Who’s the Racist?

30 days ago, Jussie Smollett was just another second-rate nameless face on a third-rate show playing a meaningless part in the make-believe land of entertainment and pop-culture.  You know the drill; good looks and camera appeal over character and talent, one’s race, alternative sexual preferences and willingness to embrace the theology of the high-priests of Hollywood, all validated as a membership card to a not-so-secret yet really special society of fellow travelers, those high-minded sycophants, hosting self-congratulatory pep rallies in order to continually validate one another.  You know, those socially aware, better than the rest of use activists that preach for profit, poach and pillage while pontificating from a high perch about how you should live your life, you know, the small lives we live, those way down below where they live theirs, such is the story of Smollett.

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Not content with the Only-In-America success story that he had managed to cobble together for himself, rendering him a millionaire at 36, Smollett instead weaponizes his success in order to plunge a spear into the heart of America and Americans, falsely accusing us all of the darkest of deeds, you know, the deeds that actually exist first in the heart of Smollett, that cancer of animus that makes Smollett the hater, ironically against a society that has fostered his development into the success story he has now single-handedly managed to destroy.

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And the real irony here is that America will forgive Smollett.  After the dust settles, the mantle of victimhood and a false narrative of humility will land Smollett on the TV talk circuit.  The Bishops of liberal bigotry will proclaim that even though this episode of Smollett Live didn’t actually happen, it achieved ratings to die for, and accordingly, they will parlay this out to their benefit, reminding us all that the evil they tried to push off on all of us is actually really there, in our hearts and not theirs, you know, those hearts and minds that exist so far above us that we couldn’t possibly understand, yes those minds, the ones who gave us the likes of Smollett in the first place.

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Garages

14 years ago this month, my dad died.  I wrote this back then and thought some might enjoy it once again.  I miss you dad.

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My father loved his garage.  We spent countless hours there together, me working on various cars or motorcycles, or lawn mowers, while dad either watched, talked, or grabbed a rag and cleaned whatever was nearby and dirty.  While not particularly handy, dad decided that if he couldn’t fix it, at least he could clean it.

His old, two stall, wood frame, dimly lit garage situated in the back of his modest home was a shrine of sorts.  He told me hundreds of times how much he loved this place.  While dad was mechanically challenged, he nevertheless loved tools, even ones he had no clue how to use.  I think my dad hoped the legal adage of “possession being nine tenths of the law” somehow equated to his ownership of tools magically rendering him handy.  Before the Alzheimer’s, dad knew where ever one of those tools were located in his windowless temple to the god’s of repair and the angels of the less than handy.

The truth is, we used the garage as a meeting place, the replacement for the tree house of our youth.  Men Only.  You could say things in the garage you wouldn’t dream of saying anywhere else.  While we didn’t posted signs to keep women out, it seems they understood that this was turf akin to a locker room and as if by magic, they seemed almost afraid to approach us while we were inside.  Neighborhood men, on the other hand, sensed our presence in the garage and spontaneously appeared like salmon going up the fish ladders to the hatchery.

At about the same time my dad began to noticeably give ground to his battle with Alzheimer’s, I bought my first home and ironically, it was garageless.  This would have been a deal breaker if my father had not lived nearby and been kind enough to share his shrine with me.  During that time, my dad’s fight with Alzheimer’s began to challenge him in a greater way.  As his mobility suffered, even going to the garage had to stop.  From then on, after finishing whatever I had to do in the garage, I made sure that I came into the house and spent time with my father, describing to him what I had done and asking him questions about where things were in the garage in an attempt to keep him engaged.

Last week, I did my final oil change in dad’s garage.  Earlier this evening, as I stood in the shadows of darkness in my own garage, part of the deal in a recently acquired income property, I thought about the cruel irony of the situation.  My dad went into a nursing home today.  That officially returns his garage to its former use as a mere storage facility, shrine status now and forever revoked.  I only hope that some of the magic we created and enjoyed there finds it way to my garage and my son.

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An Officer and a Gentleman?

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39-year-old Binghamton lawyer Paul Battisti wants to become the next Broome County District Attorney.  Battisti faces a Republican Party primary challenge from Chief Assistant Broome County DA Michael Korchak.  Former Under-Sheriff and now NYS Senator Fred Akshar and Broome County Sheriff David Harder both endorse Battisti.  Supporting Korchak are current District Attorney Steven Cornwell as well as retired Broome County Court Judge Martin Smith.

Mr. Cornwell is far better qualified than Battisti and much more experienced, having held the position in the DA’s office since before Battisti was old enough to drive.  However, youth and lack of experience are the least of Battisti’s problems.

Battisti has demonstrated poor judgment and a propensity to unjustly manipulate the legal system. Using his personal and political influence, Battisti reportedly phoned Broome County Sheriff Captain Fred Akshar, (now Senator Akshar), convincing him to dispatch a deputy to the scene of a domestic dispute between Battisti’s estranged wife and his new girlfriend.  Even though the incident took place in Binghamton, Akshar sent a deputy, trampling normal inner-departmental protocols that would have instead properly dispatched the Binghamton Police Department to the incident.  Battisti’s ex-wife was arrested in front of their own children on charges that were later dismissed by the District Attorney’s office.  The arresting officer? Deputy John Akshar, Fred’s brother.

