Blue.

I say this with some self-mockery, but: Last night was bad. Couldn’t sleep. My insomnia usually presents as middle-of-the-night wakefulness, but Thursday night I just plain couldn’t get to sleep. Might have dozed a bit, but at 11:45 p.m. I was still tossing and turning. Thought, screw it, let’s read Twitter. And that’s when I saw the news of the tragedy in Dallas, which many of you are waking up to now. That was 14 minutes before what’s below was about to publish, and for that, all I can say is: whew.

Rereading it, though, I’m not going to change anything, although I’m glad I waited. I don’t think it’s cognitive dissonance to say you condemn both the sort of police work that leaves two men dead in two nights, AND the ambush massacre in Dallas. It’s clear to me that the police are the infantry in a lot of wars we’ve chosen to fight, or been led into fighting. The low-level cracked-taillight cop hassle that led to Philando Castile’s death earlier this week, and the GET DOWN GET DOWN GUN GUN GUN paramilitary screwup that killed Alton Sterling even earlier (and that was, what? Tuesday?) are all of a piece with a larger brokenness in our society that we haven’t addressed, and can’t even really see. We can’t even agree on what it is, which is one reason I’ll be tuning out a lot of the social-media static over the next few days. I’ll read you guys commenting here, because you are in the main smart and thoughtful, and I’ll read some selected news sources, but right now the best strategy seems to be to step back and ask: What is really going on here? It’s not what we think. It’s something worse, I fear. So, then, below is what I wrote before Dallas. It’s yours now.

I know everyone is talking about a particular police video today, but I want to draw your attention to a different one. This one. A 911 operator in Avon, Ohio gets two calls, one from a young woman, one from a man, claiming a woman they both know (daughter to the man, sister to the father) is a desk clerk at a Fairfield Inn, and just observed an Arabic man with “multiple disposable cell phones” and “full headdress” pledging allegiance to ISIS in the hotel. Come quick, she’s terrified!

And they do.

The tape is long, but the action is in the first few minutes, when the police roll into this suburban McHotel parking lot like the Marines into Fallujah, weapons drawn, shouting GET DOWN GET DOWN SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GIVE ME YOUR HANDS at this poor guy, whose “full headdress” is basically just a traditional white robe and kaffiyeh, whose pledge of allegiance to ISIS was a phone call in Arabic. He complies immediately, but the YELLING ORDERS stuff goes on, and at no point does anyone in a law-enforcement uniform offer him a hand up or, god forbid, an apology. Eventually the guy has some sort of medical crisis while he’s lying down, and he’s taken away on a stretcher.

A few things to stipulate here: Yes, I know this is standard police training. Go in big and loud and don’t back down. My question is, why not back down when you’re obviously wrong? Is there, anywhere in the training manual, any room for common sense to take over, for an officer in charge, or even in the rank and file, to rub a few brain cells together and think, “Hmm, Avon? A Fairfield Inn? Does this make sense as a terrorist target? And doesn’t the Cleveland Clinic do a lot of business with Middle Eastern patients? Who is this clerk and her sister and father? Maybe we can go in a little less…erect, shall we say, at least until the shooting starts.”

This is why people keep getting shot by police. We train officers to go in like the Marines, when a little more Andy Taylor may be called for. I think Jeff gets at the nut of it in his comment yesterday. A lot of police today came out of the military. A lot of their equipment is military surplus. They’re trained to think of themselves as soldiers. We see the attitude here in Detroit when we cross the border to have lunch or a drink in Windsor. On the Canadian side, a polite border officer asks where we’re going, whether we’re carrying firearms, hands back our passports and tells us to enjoy the city. Coming home, a scowling guy in a bulletproof vest asks why we’d cross an international border to have lunch. (“Well, the dim sum in Windsor is really superior to anything you can get over here.”) The vibe is AGGRESSIVE and DO NOT FUCK WITH THE UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL.

A while back, I was listening to a local radio station’s news roundup. It’s Canadian, but rarely broadcasts its call letters, and I’d forgotten until I heard a story about the Windsor police releasing their use-of-force data for the year. They consider unholstering a nightstick a use of force, and it’s overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for Canadian police. Not that it is used often.

The week’s news sickens me, and almost as sickening is the justification that’s immediately offered, by talking heads right down to the comment sections: Police work is hard, it’s stressful, you never know when someone is going to bust a cap in your ass, SHOW ME YOUR HANDS GET DOWN GET DOWN. I’m not denying any part of that. I’m postulating that maybe more common sense is called for. Maybe more humanity. Maybe fewer traffic stops for cracked fucking taillights. Do you know what it costs to get a taillight fixed? Do you have any idea what that amount of money represents to a poor person?

Ugh. Well.

I didn’t mention Newt Gingrich in my veep odds the other day, did I? I should have. I’m thinking he’s my favorite. He’ll take the gig because he has nothing to lose. He’s well out of politics, and makes his living entirely by consulting and writing unreadable books and elsewhere in the shadow D.C. economy. In other words, he has a lot to gain from a brand-build that a veep run with Trump would offer. Newt is 5:2.

If Fox News is like this on the air, imagine what it’s like off the air.

Finally, you all have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events |
 

84 responses to “Blue.”

  1. Deborah said on July 8, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Thanks Nancy, good work.

    I think part of it is that there are too many guns. My husband designed a training facility for Homeland Security and talked to a lot of cops while researching it. They all said that there are too many guns out there and they have to deal with that fact daily.

    All this violence is sickening.

  2. nancy said on July 8, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I’m going to suggest that this is part of the problem, from the AP roundup today:

    7:25 a.m.

    A man wrongly identified by Dallas police as a suspect in a sniper attack on police says he turned himself in and was quickly released.

