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Archive for the ‘reverse racism’ Category

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I read an article in a The Nation a few weeks ago (yes, I read The Nation as well as a variety of other publications on the left and the right) that discussed the great works Hugo Chavez was conducting for the Latin immigrants (legal and illegal) in the five boroughs of New York City–subsidizing gas and heating oil for those who were too poor to afford prices offered by the capitalist American establishment. The program which is a few years old at this point, has tagged Chavez with the title “The Oil Pimp” by many. The author of The Nation article was practically on his knees licking the bootstraps of the recently ordained all-powerful dictator for his altruistic endeavor, only offering a minute amount of trepidation near the end—cautiously hopeful that Chavez is doing the same for the poor in Venezuela.

Does anyone really believe he’ll relinquish his dictatorial power when the agreed upon 18 month period is up? Doubtful. I have a feeling we’ll be looking at a new ‘dictator for life’ in the vein of Idi Amin, the once brutal dictator of Uganda during the early 1970’s. He’s closing in on that title and has even made comments to that end. But father knows best, especially when it’s in your his best interest.

But Chavez is a hero to the generally uniformed masses of the left who advocate and sympathize with Hugo’s democratic socialism as a blueprint for the way the United States should conduct itself socially and politically, nationally and internationally. Many Americans (generally the Birkenstock-sporting crowd, not to generalize) who take the opportunity to visit Venezuela come back to the U.S. with a new vim and vigor ardor for the work Chavez is doing in his country, and something worthy of emulation here.

A typical response from this story“It’s just amazing being here. There is so much vibe and passion, there is truly a sense of revolution,” Lucy Dale, 20, a university student from Chicago on a 17-day trip, said last week. “I want to return to do volunteer work.”

Chavez sounds like a leader who is actually advancing positive reforms and programs that are helping many people in his country who are in significant need of assistance. It appears that he is winning many hearts and minds to his causes and politics, not only in Venezuela but here in the United States as well. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with gratifying those who are your political base, or those who one is urging to nudge to their worldview—all politicians kiss babies after all—it is also apparent that Chavez is promoting and instituting policies that bring into question his current and future motives as dictator.

The visiting pseudo U.S. ambassadors mentioned above are obviously possessing of a naiveté indicative of leftwing college students; contrary to popular academic opinion, carrying peace banners and shouting “Impeach Bush now” does not make one informed. These students probably knew little as to Chavez’s rise to power and the apparent crime and corruption that was his tools to get where is now. The Chavez recall vote that occurred in 2004 was rampant with accusations of fraud and vote tampering, despite the presence of the Carter Center (no surprise there.)

Still, when one demonstrates little ability for independent and original thought, it’s a gentle slope to traverse to become enamored of a charismatic leader and the promises they make and the conviction with which the leader makes them. Adolf Hitler, a staunch social leftist, managed a similar maneuver to Chavez’s educational reforms. In 1933, Hitler instituted a sweeping and universally popular labor reform by granting annual paid vacations to the working class of Germany, a new concept at that time and one that lured many German citizens over to his manner of thinking.

Hitler did it under the guise of liberal socialist reforms for the common man, creating a stronger bond of brotherhood to the peoples of the Deutschland—he did it for the common good and the betterment of society.

The below piece from Dr. Pat Santy (also known as Dr. Sanity from her blog) presents and excellent argument concerning social leftism and the failed (and sometimes disastrous) promises often made in the name of social reform. While Hugo Chavez may not be as infamous as was Hitler, there was a point in time when Der Fuhrer was nothing more than a struggling college student.

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UTOPIAN DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES
Leszak Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher expelled from the Communist Party in 1968 for his heretical views makes the following keen observation about the morality of socialism (from My Correct Views on Everything, reviewed in The Weekly Standard) :

Socialism as a social or moral philosophy was based on the ideal of human brotherhood, which can never be implemented by institutional means. There has never been, and ther will never be, an institutional means of making people brothers. Fraternity under compulsion is the most malignant idea devised in modern times; it is the perfect path to totaltarian tyranny.

The social engineers of the left, motivated as they are by their creative utopian aspirations–expressed by the desire to impose (forcibly, if necessary) universal peace, social justice and brotherhood upon humanity–are completely oblivious to the malignant side of their own natures. Both they and the capitalist entrepreneurs of the right who they despise so vehemently are both driven by the darker human emotions: envy, greed and a need to dominate others.

However, there remains an extremely crucial difference between them.

The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations–the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists–offers the rationale that he does what he does for the “common good” and for “social justice”, “peace” and “brotherhood”. His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.

The capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profit, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must wnat what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.

There is no parallel social limitations on the behavior of the leftist. This tyrant wannabe does not feel the need to convince others of the veracity or even the effectiveness of his ideas; nor does he accept defeat when others are not interested or resist their implementation. He knows in his heart what is best for everyone, and he will use coercion if necessary. He will not allow options; nor will he permit others do do what they think is right for themselves. Their feelings or concerns are a matter of complete indifference to him. Only his own matter.

The leftist’s desire for power is direct and absolute; and this is a direct consequence of his utopian ideology.

