The Bookworm Beat (9/26/14) — Friday wrap-up edition and Open Thread

Woman writingMy sister summed me up in a sentence: “For an incredibly neurotic person, you’re very normal and easygoing.” I know what she means. All my neuroses are turned inwards. They drive me crazy, but they don’t interfere with anyone outside of my brain. If you meet me, I’m friendly, good-humored, and well-mannered. I rarely take offense, and I’m always happy to help out.

I’m the living embodiment of the reminder to judge people by their deeds, not their thoughts. Unless of course, you think the deeds and the thoughts reflect on each other, magnifying each . . . which leads to me to:

The Obama latte salute

A military friend of mine had this to say:

What I find comical about this is the outrage. You’re surprised by this man? This is par for the course. And technically, he has no obligation to salute them back. A military officer not in uniform is only obligated to acknowledge a salute with a proper verbal greeting. My understanding is saluting the Marines of HMX-1 started with Reagan.

I think there are more important things to address about him like having absolutely no plan in Syria. This is comical considering the whole “what is our exit strategy?” nonsense during the Bush admin. We don’t even have an entry strategy here.

My friend is quite right, but I couldn’t resist reminding him about that outlook/action connection I mentioned at the start of this post:

I know that Reagan started it (and did you know that Reagan, whom the Left always castigated for not going to war, was in the Army Reserve as of 1937, and was barred from active duty during WWII only because of his vision?), so it’s not deep tradition, and I know that it’s not militarily necessary.

The thing is that, if it was clear that Obama really supported the military, and wanted to fight war in a way that’s not only ethical (which is a good thing), but that also keeps our troops alive and effective (another good thing), no one would have given a flying whatsit even if he’d hollered “Howdy, guys!” and blown soap bubbles at them. The optics mattered only because they were such a perfect visual representation of which we all know he actually thinks: “Blech!  Marines again! And now I have to figure out how, and how many, of those baby killers to ship overseas this time….”

And my friend, who is a gentlemen down to the marrow of his bones, shot back:

I agree, we already know how he feels about the military. Saluting is what we call a military courtesy. Failing to simply be courteous says something about character.

I have such interesting friends.

Regarding the worsening mystery virus affecting children, when does correlation equal causation?

We’ve been hearing for a couple of months now about a serious respiratory virus affecting children across America. It’s been so bad that hospitals have been turning them away.

Well, here’s some more news guaranteed to make you unhappy: the virus just got worse. According to AP, children are now showing up with a paralysis that seems to be in the polio family and that may be related to the mystery enterovirus. So far, only nine cases have shown up in Colorado, but there’s no telling where paralysis problem might end up.

The AP’s not the only one paying attention to the virus. The New York Times has a long article about its effects on children across America (emphasis mine):

An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.

I love that line about “baffled” scientists. It reminds me of a wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey remark in Busman’s Honeymoon, when he and his new bride find a dead body in their honeymoon cottage. Being famous, the Wimseys are immediately besieged the press, one of whose members, Salcombe Hardy, is an old friend (emphasis mine):

“Can I say you’ve got a theory of the crime?”

“Yes,” said Peter.

“Fine!” said Salcombe Hardy.

“My theory is that you put the corpse there yourself, Sally, to make a good headline.”

“I only wish I’d thought of it. Nothing else?”

“I tell you,” said Peter, “the evidence is destroyed. You can’t have a theory without evidence to go on.”

“The fact is,” said Harriet, “he’s completely baffled.”

“As baffled as a bathroom geyser,” agreed her husband. “My wife’s baffled too. It’s the only point on which we are at one. When we’re tired of heaving crockery about we sit and sneer at one another’s bafflement. The police are baffled too. Or else they confidently expect to make an arrest. One or other . You can take your choice.” (Sayers, Dorothy L., Busman’s Honeymoon, p. 242 (Open Road Media, Kindle Edition)).

