Song in the key of life

This particular bass line has been following me around for the past two weeks like the Jason Voorhees sound effect or like Isaac Hayes keeping step with Richard Roundtree.  When I hear that first note, it hits my senses like John Williams warning me to get out of the ocean if I wish to live.  Whether it’s been at 4am on the way to work, 2pm on the way home from work, or any point and time in between, I haven’t been able to escape the audible grip of this sonic messenger.  When I hear it, the power it exudes causes me to pause in my tracks as if I can avoid detection if I don’t move or breathe.  When the accompanying guitar riffs and drums join in the sonic parade, I know that there’s no use in trying to escape the tentacles of this aural assassin, so I have no choice but to succumb and listen to it in its entirety until it is done with me and vanishes into thin air.

For those who are not musicians or able to read sheet music, I’ll offer you a different version.  I’ll be back in a little over 5 minutes to continue writing because I know that I won’t get anything done until the song is finished.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system for a while, I’m guessing that somewhere, there’s a part of my subconscious that wants me to post about people like Colbert, Oklahoma reserve police officer Bart Alsbrook.

Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses

Who is Alsbrook, and why is he relevant you ask?  Well, he was a reserve officer prior to being named as the interim police chief in Colbert even though he was not officially certified as a peace officer by the accrediting agency in Oklahoma.  Upon getting named as interim chief, Alsbrook was found to have ties to White Nationalist and Neo-Nazi groups thanks to investigative reporting done by Rachel Knapp at KXII in Sherman, TX.  Since his past has been uncovered, Alsbrook has decided to resign from the position even though the city council wanted him to stay in the position.

From KXII:

But the recently appointed city spokesperson, Jerry Harrell, says the city council admires Alsbrook and is *not seeking his resignation.

“They don’t want him to leave because he hasn’t done anything they warrant, would be grounds for his dismissal,” Harrell said.

Harrell said the city did a background and Council on Law Enforcement, Education and Training (CLEET) certification check before hiring Alsbrook.

Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses

Alsbrook is not an anomaly nor an isolated case either.  According to a report published by the Intercept, the FBI has been investigating the infiltration of the law enforcement community by White supremacists for a long time.

White supremacists and other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A striking reference to that conclusion, notable for its confidence and the policy prescriptions that accompany it, appears in a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept…

In a heavily redacted version of an October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment, the agency raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The effort, the memo noted, “can lead to investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources or personnel.” The memo also states that law enforcement had recently become aware of the term “ghost skins,” used among white supremacists to describe “those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.” In at least one case, the FBI learned of a skinhead group encouraging ghost skins to seek employment with law enforcement agencies in order to warn crews of any investigations.

Now, don’t take this as a broad brush of the entire law enforcement community, because that is not what this is about.  I’ve been wearing blue myself for 10 years, and I have numerous friends and family members who have also been sworn LEOs on all levels.  Law enforcement, just as any other profession is made up of a lot of good, hardworking people who are trying to do a job and provide for their family members.  There are also some within the profession who are lower than saggy ant testicles.  That goes for any profession.

The problem with the law enforcement community is that you don’t have many who are willing to speak out or even try to get rid of the bad elements, so it appears that most, if not all, are protecting everyone to include the bad actors.  I surmise that much of that is the pressure of having to provide for family as well as preservation of life itself.  Look at the story of Frank Serpico, and you can understand why there are not many “lamp lighters” as Serpico refers to whistleblowers.

Some of those who work forces, are the same that burn crosses

The infiltration of white supremacists is not limited to the law enforcement community either.  The military has long been plagued with the issue of white supremacists within the ranks.  One of the groups that participated in the Charlottesville rally, Vanguard America, is led by a former Marine.  The driver of the car that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer was a Marine boot camp dropout.  Back in 1995, a black couple in Fayetteville, NC were killed by members of the 82nd Airborne stationed at nearby Ft. Bragg.  In 1976, there was a KKK chapter found at Camp Pendleton in California.

