Thursday, January 03, 2019

Thursday Stuff

I now give you my first modified-schedule post for 2019…first, kudos to the Lobster Club for this number during this year’s Mummers Parade, held in Philly on New Years’ Day for the uninitiated, as noted here (and to me, the REALLY funny part is that this was broadcast on WPHL-17 in Philadelphia, which is a Sinclair station)…

…and Francis Maxwell tell us about how one of America’s Great National Pastimes had a banner year last year, and I’m referring to – wait for it – racism of course…

…and I honestly wasn’t trying to link the prior clip to this item – of all of the lefty, liberal, Democratic issues out there where I personally may have a sticking point with someone over something, I can think of no issue bigger than what I consider to be the clear-cut, unmitigated guilt of this guy (in this post, I’m going to reference the Wikipedia article here – normally I would be leery about relying so much on Wikipedia, but this article has excellent sourcing…I’ll note why I’m bringing this up a little later).

From “Commonwelath v. (Mumia) Abu-Jamal” (what follows is a summary of the prosecution’s case):

Murder of Ofc. Daniel Faulkner

At 3:55 am on December 9, 1981, in Philadelphia, close to the intersection at 13th and Locust streets, Philadelphia Police Department officer Daniel Faulkner conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle belonging to and driven by William Cook, Abu-Jamal's younger brother. Faulkner and Cook became engaged in a physical confrontation.[28] Driving his cab in the vicinity, Abu-Jamal observed the altercation, parked, and ran across the street toward Cook's car.[4] Faulkner was shot from behind and in the face. He shot Abu-Jamal in the stomach. Faulkner died at the scene from the gunshot to his head.

Arrest and trial

Police arrived and arrested Abu-Jamal, who was found to be wearing a shoulder holster. His revolver, which had five spent cartridges, was beside him. He was taken directly from the scene of the shooting to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he received treatment for his wound.[29] He was next taken to Police Headquarters, where he was charged and held for trial in the first-degree murder of Officer Faulkner.[30]

Prosecution case at trial

The prosecution presented four witnesses to the court about the shootings. Robert Chobert, a cab driver who testified he was parked behind Faulkner, identified Abu-Jamal as the shooter. Cynthia White, a prostitute, testified that Abu-Jamal emerged from a nearby parking lot and shot Faulkner. Michael Scanlan, a motorist, testified that from two car lengths away, he saw a man, matching Abu-Jamal's description, run across the street from a parking lot and shoot Faulkner. Albert Magilton, a pedestrian who did not see the shooting, testified to seeing Faulkner pull over Cook's car. As Abu-Jamal started to cross the street toward them, Magilton turned away and did not see what happened next.

The prosecution presented two witnesses from the hospital where Abu-Jamal was treated. Hospital security guard Priscilla Durham and police officer Garry Bell testified that Abu-Jamal said in the hospital, "I shot the (mf'er), and I hope the (mf'er) dies."[31]

A .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver, belonging to Abu-Jamal, with five spent cartridges, was retrieved beside him at the scene. He was wearing a shoulder holster. Anthony Paul, the Supervisor of the Philadelphia Police Department's firearms identification unit, testified at trial that the cartridge cases and rifling characteristics of the weapon were consistent with bullet fragments taken from Faulkner's body. Tests to confirm that Abu-Jamal had handled and fired the weapon were not performed. Contact with arresting police and other surfaces at the scene could have compromised the forensic value of such tests.[32]

I would highlight what you could call the case for the defense in the trial, but as far as I’m concerned, there wasn’t one, or at least not one to be taken seriously. All kinds of attempts at what I would call deflection were thrown into play, such as the “running man” theory (it really wasn’t Abu-Jamal, but someone running from the scene who could not be identified by anyone). And neither Abu-Jamal or his brother, William Cook, testified in their own defense (yes, I realize that can be a strategic move in a court case, but to me, it can add up to a collective picture of guilt, which I think happened here, and apparently, the jury agreed – for the record, Abu-Jamal’s birth name was Wesley Cook).

One of the attempts at deflection came in the form of Arnold Beverly, someone who the Abu-Jamal legal team fought over to use as a defense witness. Beverly’s story was that he was supposed to carry out a contract hit on Faulkner because of the officer’s crime busts – I think that, in the end, Beverly just turned out to be another one of the kooks and bottom-feeders who seemed to latch themselves onto this case for publicity reasons. Besides, anybody dumb enough to try and carry out a hit on a Philadelphia cop knows that his or her life, quite rightly, wouldn’t be worth a wooden nickel afterwards.

The one area of this case where Abu-Jamal’s legal team actually won out was over what was ruled to be prejudicial sentencing instructions to the jury during the penalty phase (the CUNY professor in the Democracy Now! clip, Johanna Fernandez, played that to the hilt…yes, Ron Castille’s actions were politicized, which is never a good thing when you’re talking about a legal procedure – and Fernandez now says that there could have been a FOURTH person at the crime scene? GMAFB!).

Do I think Abu-Jamal deserves a molecule of sympathy? No. But if it turned out that there was impropriety at the penalty phase, then he should be granted a remedy allowed by the law.

