Flags, anthems, patriotism and “American Values”

Suppose NFL owners just fired 90% of the players for refusing to stand for the National Anthem today? What would happen? Their moneymaking machine would be in a world of serious hurt. Fans would be incredibly upset, with many taking sides and dividing us even more than the old football rivalries. There would be a lot of misplaced anger, against players, owners, and our “dotard” in chief- Donald Trump.

Colin Kaepernick would still be unemployed, America would still a place where police kill citizens almost without any repercussion, and we’d still have more people in prisons than any other “free country.”

Not to mention, we’re the only industrialized country to have its citizens turn to GoFundMe when they get cancer, instead of just working with their doctors to beat it. The number one cause of bankruptcy in America is still caused by health emergencies, not bad financial decisions.

After 9/11 it became fashionable and politically popular to wear a flag pin. I did it. Veterans started to gain a new respect, long overdue, but still for the wrong reasons. We live in a country where we still allow our wars to be fought by the poor, minorities and volunteers, instead of because of universal duty. This means when those in Congress send our young people to risk their lives, few have to worry about their own children or grandchildren going to meet an uncertain future.

Donald J. Trump went to a private military academy for high school, yet, didn’t enlist. His kids didn’t enlist. Yet, here he stands, picking fights like a high school bully on an elementary school playground with a country so poor that most of its people are living in poverty, and many face food insecurity (take your pick, his country or N. Korea, unfortunately the same statement applies to both).

He blames everyone for what he sees as our problems, from Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama to NAFTA and immigrants. Now, he’s calling Colin Kaepernick’s mom a bitch. This is not the leader of the country I stood up and swore an oath to defend, this is a mockery of it.

But, this is what happens when we, as a country, elect a game show host to the highest office. Of course, he’s questioned the validity of our journalists, our election results, and the integrity of even those he’s hired and fired in record time.

We can’t place the blame solely on Trump, there are 435 in the “House of Representatives” and 100 in the Senate, that have stood by and failed to act as a check and balance on a man so obviously unfit to be our president going back to his recorded “grab them right in the pussy” “locker room talk” and his statement that “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters” back in January of 2016- at a campaign rally in Iowa.  Whatever happened to the “never Trump” republicans?

They sat on their hands when he blamed both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. Being a Nazi is apparently OK with this president, and even some of his Jewish cabinet. Even the idiots in Israel who preferred him over Clinton in the election sat by mute. It’s as if common sense has taken a vacation.

Now, some of the people who gave him millions, NFL owners, are twisting in their seats, hoping that they aren’t about to regret it. Because, unfortunately, in America today, it’s not about freedom, or constitutional rights, or even democracy- it’s absolutely clear, it’s only about the money.

Always wrapped in the flag.

When I see a “flag” covering an entire football field as I saw at the beginning of the Browns v Colts game today, and look back at the photos of the president at the Alabama rally where he decided that those who protest are “sons of bitches”- I see the flag being used to cover for our sins instead of representing our values. And I can’t stop being reminded of how important the swastika was to the last party that rose out of hate, bigotry and powerlessness- the Nazis in Germany.

There are no winners in nuclear war, and never has this country had a president who didn’t understand this.

Backgrounds are important for leaders with small hands

His speech at the U. N. should have been enough for someone to raise the question of impeachment.

“No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more… The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

He even contradicts himself: “In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.” Just don’t take a knee at a football game.

Congress impeached Bill Clinton over his “lies” about a blowjob.

How they fail to act now, is incomprehensible.

It is up to all of us, to call for an end to this madness, before his madness ends with a nuclear exclamation point. It is not OK to defend his actions, to take his side, to threaten NFL players for making a political statement.

It is patriotic to demand he leave office, and take his supporters with him. Anything less, may lead to the fall of our republic. Don’t confuse our flag, anthem or standing or sitting with patriotism. Patriotism is taking action to end the rule of this infidel.

Just say no to Amazon HQ2

Say no to Amazon HQ 2, sad amazon logo

Just say No to Amazon HQ2

If your city thinks it should offer incentives for Amazon to come to town, it’s time to reevaluate your leadership.

