Saturday, December 17, 2011

New York: It's Christmas time in the city, 2011

There are fewer Christmas lights in the city this year than I can ever remember.  One can drive blocks and blocks, miles and miles, through the neighborhoods of New York, and find barely a clue that it's Christmas time.  Have the liberals made that much progress in their war against the holiday, their struggle to replace Yuletide celebrations with celebrations of diversity?  Or is it just a reflection of the bleak and dreary times we live in?

But they still know it's Christmas in this below-street-level Park Avenue apartment.  And no, this isn't the Manhattan Park Avenue of dowagers and doormen.  This is another, less prosperous, stretch of that same street, much further north--Park Avenue, the Bronx, U.S.A.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

George's Greatest Hits: "Death, not concerts, for cop killer" (originally published in the New York Daily News, Monday, February 1, 1999)

Introduction:  Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was murdered 30 years ago today; his murderer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, is still inhaling and exhaling, and will continue to do so.

Two days ago, the Philly district attorney announced that, after a decades-long court battle, they were giving up on efforts to impose the death penalty on the killer, who will now spend life in prison without parole.  The left, which had adopted Abu-Jamal as a pet, and has a stranglehold on the American judicial system, was able to thwart his well-deserved execution through repeated appeals, and finally ran out the clock.

This piece was originally published in the New York Daily News on Monday, February 1, 1999, and gives a good overview of the crime and the case up to that point.  I called for Abu-Jamal's immediate execution, but, if you can believe it, they didn't listen to me.

-George Molé

Death, not concerts, for cop killer

by George Molé

New York Daily News
Monday, February 1, 1999 

The life of Philadelphia cop Daniel Faulkner, who had a bullet in his back, was running from his body onto the pavement.  But not fast enough for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

As Faulkner writhed on the ground, perhaps in pain, perhaps trying to avoid the shots, Abu-Jamal stood over him and fired several more times, then put his gun to the dying cop's face and put a final bullet into his brain. 

That moment made Faulkner's wife, Maureen, a widow.  And it made Abu-Jamal, once known as Wesley Cook--a cab driver and former Black Panther propagandist--a celebrity.

Faulkner was on patrol about 4 a.m. on Dec. 9, 1981, when he saw a car going the wrong way on a one-way street.  When he pulled the car over, the driver, William Cook, punched him in the face and began scuffling with him.  While Faulkner was thus distracted, Abu-Jamal--Cook's brother--appeared from across the street, ran over with a gun in his hand and shot the cop in the back.

Faulkner was able to pull his gun and shoot Abu-Jamal once in the chest before collapsing.  But Abu-Jamal had the strength to finish executing Faulkner before himself collapsing a few feet away, where he was found and arrested.

Abu-Jamal has never explained why he happened to be across the street at the very time his brother was being stopped for a traffic violation.  But the setup was typical of the ambushes long favored by violent radicals: One perp baits a cop into the open by committing some blatant infraction while a gunman lurks nearby, waiting to strike.

Abu-Jamal was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to death.  But a tortuous series of appeals dragged on until last fall, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a bid for a new trial.  Now only a federal appeal stands between Abu-Jamal and his execution.

Meanwhile--in a phenomenon once satirized by Tom Wolfe in his book "Radical Chic"--Abu-Jamal has become the pet of many liberal celebrities, including actors Ed Asner, Mike Farrell and Whoopi Goldberg and author E.L. Doctorow.

It gets worse.  On Thursday, a concert was staged at the Meadowlands to benefit Abu-Jamal's defense.  And Feb. 13, a "Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal" conference will be held at City College of New York to "mobilize thousands for the 'Millions for Mumia' mass rally in Philadelphia on April 24."

Abu-Jamal's defenders pretend to believe that his trial was unfair and his conviction based on racial bias.  But consider:

  • Five witnesses saw Abu-Jamal shoot Faulkner. 
  • Abu-Jamal, wearing an empty shoulder holster, was found a few feet from the dead cop with the murder gun, which was registered to him, at his side.
  • As Abu-Jamal was brought into a hospital, he shouted, "I shot the m-----f-----, and I hope the m-----f----- dies."
I suspect it's Abu-Jamal's manifest guilt, not his supposed innocence, that inspires his defenders--there are those who see cop killing as admirable.  Or, in a less sinister interpretation, perhaps they don't care about the facts but simply oppose the death penalty.

