392 Comments

There was never any likelihood of the US accomplishing squat in Afghanistan since the Bushies wanted to go finish Iraq and as the PNAC said "real men want to go to Tehran." Twenty years of fucking up the Middle East as thoroughly as we fucked up Southeast Asia 50 years ago, and our passing will be as noticeable there as it is in Southeast Asia now. All the crap about the United States as the guarantor of stability after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was so much hot air - we been the major destabilizer for the past 30 years. We could have helped the democractic forces in the former Soviet Union, but that would have taken too much hard work that no one would have noticed. Ukraine is run by the descendants of the Nazi collaborators from World War II. All the talk of the "victory of democracy" was the product of morons who couldn't find their ass with both hands on a clear day with a four hour advance notice. Biden's just turning off the lights and closing the theater doors.

I interviewed a retired Admiral today who fought in Vietnam as a junior officer and was present at the end in Saigon 45 years ago for my coming book. At the end he said "I hope my grandson becomes a janitor, anything but this military."

Expand full comment

We've also been a major destabilizer in the Western Hemisphere for over 200 years through our policy of interventionism that, sanctioned by the Monroe Doctrine, has justified in our minds our meddling in the politics of other nation's governments. Unfortunately, many of our country's soldiers lost their lives (and many innocent foreign bystanders have lost theirs) while the U.S. was actually safeguarding the financial interests of corporations abroad (for example, the 1954 CIA-led coup d'etat in Guatemala). The long-term repercussions to some of the countries where we've "intervened" have been devastating (in the case of Guatemala, it endured a 50-year civil war). It's time to focus on improving the living conditions in our own country, and in ensuring that the lives of our brave soldiers who enlist in our military are not misused by our politicians.

Expand full comment

It might help also to reflect a little ....and act...on what are the real needs of the Central and Southern American peoples are both so that they can live in harmony and without hunger....and put a stop to their constant desire to escape northwards to the US. This would after all be in the interests of the US Government.....and eventually of the corporations that actually serve the people.

Expand full comment

I am not sure we have ever been concerned as a nation about the people’s of other nations. It has always been about resources and how cheap can we get them. We are not a high minded society yet, we don’t seem to be able to care for our own people’s interests. Some day we will have a utopian society, but I am not holding my breath.

Expand full comment

I would seriously hope that you don't hold your breath...this might take a very long time.

Expand full comment

We should create a Marshall Plan for Latin America and rebuild.

Expand full comment

As long as you do it with the people and not just to revive the economy for those hoarding all the ressources.

Expand full comment

Yes, that is why specifically suggested MArshall Plan, which is how we should pattern it.

Expand full comment

Then first help the people get rid of their existing governments, gangs and the power of the drug lords.

Expand full comment

I posted this above - its certainly a different viewpoint of us (the US) from an experienced diplomat. What do you think?

https://www.alternet.org/2021/04/denis-halliday/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6966&recip_id=123317&list_id=2

Expand full comment

the unfortunate thing about this article is the direction of criticism only at the US ..much as it is justified. It would be helpful if such critics addressed themselves with similar vigour and integrity to the problems that the Russian and Chinese governments give to their own citizens and everywhere else in the wotrld....and their use of their veto powers at the UN. The somewhat anti-american French have an expression which covers this "utopian" , slanted, but so very humane, thinking..."le pays des bisounours"..which roughly translates as the country of kissing teddybears. War is extremely nasty and has been with hunanity for ever, sanctions hit the people hardest of course...but suggest other means of getting Putin, Sadam, Xi, Ghadafi or Pol Pot to stop being "unreasonable" and i'm all ears as asking nicely without a big stick seems only to generate a demand for more carrots.

Expand full comment

Hi Stuart,

The penchant for warmongering by urging our people to concentrate on the misdeeds of other countries blinds many of us to things we can and must challenge in our own government's actions. Is it really our job to correct others' governments first? I do see that you criticized blame focused "only at the US." I was fascinated to see Max Blumenthal of The Grayzone and others on his website examine the record of the "institution" that accuses China of genocide in its treatment of Uygers. Then came a headline by Caitlin Johnstone, saying,

"The Entire World Should Be Laughing At America For Pretending To Care About Muslims In China." I don't agree with everything Johnstone writes, but I found that comment rather healthy!

Expand full comment

In other words, dont throw stones if you live in a glass house!

Expand full comment

Thanks so much for the reply, Stuart. As usual, you put it in perspective. I agree that we (western countries) have very few big sticks anymore - and the carrot & stick "answer" doesnt appear to work very well HERE either, does it? At least the carrot part.

Expand full comment

Wow.

Expand full comment

MaryPat, be sure to read Stuart's response.

Expand full comment

Oh, I'd say we've been mucking up the Middle East in the petroleum age far longer than 20 years...

Expand full comment

The British started things after the 1914-18 war, the US replaced them following the 1939-45 war and maintained the oil-controlling dictatorships that facilitated the work of ExonMobile etc thereafter.......until the Mullahs of Iran through a spanner in their works by overthrowing the Shah Reza Palavi and "unfriendly competition" by the non-American oil companies took the prize in Iraq. Thereafter what a mess they....and the Europeans in Libya....have created in pursuit of profit.....and of course lip service to the ideals of democracy. Not much thought here has been given to the needs of the people!

Expand full comment

Absolutely, Daria! Certainly, as far back as the early 20th century when the British discovered oil in the ME. Even the founding of the state of Israel was incentivized by US interests in petroleum. And, of course, the 1953 CIA-funded coup against the government of Mossadegh in Iran was swayed by the scent of oil. And on and on we go ...

Expand full comment

Rowshan..in a little aside ...Mossadegh's daughter was "au pair" in my great aunt's house when the "coup" came down. She was wisked away instantly never to be seen again in the London suburb of Twickenham.

Expand full comment

That's amazing, Stuart! I was great friends with a niece of his once upon a time. I was very little during that coup and we weren't allowed out, but I still remember the sounds of the crowds in the streets chanting "long live Mossadegh" some days and "long live the shah" a few days later.

Expand full comment

Marginal note: the Ukrainian black hole is a little more complicated than the Russian propaganda version. Or their own.

As far as policies for the US to avoid are concerned, remember the slogan doing the rounds in Prague in late August 1968:

"The flies have invaded the fly paper."

And maybe bear in mind that the Kremlin has now occupied Russia as though it was yet another colony. An episode for which there are precedents in Russian history.

Expand full comment

My comment comes from anti-Russsian, pro-Democracy Ukrainian friends who point out to me how many of "your bad Americans" have come over and fought with the Ukrainian militias to gain military experience. The forces they worry about aren't in office, but many in office are beholden to them.

Expand full comment

Sounds like the kind of people who are said to have paid to join the snipers in the mountains around Sarajevo... (the "bad Americans", of course). But the "black hole" epithet wasn't gratuitous. Poor Ukraine...

Expand full comment

TC, keep your bullshit to your self.

"Ukraine is run by the descendants of the Nazi collaborators from World War II."

You know nothing of Ukrainian history and appear to believe Russian lies. I could refer you to some actual facts but it would not likely change your mind anymore than facts change Trump supporters minds

Expand full comment

It sure does sound like an RT news line. Meanwhile, Putin has been earnestly scrubbing Stalin's image.

Expand full comment

I am so sick of Russian anti-Ukrainian propaganda. We are currently surrounded on three sides by a huge build up of Russian military and have no idea what Putin will do. They are in position to end run Ukraine's defense line and roll up our army, though it will cost them bitterly.

Putin wants to rehabilitate Stalin so no one will look to closely at the fact he is operating much the same way. In 2006, I asked a group of students at a Moscow University how they felt about Stalin having just been voted the second most important Russian in history. They said history was of no concern to them, they were only interested in the future. I was sick inside for them.

Expand full comment

Allen, thank you for your perspective from the inside. I would love to know more. What’s happening in the Ukraine and it’s border is troubling.

Expand full comment

If you are on Facebook, search Ukraine Russia conflict You will find dozens of articles. Else just Google it.