I feel a little like sneering at some bafflement too — in this case, the bafflement of those scientists trying to figure out how a rare virus that is connected to polio managed suddenly to enter the United States and infect American children.

I know that correlation is not causation, but I also know that not everything is pure coincidence. Isn’t it at least possible that the headlines about a bizarre virus striking down American children for the past two months might have something to do with the headlines from the end of July informing Americans that tens of thousands of Latin American children, many of them sick with diseases not seen in American children, were crossing the border? And isn’t it also possible that this baffling respiratory and occasionally polio-like illness might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration popped these children on buses and airplanes and then sent them all across the United States?

Again, I’m not saying that there has to be a connection, but I’d at least like to see some scientist say, “We’ve considered the possibility that this virus came with the immigrant children, but rejected it because….”

But they’re not saying that. Instead, the MSM just pretends the children’s crusade from Latin America never happened — so much so that it won’t even assure is that there’s no connection.

The country’s in the very best of hands (a song that’s never been more timely, I think)….

The media keeps its message consistent no matter the subject

The fact is that the American media is well-trained and it follows the Democrat playbook no matter the subject. A case in point involves doggies that have been Trayvon Martinized.

About that poor woman beheaded in Oklahoma

We know a few useful things about poor Colleen Hufford’s horrible death: She was beheaded, her murderer was an ex-con Muslim convert who had just been fired for arguing that women should be stoned, and another woman was saved from a similar fate when a company official with a gun shot him.

The police are trying to play this as just another case of workplace violence, and that may be true. But even ordinary violence reflects a zeitgeist. A former convict (which is what Alton Nolen, aka ‘Keem Yisrael, is), who converts to Islam in prison, will have two seeds planted within him: violence and jihad.

As always in these cases, please remember what my cousin, the retired prison chaplain, said about those prison converts:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

(Roger Simon has more on prison conversions to Islam and Caleb Howe has more on the lifelong anger and violence in Nolen that found its home in Islam) In other words, Nolen’s criminal history made him the kind of person who would commit murder — but his Islamic conversion made him the kind of person who would elevate this murder to the level of a jihad killing, complete with the sharia-compliant death of choice, namely beheading.

So yes, workplace violence or not, his religion mattered.

And what also mattered is that Nolen was stopped short by a gun. Jihad in America would be stopped pretty damn short if all of us were armed.

As for the shooting death of John Crawford in a Ohio Wal-Mart

John Crawford’s death is another one about which we know little, but it does look as if police were trigger-happy. Crawford was in a Wal-Mart aisle, someone called in a 911 because he was holding what looked like a gun, and the cops shot him. The video seems to show the cops firing instantly, without warning and, given how still Crawford was standing and the fact that his pop gun was pointed to the floor, they also shot without provocation. The cops, though, claim that Crawford was being threatening, something that might have been obvious outside of the silent film.

Radley Balko offers a great analysis of the bizarre intersections of so many societal issues in Crawford’s death: race, police malfeasance, societal paranoia about mass shootings, mental illness, etc. Something bad happened in that Wal-Mart, and two children lost their father.

I’m very interested in further facts. If Crawford’s behavior was frightening, so be it. But if trigger-happy cops killed an innocent man, let justice be done.

No, the Obama economy is not thriving

A few weeks ago, I asked for help rebutting a Forbes opinion piece claiming that the Obama economy is thriving, and that it puts the Reagan boom to shame. Just the other day, Forbes itself published an opinion piece rebutting that earlier, pro-Obama effort, and it’s a humdinger:

With the stock market cruising at all-time highs and the unemployment rate sitting at quaint levels, a fashionable new argument is making the rounds. Barack Obama is better at economic recovery than Ronald Reagan ever was.

The numbers make the case. Dow Jones Industrial Average the day President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 was 7950; today it stands at 17,000. Unemployment in his first full month, that February: 8.3%, versus 6.1% today.

