Friday, April 23, 2021

Ma'khia Bryant Shooting

I rarely have nice things to say about the police. I think police are a necessary evil. Often conservatives and racists (which is almost redundant phrasing these days) defend obvious police brutality and misconduct against Black Americans by piously bleating that police save lives, make split second decisions, and are legally authorized or occasionally obligated to use force, even deadly force.
This is true, but irrelevant in the cases conservatives champion, which often involve police officers using force when it's not required simply because they feel like it, don't like Black people and/or want to make the point that Blacks have no rights police need to respect.  
Conservatives who champion this gratuitous anti-Black violence are often the same people who claim that they will shoot any police officer who attempts to take their guns or enter their home without a warrant. It is what it is. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. 
When I first heard about the Ma'khia Bryant case I assumed it was another case of a white cop reacting to a non-existent threat, flexing on unarmed Black people to feed a racist fragile ego, or shooting someone by mistake. But it wasn't any of those things. Ma'Khia Bryant was trying to stab another Black woman when Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon shot her four times and ended her life.
Let's repeat that. Bryant was trying to stab someone. You can't handwave that away.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Tax Prep

You know, for most people who aren't millionaires, independently wealthy, earn a living from profits and interest instead of salary, or have business interests, income, and property in multiple states and nations, I have never thought that it made much difference whether they did their tax returns themselves or paid for professional tax prep. Everyone wants to minimize their taxes owed, whether they are barely surviving or have so much wealth that they forget how many cars or homes that they own. 

But when you're a salaried schlub, the government usually already knows to the penny how much income you earned last year. In that case, I don't see much value in paying anyone significant amounts of money to prepare your taxes. Still, many people do. However, if I were to hire someone to prepare my tax return, giving them my social security number and other privileged information, I'd want to ensure that this person was trustworthy. I wouldn't hire someone who had recently been in prison for robbery. But we all have different risk preferences I guess.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Movie Reviews: The Big Heat

The Big Heat (1953)
directed by Fritz Lang
This is an earlier film which starred film noir standouts Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford, later seen together in Human Desire, also directed by Fritz Lang. 

It is one of the better noir films in both its looks and the oft subversive actions of its characters. 

Although the film is set during a time in what later generations view as either a wonderful highpoint or ugly nadir of male supremacy in which women stayed in the kitchen and men made all the decisions, the male "hero" in this movie is shown to be compliantly washing dishes, doing other household chores, and routinely apologizing to his wife, should he offend her. 

The man may be bringing home the money but if he rules the roost, it's only because that's how his wife wants it. It's pretty clear who makes most of the final decisions at the home and it's not the man. The hero views his role as provider and protector, not necessarily as boss. 

Although the hero does a lot of running around and upsetting the applecart because he's set on justifiable revenge, it's actually the women who take actions which drive the story and make things happen. It's also, for good or bad, the women who often pay the price. In fact this is so pronounced that one could make an argument that the hero is something of an unwitting "femme fatale" ( homme fatale?) himself. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Police Continue to Attack Black Men: Antone Austin and Caron Nazario

It is frustrating that I could change only the names and dates in the two stories in this post and the events would be identical to other incidents of police assault on Black men in America during the past four centuries. 
Police see a Black man and attack the Black man, even if the Black man was not committing any crime or civil violation. Police use or threaten deadly force when neither the use of force or the threatened escalation was legal or necessary. 
Police dismiss objections by saying the Black man deserved it for not immediately falling to his knees and begging massa not to whip him. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

These incidents can occur any time, any place. When police receive a call about a man violating a restraining order they should obtain information on who the man is, his name and description, his clothing and location. But apparently LAPD officers don't bother with those details. They select a Black man in the general vicinity and attack. Though the alleged violator of the restraining order was White, it was the Black man who was choked and beaten. Music producer Antone Austin says his life was turned upside down about two years ago when police officers arrested him and his girlfriend outside his California home in what a federal lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles claims was a case of racial profiling, excessive force and unlawful arrest.