    The Dallas Police Department put out a photo on its Twitter account late Thursday of a man wearing a camouflage shirt and holding a rifle with the message: “This is one of our suspects. Please help us find him!” The tweet remained on the account early Friday morning.

    The man in the photo, Mark Hughes, tells Dallas TV station KTVT that he “flagged down a police officer” immediately after finding out he was a suspect. He says police lied during a 30-minute interrogation, telling him they had video of him shooting.

    Videos posted online show Hughes walking around peacefully during the shooting and later turning over his gun to a police officer.

  3. alex said on July 8, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I’d love to imagine Fox News off the air. It’s one of my fondest fantasies.

  4. basset said on July 8, 2016 at 9:20 am

    So tell me, Mr. LaPierre, why didn’t some armed citizen take the shooter out?

  5. Jolene said on July 8, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Not only was there no armed citizen to take the shooter out, but the assembled firepower of the Dallas police couldn’t take him out. Am not sure if you heard this AM’s press conference, basset, but they decided to use a bomb robot to “neutralize” him, as any other approach would have involved too much risk to police officers.

    And, yes, there are way too many guns in this country. As I’ve said ad nauseum, no other advanced country has anything remotely like the level of gun violence we have.

  6. Charlotte said on July 8, 2016 at 9:49 am

    We even had a police shooting here in little old Livingston last year. Mentally ill guy with a knife in the Shopko parking lot. To which pretty much the whole town responded really? you couldn’t have wounded him? He was dangerous, but not that much.

    But so many guns, and the gun pushers keep convincing them all that shooting someone is the answer. We had to talk a very sweet friend of Chuck’s off the gun-nut ledge a couple of years back. There’s a gang of middle-schoolers who take little kid bikes that have been left out and joy ride them down to the school. Sometimes they toss them in the lagoon. It’s been going on for generations — Chuck’s friend, a sweet 30-something, was ready to sit out in the carport with his gun waiting for them — until Chuck offered to put in a motion detector light (he was renting from us at the time) and reminded him did he really want to shoot someone? anyone? a kid? This is a sweet guy who had been convinced that sitting out there like that was Defending His Family and he would have been DEVASTATED if he’d actually shot someone, especially a kid. But they all go first to GUNS. (Is it the video games? hadn’t thought of that until now, but another 30 something we know also went immediately to the notion that he had to sit up with his gun after his car was vandalized, and he’s a big gamer.)

    I could go on — the trophy wife who wanted me to go to a concealed weapons class with her as a bonding activity. Who was SHOCKED when I told her I didn’t believe in that, and if she’s scared at night in her Big House to keep a can of bear spray by the bed. You can certainly disable a villain with bear spray.

    Too Many Guns.

  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 8, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Check out the @DallasPD Twitter feed in the hours before the sniper attack. That’s a department that’s been trying harder to “get it” and be different from the militarized model for years now. Tragically ironic that this is the department that ends up paying the price for so many other departments with the four-stars, war wagon, thin-blue-line mentality. Policing is honorable work of which one can be proud, but the mix of too many guns and too much hardware too easily getting handed off to cop shops is brewing up this toxic stew.

    And brutally ironic that the conversation that I thought would happen today about those two officer-involved shootings is now largely silenced by the killings in Dallas.

    Peace to you all, and offer up a piece of your heart to whatever larger hopes you honor, in prayer or meditation or just focused concern. No act of love, no matter how silent, is entirely unheard.

  8. nancy said on July 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Charlotte, I hear that attitude — about protecting penny-ante property with deadly force — on a regular basis here. It usually happens when there’s a rash of thefts from vehicles, which are mostly left unlocked. I heard it once from a police dispatcher, who is, granted, to real police what a security guard is to real police, i.e., a wannabe. I said, “Really? You’d execute someone for an iPod? Or a pair of sunglasses?” He doubled down. Pricks, all of them.

  9. alex said on July 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Speaking of militarization of the police, scarcely a day goes by in little old Fort Wayne when an armored personnel carrier and a SWAT team aren’t dispatched to a domestic disturbance and it’s reported in the news as a “police standoff.”

    It’s one of those tanks that looks like a DUKW or “duck,” and it looks downright silly racing through town.

  10. adrianne said on July 8, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I’m fairly familiar with the paramilitary attitude in U.S. police departments, and the harm it causes. Best thing I’ve seen today is this essay by a black ex-police officer who says, basically, 15 percent of all police officers are good guys, 15 percent are horrible racists, and 70 percent wait to see which way the prevailing attitudes go in their own department. That’s pretty accurate. Here it is: “I’m a black ex-cop and here is the real truth about race and policing” http://www.vox.com/2015/5/28/8661977/race-police-officer

  11. basset said on July 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

    I know they did, Jolene. Just trying to point out where the “armed society is a safe society” argument goes wrong.

  12. claudia said on July 8, 2016 at 10:48 am

    My son is a state trooper. He’s also an undercover officer who risks his life daily and has been successful in getting large amounts of drugs off the street/drug dealers into prison. When police find a meth lab, he’s the one who suits up and goes in to dismantle the lab that could, potentially, blow up while he’s working. He went through rigorous training to get where he is and he gets continuing training on a regular basis. He’s also a gentle, sweet man. He told me one time that it breaks his heart when he is part of a raid on a drug house and there are children inside. The police action scares the children.

    Of course, I am proud of my son.

    Yes, it is important that we weed out the a*****es that become police officers, but I think it’s also important to remember/remind people that there are a lot of good officers too. Many of these men and women are brave, thoughtful people who put their lives on the line to protect all of us. They want to get rid of the bad cops too. 15 percent are good? 70 percent are waiting to see what the prevailing attitudes are? I don’t believe it.

  13. Jolene said on July 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

    The article Adrianne linked to is very good on the dynamics of policing. It captures the insights of social psychology re the power of groups to influence their members for good or ill.