And there is no area of your life which will escape his intrusive psychopathology, because he justifies it by saying he is really doing it for your sake.

The clever leftist always manages to hide these darker motivations–the envy, greed, and desire for power–and pretend they don’t even exist–even to himself. He tells himself he does not possess such dark motives; that his motives are pure and uncontaminated by the kind of self-serving goals the selfish capitalists pursue. The banal platitudes and silly slogans he chants during his protest marches make him feel oh so good about himself; and experiencing too much knowledge and insight about his inner state would make him extremely uncomfortable; perhaps even causing him to question some of his basic assumptions about himself or his beliefs.

This is the essence of the “dilemma of the utopians”. They see themselves as so pure and righteous; so correct and virtuous; how is it possible that their beautiful utopian dreams always turn into such horrible human nightmares?

You can then count on the true leftist believer to close his eyes not only to his own internal reality, but also to the external reality that proves the uselessness of his beliefs in the real world. Few on the left have ever acknowledged the nightmare of the Soviet gulag; or Lenin’s purges; or China’s crackdowns. Few have ever even accepted the incredible human cost their ideologies have taken on humanity; the death the suffering and misery. Even today, they actively support all the future Stalin’s (like the thug Chavez) in their grabs for unparalleled power. Chavez, of course, follows the pure utopian aspirations of the typical leftist and is only allowing himself to become “dictator for life” because he wants to help his people. [See here about the rise of neo-fascism in Latin America and here about the neo-marxist fascists of the left]

Uh-huh. Right.

The mindless minions of the left jubilantly celebrate Chavez’ “courage” in taking power to do what they believe is “just “and “helps the poor”. They cheer on his thuggish oppression because they believe their ends justify any means. Every obscenity is tolerable– as long as you rant about the evil capitalists and their “exploitation” and “oppression”; or say you are only taking control of everyone’s lives for the sake of “social justice“.

When you consider the historical –and catastrophic — human consequences that have ensued whenever their perfect utopias are implemented, it is little wonder that they will ignore, deny and distort any information that exposes the underlying envy and rage that drive their sociopathic selflessness. Their precious self-esteem would surely plummet, and their self-esteem must be preserved at all costs.

While societies that operate under the rule of law have all the necessary checks and balances that prevent the capitalist from cheating or robbing his clients and hold him to account if he does; civilization has been fooled repeatedly throughout history by the virtuous, self-righteous, anti-capitalist robbers and cheaters of the left who simply disguise their robbery and fraud behind the stated purity of their motives (see here, for the most recent example).

SC&A wrote :

Many on the left believe their agenda is driven by a piety that only they, in their heightened awareness, are capable of. Their motives are pure, they say. Disagree with them and you are evil. They are true believers, and as such, they are entitled to make decisions for others, on behalf of others and despite others. They love their fellow man, they say. They hate injustice, they say. They are true believers in the highest calling of mankind.

Well, the Nazis were true believers, too. There were communists that were true believers and they have the blood of 50 million people on their hands. The North Vietnamese killed 2-3 million after we left Vietnam. Castro and Che slaughtered hundreds of thousands between them. African communists have shed the blood of millions.

All of the aforementioned were true believers. All of them believed they were serving the best interests of mankind.

Being a ‘true believer’ is no mark or guarantee of moral or ethical superiority.

That applies to all ‘true believers’ of every political, religious or ethical stripe. When you are not open to new ideas, thoughts or challenges, you are no better than ther legions of evil ‘true believers’ that preceded you. This latest crop of ‘true believers’ are intellectual pygmies, the ‘useful idiots’ and apparatchiks of our time, afraid of debate and most of all, afraid of accountability.

They are the true enablers of evil. They deliberately choose blindness and deafness, so as to affirm their ‘righteousness.’ They see themselves as charged with a mission- to blind and render deaf others, so that their status might be validated. Without their distortions,evil would be held to account. Instead, evil is allowed to flourish.

They are no more than the fertilizer for evil, violence and death.

Today’s left promises wealth and happiness and justice and brotherhood. What they have always delivered is poverty and misery; injustice and death. It will be no different this time around.

Every time I hear the left voicing their utopian aspirations and dreaming their totalitarian dreams, I think about all the victims that will suffer from their selfless virtue. I can’t help remembering the words of Mal Reynolds in the movie Serenity, after discovering an entire planet’s population has been wiped out as a result of the same kind of selfless utopian motivations:

“Somebody has to speak for these people….Sure as I know anything, I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, they’ll swing back to the belief…that they can make people…better.
And I do not hold to that.”

Neither do I.

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The following story, commencing this past October of 2006 in the city of Long Beach, California (about 30 miles south of where I live in Los Angeles), with a brutal, racially motivated beating and culminating with the severe travesty of justice that is the sentencing doled out to the perpetrators, is nothing short of shocking for a hate crime of this severity.

Last October 31, three black young women were viciously assaulted by nine trick-or-treating white teenage boys and girls. Prior to the ferocious onslaught, the nine assailants ridiculed the three black teenaged victims by hurling racial epithets, pumpkins, and various fruits at their prey. One white teen even was heard to yell, “I hate blacks!” After the aggressors could find no other vegetables to chuck at the targets, they then proceeded to beat the three black girls into another state of mind. The antagonists used their fists, their feet, and their skateboards during the attack, all while continuing their barrage of racist slurs and aspersions at their black female victims. One girl, with dozens of broken facial bones, nearly lost an eye in the attack. Now she must remain in an upright position for three months, not even allowed to recline in order to sleep at night.

