Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cop admits lying in special-unit probe

If I limited this blog to "bad cop" posts, it would practically write itself.

The Special Operations Section of the Chicago Police Department was supposed to be the good guys. Instead, as this Chicago Tribune article reveals, one officer after another is pleading guilty to lying to Internal Affairs Division investigators about breaking the law and covering up by filing false police reports.

How do you know? How do you know this couldn't happen to you?

The cop behind you sees your nice ride, runs your tags and decides to pull you over. In the story, this happened to someone driving a Cadillac with upgraded rims--despite the fact he had not committed a traffic violation. This is a violation of the driver's constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure. If a cop wants to pull over someone who is driving legally, then he must set up a roadblock and stop everyone.

So the cop pulls you over. (As any cop can tell you, if he had followed you for a few blocks, he probably could have come up with a traffic violation anyway.) He gives no reason for the "traffic stop" and insists on a complete search of your vehicle. He takes what he wants, intimidates you in case you might want to report the incident, and lets you go on your way. Or he forces you to let him into your residence and takes more stuff. According to the article, that's exactly what happened. Then the cop files a false police report.

Except that one of the officers was female. Since she did not profit financially and is cooperating, her sentence was 60 days in jail.

Cops take advantage in ways big and small. Free coffee at convenience stores. Free passes at the movies. (Working at Golf Mill Theatres, I was instructed to comp Niles cops.) I don't have a problem with that.

Free off-duty metered parking by putting the checkered hat on the dash? Not (officially) permitted. And now, as we see, they freely take advantage of their badges and guns to take the law into their own hands by helping themselves. We are at their mercy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Toronto Film Fest's link to Tel Aviv enrages haters

I was a little surprised when I read that the Toronto Film Festival's first City to City choice would be Tel Aviv. The festival is running right now (Sept. 10-19). "That's an unusual first choice, especially considering so many leftists despise Israel, and I suspect that includes not a few in the film industry," I thought. Reaction was swift and nasty. A director withdrew his film and began circulating a petition to "protest TIFF's complicity with the Israeli propaganda machine." You don't say! (And we all know what a splendid job that propaganda machine is doing.)

In his pathetic, simpering response to this opening shot, TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey capitulates to the leftists by agreeing that Tel Aviv "remains contested ground." Contested by whom? By the Islamists and leftist extremists who believe Israel has no right to exist. And Bailey feels the need to acknowledge such extremist views? Consider the source, and his field of work, I suppose.

The petition critical of TIFF's choice of Tel Aviv gained traction and 50 signers, including Jane Fonda, Danny Glover and Alice Walker. After heavy criticism of the petition from Hollywood heavyweights (and Big Jews) Jerry Seinfeld, Natalie Portman and Sacha Baron Cohen, Fonda apologized. The petition says in part, "[W]e object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf apartheid regime."

Here we go again.


And "regime," of course, is a code word for "totalitarian dictatorship."

It seems like comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa is a new development because The Worthless One President Jimmy Carter sealed the comparison with his 2006 book title Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. (During his subsequent book tour Carter conceded the Israeli government does not practice apartheid. Liar? You tell me.) I remember in the late 80's pro-Israel advocates trained us students how to combat and debate such comparisons. There were five main laws that set up apartheid in South Africa. The African National Congress, Nelson Mandela's opposition party, wanted those five laws repealed. Obviously, Israel never had any such laws and gives its minority Arab citizens more rights than they would enjoy in any Arab state.

The nasty, visceral reaction to Israel at every turn--academia in London, a film festival in Toronto--calls the liberal agenda's integrity into question especially when liberals are strangely silent on real human rights violations elsewhere around the globe. Burma/Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest? This should be a cause célèbre (with celebrities), but Suu Kyi's democracy movement is almost a secret in the West. North Korea's prison work camps? Worth investigation and publicity; only briefly famous because Pyongyang got lucky when it captured two pretty American women, thus forcing a visit by a former president. China's illegal occupation of Tibet and gradual elimination of Tibetan culture? The People's Republic considers Tibet an internal matter, and no one seems to mind.

And that's just Asia.

Israel's neighbors are some of the worst human rights violators in the world. Penalty for wearing a cross necklace in Saudi Arabia: flogging. Penalty for Driving While Female in Saudi Arabia: flogging. Penalty for being outed as a gay man almost anywhere in the Arab world: torture and public execution. (Yet you see a Queers for Palestine sign at every anti-Israel rally. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.) Arranged marriages of underage girls. Female genital mutilation. Honor killings. No consequences for rape. These are all common in the Arab world and duly noted by the State Department's annual Human Rights Report. No one seems to care.

