Innocent until proven guilty

Bill Cosby’s last lesson

My family was a big Bill Cosby fan. My dad loved his sense of humor. If we saw his name in a production, we were more likely to watch. In my later years, I read his book on Fatherhood. I continued with my dad’s tastes and listened to Cosby comedy whenever possible. I appreciated his wisdom. I loved his lessons. Until the accusations of rape started pouring in.

A steady stream of tearful accusers rolled past our screens. It was painful to watch. Ultimately – due to peer pressure and guilt – I finally stop thinking of Cosby as anything like “wise.” The more the media talked about the alleged crime, the more difficult it was to think of Cosby as anything other than a serial rapist at large.

When the criminal trial began, I though, “Here comes the end for Cosby.” But something unexpected happened. We have a mistrial – because, because, why?

A mistrial means one of two things: either the prosecution did a terrible job of putting the case together, or the evidence was not convincing – the witnesses were conflicting – and the circumstances that are so important in cases like this, simply did not line up. Nobody is saying that the prosecutor on the case –  District Attorney Kevin Steele – has made any obvious blunders. In a matter of hours after announcing the mistrial, Steele announced that the prosecution will  retrial – but for different charges (5A: double-jeopardy). Which means they’ll have weaker evidence, probably weaker eyewitnesses, and more circumstantial evidence. Maybe this time Cosby’s defenders will have a chance to present evidence that at least one of the most prominent accusers may have planned to blackmail Cosby all along.

There’s been quite a lot of flack about the “eerie similarity” between all of the accusers. Maybe that’s an angle that starting to work against them. I know I’m starting to feel as though I have been conned.

I’ll hold my final opinion until after the next (and probably final) retrial. But if it goes to mistrial or worse yet, if Cosby is acquitted – what then? For certain, I’ll be aghast. Shocked. Dismayed. Either way however, the “court of public opinion” has really shown its evil side this time. And I was right there all along. We’ve engaged in character assassination of the worst kind – without the benefit of due process guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Maybe this is Cosby’s last lesson for us. Not so much about how the public can turn against a celebrity – that’d be too mundane. No. This lesson is deeper. It’s more about revealing the true self – about looking at the mirror and seeing the flaws in our own character. I am a former Bill Cosby character assassin. Guilty as charged.

Today, I hold that Bill Cosby is innocent. I am certain of it, until a jury says otherwise.

The Year I Fell Awake: My Walk Across the Country; 1984 – 1985

I am a bigot of self-awareness. The year I fell awake, I was waking across the country: from Fort Lauderdale to LA. I lived with the homeless. I ate with the poor. I stood with people who had nowhere to stand. I appreciated a tarp as a thankful respite from the storm. I was grateful for the cardboard box that shielded me from the sun. Near the end of my journey, I was so very thankful for any kind word; anything just to keep my encouragement up and look for the next day.

At the apex of this self-imposed misery, some things started to make sense. I realized that we’re all miserable – we’re all suffering. Maybe not in the same way. Maybe not from the same things. But we suffer. It’s the one quality that brings humanity together – makes us so aware of what’s left undone, what’s keeping us from being whole. Before I started my journey, my disposition was to shun people who I thought were narrow-minded; souls who ignored the misery of others. But then, I said to myself, “Who am I not hear their suffering as well? Just because I don’t agree with them, doesn’t mean they are any less human.” Were I really a humanist, I would not shun anyone. Instead, I should open my arms and embrace every last one. But – alas – I’m a fraud.

I was really never homeless. I just took it upon myself to BE homeless for about a year because I had it in my mind that it’d be cool. But under that bullshit, late-teen idealism of mine, I had a home to go home to. Anytime I wanted, I could get a motel room, a shower, sleep on a nice bed, and – BAM – I’d be on a jet going home. Here’s another thing that I discovered about myself. I’ve never been a very forgiving person. I’m still ashamed to admit that through my life, I’ve been deeply envious, darkly vindictive. I hate the haters for hating me; and I hate myself for hating them. I guess the one silver lining to my self-discovery is that I know myself. I know my weaknesses enough that I may be better if the time comes that I must be better. All I need is more experience – fall awake even more.

I’ll need a big bong hit to figure all of this out – listen to some old Hendrix…

If you can just get your mind together
Then come on across to me
We’ll hold hands an’ then we’ll watch the sun rise from the bottom of the sea
But first
Are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have…

The more you change, the more you realize that you’re just the same. Only through true self-awareness can we control the animal in us that can make misery so fucking intolerable.