While the trial ended in guilty verdicts for all nine villains, the sentences handed out by Judge Gibson Lee stupefied the victims, their families, the community and the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles–simple probation. The first conviction constituted a gross injustice as the young boy was handed a laughable sentence of 60 days, house arrest. For the remaining eight pugilists, much of the same–probationary house arrest. To call this an outrage is to put too light a word to it. This is an atrocity.

In the politically correct age in which we live, one might be stunned into wondered astonishment as to how such a travesty as this could come to pass–three young black women nearly beat to death by nine savage white teens.

How? Well, it did and it didn’t. Read the above story again, only this time, replace nine white teens with nine black teens, and three black girls with three white girls. Do you have more clarity now? Do you know why the judge gave such lenient sentences to the offenders? If you do, explain it to me because I still do not understand.

 

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Halloween beating victims, left to right, Lura Schneider, Michelle Smith and Loren Hyman speak to media outside a Long Beach, Calif., courthouse Wednesday Jan. 31, 2007. The three young women were in court Wednesday to give ‘victim impact statements’ to the judge who last week convicted their attackers. (AP Photo/Nick Ut) ,

 

4 Halloween defendants given house arrest, probation

Victim’s attorney disagrees with sentence

By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer

 

LONG BEACH – Four teens were sentenced to probation and house arrest for 60 days for their roles in the Halloween beatings of three young white women attacked by a mob of black youths in Bixby Knolls on Halloween.

An 18-year-old male, his twin sister, 14-year-old sister, and 16-year-old friend have been in custody since their arrest after the beating.

They faced sentences ranging from probation to time in the California Youth Authority, although most involved in juvenile law agree the disposition will be geared more toward rehabilitation than punishment.

Doug Otto, attorney for the three victims, said he disagreed with Judge Gibson Lee’s verdict.

“The judge said he felt bound by case law and statutes to impose the least restrictive sentence,” Otto said after coming out of the courthouse. Otto said Laura, the woman who said she was knocked unconscious by the boy, was particularly upset by the sentencing.

“We disagree strongly, but we respect the law,” Otto said. “This doesn’t feel like justice.”

All nine defendants, eight girls and one boy ages 13 to 18, were convicted of felony assault last week. A girl, 12, was acquitted.

Lee had scheduled the nine convicted teens’ sentencing, or disposition as it is called in juvenile court, over three days, with four Friday, another four on Tuesday and the final youth on Wednesday.

A hate-crime allegation was found to be true in eight of the cases, and an allegation that gross bodily injury was personally inflicted by the accused was found to be true for six of the convicted teens.

In the attack, a group of 20 to 40 black youngsters surrounded and beat the women to the ground as trick-or-treaters gathered in a Bixby Knolls neighborhood.

The hate-crime allegations stemmed from witness reports that several in the group yelled racial slurs during the assault, which occurred at about 9 p.m. Halloween in the 3800 block of Linden Avenue.

The youngest minor, a 12-year-old girl, was acquitted of the charge.

The Press-Telegram has chosen not to identify by name the victims, accused minors or witnesses in the case out of concern for their safety.

 

Cherrale, the mother of three teens convicted in the Bixby Knolls beating, smiles as she leaves the Long Beach Courthouse on Friday. The Press-Telegram has withheld the names of the convicted teens and their family members because the case has been heard in juvenile court. (Jeff Gritchen / Press-Telegram)

 

 

Four more get probation in beating

Youths’ sentences similar to those handed down to others last week.

By Greg Mellen, Staff writer

LONG BEACH – Four black female minors were sentenced to house arrest, probation and community service on Monday in the beatings of three white women on Halloween.One female defendant, a Cal State Long Beach student and the last of 10 tried in the case, will be sentenced today. Four others received similar sentences Jan. 26, while one, a 12-year-old girl, was acquitted.

A representative of several of the defendants’ families said they will comment after the final sentence is handed down by Long Beach Superior Court Judge Gibson Lee.

District Attorney Andrea Bouas argued for stronger penalties in three of the four sentences on Monday.

The four were convicted Jan. 26 of felony assault on the three victims. A hate-crime enhancement was found true on all four sentenced Monday.

However, Lee handed out the same sentences he had on Friday to four other teens: probation, 60 days of house arrest, 250 hours of community service and classes on anger management and racial tolerance.

Before Lee handed down his sentences to a 13-year-old, two 14-year-olds and a 17-year-old, Bouas recommended that three of the defendants be sentenced to time in California Youth Authority camps.

Bouas said about two defendants, a 17-year-old and her younger sister, that the older had a history of “acting out” and the other may have gang affiliations and a propensity for violence.

Bouas said the 17-year-old, an internationally ranked track athlete, had “a gift” athletically but apparently didn’t appreciate it.

