Thoughts on the Shooting

Yes, he was a nut – but he was a nut set off by the violent rhetoric of the left. All that talk of Trump not being the legitimate President; of he and his supporters being Nazis; of those opposing them being the “resistance”, as if they were French patriots under German occupation during World War Two. All that means something – and to some people, it means you have to fight. If you say that Trump and his people are an existential threat to all that is good and true in the world, some people will take you seriously, even if you don’t intend it that way. It doesn’t matter that your goal was just a cynical firing up of the base for next year’s mid term elections…it still works out that you incited violence.

Democrats do this sort of thing because it works. Time and time again they’ve used violent, over-the-top rhetoric to fire up their base…it is a very large reason why Obama was re-elected in 2012. People forget that he’s unique – the first President to be re-elected with fewer votes than he got the first time around. He should have lost – and likely would have lost save for a relentless campaign of hatred designed to keep just enough of his troops in line to make a difference…had Romney been just a bit more of a street fighter, Obama would have lost, in my view.

Democrats can end this in a moment, if they choose – all they have to do is get all their senior people to go out in public and say, “President Trump is the legitimate President of the United States”. Sure, that won’t convince the full-on fanatics, but it’d dial down the heat and the kooks would be isolated. But Democrats won’t do that – because they don’t want their side cooled down and they also don’t believe they’ll pay a price at the ballot box. I’m hoping that in 2018 they are disabused of this notion – and I think they may well be. You see, for all the firing up of the base on the left, I believe that the Trumpsters will troop to the mid term polls in record numbers, determined to record a vote of confidence in their man…and a vote of rejection to those who want to annul the 2016 result. We won’t know if I’m right until election day next year – and even if I am right, it won’t show up in polling, even if the polling is trying to be honest. But I do believe I’m right. I’m thinking that people have had enough of this – and in talking to regular folks who don’t think about politics all the time and don’t engage on social media, I see a line being drawn between the leftist rhetoric and the leftist violence: people are seeing that one causes the other.

Intent Not Needed…. All That Is Needed Is “Negligence” or “Extreme Carelessness”

18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

Emphasis mine.

The language is plain. The FBI did not have to prove intent. Hillary’s “carelessness” was enough for prosecution. There are too many Americans that have unintentionally removed, distributed, etc. sensitive information that have been fined and/or jailed. The Democrats remain above the law.

A Riot of Idiocy

I don’t know much about the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Her Wikipedia entry indicates a pretty conventional political career for a Democrat – you know: went to college, got out of college and got into government and has never left it. Some say her “space to destroy” remark is being taken out of context and I’ll go ahead and buy that – maybe she was trying to put out an idea and it got mangled in transition from mind to mouth…it does happen to us all. But, on the other hand, she’s the Mayor, not some small-time blogger, like me. Within the city limits of Baltimore, she’s the Commander in Chief in an emergency…it is to her that the law must refer when riots erupt. Within the city, she – and no one else – is ultimately responsible for the lives and property of the citizens of Baltimore. Do understand this – when the chips are down, it is to the top person everyone looks. Not the city council, not the chief of police – to the Mayor. Regardless of whether her destroy remark was out of context, the city clearly fell apart on her watch.

This reminds me a bit of Hurricane Katrina – while the MSM and the Democrats (but, I repeat myself) managed to fix in the public mind that President Bush (who bore zero legal responsibility) was at fault for the failed response, the reality was that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana failed. The two leaders were both also rather conventional Democrat politicians who had spent most of their lives in politics – and were the kindly, public faces of the party to the electorate. But, they failed miserably. I think this is because our Democrats are rather clever in most instances – they know they need a kind face in front and so they find one. One who will do as they are told, not rock the boat and allow the nauseating sea of Democrat corruption to continue unhindered by reality. I don’t know for certain if Ms. Rawlings-Blake is as much of a zero as the Mayor and Governor were in Louisiana, but my guess is that she was elevated to the Mayor’s office by the Democrat powers-that-be not because of a sterling record of accomplishment but, rather, because of her loyalty and pliability (she signed off on a plan to fix Baltimore’s disastrous fiscal problems – and it promises to reduce a shortfall over ten years from $750 million to $400 million…which means it fixes precisely nothing and, I’ll bet, even the $300 million saved is probably due to fiscal hocus-pocus; a real leader doesn’t sign off on a solution which doesn’t solve; the difference is in what Walker did in Wisconsin – he really fixed Wisconsin’s fiscal woes).

The main thing to keep in mind outside of the particular merits of the current leaders of Baltimore is that the last time a Republican ran the city was from 1963 to 1967, and Republicans have held the Mayor’s office only 16 out of the last 100 years. Baltimore is the Democrat’s city. They own it. If there is anything wrong with Baltimore, it is 100% the fault of the Democrats. And very liberal Democrats, at that (as an aside, Nancy Pelosi’s dad and brother both served as Mayor – her brother botching the 1968 riots so badly that he was booted out of office after one term; another oddity is that at that time, as well, a Democrat mayor botched the response and a Republican Governor, Spiro T. Agnew, called out the National Guard – and, eventually, federal troops courtesy of the President – to restore order). Bottom line is that if the Baltimore Police Department is a racist oppressor, then it is made up of and run by liberal racist oppressors. I fully expect at the next election the people rioting in the streets will vote for the same people running the show today.