Ronald Reagan could not quite touch this standard. The Dow began his presidency at 950 and chugged to 1800 after five-and-a-half years. A 90% gain is nice, but short of the 115% gain since 2009. Unemployment over that span went from 7.4 to 7.1%—welcome enough, but overmatched by the post-2009 record.

And all the while under Reagan, there was double the consumer price inflation as under the comparable Obama period (26% vs. 13%). Interest rates were higher. Prime was at 7.5% in September 1986, in contrast to today’s 3.3%.

Whatever crisis, whatever “stagflation” Reagan faced as he swept Jimmy Carter from office in 1980, the results that came in well into his presidency pale in comparison to what the nation would put up under the leadership of Barack Obama.

This argument has glaring flaws, the most obvious of which (from a statistical point of view) is that the labor force participation rate has collapsed under Obama, while it surged under Reagan, rendering any kind of comparison of unemployment rates inoperable. The bald economic growth numbers, for their part, are double in the Reagan (20.3%) than in the Obama (9.7%) case.

Read the rest here.

By all means, let’s have over the counter birth control

To me, even the smallest dose of birth control pills acts like poison on my system. For most women, though, today’s low-dose birth control pills have few serious side effects, if one discounts the fact that they’re messing with women’s entire hormonal and reproductive systems.

Given all the other stuff that’s sold over the counter, there’s no reason for the Pill not to become an OTC drug too. This will lower women’s health care costs dramatically, both by increasing competition at the purchase level and by doing away with the perfunctory, but costly, doctor’s visit that precede prescribing the pill.

Obamacare supporters, of course, are incensed that conservatives believe the Pill should be an OTC drug because that would strip away large parts of their argument about imposing costly and ethically troubling Obamacare “women’s health” regulations on every employer and insurance company in America.

Could this be the reason race hustlers do what they do?

The retirement of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the US and race hustler extraordinaire, resulted in one of Roger Simon’s best posts. Simon begins with Holder’s extremely sleazy history: The same man who prosecuted Dinesh D’Souza for a $20,000 act of stupidity was the federal prosecutor who enabled the disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich, an exceptionally corrupt man who dealt with Iran during the hostage crisis and was lined up for 300 years in prison.

From that disgraceful beginning as an unprincipled party hack, Holder went on to become a hatchet man for the racism racket who turned the Justice Department into a purely political office advancing Obama’s hard Left, anti-constitutional, race-based domestic policies. That history leads Simon to this interesting thought:

Now I have a theory about the etiology of Holder’s fixation on race. When you know deep down you’re a dishonest person, when you have had to eat the bitter pill of your own corruption who knows how many times (even Clinton finally admitted that he had gone too far pardoning Rich and damaged his own reputation), you have to invent a narrative for yourself to justify your activities. So over may years Holder developed what I have called elsewhere a “nostalgia for racism.” No matter that racism was diminishing in our culture, he had to keep racism alive, believe it was alive. If racism were going away, he would no longer have a raison d’être, an excuse for his biased behavior, an excuse, as it turned out, to go beyond the law, act unilaterally and punish political enemies.

Why, yes. That sounds just right.

Think of Syria as you read this bumper sticker

It took me a couple of seconds to figure out the message behind this bumper sticker, and then I thought “That’s excellent.”

Arm tomorrow's enemies

If you’d like one for your car, you can buy it here.

You can put lipstick on a male pig, but it’s still a male pig

With self-selected sex transmutations dominating headlines lately (“Lift ban on transgender military members“), I keep harking back to what I’ve said since the headline about a “pregnant” man (i.e., a woman who had her breasts surgically removed, and took hormones to grow facial hair). At the end of the day, when the surgically-adjusted, cosmetically-mutated, chemically-altered soft tissue is gone, and the bones are all that is left, what’s left is . . . the original sex.

To hold otherwise — to say that person who made this change is now actually a man or a woman, just because he or she wants to be — is a bizarre cultural delusion we’re fostering. On the great bell curve of biology, men are men and women are women, and that’s true regardless of surgery, make-up, hormones, and magical thinking. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accord the person the respect, when possible, of treating him or her as s/he wishes to be treated, but it does mean that we have to accept biological reality.

