosives to plant in Target stores along the East Coast as part of a profit-driven bomb plot. Someone he allegedly attempted to recruit to his plot turned Barnett into authorities and he was charged in federal court; his federal case is ongoing.

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  • In July, Luke Mullen was arrested after allegedly making bomb threats against the Colorado Springs Airport; police say he had four explosive devices and a machete inside his vehicle.

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  • Also in July, a blast outside the Bixby Air Force Recruitment Office in Oklahoma caused property damage but no injuries. Benjamin Roden, a former airman, was arrested and is facing federal charges in connection with the incident.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos


  • In August, Elijah Blankenship in Ohio was arrested and charged with creating multiple homemade explosives. His arrest came shortly before an anti-racist vigil in honor of the victims of the Charlottesville, Va., attack, but court records don’t indicate whether there was a connection to the event.

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  • In September, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that Douglas Kennedy of Tifton, Ga., was charged with manufacturing explosive devices after a bomb went off in the parking lot of the Tift Regional Medical Center; no one was injured. Kennedy had allegedly constructed and detonated at least three other bombs, none of which hurt anybody.

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For the most part, these stories were only reported locally, did not receive national attention in the media, and received no mention from anybody in the Trump administration.  Even the conspiracy theorists Jones, Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk were silent on this one! The case of Estes would still lie buried in the archives of the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper if it were not for civil rights activist Shaun King, writing for The Intercept.  Since King’s article was published on October 11th, the story has been picked up by the mainstream media, including the New York Times, USA Today, Salon, NPR, Fox News, CBS News and others.  Nearly a week after the fact.  Would any of these outlets have published the story were it not for Shaun King’s article? I think we know the answer.

White males committing acts that might otherwise be labeled ‘terrorism’ do not elicit the attention of Donald Trump, and these days if Donald Trump does not have something to say about an event, then it is not newsworthy.  White males committing crimes is of no interest to Trump because it does not fit his agenda.  I get that, and I have low expectations of Trump anyway. But frankly I expect better out of our press.  I expect our press to push these stories, to inform the public so that Trump’s blind-faith followers can no longer deny that most acts of terrorism in this country are actually committed by white citizens, not Muslims, not Latinos, but white, male citizens.

I have come out in defense of our free press many times in recent months, and I will continue to do so as long as I have breath, for I firmly believe that the freedom of press to investigate and report, to keep us informed, is the very core of our democracy.  I believe that if we allow government to place constraints on the media, we will too soon become much like Turkey – a democracy in name only.  However, with that freedom comes a responsibility to act as a free press, to report all the news, not just the news that has Trump in the headlines, or about which Trump is tweeting. By ignoring these stories, the press is playing directly into Trump’s hand.

Fortunately, the bomb that Estes left in the Asheville airport was found and defused by police before it could do any harm, but that and the other cases I mentioned had the potential to cause serious harm, injuries and even death.  When he was arrested the following day, Estes told police that he was “preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil” and that this bomb was but one part of that war. That, folks, should frighten us a lot more than the refugee from Syria, the laborer from Mexico. How is that not newsworthy, yet every word that spews from the mouth of Donald Trump, is ‘breaking news’?

I understand that the mainstream media are for-profit organizations, that they are in business to make money, and that as such they must use their resources to report the stories they believe the people want to see.  But to ignore these stories, to give them less attention simply because it was a white male rather than a Syrian or a Mexican who committed the crime, is wrong.  We must hold the press accountable to report all the news, not to cherry pick and report only what Trump is doing.

Why The Fuss?

Much ado has been stirred by the silent protest movement that began with Colin Kaepernick and his decision to ‘take a knee’ rather than stand for the national anthem in a pre-season game last year. Since then, other players have followed suit in this non-violent, silent form of protest … protest against the systemic racism that has become a part of our society, a part of our very government. I have been trying to form the words to write more in depth about this, but our friend Hugh has done such an excellent job expressing the same thoughts I wanted to convey, that I am sharing his post, rather than re-invent the wheel. Please read this one … it is so important. Thank you, Hugh, for your excellent writing and permission to share.

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As pretty much everyone knows by now — even our good friend Lisa in far-off Ecuador — growing numbers of NFL players are refusing stand for the national anthem before football games and this has caused a great uproar. The roar was barely heard until the President stuck his oar into the mess and decided to stir it up. Most recently he has threatened to eliminate all tax breaks for the NFL to hurt the owners where they live and force them to insist that their players behave themselves. This has brought about a quantum leap in protest, much of it directed to the President’s insensitive manner of addressing the issue.

