Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Few Updates...

The past couple of weeks have provided a lot of fodder for my blog, and a lot of these stories have progressed significantly since I first discussed them. While I cannot do a follow-up on every story here (I just do not have the time anymore) I would like to select a few stories to check up on, because I feel that they are significant.

The Pot Calling the Kettle...Gay?

Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig continues to stay in the spotlight. He renegged on his promise to leave office and is trying to get his guilty plea removed from the Minnesota court where he admitted to trying to get some bathroom nookie at the airport. Now, it appears, he is also using campaign money to help defend himself before the Senate ethics committee. I bet all those anti-gay marriage Republicans who donated to his campaign are thrilled with how the money is being used!

The Defense Screws Up and the People Pay for It

The trial for alleged slaveholders Mahender and Varsha Sabhnani has seen several delays, including an extensive jury selection period due to the significance of the case and several contentious issues it raises. The latest delay is coming from a technical glitch in some videotaped testimony that the prosecution intends to use. Apparently one of the defense attorneys is complaining that one cannot hear his objections because he was too far from the microphone. The judge plans to look over the tape and decide which parts can be used. Oh yeah, and the Sabhnanis have been out of jail this whole time.

Keep Your Eye on this One

Well, I must apologize for not getting on this one earlier, but apparently Ed and Elaine Brown, the couple hiding out in Plainfield, New Hampshire evading a hefty federal prison sentence for tax evasion, were arrested without incident on October 4. Despite all of Ed Brown's talk of massive amounts of violence and defending his property to the death, it took a small undercover team to end the "standoff" that was going on.

He Tased You, Bro

Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was tasered at a John Kerry forum, turned out to be his own worst enemy. Not knowing he was being recorded, he told the cops in the police car following his arrest that they did nothing wrong and was recorded on the phone at the jail being all giddy that the incident had gained so much media attention. Because of this, the cops were cleared for tasering him and were reinstated. I'm sure the next student tasered who is not trying to pull a publicity stunt will be thrilled with Meyer's self-serving actions.

Ahmadinejad Speaks

You would think that a month after Ahmadinejad's speech on campus, that the student news organizations would not be running front-page articles on him anymore. Not so. The Eye, Spectator's magazine, ran a front-page article on the fallout that has beset President Bollinger since the Iranian president's speech, using photos of President Bollinger giving random speeches (not his introduction to Ahamdinejad). Did I read the article? No, because the speech was a month ago and there are more interesting/pressing things going on in the world.

Ahmadinejad-Mania Continues

Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), the man who has no chance at winning the presidential race in 2008 and who introduced the inane "Restoring Patriotism to America's Campuses Act", is still showing us why he should never be in a public office again. While I haven't heard shit about his legislation (I'm assuming it died as soon as his presidential hopes) , he is a supporter of Blackwater USA, as he consulted with them in their quest to create Blackwater West (more on that later), which should be enough for people to realize how wrong the man is.

And the Lies Continue...

Ciara Durkin, the Army specialist with a desk job in Afghanistan who died on a secure Army base there of a single gunshot wound to the head, was laid to rest as her family continues to look for answers. The Army initially lied about Durkin's death, saying that she died in combat, but later renegged on that statement, saying she died on the Army base, but refusing to provide other details. The Army has confirmed that they are treating the case as if it were a murder, but they continue to refuse to declare it a homicide. Durkin's family, in a brilliant move, got a private autopsy for Ciara Durkin to compare to the Army's findings. Hopefully the truth will come out for the Durkin family, as the Army's treatment of the whole investigation thus far has been sickening.

Blackwater continues to screw up. Besides the Christmas Eve murder everyone is aware of, more and more begins to surface about the private military contractor. It has come to light that their tax practices may not be up to code and they allegedly tried to steal two Iraqi aircraft. With their future in Iraq gloomy at best, Blackwater now has their eyes on border security in America. I will quote Representative Bob Filner (D-CA), whose district could be the home of Blackwater West, "The border is a sensitive area," he said, "and if Blackwater operates the way they do in Iraq -- shoot first and ask questions later -- my constituents are at risk."

Ahmadinejad-Mania Part II?