Case in point: Mixed martial arts. There, a man who went through the surgical, chemical, cosmetic process of appearing like a woman insisted that he be allowed to compete as a woman. The outcome was not pretty, as his opponent Tamikka Brents, who was born female, ended up with a massively broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents explained what happened to her:

In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”

His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against…females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”

I’m not a doctor either, but I’m pretty sure that, men have different bone structure and heavier muscle mass. Even if a man is taken female hormones, if he’s in the world of MMA training, he’s pushing those still-male muscles to the max. He’s going to be a muscle monster, with the weight of a man’s heavy bones behind him. At the end of the day, biology will not be denied.

Views from the climate change gala in New York

Power Line has a wonderful photo gallery from last weekend’s climate change extravaganza in New York. It’s got everything from the mounds of garbage left behind to the hypocritical celebrities to the hard Left people behind the climate change movement. Check it out. Laugh. Cry.

Then, if you want to laugh and cry some more, please enjoy Jeff Dunetz’s 48-item-long list of all the bad things that happen, according to the change-istas, because of climate change. Reading that list, I keep thinking of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when Brian’s followers see everything he says as a sign of something insanely stupid:

Lies, damn lies, and British crime statistics

Since banning guns, Britain has become the most violent country in the first world. Certainly, the police are conflicted about the whole crime-fighting thing.  After all, the God of political correctness tells them that they shouldn’t fight crime if the criminals are blacks or Muslims.  The police have therefore figured out creative ways to massage the (non)crime-fighting numbers — they lie:

The culture of fiddling crime statistics is ingrained within the upper echelons of the police service where target-chasing has led to the under-reporting of serious crimes including rape, according to a report by MPs out today.

The MPs said a delay by Scotland Yard in addressing claims that rape figures were skewed was a “damning indictment of police complacency, inertia and lack of leadership”.

In attacking Rush, it appears that the female of the species is deadlier than the male

Rush Limbaugh went on the offensive to smoke out the small group of people trying to destroy his radio show through email and social media attacks against advertisers. What I noticed immediately is that, of the nine people engaged in this conspiracy, six are female. You’ll never have a 50/50 split in a group of nine people, but it’s telling somehow, that the group is heavily weighted on the women’s side.

I can’t decide if this is because women are indeed more vicious, or if it’s because the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle managed to turn Rush into a slayer of women in the deranged feminist mind, or if it’s simply random that in such a small group, there would be twice as many women as men. The fact seemed noteworthy, regardless of the reason.

No wonder women are raping as much as men are

Feminists have insisted that the definition of rape must be expanded far beyond the traditional definition, which pretty much was limited to a man using his penis to penetrate a woman vaginally, orally, or anally. Nowadays, every man’s touch, look, or verbal bullying is included in the definition of sexual assault, at least on college campuses. In this way, women can claim (and the Democrat party can campaign on) the canard that 1/5 of women on campus will be sexually assaulted.

Relying on the feminists’ own definition of sexual assault, Glenn Reynolds makes the compelling and convincing argument — supported by data — that women commit sexual assault every bit as often as men do. I believe this completely. If you read the trashy but informative Daily Mail on a regular basis, as I do, you’ll quickly discover that several times a week, and sometimes every day, there’s a story somewhere in America about a female school teacher forcing a sexual relationship on an underage male (or, sometimes, female) student. One comes away feeling that America’s students are taught by an army of nymphomaniacs.

Step back, puny mortals, and let the wind take over

One of the problems I’ve always had with the whole climate change theory is the centrality it gives humans. Humans have indeed shown themselves perfectly capable of trashing the local environment. From prehistoric man driving mammoths to extinction, to the Aztecs destroying every bit of protein in their region (hence the need for human sacrifices, which were later eaten), to the Soviets turning lakes into acid puddles, to American manufacturers doing their damndest to destroy our own lakes (until capitalism saved them), to the California Gold Rush stripping off sides of mountains, we are a destructive species. But there’s a quantum difference between making a terrible, and too often lasting, mess here and there, and altering the entire climate around the world, all the way until we touch outer space. That simply didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me.