“Why would she risk her gift?” Bouas asked. “Maybe she didn’t value what she has. Sometimes when you have success you don’t recognize the value. Maybe this is the best thing that could have happened to her.”

Bouas also noted the older sister had been struggling academically with a 1.92 grade point average, not including athletics.

“The last chance for her is camp, to get her on track,” Bouas said. “She needs intervention.”

The deputy district attorney also asked the 17-year-old be barred from receiving a driver’s license until she is 21, noting a history of citations for driving without a license, including on the night of the assault.

Bouas said the younger sister showed a “frightening propensity for violence.” Bouas said even when a Good Samaritan intervened, it was the younger sister who continued to kick and seemed prepared to attack the physically imposing Good Samaritan.

Bouas also talked about a MySpace Web page that showed the girl and her 7-year-old brother flashing what she said were gang signs.

Attorney Marc Rothenberg quickly contested the assertion that the hand signals were gang-related, insisting it was merely a “thumbs up.”

“I hope I don’t get shot for giving someone a thumbs up,” Rothenberg said, eliciting laughter from the court audience.

Bouas said the younger sister “has a gift but flirts with danger” and worried the younger brother would be “contaminated” by his older sibling.

Lee, addressing gang affiliations, warned the teens: “A word to the wise. Gang activity while on probation is a straight ticket to CYA.”

Much of the information Bouas related was disallowed from the court case, but was permissible during sentencing.

Lee ruled that the court lacked power to impose the license restriction but said that the Department of Motor Vehicles would be advised.

Like the four teens sentenced Friday – an 18-year-old male, his twin sister, 16-year-old younger sister and his 16-year-old girlfriend – the defendants Monday were ordered to pay restitution.

The Press-Telegram does not identify the victims and their families out of concern for their safety and has withheld the names of the convicted teens because the case has been heard in juvenile court.

The nine defendants were convicted Jan. 26 of felony assault on the three victims, who were taunted with racial slurs and pelted with fruit and pumpkins before being beaten to the ground by a mob of youths trick-or-treating on the 3800 block of Linden Avenue.

The 18-year-old twins and their 16-year-old friend sentenced Friday were also found guilty of the special circumstances of hate crime and the personal infliction of gross bodily injury.

While on probation, the teens cannot leave their homes between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. During house arrest, they cannot leave for anything other than school, not even track practice. All four are competitive athletes.

They cannot contact the victims or associate with known gang members and are barred from socializing with their fellow convicted friends – although Lee noted the teens who are related obviously will have contact.

Probation can be until a minor is 21, authorities said, although it rarely lasts that long if the youths abide by the court’s restrictions and stay out of trouble.

After Lee handed down his rulings, parents of the defendants quietly gathered in a hallway outside the courtroom and signed papers to secure the release of their children. One hopeful adult had two paper lunch sacks with the names of two of the girls scribbled on the sides.

While a contingent of media waited for the families of the defendants at the front of the courthouse, the families left via a side door.

Photo

Halloween beating victim Laura Schneider reacts while speaking to media outside a Long Beach, Calif., courthouse Wednesday Jan. 31, 2007. Schneider, Michelle Smith and Loren Hyman were in court Wednesday to give ‘victim impact statements’ to the judge who last week convicted their attackers. Behind Schneider are unidentified family members. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

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I have refrained from addressing the issue of former Los Angeles Fire Department fireman, Tennie Pierce and his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles after having been fed dog food from fellow firemen a few years back.  Last month, the Pierce fiasco was all over local talk radio and television news, even making national news to a smaller degree.  Why have I not posted anything concerning Tennie and his two scoops of dog food ingestion?  I have no idea.  Normally, this story would be something I would have enjoyed discussing, but for some reason I simply didn’t get around to posting a single entry about the whole mess.   There’s no time like the present I suppose, and since the drama simply refuses to subside, I reason the time has come nigh for my input concerning the matter of Tennie Pierce vs. Los Angeles.

Basically, Tennie Pierce is an idiot.

It is truly inconceivable to me that an actual legitimate lawyer (hmm… is there really such a thing?), backed by an actual law firm would choose to represent a man such as Pierce for an incident as innocuous as what transpired two years ago–the dog food incident.

Anyway, who is Tennie Pierce?  If you aren’t already familiar with the man, Pierce is a black ex-Los Angeles fireman, having served in that capacity for nearly 20 years.  At one point in 2004, Pierce was subjected to a prank wherein his fellow firemen mixed dog food into a plate of spaghetti, presented it to Pierce who then proceeded to partake of the dish, swallowing two bites of the affected pasta before he realized his peers had pulled some sort of frivolity upon him, not because he could taste the dog food in the spaghetti, but simply because the other firemen were laughing hysterically at their frat house-style deception.

Pierce claimed he was subjected to racial discrimination due to the prank.  He secured the services of lawyer Genie Harrison (who is also currently representing several LAFD firewomen on discrimination charges–cases that appear to hold much more weight than the Pierce case) and marched forward in a lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles.  Upon the horribly misguided advice of LA city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, Tennie Pierce was eventually awarded $2.7 million of LA taxpayer money by the city council in an overwhelming 11 to 1 ruling, with councilman Dennis Zine the only dissenting (and obviously sane) voice.  I don’t blame Zine for now requesting an outside legal team defend against the Pierce case–Delgadillo proved nothing but impotent.