Credit: Fox 6 Milwaukee, WI

When you see photos like the one above, a trained person can easily see which people in that group have went through weapons training.  It’s almost like picking out someone wearing a neon yellow vest in a crowd of people dressed in all black.  To others, it looks like a group of armed individuals, any of whom could present a danger to the groups they see as their opposition.  While I don’t think they present an immediate clear and present danger, these groups should not be taken lightly as a whole because there are some very well-trained individuals within their ranks.  There are many war veterans and former police officers aligned with these groups, and the thought of well-trained marksmen with their ideology is quite concerning.

Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn crosses

I’m not the only one that has that opinion.  Back in 2009, there was a report* released by the Department of Homeland Security** which outlined the increasing threat America faced involving rightwing domestic terrorism.  Republican politicians and other conservatives jumped all over then President Obama and Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano because of the contents of that report since it targeted conservative constituents and claimed that it was propaganda meant to demean all conservatives.  It didn’t matter that DHS had also written an assessment of the threat of leftwing domestic terrorism.  Nor did it matter that the key findings of the report include a statement that said there were no findings of any impending acts of violence.

This has been a problem long in the making and one that our elected leaders have consistently ignored.  We’ve had over four decades to address these problems instead of letting them fester.  Now, we’re seeing the consequences of inaction.  When a veteran police officer of 28 years can tell a woman “Remember, we only kill black people. We only kill black people, right?” and his lawyer defends this by saying that he thinks the officer was being sarcastic, then we have a very serious problem on our hands. This isn’t funny anymore at all, nor should it be ignored any further.

*A link to the pdf report is imbedded within the story

**Open disclosure: DHS is my current employer, and I had nothing to do with the mentioned report.

 

 

Advertisements

America needs an enema

That was one of many great lines delivered by Jack Nicholson in Batman.  At one point, I would have suggested that Washington DC was that town.  Now, I think this entire country is constipated.  Just look at the way people interact with each other.  Check the differences in how media is disseminated or viewed.  We are in a state of utter chaos, and much of it is of our own doing.

For starters, VOX ran a very interesting article on the difference in news coverage on the Trump/Russia issue between the right-wing media outlets and everyone else.

The past week of Trump scandals for people reading mainstream news outlets has gone something like this: President Trump fired the FBI director who was investigating his campaign’s connection with Russia — and then the next day, Trump shared classified information with Russian officials.

But on conservative news outlets, the narrative was very different. It was about an FBI director whose firing was long overdue, and a liberal media desperate to take down Trump.

You can find the entire article here, and it is well worth the read.  The gist of the article shows that we are living in two different realities.  People who only get their news from one source or from within their own safe zone are talking entirely different incidents with people in other news circles.  When you hear Trump supporters dismissing the news reports, it’s not a defensive measure in as much as they believe something totally different because of what their media is telling them.

Then, there’s the sheer flood of “leaked” information.  As a federal employee, I find it difficult to believe that my colleagues have suddenly found it impossible to do their jobs without potentially violating the law by discussing classified information or other things.  When administrations change, the appointed positions change.  The rank-and-file workers don’t.  I was hired in under GW Bush, and if I remain until retirement, there’s no idea of how many other presidents I’ll serve.  That said, the person sitting in the WH doesn’t change my work ethic one bit.  I still try to do my job to the best of my ability now as I did when I was first hired.

The amount of the leaks makes part of me think it’s intentionally done to sow discord.  Let’s face it, there is enough discord in America right now to circle the world about a dozen times.  People are literally at each other’s throats.  A right-wing white supremacist killed two people on a commuter train in Portland after hurling slurs at two passengers who were thought to be Muslim.  There’s all kinds of crap going on everywhere, and it seems like it will only get worse.  The pejoratives fly out of people’s mouths like breath on a cold winter morning.  We’ve found out that even the FBI had false information that was meant to disrupt the system.

This country needs to take a massive dump.  We need to purge all the bulls**t out of our system.  Some of us need to be reminded that, regardless of ideological beliefs, we are not enemies.  I cringe whenever I hear Americans referring to fellow Americans as enemies.  I don’t even refer to football rivals as enemies.  That word carries powerful and dangerous connotations.  Someone needs to find an equivalent to a giant bottle of Fleet, shove it up the figurative ass of America, and squeeze that mofo until it turns to powder.