  14. Jeff Borden said on July 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

    I’m with Claudia. My first real beat at the Columbus Dispatch was night cops. There definitely were some real cowboys and some horrible racists –the kind who gleefully wrote “colored” under race long after “black” was the accepted format– but the vast majority I dealt with were hard-working men and women. They didn’t face the kind of fearsome firepower on the streets these days. In the mid-70s, a shotgun was a heavy duty weapon. There were no AR-15 or the equivalent. It’s a damned dangerous job.

    Nothing good will come of this. Already, a tea party loon who has a radio show in suburban Chicago and calls himself the “Voice of Freedom” is blaming President Obama and Black Lives Matter. He’s sending out tweets alleging BLM is celebrating the attacks and praying the wounded officers die. He’s calling for an uprising of “real Americans.” Oh goody.

    And I imagine our local jihadists have made note of Dallas. They’ll find weapons just as easily as the Texas killers. But that blood spattered Second Amendment trumps everything, doesn’t it?

  15. Linda said on July 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Basset: really good thing there were no goof guys with guns, since they id’d the wrong guy, and sent his pic everywhere!

  16. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

    “Weeding out the bad police officers” isn’t going to solve the problem. The training and culture of police departments help create the bad police officers. Nancy mentions that in interrogating the wrong suspect, the Dallas PD lied to him about having video of him shooting. That’s a standard part of the protocol of the Reid interrogation technique, which is used in most police departments in the US. (It’s also really good at getting false confessions out of the particularly vulnerable, like teenagers.) http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/12/09/the-interview-7

    Officers-in-training are taught to be very afraid (much like the rest of us are being taught!) They are taught that the slightest hesitation can be fatal, and they’re soaked in that fear for much of their training: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/12/police-gun-shooting-training-ferguson/383681/

    Add to this officers often working in places they don’t live, jurisdictions relying on fines to fund government, officers feeling pressure to bring in revenue are going to target the most vulnerable and conversely be the most afraid of them. It’s a situation bound to create bad outcomes.

    Yes, there are bad cops. There are racist cops, there are cops with ties to white supremacist groups (one is under indictment here right now for excessive force against African-Americans), but most are behaving in a rational way given the water they swim in. We need the change the water. The Dallas PD has been doing a good job of changing that water, for the most part, and it’s especially unfortunate that they paid the price for the broken system we all have.

  17. Linda said on July 8, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I meant good guys with a gun. Freudian finger slip?

  18. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 11:29 am

    A link I posted late last night is a review of a book by Norm Stamper, former Seattle Police Chief, about what’s wrong with the way we police and what needs to change: http://crosscut.com/2016/07/time-for-a-tectonic-shift-in-policing-says-former-seattle-chief/

  19. Heather said on July 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    I get that being a cop is scary, but if you’re so scared that you shoot a guy in a car you’ve pulled over for a traffic stop after he tells you, as he’s supposed to, that he is armed, and is going for his driver’s license and paperwork, which you have asked for, then you shouldn’t be a cop.

    Also, I know most cops are good people, but the small percentage of cops who kill people really put a dent in their image and do a lot of harm. They should be just as upset with these cops and the system of fear and increased militarization.

  20. Jenine said on July 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    This all hurts. We live in the wild wild west of the modern US and the guns they are everywhere.

  21. Deborah said on July 8, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    I’m writing this at ABQ where I’m picking up my husband who will be in NM for a week. On the drive down here we noticed lots and lots of trucks pulled off to the edge of the interstate and wondered if there was a moment of silence of truckers in support of cops or something? Does anyone know if there was such a thing? It was odd.

  22. Joe K said on July 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    From the remarks on this blog there is a lot of blame to go around, may I be the first to blame the worthless piece of shit that pulled the trigger?
    Prayer for your sons safety Claudia.
    Pilot Joe

  23. David C. said on July 8, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    First to blame the shooter, Joe? Fuck off.

  24. Scout said on July 8, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Yesterday on Facebook I posted a rolling gif for Black Lives Matter. I later deleted a comment, ‘all lives matter’, posted by one of my regressive Pennsyltucky relatives . Because yes, obviously, duh. But not “all” are repressed and singled out for execution for crimes like broken taillights the way black people routinely are. That is why there are no straight pride parades. Straight people are not repressed. The Dallas TX incident is horrible, no excuses for that guy using violence to make his point. It’s especially sickening because the Dallas PD is apparently working hard to avoid the climate that creates deaths like Alton Sterling’s. But I still support #BLM. They were not responsible for what happened. The culture of violence, guns and racism that seethes below the surface of this country is.

  25. Danny said on July 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Just when we thought things could not possibly get worse: Using a Bomb Robot to Kill a Suspect Is an Unprecedented Shift in Policing

    https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/16/07/08/1752214/using-a-bomb-robot-to-kill-a-suspect-is-an-unprecedented-shift-in-policing

  26. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Yes, Danny, concerning. Also concerning is the question of what was the communication and control technology for the robot? Was it encrypted? In other words, how easy it is to hack one of these?

  27. Brandon said on July 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    About the YouTube Gretchen Carlson video: At 0:16 the lower third from the Fox & Friends clip reads: ALOHA, FOX & FRIENDS! FOLKS ARE WATCHING US IN HAWAII

    It’s broadcast live, which is 12 or 1 a.m. Hawaii time (depending on whether or not it’s daylight savings time). So people are watching at least part of it.

  28. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    If you want a reminder that policing hasn’t changed so much as that the ubiquity of cellphone videos has made policing more visible, check out EPSN’s OJ documentary. It’s not just about OJ. (and it’s not just about Mark Fuhrman, either.)

  29. Joe K said on July 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    David C,
    Did I miss some one blaming the shooter?
    I apologize if I did.
    Pilot Joe

  30. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on July 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    The book Sherri mentioned at #18 is worth a look. The article is a good summary.