Today was David Horowitz's speech at Columbia and, as could be expected, there were small protests on campus. Additionally, there were many flyers around campus between pro-Horowitzites and anti-Horowitzites. While a lot of campus dialogue surrounded Horowitz's visit, it was nowhere near the level for that of Ahmadinejad. Horowitz got a better reception here than he did at Emory, but reading the Spec article it doesn't sound like his speech was life-changing in the least. After spitting some rhetoric about nooses being figuratively hung on College Republicans' doors, Horowitz refused to answer a question (all questions were moderated by the College Republicans) about American fascism saying, "People who think there's an American fascism are delusional." Way to answer the question and prove that there is not American fascism without insulting the person asking it.

Something Just Doesn't Add Up II

It has been nearly a month since Revere Police Officer Daniel Talbot was killed but a bullet to the head and an intensive manhunt began. Questions were initially raised about why Talbot, his fiance, and several fellow officers were behind Revere High at 1 am in the morning off-duty. Those questions have yet to be answered and so much about the case is unknown at this point. It is being reported that the authorities have gotten a confession from a suspect in the slaying - which suspect, you ask? No one is saying. The suspect who made the confession "was whisked away to another facility." The secrecy surrounding this case is ridiculous and urges people to assume the worst as time goes on without answers. Additionally, the sealing of the search warrant in the case turned out to be illegal and was overruled. The search warrant is discoverable and thus the defense should be allowed to see it, as the ruling states.

Racism a Daily Occurrence at Columbia?

Teacher's College seems to be the host of another bias incident, as ABC is reporting that two Jewish professors at the school received anti-semitic material. The name of the professors as well as the content of the materials is being kept secret as the incident is investigated. The noose incident has yet to be solved, as the Department of Justice and the FBI get in on the act and the NYPD plans to test the rope for DNA evidence. As time moves on and no suspects are named, the likelihood of anyone being caught for the crime declines, at least in my mind.

Justice for the Tirado Family?

Jayson Tirado's shooting is just the latest chapter in the NYPD's book of shootings of unarmed "suspects." Sean Sawyer, the undercover Queens narc who killed Tirado following a road rage incident that Sawyer allegedly started by threatening to kill Tirado and his passengers, has yet to face a grand jury for his actions. Most people charged with felonies have 144 hours (6 days) to face a grand jury before they must be released, but Sean Sawyer is no regular person. He is a cop and has already been released, which means that the DA will not be rushing to get a grand jury together. Of course, there are rumors of self-defense, but shooting a man dead does not seem justifiable to someone pointing a finger at you, but maybe that's just me. Also, the New York Sun ran an article about cops and drinking, but I don't think it's fair that cops should be expected to be able to be on duty 24/7, so I don't see a problem with it unless they a) show up to work drunk/hungover and cannot do the job to their best potential or b) do something stupid while drunk and get a good chance at getting away with it because they are a cop.

There have also been calls for a new law to make it illegal for a cop not to report to the authorities whenever he/she fires their gun. I was floored to find out that there was not a law in place that already said that, as it seems like it would be common sense. Also, Al Sharpton has offered his "services" to the Tirado family. It's really too bad that Al Sharpton has the whole Tawana Brawley thing hanging over his head, because he can be admittedly charasmatic. However, his refusal to apologize to Steven Pagones for his part in helping out the Brawley camp hurts his legitimacy. While the majority of people who come out to say something against Sharpton tend to be conservative whites who generally disagree with Sharpton, there are those out there who recognize that racism is a large part of society today and that a lot needs to be done about it but feel that Sharpton's presence only makes whatever issue he is speaking about more divisive. My advice to Sharpton: step out the limelight and become a behind-the-scenes consultant for someone who does not have the Brawley bullshit on their record. My advice to the Tirado family: you guys have a pretty good case, find someone other than Sharpton who will help you out without alienating a large number of people.

So no grand jury date and Sawyer gets to live his life in the meantime (minus the job and a car) while the Manhattan DA ponders whether or not a NYPD police officer who started a confrontation with someone while off-duty will face charges for taking the life of another person.

Photos - Top to bottom: Senator Larry Craig's mugshot (, Ed Brown, the tax evader vowing the go down shooting, who now is in a federal prison after an uneventful takedown (, Duncan Hunter (R-CA) (, Derek Lodie being escorted by police (, Former NYPD Officer Sean Sawyer (

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Justice for the Tirado Family?