Expand full comment

Solidarity and rock on. Mad Heads are a Ukrainian treasure imho

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhJoFf0joHE

Expand full comment

I trust Allen Hingston on Ukraine.

Expand full comment

Thank you. There are far more knowledgeable people than I am. Anne Applebaum, Timothy Snyder, Paul Goble who translates and summarizes observations by Russian and Ukrainian writes at http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/

Expand full comment

TCinLA, I love this: "Biden's just turning off the lights and closing the theater doors."

Expand full comment

Ah, "Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we've all been there."

Expand full comment

And you were in-country when and where?

Expand full comment

I was drafted in 1972 and was never sent anywhere more exotic and dangerous than Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as US troops were about to be withdrawn (slowly) from Vietnam. Actually, there's more to my brush with the military, but there isn't room here to tell the whole riotous tale. My little quote is from "Dispatches" by Michael Herr (recently deceased), which John Le Carrè said was "The best book (he) ever read about men and war in our time." I recommend it.

Expand full comment

My husband was a non stop reader. He was also wounded on one of those doomed VietNam hill fights with the 173rd 1967-8, subsequently spent a year in army hospitals and returned many times to VA hospitals over a life time. A none stop reader, he felt it was the only book that came close to conveying a bit of what that was like for those very young men. Sad to learn that Michael Herr had died. Amazing book.

Expand full comment

Hello K. From your use of the past tense I assume your husband has passed away. My condolences. I feel lucky I did not have to fight in Vietnam, and regret that so many people who did had their lives screwed up by that war. A friend of mine years ago had recently returned from several combat tours in Vietnam as a marine and was surviving and attending college on a 100% government disability. He used to say that he felt like a fish out of water back in the States and often complained that no one really wanted to know what he had done. He once described having to fire his mortar straight up as his position was nearly overrun at night and claimed that only a small number of soldiers were actually able to function in these situations, adding that once it was known he could function, he was repeatedly sent into situations likely to involve close combat. He said each time it happened he had the sensation of needing to die - in the sense of giving up all hope of life - before being able to fight effectively, so he figured he had died many times already and that death held no real meaning for him at all outside of combat. Though he had tried, he could not hold any job for more than a few hours and thought most people were afraid of him and were convinced he was "wacko" and therefore dangerous. We lost track of each other when I moved to Italy, and I think I may just try to find him next time I'm back in the States. We were in school together for a few years in Colorado Springs.

Expand full comment

Some solid points, but I'm not too sure about this statement: "Ukraine is run by the descendants of the Nazi collaborators from World War II." Do you have references?

Expand full comment

I'll repeat what I said above:

My comment comes from anti-Russsian, pro-Democracy Ukrainian friends who point out to me how many of "your bad Americans" have come over and fought with the Ukrainian militias to gain military experience. The forces they worry about aren't in office, but many in office are beholden to them.

Expand full comment

Gee, TCLA! Tell us how you really feel! It should be as it is — appalling, but true! 🪖

Expand full comment

Whoof, not much to add that.

Expand full comment

Repercussions for nefarious behaviour. A line in the sand. Taking care of business at home. Yes! To have a president that is not cozying up to evil, one with integrity and a realistic view of world affairs, is a change from what came before that is vastly reassuring. I am quite astonished at Biden. I did not think he would be, well, so progressive, or so presidential.

Expand full comment

What a wonderful surprise to see Joe Biden be a President who I respect and trust. He is a far cry from sleepy Joe that Trump dubbed him. What stark contrast between 45 and President Biden!

Expand full comment

Actions speak louder than words.

Expand full comment

👍 yes they do.

Expand full comment

Much as I agree with you, the comparaison with the last three presidents' views of "world affaires"doesn't fix the "bar" very high. The world expects more than it has been getting for some time.....Biden has good people around him and indeed he has started well. We'll see what the furture holds.

Expand full comment

I think it makes excellent sense to keep an eye on the current administration. Just because they have a D behind their name doesn't mean they are perfect.

Here's one question to ask ourselves: How is the American Rescue Plan money being spend in our home town, in our county?

In the Village of Round Lake, NY, where I live, apparently the ARP money must be spent on COVID-related losses and recovery needs. So, we can't finish repaving the streets (a project partway finished), and, apparently, we can't replace the streetlights with Victorian-style lower-cost LED lights.

But... how would a large infusion of money assist small in-home businesses, like child care providers, professional gardeners, hair stylists, accountants?

You give a small business a large sum of money -- by grant or loan -- and it could be surprising what ideas they come up with to improve their bottom line. Signage, advertising, upgrades to ISP plans, professional business plans, remodeling a room to be business-only and therefore tax-deductible...

Expand full comment

The proposed infrastructure bill might help with the streets and street lights, depending on what actually happens with it.

Expand full comment

Gee, no stock buy-backs?

Expand full comment

Stuart, it appears you live in Paris. What is general opinion of Biden in Europe?

Expand full comment

Two words come straight to my mind; relief and apprehension. Relief for obvious reasons as the last President is now out. Apprehension because it might just be for the time being and because the last 3 Presidents have been something of a disappointment for Europeans. The result is that Europe will want to go more its own way...but it is incapable of deciding collectively which way that should be. Trump was right in one thing...if the Europeans want people to consider their interests, they'll have to put a lot more money into their own defense. Given that necessity and the lack of collective vision, each region/country will go its own way as usual and encourage the further decline of Europe.

As a President, since Joe's inauguration, the European media and people have not been following his story and improved image. They are busy with covid and remember still "sleepy joe" and the verbal "dificulties" which were at one point underlined. He is seen as someone's kindly, elderly Granddad seeems very nice but frail and might not be around for too long.

Expand full comment

For what it's worth, it appears the new Italian government, led by Italy's most internationally credible prime minister in some time (Mario Draghi, ex head of the EU central bank and savior of the EURO following the Bush crash), wants both better relations with the USA and a strong EU. When Erdogan dissed Ursula Von der Leyen of the EU by having her sit far away from him at an EU-Turkey meeting in Istanbul, Draghi called Erdogan a "dictator", which he is. It seems to have got his goat.

Expand full comment

I did

Expand full comment

Me, too. Just because Biden worked "across the aisle" to get good legislation passed does not mean he betrayed the Democratic party, or what are now viewed as progressive positions. He has alwats been about doing the right thing for America. And now he is essentially, professionally, enacting the Green New Deal as well.

Expand full comment

Indeed! So pleasantly surprised by Biden!

Expand full comment

13 years ago my husband was deployed to Afghanistan to help train Afghan troops. Even then he recognized it as a lost cause. Withdrawing troops is far overdue. We are worlds apart culturally (that have nothing to do with religion). And as a side note, one of the very troops my husband's unit was assigned to train ended up killing 2 members of his unit.

Expand full comment

Essential for the civilian public to continue to hear these "news from the front" stories from everyday people.

Expand full comment

That is awful. I'm sorry your husband has to live with that.

Expand full comment

When my husband came back from Vietnam, soldiers were instructed not to wear their uniforms. They didn’t know why until quite a few were spat on and called murderers.

Expand full comment

And Viet Nam vets usually greet each other with "Welcome Home" because many did not hear this. My husband was in country 66-67....before I knew him.

Expand full comment

Ah, withdrawal from Afghanistan, finally after all these years! What a pleasant distraction (just kidding) from COVID19 and the GOP and insurrectionists and Black people being executed for the crime of being Black while the gun crazies run around waving their weapons and complaining of government tyranny as the earth gets warmer and no one knows what to do about the folks crowding across our southern border, not even Joe Biden (apparently).

Seriously, the President's decision to cut the cord in Afghanistan is a good one and long overdue. Yes, I know, it was Trump's decision, but now it is grounded in actual knowledge of history and colored by a moral sense utterly absent in the former Coglione-in-chief's tiny brain.

There is a nice comment in the NYT (yesterday's) written by a former US Marine (Timothy Kudo) that is worth a read. Have a good one everyone.

Expand full comment

Vietnam all over again. Powerful writing. Totally get it, been to that rodeo myself. My answer is 'no' it wasn't worth it then, nor is it now.

Expand full comment

Thank you for your service!