  31. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Nancy’s college buddy Peter King reaches for new levels of cluelessness by tweeting out “Where’s Martin Luther King when you need him?”

  32. Dexter said on July 8, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    nance…why do you have to show your passport crossing over via bridge or tunnel? I know at least for a while an enhanced Michigan driver’s license was all one needed after the passport rule for everyone else went into effect. Maybe, since you already travel, just showing the passport is easier than applying for and getting the enhanced license? One thing I know: if you have ever had a DUI or whatever they may call that in your state or country, you ain’t getting into Canada, period.
    OK…so is this “you reap what you sow”? YouTube certainly is full of videos of Black Lives Matter rallies and clearly is heard “what do we want? DEAD COPS when do we want them? NOW!” Well, shit…some hateful people take that to heart and let it fester and begin planning…right? Can we really say Black Lives Matter, with “Pigs in a blanket…FRY THEM!” chants don’t really inspire murderous fanatics to act?
    This is a tough one…can we be surprised, after two straight nights of clear videos of cops murdering innocent Black men, that Dallas happened?
    The whole country is on edge, can you feel it? I mean, after I knew about St. Paul and Baton Rouge, last night I drove through McDonald’s for a pack of cookies and a cop just happened to be behind me in a slow moving line, and it made me uneasy, for no reason. If I was a Black man, I’d have really been uneasy, feel me? A month ago a state trooper drove into this open county-owned field where I had just parked, just because he didn’t like the angle at which I was parked. He startled me…it seems the whole country is a nervous tinderbox.(The state cop questioned me, saw my dogs, and drove off…didn’t even ask for my license and registration…now that was a first.

    On the lighter side, I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2016 Tour de France this first of three weeks. My favorite cyclist Mark Cavendish, The Manx Missile, won three stages, and his Dimension Data teammate Steve Cummings won the stage today. Four stage winners for one owner in less than a week? Unheard of. Now, the Pyrennes beckons.

  33. nancy said on July 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    To cross the border to Canada from Michigan, you need a passport, a passport card (sort of a passport lite) or an enhanced driver’s license. I like to keep a current passport, because you never know when you might have to flee the country, like if maybe Donald Trump were to be elected. The last time I renewed, I was offered to add a passport card for an extra $30 or so, and so I did that. I leave the bigger document at home in the desk, and carry the card in my wallet, in a special paper sleeve so that people can’t scan its chip info.

    The card is good for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas, but only via car or boat. If you fly, gotta have the regular passport book. Which is never stamped.

  34. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Lately, more than ever, it feels like the social compact is flying apart. I hold that thought, and I also remember that the social compact has never fully included all of us, and that is why BlackLivesMatter. A social compact that sanctions brutality against black people is a social compact that is already broken. Our social compact in this country has always had a big crack in it, and we have always resisted looking at it.

    There are always strong forces in our country who want to construct a social compact that contains an “us” and a “them”, with “them” being tolerated at best, but never being allowed any real power and brutally put back in their place when they try to claim any. Who the “us” and “them” are may vary, but there are some groups who are always in the “thrm”. Right now, intentionally or not, Donald Trump is at the least giving comfort to those forces, at the worst leading them. I worry less about Donald Trump actually winning the Presidency than I do about what happens next. I hope the people who want to rebuild are stronger than the people who want to blow things up.

  35. Deborah said on July 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    “What happens next”, yes that is the question, whoever wins the presidency. If we think it’s bad now with Hillary being attacked, just imagine what it will be like if/when she becomes president. It will be non-stop obstruction, maybe even worse than Obama has gotten. If by some fluke Trump really does become president, hold on to your hats, that will be a global disaster. I really think things are going to get worse in a lot of ways. Can you tell I’m a big ole pessimist. As my daughter says, I don’t just think the glass is half empty, I think it’s smashed on the ground in a million little pieces.

  36. beb said on July 8, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    There used to a blog called Media Whores” which recounted examples of media journalists throwing aside their ethnics and balance. We could use a site like that again. Lester Holt was on MSNBC interviewing Mrs. Clinton about Dallas Texas. For a follow up question he asked her about her email scandal, outlining all the Republican talking points he wanted her to respond to. Right, because her emails from years back are much more important than the developing news from Dallas…. Lester Holt, Media Whore.

  37. alex said on July 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Here’s why Gingrich will probably be Trump’s running mate. He can play good cop to offset Trump’s bad cop, and even if it doesn’t siphon off any Democratic votes, his antics will give the bigots the sort of cover Ben Carson was more than happy to provide.

    Pence, on the other hand, is just another reactionary given to putting his foot in his mouth when it’s not up his ass, and he has this bad habit of apologizing for saying stupid things even though he really means them.

  38. Sherri said on July 8, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Instead of worrying about Hillary’s emails, which clearly involved no risk to the country, perhaps Republicans in Congress should be paying a little more attention to the travails of Deutsche Bank: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36723034

    Why Deutsche Bank in particular, other than it’s the currently the world’s riskiest bank? Because it’s the only bank that will do business with Donald Trump, their presumptive nominee, and he owes them $100 million. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/trump-german-loan-deutsche-bank

    But let’s have some more Congressional investigations into Hillary. Maybe she gave too much to her grandchildren and didn’t pay gift taxes.

  39. Brandon said on July 8, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    Wikipedia article on the blog beb mentioned.

  40. Mark P. said on July 8, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    If you want a kick in the guts, check this article:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/the-counted-police-killings-us-vs-other-countries

    One comparison: In England and Wales there were 55 fatal police shootings in the last 24 years (comparison made in 2015). In the US there were 59 fatal police shootings in the first 24 days of 2015. The article has several other informative comparisons with other countries with sane firearm regulations. It’s kind of sickening. I believe the widespread possession of guns in the US is one thing that makes police officers trigger happy. On the other hand, a cop shot a black man in the Atlanta area (Chamblee) in 2015; the man was clearly unarmed because he was NAKED. One of the local TV stations had a lawyer expert who said the police officer would have a very good defense because naked people are so very dangerous. I am serious. I’m sure there was ample justification because of the enhanced possibility of getting cooties from a naked man.