In all this confusion the central issue has somehow been lost. The President himself fails to make the distinction, as I mentioned in a previous post, between protesting the flag and protesting racial injustice. The latter is the real…

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Racism Made Donald J. Trump The 45th US President

This week, an ESPN anchor, Jemele Hill, came under fire from Trump & Co for a tweet she posted stating a truism, that Donald Trump is a white supremacist. I agree 100%. Along the same vein, friend and fellow-blogger Gronda has made an excellent post based on an article by author Ta-Nehisi Coates that says racism & white supremacy is the only reason Trump sits in the Oval Office today. Please take a minute or two to read this excellent post. Thank you, Gronda, for this post and for allowing me to share it.

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of president obama“We the people” are well aware that racism is the elephant in the room that too many peoples want to pretend it is not there. This is an insidious infection within the USA culture that we can no longer afford ignore. We have to end it.

The author Ta-Nehisi Coates has written an insightful commentary on the subject of how racism set the stage for the current republican President Donald Trump now dwelling in the White House. I have footnoted a link below to the entire very lengthy narrative.

Image result for photos of president trumpIn the October 2017 Atlantic Magazine edition, Ta-Nehisi Coates penned the following article, “The First White President.” He argues that the foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.

“IT IS INSUFFICIENT TO STATE the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this…

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Greetings

A few days ago, in response to my post about the 8-year-old bi-racial boy who had nearly been lynched by a group of teens, I received a comment from a man named Tim, who recently started a blog to enhance awareness and to encourage people to stand up against racism of all forms. I checked out his blog, and was very impressed with what I saw there. Tim was born in China and moved to Australia as a young child, where he has been the victim of racism on a frequent basis. Today I would like to share his blog with my readers, for I believe it has value for us all. Thank you all for taking a moment to check out this blog, and thank you, Tim, for allowing me to share your work!

Rise up against Public Racism

Whether you are a friend from Facebook, a social activist or just someone passing by … greetings! 🙂

Firstly thank you for all your support on this particular issue – especially a big thanks to those who have been following and commenting on the posts. Your contribution means a lot – not only in bringing encouragements but also feedbacks that has helped me to think further about how to tackle the social problem.

Now I think it’s time to share a little bit about who I am and why I decided to start this campaign in the first place.

I’m a student born in China and moved to Sydney during primary school. Since a few years back, my family and I are proud to be called Australian citizens. Even till now however, I’ve been called out by strangers for my skin colour and appearance on a close to monthly basis…

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Hypocrisy abounds with the NFL

Last year, Colin Kaepernick, a player for the San Francisco 49ers, made a choice not to stand when the national anthem was played before the game. In so doing, he was standing by his convictions and I believe he showed courage and was using his voice to protest the string of recent killings of African-Americans by police (and others). Since then, he has been shunned by fans, fellow players and the NFL. My friend Keith has written an excellent post showing us just what a hypocrisy it is for the NFL to condemn Mr. Kaepernick. Even if you are not a football fan, as I am not, please take a moment to read this, for it is not about football, but about truth and justice. Thank you, Keith, for an excellent post and implied permission to share.

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Colin Kaepernick, a proven talented quarterback, cannot get a job in the National Football League (NFL). Even non-football fans know the reason is he chooses to exercise his First Amendment rights and kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick does this as he feels blacks are not getting fair treatment in the US and too many are being needlessly killed.

Yet, this protesting prevents NFL football teams from hiring him since his release from his previous team. You would think the man is radioactive. Many fans are stridently against him given a bent to jingoistic behavior. But, before you decide to do the same, let’s speak of three hypocrisies in the NFL leadership ranks.

First, the NFL likes to portray a patriotic theme, with heavy military showmanship. Looking under the covers, your tax dollars pay for that show. Our military pays the NFL for the privilege…

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A Few Updates …

Today I have some new/additional information on a few of my recent posts that I thought I would share with you.

Some People Never Learn …

Remember my June 29 post about Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical magnate who increased the prices of certain drugs by as much as 5,000%, showed no remorse, and made outrageous statements while wearing a perpetual smirk.  Well, in August he was convicted on three counts of securities fraud, and is currently out on bail while awaiting sentencing.  Or rather, he was out on bail until yesterday, when U.S District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto revoked his bail.

