Friday, December 30, 2016


Although the figures are up over last year, this is not a record.  The record for police officer deaths was set in 1974. Since then, the overall trend has been down.
 "The Dallas ambush was the deadliest day for law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001. That bloodshed, coupled with another attack days later in Baton Rouge, helped fuel an increase this year in the number of police officers slain in the line of duty, a tally pushed upward by a surge in ambush attacks and other shootings."

See also

Thursday, December 29, 2016


From an article by Thomas L. Friedman.
“But they  [Kerry and Obama] are convinced — rightly — that Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.. . . . The settlers’ goal is very clear, as Kerry put it on Wednesday: to strategically place settlements “in locations that make two states impossible,” so that Israel will eventually annex all of the West Bank. Netanyahu knows this will bring huge problems, but his heart is with the settlers, and his passion is with holding power — at any cost. So in any crunch, he sides with the settlers, and they keep pushing.”
Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.


Israel is clearly now on a path toward absorbing the West Bank’s 2.8 million Palestinians. There are already 1.7 million Arabs living in Israel, so putting these two Arab populations together would constitute a significant minority with a higher birthrate than that of Israeli Jews — who number 6.3 million — posing a demographic and democratic challenge.
Continue reading the main story

I greatly sympathize with Israel’s security problems. If I were Israel, I would not relinquish control of the West Bank borders — for now. The Arab world is far too unstable, and Hamas, which controls another 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, would likely take over the West Bank.

My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support, such as radical political and economic autonomy for Palestinians in the majority of the West Bank, free of settlements, while Israel still controls the borders and the settlements close to it.
More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump — who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme. His ambassador-designate to Israel, David Friedman, has compared Jews who favor a two-state solution to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. I’ve never heard such a vile slur from one Jew to another.

Trump also has no idea how much he is being manipulated into helping Iran and ISIS. What is Iran’s top goal when it comes to Israel? That Israel never leaves the West Bank and that it implants Jewish settlers everywhere there."

Trump is not always right or always wrong. (For instance, I support his call for putting billions into repairing infrastructure). Blindly following him and automatically accepting his position without independent research or thinking is intellectual sloth.  Blindly following the leader no matter what is a recipe for fascism.



More on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  From a NYT editorial.
The Times has never been known to be anti-semitic or anti-Israel. Scoff if you want, but there are serious issues to be faced if one has an open mind and looks at the facts.  Yes, Israel has serious security issues, but the current path is not he solution.

“Inconveniently for Mr. Netanyahu’s claim that the Security Council resolution was the result of perfidy by Mr. Obama, the measure was adopted 14 to 0, with support from Russia, China and Egypt, among others. It declared that the settlements, in territory that Israel captured from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, have no legal validity; affirming longstanding United Nations and American policy, it cited the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which prohibits any occupying power from transferring its own people to conquered territory.

Under Mr. Obama, the United States continues to subscribe to the position enshrined in the 1993 Oslo accords that the future of Jerusalem, like that of the West Bank, should be decided through negotiation — not by diktat by either side.  Settlements represent such a diktat. Anyone who doesn’t think so hasn’t looked at the map or studied the history of the settlement movement. Right-wing Israeli settlers have been quite open for decades about their patient approach to claiming Jerusalem and the West Bank by strategically placing settlements to prevent the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Since 2009, when Mr. Obama took office, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has grown to around 400,000, a gain of more than 100,000, and the number of settlers in East Jerusalem has grown to roughly 208,000, from 193,000, according to Americans for Peace Now. During the same period, construction has begun on over 12,700 settlement units on the West Bank. . ..

When the world is silent, Israel can build settlements; when the world objects, Israel must build settlements. Under any scenario, settlements will grow, and the possibility of a two-state solution will recede.

Settlements are certainly not the only impediment, or even the principal one, to negotiations today. The Palestinians remain divided and their leadership malicious or hapless, with Hamas, which advocates terrorism, reigning in the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority, rife with corruption, governs ineptly in the West Bank. But the settlements are an obstacle to any eventual deal, and they are Israel’s responsibility.