Astonishingly, President Obama actually used the word “thugs” to describe the rioters. Per many liberals, this actually makes President Obama a racist as the word “thug” is code for “N word”. President Obama, more true to form, did manage to place some of the blame on the GOP for the riots, claiming that GOP failure to pass his agenda has meant less money for programs to alleviate the problems which led to the riots. This in service of the ideal that only vast sums of federal cash funneled to bureaucrats can fix our problems. I actually figure the use of the word “thug” was because someone did some polling and found out that riots don’t play well for the 2016 narrative – after all, it has been a couple days and Obama is only speaking just today.

Lost in all this is the man who’s death in police custody sparked the riots (or, at any rate, provided an excuse for criminal elements to go on a rampage). Freddy Gray was no exemplar of good citizenship – but what caused his arrest is that he took off running when the police approached him. He was found with a switchblade and arrested. To be sure, running from the police is not a good idea – but I don’t find in the available information any underlying crime being committed…and arresting someone for having a knife seems a bit extreme (and you can probably thank the good liberals who run Baltimore for making sure that knife possession is illegal). Irritatingly, some on the right are pointing out Gray’s long rap sheet as some sort of justification for his death. Sorry, folks, but being a petty criminal doesn’t in any way, shape or form justify death. Unless the police can come up with credible evidence that Gray attacked them, then the police did wrong (to be sure, in the Ferguson case, the evidence ended up being open and shut – the dead man did attack the officer…and maybe over time some evidence of this will come out in the Gray case: so far, it hasn’t). Most of Gray’s arrests seem to be over drugs, so I guess we can count this as another victory in the War on Drugs? And may we please surrender in that war?

The MSM covered itself in it’s usual glory here – first ignoring the riots when they started because that might have made Obama’s appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner look bad. Next by trying to some how justify the riots based upon American racism without even once noting that the city is run by liberals (and has a black Mayor, black Chief of Police and is, indeed, 63% black). Interspersed among this has been the sensationalist showing of videos of burning buildings and lack of police presence – coverage assured to get everyone off the couch and off to the looting (except for one young man who has the best mother, ever).

In all of this, I don’t think I’ve seen any intelligent commentary or suggestions. The thing to be done is, of course, a national campaign to reform police practices and for the GOP to start getting into these deep blue cities and start campaigning. Offer the people there a choice, for crying out loud. Do you really think that most people in Baltimore want to live like that? Of course they don’t – but all they get is, at best, a choice between the liberal Democrat who is favored by the party bosses and the odd liberal Democrat who thinks he or she should have been favored by the party bosses. Nothing will change in places like Baltimore until there is something to change to.

It is all really rather sad and enraging – I pray for the people of Baltimore, and of our poor nation, so badly served by politicians and media.

UPDATE: If this is true, then it is a complete game-changer in the Freddy Gray story.

Who Killed Walter Scott?

Immediately, of course, the police officer – who has now been charged with murder. None of us know all the facts, of course, so there is still room for reasonable doubt to emerge but for the present, things seem weighted heavily against the officer. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but it appears that he did very wrong. Now, we’ll have a trial which will sort out the facts – unless, that is, the facts are so overwhelming against the officer that he pleads out. Time will tell. But in the larger sense, what do we know – so far – about this case?

First off putting out the caveat – this is stuff which is emerging as the case unfolds, and some of it may not be true. Having said that:

Scott appears to have been pulled over because of a broken tail light on his car. He may have attempted to flee the scene due to fears of being sent to jail over unpaid child support. Scott was the father of four children (some of whom, presumptively, he owed child support for). He was engaged to be married. Former Coastguardsman (some say an officer, but the picture I saw appears to be in an enlisted man’s uniform). Scott has ten arrests in his record: this is being downplayed, but I’m 50 and I’ve only got one arrest in my record (and not really in my record – me and some buddies were rounded up for drunk and disorderly in Norfolk, VA back in my Navy days and we were just dropped off at the base): having ten arrests seems a bit much.

So, a man is pulled over for a busted tail light and winds up dead – because he ran, and he ran because he feared going to jail over unpaid child support. Anyone see a problem here?

Why are our over-whelmed police forces pulling people over for busted tail lights? Was there nothing else the officer could have been concerning himself with during that time? Why is a man facing jail time for unpaid child support? I agree – a man who doesn’t support his children is a bum…but so is a man who cheats on his wife. We going to send him to jail? Along with all the adulterers in the world? In addition to, say, everyone who fails to hold down a steady job? Boozes it up too much? Not standing up and being a man is a wrong thing – but it isn’t a crime worthy of being sent to jail over.

In a rational society, no person would fear going to jail for unpaid debts – and so no one having unpaid debts would worry so much about a traffic stop that he’d run away from it. In a rational society, no one would care if someone has a busted tail light (or expired plates, or no insurance) and so the only time an officer of the law would take notice is if it were in connection to some other incident (ie, now that you’ve rear-ended another car, we do care a bit more that you’re driving with a busted tail light…here’s an extra ticket for you). In a rational society, there would have been no traffic stop – and if by some chance there was a traffic stop, there would be no cause impelling the detainee to run…wouldn’t really matter how bad the cop was, no one would be dead.