  41. basset said on July 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Been watching the Olympic gymnastic trials, or rather Mrs. B has been warching while I do something else. One thing seems apparent from occasional casual sampling, though – none of these girls looks like they’re enjoying it. Grim and deadly serious the whole time they’re performing, with parents and coaches around the floor waiting to jump on their mistakes… no fun.

  42. Dexter said on July 9, 2016 at 1:13 am

    basset…last Saturday a chap named Murphy qualified for the 800m in Rio, along with two other men. I wondered if he is related to another Murphy, whomae it to the semifinals in Rome, 1960. This Murphy is the guy who beat out my old coach and sixth grade teacher Larry Dove for the final slot, Rome-bound. It was just .02 seconds. Larry was very proud of almost making it…a real life-lesson if you ask me. He trained as hard as he could, he ran as fast as he could…he failed to go to the Olympics. It coincides with the late Tim Russert’s mantra about this: if you agree to take a job or sign on to a job assignment, act like you want to be there. It’s like the old adage in sports, leave it all on the field, the pitch, the court, the diamond, the ice…anything else, you’re wasting your time. That’s why I never feel bad about never getting to go have my two tryouts in Florida (for the Phillies and the old Montreal Expos), when the army snatched me up. I did all I could do, and that was enough. (My teammates and I would occasionally get to attend Class A (low minor leagues) pro games. We’d just nod to each other sometimes,we knew our team could play in that league and win , but we were not pros, we were wanna bes. They were the ballyhooed elites. I am glad that a hlf dozen of our players finally did crack the barrier and go on to have multi-year good pro careers…the only one to make the big leagues, wouldn’t ya know it…turned out to be a heroin user and was banned for life.

  43. Jakash said on July 9, 2016 at 1:43 am

    Sherri @ 28,

    We finally finished watching “OJ: Made in America” a few day ago. While it was worthwhile, it was still disappointing to me, not to mention infuriating, which I assumed it would be. I appreciated the additional background outside of the trial that was provided, especially in the first episode. But, while I realize I’m swimming against the overwhelmingly positive critical stream here, it ended up for me being somewhat like watching “Crossfire” back when Jon Stewart ripped those guys for their “more heat than light” arguments. [Full disclosure: I’m more familiar with Stewart’s critique than I was with “Crossfire.” ; )]

    Just having the eternally obnoxious F. Lee Bailey and the equally smug and insufferable Carl Douglas spout their end-zone-dance analyses of the brilliant defense strategy was bad enough. But, after all this time, couldn’t they have been challenged at all with regard to their successful efforts to enable a murderer to walk because of a category confusion between him and the average black defendant? Evidently not. At least Barry Scheck, who I think I despised more than any of them at the time of the trial for his ruthless and smarmy demolition of the hapless Mr. Fung, seemed to realize that what he did was nothing to cheer about.

    But, yeah, it was certainly timely to see that Rodney King video, the vanguard of so many that we see these days, and be reminded of how shocking and outrageous that was at the time. “policing hasn’t changed so much as that the ubiquity of cellphone videos has made policing more visible”, indeed…

  44. Sherri said on July 9, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Jakash, it’s interesting to remember that Barry Scheck had already started the Innocence Project a couple of years prior to the OJ trial. People are complex.

    I found the trial part the least interesting part of the OJ series. OJ himself wasn’t even that interesting or surprising. The context was fascinating, as was the glimpse at the very different lived experiences of the white and black people involved. It was also interesting to see the white friends of OJ and their reactions, the Hertz guy especially.

    OJ may have been acquitted of a double murder, but he didn’t get away with anything.

  45. basset said on July 9, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Dexter, I was never any good at sports and my baseball playing ended when I finished Little League and failed to make our one local Babe Ruth team, so my perspective is quite different. I see these gymnasts and other young athletes who have to make one sport their whole lives, joining travel teams, quitting school, leaving home, and I wonder where the fun went. We used to get a few kids together and just go play – I don’t see that any more, it’s all so organized now.

  46. adrianne said on July 9, 2016 at 7:43 am

    Bassett, one exception to the grim gymnast face is Simone Bile, who is outstanding and seems actually to be having fun in her incredible floor routines. Take a look:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ey9OwtTsB0

  47. basset said on July 9, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Out yard-saling this morning. Big one right down the street in our neighborhood, lots of musical stuff… only in Nashville will you find someone selling their band’s cd at a yard sale.

  48. Kirk said on July 9, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Dexter@42: Who was the guy banned for life for heroin?

  49. Jolene said on July 9, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Just listened to President Obama in a long statement/press conference in Warsaw at the end of the NATO summit Warsaw. As always, so impressive to hear him speak thoughtfully and knowledgeably about race, policing, gun violence, terrorism, NATO defense budgets, European integration, migration of refugees, international trade and globalism.*

    The idea of having Donald Trump in that role is beyond imagining. Not only does he not have any answers; he does not even have the vocabulary to discuss the problems.

    I know I’m not saying anything new here, but the idea is so horrifying I just had to say it.

    *Google tells me that C-SPAN has videos from past NATO summits, so likely this will be up soon as well. I really encourage watching it. Will help shape your thinking about the interrelatedness of many issues. I’ll post a link later.

  50. Dexter said on July 9, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Kirk: He played for the old Washington Senators…he was actually on the team I played for, but four years before my time on the team.
    Back then, this kind of thing was not publicized, and I doubt even you could find documentation as to why he was cut and ostracized…he was just gone…the reason I believe it, is that one time our team owner had a meeting with us and told the story to emphasize why we should not fall to the perils of drugs. He accepted us having a few beers but you better never have been drunk when he saw you, or your ass was on the next Greyhound or Continental Trailways bus.