For a long time, Mr. Netanyahu gave lip service to a Palestinian state. But there is no longer any room for illusion. Mr. Netanyahu recently described his government as “more committed to settlements than any in Israel’s history,” and Naftali Bennett, one of his coalition partners, declared that “the era of the two-state solution is over.” Mr. Netanyahu’s own United Nations ambassador, as Mr. Kerry noted on Wednesday, rejects that solution, too.

What could be the endgame, if it does not include a Palestinian state? Mr. Kerry warned that without a two-state solution, Israel faces a choice between being a Jewish state and a democracy. If Israel annexes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this logic goes, Palestinians, many of whom are Muslims, would become the majority in the resulting state of Israel. At that point, Israelis could give these Palestinians full rights as citizens, thus diluting the Jewish character of their nation, or deny them rights and forsake democracy.

But the Israeli far right has long imagined a different scenario: Egypt would be somehow induced to take control of the Gaza Strip, while Israel would hold most of the West Bank and somehow offload the bulk of its Palestinian residents into Jordan. Jerusalem, presumably, would be entirely under Israeli control.

This one-state solution may remain a fantasy, but it’s gathering adherents. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, John Bolton, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former American ambassador to the United Nations, advanced just this scenario. Mr. Bolton is said to be on President-elect Donald Trump’s list as a possible deputy secretary of state.

Mr. Obama has stayed true to the values and policy aims that American administrations have held across the decades for the Middle East, but Mr. Trump has signaled that a major change is coming. He has already appointed to the post of ambassador to Israel a settlement advocate who is, if anything, to Mr. Netanyahu’s right.

[Nethanyahu is a close-minded bully and blowhard.  He will get along splendidly with Trump.] If Mr. Trump envisions working with Israel’s extreme right to foreclose the dream of a Palestinian state, he envisions a tragic future indeed, one in which Israel is likely to never have the peace and security that it deserves.”

With Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress, I would not want to be a Palestinian living in Jerusalem or the West Bank.  Expect illegal settlements and coerced/authoritarian confiscation of Palestinian land to speed up.  What is to become of the Palestinians?  They will be sold out and abandoned while the U.S. continues to send billions to Israel. The injustice will only continue to feed violent Islamic radicals.  Eventually, the U.S. will suffer another  major terrorist attack.  Why can’t we face up to where this going?




Some observers felt that 'white rage' was a factor in the recent Trump victory.  Here's an excellent book on the topic.
"Pamela Newkirk is a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga.”
The virulent backlash against President Obama’s 2008 election set the stage for this year’s presidential campaign, in which Muslims, Mexicans and other marginalized groups have been explicitly maligned.
While Obama’s historic two-term presidency has inspired the “birther” movement, an unprecedented spike in death threats, and wanton disrespect by members of Congress and other prominent officials, until now, many observers had been hard-pressed to attribute the hostility to race.
In “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide,” Carol Anderson compellingly does just that. In this slim but persuasive volume, she catalogues white Americans’ centuries-long efforts to derail African American progress. She cites the venomous response to Obama alongside a litany of setbacks that have followed African American strides stretching back to the Civil War and emancipation."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


The election of Donald Trump has, right or wrongly, accurately or inaccurately, intentionally or unintentionally, been viewed as showing widespread public support for white supremacy, white nationalism and xenophobia. All sorts of wackos have come out of the shadows. The alt-right and similar groups are upping their profiles.   Here's the hail Trump, Hitler salute video and commentary  Trump has disavowed racism, and asked extremists to stop it, but the genie is out the bottle.

"The nonprofit director whose controversial “ape in heels” comment about first lady Michelle Obama propelled a small West Virginia town into an embarrassing national spotlight has been fired from her job."

See this flag Confederate battle flag supporting Trump.

Given Trumps appointments to the Cabinet and other positions, Republican strength in Congress,  and this environment, it could be a rough four years for minorities, the poor and women.