But it's clear that in the arrogance of their wealth, Abu-Jamal's celebrity pals find no empathy for the working man, the family man, that was Faulkner.

Abu-Jamal has three children and three grandchildren.  But the children and grandchildren of Danny and Maureen Faulkner will never be born.

Abu-Jamal has published two books while in jail.  He was also to have done a series of commentaries on National Public Radio a few years ago, which only the outrage of the decent prevented.

But Faulkner will never write a letter to the editor or call a talk show.  We'll never know his thoughts about the impeachment of President Clinton or the signing of Latrell Sprewell.

It's time to carry out Abu-Jamal's sentence.  Pennsylvania's lethal chemicals or electric current will enter his body a lot more gently than his bullets entered Faulkner's.  The Hollywood left will find something else to posture about.

And perhaps, when Danny Faulkner finally gets his justice, we'll find that Mumia Abu-Jamal's name looks even better on a headstone than on a book jacket.

Molé is an NYPD lieutenant and a writer.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cops: New York State Shields holiday party, Tuesday night

Text and photograph by George Molé

On Tuesday night, December 6, I was lucky enough to attend the holiday parties of two great organizations with which I'm involved--Ring 10, which works to help veteran boxers experiencing financial or other problems; and the New York State Shields, a law-enforcement fraternal group (of which I'm proud to be a trustee) that honors officers who go above and beyond in serving their communities, and supports the families of cops killed in the line of duty.

I'll be writing more about Ring 10 in the future, but in this post I'll say a bit more about the Shields.  Why?  Because I have a photo.  (I was so busy eating and talking at Ring 10's gala that I never took out my camera.)

If you want to be moved, inspired and awed, get yourself to a Shields meeting and watch the presentations.  One story after the next of sacrifice and heroism, more exciting than any 10 action-adventures from Hollywood's fantasy-mill.  On Tuesday I sat at the same table as a rather gentle-looking and reserved female sergeant, who was being honored for having come out on top of a shootout with an armed burglar.  That burglar will not be breaking into your home tonight.  And this sergeant was but one of many self-effacing heroes in the room.

One of the Shields' guiding spirits is Anna Venditti, mom of Detective Anthony Venditti, who was murdered in the line of duty in 1986 while investigating organized crime.  Another is Reverend William Kalaidjian, who spent 42 years as an NYPD chaplain, and now spends his retirement years doing...the exact same thing--supporting cops and their families.  When Mrs. Venditti or Reverend Bill speak, people listen.  (So does God, I'd be willing to bet.)  If you want to hear them, too, check out the Shields website and come out to the next event.

This is the New York Shields Police Pipes and Drums--the best pipe band in the New York area (with all respect to my buddies in the legendary NYPD Emerald Society band)--marching out of the Bronx's Eastwood Manor, where the event was held.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

New York: Rush Limbaugh at Town Hall, Tuesday night

Text and photos by George Molé

I knew we were in for an interesting evening when I saw the protesters across the street, ten or 20 raggedy-looking Occupy types, keeping it spontaneous and real with their professionally-printed signs.

The brilliant and controversial radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh--philosopher, satirist, humorist and scourge of leftists everywhere--was making a rare public appearance Tuesday night, November 29, in ultra-liberal Manhattan.  A single show for his New York fans, at the historic Town Hall theater, that he billed as "going behind enemy lines."  And I had tickets.

"Racist, sexist, anti-gay.  Rush Limbaugh, go away," the demonstrators chanted sporadically, kept behind police barricades on the opposite side of West 43rd Street from the theater.  The Ditto-heads, as Limbaugh's fans are known, jeered back good-naturedly.  ("I understand it's raining very hard outside," Limbaugh would crack later during the show, "which means that the Occupy people are finally getting a shower.")

For show-goers, any spirits that might have been dampened by the wet weather...

...were raised as we drew closer to the theatre, with its classic, warm exterior...

...which is matched by the understated beauty of the interior.

Limbaugh, scheduled to begin at 7:30, took the stage about 8, having waited for the entire audience, many of whom arrived late, to be seated before he began.  "I really want to apologize for getting a late start," he joked, "but it was your fault."