We’re full of sh*t, both figuratively and literally.  We cannot continue as a country like this without doing damage to our society as well as relationships to our allies.  If we don’t unclog the system, something is bound to happen.  We’ve gone from being an example of democracy to looking like a disturbed red ant hill.

I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one bit.  I honestly hope that the investigators take thing seriously and act appropriately on their findings.  If nothing has occurred, then everyone should be able to see the information from the investigation to see where that conclusion was drawn.  Likewise, if there was any bad behavior between Americans and outsiders to influence the election, there should be no sparing of the powers of the judiciary to give America the justice we deserve.  That’s the only way we will begin to remove this sh*t from our system in order to recover to what we were before.

The Baffled States of America

I try to be respectful towards the Office of the President.  The next four years will be an endurance test, one unlike any that I’ve ever embarked upon in my time alive.  Let me set the record straight first and foremost.  I have no personal animosity towards President Trump.  None at all.  That said, let’s get started.

First, he’s not a politician.  That’s why many voted for him.  That was the “appeal” that many Americans saw.  He wasn’t an insider in Washington, and he said all the right things in front of the right crowds*.  People seriously thought that he was listening to what they wanted and needed from the head of the Executive Branch of our government and have not been getting for decades.  He’s the one who will fix everything as he claimed that he would do, right?

Well, I can say that I have not been dazzled by his brilliance thus far, even though it’s only been a month.  Actually, not even a full month yet.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks at this point, and we already seem to be witnessing a 2mph train wreck happening during the evening rush hour.

We got warned about this long ago, but we didn’t heed the advice.  Dr. Seuss showed us how to avoid being taken for everything by a con man, a bullshit artist.  Trump is that, and then some.  Look at his history if you don’t want to take my word for it.  He has a record of stiffing businesses out of money on already agreed to contracts.  He’s avoided paying taxes for decades by assuming liability for an absurd amount of debt.  He reminds me of the guy on the street corner taking people for their money playing three card monte.  The problem is that he doesn’t know when to turn the bs off and has no idea of how to not bs people.  If there’s any one job in this country that should not be filled by a bs artist, it’s the job of being president.

We’ve been witness to this through the outright lies and doublespeak coming from people within the administration.  The apparently thin-skinned POTUS has attacked people personally or through spokespeople from everything from the size of the inauguration crowd to the portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live.  This has also been evident from the attacks on the media, the intelligence community, and pretty much everyone around the world except for Russia and Putin.  As things are beginning to show, we’re getting a good education on why he hasn’t attacked Russia or Putin.  The problem with the “breaking news” stuff about Gen. Flynn is that the only thing that’s new about the reporting is that we now have actual names of people with government positions who were communicating with Russia.

There were early reports about Paul Manafort and a server in Trump Towers that was communicating with a server in Russia.  There have also been rumors and such of other people involved with his campaign that had ties to Russia.  The Secretary of State is well-known to have strong business ties to Russia and Putin.  Individually, the rumors and innuendo don’t amount to anything that points to outright malfeasance.  At the same time, you can create an avalanche when you get enough things piled on top of each other.

At this point, there is permanent damage that has been done to the credibility of people in Washington.  It’s not like there was a vast amount of credibility to begin with, but I don’t recall any administration in my lifetime having a beginning like this.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks yet, and there’s enough stuff floating around to do about 8 years worth of Congressional investigations.  I don’t expect to see Republicans do anything at this point, as they’re likely going to try to wait things out.  It appears that Trump tried to wait things out on Flynn, and look at what it got him.

It’s not wise to try to pick a fight with the intelligence community that has taken an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States.  Especially when the intelligence community is full of people who take their oath seriously.  In case people forget, foreign enemies are not the only ones listed in that oath:

I, [name], 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; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

5 U.S.C. §3331

Those who focus more on the leaks than the information leaked should stop long enough to consider that oath.  If the federal employee thinks the actions rise high enough to be considered as an enemy act, they have a responsibility to take actions to defend the Constitution.  I’m not saying that leaking information is always a good thing to do, but we do have some whistleblower protections for a reason.  It’s dumb to think that you could communicate with foreign adversaries and our intelligence community wouldn’t pick up on those communications.  I also saw that some of our allies also picked up communications on their own, and they have their own concerns about American leadership as a result.