Expand full comment

Thank you. I've appreciated being able to read both of these opinion pieces.

Expand full comment

Thank you Ellie. I read the link your provided of Timothy Kudo's, 'I Fought in Afghanistan. I Still Wonder, Was It Worth It?' The writer brings himself as a young soldier home when he is no longer young and carries within him a soldier's soul. I suggest it to subscribers who are ready to take a wrenching tour with Kudo from his first deployment to Afghanistan until today.

While reading Timothy Kudo's piece, I thought of Black Americans and the police. Perhaps, resulting from my attention to the subject for the last few months and more lightly since my teenage years. I considered Blacks feeling the brutality and fear, which their people have experienced in America for centuries, when a police officer stops them today. They are the targets in the war upon them, which has not ceased. I believe that police work is tied to the authority of White supremacy, which undergirds American society.

Expand full comment

Fern, here's the response you requested from a couple of days ago, followed by your original comment.

------------

Dear Fern, this is fantastic, and a revelation to me about NYC. I'm familiar with kidnappings in Boston; we role-play on walking tours as I chase students through the same escape alleys as Blacks fleeing slave-catchers in the 1850s. But the volume, and lack of official support, in NYC seems much greater. The irony, and outrage, of the Fugitive Slave Law is that there was no government aid in stemming the flow in the opposite direction -- retrieving the kidnapped was strictly by private efforts.

As the closest free state (just 2 mi from VA), southern Pennsylvania was a hotbed of conflict of the kind you describe, complete with some corrupt officials. But PA Blacks and abolitionists were well-organized, even fighting back effectively at Christiana in 1851. But they could only run (if lucky) when Lee invaded in 1863.

Enough history, since it seems that the crux of your comment relates past to present policing. I agree, it seems no amount of formal training can alter cop culture, but IDing socialization as a pernicious problem is a step forward.

The books you draw on present just the kind of hidden history lived by Blacks but barely known until recently. It clearly suggests yet more reasons why Blacks would not trust the police, and why whites cannot comprehend the vast gulf in historical and current experience.

A few years ago, in a different state, I thought I had stumbled across a human trafficking operation involving teenage girls from Eastern Europe. (Luckily it was a false alarm.) Though action wasn't taken, I knew right then that the ones to contact were either state police or (better) the FBI, because of the real possibility of collusion and corruption within local police departments. The police want respect and trust, but both must be earned, and they've spent decades forfeiting them.

Slave patrolling was an early form of American law enforcement, and we hear the phrase a lot in the past year, including from me, because it persists. Not all policing in the US derives from "paterollers," but that model has held the upper hand even in the North and West since the mid-19C. Surprisingly, there is an effective alternative: community policing (the Peelian Principles), with roots in 1820s UK. Despite its oft-brutal treatment of empire immigrants, relatively few Black Britons die at the hands of Bobbies. Peelism's long-term partial success in the UK shows that better laws and practices are possible.

G Collison, Shadrach Minkins

E Foner, Gateway to Freedom

P Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack

T Slaughter, Bloody Dawn

D Smith, On the Edge of Freedom

police.uw.edu/faqs/the-peelian-principles/

------------

Here it is TPJ, and it's long.

Today's Letter begins with the killing of two Black men by White police officers in the state of Minnesota, It is an eloquent and consequential piece, calling upon Abraham Lincoln, Heather writes in affirmation of Democracy.

The judicial proceedings in Minnesota concerning the murder, first of George Floyd and, subsequently of Duante Wright, are ultimately Heather writes, a trial of the fundamental American principle of equality before the law.

On this day, April 13th, in the year of 1861 the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter. 'The leaders of the Confederate States of America believed that the government of the United States of America had a fatal flaw: it declared that all men were created equal'. (April, 12, 2021, Letter).

Given that equality has not come close to being achieved in the United States of America, it is, perhaps, a misnomer to designate April 9, 1865 as the end of the Civil War. Since then struggles for equality in the county have been countless and continuous. Figuratively, they could fill US Route 20, stretching 3,365 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, to Newport, Oregon and U.S. and Route 6, stretching 3,199 mi from Bishop, California, to Provincetown, Massachusetts, many, many times over.

At this very moment, consider what is happening in almost every state of the Union to suppress the vote. Refer to Covid - 19th's statistics for the number of Brown and Black people's deaths vs. Whites. Examine the racial disparity is our prisons. What color is our system of justice? Is it Red, White and Blue?

Understanding the meaning of equality and reviewing the challenges to it refers us to Social Principles -- everything -- from Democratic functions, the nature of a civil society, the Constitution, role government, rule of law, human psychology, daily life... and law enforcement. In this comment, I would like to address an aspect of law-enforcement.

We have been spending many excruciatingly difficult hours in Minnesota as a result of murders by police there, including the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. I'd like to take you to another place, New York State, where police officers were terrorists. We are going back in time, before the Civil War, 'When a Kidnapping Ring Targeted New York’s Black Children'. That is the title of the book by Parul Sehgal,

‘In 1833, Black children began to vanish from the streets of New York City.’ '...‘Frances Shields, age 12, with cropped hair and a scar over her right eye, was last seen walking to school wearing in a purple and white dress. John Dickerson, 11, disappeared while running an errand for his parents. Jane Green, 11, was speaking to a stranger before she went missing. Or so it was believed; none of the children were heard from again.’ '... ‘More children began disappearing — more than one a week. The police refused to investigate the cases, and the mayor ignored the community’s pleas for help. Black parents searched on their own, scouring orphanages, prisons, poorhouses. It was whispered that supernatural forces were involved; what malign spirit was hunting these children?’

‘In “The Kidnapping Club,” the historian Jonathan Daniel Wells describes the circle of slave catchers and police officers who terrorized New York’s Black population in the three decades before the Civil War. They snatched up children, as well as adults, and sold them into slavery.

Under the Constitution’s Fugitive Slave Clause, states were required to return anyone fleeing bondage to their enslavers. Some New York police officers, like the notorious Tobias Boudinot and Daniel D. Nash — central members of the club — used the mandate to target the Black population of New York, with the assistance of judges, like the city recorder Richard Riker, who’d swiftly draw up a certificate of removal. There were no trials. The slaves were not even permitted to testify on their own behalf’ (NY Times, Book Review, Oct., 2020)

'When a Kidnapping Ring Targeted New York’s Black Children'. was referred to here in order to provide a historical sense of the role of the police in the country's struggle for equality. Have the differences in police behavior been geographically compared visa vie race and ethnicity? What is known about the biases of people serving in police departments? Recent reports indicate that police training may not effect police behavior. How can the hiring of the police be addressed to diminish bias? Historically, how intertwined is law enforcement with inequality? What are to tools to bring law-enforcement into the realm of equal treatment under the law?

Expand full comment

Wow, you two, Ferm and TPJ - I had no idea. Just awful. You should publish this.

Expand full comment

You said it MaryPat. These last years, with police cams and cell phones Americans are seeing what Black people have been telling us for a long time.

Expand full comment

Thanks, TPJ. I did see your reply and my comment in yesterday's Letter as you had requested. I replied to you as well. Essentially, though appreciative for the books you recommended, I indicated that I wasn't going to bite off anymore tomes about police behavior toward Black people for the time being. Our years, and particularly the last months, days and hours are stuffed with the tragic brutality of the police against Black people. With reference to relationship between the two, the ties of the state and White supremacy with the police cannot be not be overlooked. The country would benefit from a couple to tomes tracing the history of this lethal form on domination in the United States of America. It is who we are.

Expand full comment

Thank you too, Fern. The books are all on 19C history, one each on Boston, NYC, Britain (20C), two on PA. I can barely stand to read news articles on police, let alone current tomes, so I avoid til they clearly prove their worth. (E.g. M Alexander, The New Jim Crow.) They date rapidly, and anything that doesn't cover last year's protests is obsolete anyway.

Expand full comment

Thanks for posting this. Over the past century and a half, Great Britain, Russia and the United States have learned the hard way that Afghanistan lacks what ever it takes to function as a nation. Perpetual rebellion is not a solid base for a nation. The place is destined to be run by local warlords, occasionally in agreement with, and occasionally disagreeing with, an extremist theocracy which is the only unifying factor present. That too will ultimately collapse, and China will pick up the pieces with no more success than anyone else.