What makes a lot more sense is a new theory that says that shifting wind patterns account for the changing climate along the Northwest. I find it especially intriguing giving the close connection between wind and sun (and I’m not just talking Aesop’s fables here).

I’m glad the New York Times had the integrity to report on this new climate theory, but I had to laugh at the opening sentence (emphasis mine):

A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity.

It must have choked the writer, Michael Wines, to concede in the next paragraph that the theory didn’t arise from the fetid swamps of whacked-out deniers but, instead, appeared in “the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….” Oh, yeah!

America’s topmost colleges accept robots and turn out morons

Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect in that subtitle. There is no doubt that America’s top colleges get to take in America’s best and brightest students and that they turn out products with a certain sheen.  I contend, though, that these new graduates are actually more indoctrinated than educated, but that’s just my opinion.   Or maybe it isn’t….

While they do not say that America’s premier colleges are turning out mindless Leftist drones, two Ivy League instructors have come out lately to that in their pursuit of the best and brightest, these institutes of higher education are producing boring, timid robits who will not take any chances, thereby stifling their own brilliance.

At The New Republic, you can read William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, which has been shared on Facebook more than 191,300 times.

And at First Things, you can read Michael J. Lewis’s Children Who Never Play, which picks up where Deresiewicz left off.

In bureaucracies, the perfect is the enemy of the good

I credit Philip K. Howard with helping me move from mindless Left-liberalism to thinking conservativism. His book The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, which I read shortly after it was published in the early 1990s, was an eye-opener because it made me realize that government not only is not the answer but that it can never be the answer.  It took me another decade to complete my journey across the Rubicon, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without him.

Just recently, Howard authored a piece for The Atlantic explaining how the Stimulus got wasted, not because of any specific corruption, but because the money vanished into the bureaucratic crevices created by a million rules:

Modern government is organized on “clear law,” the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. And so over the last few decades, law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages, and years will pass before workers can start fixing many of those same roads. Health-care regulators have devised 140,000 reimbursement categories for Medicare—including 12 categories for bee stings and 21 categories for “spacecraft accidents.” This is the tip of a bureaucratic iceberg—administration consumes 30 percent of health-care costs.

And finally, some marvelous photographs and a joke

Nope, not my usual set of posters but, instead, links to two wonderful sites. The first explains why you won’t see Israeli women in burqas anytime soon, while the second is a panoramic photograph taken shortly after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. If you click on the image, you can zoom in to a specific spot; then, click again to zoom out.

Since I try to end on a laugh or uplifting note, here’s a delightful joke that a friend sent me (slight language warning), clearly in honor of Ezekiel Emanuel’s announcement that he, and everyone else, should try to die by or before age 75:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age. (I am past seventy-five). A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking her, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

She asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?’

‘Oh no,’ I replied. I’m not doing drugs, either!’

Then she asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’ ‘I said, ‘Not much … My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said.

She asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’

‘No,’ I said.

She looked at me and said, ‘Then, why do you even give a shit?’

The Bookworm Beat — August 16 Saturday Night Special

Woman writingYesterday, the phone or the doorbell rang every 10-20 minutes all afternoon and evening. We had a rotating cast of characters for dinner, one of my dogs hid for the day, and the other dog barked itself into laryngitis. I have no complaints, as I like a social house, but there’s a lot to be said for just a little less sociability.

Today has been relatively quiet, so I was able to do six loads of laundry and take care of a good 300 emails. I still have my snail-mail inbox to clear out, but overall I feel remarkably productive. The dogs are happy too.

I don’t know if a review of the news will result in any happiness, but it’s still a task I feel compelled to perform.