    I am editing this as I type because it was 50 years ago and I thought I’d better research this old player before I go IDing him…and sure enough, he is alive and well, smoking cigarettes and running a baseball academy in his backyard in a town in Florida. Exposing him for what he may think is a deep secret serves only to make me an asshole. Best I should do is tell you he was on the 1965 roster, Washington Senators. To my surprise, I discovered he actually played ten years in the big leagues…hell…he must have gotten clean and found a team that gave him a second chance. Now that makes me feel better. 🙂

  51. Kirk said on July 9, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Your discretion is admirable, Dexter. Now I can have some fun seeing if I can figure out who it is and keeping it to myself.

  52. LAMary said on July 9, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Basset, you see cds at yard sales here in LA all the time. Also DVDs and occasionally VHS tapes.

  53. David C. said on July 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Looks like someone we missed on the tRump VP stakes. A nutball retired general.

    http://www.vox.com/2016/7/9/12129202/michael-flynn-vice-president-donald-trump

  54. basset said on July 9, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    LAMary, I meant CDs recorded by the people hosting the yard sale. Had that happen at least three times now – boxes of professionally produced and packaged CDs and the person on the front is the same one standing right there selling their old couch or whatever.

  55. basset said on July 9, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Dexter, was this a Legion team, semi-pro, or what?

  56. beb said on July 9, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    http://gawker.com/six-more-women-publicly-accuse-roger-ailes-of-sexual-ha-1783393967

    It looks like we can speaking of the cosbyization of Roger Ailes.

    Something that been in the back of my head for a while. The US freaks out because we’ve had one or two terrorist attacks this year. How do the people living in Baghdad go on with there lives when there seems to be weekly suicide bombing killings 30-50 people at a time. Either they are very courageous or fatalistic.

  57. Jolene said on July 9, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    I’ve been thinking about that too, beb. I was looking at tweets from Ben Wedeman, a CNN correspondent currently in Baghdad, after this last horrible bombing (290 dead, last I heard), and he said, “If you think people are used to this, you are wrong.” Said it was a very traumatizing event. Many bodies were burned beyond recognition. And all this on a holiday evening.

    What a sorry species we can be.

  58. Dave said on July 9, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    I’ve had that thought for years, how do those people continue on day to day? I used to think that about the continuing terror in Belfast, Northern Ireland and then, I thought how fortunate I was to be here.

  59. Deborah said on July 10, 2016 at 12:22 am

    And don’t forget the south side and the west side of Chicago too. With all of the shootings that happen nightly there. They seem to be mostly young people too. How horrendous for the people living there, enduring that almost daily.

    Took a long hike this afternoon in Abiquuu looking at petroglyphs. It was 97 with 10% humidity. Nice in the shade with a breeze but brutal in the sun.

  60. Sherri said on July 10, 2016 at 1:33 am

    Washington has moved to raise child-care standards. How do those standards translate to a different culture?

    http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/seattle-area-somali-community-unites-to-embrace-states-new-child-care-standards/

  61. Dexter said on July 10, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Kirk…it’s a strange tale, with social ramifications. Detroit, 1967…12 th street, a blind pig was raided by cops, and that angered residents and all hell broke loose. Not the first period that saw a big riot in Detroit, but this one was massive…April, the next year…Memphis, April 4…MLK shot dead at the Lorraine Motel….

    Ed Hamman,resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, had worked as a cost-saving financial manager for the Harlem Globetrotters for a while, while in summers appearing as a baseball clown…his props included a giant mitt and a huge bat…he appeared in baggy uniform and pancake makeup.
    Syd Pollock was owner of the Negro Leagues’ Indianapolis Clowns…apparently there was some connection between Syd and Abe Saperstein of the ‘Trotters, because Ed Hamman left the ‘Trotters to join the Clowns full time. At some point, as MLB was integrated and the Negro Leagues fell apart, sadly…only one team was left, the Indianapolis Clowns. They became a barnstorming team and featured comical men and sometimes a woman would join the fracas for a season, they always had a dwarf they called a midget, they had at time horribly fat guys playing (usually playing first base and sitting in a chair), and they had a star for-real baseball clown, at times Max Patkin but many more season they employed Bobo Nickerson. In 1967, believe it or not, Ed Hamman signed the great Satchel Paige…Satch was really old then, the year before I joined the team, but I saw him in of all places the Waterloo High School diamond…the game was rained out…there was this great man, standing in the light rain, eating a hot dog in Waterloo.
    1968, spring…I was wanting to figure out quickly where I was playing that summer; I was 18. I saw an ad in The Sporting News, “Baseball School”. I sent in a letter asking for information and I was told it was tryout for a team, not a school…just called a school so Ed could get players to come play for $2 a day meal money, and no salary. I was told I would be trying out for the “College All-Stars”, as phony as could be…only a few of the try-out attendees had even been on a campus.
    Years later I had read that during the long storied history of the Clowns, a few whites had played, just for a novelty…a freak on an otherwise all-Black team.
    Ed Hamman saw what the country was going through and for 1968 he decided he would have the All-Stars be comprised of a roster which would be half-white. We had tryouts on some Winston-Salem , NC high school field we commandeered and I was selected.
    We immediately began playing, almost always in minor league stadiums…Winston-Salem, Salem, Raleigh, Kinston, Savannah, Macon, Lynchburg, Tidewater area, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville…some of these were Double A and Triple A stadiums, like old Bush Stadium in Indianapolis. In 1968 we even played one game in Comiskey Park…the clubbies gave us old used, laundered sanitary hose to wear, ain’t that a hoot? It was cool using real MLB pine tar to smear all over our bat barrels.
    Once in Charlotte, Bowie Kuhn was in town and he actually came to see us play. The commissioner of baseball coming to see us…surreal! I shook his hand with a “hello sir”.
    Old Bowie was there with his wife and kid and I stole glances…he ate a hot dog and was eating peanuts and having a helluva relaxed evening. Hard to imagine. I know…this whole damn story seems like a made-up bullshit saga!
    The Clowns had “Shadow Ball”, a routine in which an invisible baseball was used to start some fancy moves by the infielders. Birmingham Sam Brison (recently deceased) was the star of this performance. We also had a pygmy dwarf named Dero Austin. http://community.baseballhall.org/view.image?Id=3854
    Dero was also the meal money guy, handing out our 2 bucks, which increased to $3 by 1969 until we went on strike (sorta) for $5 a day and settled on $4.
    The two players that I played with who had great minor league success were my roomie Adrian Kenary who led the Carolina league in ERA one summer, and Joe Talley, who lead the Double A Denver Bears in all offensive categories and led the PCL in doubles with 65…and never got even one at-bat in the bigs. Lots more stuff all over the ‘nets about the Clowns, who, by the way, had not had a damn thing to do with Naptown for years, just the name.