Jayson Tirado (NYTimes)
Unfortunately, the way things are going right now, it seems as if that may never happen. I am returning from a sabbatical from the blog (intended to focus on midterms) with the outrageous story of Sean Sawyer, an undercover narcotics officer for the NYPD in Queens. Sawyer, 34, was involved in a road rage incident with Jayson Tirado, 25, and ended up shooting Tirado three times with his off-duty gun as the two argued in East Harlem. The two sides are actually telling the same story, that as the argument, which lasted more than 5 blocks, got more heated between the two, Tirado is said to have pointed his finger at Sawyer and made an allusion to a firearm. Sawyer felt this was enough to shoot Tirado and leave the scene - for 24 hours. That's right, trained NYPD cop Sean Sawyer left the scene of a shooting that he committed for almost 24 hours before turning himself in to police early Monday morning. If it was a "justified" shooting, then why flee the scene? Sawyer does not seem to want to share that information with cops, nor will he say what he was doing between 7 PM - when he got off of his shift for the po - and 5:30 AM, when the shooting took place. It seems that the two were forced to exit the FDR due to an earlier motorcycle accident and that is when Sawyer tried to merge in front of Tirado. Tirado would not allow him to and this pissed him off. He exchanged words with Tirado and then sped off. It appears he said to the occupants of Tirado's car, "I'm going to have to cap one of you niggas." Tirado, apparently pissed off too, caught back up to Sawyer, pulled in front of him and stopped. That's when this whole business of Tirado's threat was said to happen. Then Sawyer blasted off three rounds into the car without identifying himself as NYPD, fatally hitting Tirado, and sped off, ran a red light and disappeared for 24 hours before turning himself in.

Sean Sawyer (NY Daily News)
There are two witnesses from the car, but one remembers nothing because he apparently had blacked out from alcohol. The other one, though, is the one providing the story (including Tirado's Ruger threat, which seems to have gotten him killed.)  I would be hesitant to believe anything that Sawyer says, as he disappeared for 24 hours before turning himself in, thus had plenty of time to consult people (the Times says "reaching out to people") and potentially get a good story going. After being questioned for a few hours, Sawyer was allowed to leave the 25th Precinct stationhouse. So let's go over the questions we need answered: Why did Sawyer hide out for 24 hours before turning himself in? What was he doing out so late at night getting into arguments with random drivers? Was he drunk? (that will never be answered, even after he turned himself in he was not administered a breathalyzer, standard NYPD procedure after a shooting). Would Tirado be given the same presumption of innocence/ridiculously lenient treatment if he had been the shooter of Sawyer under the same circumstances?

So, why did Sawyer hide out for 24 hours? I would guess he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting and needed to sober up before turning himself in, but that is simply speculation. Either way you cut it, however, it is a stupid thing to do, as any person in this country has an obligation to call the police when they have shot someone. Inexcusable, especially for a cop. Why did Sawyer even say anything to Tirado after not being allowed to merge? A great quote from a friend of mine's father is applicable here: "Nothing good happens after midnight." This fits in here because it's 5:30 AM in East Harlem, why are you stirring the shit with someone you have never seen before in your life? This, again, would point to one being drunk, but that is speculation.

Jayson Tirado's car near the scene of the shooting
Now, let's look at the situation if it were reversed. Let's say Tirado is the triggerman, after having started the whole incident like Sawyer did, and he does not turn himself in until 24 hours later. He would be roasted in the press, Trump may be calling for the death penalty, Ray Kelly would stand stone-faced in front of a mic for a press conference and denounce Tirado, and certainly, under no circumstances, would he be allowed to leave the stationhouse after questioning and would be arrested immediately. No way would he be handled with kid gloves like Sawyer has been. Let's face it: Sawyer was off-duty in his personal vehicle. He was a citizen at the time, not a cop on duty. He is soiling the badge, as it puts all police officers (even the good ones) in a bad light when something like this happens and they are not punished like a regular person in society would be. If I were a cop, I would not only be upset by Sawyer's actions, but by the response of the police and the DA's office in this case, who are rumored to be pondering whether or not to press charges. As if it were a question.

In fact, the DA is leaning in the direction of the shooting being justified. Cops should not be given this much leeway in the justice system. It has been confirmed that Sawyer was the one who threatened violence first, saying that he was going to "cap one of you niggas" to the occupants in Tirado's Honda. Now if Tirado had shot Sawyer out of self-defense after being threatened to be shot, I doubt that he would be out on the streets right now like Sawyer is.