Cue John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou of the Los Angeles based talk radio station KFI640.  Championing the taxpayers of Los Angeles, these two radio hosts, through various means, managed to bring to the fore telling evidence in the form of old photographs featuring Tennie Pierce engaging in various pranks upon other firemen that are flagrantly racist and shamelessly degrading.  However, in light of the new photos, the city council continued their hard-headed, out-of-touch-with-reality ways and protracted their original judgment awarding nearly three million dollars to a man who ate two spoonfuls of dog food.  With strengthened fury, John and Ken continued their rant against Pierce and the LA city council.  Publicity of the case became top evening news.

Pressure on the city council grew to titanic proportions until the intervention of Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa grew inescapable.  He could no longer ignore the cries of outrage from the public.  Late last month, Villaraigosa vetoed the city council’s original adjudication.  I’ve never been a fan of Villaraigosa, but I will give credit where credit is due:  This was a rare, smart decision.

Of course, Genie Harrison swore the repercussions of this choice would cost the city far more if the Pierce case were to go to trial.

Here are the basic no-brainers apropos to this case.

1.  Tennie Pierce had a nickname–“The Big Dog.”

2.  Pierce was fed the dog food as a prank from fellow firefighters who were annoyed by his chest-thumping arrogance during a department volleyball match in which Pierce was heard by many to shout, “feed the big dog” repeatedly throughout the game every time he scored a point, spiked the ball, or did anything worthy of celebration on his part.

3.   In firehouses throughout Los Angeles and the nation, frat house shenanigans play a modest part in relieving stress, rites of initiation, promotion, retirement, etc.  This is nothing new or shocking.  Personally, if acting like children helps maintain the sanity of firefighters around the country, who am I question their Neanderthal-like rites of passage.  As long as they put out fires, I’m happy.

4.  Under the circumstances, feeding dog food to Tennie Pierce was not racially motivated, nor was there any intent of racial discrimination on the part of the firemen who fed Pierce the dog food.  While not an innocent prank (because in all actuality, there’s no such thing), deeming it racist is idiocy.

5.  The surfacing of various photographs clearly depicting Pierce actively perpetrating and participating in numerous pranks against other firefighters are incontrovertibly racist and homophobic.  These photos are the central argument for the Villaraigosa veto.  Here are only a few of the photos

Prank: “Oy vey! I’m Gay!”  What the fuck?  And Pierce felt he had a right to bring a racial discrimination lawsuit against the city?  Of course, these photos came out after the lawsuit, but I’m sure he was hoping they would never surface.  Too bad for him. 

Tennie Pierce

In these pictures, Pierce can be seen assisting in holding a man down, grasping his genitals, and preparing to shave his naughty bits.  Ultimately, the prankee came out unscathed because it was just a PRANK!.

Also, the last picture depicts Pierce pouring water into another fireman’s mouth via a garden hose.  This looks to go beyond pranking.  It’s simply brutal water-boarding torture. 

continued from above…

Now however, it appears that Pierce lawyer, Genie Harrison is looking not to take the case to court as she so angrily threatened after the veto last month.  Instead, it looks as if she and Pierce realize that any meaningful award will not come from the court system.  With the above pictures, I can’t imagine a sensible jury anywhere bestowing any sort of meaningful reward in favor of Tennie Pierce.

Of course, there have been boneheaded verdicts in the past that have squarely followed race lines.  This I believe is not the case to champion.  Tennie Pierce deserves every ounce of ridicule, humiliation, and disdain he’s received from the public as a result of his case against the city of Los Angeles.   I do not want one penny of my tax money going to shady and despicable man looking for a quick and easy dollar by pulling the race card in a situation that was clearly not racially motivated.

Shame on Tennie Pierce and shame on Genie Harrison (may you never win another case throughout the remainder of your career.)

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On a side note, and in reference to the bleeding-heart story further down the page courtesy of the LA Times, Tennie Pierce’s claims of time as a member of the Denver Broncos NFL team are quite spurious.  No one from the Broncos of years past remembers Pierce.  No records of him exist.  No one knows who the hell he is, and they deny he was ever signed to the team, let alone he ever played a pre-season game.

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Settlement talks reopen in bias case

L.A. officials are trying to strike a deal to close the debate over hazing of a firefighter whose lawsuit has prompted so much controversy.

By Jim Newton and Steve Hymon, Times Staff Writers
December 19, 2006

Los Angeles officials have reopened talks with the lawyer for former firefighter Tennie Pierce as the two sides seek to settle a racial discrimination case that has upended city politics in recent weeks.

Although officials would not discuss the matter on the record, one person close to the talks said they are trying to strike a deal that would end Pierce’s case against the city and close debate over his attempt to secure a $2.7-million payout.

Pierce, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department, sued the city after colleagues in his station house fed him dog food mixed with spaghetti sauce and then allegedly taunted him for months after the incident.