Shkreli.jpgSeems that Shkreli just has to be in the limelight and isn’t too bright about how he gets there.  On his Facebook page, he offered his Facebook followers $5,000 to grab a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair during her book tour.  Now why … ??? His attorneys produced an apology, and pleaded with the judge, but to no avail.  “The fact that he continues to remain unaware of the inappropriateness of his actions or words demonstrates to me that he may be creating ongoing risk to the community,” said Judge Matsumoto. “This is a solicitation of assault. That is not protected by the First Amendment.”

Shkreli was immediately taken into custody and will be sent to a maximum-security prison until his sentencing hearing in January. He could face up to 20 years in prison.


Something Rotten at Equifax …

Last Friday I wrote about the major security breach at Equifax that affected 143 million in the U.S. alone, some 98% of the adult population.  I mentioned that I had concerns because, while Equifax discovered the breach on July 29th, the public was not informed until September 7th, fully 41 days later.  What were they doing?  Damage control? Meanwhile, at least three senior Equifax executives had divested themselves of shares after learning of the breach … shares worth $1.8 million.  My thoughts then were that there was more to this than meets the eye.

Well, apparently I am not alone in my suspicions, but they are shared by the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee.  The leaders of the committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Wyden of Oregon have sent a letter to Equifax seeking additional information into the hacking, and also information about the three officers who sold stock.  Those three officers are Chief Financial Officer John W. Gamble Jr., Rodolfo O. Ploder and Joseph M. Loughran III.  The letter asked that Equifax respond by Sept. 28th.

Additionally, a group of thirty-six senators signed a letter asking the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to look into the executive stock sales.  And Equifax’ chief executive, Richard Smith, is expected to testify on Oct. 3 before a House of Representatives panel. Expect more updates.


The Hate is Spreading …

The case of the little 8-year-old boy who was nearly lynched by a group of teens in Claremont, New Hampshire is finally being taken seriously, it seems. On Tuesday, Governor Christopher Sununu instructed the state attorney general to assist Claremont police in the investigation. “It is my expectation that local and state authorities will investigate appropriately and I’ve asked for regular updates on how things are proceeding, Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.”

Although it is still not being widely reported, the New York Times, Newsweek and International Business (IB) Times have reported on it.  And some members of the community came together on Tuesday in a peaceful gathering to protest against racism.  Meanwhile,  Jasper Hill Farm in rural Vermont reported a swastika and other racist graffiti on a barn.

graffiti.jpgThe hate is spreading, folks, and I don’t foresee an end anytime soon.

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Tears Of Shame … Again …

I do not know the boy’s name, but I know his age … eight years old.  I also do not know the names of the boys who hung this little boy from a tree.

It happened in Claremont, New Hampshire, where the little boy was taunted, hit with sticks and rocks and later hung from a tree. The reason?  He is a child of racially mixed parentage.  A group of teens put him on a picnic table, placed the rope from a tire swing around his neck, then pushed him off the picnic table to dangle. He swung back and forth three times, before being able to free himself, while the group of teens watched. Below is the result …

lynching.pngThe little boy was flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.  He has since been released and is returning to school today.  Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase says the department is ‘investigating the incident”, but refuses any further information.  Okay, I understand the teens that did this are juveniles and as such, Chase cannot release their names.  However, here is what infuriates me …

“These people need to be protected. Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life.” – Police Chief Mark Chase

Mistakes???  Attempted murder by lynching is a bloomin’ MISTAKE?  No!  Getting caught smoking pot in the parking lot is a mistake.  Stealing a candy bar from the 7/11 is a mistake.  Trying to lynch a child is an indication that something is seriously wrong with the mental status of these teens, or with lessons they learned from their parents, and this needs more than a slap on the wrist and an “oh well, boys will be boys”.  Would anybody like to guess how Chief Chase would be responding if a group of black teens had hung a rope around the neck of a white kid and left him to dangle from a tree? Can we imagine the outrage of the community?  Can we imagine how quickly and broadly the story would have been reported to the public …

Although this happened on August 28th, fully two weeks ago yesterday, it was only reported on Sunday, and then only in a few outlets, such as The Root, Ebony and Raw Story.  Finally on Monday evening, The Washington Post published the bare bones of the story, sans picture.

