Sunday, November 29, 2015

POSTED: Sunday, November 29, 2015, 9:05 PM
Mourners attend a vigil held on University of Colorado-Colorado Springs' campus for those killed in Friday's deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The details of the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. are simply awful. On a fall afternoon, a white male in the Rocky Mountain city of 445,000 people carrying a semi-automatic rifle as well as a gas can began firing at innocent civilians. He killed three people, including a decorated Army veteran; friends noted the irony that the victim had survived duty in Iraq only to be gunned down on the streets of what Money magazine once called "The Best Place To Live"  in America. The gunman then turned his weaponry on law-enforcement, engaging on a gun battle with cops while the three people that he murdered lay dying.

Yes, Friday's deadly rampage at a Planned Parenthood was horrific. But actually I was talking about a completely different mass shooting on Colorado Springs. It's easy to get confused these days, unfortunately. The first mass shooting of three random people also happened less than a month ago, on Halloween. Yes, the 42nd biggest city in America has experienced two mass shootings of random innocent citizens in just 27 days.

The first triple homicide was carried out by 33-year-old Noah Harpham -- two days after a rambling blog post about his Christian religion, his struggles with substance abuse and "mind control." Carrying a military-style rifle and a pistol, he gunned down the first person he saw, the three-tour, 35-year-old Iraq war veteran Andrew Alan Myers, who was out for a Saturday bike ride and had pleaded with the gunman -- "Don't shoot me! Don't shoot me!" Then Harpham killed two women as a home for substance abuse victims -- Jennifer Michelle Vasquez, 42, and Christina Rose Baccus-Gallela, 34 -- before he was ultimately killed in that gun fight with the cops.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 7:00 PM

Enjoy this weekend with The Only Band That Matters...your family and your friends.

Then I'll see you back here Monday and we can start ripping each others' eyeballs out all over again.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 24, 2015, 9:06 PM
Laquan McDonald falls to the ground after being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. (Chicago Police Department via AP)

We ask an awful lot of our law-enforcement officers. That was the moral of two very different stories today involving big city police officers and their interactions with 17-year-old suspects This morning on the Vine Street Expressway, Philadelphia survivied a violent, chaotic scene with something that's in short supply these days -- some good fortune -- in a case that put in exclamation point on how officers so often risk their life to protect the public from violent, reckless bad actors.

We were lucky that no kids were on the school bus that was rammed by an out-of-control 17-year-old brandishing a gun and then shooting at a state trooper, first in traffic and and then again after he was stopped. And Philadelphia is even more lucky that the shoulder wound suffered by State Trooper Patrick Casey was not life-threatening, and that he should be home to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Trooper Casey had to make split-second life-and-death decisions. And like most skilled officers in most tough situations, he chose well. And the truth is, despite the uptick in protests over policing in the last 15 months, most folks get this. Because they get this benefit of a doubt, it's rare when an officer is charged criminally for the shooting or abuse of a suspect, and rarer still when a cop is convicted of a serious crime.

As I said, however, much is asked of police officers. We also ask law enforcement to be honest and transparent, because at the end of the day the police still work to serve the public. And we can't have them lying to their And yet in Chicago, in another case involving a 17-year-old criminal suspect, the police not only lied but then worked overtime to hide their actions from the people of America's third-largest city. It's possible to acknowledge the grave risks that law-enforcement officers take and to still ask them to be truthful. In fact, it's imperative that citizens demand this.

POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2015, 7:48 PM

This has been a pretty bad week for the world -- and, much less importantly, CNN. From doing everything it can to whip Americans into a frenzy about any terror threat that it can find -- no matter how vague -- to asking the mayor of a U.S. town with a large Muslim population if she's "afraid," to stenographically reporting the outrageously provocative and utter false utterings of one Donald J. Trump, "the most trusted name in news" has done everything possible to abuse any trust it actually had.

Of its many recent crimes and misdemeanors, two things jump out. Today. after Trump launched a blizzard of offensive and blatantly dishonest statements or Twitter posts -- including a bizarre claim that he saw "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks and (I swear I'm not making this up) retweeting bogus crime statistics intended to make blacks look bad that may even trace back to an admirer of Adolf Hitler -- CNN knew it had to do something. But terrified of using the "L" word about the man who has been pure ratings gold for CNN, the piece asked merely, "Does Donald Trump transcend the truth?"

First of all, that's not even the proper use of the's like they're wondering if Trump is so amazing that he goes beyond the truth. Second of all, the short-fingered vulgarian does not "transcend" the truth. He is out and out LYING! It's really not that hard to say.