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Add to this malfeasance the latest findings of reportedly three years of tax liens in arrears to the tune of almost $90,000.00 and we get a further glimpse into the character of candidate Battisti.

Attorneys and police officers are referred to as “Officers of the Court.”  This means that they are obliged to promote justice and uphold the law.  This obligation is even stronger and more important when it regards the District Attorney.  If those in leadership positions are known for twisting the law and operating on the margins of what is right and just, they fail by example.  As the chief law enforcement officer representing the county, this office, and its leadership, set the tone and example for the entirety of the law enforcement community.  Battisti’s actions severely undermine the credibility and trust needed in order to perform with honor, dignity and valor.  The rank and file of law enforcement requires leadership they can look up to.

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The core goal of the District Attorneys office is to hold accountable those under which the law applies.  The actions of Battisti and Akshar disqualify them both as good faith servants of the people.  Mr. Battisti has demonstrated himself as unworthy of the citizen’s trust and their votes.  His own actions disqualify him from serving the people of Broome County.  Good looks, a flashy smile and sharply tailored suits aren’t the measure of the man.  His actions are.

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Motives

Recent allegations of misconduct involving the staff at Binghamton’s East Middle school deserve serious inquiry and investigation.  The parents of four twelve year-old girls who are students at the school, stated that their daughters were each subjected to a strip search, conducted by the school nurse and the assistant principal, reportedly because the girls seemed, “giddy” during lunch, and were suspected of being under the influence.  School officials responded by saying that strip searches did not occurred but instead, the girls were asked to remove their coats in order to be properly evaluated.  According to a school statement, the girls were not punished and returned to class.

Various news sources reported that a community group called Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow, (PLOT) and the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP), each issued statements, the NAACP local chapter President demanding the dismissal of school staff involved.

As the incident escalated in intensity, and as the wider community became aware of the allegations, the school district reportedly hired a law firm to conduct an investigation.  Shortly afterwards, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo also commented on the incident and directed the New York State Police to conduct an investigation.  Currently the story has gotten even wider attention and has been reported on nationally.

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While many questions remain to be answered, there are a few that have yet to be asked, such as, why didn’t the parents immediately call the police once they learned their children were subjected to such outrageous conduct?  If the allegations are true, it is possible that criminal acts have taken place.  Once the police are involved and begin to take statements from all the parties, there are also criminal sanctions for making false statements to the police.

In addition, why did Governor Cuomo think it wise to by-pass the Binghamton Police Department and the local District Attorney’s office, instead ordering the State Police to conduct an investigation?  This action undermines and discredits local authority and by inference casts a shadow on their competence and expertise.  By disrespecting local law enforcement, the Governor has made matters worse.  Because local law agencies are more intimately familiar with the community and its members, that would have been a better choice.

Another question that has yet to be asked, is what exactly is the relationship between these parents and the two organizations that have so quickly thrust themselves into the situation?  A cursory look at the social media site of PLOT indicates an extremely militant and adversarial stance against men, capitalism and white people in general.

Under the What We Do: section of their own FaceBook page, PLOT states the following:

“This requires challenging those with privilege to acknowledge the ways they are complicit in oppression.  Some have dismissed this approach as “divisive” and “alienating”—especially to white community members—but we view it as necessary.

We seek to empower, uplift, and ultimately liberate the most marginalized members of society—including and especially those who are Black, queer, trans, disabled, cash poor, women and/or non-men.”

So clearly, these parents aren’t simply stating that their kids were mistreated; they are asserting that this was a racially motivated event.

Imagine the outrage if an organization existed that said, in its defining documents exactly what this group says, but replaced the pronouns this way:  Some have dismissed this approach as “divisive” and “alienating” — especially to black community members — but we view it as necessary.  We seek to empower, uplift and ultimately liberate the most marginalized members of society — including and especially those who are White, straight, rich, men and/or non-women.”

It is frightening that the NAACP would align themselves with a racially divisive and bigoted hate-group like PLOT.  It is also shameful that the NAACP calls for firings before any investigation has taken place.  How ironic that a storied organization, over 100 years in existence that is so quick to call out the police for jumping to conclusions regarding racial matters, in this instance, demands that authorities do exactly that by firing people before we know any of the actual facts about what took place.

If these girls were subjected to anything illegal or inappropriate, then the appropriate sanctions will be imposed upon those wrongdoers.  On the other hand, if these investigations conclude that the allegations are without merit, then those making such allegations ought to face the same legal sanctions appropriate in this case.

It is predictable that anything short of a finding that corroborates these allegations 100% will be unacceptable to, PLOT, the NAACP and the parents of these kids, especially when conducted by investigators that likely will include white “non-women.”

The bigoted and hateful sentiments expressed on the PLOT FaceBook page should disqualify that organization from being involved with any thoughtful dialogue.  If the parents of these girls are actually seeking the truth, a thorough, formal legal investigation is the place to find it, not within the shameful and bigoted rhetoric of a hate group.

Maybe this group ought to see out the services of the Jussie Smollett legal team?

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