Police Need Policing

The rise of Donald Trump, the fear, divisiveness, hatred and Nationalist ideology that he espouses and is spouting to Americans and the rest of the world emphasizes the need for America to immediately begin to seriously support the monitoring/policing of its police forces throughout the country and press its elected politicians to not simply remain silent or just provide lip service to the situation for purposes of political gain. Americans should press its elected politicians to establish a meaningful program that will right our listing police forces, help to reestablish the trust between the police and the communities that they serve and help all police officers to do their jobs with confidence without the need to second-guess themselves.

From the inception of this program all of those responsible for shepherding it should then monitor the process and collaborate to make real-time changes whenever needed to assure that there is sustained progress and that the program is successful. When these two phenomenon – the rise of Donald Trump and the need to immediately begin to address America’s policing problem – are juxtaposed, the nexus is obvious and it would be extremely dangerous to continue to eschew fixing our policing problem, especially in light of what Mr. Trump is currently doing.

The Republican ‘establishment’ ignored Mr. Trump’s outrageous antics until it was too late to prevent the kinds of things that are taking place in what appears to be his successful run to become the Republican 2016 presidential nominee. For a long time now, many of those same leaders have been traveling this same path with America’s police forces.  They have been winking at the problem because it does not (yet) directly affect them.  By the time that it does impact on them, whether directly or by way of family or friends, it might be too late to fix it.

Complaints about police injuring or killing unarmed citizens and otherwise abusing their authority and then covering it up is nothing new to American citizens. And the fact that Donald Trump during his presidential campaign is lamenting the fact that the police cannot manhandle protesters with impunity like they use to in ‘the good old days’ is only making matters worse.

A large chasm involving trust and cooperation already exists between police forces and citizens in the communities that they serve. Mr. Trump’s rhetoric of fear, hatred and divisiveness is likely only serving to expedite the culmination of this chaotic, hatred-filled chasm – which is fueled by mutual distrust between police and the citizenry, and lack of cooperation with the police by community members – into utter pandemonium and violence.

Not only are those angry community members who side with police feeling Mr. Trump’s vibes but police officers are feeling them too; and not just the unscrupulous police officers. Decent police officers, who have long felt that they have been swept into the quagmire because – in their opinion – Americans paint all police officers with a broad brush, carry injured feelings that they are unsure how to handle.  This makes them more vulnerable to rhetoric like that which Donald Trump spouts continuously.

Even though these police officers might want to do the right thing it is a never-ending battle for them to do so. They have long been burdened with the so called ‘blue code’ or ‘code of silence’ and now they are hearing a presidential frontrunner that seems to be siding with the unscrupulous police officers yearn for what he calls ‘the good old days.  This makes their battle even tougher.

In the words of Walt Kelly; “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Yes, you the American elected politicians who were elected to represent all of the people are the enemy.  Yes, we the voters who have the responsibility to elect honorable people who will be statesmen who will put America first and do the right thing are the enemy.

If we take our responsibility as voters seriously and elect politicians who are more likely to be statesmen (obviously we will not always be right) we will be able to address all of America’s problems, including the problems with our police forces, in a fair and equitable manner. We need to force our elected politicians to do exactly that (address the problems with our police forces, now!) before it is too late to avoid a situation with America’s police forces like the one that we currently have with Donald Trump.

A Donald Trump situation (Trumpism) in police forces around America would be extremely dangerous. We have already begun to try to address this problem by way of body cameras.  But even if every police officer in the country wears a body camera and, for whatever reason, it does not work properly or evidence that it’s recordings contain is routinely purposely destroyed, then body cameras as a tool to help discover the truth are worthless. That is why the police force needs to constantly be policed.

All Police forces already have parameters that they are supposed to work within but if those who are in place to assure that police officers work within them are corrupt and instead of ensuring that police officers observe and work within those parameters they assist them in skirting them, then therein lies the problem. And in far too many cases, this is what is happening in America now (e.g. the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago).