Ferguson reveals seemingly intractable problems in modern American cities

The more I read about events in Ferguson, the more I know that two principles I hold are correct, even though I don’t know how much either principle applies to the specific events in Ferguson. The first principle is that the police are and should be people’s servants, not their military masters.

Separating military and police

The second principle is that the “wilding” that blacks turn to when the police offend them solves nothing about their dismal situation throughout America’s Democrat-controlled cities, but definitely makes it reasonable for police to seek protection behind military gear.

Police brutality and Slim Jims

This is a nasty chicken and egg dance, with blacks complaining (illogically, but it still drives their behavior) that police brutality drives them to resist arrest and run riot through cities, effectively destroying their own communities, and police complaining (more credibly) that with blacks running riot, the only way a sane person would become a police officer is to bury himself behind massive armor and weaponry.

Mark Steyn certainly finds much to blame on both sides of the dispute raging between Ferguson’s blacks and its police force.

Even as cops and blacks blame each other, both should be blaming Democrat/Progressive Big City politics

The only place that neither blacks nor police are looking in order to place blame is the one place that ought to be blamed: The urban Democrat/Progressive political machine. Kevin D. Williamson, who has traveled to most of America’s major cities, the vast majority of which are Democrat-run and being run into the ground, explains just how badly the Progressive experiment is playing out in these places:

Progressives spent a generation imposing taxes and other expenses on urban populations as though the taxpaying middle class would not relocate. They protected the defective cartel system of public education, and the union money and votes associated with it, as though middle-class parents would not move to places that had better schools. They imposed burdens on businesses, in exchange for more union money and votes, as though businesses would not shift production elsewhere. They imposed policies that disincentivized stable family arrangements as though doing so would have no social cost.

And they did so while adhering to a political philosophy that holds that the state, not the family or the market, is the central actor in our lives, that the interests of private parties — be they taxpayers or businesses — can and indeed must be subordinated to the state’s interests, as though individuals and families were nothing more than gears in the great machine of politics. The philosophy of abusive eminent domain, government monopolies, and opportunistic taxation is also the philosophy of police brutality, the repression of free speech and other constitutional rights, and economic despair. Frank Rizzo was not a paradox — he was an inevitability. When life is reduced to the terms in which it is lived in the poorest and most neglected parts of Chicago or Detroit, the welfare state is the police state.

I would recommend Williamson’s article as a must-read and, if your Leftist friends can be brought to read something published in — gasp! — National Review, it’s an article that you should share with those who haven’t already seen the conservative, individualist, small government, small-l libertarian light.

Resisting arrest is asking for trouble

Bob Weir, a former police officer, explains that “brutality” is not an unreasonable response to get from a police officer if you make the decision to resist arrest.

And of course, there’s always the media to fan the flames

Sadie send me this image, along with some of her pungent, trenchant commentary:

The media's role in all this

A reprise of the Trayon Martin summer hit of 2012. Rev. Al and Rev. Jesse once again, play themselves. Benjamin Crump, Esq. has been recalled to the stage. Rioters, looters and extras, against a backdrop of staged outrage are seen running, dancing, shouting – looting included. Audience members and media are encouraged to bring a cell phone to record the experience.

Ferguson is making for some pretty strange political bed fellows

A young Marine friend of mine (who grew up in an incredibly liberal Marin household) posted this excellent Matt Walsh article saying that the police officers aren’t to blame for the anarchy in Ferguson. A young entrepreneur I know here in Marin, whose Facebook posts hew liberal, but who has a libertarian streak, liked the article, commenting that you have to “suck up reality.”

Events in Ferguson are making for some strange political bedfellows. Perhaps we might see a paradigm shift coming soon….