If Hillary Clinton’s email investigation was so important that we had to have a press conference by the FBI about it, why wasn’t the American public told about the communications between Trump’s campaign and Russia?  Remember, Democrats left a classified briefing on Russian hacking and were furious with Director Comey.  Middle, rural America elected trump because he said that he would bring jobs back to their communities.  If they’re farmers, they will have enough manure over the next four years to keep fertilizing crops for generations.  If they’re not farmers, there’s always a need for someone to shovel the bs.  If the first four weeks are any indication, we’re in for record amounts of bs in short order.

Welcome to the Baffled States of America.  This is what some of  you voted for, and this is what we’re all going to get as a result.

*I think it’s entirely possible to say the right things to the right people.  That still doesn’t mean that you’re correct in what you’re saying, or that the people who believe you are also right. 

Two more days

Just as I figured, there was nothing new in the recently found emails.  Director Comey is likely on his way out after this.  I honestly don’t know how he can salvage his career after this fiasco.  He can thank Rep. Chaffetz for speeding up his retirement.
Without knowing what was in those emails, there was no reason to notify Congress.  He should have known that Republicans wouldn’t be able to remain silent on anything remotely involving Hillary Clinton.  It will be interesting to see what’s said about Comey now.  He’s gone from hero to zero and back or vice versa depending on people’s ideology.  He should have just asked my opinion, and I would have said to remain silent until after November 8th.

 

Once again, another Clinton “scandal” dissolves into a pile of nothingness.  If/When she wins this election, get ready for 4 years of this crap.  We already know what’s coming.  She won’t be able to take a dump in the Oval Office bathroom without it becoming a scandal.

Comey messed up

There’s been lots of chatter from both sides over the political spectrum about the actions of FBI Director James Comey in regards to Hillary Clinton’s email investigation.  When he had his press conference on July 5, 2016 announcing that there would be no prosecution, people on the right went crazy.   When he sent a letter to Congress last week, the left turned their anger up to 11.

I’ve watched this entire ordeal unfold with a bit of confusion.  If there was not going to be a prosecution, why would he need to have a press conference to announce that when that’s not the job of the FBI to do.  It’s usually the responsibility of the Attorney General or another member of the Dept. of Justice responsible for prosecuting crimes that holds those press conferences.  I’ve seen far too many to count, and I don’t recall any members of the FBI doing the speaking.  It’s usually the AUSA or some other lawyer.

Likewise, the letter sent to Congress was pretty much a note of hot air.  If you don’t know what you have, how do you determine whether to notify Congress or not?  Seems like there would need to be knowledge of what was contained in those emails to justify notifying Congress that you may have to continue the investigation.

I won’t try to ascribe political motivation to Comey’s actions, but I think he royally screwed the pooch on this one.  He’s either whipped up a fury right before the election over nothing, or he knows what is in those emails and had knowledge of that prior to getting a search warrant to see what’s inside.  The former action would seem like a violation of the Hatch Act, while the latter would possibly make any evidence obtained worthless in a court of law.  There’s also the memo that’s been passed down within the Dept. of Justice from the past few Attorney Generals that state they will not announce investigations of political figures less than 60 days before an election or something to that effect.

Maybe Comey felt that he was acting within the scope of his authority and felt he had no other choice.  I honestly don’t know.  I can say that, if it was my decision to make, I would not have sent that letter without concrete evidence that the found emails were indeed connected to the Clinton investigation.  That’s what makes me think the FBI knows what is contained within those emails.  If they’ve already read through them without a warrant, then they are inadmissible in any court proceeding as well as any information found from the information contained within those emails.  If the contents of the emails are indeed unknown, then there’s no point in notifying Congress about investigations because it’s not known whether the investigation will be impacted.

Either way, Comey messed up in my view, and what has already been an election for the history books just added another chapter.  As far as him being charged for violating the Hatch Act, I think that is a bit of a stretch at this point because there is no information to show motivation.  Now, if you wanna charge someone with violating the Hatch Act if it were indeed possible, I would submit Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as the prime violator.  However, members of Congress cannot be charged under the Hatch Act as it only applies to employees under the Executive Branch.  I find it interesting that employees under the Legislative and Judicial branches are not covered, but that’s another topic for another post.