The organizations that are supposed to care are the Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGO's. They are repeatedly shown to have the same nasty anti-Israel bias that is prevalent across the West. They are silent on terrorist war crimes against Israel but fire up their laptops at the first sign of Israel daring to defend itself. "You're shooting back? No fair!" This is how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch operate. HRW suffered two recent embarrassments: a discovery that it raises funds in Saudi Arabia by promoting its anti-Israel work; and a discovery that an analyst at HRW is a Nazi memorabilia collector. After initially defending Marc Garlasco, HRW suspended the analyst today.

In apartheid South Africa and the Jim Crow American South, we saw how racial/ethnic hatred prevailed over economic self-interest. South Africa suffered serious economic pain due to its apartheid system and the subsequent worldwide boycott. Societal segregation gave white Southerners the lowest quality of life of anyone in the U.S.--except for their black neighbors. Now, human rights advocates ignore their own principle and ideology to attack Israel...just because.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The speed of fame

Sony Pictures Classics
Fyodor Productions
Wild Bunch/Green Room Films
Defiance Entertainment
directed by James Toback
Now available on DVD

Who were the two biggest stars of the 1980's?

Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson.

The film opens with the roar of the crowd at the Las Vegas Hilton on the night of Nov. 22, 1986 when Mike Tyson TKO's Trevor Berbick to become WBC heavyweight champion of the world at age 20. (The short fight is here.)

Who would have known at that point the trajectory Tyson's life would take thereafter? This film examines that, with Tyson himself doing all of the talking. As we watch the fights and videos of him from the 80's and 90's, Tyson narrates with the perspective of time.

It's very sad. I was a fan of both Tyson and Jackson--the Heavyweight Champion of the World (he did unify all three belts) and the King of Pop. I think both men suffered because they had no true friends. Neither had someone to say, "No." As in, "No, Mike, you're not going to be heavyweight champion forever. Instead of having three ridiculous mansions, have one or two nice homes. One sports car instead of a fleet. Two bodyguards instead of a posse. Let me find someone besides Don King to manage your money because there really isn't a money printer in your basement."

Or, "No, Michael, you shouldn't continue to mutilate yourself with endless plastic surgery. Fine, you hate your father. So talk to a therapist about it instead of trying to look like Plastic-Man. And the kids can't stay overnight. It's not appropriate, and it makes you vulnerable to criminal charges. We'll send them home in limos if their parents don't pick them up."

No friends. Just hangers-on who try to suck as much of the fame and riches as they can. Tyson's monthly expenses, which became public in bankruptcy court, were a joke. Six figures for cellphones? I guess he hadn't heard about AT&T Unlimited for $99.99. Who are all these people?

Whoever they are, once the arc of fame and fortune descends, they disappear. I don't know what Tyson's current financial situation is. I hope he's all right. It appears that most of the film was shot at a beautiful home above Los Angeles; it's unclear whose home it is. Scenes of Tyson walking alone on the beach at dusk contrast with the home's bright interior.

I highly recommend this film.

Not that there's anything wrong with that

A co-worker told me that because of my strict kosher observance, he assumed I was gay.


If one were to ask friends and acquaintances about me, that exercise may produce numerous adjectives. I suspect "gay" would not be one of them. A bully who lived less than a quarter-mile from me (hey, John!) would frequently call me "fag," but I doubt even he thought I was gay.

I was really surprised. I thought back to reading about a recently published book, Guyland. I thought, "This guy lives in Guyland. He and his friends must prove to each other on a regular basis they are absolutely, positively not gay. Having a relationship with a woman sounds gay, so instead they just hook up and have sex."

And he makes this assumption based on my kosher observance? I tried to explain that most people who keep kosher are heterosexual and that it's a tradition going back three millenia. But to my (Jewish) co-worker, it's a foreign concept that implies homosexuality.

What a difference maturity makes. I hope he grows up. Some people never do.

Bully Beatdown on MTV

Where was this show when I was in school?

The premise is that bully victims contact the host, Mayhem, at his MTV office pleading with him to help them with their problem. Mayhem investigates and invites the bully to fight a professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter in the MMA octagon. The bully can pocket a portion of the purse (provided by MTV) for each round if he is successful but must personally hand his cash losses to his victims.

I just watched the episode above, which includes one victim relating that he had anal surgery to repair a tear after this particular bully gave him an atomic wedgie (pulling his underpants up on his body). This is brutal physical abuse that suggests the bully has deep-seated psychological problems, including, in my opinion, doubts about his own sexual identity. The other victim is the bully's own stepbrother, whom he has been tormenting since the victim was five years old--when they met as a result of their parents' marriage. I truly feel bad for the stepbrother, who should have been shipped out of town for school when it became apparent the situation would not resolve itself. According to the stepbrother victim, this situation continued for 20 years.

