April 29, 2010

Constitution Schmonstitution

By Brady Bonk

This event occurred like four years ago at the National Press Club, but it is worth remembering today.

A reporter drilled Gen. Michael Hayden, then deputy director of national intelligence, on the Fourth Amendment. Hayden quite confidently denied that the event includes the phrase “probable cause” and that the standard in said amendment is actually “reasonable-ness.”

This is worth remembering today due to the disgusting Arizona law we’ve been railing about for the past few days. It is worth remembering that conservatives are not only not familiar with the United States Constitution, but that they don’t give a crap.

September 25, 2009

Anarchy in the USA

By Brady Bonk

I heard an ABC Radio news reader this morning refer specifically to the “anti-capitalist” protesters in sunny Pittsburgh as “anarchists.”

If our media is so liberal, then how come these a-holes were never referred to as “anarchists?”

Update: Well. Here’s some scary film from Pittsburgh. Some guys in fatigues drive up, shove some kid into the back of the car, and take off. I have no idea what this is all about. But it’s not pretty.

August 11, 2009

Don't Tase Me, Bro'!

By Brady Bonk

One lefty blogger who makes me sick with envy is, of course, digby, who has today taken on an issue guesting for Greenwald that I’ve wanted to write about for a while now: Tasers. Very nice work of course, which said everything I would have said. This country really needs to take a skeptical look at the use of these weapons, which are supposed to preclude the use of deadly force. However, these suckers aren’t always set to “stun.” Sometimes, they kill. But since police don’t think of them as a potentially fatal weapon, law enforcement does sometimes tend to use them a bit liberally. Not to mention, there are some civil liberties issues to be considered regarding the use of these bizarre weapons. Nice piece by digby, thanks.

May 4, 2009

Why Remember?

By Brady Bonk

In my sort-of hometown and at my Alma Mater last night, beginning at about 11 p.m., a candlelit-led procession marched along a specified route on campus, bound for a residence hall parking lot. The four leaders took their places in the lot, holding the candle within a velvet-roped square, taking the first shift of a 12-hour candlelight vigil.

I was one of those leaders on the 19th commemoration of the shootings at Kent. Today is the 39th.

In my time with the May Fourth Task Force, the student organization that plans and carries off the commemoration, I was often asked by friends, why does one need to remember May 4? That was like 20 years ago, man. What a drag.

I would of course offer up the typical “to prevent it from happening again.” But that reason felt weak coming out of my mouth, and it’s weak now. It’s not a good reason. We remember the Holocaust, but Rwanda occurred nonetheless. We remembered, say, Boston or Wounded Knee, but Kent happened anyway, and after Kent was Tiananmen Square; there is no denying it that, from time to time, one’s own government will rile up and strike, and you can remember the hell out of these events and it could still happen. So I needed a new answer.

Here it is: If you went to a “Gettysburg University” without learning about the battle and the resulting speech, you didn’t get much of an education, now, did you? If you don’t get out and walk the ridges or go out to Culp’s Hill while you’re a student at “Gettysburg University,” then what in the wide wide world of sports did you learn there? Zero Point Zero. Any student from Kent who never bothered to pick up a book on the subject or to take Jerry Lewis’ class or to even walk over to the memorial didn’t learn a goddamn thing. That’s why.

So, what happened at Kent State on May 4, 1970?

Regardless of who one blames or how it washed out in court or what Tom Hensley thinks or what James Michner thinks; regardless of whether or not you think, as some might, that the kid waving the black flag was asking to be winged in the wrist, there is one fact that can’t be tainted: The state of Ohio killed four innocents that day and wounded nine others—including one whom the state of Ohio put in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

This happened because a few powerful men, including Ohio’s then Gov. Rhodes, were rabid authoritarians, men with the same mindset of the same idiots who ran these Untied States through most of the aughts. See what the man said of protesters in Kent on May 3:

They’re worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes. They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.

Do we notice anything similar in Rhodes’ language to describe a bunch of undergrads and that of, say, Congresswacko Michele Bachman regarding the current administration? Or in the language used by the GOOPers in lamely attempting to defeat the extraordinary person who is now President Barack Obama?

I realize I am drawing a silken line here. But there is a line to be drawn. Even 39 years later, even with all the remembering and with remembering’s failure to prevent, even with history, even with common sense, it is clear that there’s more wrong here than just politics. There is a psychology at work here. I think the same illness that led James Rhodes to permit those kids to carry live ammunition is the same wretched illness that allowed Failed Former President George W. Bush to permit those kids to pile up those naked Iraqis.

Americans need to learn to recognize the symptoms and continue to vote it out of office.

By the way, to be fair, the state of Ohio eventually apologized. 20 years later and with a Democratic governor in office. But it did. As then KSU President Michael Schwartz remembers it:

[Interviewer]: What was your reaction to the [State of Ohio] governor’s public apology that occurred?

[Michael Schwartz]: I had no warning that it was coming. Here were maybe four thousand people standing under umbrellas in a cold and driving rain on May the 4th, 1990, and they had come for the memorial dedication and they had come to hear Eugene McCarthy, I thought. And of course the governor showed up. We did not really expect him. He came and did the public apology that nobody had done from the state ever before, or I think had never considered. I was really quite stunned by it, and I thought it was just an amazing performance. I thought Dick Celeste honored himself and this university that day in ways that nobody else probably would have, or could have. So he really stole the event. And then, of course, people lit candles in that rain under their umbrellas, somehow managed to put them on the memorial and—it was an amazing day, just an amazing day.

Schwartz’s categorization here is spot-on, by the way. I was there. Dick Celeste’s comments in May 1990 were profound. A little humility can go a long way toward driving these authoritarian bastards out of their cracker minds.*

*See “Clarke, Richard, March 2004.”