Here’s the real kicker – the reason police are avid to write up tickets for trivialities like busted tail lights is because our cities are strapped for cash. Our cities are strapped for cash, most of the time, because they are run by liberals who have driven the cities into something close to bankruptcy. The reason we send men to jail because of unpaid child support is because we went into a fit against “dead beat dads” (with no mention of the moms who shacked up with dead beats) and wanted to really punish those lousy guys…this was done because our liberals wanted us to. In short, because of a bunch of liberals, we’ve set up a system where trivial laws grind up people – and set up situations where a bad cop can come into contact with a poor fool and the poor fool winds up dead.

Who killed Walter Scott? An insane system killed him. We tell people – go ahead; have sex outside marriage. Produce children willy-nilly. We won’t censure you or, indeed, even mention that you might not be living a decent life. But when you do this, if you don’t pay the money we prescribe via the courts, watch out! We’re coming for you. We don’t expect you to be responsible and marry the girl you’re having kids with – but failure to pay her some cash after the passion has cooled? We’re sending you to jail for that one, buddy. So, no social opprobrium for being a cad – but there is a warrant out for your arrest. After all, we all know how guys who have four kids and are behind on their child support are otherwise upstanding citizens who hold down steady jobs… So, keep looking over your shoulder. There’s a cop out there, somewhere, and he’s just waiting for his chance to pull you over so he can write some revenue-generating tickets to ensure that the city employee pension fund is in good shape. And when you get pulled over, that warrant will pop up. Now, what do you do? Just go to jail, or run?

Pick one boys and girls – either an immoral society with no rules at all, or a moral society. Right now we’ve got a lunatic mish-mash of the two and it is killing people…and not just by having them shot by a cop. Think of all the young people who wind up dead because they grow up in fatherless households where no one teaches them decent behavior? And then these kids get a bit older and out in the streets and they don’t know how to act – and often act badly.

We don’t have to eradicate racism – worthy as that goal is. We don’t need to tolerate diversity – though tolerance of diversity is often a good thing. We don’t need more studies and programs – though at least such things keep psuedo-intellectual pinheads occupied. What we need is to stop being insane. We need to be rational – reasonable – people. Rational people don’t send people to jail for unpaid debts – and they don’t tolerate men who don’t step up to the plate and do their duty. Just as soon as we start being sane, we’ll stop this sort of thing from happening.

End the Death Penalty, and Life Imprisonment?

The other day, Pope Francis yet again caused a bit of a stir:

Pope Francis called for abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, and denounced what he called a “penal populism” that promises to solve society’s problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice.

“It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples’ lives from an unjust aggressor,” the pope said Oct. 23 in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law.

“All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment,” he said. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”

The pope noted that the Vatican recently eliminated life inprisonment from its own penal code…

Of course, it was Pope St. John Paul II who first asserted that the death penalty has to go – and I admit that it was this which turned me away from the death penalty. Now, we are being challenged again – but it is a harder pill for people to swallow, even those who oppose the death penalty.

The immediate and rather natural reaction to this is that there appear to be some people who simply cannot live in society – they are so clearly violent and dangerous that no one wishes to risk having them out there to kill again. It is easy to bring to mind people like Ted Bundy and go, “ok, so we won’t kill people like that – but we can’t ever let a man like that out, again!”. This is reasonable. But upon reflection, I’m taking a bit of a different view – and I think I see where the Pope is coming from.

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A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.

The Police Problem

Over at National Review Online, A J Delgado points out that it is time that conservatives stop reflexively defending the police when they make errors:

…it’s time for conservatives’ unconditional love affair with the police to end.

Let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way: Yes, many police officers do heroic works and, yes, many are upstanding individuals who serve the community bravely and capably.

But respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens.

On Thursday in Staten Island, an asthmatic 43-year-old father of six, Eric Garner, died after a group of policemen descended on him, placing him in a chokehold while attempting to arrest him for allegedly selling cigarettes. A bystander managed to capture video in which Garner clearly cries out, “I can’t breathe!” Even after releasing the chokehold (chokeholds, incidentally, are prohibited by NYPD protocol), the same officer then proceeds to shove and hold Garner’s face against the ground, applying his body weight and pressure on Garner, ignoring Garner’s pleas that he cannot breathe. Worse yet, new video shows at least eight officers standing around Garner’s lifeless, unconscious body.

Who can defend this?…

No one can, of course.  On the other side of it, Jack Dunphy – the nom de post of a police officer – points out, correctly (though involving a different case), that the police are often put in a very difficult position by the forces of the left: if they do something, they can be blamed and if they fail to do something, they could just as well be blamed. Pointing out that videos of alleged police misconduct are often either edited for dramatic (and political) impact or simply incomplete, Dunphy shows that the police do have a hard time of it in our modern, lawyer-ridden, political correct era.

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