Sure, landing an HQ for a corporate behemoth is prestigious, and  can put any city on the map, but, to offer incentives to one of the richest companies in the world, that has been stealing from local coffers from its inception?

If you are looking at empty retail developments, a hollowed out downtown, declining sales tax receipts in the last 15 years- thank Amazon. It’s not that they did anything wrong, it’s that they did almost everything right- including putting pressure on every small business (the true job creators in America) to cut margins and compete on an uneven playing field.

An uneven playing field that is just made more uneven when our leaders are willing to bend over and offer their rear ends for a reaming with a smile. There is a reason Amazon has to make more room outside Seattle- they can’t afford to stay there. They’ve already driven the housing and office markets into the stratosphere, they’ve pushed the limits of infrastructure, they’ve caused more troubles than they’ve solved- all in the name of “winning” at the capitalist trough.

Don’t worry, they aren’t alone. We’ve seen it time and time again- as companies that don’t pay taxes like General Electric leverage their “job creation” into tax free offices in places like poverty stricken Dayton Ohio. Or watched companies like Boeing move their HQ from  Seattle to Chicago. NCR did the same to Dayton- and now their stock is worth less and their CEO makes more.

It’s not governments job to subsidize and coddle business- it’s governments job to provide a safe, healthy, clean, secure and well organized platform for communities to thrive. Business is only one part of that equation. It’s time to put a stop to corporate welfare.

What’s laughable is that despite not clicking on any of the boxes of Amazon’s dream list- Dayton thinks it should be in the running. This coming from a city manager who has repeatedly failed at “economic development” projects- the Wayne Avenue Kroger debacle, where years and millions of tax dollars went into actually devaluing a community, in order to lure a store that was supposed to come- however, she’d forgotten to get that in writing. On the other- the hole on Ludlow- City Manager Shelly Dickstein gave millions to developers who didn’t do anything but promise to do something- even stiffing the demolition company that ended up owning one of the historic gems of Downtown. And then she had the nerve to insist any developer of the vacant space which the city still owns- has to buy the demolition companies building as entry to the deal (how this isn’t illegal is beyond reason).

Let’s see- Dayton doesn’t have over a million people, it doesn’t have an airport with the connections, it’s lacking in quality education (no, you can’t move 50,000 people into the Oakwood School district), we don’t have a highly educated workforce ready to switch jobs (counting the base is laughable- many of those people have contracts with the US Government that aren’t really negotiable). The list goes on.

Only the Dayton Daily news would even write about this pipe dream without laughing. The New York Times did an analysis and came up with Denver, other smart publications have also done their filtering and come up with other communities- none in Ohio.

The attraction of jobs that pay six figures landing in your city with an income tax is mouth watering, however, the chances of landing them in a city with a 2.5% income tax on top of a state income tax is slim. Especially when Denver does it without any income tax.

At some point, Ohio needs to grow up and realize that allowing this state to be a ridiculous patchwork of local fiefdoms all trying to stay in power and support the friends and family plan of the Ohio Political Caste is keeping us from competing. You can’t have 28 jurisdictions in one county, and 88 counties in a state that’s losing population and clout at an alarming rate without thinking “we’re doing something wrong.”

Nationally, this country needs to just put an end to “economic development” incentives that support big companies over small ones, and make the playing field uneven and unfair. Did the residents of Georgia even get their $100 Million they invested to lure NCR there back, before NCR asked for another handout to move within the State? Doubtful.

If you read George Orwell’s “Animal farm”- this line should come to mind: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Kettering cop assassinates passenger in traffic stop

Kettering police Chief Chip Protsman tried to justify a murder by suggesting that Officer Jonathon McCoy was ok in spending 69 seconds telling a passenger in a car what to do at gunpoint.

It was Philando Castile all over, without the facebook live video from the driver of the car.

Kettering police officer Jonathon McCoy gave nearly 30 commands to the occupants of a gray Ford van last Sunday once he saw the front-seat passenger had a gun in his right front pocket.

What started as a traffic stop of the woman driver for not signaling while changing lanes and malfunctioning brake lights escalated into an officer firing nine shots at Jason Hoops.