Expand full comment

Wasn't Afghanistan a fully functioning country pre-1980's?

Expand full comment

An excerpt from my Bio:

On Nov 3, 1975 we arrived in Afghanistan and were relieved to find ourselves casually walking the tree lined streets of Herat, the first town we stayed at. The hostel we stayed at was an old European style residence, broken into rooms. We thot it had an English appearance as did the crumbling tho elegant neighborhood it was in. As we walked to the center of town, the ppl we met were genuinely friendly. This quaint little town was such a relaxing experience, so different from the harshness of Iran.

The ppl were also different, a mixture of Caucasian and Asian features, with attire ranging from the Arabic turbans to the more colorful Asian tribal garb. In Herat a street waif sold me a small cast bronze Buddha for the equivalent of 50¢. I assumed it was recently cast and not that old so I cleaned off the green patina - but now wonder if it could actually be an antique. There was a sense of historic merging here, evidence of Buddhist and Eastern culture, even tho Afghanistan was dominated by Islam. We were also allowed to remove our shoes, wash our feet and enter the mosque as visitors.

This relaxed and friendly feeling lasted thru-out the two weeks that we traversed Afghanistan, which made it a pleasant stay despite suffering dysentery in Kabul, (I was told every Westerner gets dysentery in Kabul). Afghanistan is where I had my 31st Birthday. We noticed that tourism may have been a sizeable income for this otherwise struggling economy, Afghanistan being the only country that charged for a tourist visa ($7).

We saw quite a few young Europeans staying at hostels such as ours. These too were economy class tourists able to ruf it and enjoy the simple pleasures of this exotic country. Such as, the Asian style restaurant with low tables and cushion seating, arranged around the walls, where small local bands would entertain in the center. Hashish was often on the menu, available and cheap; a gram costing about as much as a Coca Cola. This may have been illegal but tolerated, for the proprietor came in one evening to tell everyone to remove their hash from the table. He then came back with two official looking men in Western style suits who looked around, were satisfied and left. At the time, being unaware of any political upheavals, we thot only of narcotics inspections but we never knew who the men were or why they were checking the Westerners in the hostel.

We stayed a few days in Kabul while I got my stomach in order, eating imported Quaker oatmeal as a comfort food. The hostel bedroom we stayed at had a dirt floor and two wooden frame cots. The toilet was across the patio and the water heater burned wood. We were in the Third World now. Kabul, for being the capital was not that impressive. I do recall in our walks going past the Soviet Embassy. In November 1975,. Afghanistan seemed to be just a haven for young ppl from Europe getting away from the industrialized world to enjoy the cheap economy of this exotic and charming little country. Who knew then that there would be an invasion of this place by the Soviet Union in just four years.

Expand full comment

As a young person, I fell in love with Afghanistan through some friends, and their photos. Visiting there was on my life list. Then the wars started. I will never get there, I know. I enjoyed your description. I guess it will have to do. As for how primitive it is, we have places within our borders that are no better, but we like to pretend they don't exist. They function with no aid at all, most of their resources have been stripped at fraction of their value by agents of the US Government and their contractor friends. Sound familiar? A Marshall Plan for Indigenous reservations sounds like a good idea.

Expand full comment

Depends on your definition of "functioning." Western and Russian aid was a factor in keeping it going.

Expand full comment

I agree with Jacob about defining "functioning country," but thanks, Rob, for your perspective.

In the 1960s and 70s Afghans had perhaps their best government ever under constitutional monarch Mohammed Zahir Shah -- legitimate, moderately reformist, not too corrupt. But state authority constantly struggles to function outside the major cities. It seems that any modern bureaucratic governance is just a veneer covering the deeper reality of a violent and unjust society. Maybe Afghanistan functions "properly" according to its own (dismal) standards. But like Myanmar, the lack of post-royal political legitimacy in Afghanistan has been tragic.

T Barfield, Afghanistan, A History

L Dupree, Afghanistan

Thant Myint-U, River of Lost Footsteps

Expand full comment

That's a stark reality of the violent and unjust reality under the veneer of governance. Humans' better angels and altruistic, cooperative impulses are offset by competitive survival of the fittest, which involves degrees of violence on a spectrum of functional to dysfunctional, thereby needing regulation by a social structure such as a government, clan/tribe, and/or religious institution. And there we have the messy, complicated, bloody, painful parts of our world history.

Expand full comment

No, it was not.

Expand full comment

Remove their source of foreign currency...largely base products for heroin...and you reduce the warlords' nuisance capacity

Expand full comment

Jasmine Aimaq's 2020 novel, "Opium Prince," provides insight into how difficult separating their economy from poppies is. It is the kind of fiction that is very close to truth.

Expand full comment

If only it was that easy.

Expand full comment

Clear, logical writing. I’d like to read his book when it’s published. The video between the paragraphs is also powerful, sad and enlightening.

Expand full comment

Wow! Quite powerful and so well written.

Expand full comment

So very sad....

Expand full comment

Certainly is worth a read. I'm sure most young men & women returning from any of the places we have sent them feel pretty much the same - if they are truthful as Mr. Kudo was. Here's another read on the US & others wars:

https://www.alternet.org/2021/04/denis-halliday/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6966&recip_id=123317&list_id=2

Expand full comment

From his piece, which says so much: “I once asked a village elder whether he knew why I was there. He responded that we’d always been there. Confused, I asked him about the attacks on America. He said, ‘But you are Russians, no?’ After 30 years of war, it didn’t matter to him who was fighting but only that there was still fighting.” Thank you for pointing out this opinion piece and to Ellie for sharing the link.

Expand full comment

Meanwhile, the US has over 500 military bases around the world at a cost of hundreds of million of dollars PER BASE.

Expand full comment

Timothy Kudo is an amazing writer, so descriptive of that which is almost impossible to describe. I look forward to reading his book when it comes out.

Thanks for the link David.

Expand full comment

Yes, I'd like to read his book too.

Expand full comment

Thank you for recommending this article David and Ellie for the link. Timothy Kudo is a gifted writer who takes us on a terrible journey. So much suffering.

Expand full comment

That piece by Mr. Kudo was a good read - thanks for the tip.

Expand full comment

My pleasure.

Expand full comment

Mr. Kudo's article. Thank you for pointing us to it David Herrick. Indeed it is well worth the read for those of you able to access the NYT. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/opinion/afghanistan-war-biden-veterans.html?searchResultPosition=1

Expand full comment

In the Firefox browser, I just right click the above link and choose 'Open Link in New Private Window'. This gets past the cookies and paywall so that I can read the occasional NYT or WaPo story.

Expand full comment

Out of respect for each journalists' work, I subscribed to both the New York Times and the Washington Post. For my subscription, I don't have to be bothered by annoying ads.

Expand full comment

I think you misunderstood my intention, Jackie Ramirez. I, too, have subscriptions to the NYT, WP, and The New Yorker, The Atlantic, etc., plus as a Californian, the San Francisco Chronical and two other Northern California newspapers. However, I do see an occasional article that I want to read from other online newspapers, e.g. the Sacramento Bee, so the "tip" sounded handy for those. Believe me, I understand the importance of supporting independent journalism, the backbone of a free and democratic society.

Expand full comment

Thanks for this tip, but it doesn't work for me on Chrome. It takes me to Incognito, but when I try to open an article in Incognito from a source for which I do not have a subscription, I get the message "We notice that you are browsing privately. Click here to subscribe."

Expand full comment

Oooh....good tip! works on Chrome too

Expand full comment

Thank you for the link. It is indeed a powerful read.

Expand full comment

Both of Mr Kudo’s columns were excellent and worth reading. He seems to have chosen writing as a profession and we are fortunate for that. While remembering that awful time, never forget: Bush celebrating “mission accomplished” in Iraq under a huge banner (May 2003) and saying to departing soldiers that he was envious of troops going to the front lines in Afghanistan (March 14, 2008). Compare that to Obama at the White House after Bin Laden was killed and crowds outside wanted him to come out and celebrate. He did not. It’s no wonder the Republican Party is circling the drain. Bye Bye.