1984_terri-patches_on-las-olas-ft-fauderdale
1984: I began my journey in Ft Lauderdale. Somewhere off Las Olas Blvd, I ran into “Terry” and “Patches.”

The photos in this post are of companions that I traveled with through Florida taken by a journalist who just happened to be doing a story about the homeless. In the top photo is Rick – the dude passed out on a cot. He was a professed “addict of everything” – and he lived up to that profession. He died about three days after that photo was taken. He said he was a Vietnam war vet, but he was too young to serve (he was about my age). I think he was just really messed up. In the bottom photo, Terry with the light hair was from New York. “Patches” said he was from Virginia, but his accent said he was from up north. These guys were very generous and patient with me. I could tell that they had a backstory that they didn’t want to talk about. I think “Patches” may have been a vet, but I never found out if he served in any war.

Donald Trump Threatens the GOP with RIOTS!

Donald Trump kicked ass last night in Super Tuesday2 – easily smashing everyone else – and gaining the very real likelihood that he’ll clinch the majority of delegates. Before everyone could scoop their jaws off the ground, he drops this gem during an interview with CNN:

“I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots,” Trump said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people.”

In effect, he gave the GOP a big fat finger and told them to suck it up. He’s coming in on a tidal wave of hate and every GOP leader and candidate that gets in his way is going to feel the pain.

Okay… so that’s not an outright threat, but it’s a strong image that most reasonable people want to avoid. But here’s the thing. The GOP/Tea Party created this monster – they can f’n clean it up. If Trump burns down the GOP, it’s their own damned fault. We need a two-party system – America has done great things with that setup, but maybe Trump is right. Maybe it’s time to kill the party so that something better will come along.

For the Common Good of the Community

What’s not to get here? The preamble of the Declaration of Independence is pretty clear about this one point:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

What it means is that the founders of the United States of America believed that ALL people must have access to the things that give life, liberty, and happiness – regardless of class, economic situation, religion, race, or creed. Bonum commune communitatis. And yet, we support a system that restricts all that is good to the limited few who can afford it.

A shocking number of American voters are ready to install a man for President who is the epitome of wanton corporate greed. I’m not a poor person myself. I still collect royalties from various projects I have had the pleasure to produce. And I still work. I haven’t taken a penny of unemployment benefits in more than 40 years. I have never used food stamps, never had the need for Medicare, and at my age, I’m not even taking Social Security benefits – because I don’t need them. Yet, when I strike out in support of Bernie Sanders (for instance) the first image that some conservatives think is that I’m a taker. To be honest, I think most of these supporters depend on the very same benefits they complain about.

When I use the word “Socialism” to describe the famous preamble, I feel like the lone surviving mole in a game of Whack-a-Mole. The very same people who malign me as a “taker” are ready to line up to call me lots of other funny little names. First off, most of them don’t even realize what they’re saying – much less understand what the word CAN mean. The good folks at People’s World have posted what I believe is one of the better, wider responses to the question: What is Socialism? But it is important to note – this country has implemented many socialistic concepts for the greater good. My father was like a lot of these guys who tote guns and sing praises of the Grand Old Party. He was also a proud, card-carrying member of the Steamfitters Union Local 638. Funny how things change, but don’t.

I hope, somehow, the majority of American voters will realize that the common good means freedom. I hope that someday we realize that “Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is more than a patriotic slogan. It’s a promise.

RADICAL RIGHT Propaganda Machine uses NAZI tactics to lie

It never ceases to amaze, how banal and idiotic the Radical Right can be.

The screws are falling off the #GOPClowncar

Screws are falling off the GOP Clown car left and right. No amount of reason and rationality can explain the idiocy. No amount of understanding and comprehension can adequately clarify the purpose. Unless, of course, you admit that it’s all about power and the hell with THE PEOPLE.

il Duce Trump

Amazing isn’t it? The more audacious he is the more ardent his followers become. I know at least one – a woman that I know through a friend of mine. Sez she: “Trump is the best thing to happen to America in a long time.” Actually, forever. We’ve never had fascist that has resonated so well with the radical right of this country. We’ve never seen a Donald Trump because we’ve never before tolerated one to get this far. He is categorically the closest thing to a Benito Mussolini type fascist we’ve ever seen.