If police officers, like those in the Laquan McDonald shooting, are going to ignore the parameters under which they are required to work, purposely destroy body camera and dash cam evidence and openly act defiantly by throwing camera equipment onto the roof of their police station; then it is far past time for strong civic leaders and honorable elected politicians to step in and fix the problem. Unfortunately, this must be done because it appears that those currently in the chains-of-command, from top to bottom, around our country are either unwilling or unable to handle the task of fixing our police forces.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Dr. Ben Carson Says Voters Are Not Dense; Does That Mean That He is?

When a reporter asked Dr. Ben Carson while he was still in the race to become the Republican nominee for president if he thought that voters would make Donald Trump their nominee Dr. Carson’s response meant ‘no’ but he was not that succinct.   What he actually said was that voters are not that dense; they would not make a very, very bad mistake.  Then, after he dropped out of the race, he endorsed Mr. Trump.  That’s right; I said he endorsed Donald Trump.  How congruent is that?  And does it mean that he himself is dense?

Well, compared to his rhetoric what he did is incongruent (I will leave it up to the individual readers to determine the answer to the ‘dense’ question) but it is consistent: it’s consistent with the rhetoric from the rest of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates. During one of the Republican presidential debates the candidates said that Mr. Trump was a con artist who was unfit to hold the office of President of the United States of America.  But when the moderator asked them if they would support him if he became the nominee, all of them said yes.

To put Dr. Carson’s decision to endorse Mr. Trump in perspective and shine a bright light on the difference in the path forward that Democrats are proposing and that which Republicans are proposing; and to illuminate the America that these Republican presidential candidates envision as opposed to that which the Democratic presidential candidates envision, I offer this comparison. While Senator Elizabeth Warren has given an impassioned speech chiding her fellow senators and imploring them to just do their job and hold hearings and any required votes to fill the vacant seat of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia rather than use obstruction tactics, Dr. Carson has endorsed a Republican candidate for president, who is running his campaign based on a foundation of fear, hatred and divisiveness, shortly after saying that voters would have to be dense to vote for that candidate.

The path forward that Republicans see and the America that they envision is closely related to the path forward and future for America as seen through the eyes of their presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump. The path forward that Democrats see and the America that we envision is closely related to the path forward and future for America as seen through the eyes of our presidential frontrunner, Secretary Hillary Clinton and as reflected in the admonition of Senator Elizabeth Warren to her fellow senators during her speech urging them to move forward with the hearings to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat.

As hard as I try, so far, I have been unable to come up with any positive reason as to why Dr. Carson would do this especially when I juxtapose it on the type of campaign that he conducted while he was a 2016 presidential candidate. The only reason that I have been able to come up with is a negative one and that is that he is pandering to Donald Trump for a possible position in his administration should he win the nomination and the presidency.

Dr. Carson, like any other American, has the right to support any candidate to become president that he chooses. But it is beyond me as to why he would choose Mr. Trump.  It is no secret that the Republican Party, for whatever reason, struggles to recruit and accept people of color into its ranks.  Dr. Carson obviously is a person of color, he is obviously extremely intelligent and it appears that he wants all Americans to be treated equally but these things are totally incongruent with his actions as related to his statement regarding Mr. Trump and then his decision to endorse him.

Based on Dr. Carson’s campaign and how he conducted himself during it, that seems to make him and Mr. Trump polar opposites. In this case where he endorsed Donald Trump, the truth is without doubt stranger than fiction.  And, even if his endorsement is not proof, it is strong circumstantial evidence that if you continuously dance too closely around the edges of fires you will eventually get burned.  Dr. Carson’s background says that he knows this.  Unfortunately, because he did not listen to that still small voice inside of him instead of blindly pursuing his political ambitions, he is now an inextricable part of history as it relates to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential run fiascos, which will abide with him in infamy.