Expand full comment

"Not just defeats, but stains on our national honor." So much truth in that short statement.

Expand full comment

National honor should not be so tangled up with power politics and military violence.

Expand full comment

National honor shouldn’t even be in the same room with power politics and military violence.

Expand full comment

Adker 100%

Expand full comment

Afghanistan, graveyard of empires. Why would it be any different for the US?

Expand full comment

Exactly what history should have taught us before these 20 years.

Expand full comment

Just like Russia went through!

Expand full comment

Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!! I have no intel to tell here on this page. I am grateful for today's Letter that has informed me. I await the comments of others here that will serve to further my understanding.

It is likely today that the defense will rest its case today in the trial of Derek Chauvin, charged with the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Eric Nelson, lead counsel for the defense, to my slightly informed opinion, has served his client well. The prosecution has presented a credible case in its pursuit of justice for Mr. Floyd and our combined citizenry . The question remains, will the jury reject the notion that in this case the actions of the police on that day were "awful but lawful." Soon we will know the answer.

Expand full comment

Minimum of 10 Americans dead in civil unrest if Chauvin is acquitted. I can't bear to think of it. Please, please, please, convict him of 2D murder.

Expand full comment

If there is an acquittal, this nation will explode. Last summer's protests will seem like birthday parties.

It is my fervent hope that the prosecution has proved the "intent" part of the requirement for a Murder 2 conviction; the elements are clearly there for Murder 3, but I find my perusal of the Minnesota Revised Statutes to be oddly specific in their definitions of Murder, which may make convictions of the higher degree more difficult.

Expand full comment

Ally I believe you are correct, this nation will surely explode with an acquittal. Does an acquittal require a majority of jurors? Or does acquittal require unanimity?

Expand full comment

I think that a unanimous verdict is required for either conviction or acquittal; it only takes one holdout to bar a conviction (recent SCOTUS decision); I am not sure what it is for an acquittal.

Expand full comment

10 is far too few. We will have a long hot summer of civil unrest and riots. Count on it if there's an acquittal.

Expand full comment

And add to it the Civil unrest already in the Minneapolis metro area because of Daunte Wright's murder. Accident my ***. If she didn't know it was a gun in her hand, then she has no right to walk free.

Expand full comment

Her words and conduct signal to me that she honestly thought she had her taser in hand. I do not know how someone makes that mistake (more on that in a minute) although there have been roughly 15 similar events since the mid 2000's, slightly more than one per year. The details that I have read said that Potter was the Field Training Officer for the cop who was doing the handcuffing (more on that in a minute as well) and when Wright pulled free from the control hold and started to get back into his vehicle, I suspect she had the first "aw, s*%t" moment of the encounter. I believe that the crime she is charged with (Manslaughter 2) is appropriate:

"A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:

(1) by the person's culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another; ...

The first "minute": Almost every officer carries their firearm on their "strong" side, and dedicate that side to only the operation of the handgun or to a baton (if one is carried or deployed) and that nothing else should encumber the ability of the officer to draw and utilize those weapons (meaning, carry the flashlight, notebook, pepper spray, handcuffs on the "support" side, the opposite side from the strong side. Agencies have a strong desire for and investment in their officers NOT confusing the Taser and the duty pistol, and as a result, almost all mandate some kind of support side carry for the Taser, either as a cross draw with the strong hand or a support side straight draw. This has the effect of making the drawing of the Taser more intentional and less "instinctual".

The second "minute": Based on my experience as a Field Training Officer (FTO), there had to have been some conversation among the three officers present about who was going to do what. As an FTO, I would have had my recruit be the contact officer IF they were at that place in their training where it was appropriate, and we would have brainstormed, briefly, the "what to do". Keep in mind, we are taking a wanted subject into custody for a misdemeanor FTA warrant on a firearms charge. When I watched the video that was provided by Potter's body camera, I was struck by both how the contact officer positioned Wright once he got him out of the car ( usual training is to move him towards the rear of the car, position the subject with legs spread beyond shoulder width apart, and block his right leg with the officer's right foot. Then there are two schools of thought; one is to handcuff immediately and the other is to have Wright clasp his hands together behind his back, use a "C" grip to hold his hands together with the officer's left hand, and do a cursory waistband search for a concealed weapon.) What happened here was that when he got out of the vehicle, Wright was standing at the car door with his hands behind his back, he was not in a position of disadvantage and the officer was ineffective in getting him in handcuffs. When Wright decided to pull free, the officer attempting to handcuff him was unable to use another tactic to gain control, and Potter decided to use her Taser.

As I sat down to write this, I Google searched for a body cam video, and found one that showed more of the interaction that others that I had seen. In this video It showed that the arresting officer did sort of grab Wrights hands, and did an ineffective "search" at the small of Wright's back, and started to put on handcuffs way too slowly. Potter has some concerns about this as she moves up to Wright (hands empty) and searches under the right hand pocket of Wright's jacket, which is when Wright makes his decision to evade arrest. Potter then says she is going to tase him, announces "Taser, Taser, Taser" and shoots him once with her handgun and has her second "oh s*%t" moment.

I have to say that I relate very strongly with Potter. I retired at 26.5 years on patrol (28 years with my agency) at the age of 55 because my physical skills (specifically grip strength, focus and concentration, and perception/reaction time) had diminished. I was a female training officer in a predominantly male profession, and by that time, I was training recruits 30 years younger than me. My code name was "Mother Hen". They were all my chicks. I suspect that I know exactly what was going through Potter's head; her recruit's search was only the small of Wright's back, and did not cover the right front of his body, which is where a right handed person is most likely to carry a concealed weapon, and his right jacket pocket (another common place for a right handed person to carry a weapon) had not been touched by the arresting officer. In this video, Potter, empty handed, reaches in to search those areas which she is most concerned about, and that is when Wright pulls away. Her recruit is not able to prevent him from getting into the car, and Potter communicates her intent to tase him; just as trained, she does the triple announcement. Why she has her Glock instead of the Taser is in my mind the ultimate act of culpable negligence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdv03O23vRQ

Because this particular type of comment by me has gotten me flamed on some sites, here is my disclaimer: I worked 28 years in law enforcement from 1985-2013, 26.5 years as a patrol deputy. I was a use of force instructor, use of force expert, crisis communications trainer, Field Training Officer, Crisis Negotiator, and Peer Support team member. I have worked almost 8 years in a part time capacity as a Courthouse Security deputy since retirement. All of this was in Oregon, in a county almost the size of Connecticut with an unincorporated urban population of 40,000 with two cities of 180,000 and 70,000 populations along with a handful of smaller cities in the 5,000-12,000 range of populations. We are not a racially diverse community, and our lack of diversity has its roots in Oregon's racist history.

Expand full comment

This is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I do believe it was a terrible mistake and that 2nd degree manslaughter is the appropriate charge. However, I question the original stop for expired tags, given that the DMV was months behind in issuing new tags because of the pandemic. This is where racial bias might well have been a factor.

Expand full comment

My question is: wasn't the police's action (stopping Wright and having him get out of the car) in part based on information they got from doing a background check, and discovering he had an outstanding warrant? At least that's what I read. In any normal traffic stop (I've only been stopped a couple of times) it's my understanding police always do a background check via the computer in their squad car on the license tags and/or driver's DL #, correct?

I really appreciated Ally's post above as it sheds some valuable light on what is SOP with police in searching an individual, what should and shouldn't be done. She knows explicitly what should be done all the more because she was a FTO. At least to me, it does seem to indicate this was a horrible horrible accident, and things escalated and went terribly awry.

Expand full comment

Thanks, Ally, for this detailed explanation. It helps to answer questions I've had about the incident.

Expand full comment

Ally, thank you for your valuable insight. I am with Ruth in that my questions have been answered.

Expand full comment

Thank you Ally, your perspective is solid gold.