Sawyer has his defenders, namely his brother, who exclaims to the press that it was a "clean shoot. He did what the city hired him for. You do not reach down into a car on a New York City police officer." 1) His brother was not even there, so how does he know it was a "clean shoot," and 2) citizens should be allowed to put their hands wherever they want to in their car without fear of being shot to death. He did what the city hired him to do? The city hired him to kill an unarmed person in a road rage incident? I hope not. It is an absolute travesty if the Manhattan DA's office does not look into this matter with the utmost scrutiny, as it is clear that Sawyer committed a grave crime here and should not be let off the hook simply because he is a cop.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Racism a Daily Occurrence at Columbia?

As the media seems to have jumped on of late, Columbia has had a few problems recently in terms of individual acts by people on campus that are targeted at either certain people or certain groups on campus. I'll start from the beginning (as shown in the timeline from this Spec article) for this year. Back in September there was some graffiti found in a stall at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) that essentially told everyone who was not a white European to leave America (in slightly more inappropriate terms), then there was the noose hung on a black professor's door at Teacher's College on October 9, and finally culminating in anti-Semitic graffiti being found at Lewisohn Hall on Columbia's campus yesterday. This is just the past month, the timeline (which I suggest you look at to get the whole picture) goes back to 2004, where a total of 9 "bias incidents" (I'm not counting Ahmadinejad's speech, like the Spec does). This brings up an important question, as it appears two sides are squaring off in this debate: are these simply isolated incidents perpetrated by one or a couple of ignoramuses looking to rile people up, or is it indicative of subtle racist undertones that persist at the university? Take this quote from the Spec: "Many called the placement of the noose the tip of the iceberg and that racism pervades the halls and classrooms of Teachers College." Numerous other student groups and leaders have come out from various arenas to denounce the various acts and several students have come out to say that racism is not only alive but prevelant on campus. Then there is the other side of the argument, that these incidents are isolated and that people are overreacting. A lot of comments also point the blame for the noose incidents to the victim herself, harping on the story of Kerri Dunn.

My first question is this: why so much media coverage? I understand the media for the noose incident - I feel that that is a serious thing - but graffiti on a bathroom stall? That's middle school shit, honestly. I do not remember national coverage for the Ruggles incident, and those kids got off easy (the criminal case - originally an E Felony - was dropped despite the two defendants missing a court date and the two were not immediately expelled [or, it appears, officially expelled]), and that was a serious case.

Now before people start saying I am anti-Semitic because I think that the Lewisohn graffiti is not that big of a deal compared to the noose incident, let me explain my reasoning (everything is relative). The noose incident is targeted at a specific individual - the professor whose door it was hung upon. The graffiti in Lewisohn - apparently of a swastika and a drawing of a man in a yarmulke - is not directed at any one person and was drawn in a spot not frequented by the general public. But, here's the kicker - drawing a swastika in an isolated bathroom is a greater crime in the state of New York than hanging a noose on the door of a black professor. Drawing a swastika on property is an E felony (PL 240.31(3)) and the noose incident would be an A misdemeanor (PL 240.30(3)). The only reason for this is because the drawing of a swastika is specified as a felony, where there is no mention of a noose and the only thing that specifically would target blacks is a burning cross, a symbol of the KKK, which also hates Jews. The fact that Jews are specifically protected under New York law and blacks are not is telling and may be in violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. In my view, however, a specific threat against someone in plain view, using a symbol of hate associated with disgusting acts, far outweighs graffiti in a bathroom stall in hidden view of a symbol of hate associated with disgusting acts.

So let's get into another aspect of this whole mess - the freedom of speech argument. There are rumors that the NYCLU has been mulling over defending whoever is eventually charged in the crime involving the hanging of the noose, claiming that it is a First Amendment issue. Bollinger disagrees, and I'm going to have to agree with him. As I stated above, this was a specific act targeted toward a specific person for the reason of inflicting harm and for that reason it should not be protected under the First Amendment. If the noose had been hung outside on a random tree or, as happened earlier today, outside a post office near the site of the World Trade Center attacks, then it may be possible to defend the act under the First Amendment. Look at Brandenburg v. Ohio, where the court says that the "mere abstract teaching [of] the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence", the type of thing that a noose hung in a public place not associated with one person or a swastika drawn on some random bathroom stall is not enough to limit a person's speech (though the vandalism for the drawn swastika should be pursued and punished). But we are dealing with a threat here towards a specific person and that is not a free speech issue (you cannot just tell someone that you are going to kill them and claim protection under the First Amendment). I am sure that the NYCLU is thinking that they are upholding the freedom of speech in defending this future defendant, but in reality they are tarnishing it and twisting it to make a crime legal, and that may hurt their future cases for the First Amendment if they actually have a legitimate case. Pick and choose your battles NYCLU, this is not one of them.