Details of the new proposed settlement were being closely guarded, but sources familiar with the talks said both sides were attempting to craft an agreement that would structure any payment in a way that would make clear that much of the money to Pierce was to compensate for lost salary and pension benefits — and that his payout would cover his legal bills as well. One official said the deal also might involve setting aside a portion of the money for Fire Department reforms.

In settlement talks earlier this year, the city and Pierce’s attorneys discussed providing at least $1.3 million to buy out his pension plan at a rate as if Pierce was a 30-year employee, according to a transcript of a City Council closed session on the case from June 21. Pierce, at that time, was six months shy of serving 20 years.

Pierce, a tall and broad-shouldered African American, was fed dog food after a 2004 volleyball game in which he proclaimed himself the “Big Dog.”

In pursuing his lawsuit against the city, Pierce has argued that the incident and its aftermath were humiliating and made it impossible for him to stay with the department. Critics of the deal have cited Pierce’s “Big Dog” remark as evidence that the incident was intended as an innocent joke and not racially motivated, and have noted that Pierce himself admits to having engaged in pranks as a firefighter.

Nevertheless, in the weeks since the council first overwhelmingly approved the deal, it has sparked outrage on both sides, often with a clear racial subtext. In interviews, many African Americans have tended to side with Pierce, while many whites have been markedly less sympathetic.

Last month, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the original settlement amid a wave of public criticism and radio talk show jibes. The council then reversed itself and upheld Villaraigosa’s veto.

That could propel the Pierce case to trial, but the city’s interest in settling grows out of the sense, shared by many city officials, that a jury verdict could end up costing taxpayers more than a deal.

That conviction is based in part on a broader view of the case than the mere act of Pierce eating dog food. Last summer, professional mediator Joel Grossman considered the case and sanctioned the $2.7-million proposed settlement. According to a source familiar with that mediation, Grossman reached that conclusion in part because he believed that Pierce suffered long after the dog food incident.

That source said news of the prank quickly spread throughout the Fire Department, and firefighters across the city would tease Pierce wherever he went. Some called his home and left messages with barking sounds. Others would ask which he preferred, Alpo or Purina. Fire Department officials knew of the teasing but allowed it to continue, thus arguably making them complicit in a workplace environment that Pierce found increasingly hostile.

In a deposition, one top official in the Fire Department — whom the source described as a high-ranking African American — conceded that the harassment of Pierce appeared to him to be racially motivated. If the case goes to trial, that deposition could be used against the city and could incline a jury to punish the department and city with a large award. The mediator indicated to the lawyers in the case that that deposition weighed heavily on him in recommending the $2.7-million deal, the source said.

Although the source did not name that fire official, Millage Peaks, a battalion chief who is African American, was deposed in July. On Monday, Peaks declined to comment about his deposition, but he has in the past spoken out publicly about racism and harassment in the Fire Department.

Advocates of settling the case also stressed that the amount includes legal fees. If the case goes to trial and Pierce wins, he probably would be entitled to legal fees on top of whatever a jury might award him in damages. And since the case already has a long history — that would only grow more extensive given a trial — some estimate that Pierce’s legal bill could top $1 million.

At the same time, there are incentives for Pierce’s lawyers to negotiate. Pierce admitted to engaging in pranks himself, which could weaken his case in the eyes of a jury. And some jurors might not sympathize with giving a large sum over what the city could argue was a relatively trivial act of harassment.

Reached Monday, Grossman confirmed that he had mediated the deal, but declined to discuss it, saying he needed permission from the lawyers on both sides. The city attorney’s press office declined to comment on negotiations because the case was still being litigated.

Still, any proposed deal is likely to stir controversy again, and some council members are wary of supporting a large payout.

“The overwhelming majority of the public is clearly against the settlement,” said Councilman Dennis Zine. “At least in my office, all the calls and e-mails that we received said, ‘Councilman, you have the courage to stand up and do what’s right.’ ”

Zine also said that he would be leery of any large settlement offer. “A million dollars is too much,” he said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, by contrast, voted to settle the case for $2.7 million and then voted later to override the mayor’s veto of that agreement.

On Monday, she said she did not have any firsthand knowledge of further talks in the case, although she said she had heard buzz around City Hall that negotiations were continuing.

She stressed that she would be open to any deal that “drives the city into stopping such patterns and practices of the city allowing and letting stand a hostile work environment.”

Perry said that if talks were ongoing, she wouldn’t expect to see another settlement in the neighborhood of $2.7 million. She said “it would be surprising if it was in the same ballpark” because objections by the mayor and some other council members were based on the amount.

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(Here is a shameful, sob-story look at Pierce post-veto.  Leave it to the perpetually subscriber-sliding LA Times to write such abhorent drivel.)

For firefighter, sense of brotherhood shattered

SANDY BANKS, Times Staff Writer
December 14, 2006

Before he was Big Dog in the fire station, he was Big Fella because of his giant frame and Bigfoot because of his size 15 boots. Before there was the dog food in his spaghetti, there was the noose draped over his station locker and the white flour sprinkled in his bed.

And before Tennie Pierce became the Los Angeles Fire Department’s $2.7-million man — a symbol of racial discrimination to some and political correctness gone wrong to others — he was an ordinary firefighter, who had spent 17 years pledging allegiance to the department’s notion of brotherhood.