Expand full comment

I was born and grew up in Oregon, and now know exactly where you were. There is a lot more diversity than when I was growing up, at least. I'd describe the underlying roots more as a combination of greed and an entrenched sense of entitlement by white settlers. It is astounding (and pleasing) to me to see the part of Oregon I grew up in turning largely brown, and the Native people at last able to take an active part in determining their own destiny. This is a huge change. My family was one of the few brown families. (Well, not me: I got some melanin-suppressing genes and as a result I have albinistic eyes, hair that used to be kind of red, and fair skin as long as I stay out of the sun-dr orders). Life was interesting at times. But Oregon has never been as racist as current thought would have it. I grew up on the stories. Did you know there were black towns in the Wallawas? Faded the same way as most other towns out there. As for racism, Idaho and Arizona have always been far worse, and still are. Oregon is a long way from perfect but I raised my kids in a mixed neighborhood, my house was the neighborhood center, and the current legislature has a bunch of BIPOC members, several of whom I know, including the black man who is responsible for a whole slew of bills supporting social justice. I accidentally ended up in Vermont, but I still consider the PacNW home. Fires, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, mud slides notwithstanding. There are a whole lot of people who are working hard to fix things. Sometime I'll tell you about the evangelist right wing legislator who votes no on everything out of ignorance and simple spite (though you probably already know of him). I wonder if he'll ever grow up.

Expand full comment

Where I live well over 50% of the voting populace are not just Republicans, they are pre-Civil War or concurrent Civil War whites who vote against any so-called "LIBRAL" proposal from the legislature; they demonize Democratic office seekers and, of course, any Democratic leaning representatives, especially, if legislators are from densely "colored" voting districts; or districts typically Democratic; college campus areas; supporters of gay bars and gatherings, etc.

Expand full comment

Great story about yourself, Annie. Brings perspective to us when we read your comments.

Expand full comment

Right away, I "noticed" the cop fumbling around with the handcuffs, and wondered if he knew how to use them. Your point about the positioning of Wright beside the car instead of the rear of the car seems to be another critical mistake.

Expand full comment

Thank you, Ally, for sharing these observations, and your relevant experience, with such clarity. I am grateful for your participation in the LFAA community!

Expand full comment

Ally, your experience is vital to understanding Potter. Thank you for revealing that as we are all quick to judge due to the many many awful killings we have been witnessing. But...Potter is guilty of negligence, you’re right, and of murder.

Expand full comment

Interesting. Your background is rich with experience indicating that you're acquainted with the risks police officers and defendants endure. We who are here discussing the case though, were not witnesses, were not there, though our experience does not mean our views will be presented as evidence in this trial. Each of us develop out opinions by sorting though what we imagine are the credibilities of actual witnesses. Our role here is only to share our different opinions of events we did not observe.

My hope is for clarity and honesty among the actual witnesses and authorized decision makers on the jury, the prosecution, and members of

the defense.

Expand full comment

Rex, those are the goals aren't they?

Expand full comment

I love ❤️ this exposition of what happened. Nothing to add, but thank you for deepening my understanding.

Expand full comment

Thank you

Expand full comment

🙏

Expand full comment

Thank you Ally for your in-depth writing on this incident. You certainly have the background and experience to help the untrained eye understand the situation more clearly. I agree with your perspective.

Expand full comment

MS Potter made a grave mistake but she certainly accepts responsibility for her actions which is truly all we can expect from anyone.

The fact is, Police will make mistakes, thus it is imperative for folks to minimize risk by cooperating with their directions. I am not certain framing this event as a racial matter is fair or productive.

Expand full comment

William, this rather willfully ignores the vast history of the role race has played in the culture of police violence. Would this have happened to a white young man? Would he have even been stopped? While I agree that the final outcome was likely a tragic accident, the antecedents which led to the situation resulting in the death of Daunte Wright stretch back 400 years.

Expand full comment

Gun instead of taser might well have been an unintentional. But look at the context in which that happened, once again: A young black man is stopped for a trivial offense. Police choose to handcuff and arrest him. When that scenario does not work out as police intended, they decide to injure the man rather than let an admittedly non-violent offender get away to face consequences another day.

Why exactly was it going to be okay to tase this man? What had he done to deserve it? expired plates? walking away from police who were pushing him around and generally behaving in a threatening manner? Gun-not-tase was not the only problem. I understand Ally's information that the new cop was bungling the arrest. That's not the only problem either.

I was stopped by police for expired registration one night, same as Daunte Wright's mother's son. I was young then, like he was. The police politely advised me to take care of it promptly, and sent me on my way with a warning. No handcuffs, no arrest, no threats. Statistics say that correlates closely with my light skin.

Too often, police traffic stops of black people are conducted as if black persons are the Enemy, when in fact they are your neighbors' sons and daughters.

Expand full comment

I agree with you on all counts, and while I do reserve 99.9% of my concern and empathy for Daunte Wright's family, I do hold on to that little shred of sadness for Kim Potter. She will have to live with this tragic incident for the rest of her life and it will destroy her, whether or not she spends any time in prison. While she is culpable and must pay the price for her actions she, too, is a victim of the meat grinder of white supremacy that trained her to devalue certain human lives. As the Duke said at the end of Romeo and Juliet: "All are punished."

Expand full comment

The underlying idea that cops must swarm and control any black person shows up over and over.

Expand full comment

I do wonder what pressure she might have felt to behave in a certain way in order to fit in with the boys.

Expand full comment

Yes! I have gotten into the sloppy habit of leaving "male" out when talking about the malign influences in policing (and throughout our society, for that matter). It is clearly white, MALE supremacy that is the toxin.

Expand full comment

She clearly shot him by accident. WTF? You watched that video and still think she meant to murder him?

Expand full comment

And is burning and looting in the best long term interest of the Black community or would a massive, nationwide voter turnout in midterms send a stronger and longer lasting message?

Expand full comment

It's not "the Black community" that causes the domestic unrest we all deplore. Unrest and voter turnout are not mutually exclusive either.

There is no strategic plan for protest involving vandalism among justice advocates, and especially not looting. It's due to opportunism by habitual criminals (not all are Black people), which also occurs with concerts and sports titles), and snap-decision acting out by traumatized, alienated individuals.

The institutions and leaders of Black communities play a major role in limiting unrest and channeling grief and rage in productive directions. They're much more trustworthy than the people and institutions officially responsible for maintaining order: the legal system and police. The latter will often guarantee disorder.

Expand full comment

It’s important to remember that some of the looting was believed to be instigated by white supremacist militia groups seeking to disrupt and discredit an otherwise peaceful demonstration during the day. The FBI would later report on this. The Minneapolis mayor extended the curfew because of it.

Governor Tim Walz

@GovTimWalz

·

May 31, 2020

“We have reason to believe that bad actors continue to infiltrate the rightful protests of George Floyd’s murder, which is why we are extending the curfew by one day.”

Expand full comment

Very true, Candace, and the embrace of political violence by the right is a real threat to the republic. Ditto for their lying, usually with words, but last summer with deeds too. Rightwing terrorists qualify as habitual criminals of the worst sort.

We do have two excellent senators, with Ayanna Pressley as my rep. I really admire Gov Walz and wish MA had one like him. And Amy Klobuchar is a tower of strength for the Democratic Party. Hoping with all my heart that there is full justice for George Floyd and some relief for Minnesota.

Expand full comment

TPJ(MA), you have absolutely hit the bullseye. The staffing decisions of many, if not most, police departments, follow the customs and racial majorities of the communities they "serve," with the indelible marks occasionally of the racial majorities of those populations.

Expand full comment

Thanks, T-Rex!

Expand full comment

Burning and looting are symptomatic of a failed state. When the people are not cared for or are harmed over and over by the state, riots are an inevitable human response. They don't need to be organized and there is no reasoning as to whether they are "in the best interest". The proper thoughtful response is to question how the state has failed its people and how to correct those failures.

Expand full comment

It's good to see the failed-state concept apply to the US.

Expand full comment

The United States is not a failed state by any means. People who are powerless riot. People who feel cheated riot. People who are harmed riot. All these riots depend on the degree of those who harbor these feelings, or wish to overthrow the current system to replace it with their brand of that thing we call government.

The fact that you and I and millions of others write these word without any feeling fear or loathing is proof that the United States is not a failed state.