So, back to the original question - are these just isolated incidents or are they indicative of a racist or prejudiced environment on campus? I do not know if the answer can fit within such dichotomous categories. Are these isolated incidents? I think they are a little more than that, given what I have heard people say around campus and some attitudes I have witnessed that are held by students. Is Columbia actively racist and fostering bigotry within its halls? I would not go as far to say that. I think that it lies somewhere between isolated incidents and an actively racist campus. As far as the professor having done it herself: unfortunately it would not be unprecedented and until the police a) name a suspect and/or b) arrest said suspect, nothing can be ruled out. As far as racism underlying campus life, I've certainly heard stories that seem to marginalize the darker-skinned students here (such as security hassling black students late at night unless they are wearing Columbia clothing), but my being white and with no hard evidence to support the theory, to know the full extent of marginalization on campus of certain racial/ethnic/religious groups is impossible. One thing is for certain: these incidents have no place at an institution of higher learning and they need to be pursued fully by the administration followed by a clear, timely response. Peace.

Photos - Top to bottom: Graffiti that occurred in a Ruggles suite in 2004 (, Graffiti found in a stall in SIPA (, The noose hanging on the door of a Teacher's College professor's office door (, Professor Madonna Constantine, the professor whose office was targeted at Teacher's College (

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Something Just Doesn't Add Up II

Revere Police Officer Daniel Talbot (My Fox Boston)
On September 29, Revere Police Officer Daniel Talbot was shot in the head by unknown assailants who were in their late teens to early twenties. Talbot was not alone, as he was with several other Revere off-duty officers (one report says two other officers another says three.)  Reports also say that his fiancee was with the group as well. The facts of this story are extremely nebulous. According to various Boston media outlets, Talbot and his cop friends were hanging out in the parking lot of Revere High when there was a confrontation with a group of young men. From this point on, the details seem to conflict. has reported that an altercation occurred between the officers and a group of young men and that shots rang out, but the website states in a different article that Derek Lodie - the only person being charged in connection with the crime (accessory before the fact) - got into a confrontation with the group of officers (and whoever else was there) and then called his friends on a cell phone, when a second altercation occurred and that's when someone started shooting.

Derek Lodie being led to arraignment (
What's also strange is the brevity with which the DA's office released a report exclaiming that the bullet did not come from one of the other officer's guns. The report was released on Monday, October 1, only two days after the officer's death (less than 48 hours, considering his time of death was around 10pm Saturday). There do not seem to be any reports pointing to any of the officers as suspects before the autopsy results came out, so the rush to have them released seems slightly out of place. Additionally, the DA's office has a suspect in custody - the man who allegedly orchestrated the whole incident - but have charged him with only being an accessory before the fact (which, according to Massachusetts Law, carries the same punishment as the principal felon [aka the shooter] so it is akin to facing the murder charge, just not directly). So that means that Lodie did not pull the trigger, only asked someone to do it for him, which makes little sense because the media does not report that Lodie is part of any gang and at 17 years old, even if he were part of a gang, I doubt he would be such a heavy hitter as to order a hit on a cop and actually have it done, for no reason. I'm not saying he didn't do it, I'm just saying that the charges they are holding him on are strange.

More oddities in the case include the sealing of anything having to do with the case in any way, shape, or form. Additionally, two other people's names keep popping up in the news as to their involvement in the crime, but they have yet to be charged with anything and are simply being held on probation violations and/or seperate charges [included in article last linked to]. Despite's report of a lot of gang activity in the area coming from MS-13, it turns out 2 of the 3 arrests so far have been white individuals, and the one identified gang member (a white kid) is of the Bloods street gang, a home-grown violent group.

Suffolk County DA Daniel F. Conley (Wikipedia)
This brings up a lot of questions that have yet to get answered, and may never be. Why were the off-duty cops at the Revere High parking lot at 1:30 am after having been out drinking during the night? One article says that the cops believed their faces would arouse trouble at a bar or on Revere Beach, so they headed to the isolation behind Revere High (trespassing in the process, as well as other crimes if they were drinking). I'm not exactly sure why their faces would cause trouble at places, considering that a fellow officer was quoted at the arriagnment of Lodie as saying "You think you're working and living in a city that's safe and something like this happens." Also, as some posters on web boards have alluded to, just because a department-issued glock was not used does not mean that a cop could not have pulled the trigger (I'm not saying a cop did it, I am raising that as a possibility considering part of the murder weapon was found in a storm drain and thus no one has possession of it anymore, but the DA has already ruled out that a cop was the one who did it). Additionally, reports say that a gun battle ensued, but only Talbot was hit, and in the head no less. So an amateur shot a police officer in the head with a pistol (so it could not have been too far away) and the officers who were there with their service weapons, with which they are trained, were unable to hit any of the assailants? It's one thing if the Revere PD wants to admit that the criminals in their city are better shooters than they are, but I highly doubt that a) they would ever admit that, and b) that the criminals in the city are actually better shooters than them.