  62. Dexter said on July 10, 2016 at 3:36 am

    How about this? When the Hagerstown Dana plant closed back in the early 1990s, many workers transferred to the Auburn plant where I worked…almost all of these folks were good people…maybe around a couple dozen, maybe 30. Many of them talked about living in Cambridge City, near Hagerstown. Cambridge City was where the giant $540 mil Mega Millions ticket was sold. I hope one on those folks hit the prize…by now they’d mostly all be retired and re-located back home.

  63. Kirk said on July 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Great tale, Dexter. Sounds like you were the baseball version of the Washington Generals. Thanks for sharing.

    I have childhood memories of ads in the Columbus newspapers for appearances by the barnstorming Clowns, probably at what was then Jet Stadium. At that time, I couldn’t quite figure out where they fit into the baseball universe.

  64. alex said on July 10, 2016 at 11:28 am

    What a gorgeous weekend it has been!

    Yesterday made a big batch of stewed peppers from the garden — bell and Hungarian wax. They’re ginormous this year. Tomatoes are running a little behind the curve, alas. Eggplants and okra croaked. Broccoli looks like it won’t make it. My basil has some kind of strange rust all over it and has been flowering and trying to go to seed from the get-go.

    And I used to think cilantro wasn’t worth bothering with until I developed a large enough patch of it. Now it re-seeds itself constantly and there’s alway’s plenty of new shoots amid the yellowing, fallen ones.

    The scenery from the garden is interesting this year as well. On the lake is a pairing of a male white duck, one of those hybridized types, probably an escapee from the zoo or some manicured estate, and a female mallard. They and their mallard-looking babies hang out with a family of geese, which seems unusual. Hoping to catch a picture although the iPhone isn’t very good at capturing things at a distance.

  65. Dave said on July 10, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Yes, I remember those ads, too, Kirk, and I’m in agreement that they were in Jet Stadium, home of the Columbus Jets of the International League.

    I looked at the 1965 Washington Senators roster and was struck by the many familiar names on there. Names like Ryne Duren, Dallas Green, Don Zimmer, Frank Howard, Don Blasingame, names I was once so familiar with when I followed baseball closely. Poor Dallas Green would lose a granddaughter to gun violence in the Gabby Giffords shooting.

    Yes, Deborah, Chicago, where the violence seems to be unending and unstoppable.

  66. Dave said on July 10, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Oh, and Dexter, I was going to mention that I went by that Dana plant for years, passing by it on the railroad. Hagerstown is at the bottom of a big hill on the railroad.

  67. Deborah said on July 10, 2016 at 11:50 am

    So I reread Nancy’s excellent post and it made me think about another authoritarian group that stands around and yells at people, the TSA. I realize they have a thankless job, no one wants to go through the hassle of those long lines and taking off shoes etc. But it’s not made any less degrading by the way the TSA people stand there and bark orders at you. I know they repeat the same things over and over and it’s probably frustrating for them too. Some of them try being funny, but I find it lame especially when you hear the same joke over and over again. Flying is such a hassle these days, it’s especially bad in the summer.

  68. Deborah said on July 10, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Dave, the weird thing about violence in Chicago is that unless you live in certain areas of the city you don’t really even know it’s going on if you don’t read or listen to the news. Life goes on cluelessly in many parts of the city. That’s disturbing too.

  69. alex said on July 10, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    True, Deborah. I remember when I first moved to Chicago in the ’80s there were friends back home who would ask how I could live in such a dangerous place. Surely I must have been dodging bullets every time I went out, and finding my home burglarized every time I came back. Other than some minor vandalism of property over twenty years, I was never a victim of serious crime, and certainly no violent crime.

    But the same holds true even in a much smaller place like Fort Wayne. Though the news reports daily shootings, it’s mostly between rival gang members in the most impoverished parts of town and most people are unaffected and wouldn’t even know about it if they didn’t watch the news or read the papers.

  70. alex said on July 10, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    My further point being, this is where they get it wrong in the gun debates. You probably can’t keep guns out of the hands of gangsters, true enough. But the gangsters aren’t killing anyone but themselves. They aren’t the ones shooting up schools and theaters and co-workers at the office. The people who do that sort of thing buy their guns through the normal channels and that’s where something can be done about it.

  71. Dave said on July 10, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    My uncle lived in Chicago for years, first in the city and then in Park Ridge for a few years, before he retired to California. To the best of my knowledge, he never encountered any problems and he loved living there, he grew up in smalltown Ohio and I think he yearned for the big city life from the time he was a teenager, at least.