Mr. Trump’s constant hateful and divisive rhetoric is stirring up anger and hatred in young and older people alike and is the catalyst at his rallies that creates situations that are reminiscent of those that occurred prior to the violence that was unleashed during the Civil Rights Movement. This is concerning and scary and should cause every civic leader and politician, especially Republican politicians since Mr. Trump is running to become their party’s standard bearer, to take pause and contemplate what it is that they can do to nip this potential problem in the bud.  Then, they should address it and address it expeditiously.

I hope that a Democrat will win the 2016 presidential election and, unlike the Republican presidential frontrunner, will work as hard as needed to pull all American citizens together despite our differences, whatever they might be, so that we can make America whole again.   I am among those who believe that America is still great and that all Americans simply need to work together to make her even greater and stronger.  Together, we can do this; so we should get to work.

Even if a Republican is elected president I hope that that person will be reasonable and thoughtful in how they go about leading America forward. I hope that they will be cerebral when it comes to conducting domestic and foreign policy and that all of the tough guy negative rhetoric that is being spouted in the primaries will not somehow seep into the governance of our great country.  And if it does, I hope that America’s new leader will completely spurn it and lead America forward with the dignity and respect that her dedicated citizens, despite our differences of opinion – political or otherwise, have worked so hard to acquire.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

What Do Republicans Really Believe?

Do congressional Republicans in Washington, Republican elites, the Republican ‘establishment’ and the 2016 Republican presidential candidates really represent how the majority of the Republican electorate feels about race and class in politics and life in general? And if they do, why do people feel this way?

I pose this question mainly as a result of reflection on the Democratic presidential debate held in Flint, Michigan on March 6, 2016. During that debate, Don Lemon of CNN asked a thought provoking question on race.  The question that he posed to both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders was; as a white person, where is your ‘blind spot’ when it comes to race?

In addition, I watched Wolf Blitzer interview Senator Lindsey Graham on his show that aired on March 7th in which Senator Graham lamented the possibility of having Donald Trump as the Republican Party’s 2016 nominee. In that interview Senator Graham cited a long list of Donald Trump’s baggage and said that it would be better for the Republican Party to lose without Mr. Trump than to try to win with him.

Among the negative things that Senator Graham cited about Mr. Trump were his misogynistic rhetoric, antagonistic rhetoric toward Muslims and Mexicans and his racist attitude in general. As I watched the interview I was taken aback by the fact that he seemed to be more concerned that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and views were recklessly overt rather than that he espoused these feelings period.

As I reflected on this, I could not help but to call to mind how miserably the Republican Party had failed on its proclamation and in its efforts to build a larger more inclusive tent. As I thought about this and reflected more on Mr. Lemon’s question and the response that each candidate gave I thought that as Democrats, we – as a party, struggle with the race and class issues too but just in a less controversial way.  That is why I have chosen in this article to focus on the Republican Party instead of both parties.

To expound very briefly about each Party’s dilemma in an effort to help the reader better follow my thinking, from my perspective, the Democratic Party is fighting a human nature battle and the Republican Party, while although fighting a human nature battle, is mainly fighting an ideological battle. Democrats also fight ideological battles but when this ideology involves race, the problem is far less prominent and contentious in the Democratic Party than it is in the Republican Party.

The human nature part of the battle is something that we as humans have been dealing with since the beginning of time. Inside, we want to treat everyone the same in every way but there is something constantly fighting to imprison those feelings, keep them imprisoned and prevent them from breaking free and getting outside.  That same something fights just as hard to prevent them from remaining on the outside should they somehow manage to break free of our human shell.  From time-to-time when they manage to break free that something keeps fighting until it again imprisons them.  Freedom for those feelings at times may last for a long period of time but most of the time it is likely very brief.

I have yearned for a long time now for people to relate and interact with one another – in the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., based on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Although far too often that seems like a pipedream and something that exists only in the misty world of fairy tales, I still long for people to see me based on the content of my character.