Expand full comment

I remember listening to the various police forces in Wisconsin after the shooting in Kenosha. One police department head said they arrested 50 + people from 41 cities Outside Of Wisconsin. 2) The police on horseback were giving out water bottles to some militia men, and one replied " you treat us better than the police in Portland (Oregon)" The authorities are aware that outside actors come in to destroy property, and that it is not only the local residents who may be troublemakers.

Expand full comment

All things are political and burning down someone’s house or car or the neighborhood grocery store, or the coffee bar, for whatever the reason, only scores political points for the Party of Law and Order. Rioters burning down Liberal run cities! Vote for me and I’ll protect you.

Politicians listen to votes. Can you imagine thousands of peaceful protesters carrying signs that say “I vote”. Envision that protest on the nightly news.

Or violence .Protesters choice.

It’s hard to imagine Chauvin not being found guilty of something, but you never know. And I agree, a “not guilty “ verdict and cities will go up in flames.

But then I just knew that OJ was guilty.

Expand full comment

Happy, I fear the same scenarios, not because I imagined them, for sure. Who needs to do that. The screenplays have already been written, BUT, the geniuses who are commissioned to write them are typically less guided by the realities than the persuasiveness of economic rewards for this or that narrative.

Expand full comment

TPJ, in any trial convicting is difficult as you are dealing with many lives not just the defendant. While our system is not perfect, it does need to be just. Justice is blind and can be worse than difficult, but it is owed to all of us, you, me and everyone we ever knew or will know.

Let's hope that he gets justice.

Expand full comment

Agreed, Joe, but blind justice is an abstraction, an ideal achieved infrequently; it's blind to the racial elements of Chauvin's crimes. I think only a 2D murder conviction is just by itself. 3D conviction in MN typically gets 10-15 years; the average inmate serves 2/3 of sentence. Chauvin could be released in as little as 6 years -- NOT enough for the horrendous crime of lynching (which doesn't seem to be a discrete crime). A quick search doesn't show penalties for 3D manslaughter, but it's bound to be less than 3D murder. Does any decent person think 3-4 years max (with less time actually served) is justice for Mr Floyd? I don't.

The best hope for a just verdict may rest with combined sentences for multiple charges, adding up to substantial prison time with concurrent sentences. Remember, the context isn't just details specific to this case; it's the historic and recent pattern of police use of excess force against Black people. In June Chauvin's defense team bargained for (but didn't get) a deal giving him 10+ years, with immunity from federal charges for civil rights violations. Civil charges are where the pattern applies more fully, and may be the best hope for lengthy/concurrent sentences. IF OJ Simpson was properly punished through civil convictions, Chauvin should be too, though OJ's later home-invasion conviction was fortuitous.

Expand full comment

Dear TPJ, I could find your response to me (wish they would fix it), so I am responding here. I've just been so busy with personal affairs and other projects and have not had the time to post here, but I do read Heather's letters every day. I'm still working on my platform, "Stop the Insanity," and hope to post some excepts from my platform here intermittently to get feed back. Thanks for checking in with me; I miss talking to you.

Expand full comment

There is no way he is guilty of 2nd degree, that is a joke.

Expand full comment

Dear TPJ, copied and pasted my response to Maggie in case you didn't see it here. "

Expand full comment

"Sexual assault, harassment, abuse has been prevalent for generations. Back in January 1980, I had the first case of sexual harassment/extortion go before a grand jury and in June 1980 adjudicated in US Federal Court, prosecuted by the PA Attorney General, and presided by deceased, federal judge R. Dixon Herman who proclaimed that my case was so severe, it went beyond the boundaries of sexual harassment into sexual extortion. My sexual predator was my superior at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Annville, Pa. who was also the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer. Subsequently, I collaborated on the following radio and television broadcast interviews and have DVD copies of all but one television broadcast, and have been trying to get a copy of the WHAT radio broadcast.

WAHT Radio: 16 December 1980: Fred Williams & Yvonne Whisenant sexual harassment broadcast entitled, “Sexual Shakedown.”

WGAL Channel 8: 1981 “World of Women” broadcast by Carol Bitts – collaborated on interview & broadcast, entitled, “Yvonne’s Story,” that also introduced Helen Seager, Director PA Commission of Women

WLYH Channel 15: August 1990, “Forum Fifteen,” broadcast by Leilyn Perry - collaborated on interview & broadcast about sexual harassment that also featured guest speaker Dr. Janice McIlroy, Executive Director PA Commission of Women, “Silent Crime.”

WGAL Channel 8 : October 1991, broadcast by Lori Burkholder and Robert Sellers – collaborated on interview & broadcast about sexual harassment that also featured guest speakers Ann Van Dyke, Civil Rights Investigator for PA Human Relations commission and Attorney Catherine Walters of Mcnees, Wallace & Nurick, Harrisburg, Pa.

WGAL Channel 8: October 1991, Commentary & Discussion Broadcast regarding Sexual Harassment to include the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas scandal, and featured one of my ACLU attorneys, Lori Serratelli, as a guest speaker.

I have much case documentation including my trial transcripts, and I recently prepared a written synopsis of my case.

Expand full comment

That should have said, "I couldn't find... " Also, how do you edit a post on this feed, I can only find "Reply and Delete?" Also, how do you add your State behind your name, I'm in PA."

Expand full comment

No editing of comments, unfortunately. Edit your display name in your profile( try clicking on the name to get to the profile).

Expand full comment

This article is a vital perspective. Though Chauvin is likely to be convicted and this is a very good thing, it will have little or no effect on the underlying issues of police violence.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/15/derek-chauvin-trial-george-floyd-death-policing-america?utm_term=1a5ee726874866b4b6ed3284c26dee47&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUS&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&CMP=GTUS_email

Expand full comment

A sea change in the way police do their business is necessary. I do not see the police initiating that change themselves.

Expand full comment

Yes, this! ☝️ I'm a union guy through and through, but even I think we must begin with decertifying any police union that has provided cover for police violence.

Expand full comment

Agreed. So-called police "unions" are not. They are fraternities, not unions. Oregon is addressing this directly by limiting the kinds of things that police unions are permitted to negotiate on, and they no longer have a say in deciding disciplinary matters. Series of laws passed just recently, with bipartisan support (and in Oregon that is saying something these days).

Expand full comment

Exactly.

Expand full comment

When I read, almost everyday, of some action by police directed at communities and people of color the cultural and political divide between these various groups widens. Though the British have not eliminated tension between them, Law Enforcement personnel there are not allowed to carry firearms. Police training clearly indicates the necessity of shared purpose between communities and members of law enforcement who understand that they exist as part of those they serve. It is not, and should not, be the mission of police to represent some "officialdom" unrelated to community solidarity. Many police here appear to be trained to act and think of themselves as disciplinarians rather than as members of the communities, not drill instructors or merely enforcers looking for violators of separately conceived of "speed limits" and social taboos.

Expand full comment

I heard yesterday on Nicole Wallace that the Brooklyn police force is 99% white, and many of those men and women do not live in that community. How are they supposed to have any sense of community protection if they have no connection there?

Expand full comment

There is clearly an interest among various community members to have some sort of power over those who commission them as officers of the law. Many of them do see themselves as disciplinarians existing not within, but above mere members of the communities they're suppose to serve. So? In many law enforcement units the pressure for members to see themselves not as servants of community purposes, but as representatives of community leaders or law enforcement managers. And yes, this leads obviously not of community solidarity, but of its opposite.

Expand full comment

And Champlin, MN is a bedroom community, I bet Potter had a swell commute during 24 hour rush hour in the Cities. I wish cops were required to live in the communities that they are employed

Expand full comment

I share your sentiment, Rex, that many act as disciplinarians. I would comment that nobody in Britain has a right to carry a firearm. In this country with our 2ND AMENDMENT RIGHTS!! our law enforcement officers without a firearm would be "sitting ducks."

Expand full comment

Agreed, Lynell. Sudden disarming of all police would result in a lot of dead and wounded officers. But we can learn and combine experiences from other countries. Specifically, Australia and NZ programs to disarm their citizens through gun buyback, and Britain's successful 200-year history of policing without firearms.