Source: Officer warned suspect before fatal shooting

I watched the video, and wonder where the “to serve and protect” part comes in.

Officer McCoy was on a traffic stop. He approached the car on the passenger side and started asking for license and registration. He also started asking who everyone in the vehicle is- on a traffic stop. Last I checked, police don’t have the right to start asking people why they are in a neighborhood, or what they are doing.

(added 3 Sept) Ohio is a stop and identify state, however, even in this case, the cop was beyond his rights:

“Stop and identify” statutes are statutory laws in the United States that authorize police to legally obtain the identification of someone whom they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime. If there is no reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed, an individual is not required to provide identification, even in “Stop and ID” states.  (end addition)

We have a fourth amendment that protects us from this kind of harassment- well, maybe not in Kettering. If you need a refresher:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Then when McCoy saw the butt of a gun sticking out of the passengers pocket he panicked and pulled his gun, pointed it at the passengers head and said “You reach for that gun, I will blow your brains out, do you (expletive) understand me?”

My question is if it is legal to carry a concealed weapon in Ohio, what gives an officer the right to pull a weapon out, point it at someones head and threaten to blow their brains out?

Police apologists will say, he was an ex-felon and didn’t have a right to have a weapon. How did Officer McCoy know Jason Hoops was a felon?

They will say that Jason didn’t comply with the orders. I can tell you from experience that when guns are pointed at you, people are screaming at you, not everyone reacts rationally or normally.

They will say they had  “a signed statement from someone who said Hoops said was not going to go back to prison and “was willing to take out any cop that he had to.”” Yet, McCoy couldn’t have known that either.

And of course, the kicker, “Protsman said that what called “pipe bomb” making materials found at Hoops’ residence were still being investigated.”

So, according to Chief Protsman, “What I’ve seen in this video, I’m pretty confident in saying that this officer did a very good job on this stop,”

Excuse me? A man is dead, without judge, jury or anything but the judgement of one cop who over-reacted. If this is a “good job” he needs to find a new job.

“Stand your ground” is not for cops.

The moment Officer McCoy saw the gun, he should have said, to the driver, “can you please shut the car off, and put the keys on the roof for me” as he backed away from the vehicle, “I’m going to check something and I’ll be right back.” Going back to his cruiser, he should have asked for assistance.  At no point, should he have felt threatened by a gun in the vehicle, or in the pocket of a passenger. At no time, should he have pulled his weapon and pointed it at someone, it was a traffic stop. Mr. Hoops didn’t have a warrant, wasn’t suspected of committing a violent crime, he was a passenger in the car of a bad driver.

How big a threat was Hoops? Watch the woman walk into her house from the car with her dog. Did she seem scared? The driver pleads to Officer McCoy “please don’t do that” after McCoy says he’ll blow Hoops brains out. She wants to get out of the car- before he goes full Sgt. York on Hoops. Can you blame her? Obviously she understands she’s in danger with a rabid cop- and that bullets go through bodies.

Instead, because Officer McCoy was poorly trained, scared and over-reacted, we have a dead citizen. Even if Hoops had the gun in his hands, if he hadn’t pointed it at anyone, he wasn’t a threat when the officer came to the car. Hell, McCoy has to ask the rear seat passenger after unloading his weapon on Hoops- if the gun was real. So, toy guns in your pocket is a threat too? Did anyone study the Tamir Rice shooting? Another case where the cops could have stayed out of harms way and deescalated the situation.

““We know there was a physical confrontation where the officer reached in and grabbed hold of Mr. Hoops’ right arm, trying to stop him from reaching down towards the gun,” Protsman said. “This continues for a little bit.” Did Protsman, or McCoy learn anything from the Samuel Dubose murder in Cincinnati- that officers don’t reach into vehicles? Experts testified that this is a dangerous move by an officer. Why didn’t McCoy back away, and seek cover?

Because McCoy shouldn’t be a police officer.

Chief Protsman shouldn’t be defending McCoy’s actions.  And, the investigation of officer shootings should no longer be trusted to local authorities. It’s time for a federal investigation team, similar to what happens when a plane crashes. Bring professional, unbiased, detectives to discern the facts from the fiction. This is the proposal being made by the parents of man killed by a cop in Kenosha Wisconsin.