The show's format was not announced in advance, and I imagined Limbaugh would give us some sort of multi-media mix--perhaps some short monologues interspersed with video clips, guest appearances and music.  How else could a radio host entertain an audience in a theatre?  But instead, Limbaugh stood at a podium, on a sparsely-decorated stage, and did nothing but speak, apparently with no notes, for an hour-and-a-half--and with wit, passion and sharp insight kept his audience enthusiastically, raptly attentive for the entire time.

Limbaugh is a verbal jazz artist, and I found myself amazed, both in the moment and upon reviewing the transcript later, by the free-form nature of his monologue.  (And, I've noticed, his words don't translate too well to the written page; they're best heard in his voice, projected through the  prism of his personality as he speaks.)  He told stories of his early days in radio; riffed ribaldly on Barney Frank (since he won't be running again, his "seat is now wide open"); filleted the budget super-committee ("[i]t was never intended to succeed"); kicked around the Republican primary race; discussed his battles with his dad over the value of a college education; roasted the liberal media; and used the occasion of a protester in the audience to dissect the Occupy phenomenon.  All was punctuated by humor, and he even threw in a couple of quick, spot-on impressions of Barney Frank and John McCain.

The aforementioned protester provided one of the evening's quirkiest moments, managing to walk up the center aisle to a spot directly in front of, and a few feet away from, Limbaugh.  He then held up some sort of newspaper for Limbaugh to see--which the latter peered at amiably, seemingly trying to make out what it said--before finally being hustled out by yellow-jacketed staffers, throwing all his papers into the air on his way back down the aisle.

Limbaugh wasn't fazed.  "Now, when you see that," he joked, "I wonder why am I paying thousands of dollars for security?"

"These are people threatened by the truth," he went on more seriously. "It really is unfortunate. These are the people that think you owe them everything....This is what the education system has done to them. It's festered their resentments...And so they try to disrupt the things that are working. Now, I look at the Occupy crowd down there, and they've all got iPhones or computers. How do they think that stuff happened? They're out there protesting the very people and things and system that made it possible for them to have those things. Where do they think this stuff comes from?"

Limbaugh's summation of the Tea Party movement was more positive--and, I thought, quite powerful.  "Well, most of the Tea Party people, a good percentage of them, are people that have never, ever been formally involved in politics at all," he reflected.  "They just got fed up. They were shocked, scared, stunned to see what was happening to the country with all this mindless spending. All the debt being run up, they know what it means. They know what it means for the future of themselves and their kids and their grandkids, and it isn't good -- and so they started going to town hall meetings wanting to be heard for the first time; and because it was spontaneous, and because it's genuine, and because it was real, Obama and the Democrats in the media are scared to death of it because they have to manufacture that emotion."

Limbaugh's passion was most evident as he discussed America's founding and its philosophical underpinnings--the latter of which is represented in today's political arena, as he sees it, by conservatism.

"Really, the founding of this country is a miracle," he mused.  "The rule for human beings since the creation of time, since the creation of the planet, the normal, standard operating procedure has been tyranny, dungeons, oppression, poverty...It's been the standard. The exception to that has been the United States. The exception to what life was like for most every human being has been the United States of America."

And the greatest threat to the nation, in Limbaugh's eyes?  Liberalism, as represented by President Obama and the Democrat party.

"I can't get past the fact that if this guy in the White House gets four more years," he said, "you and I are not gonna recognize the country we grew up in. It's that serious to me.  And I know that humor is a great way to deal with things, and sometimes using humor can even be persuasive. But there's not a whole lot that seems funny to me right now."

Thankfully, despite that sense of concern, much of what Limbaugh told us in the heart of Democrat Manhattan was indeed leavened with humor, richly optimistic ("we [conservatives] have to tell ourselves each and every day that we are the majority"), and full of determination.

"Why do we have to settle for this?," he asked.  "We don't, folks. We don't have to settle for any of this. We don't have to settle for 9% unemployment; we don't have to settle for an incompetent in the White House. We don't have to settle for somebody that doesn't respect the country. We don't have to settle for somebody who doesn't believe in American exceptionalism."

"I'm trying to do as much as I can with what I have to reverse the trend that we're on," he added, "and save the country from the encroachment that we face from the left."

Thanks, Rush, and keep it up.  And try coming back to New York a little more often--there are more conservatives here than you might think.

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