Writing for The Root, Angela Helm writes …

“Notice how he [Chase] called these predators ‘young children, infantilizing the white teens. Conversely, teens like Trayvon Martin are made out to be hulking, menacing adults. Chief Chase seems to be centering the perpetrators feelings and futures, all but forgetting about the trauma of a little boy who had his so-called friends hang him from a tree to the point where he had to be medevaced to a hospital.

Welcome to Donald Trump’s America. Say what you want, but when the U.S. president defends avowed white supremacists, one can’t be surprised when bullying takes on a decidedly racist tone as it did with an 8-year-old biracial boy who was hung from a tree in the year 2017. The climate has been set.”

This happened in New Hampshire, not Mississippi or Alabama.  New Hampshire, New England, where we do not expect such blatant racism.  The criminals were teenagers … young boys who should have been more interested in playing football and chasing girls than trying to kill a child because his skin was darker than theirs.  What does this say about the direction our country is heading?  Nothing good, for certain.  Where did these teens get their racist views?

Last year, the University of New Hampshire in Durham experienced a series of nearly 100 reported racial-bias incidents. They included the vandalizing of school property with racial slurs and swastikas, while some students report having been spit on and having rocks thrown at them. When I entered a Google search for “New Hampshire racism”, I was ‘rewarded’ with article after article … racist incidents at the YWCA, at the Dunkin’ Donuts when 2 pickup trucks sporting Confederate flags pulled up, a state representative being accused of being racist … and the list goes on.

This, then, has become the face of 21st century America, and it is indeed an ugly face.  One reader informed me yesterday that she came to the U.S. from Australia 12 years ago, made her home here, and planned to stay, but now she is leaving.  I, myself, have considered relocating my family outside the U.S.

An eight-year-old boy, a little boy who should have been giggling over cartoons, or riding his bike, or looking for bugs with which to scare his sister … instead was almost lynched.  Chief Chase may concern himself with the futures of the teens who committed this horrific crime, but I shed a tear for that little boy who grew up too fast on August 28th, that little boy who will never forget and whose life will always be affected by almost being lynched.

Let Them Eat Cake! (Unless They Are Gay)

An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write – Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, September 2017


The story went largely unnoticed, falling in the shadows of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, relegated to not only below the fold, but five scrolls down.

cake-1The year was 2012.  Charlie Craig and David Mullins were planning their wedding in the State of Colorado.  They went to order their wedding cake from Jack Phillips, a baker.  Bakers … bake … cakes, right?  Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.

The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe.  It’s a bloomin’ cake … not the Mona Lisa!!!

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Jack Phillips

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief. Let me briefly comment on the quote at the beginning of this post.  The true artists that Mr. Wall says cannot be forced to paint, play or write, are not doing so for profit, they are doing so for personal satisfaction first.  They are artists.  Mr. Phillips is a businessman.  The difference is that of night and day and Mr. Wall’s comparison fails the test of logic.

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Charlie Craig & David Mullins

 

Y’know … let me pause here for a moment of introspection and personal comment.  I am a halfway decent cook/baker, and every year around the holidays, my daughter’s various co-workers send special requests … one begs a pound or two of my world famous peanut butter fudge, another my rich caramel apple pie, and still others a hodge-podge of cookies, homemade yeast breads, etc. I go on record here as saying that I always, if I am feeling up to it and time permits, provide these goodies free of charge, AND … I have never once asked any of the requestor’s sexual preference, religion, or ethnicity.  I just felt a need to make that statement … I am an equal opportunity giver.

Those who would say providing services to same-sex weddings would violate their religious beliefs, have really crappy religious beliefs, beliefs that have nothing to do with God, Allah or any other deity, but merely about the greed and bigotry of man.  These are some of the same people who condemn Muslims, saying that theirs is an evil religion.  Well let me tell you something, folks.  The Muslims I know personally are less judgmental, more kind and caring, than Mssr. Jack Phillips and others who have refused to perform the very services they advertise, as they judge the would-be consumers of those services.

Last year, after the shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, candidate Donald Trump vowed to protect the LGBT community, tweeting, “I will fight for you.” Since taking the oath of office, however, he has done the exact opposite, revoking Obama-era guidance for schools on bathroom and locker room access for transgender students, arguing that current anti-discrimination laws do not protect people on the basis of their sexual orientation in the workplace, and finally banning transgender people from serving in the military.  Wow … what a guy … what a show of support, eh?

In the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Colorado Court of Appeals has already ruled in favor of the couple, Craig and Mullins. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case during the 2017 term.  Last year, I would have bet on the outcome, but with the addition of Neil Gorsuch who Trump nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, I am not so sure.