When a plane crashes, experts pick through the wreckage to determine the cause and make recommendations to prevent the next accident. The process is so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. But no comparable system exists in policing — and that may help explain why you are far more likely to die at the hands of a cop than to perish in an plane crash. Police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000 every year.

Of course, no independent team arrived to perform a forensic analysis of the younger Mr. Bell’s death. Instead, the Kenosha police department spent two days investigating its own officers before ruling that the shooting was justified.

Source: Why Are Police Officers More Dangerous Than Airplanes? – The New York Times

Even the way the Dayton Daily news frames this story, it’s as if the cop had a right to pull his weapon on a traffic stop. Have we forgotten the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston N.C. where Officer Michael Slager might have gotten away with murder if not for a passerby video taping him shoot Scott in the back.

If you don’t think this pattern is getting out of hand, you aren’t paying attention.

If McCoy is the kind of cop Kettering and Protsman want to defend, I retract all my statements about Kettering being the best run community in the region.

If this is “to serve and protect” we’re safer without police.

 

It’s your constitution, protect it or lose it.

A conversation that didn’t happen: “Rosa, why didn’t you just go to the back of the damn bus?”

Another: “Patrick, are you sure about that give you liberty or give you death line? Is that your final answer?”

A letter that was never written from a Birmingham jail

What if the founding fathers said “eh, taxes” no big deal…

Sheriff Joe Arpaio did something very wrong- he ignored the Constitution, under the power of law. In other words, he swore an oath to protect the constitution and then used his power and authority to violate it.  Every soldier swears an oath upon enlistment:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

Source: Oath of Enlistment – Army Values

Wording first adopted in 1789. Let that sink in.

Standing up to authority and calling them out on misbehavior is difficult enough when it’s a school board or mayor. When it’s a sheriff, you’re arguing with a man with a gun and a badge.

What Arpaio did was tantamount to what the Nazi’s did pre-WWII- stopping people on the streets to see if they were Jewish. You know what happened to 6 million of them. The idea of stopping someone and asking to see their papers is about as un-American as it gets- yet that’s exactly what Arpaio was doing- even after he was told not to. The issue is covered clearly by the 4th Amendment:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Source: Constitute

And if that wasn’t clear enough- they stuck another Amendment on-

Amendment XIV

Section 1 All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Source: Constitute

Sheriff Joe broke the law. He was awaiting sentencing. Then, the president pardoned him. Some people say, well other presidents have pardoned people- and reel off some of the more egregious examples- however, there is a process to this, and most of the time, pardons are in the works for 5 years.

Yes, but Ford pardoned Nixon is the next thing out of your mouth. And while there is no one who would have rather seen Nixon go to prison than my father, he explained it to me long ago- the trial, the distraction, at that level, it wouldn’t have been good for the country. Or as a friend likes to say, “the juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

When President Trump pardoned Arpaio, he was circumventing the constitution, and letting a little bit of our democratic foundation be eaten away. Yet, we don’t see the venom on this issue like we do on any infringement of “god given 2nd amendment rights to bear arms.” What Trump did was give tacit approval to round people up without any other probable cause other than looking Hispanic. Substitute Black, Jew, Japanese and this should offend you. A lot.

Trump has already attacked the media relentlessly, calling it fake news. One of the keys to our whole system of checks and balances used to be a free press. Now, it’s the enemy of the president. Who will inform of us these transgressions- and who will take a stand?

Do we expect congress to do it? They’ve stood by for the most part, while he’s dismantled treaties that protect the environment, they didn’t denounce him when he stood up for Nazi’s in Charlottesville, and now this?

Remember, they swore an oath too.

This happened late in the day on Friday. Congress isn’t in session. You can stand idly by and let this slide, because, well, it doesn’t really affect you- you aren’t Hispanic- and old Joe, ain’t even the Sheriff anymore. But to that, all of us must remember the words of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Source: First they came … – Wikipedia

It is time to speak out.

