For the last two weeks, Ferguson, Missouri has been nightly entertainment. We have watched CNN, Fox News, MSNBC for the latest updates. Has the violence continued? Have peace and quiet been restored? What is wrong with those people in Ferguson? Could this happen here?
For two weeks, I have been avoiding the nightly news. I truly did not want to know what the latest update was. As a trauma surgeon, I hate loss of life. It is in my DNA. I hate it when someone needlessly gets gunned down in the streets. We saw that in Ferguson. We also saw it in the Trayvon Martin case.
In the United States there are several truisms. One of those truisms is that you simply don’t talk back to police. I was taught, growing up in the ’70s, that I needed to show police respect whether they deserved it or not. Why? Because that’s the way it is in the United States. My parents never explained it that way. But that’s the way it is. We can sit down and discuss the merits of the system and thoughtful ways of changing the system so the system works more for everybody, but the way the system is today… and the way it has been for more than 100 years, you must show police officers respect or there are dire consequences. Simply put, if you do not show police the respect that they, themselves want, you increase dramatically your chances of dying. Continue reading What Ferguson tells us about America→
The news media erupted yesterday with the news that the United States government, our government, is spying on its own citizens. Domestic Spying. I had a distinct sense of déjà vu. Weren’t we just talking about this a couple years ago? It was just six or seven years ago when we found out that the Bush administration, through the NSA and other agencies, was listening in on our conversations. We were told that this was necessary in order to combat terrorism. Since the initial revelation, we came to understand that the Bush administration was mischaracterizing (or lying, depending upon your perspective) about the extent of the domestic spying program. Initially, we were told that the domestic spying program only involved overseas switches in which the NSA would scan American foreign calls. Slowly but surely we found out that this program was far more extensive. Conservatives told us not to worry. Now, when conservatives find out that the Obama administration has been continuing this exact same program, there is outrage. From my standpoint, I have no idea whether this program is helping to keep Americans safe or if it is an unnecessary violation of our privacy. As I understand the program the NSA is allowed to collect a bunch of data, but they’re not able to look at individual calls or listen to individual calls unless they go back to the FISA court and ask for permission.
I must admit I have not been following the case of a man who asked for an escort and then shot that woman for not performing sexual acts. Somehow, the accused man was able to convince a jury that it was okay to kill a prostitute because under Texas law you can use deadly force to retrieve stolen property. Yep, I don’t understand it either.
Our whole culture around sexual assault and rape seems to be completely backwards to American ideals. A Fox News host was “baffled” that MSNBC was covering the military sexual assault hearings. She said, “Sex crimes in a military, they are a real issue. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to poo poo it and say it’s not. What baffles me though is the way they prioritize these issues. The timing and the tone of them. If these were liberal groups targeted by George W. Bush, they would not be covering sex assault in the military. … Why is MSNBC devoting so much time to this issue when, as David Axelrod points out, there are so many other issues to deal with?” First of all, I find the statement mind-boggling. Why isn’t this a big story? Why shouldn’t this be promoted? Should the military be forced to change their ways? Shouldn’t Americans be informed about this issue that has been swept under the carpet for way too long?
A couple of days ago, we heard that John McCain had made a “double secret” trip to Syria. I suspect, on Sunday, we’ll see John McCain on one, two or possibly three networks. Does anybody believe that Senator McCain is going to say anything else besides how much we need to increase our military presence in Syria? Seriously, would you expect anything else? I would’ve been surprised if John McCain had come back and said, “You know what, the situation in Syria is really complex. We can’t figure out who is who. I don’t know who the good guys or the bad guys are. We need to sit this one out.” Everything that I’ve read about Syria over the last several days suggests that the conflict is getting more and more complex.
I’m not sure whether Eric Holder is an asset or liability to President Obama. What I do know is that liberals who are calling for Holder’s resignation need to step back and think just for a second. The Attorney General must be confirmed by the Senate. Who would the filibuster-loving Republicans confirm? I don’t think that we would get anybody liberal or progressive through the Senate. I think that we’re stuck with Eric Holder for good or for bad.
Terrible ratings for MSNBC. I’m not sure that this is a surprise. The one thing about Keith Olbermann was that he was entertaining. Chris Hayes is not entertaining.
Lincoln Chafee was one of the last moderate Republicans. He was the distinguished Senator from Rhode Island from 1999 through 2007. He ran for governor of Rhode Island as an Independent. As he is milling over running for reelection as governor, it’s been widely reported that he would run as a Democrat. I think this says more about the Republican Party than it does about Lincoln Chafee. There’s no room for moderates in the Republican Party.