POSTED: Sunday, November 22, 2015, 7:09 PM
Adolf Hitler

This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in The History Place. Please read the entire article here. Most importantly, please click on the hyperlinks for some very important background and context:

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis waged a modern whirlwind campaign in 1930 unlike anything ever seen in Germany. Hitler traveled the country delivering dozens of major speeches, attending meetings, shaking hands, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and even kissing babies.

Joseph Goebbels brilliantly organized thousands of meetings, torchlight parades, plastered posters everywhere and printed millions of special edition Nazi newspapers.

POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 7:12 PM
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders delivers a speech on "Democratic Socialism in America" to students at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall in Washington on Nov. 19, 2015. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

First, quickly, some exciting news. My major project -- the one that caused me to be absent for much of October -- is quickly coming to fruition. It's an Amazon Kindle Single (i.e., a short, reasonable priced e-book, published by and sold through these that I wrote in 2011 and 2013) on the life of -- and life on the 2016 campaign trail chasing after -- Bernie Sanders. This e-book (tentatively titled, as of today, "The Bern Identity") should be out in less than two weeks. It's part interpretive bio, part what passes for gonzo fear-and-loathing style reporting on the '16  race from Manassas to Burlington and all the way to Vegas, baby. But at heart it's simply an effort to answer a question: How did one man -- who was radicalized by all the lies and hypocrisy he encountered growing up in the late '50s and early '60 -- stay true to that vision...while everyone else around him dropped out, sold out, or just plain gave up?

One of the many things I learned was the story of how he came to reject both the Republican and Democratic parties as a young man. It happened during one of the most iconic moments in 20th Century U.S. politics, the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 -- a turning point for both the newish medium of television and the way we elect our presidents. To many, it was the start of a shining moment for liberalism that came to be called "Camelot" -- but 19-year-old Bernard (as most folks called him then) Sanders, watching in the lounge of his University of Chicago dorm, saw it differently. He'd say later he was physically nauseated by both the hawkishness of Kennedy and the dishonesty of Nixon, who took a more moderate line on Fidel Castro's Cuba even as he was involved in planning for the Bay of Pigs.

Soon, Sanders joined the campus chapter of the Young People's Socialist League, the so-called "Yipsels" -- at the same time that he was becoming a leader in protests against racial discrimination in housing and public schools. For someone with the kind of political ambitions that the future U.S. senator clearly harbored, a "socialist" tag might be the kind of past he'd try to whitewash later in life -- especially since more Americans have said in polls that they'd vote for a Muslim or an atheist for president than said they'd vote for a 'socialist." Those who once harbored more radical ideas in the late 1960s or '70 who are still in politics are more likely to have become Wall Street-friendly raging moderates. (Cough, Hillary, cough cough.) But that's not away the head-down, pounding endurance route of Bernie Sanders, one of Brooklyn's top cross-country runners in the late 1950s, He's that rare politician determined to convince you of his vision -- even if it takes his entire lifetime! -- rather than pander to what he thinks you want him to say.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2015, 4:33 PM
In this Nov. 13, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks during a town hall event at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

In 2003, a two-star Army major general, Robert Dees, retired after a decorated 41-year career as a soldier in which he became a top officer in the legendary 101st Airborne Division and served as commander of a combined U.S.-Israeli missile defense force.

In the 12 years since, Dees has committed himself to his new crusades  -- making the U.S. military and the fighting forces of its global allies into missionaries for his deeply held Christian faith, and speaking out against the threat to America posed by a rival religion, Islam.

Currently the director of the Institute for Military Resilience at the Christian fundamentalist Liberty University, founded by the late evangelist Jerry Falwell, Dees -- as reported by James Bamford in a recent expose in Foreign Policy -- argued in a 2005 newsletter that the U.S. military may be the best way of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the broader American public. He said "the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens."

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 6:04 PM
Bernie Sanders speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

It's been a long, sad week -- and so we're just catching up with some old business. Like the most recent Democratic debate, which took place on a Saturday night -- the black hole of American television -- as part of the party bosses' strategy to make sure that any challengers to Hillary Clinton get as little public exposure as possible. So if you're Sen. Bernie Sanders, you have to say something pretty controversial to break through, especially on a weekend when the media is (justifiably) covering the Paris attacks 24/7.

As you might expect, the democratic socialist from Vermont did not disappoint:

[CBS NEWS MODERATOR JOHN] DICKERSON: Senator Sanders, you said you want to rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous debate you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.


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