The full video is now available.  The officer did not act professionally or take steps to de-escalate the situation.  A motivated, well-trained officer with good intentions could have handled this without having to use force and make arrests.
See the video at
See article on video at


The U.S. abstention in the vote on a UN Resolution condemning Israel for its settlement policies has drawn criticism from Trump, Republicans and pro-Israel organizations.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu charges was the result of a conspiracy against Israel.

It’s time to get real and face the facts.  Netanyahu and many hard-line right-wing Israelis don’t really want a 2-state solution.  Their ultimate aim is incorporation of the Jerusalem and the West Bank into the state of Israel.  Israeli lawful and unlawful expropriation of Palestinian land and new Israeli settlements on the West Bank is a constant, ongoing process.  Israel intends to fulfill its destiny to restore the state of Israel to its biblical boundaries.  This includes Judea and Sameria on the West Bank.  The West Bank is not part of the original Israel and was captured by the Israelis in the 6-day War.  The occupation of the West Bank is unlawful under international law and U.N. Resolutions.  The plan of those who want to make the occupation permanent is to move slowly but steadily and stay the course.  Eventually there will be so many Israelis living in the West Bank, and so few Palestinians that restoring the Palestinians will become impossible.  The Viet Cong and North Vietnam waited us out in the Viet Nam war.  This is the same strategy. As long as it has U.S. backing, and no catastrophic sanctions, the occupation will become permanent.  See

For better or worse, Israel is the U.S.’s only reliable ally in the Middle East.  There is a very strong pro-Israel lobby and much support in Congress.  Trump has made statements that he will be much more pro-Israel than Obama.  Although there is blame on all sides of the issue, too many people and politicians wink at what is going on in Palestine. The injustice feeds radical Islam.  For many, the Palestinians in occupied territory are disposable, and must not stand in the way of Israel’s manifest destiny

But for the 42% of Israelis who no longer believe in two states, the status quo must be regarded as the permanent status (omitting the even more shocking “policy” of population transfer, aka ethnic cleansing). Thus we must ask anew what, if anything, differentiates the occupation from apartheid.” . . .

“The most important difference between the occupation and apartheid is duration. For two-state Zionists, the status quo in the West Bank is temporary, and thus cannot be truly analogized to apartheid, which was intended to be permanent. (Of course, the occupation has now lasted 49 years, more than the 46 years of apartheid.) The occupation is unjust, but it is meant to come to an end once both sides’ concerns about security, borders, autonomy, water, justice and so on are addressed. And of course, as to why that hasn’t happened, there’s blame enough to go around on all sides.”   .

Even within nominally autonomous “Palestine,” ultimately the Israeli military holds sovereignty. It can go wherever it wants, regulate travel, allocate resources. While Palestine governs itself from day to day, in cases of conflict the Israeli military holds nearly all the power even in areas of supposed Palestinian autonomy — let alone the vast swaths of the West Bank under full Israeli control.”


In 2010, Israel’s then-defense minister, Ehud Barak, explicitly warned that Israel would become a permanent “apartheid” state if it failed to reach a peace agreement with Palestinians that creates their own sovereign nation and vests them with full political rights. “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic,” Barak said. “If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Honest observers on both sides of the conflict have long acknowledged that the prospects for a two-state solution are virtually non-existent: another way of saying that Israel’s status as a permanent apartheid regime is inevitable. Indeed, U.S. intelligence agencies as early as 45 years ago explicitly warned that Israeli occupation would become permanent if it did not end quickly.

All relevant evidence makes clear this is what has happened. There has been no progress toward a two-state solution for many years. The composition of Israel’s Jewish population — which has become far more belligerent and right-wing than previous generations — has increasingly moved the country further away from that goal. There are key ministers in Israel’s government, including its genuinely extremist justice minister, who are openly and expressly opposed to a two-state solution. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself repeatedly made clear he opposes such an agreement, both in words and in deeds. In sum, Israel intends to continue to rule over and occupy Palestinians and deny them self-governance, political liberties, and voting rights indefinitely.”