That allegiance began unraveling two years ago, when a firefighter at Pierce’s Westchester station mixed dog food into his dinner — a practical joke intended to “humble” him, the department’s investigative report said, for “declaring himself Big Dog” in a volleyball game.

Pierce sued the city for racial harassment last year, after enduring what he describes as months of taunts and retaliation. The City Council voted to settle his case for $2.7 million last month, but, after a public uproar, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed the settlement.

Pierce’s claim and its repercussions — a respected fire department unmasked; a popular fire chief dispatched; a racially divided populace at odds — unhinged the city and unmoored the man.

“I didn’t expect it to go the way it went,” said Pierce, whose public claim and private life — from his work habits to the state of his marriage — provided weeks of fodder for talk radio programs. Hosts such as John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou on KFI-AM (640) fielded dozens of calls from disgruntled white firefighters, who castigated Pierce for “playing the race card” and produced photos of him joining in the hazing of others.

The storm took Pierce by surprise. “I always felt I was part of a great brotherhood,” he said. “I know I have always been upright and fair. When I see how the masses turned on me….” He shrugs his giant shoulders and stares at the floor.

For some, he’s become a caricature — a big, strong, black man brought down by a couple of bites of dog food. But to his friends and family, the reality is considerably more complicated.

“The Fire Department was Tennie’s life,” said L.A. firefighter and friend Johnny Green. “He would much rather be at work than going through this foolishness.”

Pierce knows those photos of him standing over firefighters smeared with condiments and shaving cream made him a lightning rod for criticism. But the pranks weren’t done to hurt anyone, he said. “Basically, it’s a celebration of love. It’s your birthday, your last day at the station…. I’ve never heard a guy say, ‘Stop. Don’t do this to me.’ ”

But Green said Pierce was one of relatively few black firefighters who participated in hazing rituals. “He assimilated with those guys” at his station, Green said. He went on ski trips with them, helped work on their houses, spent his days off with them riding Harleys.

“That’s why the betrayal he feels is so strong,” Green said. “He’s the O.J. of the Fire Department.”

*

Recognized by strangers

Pierce is 6 feet 5 and weighs more than 250 pounds, so it’s hard for him to hide. Strangers recognize him at the gym, at his daughter’s school. People he doesn’t know feel free to scold him.

“There are all those people out there casting stones,” he said. “Reporters standing on my porch, [confronting] my daughter coming home from school.”

His lawsuit has not only angered many whites but has also divided black firefighters and made Pierce a pariah among men who were his friends.

The black firefighters organization the Stentorians has refused to back his lawsuit. “Right case, wrong guy,” one black captain said. Because Pierce participated in hazing rituals, supporting Pierce would undercut the group’s official stance that “no member be subjected to any form of unprofessional behavior or practices in the workplace.”

The rift is hard for Pierce to bear, Green said. “He’s a teddy bear. Did he have fun and play games? Yeah. Hazing, condiments … that was all good-natured fun. Tennie did that real well.”

The dog food was another matter. There are three rules that every firefighter knows, Green and others say. “You don’t mess with people’s family, you don’t mess with their safety equipment, you don’t mess with their food,” Green said. “What they did to him crossed the line.”

Pierce has been off work now — relying on a combination of sick leave, disability, vacation and administrative leave — for more than a year, collecting a portion of his salary while he spends his days working out, visiting doctors and therapists, and helping out at his daughter’s track practices.

The enforced idleness has been hard on their marriage, his wife says. Pierce is often irritable and unable to sleep, ashamed that he must rely on his wife’s salary to support the family.

His case is headed for trial next year, though city officials could offer another settlement. But his career as a firefighter is over, he said.

Pierce denied rumors that he has been visiting other cities to look for a firefighting job. “I’m 51. My body is beat up,” he said. He wants to go back to college “and start my life over again.”

*

Football career envisioned

Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Pierce left Cal State Northridge five credits shy of graduation, he said, envisioning a pro football career. He said he was signed by the Denver Broncos but was injured during a preseason game in 1980 and never played during a regular season.

He married and had two children, then divorced and wound up with custody of his infant daughter and toddler son. He was working as a pipe fitter when a friend told him that the Los Angeles Fire Department — then under a consent decree mandating the hiring of minorities — had openings. He joined the department in 1987.

A year later, his daughter, then 5, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. His older sister moved in with him to help care for the child, who was bedridden, had a tracheotomy tube in her throat and needed twice-daily trips from Inglewood to UCLA for treatment. She died in 1989, just after her sixth birthday. His son is now 26.

The next year, Pierce remarried, and the couple later adopted a 3-year-old girl. His wife watched him throw himself into his work; the demands of his new job seemed to help ease his grief, she said.

“It meant learning a new language and a new way of thinking, a whole different culture,” Pierce said.

Pranks and hazing were a part of that culture. In his first station assignment in the San Fernando Valley, Pierce got a taste, and made a choice.

“We were practicing knots,” he recalled, “and somebody laid a noose right in front of my locker.” He threw it in the trash without telling anybody.