If I open a business making cute little origami swans and other animals, I have no right to ask my customers about their religion, ethnicity, gender identification, or how many times a day they brush their teeth.  If a customer walks through the door and wishes to purchase a product, he is not a Muslim, not a gay person, not an African-American … he is a customer.  Period.  I have no right to ask questions, nor do I care to.  My only concern is to serve that customer to the best of my ability and then charge him a fair price for the goods or services I provided.  If I am troubled by his religion or sexuality, then I have no right to be in the business of serving the public and should go to work in a factory.

Why is this so hard to understand?  Why is “all men are created equal” a difficult concept?  As one of my former bosses would say, “which word don’t you understand?”

On How NOT To Become Mayor …

I once placed an ad for an accounting clerk.  In the ad, I made sure to be very specific about the types of computer experience the position required, as I was already short-staffed and working 12-14 hours, seven days a week, so I did not have time to be bothered interviewing candidates who did not meet my criteria.  Among the resumes I received was one from a woman who was obviously middle aged (do the math from high school graduation) and seemed to have relevant experience, so I called her to come for an interview.  Mind you, I had specifically said that experience with MicroSoft Office and Peachtree Accounting software were essential.  So, we chatted for a bit, then I asked about her computer experience.  She said, and I will never forget this, “well, now, I don’t actually have any experience with computers, but if you just show me how to turn it on, I’ll figure it out.”  Needless to say, she did not get the job and was, in fact, out of my office within 2 minutes. (I have thought of writing a book about weird interview experiences from both sides of the desk!!!)

There are just certain things you don’t do if you want a job.  I am thinking that perhaps I could teach a class on this topic!  But, to the subject of today’s post.  The woman’s name is Kimberley Paige Barnette, she is 58 years of age, and she is running for Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Where do you guys find these people, Keith?)  Ms. Barnette has made so many faux pas that my head is spinning, but it was her latest that may well send her to the ash heap of “also ran” candidates in the annals of history.

Below is her Facebook page advertising her candidacy …

Barnette

See anything wrong with that?  Look closer … what about the part where she says she is “REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL”?  I would have to question the part about her being “smart”, for that was just about the stupidest one idea I have ever seen.

I have not had many occasions to give a thumbs up to a republican politician in the past decade, but in this case, I give a thumbs up to North Carolina GOP Chairman Robin Hayes, who quickly issued the following statement:

“The Charlotte mayoral contest will be decided based on who can best promote public safety, provide economic development, and improve critical infrastructure needs. This contest will not be decided based on the skin color of the candidates, Any suggestion that a candidate is more or less qualified for political office based on their skin color alone, offensive to North Carolina Republicans and we condemn it. This type of suggestion has no place in our public discourse.”

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Barnette’s disgustingly racist ad was quickly taken down, but not before a number of people had seen and captured its image.  With this single remark, she ruined forever any chance she had at a political career, but in the past she has come up with some fairly ridiculous and offensive ideas which she expounded on with pride in the mayoral debate last month …

  • In answering a question about the protests in Charlotte last September, when a police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, Barnette said protests are “expressive of Democratic behavior.”  Oh really?  But I suppose you have no problem with white supremacists staging demonstrations and killing people?

  • “As mayor, what I would like to discourage is assembly,” she said. “Protests are confrontational, they’re chaotic, they scare people. I believe there’s a better way to express yourselves.” She wants to take away the right to freedom of assembly???  A white cop shoots an unarmed black man, and we are supposed to ‘sit down and shut up’?

  • “I do not think that we should encourage more lower-income persons to move to Charlotte,” she said. “We want to attract higher-income persons to Charlotte. … They’re going to have the most money to be able to spend in our economy.” Well, fortunately Charlotte isn’t exactly Sagaponack, New York, lady.

  • She suggested that poor people can work; they just don’t want to. With a higher minimum wage, she added, poor people should be able to buy a “standard house” and “… meet their needs. However, it will not pay to have expensive cars,” she said. “They need to prioritize correctly.”  And you speak from what experience, Madame?

  • When asked about the city’s role in defining the rights of the LGBT community, Barnette said, “As a magistrate, I issued processes on persons that were in the bathroom, males that were in the bathroom, and you never know what they are; they scare children, quite frankly.”  No snarky remark needed here … she speaks for herself.