“This week, with its fresh new $38 billion commitment in hand, the Israeli government announced the approval of an all new settlement in the West Bank, one that is particularly hostile to ostensible U.S. policy, the international consensus, and any prospects for an end to occupation. The new settlement, “one of a string of housing complexes that threaten to bisect the West Bank,” as the New York Times put it this morning, “is designed to house settlers from a nearby illegal outpost, Amona, which an Israeli court has ordered demolished.” This new settlement extends far into the West Bank: closer to Jordan, in fact, than to Israel.”

Unfortunately, anyone who criticizes the occupation is labeled anti-semitic, anti-Israel, etc.   I expect to get that label. I support the state of Israel within its ORIGINAL boundaries. A majority of Israelis support a two-state solution. These propaganda techniques allow avoidance of the real issues.  Israel has legitimate security concerns, but that does not excuse this occupation.








Post-truth has been with us for awhile.  How many people do you know who parroted that Obama was a Muslim and/or gay? An Associated Press Fact Check concluded that the story was false.


There have been a number of cross-border shootings on the Mexican border.
The shots have come from both sides.
One of these cases made to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It sounds like the beginning of a riddle: An American border patrol agent, standing in America, shoots a Mexican teenager, standing in Mexico.
But that’s exactly what happened on the El Paso-Juárez border. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the teen’s grieving parents are allowed to sue the man responsible. . . .
“This raises fundamental questions about the reach of protection under the Constitution,” said Deepak Gupta, a lawyer working on behalf of the teenager’s family. “It’s hard to understate how fundamental it is.” . . .
Americans have constitutional protections against the use of deadly force by federal officers. If those protections are violated, Americans have the right to bring a lawsuit against the officers involved. But Hernández was not an American, and he was not in the U.S. when he died.
Randolph Ortega, a lawyer representing the border patrol agent, says that simple fact makes it clear Hernández did not have constitutional protections."

Surprisingly, the Mexican family won at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

I think the precedents are on the side of the agent.  The Guantanamo cases are not a precedent.  Guantanamo was just' technically' a part of Cuba.  The U.S. government exercised complete sovereignty there.

However, I would feel better about that result if I was sure there were effective Border Patrol sanctions consistently applied against officers who kill.

Monday, December 26, 2016


“As Texans, we are not always the people we want to be.

Some problems are so intractable and so heartbreaking that it’s easier to look away. Some miseries are so removed from our daily lives that it feels sufficient to mean well and hope for the best.

It takes an extraordinary person to hold up a mirror that shows us the stark reality of our indifference. And it takes a powerful voice to make it clear that our state has countenanced unspeakable suffering for far too long.

This year, federal District Judge Janis Graham Jack, our 2016 Texan of the Year, held that mirror steady. She punctured our comfortable obliviousness to the appalling treatment that 12,000 children in permanent managing conservatorship — foster kids — are enduring while in the care of the state of Texas.

In doing so, Jack focused statewide attention not only on the plight of foster children, but on all the vulnerable kids, nearly 30,000 of them, whose welfare is overseen by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the state agency that oversees Child Protective Services.

These are our kids, Jack told us in uncompromising terms. And we have failed them.

“Texas’ foster-care system is broken,” wrote Jack in the landmark ruling. “Most importantly, it is broken for children, who almost uniformly leave State custody more damaged than when they entered.”

Some Texas politicians and activists have tried several times to change the foster-care system, without success. The difference this time is that a federal judge is leading the charge. For her hard work to change entrenched problems, and for igniting a fire that has gained momentum all year, Judge Janis Jack is the 2016 Texan of the Year [by the Dallas Morning

The state (publicly, at least) took notice. Gov. Greg Abbott in May appointed a new DFPS director, who in turn ordered a major overhaul of Child Protective Services’ top management. By October, CPS laid out a plan for more workers and higher salaries. Lawmakers have pledged to make funding, reform and renewed oversight a top priority in the 85th Legislature, which opens next month.

In the courtroom, though, the state has fought Jack’s orders every step of the way. They argue that she has overstepped her authority in ordering reforms, appointing special masters to review the foster-care system, and establishing caseworker loads and staffing norms. Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed appeals to even the most minor changes proposed by Jack’s team of special masters.