This post is dedicated to my friend and fellow veteran, Zack Sliver, who stepped in and up when others wouldn’t. Wishing him a quick recovery, and justice.

 

 

A year has passed: Stephen G. Esrati 1927- Aug 18, 2016

I slept on the pull out couch at the VA Hospice. Dad. made some noises around 2am. He wasn’t really there, the spirit of the man I knew had left a few nights before, when he ate his last meal- a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger King.

I left to take a shower around 8am- and to pick up Mom. He died while I was gone. The nurse said, sometimes they wait to die alone. I’ve come to accept it.

That last meal was really a favorite- partially because as a non-observant Jew- it was the ultimate giving of the middle finger to the orthodox. He even listed it as his favorite food on his profile on the Jerusalem Post. I don’t think he ever got over being hung by his cheek on barbed wire as a young boy while riding his bike on the sabbath in Palestine. Someone had to come- lift him off the barbed wire, which had been strung to enforce their interpretation of the sabbath. He came close to losing an eye.

The right to protest always had limits, but, when your rights were taken away, it was your duty to fight. That’s why, when the fight to create an Israeli state began, he set off on an illegal journey to fight. And when the ship he was on was boarded in Lebanon, and the males of “fighting age” were ordered at gunpoint to leave the ship, he went first.

Over the last year- some young med student, has hopefully, been learning how to save someone else’s life- by practicing on the vessel that held his spirit.

Me, I’ve doubled down on fighting the good fight. From taking on the school board with their catastrophic choice in superintendents, to trying to prove that Phil Plummer runs a jail unfit for human habitation. Dad would have been proud. He also would have told me, at some point, you have to take care of your business- and all this, is for the ungrateful, those who never pay attention until it’s too late.

But most of all, I’m thankful that he didn’t live to see the rise of Donald Trump.

What happened in Charlottesville last week would have him marching in the streets. Not necessarily about the neo-nazis protesting, but Trumps comments after. To him, words matter. The difference between politicians “distancing” themselves and “denouncing” Trump are very clear in his book, and in mine. To see Cohn and Mnuchin, two Jews, stand there, while Trump makes excuses for Nazis would have been the tinder to set a fire under his ass. That they haven’t resigned, rejected, denounced, the idiot in chief is tantamount to treason in his book- not just as Jews, but as Americans.

Speaking of his book- he wrote one on citizenship to me, for my 17th birthday- but started around the time of another national tragedy- the massacre at Kent State.

You don’t have to go very far in his book to find something that speaks to the issues of the day, and that in itself is sad. The more things change- the more they stay the same.

The American Creed
When I was a kid we still had to memorize things. I don’t know if schools still do this. If they do and if we had not left the United States, you might have had to commit to memory a short statement of what it means to be an American. I learned it in the sixth grade at the George G. Hamilton School in Everett, Mass. Even today, I can honestly say that I think its author, William Tyler Page, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, did a fine job of expressing the ideals of Americanism in “The American Creed”:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign states; a perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.
I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, and to defend it against its enemies.

Long before you were born, I had become convinced that freedom, equality, justice and humanity were not the operating principles on which the United States was run. I would not have been able to say that most Americans believed in those ideals, at least as long as it was cheap for them to say so. Every American paid some lip service to these principles every year.
To some it meant that an American had some inherent right to tell people in other countries how they should conduct their affairs. On the premise that the U.S. system of government was not only the best possible but actually perfect, Americans forced their ideas on other countries. That is why West Germany is a federal republic. That’s why the Philippines has a President and a Congress. And before Fidel Castro threw out the perfect system, even Cuba had it, brought at gunpoint by the United States Marines.

We don’t learn “The American Creed” in schools. We castigate people who question our government- which is less and less, by the people or for the people. Listen to Trump as he turns on the CEO of Merck for leaving his little committee- who dared to question- “@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S., Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES!”

This, in response to: “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

I miss my father.

But, I miss the ideals of my country even more.

If you have time for a short read, please, take the time to read “Dear Son, Do you really want to be an American” by my dad. I’ve shared his gift to me to you for free. In his memory- if it just helps one of you to better understand where we’ve gone wrong, it will be a fitting tribute to the man who made me.