Many people I respect and admire have latched onto the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal as if he’s an actual political prisoner. As far as I’m concerned, that is because he is a world-class con man and smooth talker who’s a pro at playing gullible saps for his own ends. He’s as much of a “political prisoner” as I am. And I’m sorry, but on this matter, Mike Farrell, Ed Asner, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and the late Roger Ebert and Paul Newman ARE ALL WRONG.

I’m definitely not a “legal eagle” by any means, but I grew up in Philadelphia when Ofc. Faulkner was killed and while this case was playing out. Yes, I will grant that there was prejudicial activity that occurred surrounding the trial which was wrong, but as far as I’m concerned, it didn’t do a damn thing to change the facts in evidence. And Judge Albert Sabo dent over backwards to accommodate Abu-Jamal and his legal team.

As far as I’m concerned, Mumia Abu-Jamal executed Ofc. Daniel Faulkner in a horrible, brutal manner. And I could care less if Abu-Jamal’s life was endangered in prison because he contracted Hep C (I will grudgingly grant Abu-Jamal’s point about PA having more life inmates than any other state – here).

I guess admitting this means that I’ll now have to turn in my lefty, Trotsky-ite calling card as an unabashed liberal propagandist. But there you are.

With this admittedly boring preamble out of the way, I now give you the clip from Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Interviewing Prof. Fernandez of Baruch College - CUNY about the fact that Abu-Jamal will be granted a hearing to try and make a case for his innocence yet again, as noted here (I was clutching my keyboard throughout the interview, and it was all I could do to not pick it up and smash it against the monitor when Fernandez compared Abu-Jamal to Nelson Mandela at about 11:26 – as far as I’m concerned, Fernandez is just another one of the bottom-feeders I alluded to earlier)…

…and because I think we need to get whatever laughs we can when we can do it (especially with the Dow heading south again), I give you this number to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the discovery of the remains of King Tut, as noted here (well, excuuuse me!).

Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday Stuff

I’ll lead off with Ari Melber yet again, talking with Dem U.S. House Rep Steve Cohen about Generalissimo Trump’s typically delusional notion that the shutdown will hinder investigations into his administration, which is probably why Number 45 has no desire to try and resolve it (and good job to invoke Warren Zevon)…

…and Farron Cousins tells us how the congressional Repug lemmings may end up taking the proverbial plunge off the cliff along with the Gropenfuhrer, and they’re predictably losing what’s left of their minds (and speaking of Repugs losing their minds, in response to this, please read “The exit” from here)…

…and kudos to Jayar Jackson of TYT for dragging Orrin Hatch as this colossal fraud slithers out of the spotlight of the U.S. Senate…

…and speaking of exits (well, sort of), I usually “go meta” at the end of the year like this and extend my appreciation to anyone who has spent any time whatsoever at this site during the year, and I do so again now.

This time, though, it’s a little different. I want to emphasize that, while I’m not giving this up entirely, I plan to step WAY BACK from posting as I have. I have at least one other pet project that I want to devote time to instead. As of now, it looks like that will consume a lot of my time for 2019. I don’t know how it will go, but the only way I’ll find out is to give it my best shot. To the extent that I have a plan, it is this – to work on other stuff and return to posting more frequently later in 2019 when (God help us) the 2020 election cycle starts to heat up (as Farron Cousins noted above). And at that time, I’ll try to mix it up a little more between written content and videos – sites like TYT, Ring of Fire, Secular Talk and others will do just fine without me putting up their stuff as often as I have.

Besides, I need a break. I’ve been doing this to one degree or another since 2005, and I think I’ve earned it. I originally started doing this because Dubya gave a speech in April 2005 created by Michael Gerson that, in typically obsequious and cowardly language, tried to elevate what was once called the “Global War On Terror” at the expense of the 60th anniversary of VE Day. Don’t ask me to track down any links about what exactly was said – I don’t intend to debate that all over again. All I know is that, whether he knew he was doing it or cared, Former Commander Codpiece was impugning the sacrifice of my father, to say nothing of the sacrifice of thousands upon thousands of other men and women who served in that theater, and I have to admit that something inside me snapped a bit.

Of course, I (along with probably every other liberal blogger who has ever done this) ended up cataloguing what turned out to be a volume of conservative right-wing lies, propaganda and nonsense that was stunning even to an admittedly jaded individual like yours truly after I started this thing up. I also ended up putting videos here just about every day except for most weekends to try and hang onto whatever views I managed to get and keep everyone coming back as much as I could. I particularly tried to do that for the 2018 election cycle because I felt it would be particularly important to keep as many people engaged as I could (“Z” list blogger that I am, I know there was only so much I could do about that). But I think I had some measure of success, and fortunately, we were able to achieve the electoral result we needed (yes, losing ground in the Senate hurts, but we HAD to win the House, and that happened thank God).

So I’m going to offer this video and then take a bit of a break. Usually I put up “People Have The Power” by Patti Smith, but instead, I’ll note that somehow I forgot to observe the passing of longtime Elvis drummer D.J. Fontana earlier this year (with this year also being the 50th anniversary of Presley’s comeback 1968 TV special), and offer this instead.

Let’s all do what we can to keep up the fight. Also, best wishes for all good things in 2019.

And rest assured that you’re not rid of me yet :-).