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Let me give you two scenarios. The first one would be that what happened is exactly what the prosecutors and investigators are telling us: for whatever reason these off-duty cops (along with Talbot's fiancee and whoever else may have been there - no one is saying) are behind Revere High at 1 am doing whatever it is people do behind public high schools late at night. Lodie comes along, and a verbal argument erupts. Apparently the cops think nothing of it because they did not leave or call any of their fellow on-duty brethren to come over. Lodie calls his boys up, they come down to Revere High armed, get into another argument and start shooting, hitting Talbot in the head once. Talbot's friends shoot back at these kids, somehow missing all of them. Did they chase the kids? Did they get a good look at the kids? Are there sketches of what these kids look like? No one is saying.

The scene after the shooting (
Then there's scenario number two: these cops are at Revere High at 1 am for whatever reason, an argument or something occurs within the group, Talbot is killed by someone in the group with a non-department issued weapon, which they then break down and toss in a storm drain. Then the group comes up with a story involving a "homeless misfit", as the Herald describes him, and a group of his apparently unknown friends. Like something out of a movie.

What do I think happened? I think it's somewhere between the two. I don't think that investigators are giving us the whole story, but I don't think that the second scenario is true, either. I only point out the second scenario to serve as an example of what can be concluded with what little information the investigators are releasing to people. If the first scenario is true, then it is unfair to Officer Talbot and his family to allow so much uncertainty to surround his death. If the story that the investigators are trying to give us is incorrect, then it is unfair to Officer Talbot and his family, as well as the public, to lie about an incident concerning a police officer's death on public property. Hopefully the full story will come out (there's allegedly video footage of what happened directly before the incident, but of course it is not being released) and the people will know the truth.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ahmadinejad-mania Part II?

No, our good old friend Mahmoud is not invited back to campus to speak (thankfully). Instead the College Republicans here at Columbia thought it would be a good idea to bring another extremist to campus, only four days after an attempt to tout their diversity. David Horowitz, Columbia College 1959, will be on campus this October 26th as part of his campaign to generate attention for his "Islamo-Facism Awareness Week." Of course, you could just have a Fascism Awareness Week, because I'm sure that Muslims are not the only group of people who have fascists among them, but that would take the racist tones out of it, I suppose. Of course, this is not Mr. Horowitz's first brush with racism. First, let's look at a piece written by Horowitz on January 25, 2005 to the History News Network entitled "Why I am Not Celebrating John Hope Franklin's Birthday." In it, Horowitz restates that he believes "free" blacks and the "free" descendants of slaves (the quotes are mine, because how "free" were blacks in America during the late 19th century?) actually benefited from slavery. Nothing like hundreds of years of bondage and slave labor to really improve the social status of a class of people in the United States. He also goes so far as to suggest that Hope, an established academic, should be thankful for slavery because the namesake of his professorship, James B. Duke earned his money in tobacco, "one of the chief crops of the very system that had brought Franklin’s ancestors to this continent in chains" and Hope's failure to "appreciate these ironies" was sad. Of course, I would suggest reading the article yourself for the full context of these words, but having read the whole article, this is how I take Horowitz's words in the article.

The types of people who support Horowitz and who Horowitz supports reads like a who's-who of sub-par Americans. Karl Rove called one of Horowitz's books The Art of Political War a "must read." Not exactly the man that I would want praising me. Horowitz also seems to be an ardent supporter of Ann Coulter, who writes a column for his FrontPage Magazine. Coulter, of course, is no stranger to controversy, having said that the widows of 9/11 were enjoying the deaths of their husbands, has said we should invade Muslim countries and convert them all to Christianity, has called presidential John Edwards a faggot, and has said that her "only regret" regarding Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was that he did not target the New York Times building. I suppose the killing 168 people (19 children) in a terrorist act (something that she hates wholeheartedly, or purports to) is not enough for Ann Coulter to regret happening. Coulter is also on the Islamo-Fasicsm that Horowitz seems to be spearheading. Another person on that roster is Rick Santorum, who has not only blamed Hurricane Katrina victims for what happened to them, but also said that we should punish them. Of course he's also had brushes with comparing homosexuality to bestiality, but there's just not enough time to go over all of this stuff. So, it seems that David Horowitz, while himself a controversial figure with some iffy logic concerning some issues, is further discredited by those that he surrounds himself with.