So far, appellate courts have sided with the judge. A They include an 8-year-old boy who was raped by older teens soon after his arrival in a group home.


One of the horror stories involved an 8-year old boy

“[T]he department did everything it could to cover up that [the boy] was sexually abused,” the judge wrote, noting that psychological evaluations conducted while the boy was in state care indicated he was severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts.”

The state has fought the judge on every detail.  This is just another example of politicians pretending to care.   Tex. Atty. General. Paxton and others have called the judge’s ruling a violation of state’s rights and federalism.  That’s just ignorant.  The 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to protect civil rights.  This sounds a lot like Texas’ resistance to public school de-segregation.  Shame on our state leadership”  Many other states have similar problems, but that does not excuse Texas.





The Post-truth (see post below)  fostering of delusions is getting worse.  We’ve had false news and now we have people dismissing news that the don’t like outright, without any reflection by calling that news “false news.”

Good law and policy depends on accurate information and rational thought.  Democracy functions best when people know what is really going on.    People on both the left and right have long sought to ignore information they don’t like, but the problems seems to be getting worse. The media, in general, show a liberal bias, but that does not justify knee-jerk denials. Some people believe that the CIA and FBI are putting out false news.  It’s not only talk-show hosts, it’s prominent people in America.
“The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as “left-wing fake news.”
Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. “The fake news is the everyday news” in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. “They just make it up.”
Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of “Fake news!”
Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining “fake news” so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country’s increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

“Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with. And now it’s gone too far,” said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, who has been critical of what he sees as excessive partisanship by pundits.”

Friday, December 23, 2016


See post at my other blog:


An officer got in a shouting match and appears to have let that escalate into an arrest that arguably violates the woman's First Amendment rights.  As long as one does not physically interfere with the officer, or use fighting words, their argument and yelling at the officer is protected by the First Amendment. (See Lewis v. New Orleans 415 U.S. 130 (1974) See
(Warning: The Facebook video[available at the link] contains obscenity throughout.)
"A Fort Worth police officer was placed on restricted duty Thursday after he was captured on a viral video wrestling a woman to the ground and pointing a stun gun at her teenage daughters before arresting them.
Jacqueline Craig had called police Wednesday to report that a neighbor had choked her son to get him to pick up trash. She and the responding officer, whose name has not been released, got into a verbal altercation. By the end of the encounter, the officer had handcuffed Craig and her two daughters, ages 15 and 19."
At one point, the officer states:
"If you keep yelling at me, you're going to piss me off," the officer says."
This is not only unprofessional, it may also be incriminatory

However, there is a possibility that the video was edited before being provided to the media.  Stay tuned

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


It's hard to generalize about a movement, but at least some portions of the alt-right movement seem to be white supremacist/white nationalist.  Aren't we already polarized enough?

"A small but determined political organization in Detroit began to worry that its official symbol was a bit off-putting. With the group’s central philosophy suddenly finding traction in the daily discourse, appearances mattered.
So in November, as the country’s divisive presidential campaign became ever more jagged, the National Socialist Movement, a leading neo-Nazi group, did away with its swastika. In its stead, the group chose a symbol from a pre-Roman alphabet that was also adopted by the Nazis.
According to Jeff Schoep, the movement’s leader, the decision to dispense with the swastika was “an attempt to become more integrated and more mainstream.”
Let us pause. Not even two years ago, white supremacists like Mr. Schoep would rant from the fringe of the fringe, their attention-desperate events rarely worth mention. Today, though, the Schoeps of America are undergoing a rebranding, as part of the so-called alt-right: a grab bag of far-right groups generally united by the belief that white identity has become endangered in what they deride as this era of dangerous diversity and political correctness.
Continue reading the main story

The deceptively benign phrase “alt-right” now peppers the national conversation, often in ways that play down its fundamental beliefs, which have long been considered intolerant and hateful. The term’s recent prevalence corresponds with the rise of President-elect Donald J. Trump; alt-right leaders say his inflammatory statements and Twitter habits in the campaign energized, even validated, their movement."