And I have longed to see them based on that same premise; but too many times that same something – at the slightest provocation, which plagues all humans and fights to imprison those feelings inside of us that want to treat everyone the same in every way and prevent them from escaping to the outside, crops up in me. No matter how brief the period of its appearance I know that it is there and all I can do is suppress it and continue to fight to completely rid myself of it.

Although to rid ourselves of it might be a lifetime process, the quicker we suppress it each time the better off we are as a person and the greater is our opportunity help others to suppress it and, hopefully, rid themselves of it. When all is said and done, perhaps the cumulative affect will have been that we have made America better and stronger for everyone.

Even if we cannot eliminate the proliferation of hatred and divisiveness we certainly should not encourage it by electing leaders, especially someone who will lead our country, who regularly spout words of hatred and divisiveness. To shout from the rooftops that people should not openly discriminate against anyone yet condone it if it remains in the shadows makes the messenger nothing better than a hypocrite.

We should adhere to the words of the late author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou; “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” If the 2016 presidential candidates are conducting themselves in the manner that they are because they are pandering for votes by playing politics, they should not be.  They are showing us and the rest of the world who they are and we should believe them.  And as voters, any of those candidates that we consider to not be the kind of people we want to lead us we should not vote for them.

Finally, always remember, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Politicians and the World of Politics

Politics – (As Usual), 2016 Presidential Candidates – (Politics), Unhinged – (2016 Presidential Candidates), Leadership – (Unhinged), Vacuum – (Leadership), Honesty – (Vacuum), Politics – (As Usual), Full circle – (Yes), sick and tired of all of the bulls*** from all of the politicians who are playing politics instead of getting serious and working to solve America’s problems so that America can become better and stronger and its citizens can feel safe? You’re damn right we are!

I would not be surprised if you found the first paragraph of this article hard to follow. Neither would I be surprised if instead of trying to figure it out, you just gave up on it and moved on with reading the rest of the article.  Further, as a result of that first jumbled paragraph, I would not be surprised if some of you chose not to read the article at all even though you might have read other articles by me that you found interesting and informative.  PLEASE, allow me to encourage you to read on because that paragraph was meant to be confusing; but there is a point to it, which epitomizes the very essence of this article.

The point is that politicians tend to love confusion because it helps them to avoid being straightforward and honest with voters. They might not lie but they do not exactly tell the truth.  They relish using smoke and mirrors tactics during these periods of confusion because it enables them to give each voter or group of voters the illusion that they are focused on doing that voter or group of voters will.  It usually works for them and if it doesn’t, like with paragraph one, voters usually either do not have the time or do not want to take the time to figure things out.  Instead, they place their trust in those politicians if not believing, hoping that they will do the right thing.

Politicians are hardwired to play politics and they do so incessantly without regard to the negative impact that this may have upon those constituents who elected them and the American people as a whole. Most of them thrive on doing this and when they are doing it they completely discount voters, yet, they never have a problem with invoking the name of the American people in their mindless games.  They play these games, for the greatest part, in deference to the Party’s elites and ‘establishment.’

A striking example of this is reflected in the March 3, 2016 Republican debate and how all of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates attacked Donald Trump, called him a con artist and said he was unfit to hold the office of President of the United States of America. They did this because they know that the Republican ‘establishment’ wants to derail his campaign.  Yet, when they were asked if they would support him if he became their Party’s nominee they all said yes.

It does not matter that they did this because of politics and because the Republican ‘establishment’ and all of the Republican elites have completely soured on Mr. Trump and mounted an all-out attack on him. The fact is that Republican primary voters, up to this point – and for whatever reason, have said that Mr. Trump is the person that they want as their nominee to run against the Democratic nominee in the general election.  I am not a Donald Trump fan but in this case I am compelled to say that this is a situation where the Republican ‘establishment’ is trying to thwart the voice and will of the people and dictate who the nominee will be.