March 8, 2009

To Ron Charles of The Washington Post

By Brady Bonk

Mr. Charles:

In the March 9, 2009 edition of The Washington Post, “On Campus, Vampires Are Besting the Beats,” you wrote:

Nicholas DiSabatino, a senior English major at Kent State, is co-editor of the university’s literary magazine, Luna Negra. As a campus tour guide, he used to point out where the National Guard shot students during the May 1970 riot. But the only activism he can recall lately involved anti-abortion protesters and some old men passing out Gideon Bibles. “People think we’re really liberal,” he says, “but we’re really very moderate.” Submissions to the lit mag so far this year are mostly poetry and some memoirs about parents. “The one book that I know everyone has read,” he says, “is ‘I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.’ ” So, no uprising unless the bars close early.

This paragraph is guaranteed to make any member or alum of the campus’ May 4 Task Force or anyone else who knows a damned thing about the event blow milk out his nose.

Among the events of that tragic week was the decision by Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom on May 1 to declare a state of emergency, to call Governor James Rhodes’ office for help, and to order all of the bars in town closed following confrontations downtown between protesters and police. Those who have studied these events have roundly concluded that closing the bars early was a contributing factor, increasing the size of the angry mobs in the streets of Kent that night.

So, I can’t tell here if you’re being ironic, or if you’re just not versed up.

Just curious!

February 1, 2009

Must-Read: Today's The Washington Post Magazine

By Brady Bonk

Deadly Force: A detailed account of the unwarranted (literally, the warrant was “on the way” at the time and later proved to be incomplete) raid on the Berwyn Heights home of Cheye Calvo and Trinity Tomsic—the town’s mayor and his wife, during which the S.W.A.T. team shot the couple’s two dogs to death and apparently terrorized the crap out of Ms. Tomsic’s mother, not to mention them.

When I first heard of this story, I insisted on politicizing it—no surprise there—saying that this is the kind of crap that happens in a world propelled by the Bush administration. I don’t strike the sentiment entirely, but I’m afraid it’s too general an assertion and not entirely accurate considering the jurisdictions. But there certainly are many positions that can be seen and supported by this outrageous story, for starters, the vital importance of the process of law. The utter futility of the drug war. The immorality of the death penalty in the face of such possibility of human error and mistaken guilt. And, as well explored in the article by the work of Radley Balko of Cato (yes, I am referring glowingly to Cato), the rising use of police-state techniques in pursuance of said drug war.

God-damn, what a tragedy. Berwyn Heights is really a nice little town.

August 9, 2008

Only In George W. Bush's America

By Brady Bonk

This story is hardly to be believed, until one reminds oneself that it occurred in George W. Bush’s America. It sticks out to me because it occurred in a tiny little town I visit frequently because my lady friend lives there.

(Also, good to know that at CNN, they eschew that pesky AP style.)

(CNN)—Federal officials have opened a civil rights investigation into a police narcotics raid on the home of a Maryland mayor in which police burst in without knocking and shot the mayor’s two dogs to death.

Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and forced to kneel on the floor during the July 29 raid, which police said was part of an investigation into a scheme in which drugs apparently were sent to unsuspecting people.

Prince George’s County police, who were in charge of the raid, issued a statement Friday clearing the couple of involvement and expressing “regret.”

The FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland are investigating the incident, FBI spokesman Richard Wolf said Friday.

Calvo had asked for the federal investigation.

“We lost our family dogs,” he said Thursday. “We did it at the hands of sheriff’s deputies who burst through our front door, rifles blazing.”

According to The Associated Press, two men, including a FedEx deliveryman, have been arrested in the case.

Police said the scheme involved shipping drugs to unsuspecting people’s homes and intercepting the packages. About $3.6 million in marijuana had been seized, police told the AP.

In this instance, investigators told the AP, a package containing 32 pounds of marijuana was sent from Los Angeles, California, to Calvo’s house in Berwyn Heights, a town of 3,000 residents 10 miles from Washington.

The package was addressed to his Calvo’s wife, Trinity Tomsic.

In transit, a drug-sniffing dog in Arizona brought attention to the package, investigators told the AP. Police intercepted it when it arrived in Maryland, and it was delivered to the Calvo home by an undercover officer, according to the AP report.

In a statement released Friday, Prince George’s County Police Chief Melvin High said he called Calvo on Thursday to tell him that in screening the case with the state’s attorney’s office, “it was concluded that Ms. Tomsic and the Calvo family were innocent victims of drug traffickers.”

“I called him to express my sorrow and regret for that and for the loss of the family’s beloved dogs,” High said in the statement. A thorough review of the raid is being conducted, which is standard procedure in such cases, the department said.

The Prince George’s County Police Department was in charge of the raid, and the sheriff’s special operations team was assisting.

Calvo said he set the package aside after it arrived at his home and didn’t open it. He said he was changing clothes and preparing to attend a community meeting when “the door flew open. I heard gunfire shoot off. There was a brief pause and more gunfire.”

He said he was brought downstairs at gunpoint while in his boxer shorts, handcuffed and forced to kneel on the floor along with his mother-in-law. Then, he said, “I noticed my two dead dogs lying in pools of their own blood.”

While he was being held, Calvo said, he told the police he is the town’s mayor, but they didn’t believe him. “They told a detective I was crazy,” he said.

Berwyn Heights has a police force, he said, but Prince George’s County police did not notify the municipal authorities of their interest in his home or in the package. “It was that lack of communication that really led to what has really been the most traumatic experience of our lives,” he said.

Calvo added, “they’ve arrested the real criminals involved. We’re pleased to have that and get our name back as well. But really, this doesn’t excuse what they did.”

Good lord.

(Cross-Post: Radio B.O.N.K.)