The show is played for laughs, with the host and victims whooping it up as the MMA professional administers an old-fashioned ass-whuppin'. (In this episode, the pro outweighs the bully by only eight pounds, or less than 4 percent.) But this situation is serious, and I hope the handshakes at the end were genuine and heartfelt.

Thanks, MTV.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Liberal Agenda through the years

It struck me how central gay marriage has become to the liberal agenda over the last five years or so. Should this really be a top priority for liberals, I wondered? I thought back and tried, objectively, to make a list of liberal priorities in my lifetime:


Opposing President Nixon
Opposing the war in Vietnam
State-by-state ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) ratification


Defending legal abortion
Opposing aid to Contra fighters in Nicaragua
Nuclear freeze movement
AIDS research and awareness
Mobilizing against/sanctions against South Africa apartheid regime


Advocating national health care

2000's (first decade, not the whole century):

Opposing President Bush
Opposing the buildup to the war in Iraq and opposing the subsequent war
Opposing efforts to crack down on illegal immigration
Advocating national health care
Advocating nationwide and state-by-state legalization of gay marriage

So gay marriage is worth all this time and expense? Maybe it is. Maybe if I were gay, I would agree. The impetus for this piece, which I've been meaning to write for some time, was Eric Zorn's blog post about the couple who walked the plank (well, almost) at the top of Willis Tower Aug. 27. Willis Tower's observation deck on the 103rd floor has a new feature, the Ledge, in which tourists/guests can step out over downtown Chicago in a glass box about the size of an elevator cab. So this couple got married there, and Zorn thinks getting married at the top of a skyscraper is ridiculous and degrades marriage.* He doesn't understand why this is acceptable and legal, but gay marriage is not. It's an "outrage about which I will never hold my peace." Tell us how you really feel!

Gay marriage proponents nationwide spent about $40 million to defeat Proposition 8 in California on Election Day last November. Prop 8 is an amendment to the California State Constitution that says "Only marriage between a man and a woman is legal and valid in California." It doesn't ban civil unions, which California has. Prop 8 passed by four points after its opponents easily outspent its advocates. In analyzing the exit poll data (fascinating, by the way), gay marriage proponents, Zorn included, quickly concluded, "Well, once the bigoted old farts die out, we'll be able to repeal Prop 8."

Not so fast.

Besides gay people, who were the anti-Prop 8 movement's most dependable voters? Young people. Specifically, single young people. What happens to single young people? They get older, and they get married.

I'm making a proposal, and I know I'm not alone on this one: once people get married in traditional marriages to members of the opposite sex, they realize how special and unique marriage really is. They realize it's nothing like dating and nothing like shacking up in a love nest with someone. It has real responsibilities and real challenges, especially with raising children. It is about celebrating the differences between husband and wife, man and woman, and it is a truly rewarding experience.

When people get married and are utterly surprised and shocked by the special bond they just made, I think they realize that the relationship they share isn't possible between two men or two women. Some married people think that's okay and remain strong advocates for gay marriage. But I think there's a significant percentage of people who take another look at gay marriage after getting married themselves. "Maybe it's not the same. Maybe it doesn't deserve the same label." The relationship between husband and wife can't be duplicated in any other relationship. Zorn can stamp his feet all he wants--perhaps changing the law in the process--but he can't change that basic fact.

*Judging from the comments, some people thought this aisle walk degraded marriage too. It's not traditional--that's for sure--but I like it.

Yanks, Red Sox avoid Kol Nidre conflict

It was quite a bit of news earlier this year when the New York Jets appealed to the NFL on behalf of their Jewish fans to reschedule their Sept. 27 home game. The NFL originally scheduled their game on NBC's Sunday Night Football with an 8pm kickoff, going head-to-head with Kol Nidre services across the East Coast and Midwest. The NFL gave the Jets a break, allowing them to kick off at 1pm EDT. Jewish Jets fans could enjoy the game at Giants Stadium or on tv without missing out on yontif.

The Yankees-Red Sox weekend series finale was originally scheduled for Sept. 27 at 1pm EDT at Yankee Stadium. Major League Baseball and ESPN moved the first pitch back to 8pm EDT to accommodate the national Sunday Night Baseball telecast on ESPN. A U.S. Congressman from New York and the Yankees appealed to Bud Selig, (Jewish) commissioner of baseball. Selig and ESPN allowed the game to be rescheduled to its original start time. It will still be broadcast on ESPN. This last part is rather startling. ESPN insists on broadcast exclusivity for its Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. Other MLB games may proceed at that time, but they may not be on tv. (Teams prefer to be on tv and as a result play Sunday matinées instead.) ESPN is going ahead with its high-interest game in the afternoon, competing with other games, to accommodate Jewish fans. Very impressive.