These candidates, from day one – when the primaries began, have been playing politics. They have been saying what primary voters want to hear, in sparsely measured doses, so that they can quickly and smoothly migrate back toward a more moderate politics once they secure the nomination and the general election begins.  They have been doing this while trying to avoid confronting Donald Trump and possibly offending his supporters; supporters that they will likely need further down the road in the primary election and also in the general election.

The problem is that Mr. Trump has not been moderating his politics in any way and his doing that, so far, has not hurt his chances to become the nominee. Now that the ‘establishment’ and Republican elites have realized this, come to accept it and realized how late it is in the game everyone has come unhinged.  It is now all hands on deck and hit ’em with everything you got; even a brokered convention if necessary!

Although a brokered convention is without doubt a scary scenario for the Republicans – if this should occur – after the convention is over, there is blood on the convention floor and all of those left standing are battered and bloodied, they will try to pull things back together so that they can remain a viable Party and win the general election; not necessarily in that order. Once again it will be,’ hit ’em with everything you got’!  And they will unleash all at once and unmeasured the full range of tactics delineated in paragraph one of this article on all of the Republican voters; those at the convention will be among the first to be bombarded with this politics as usual.

Every American is a victim of ‘politics as usual’ and if our political system is not reformed so that power and money are removed from it (e.g., the rich and powerful have an outsized say in how things are run in America) then this is unlikely to change. How will removing money and power from the process change ‘politics as usual’ you might ask.  It will change things because everyone will have an equal voice in how the country should be run and the collective voice of the majority will rule because elected politicians will not have to kowtow to the rich and powerful so that they can constantly raise money for reelection.

It is hard to see poor people of all colors being treated the way that they are being treated in Flint, Michigan and watch their predicament be glossed over and treated as an afterthought during questioning of the candidates; it is hard to listen to Senator Marco Rubio defend Michigan governor Rick Snyder – who created this problem – and say that he has stepped up and taken responsibility and then blame the problem on eight years of the Obama administration; it is hard to see unarmed black people targeted, injured and sometimes killed by unscrupulous police officers who act with impunity; it is hard to watch those affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist hate groups who support Donald Trump physically and verbally assault African Americans -young and old – and throw them out of Trump rallies while Mr. Trump – the front runner Republican candidate for President of the United States of America – shouts “throw them the hell out”; and it is hard to watch as Senator Ted Cruz, also a Republican candidate for President of the United States of America – who happens to be in second place, stare directly into the camera in his closing statement after a debate and say (I paraphrase here) “I want every police officer out there to know that when I am elected president, I’ve got your back” without even mentioning those innocent lives that have been lost at the hands of the police: Is this synonymous with telling every black person and anyone else in America that if an unscrupulous police officer abuses his authority and injures or kills you, oh, well…?

Politics – (As Usual), 2016 Presidential Candidates – (Politics), Unhinged – (2016 Presidential Candidates), Leadership – (Unhinged), Vacuum – (Leadership), Honesty – (Vacuum), Politics – (As Usual), Full circle – (Yes). My ‘yes’ answer to ‘Full circle’ is based on the response from Republican primary voters, which reflects their outlook and preference for the path forward for America.  But I still have hope that this outlook and preference for the path forward for America does not reflect the thoughts of the majority of Americans; Americans who know that solving problems is complicated but it can and should be done.  These reasonable Americans must stand up, speak up and vote for the candidate who will put country first and do the right thing.

We do not need politics as usual and we do not need anyone as president who will make a mockery of the United States and/or who will have other world leaders either laughing at us or questioning our ability to continue to lead the world. Neither do we need to revert back to something that we have been trying to correct for almost 150 years and that has been an ugly blight on America’s historical record.  As a country, we should not be working to eliminate voting rights, women’s rights or any other rights that American citizens deserve.   What we need is someone who will recognize the severity of the problems that we are faced with and will work hard to bring us together, not divide us and pit us against one another, to solve them.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line