“You want the job so bad, you don’t want to stir the pot,” Pierce said. “You go up there and tell the captain, then the captain calls everybody into the kitchen and now I’ve created a hostile work environment for myself.”

Nor did he complain later, when a buddy sprinkled flour in his bed, leaving his dark skin dusted white. “It wasn’t mean,” he said. “It was like that old saying, ‘Boys will be boys.’ ”

“People criticize him [now] for complaining,” said his lawyer, Genie Harrison. “But Tennie’s got 17 years of doing nothing but laughing about the jokes that were played on him.”

Pierce said he was so shocked and ashamed when his station mates confessed that they had tricked him into eating dog food that he didn’t even tell his wife when he went home.

Then the calls from other black firefighters “started coming through on my home phone…. ‘Hey, Pierce, I heard what happened…. I’m glad it was you and not me, because if it happened to me, there’d be people in the hospital.’ That’s how my wife found out.”

The news traveled quickly through the department, he said. Firefighters began teasing him, calling him ‘dog food boy,’ barking like a dog when he walked by.

Pierce decided to sue, he said, only when the environment became unbearable. “I’ve been on this department for a long time. I’ve done everything they’ve ever asked me to do,” he said.

“All I asked for was three things: transfer me, do a thorough investigation, let me have some kind of psychological help to deal with this.”

He received got counseling and was transferred, but was later ordered back to the Westchester station.

And although the Fire Department’s records show that the battalion chief overseeing the Westchester station did, indeed, call for a full investigation, Deputy Chief Andrew Fox, who heads the department’s disciplinary division, rejected that recommendation. Instead, he relied on firefighters’ written statements to administer three suspensions ranging from six days to one month off without pay.

The fallout is still reverberating through the city’s fire stations. “There are 3,600 firefighters that love the Los Angeles Fire Department and want it to have a sterling reputation,” said Pat McOsker, former president of the firefighters union. “They are heartbroken that a handful of incidents are dragging us through the mud.

“The natural tendency is to be mad at those responsible: ‘Why couldn’t you just suffer this silently?’ ” he said. “I’m not saying that’s right, but that’s what happens.”

Green said Pierce is heartbroken too. “He really was the Big Dog … the biggest, blackest man in that station, with more seniority than any of them,” he said. “When they gave him that dog food, they were sending him a message: He would never be one of them.

“I’m sad for Tennie, that’s he’s got to go through this, change his phone numbers, move his kid’s school,” Green said. “But this case needs to go to court so people will see what it’s like for African Americans.”

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Judge Robert Freedman is an idiot. I know this news is a week old, but this guy just exudes so much stupidity that he could give Bush a run for his money. This man struck down the statewide standardized high school exit exam, further devaluing California school systems and the students who are produced from them.

The exit exam tests graduating seniors for their aptitude of what they have learned during their school careers. It tests at an 8th grade level. Students can take it a multitude of times. Read those last two lines again.

This was the first year the exit exam was actually being put to effect (it had been postponed two years ago to 2006) but because 47,000 students were not going to graduate, Lawyers representing those students sued the state in order to get the exit exam thrown out.

The lawsuit attempted to claim that low income and english learning students were at a disadvantage; they couldn’t attend the fancier schools; they had responsibilities like work; they don’t speak english; they’re poor. Most telling was the fact that the lawyers stated the exit exam was racist, favoring wealthy caucasians, while ignoring latinos and blacks because those minorities are at an economic disadvantage. In essence, the exit exam isn’t fair to latinos and blacks, therefore it is a racist test.

Well, that’s tough. You know what? Life isn’t fair. It’s true. Students who come from a wealthier background do have it generally a little easier in school, while students who come from a poorer background often have to work a little (or a lot) harder in order to maintain good grades, and yes, pass exit exams.

And this is what’s racist–the lawyers who brought this lawsuit and the people who supported it. They’re saying that latinos and blacks are just too stupid to pass this test. Yeah, latinos and black are too damn dumb to pass an 8th grade level test that can be taken over and over and over again until it’s passed. That’s preposterous, and I don’t buy it. They’re the racists.

All this motion by the judge does is devalue California schools. It hurts students who worked hard in school. It means those students who did pass the exit exam are just as good as the ones who didn’t–that you can simply show up to school, and get a diploma.

A diploma is not a right. Though Freedman seems to think so. You don’t deserve it. You have to work to deserve it, and while some students will have to work harder in order to earn that diploma, I would hope they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment for it, and not fall back on racist arguments as to why they feel they should just get one.

And finally, let’s just go ahead and throw out ACTs, SATs, and any other standardized test while we’re at it, because that’s also what this ruling declares. No standardized testing. Hell, no tests period.

Here’s a little clip from an article about this…

Liliana Valenzuela, an 18-year-old senior from Richmond and the lead plaintiff in Valenzuela vs. California, was in an English class at Richmond High on Friday when she got a cell phone call informing her of the judge’s decision. Containing her excitement, she quietly told her teacher, then slipped from class to meet her lawyers.

“I feel very happy,” she said later in Spanish. “Now I’ll be able to have my diploma and fulfill my desire to become a nurse.”

And do you really believe you can be a nurse when you can’t even pass an 8th grade level multiple choice test? Best of luck.

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