From a WaPo op/ed penned by Dana Milbank (Dec 8):

Trump’s chin-out toughness, sweeping right-hand gestures and talk of his “huge” successes and his “stupid” opponents all evoke the Italian dictator’s style. Monday’s breathtaking announcement that he would block all Muslims from entering the United States has many pointing out the obvious fascist overtones.

Milbank isn’t alone in his worry. Ted Koppel took the unusual approach to appear on Fox News the other day with this barb:

Well… the fact of the matter is that he and Benito Mussolini have this sort of arrogant approach in which they say very little in terms of substance, but the manner in which they say it gets the crowds excited.

Back to the woman who thinks that Trump is god’s gift. I pointed out his well-known racist remarks and asked her if that was a reason to worry. “No,” sez she. “He’s no more a racist than anyone else.” HUH? Then I ran across an op/ed by Josh Marshall on the Talking Points website.

I continue to believe that Trump’s embrace of racism, anti-Mexican immigrant bigotry and Islamophobia is largely opportunistic. My only hesitation in calling it cynical is that I think Trump may be the type who, once he finds something convenient to say, then starts to believe it.

Opportunistic racism. I was gobsmacked. That’s like saying you’ll sell your soul for a beer. Hate for fiat however misdirected, may seem logical for one driven for power. Machiavelli (another Italian) pointed this out in his treatise The Prince:

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

So, in other words, we can say anything to get ahead, so long as the illusion of the eye is maintained. Yep. Sounds about right. And it comports well with the one from Mussolini himself:

You must always be doing things and obviously succeeding. The hard part is to keep people always at the window because of the spectacle you put on for them. And you must do this for years.

Il Duce Donald.

GOP Clowns are no Laughing Matter

Anyone still laughing? I stopped laughing quite a while ago – the bigotry and hate simply isn’t funny anymore.

Barry Goldwater Was Right

I recall my dad’s quips about Barry Goldwater – laced with profanity and superlative, he had some pretty harsh things to say about a man he though betrayed the country. My dad wasn’t what you’d call a hardcore Republican, but he definitely sympathized with “the cause.” Which is weird because my dad was also an atheist. But I digress. Imagine my surprise as I grew into adulthood to find that although Barry wasn’t the more statesmanlike of statesmen, he had some pretty insightful things to say about the Radical Right.

A set of them comes from a speech he gave in 1981, summarized in the New York Times, September 16, 1981. In this first clip, he despairs over the Radical Right’s unwillingness to compromise. Tell me if you think this sounds familiar:

There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom.

In the same speech, he goes on to decry how they control the political dialog:

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

This is 1981, mind you; the very apex of the movement that Jerry Falwell dubbed the “Moral Majority” and that Pat Robertson tried to appropriate for his own presidential bid in 1988. Although Falwell and Robertson did not have compatible views on Christianity, they were in lock step where governance was concerned. They envisioned a CHRISTIAN United States of America. That’s probably why Goldwater rankled at the pressure he and other “old school” Republicans had to endure for political and financial support.

I’m sure that as he saw the closing years approach, Goldwater became somewhat bitter about how he was thrown aside by the Radical Right. That bitterness comes out in this well-trod, oft-cited Goldwater gem from John Dean’s book Conservatives Without Conscience (2006):

Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.

Yet, there’s a better, more prophetic view from an interview published in the Washington Post, July 29, 1994.

When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.

Given all of the evidence – the vitriol that has surrounded Obama since Day One of his administration, the hateful things that the Radical Right has committed against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats (and even several Republicans) that the soul of the Republican Party is no longer has the best interest of America and for Americans?

The Latest GOP Furor

I have always wondered how so many Germans could fall for Hitler’s hateful drivel. After watching GOP presidential candidates, and in particular, Herr Donald, now I understand. Now I know. It’s shocking how a highly evolved society like America can devolve into such utter hateful ideas. They can’t win on pure ideology: Trickle Down obviously does not work. The Christian divide is only making things worse (e.g., Gays, Abortion, Education). Obamacare has proven to be a better alternative over what Americans had before. The science for Global Warming and Climate Change is accepted by everyone except the GOP/Tea Party. The Hitler gambit is the only option. In Germany, they blamed the Jews. Now they want to blame Muslims.