We should call BS on the fiction that America's history of frontier mayhem makes American violence eternal and unavoidable. The Anzacs had their own "wild west" in the 19C, especially Aussies, but have moved past it to become safe, orderly nations.

Or we could get Jacinda Arden to annex us. Seriously cool!

Expand full comment

Jacinda Arden is, seriously, in my humble judgment, the most effective of all current Presidents. On a personal note, I listen to all of her available homilies, speeches, off the cuff statements, and musings. But!! I cannot imagine that the populations of our country would ever have the imaginations mecessary to support a political movement to look for someone like her to manage the deepening divisions in our political situation.

Expand full comment

I cannot imagine it either, Rex. Bummer.

Expand full comment

Morning, TPJ!! With the trial of Chauvin paused before closing arguments, I am playing catchup on all who have posted the last several days!

Substack doesn't always "find" our comments so apologies if I don't reply to everything you posted.

One such was your comment about the medical examiner David Fowler who I said was from South Africa. I was corrected by "one of our own" that he was actually born in Zimbabwe, but educated in South Africa. His bio says he graduated from U of Capetown in 1983. So years before Mandela. I am compelled to still say "but..."

Yes, yes, yes, to your idea that we can learn from other countries. I'm all for that and more!! As that man once said oh so long ago: “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days . . .nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.”

Or being annexed is not a bad idea. Do we need a petition to get it started?

Expand full comment

Thank you Lynell, and TPJ for your comments. It will take, I'd guess, more than 200 years to catch up with New Zealand and Australia, though I'm happy with and supportive of Joe Biden's valiant efforts to reduce or eliminate the wounds we've suffered under his predecessor.

Dealing with Republicanism and its most vocal and busy adherents, not just its routinely obnoxious "naughties," will require more than outrage. It's going to require the conscientious and constant support of President Biden and the agendas of well guided courts. With his obscene contributions to the daily news throb, Matt Gaetz is a distraction that soon will move the spotlight from recent policing crimes back to Gaetz and the spectacle of him facing the prosecution and appointed jurors..

Expand full comment

As one who lived through the '92 LA riots after the Rodney King verdict I really hope the jury has an open mind and doesn't just give him a pass. It will be awful and rightfully so.

Expand full comment

"no intel to tell here"

Lynell the alliterary lioness.

Expand full comment

Morning, Lynell! I think your assessments of the trial participants is accurate; I think that Mr. Nelson did the best he could with what his client gave him. I watched his "expert witness" medical examiner, and was not favorably impressed. Based on my recent perusal of Minnesota Statutes (see my comment to Peri's post) I believe that the prosecution clearly proved the elements of Murder in the Third Degree. I will say this: it seems to me that the Minnesota Revised Statutes seem to be unnecessarily and oddly specific in their definitions for Murder and Manslaughter as compared to those which I am familiar with in the Oregon Revised Statutes.

Expand full comment

Morning, Ally!! It's 10:48 am where I am now, meaning it's 9:48 am in MN. Nothing on my computer screen to signal the trial has started up again.

Thanks for your perspective. Sounds like you have legal expertise to bring to the table. Were these revised statutes recently adopted?

I was not impressed either with the defense's expert. The new information about Floyd being near the exhaust pipe from Squad 320 was revealing! Since the officers are the ones who put him there and left him for over 9 minutes, I couldn't figure out how that would help the defense. They seemed to tie the carbon monoxide exposure from the pipe to his preexisting conditions. But I keep thinking how does that help the defense?

Expand full comment

I also wondered if, indeed, the car was running, why did Chauvin not show some signs of discomfort from the fumes?

Expand full comment

The defense witness (Fowler) said yesterday, Pam, it was because Chauvin and others were much further away from the fumes than Floyd was. How's that for a defense!

The prosecution just called Dr. Tobin back for rebuttal. He testified that from the blood gas test taken at the hospital, the amount of carbon monoxide exposure was no greater than 2 percent. He said the normal exposure is anywhere from zero to 3 percent. So no harm/no foul.

George Floyd's cousin, Arthur Reed, talking to reporters said:

“We’re just ready to get this over with, make sure he gets the justice he deserves. We think the state has put on an excellent case.”

Expand full comment

May we please see Chauvin just go straight to the pokey? And may he rest there for 15 to 30 years.

Expand full comment

Lynell. I'm going to try to get Arthur to make sure to enumerate how adamantly, by which I mean the "VOLUME" of the concerns he reports. On this Program, volume is indicated by what? Type Size? Italics?" Religious intensity? The ranking of its denomination by the Synod of Truth? Or, let's see, Pelagius? I'd rather any of these than "The State."

Expand full comment

Lynell, I suspect that the outcome of this "trial" will ultimately rest on pieces of "text" taken from pieces of testimony not made accessible to our internet community. I don't mean to be cynical, but ......? We, here, have not all been glued to the actual testimony. We've escaped from many details because of our daily duties and distractions. I, for instance, missed out on what I'd learned only by neighborly gossip that George, one of of imagined Jurors, had to leave during an alluring piece of testimony offered up to refute the claims of some defense witness. Alas! It has been suppressed! Who, for God's sake, could have imagined such? I feel cheated. Which news agency should I sue?

Expand full comment

Thank you, HCR! I worry about the women and girls losing their identity when the taliban take over. I was glad to hear The President mention support for them going forward but don’t know how that will happen. I’m so grateful for your letters.

Expand full comment

Like you, I’m concerned about the prospects for women and girls in Afghanistan. I sincerely hope they receive respectable support from their countrymen.

Expand full comment

Not much chance of that unfortunately.

Expand full comment

They won't. But, I don't think we can change that.

Expand full comment

Kathy Kelly didn't spend her time swallowing the excuses for oh-so-profitable war (for some but not the rest of us). Look her up. She has led many visits to Afghanistan and listened to what the women's organizations and the girls have had to say, "We are sandwiched between the occupying forces and the Taliban. We have to first get the occupiers to leave and we will deal with our fellow Afghanis," was the straight message. After Russian influence operated in Afghanistan, women's rights advanced in education, professional standing, etc. Because it was their neighboring country's influence and it was Russia, from around the world presidential advisor Brzezinski proudly promoted US support for the most atavistic, violent, tribal tendencies supported by Saudi Arabia, so that Russia would suffer a defeat. That hideous cycle continues today including in Syria.

Without a look at what our own country's peace advocates have learned and opposed, we end up with delusional thinking on the level of the January 6 insurrection, even in the otherwise brilliant perspectives professor Richardson works through the night to deliver to us.

Expand full comment

It is such a gift to us to have a President who knows what he's doing after four years of Trump's incompetence and, as became clear, his intention to destroy any attempt to remove him from office.

Expand full comment

It saddens to see that Heather has fallen into the same habit that so many do--listing only the U.S. casualties of the Afghan war. Though it is difficult to know with any precision, the best estimate from a year ago is that about 157,000 Afghanis have died in the war, not to mention many more hundreds of thousands wounded and millions displaced. (https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/civilians/afghan). The U.N. estimate is that 3,035 civilians died in 2020 alone. (https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/02/1085442). Of course, not all (or even most) of these deaths are attributable to our direct actions. But when we report solely on U.S. deaths, it serves to dehumanize the people of the country we have occupied for 20 years. The war has been particularly hard on children. (https://www.mei.edu/publications/afghanistans-children-tragic-victims-30-years-war).

Expand full comment

Thanks for the wake-up call. It reminded me of a passage in the OpEd by Timothy Kudos.

As Timothy Kudos writes: "Then [when I come home from the war in Afghanistan, the war is] replaced by the sweet, artificial scents of home after the long plane ride back. Suddenly I’m on a cold American street littered with leaves. A couple passes by holding hands, a bottle of wine in a tote bag, dressed for a party, unaware of the veneer that preserves their carelessness." https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/opinion/afghanistan-war-biden-veterans.html?smid=url-share

Expand full comment

Thanks for making this point about a significant omission.

Expand full comment

Yes. These are important points. Thank you.

Expand full comment