    Yes, Deborah and Alex, I know it’s that way, most of the crime is in one part of the city, both in Fort Wayne and Chicago, along with the other cities that I am most familiar with, such as Columbus and the Tampa Bay area. Isn’t it that way most places?

  72. Jolene said on July 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    While it’s true that lots of gun crime involves gang-bangers shooting each other, there are plenty of reports of shots striking innocent people. Consider, for instance, the story of the young girl who’d marched at President Obama’s second inaugural and was shot shortly thereafter as she and her friends chatted in a park. Also, lots of gun deaths involve domestic violence, and about 500 deaths per year are accidents or, more accurate, the result of carelessness, such as when very young kids get their hands on guns or the father who shot his son last week at a gun range in Florida.

    And even some of those gang-bangers might live long enough to get over being young and stupid if there weren’t so many guns around.

  73. Jolene said on July 10, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Here’s a link to keep in your file–a report on a study that shows that there is little evidence to indicate that guns provide significant defensive benefits.

  74. Kirk said on July 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    As the mayor of Dallas mentioned today, especially in an open-carry state such as Texas, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys when the shit hits the fan.

  75. Bitter Scribe said on July 10, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Once, when I was a newspaper reporter, one of the suburban police departments we covered had a firing-range paper target with the silhouette of a black man with a ridiculously oversized Afro and the words “Running Nigger Target.” Har har har.

    That same department was one of a number sued for strip-searching women who committed minor traffic violations. (I agree with Eric Zorn in this morning’s Chicago Tribune: Knock off pulling people over for petty crap like cracked taillights and changing lanes without signaling.)

    There are too many people out there with guns and badges who have no business carrying them. Period.

  76. Kirk said on July 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Part of the problem is that some people become cops (or umpires) because there’s no other way they’re going to command any respect.

  77. Sherri said on July 10, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    The reason cops are stopping people for petty shit is the War on Taxes. It’s not just when they’re in a car, either; jaywalking is another offense that gets black people arrested and fined and beaten up and sometimes killed.

  78. David C. said on July 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    It’s the same with drug offenses. You look at the statistics on who uses drugs and middle class whites use more and sell more than African-Americans of any economic group. But when you look at sentences, whites are treated with kid gloves.

  79. brian stouder said on July 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Hey y’all! Thursday the family and I rolled for Asheville, NC, and the Biltmore mansion (surprisingly engaging) and the Blue Ridge parkway (endlessly beautiful); and then Charleston, SC and Fort Sumter and the USS Yorktown – which was all marvelous – and hot today!

    The one thing that I found most striking, and which surprised me and will remain in my memory to the end of the show?

    Who knew that if you go into the harbor at Charleston that you’d see dolphins? Quite regularly? All over the place? This I did not know!

    Tomorrow we’re off to Savannah, and after that Jacksonville, Florida – with a view to ultimately reaching the Florida keys for my brother’s wedding this Saturday.

    Aside from all that – one thing I read about all the gun violence in Fort Wayne, and which made a depressing amount of sense, is that the bad guys dragoon very young kiddos into the gunplay and the hits and so on, knowing that even if they get caught, the law will go easier on them than they would on the adult gangsters that recruited them.

    There’s gotta be a way to break that feedback loop

  80. beb said on July 10, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    We had a wonderful day today. Did a little shopping then on a whim went to the Metro Beach Metro Park, which has been renamed the Lake St. Clair Metro Park. Went over to the boat launch to watch people on skidoos. Then because picnicers have occupied all the tables and benches we drove to the other side of the park and took a tram out to the point where he could watch the big boats comes and go. Shade and a nice breeze moderated the heat. Gorgeous weather. I waved towards the lake thinking Nancy must be out there somewhere. Had Mexican for supper and now we’re feeling fat and sassy.

    Cops really should stop going after little stuff, but as Sherri points out that’s where a lot of community revenue comes from anymore.

  81. Jill said on July 10, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Re: Chicago shootings: For 20+ years I’ve been volunteering by teaching a weekly class for an agency serving the homeless on the west side of the city. We’ve had three locations and are now in a transitional home in West Garfield Park which is a crime-ridden area. A year or two ago each week I’d ask the men in the class about the shootings on their block, sometimes right on their corner, that I’d read about during the week and they rarely knew anything about them. Finally one of the men told me that it’s so normal there that they just don’t notice them any more. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.

  82. Deborah said on July 10, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Have any of you seen the horrendous video of black protestors being run down by cars as the protesters try to block traffic. It’s extremely disturbing. It was actually compiled by someone who was sympathetic to the drivers who ran down the protesters which makes it that much more shocking. I’d link to it but I don’t know how, it was on my Facebook feed, a friend linked to it, he was also horrified by it.

  83. Jolene said on July 11, 2016 at 12:18 am

    Deborah, was this video from today or the past few days? By googling “protesters run over”, I found several news articles and YouTube videos, but, glancing through, I didn’t see any that were current. Not that such actions were better in the past.

  84. Dexter said on July 11, 2016 at 2:12 am

    God bless you for having the patience to drive a vehicle all the way down to the tip of the Keys, brianstouder. A few years ago for a long holiday weekend my daughter and her husband flew to Miami and rented a Ford Mustang convertible for a trip to Key West. Now that was a fine time for them. I am sure I made the right decision for our trip out west, as we were going to rent a van and drive to Las Vegas and then on to Monterey-Carmel, until that plan disintegrated immediately for two reasons: 1) the freakin’ price of vehicle rental has exploded like the price of a beer at a sporting event…unaffordable. 2) “C’mon Dexter” said the voice in my head, “you ain’t no spring chicken…drive to the coast when airplanes depart all day long heading that way?” The voice won. Then I see on tonight’s news …a Delta jet had to land in Tulsa…sick passengers, carbon dioxide in the cabin. Sick, sick.

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