  • In an interview with the Charlotte Observer last month, Barnette said she’s running for office because she believes she’s a good decision-maker. “And I’m good at listening and analyzing information. I think I’d be good at it.”  Right.

Well, with those statements Ms. Barnette has managed to alienate almost everyone in the community except straight, white, rich people, the only ones Barnette appears to want in the city.

Though she has no law degree, Ms. Barnette spent 18 years as a magistrate judge in Mecklenburg County, serving from 1987 to 1995 and from 2003 to 2013. She has a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  Not quite the same as a J.D., is it, yet the laws of North Carolina do not require that a magistrate actually be a lawyer or have a law degree.  Today, Barnette is employed as a warehouse associate for Amazon.  Perhaps a more fitting job for her, all things considered.  I would recommend she hold onto that job, for I do not see her being Mayor of Charlotte in this lifetime.

 

Why Do Police Need Tanks???

Why does a city, any city, need tanks and grenade launchers?  In January 2015, President Obama signed Executive Order #13688 titled “Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition”. The order specified what types of equipment could be purchased by state and local police departments using federal dollars through a Pentagon surplus program. Police departments remained free to buy them with state, local or private funds. The equipment covered included such as tanks, weaponized vehicles, .50 caliber guns, grenade launchers, bayonets and digital-pattern camouflage uniforms.

tank-1Last Monday, August 28th, Donald Trump signed another executive order, “Restoring State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement’s Access to Life-Saving Equipment and Resources”, rescinding the above-mentioned Obama order.  Nothing unusual there, for Trump has made it clear that if it were in his power, he would simply issue a blanket order undoing every order Obama ever signed.  But what catches the eye with this one is the rationale.  According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to a police convention in Nashville, the order “is rescinding restrictions from the prior administration that limited your agencies’ ability to get equipment through federal programs, including life-saving gear like Kevlar vests and helmets and first-responder and rescue equipment …”

Is it not possible, I wonder, for any member of the current administration to tell the truth … just once in a while?  Sessions statement was completely untrue, for Obama’s order did not affect Kevlar vests, helmets, or other commonly required equipment.  Now, I ask the question again … Donald Trump, with the blessings of Jeff Sessions, just made it possible for police departments to purchase tanks, grenade launchers and bayonets with federal tax money.  But Sessions lied and said Obama had kept them from having helmets and bullet-proof vests.

“The safety of officers was never jeopardized because the overwhelming majority of equipment, including the ones cited by the attorney general, were still available to law enforcement,” according to Ed Chung, a former Justice Department Officer.

The justification for Obama’s original order was widespread public concerns over the display of military-style hardware deployed by police to control riots in Ferguson, Missouri, after an officer fatally shot Michael Brown. Sessions response to those concerns? “We will not put superficial concerns above public safety.” The lies go on, point by point, and if you’re interested, you can read the article in ProPublica.

But my own concern is, as I stated in the beginning:  what do police departments DO with grenade launchers and tanks?  Why do they NEED military weapons to protect the citizens of a city?  The answer to the second question is, they don’t.  So what is the answer to the first?

Two thumbs up to the Charlotte, North Carolina police department for saying they do not need the extra equipment.  From an Associated Press article on August 31st:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Police in North Carolina’s largest city say they don’t need military equipment to do their jobs.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesman Rob Tufano told local media Wednesday the city will not seek military gear available under an order this week by President Donald Trump.

Trump’s order Monday overturned an order by President Obama in 2015 that limited the kind of military equipment civilian police departments could receive from federal government. That came following the unrest that followed a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Tufano said the city sees no reason to obtain military equipment to do its job. Congress created a program in the 1990s to allow local governments to obtain surplus military equipment. Tufano said the city did participate in the 1990s but no longer uses military gear.

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Overkill???

I find the very idea of local police having access to tanks, grenade-launchers and the rest to be chilling in today’s climate of so much racial unrest.  And when I think of the recent events in Charlottesville, I cannot help but wonder how many more would have died if the police had shown up driving military tanks down the street through the crowd of protestors.  In the event of severe disruption in any city in the U.S., the governor has the option to call in the National Guard, men and women who are trained in the use of military equipment.

And once again, I return to the question:  what do they DO with it all?  The fact that Sessions lied about the reason for the order adds, in my mind, another dimension of concern.  Did Trump sign the order simply as part of his ongoing attempt to erase President Obama from the annals of history?  Or is there something more?  Think about it.