So am I saying do not invite David Horowitz to Columbia? No, because I was in support of Ahmadinejad coming here it would be highly hypocritical for me to say that Horowitz does not have the same right as Ahmadinejad. But the problem lies here: Ahmadinejad was invited to campus under the assumption (that proved correct) that he was not all right in the head and had views that were just ridiculous. Horowitz is being invited to campus (I believe by the College Republicans but the Spectator, in all its glorious fashion, did not exactly make that clear) as a legitimate speaker and, to my knowledge, will not be challenged by those who invited him. Essentially, it seems that the College Republicans have invited him because they - in essence - agree with his viewpoints. That's fine, people are entitled to their opinion. All I am saying is that I don't agree with him and the College Republicans are just legitimizing his rhetoric by inviting him and supporting his appearance rather than inviting him and challenging him on some of his more controversial stances. Maybe the College Republicans will surprise us, pull a Bollinger, and let Horowitz have it. I doubt it. Peace.

Oh yeah, and Sean Hannity's coming to campus, but no one really cares about him.

Photos - Top: David Horowitz (, Bottom: A former slave with scars from enslavement, something that Horowitz seems to think helped the black race (

Monday, October 8, 2007

And the Lies Continue...

While browsing the Boston blog Bostonist, I stumbled upon a story that is very concerning. Everyone probably remembers the Pat Tillman disaster and the ensuing cover-up. The lies and deception involved in that case hurt Tillman's family immensely, so one may think that the Army would learn their lesson when it comes to lying about soldiers' deaths. But, alas, they have not. Quincy resident Specialist Ciara Durkin, 30, was shot and killed within a secure area of Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Instead of coming clean about Durkin's death, the Army thought it might get away with telling Durkin's family that she was killed in a combat situation and that would be that. Not so much. The Army finally disclosed that, in fact, Durkin died in a non-combat situation and that she was found with a single gunshot wound to the head within a secure area of the airfield. Obviously something does not add up here. Also take into account that Durkin worked with soldiers' finances and making sure that the families of dead or injured soldiers were receiving their benefits. She also had told her family the last time she was home that she had come upon some information that she did not like and that she had "made some enemies because of it."

This news cannot come at a worse time for Washington as the Iraqi situation continues to deteriorate, at least on the strategic front. The Blackwater scandal continues to grow, the heat is on the Department of Defense and the State Department with neither of the two being very forthcoming, and Representative Henry Waxman (D-California) on the war path (rightly so) against what he calls "an epidemic of corruption" going down in Washington and Iraq. For just a taste of it, click here. So the fact that the Army, Department of Defense, and the State Department blatantly lie is not unprecedented. Not by a long shot. So why do we still put up with it? Why can't Representative Waxman get straight answers out of people that hold responsibility for these acts? The Army refuses to release the autopsy results and Durkin's will in this case. I understand not giving it to the media, but to one's own family members? Is this how we treat those who serve this country? Whether you think the "war" that we are involved in in Iraq is justified or not, you have to agree that this treatment of our soldiers and their families is despicable. The nonchalance that private companies show towards Iraqi citizens is also a disgrace to our country ($20,000 for an Iraqi life thrown away for no reason?). It's high time for a change in Washington and Iraq. If this is not enough to rally people behind truth and freedom in America, then I have to wonder when enough is enough. Peace.

Photos - Top: Specialist Ciara Durkin (, Middle: Representative Henry Waxman (D-California) (, Bottom: Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince attempting to justify his company's actions (

Blackwater Hearing: Waxman's Questions for State Department

Sunday, October 7, 2007

New Template

As you have probably noticed, I switched the template up a bit. The old one was a little dark and the dots were getting a bit old, to say the least. I figured the blue and the lack of dots or any silly shit in the background would clean up the blog a bit, because it's tough to read about serious political topics while there are multi-colored dots floating around like it's a kid's room. I figured I would update you on the new look and let you know that the site and the content is the same, just a bit of a facelift. Peace.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ahmadinejad-Mania Continues

I don't know if everyone read the article in Time Magazine by Joe Klein entitled "Inflating a Little Man," but I have to say it was pretty on-point. Think about it this way: when a person teases someone, they do it to get a rise out of the person. If the target of this teasing just sat there and did not react, then the teaser would gain no satisfaction from teasing. Thus it is with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What do you think would have pissed Ahmadinejad off more: no media coverage of his speech at Columbia and a half-empty room in Roone Arledge Auditorium to hear him speak or the shitshow that was/continues to be "Ahmadinejad-mania." He loves being protested and hated, and he especially loves to get ridiculous amounts of air-time on the major news networks. What gives him more legitimacy: a university president allowing him to speak at Columbia or the hours upon hours of news footage regarding his visit to New York and the U.N. and Columbia and how it is such a big deal? As Klein says, "Of course, Ahmadinejad is no simpleton. He knows precisely how to exploit one of the few powers he does possess, the power to offend. He gains status in Iran and in the Islamic world by sticking his thumb in the giant's eye. His Holocaust denial is a flagrant ploy--the easiest way to get a rise out of the Jewish community and, inevitably, U.S. politicians. Clearly, he benefits from his falsely inflated prominence."

So why do we give him so much legitimacy by saying he is so dangerous? After his speech at Columbia I think that everyone should realize how ridiculous the man really is (no gays in Iran? Really?), something Bollinger was probably well aware of before inviting him to speak; he just had to let us see it for ourselves. So one would think that with Ahmadinejad back in Iran, where apparently he is not even the god that the American media make him out to be, all of the whining and complaining about him coming to Columbia to speak would be over, right?

Wrong. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) has introduced a bill into legislation that would cut off all federal funds to Columbia University - the only institution named in the bill. His main reason - as he attempts to say he is a staunch supporter of free speech - is that Iran continues to provide Iraqi insurgents with munitions that eventually kill American soldiers. However, according to Wikipedia (sorry, but no other website described the role of the Iranian president), Ahmadinejad would not have control over the armed forces (presumably the ones creating the weapons going to Iraq) as it is the role of the Supreme Leader. Besides, I find the fact that Blackwater is running rampant in Iraq, shooting first and asking questions later, as well as paying families of killed Iraqis $15,000 (is that all the life of an Iraqi is worth to America?), a little more pressing than cutting off funds to Columbia. If I were a serviceman in Iraq, I would be insulted that Duncan Hunter is focusing on pointless legislation due to a grudge against a university president rather than the fact that the average Blackwater contractor "between six and nine times the pay and allowances of an Army sergeant." That's just downright wrong.

Now to the whole "Columbia let Ahmadinejad on campus but not ROTC," argument. First of all, Columbia students are allowed to be in ROTC and the University even gives the program a positive review in the website it has for it. The university simply does not expend the time and resources needed to have a chapter at the school due to the armed forces' exclusion of openly gay Americans. The university has no problem with its students participating in ROTC and, quite frankly, I fail to see the connection between Ahmadinejad's visit and the campus' ROTC policy. As far as I know, the university received no monetary incentives for the Iranian president's visit, we did not allow Ahmadinejad to recruit for the Iranian army, nor did we set up a program for him to do so. So comparing the two (the ROTC program versus Ahmadinejad's visit) seems a bit strained. Besides, it hurts one's argument when the major figurehead of ROTC on campus is a former gay porn star/prostitute who is praised by Ann Coulter and the website for the Columbia Advocates for ROTC blatantly plagiarizes portions of their website from Columbia's ROTC website with no credit.

So let's go over this one more time: Ahmadinejad most likely loves the fact that he's hated here and his reception of protesters and pissed-off media types probably bumped up his ego more than it hurt it. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) thinks that cutting off funds to one of the more prestigious universities in the country is more important than fixing the Blackwater scandal and the modern-day Vietnam that is Iraq. ROTC is, in fact, allowed at Columbia, the administration simply refuses to put the time and effort into housing a chapter of it here due to its anti-gay stance and the proponents of ROTC on campus do not seem to be helping matters much. Hopefully Ahmadinejad-mania is over, but with the likes of people like Duncan Hunter serving in Congress, I have a feeling the president of Iran has a worthy soapbox in the American media and Congress to voice his grievances. Peace.

Photos (from top to bottom): Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (, Duncan Hunter (, Columbia NROTC members marching on 116th street in 1947 (