Obama, the bored, disaffected, disenchanted, disengaged American President

I’m not a Joe Scarborough fan, but I agree with Pete Wehner in thinking that Scarborough was correct when, on the Hugh Hewitt show, he stated that Obama has simply checked out of the presidency. Although motives are irrelevant — all that matters is the fact that Obama’s not playing president any more — Wehner still speculates as to his motives, and I still find the speculation interesting:

What could possibility explain this attitude? It may be that Mr. Obama was drawn to the job not for the right reasons but because he viewed the presidency as a new mountain to climb, a prize to win, as a way to feed his unusually large ego (even for a politician). It may also be that Mr. Obama, with his presidency crumbling, is like a petulant child who wants to pick up his marbles and leave. He was fine serving as president when he was adored and well liked; now that things are going south he appears to have emotionally “checked out,” to use Scarborough’s phrase.

The curse of the golf course

Daniel Greenfield has noticed that Obama starts wars when he’s on vacation near a golf course, while bad actors seem to time their bad acts to coincide with Obama’s golf game. The incessant golf games, which once were a sore point only for grumpy conservatives, are beginning to dismay everyone.

There’s something unseemly about our president’s obsession with golf. Of course, the golf games are perfect fodder for political cartoonists, who see the golf course as a metaphor for Obama’s singular absence from and disinterest in a world in flames around him. Don’t believe me? Just check out Steven Hayward’s cartoon round-up for the week.

The terrorist negotiating strategy

No, I haven’t forgotten poor, beleaguered Israel, even though I chose not to lead with it in this round-up.

My very first item about Hamas put me strongly in mind of Jeff Dunham’s Achmed The Dead Terrorist, whose catch-phrase whenever things don’t go his way is “Silence! I kill you!”

Hamas has now issued an ultimatum regarding its peace talks with Israel.  Paraphased, it amounts to “Accept all our conditions or we kill you!” Last I heard, that’s not how good-faith negotiations are supposed to work.

The world doesn’t care about dead JEWISH kids

A bereaved Israeli mother, whose teenage daughter died in a terrorist attack during the Second Intifadah, reminds us that the world doesn’t inevitably shed tears when children die in war. For example, when her precious daughter was one of hundreds who died in attacks deliberately targeted at Israeli/Jewish children, the world had nothing to say.

The IDF has a photo-gallery summing up this summer’s war

The IDF has collected 17 photographs summing up the reality of the Israel/Gaza war. Some of them show the bombs bursting in air over Israel and how frightening and destructive those bombs are, Iron Dome notwithstanding. Others show Gazan residents lined up as useful idiots and human shields for Hamas, as well as the fact that Israel treats these poor fools with incredible decency. Still others show the depth, breadth, and imaginative destructive power of the Hamas armory in Gaza.

It’s like a joke . . . “This Travis County D.A. walked out of a bar, dead drunk….”

The Rick Perry indictment is a joke. That’s no surprise to me, frankly.  Travis County is famous for its corrupt legal system.

Back when I was in law school, three Texas Supreme Court judges were under investigation for accepting bribes. Indeed, at our annual musical review, which spoofed the movie Grease, I distinctly remember that one of the songs had lyrics that referred to a scam in which attorneys appearing before the court had bribed the judges with lavish trips:

We go together like V&E [Vinson & Elkins], F&J (Fulbright & Jaworski), and Jones & Day
We’re graduating and going on to sweat and cram for the July bar exam
We’ll clerk for judges and
Fill their briefs with legalese, and Vegas trips with attorneys.

I mean, jeez, if an Obama stalwart like David Axelrod is unimpressed by the indictment, you know it’s shaky. For more solid legal reasons, Eugene Volokh also thinks the indictment is unsustainable. So good for Rick Perry to fight back, and I hope he fights back hard.

For those of you new to this story, Rosemary Lehmberg, the Travis County D.A. got arrested for drunk driving, pleaded guilty, and served 45 days. I’ll let Duane Paterson pick up the story:

Rick Perry thought her to be a disgrace, and wanted her to resign. She didn’t. So he took the next step and threatened to veto funding for her office. In response, a grand jury handed down an abuse of power indictment for coercive use of a veto late this afternoon. So the woman who was belligerent and intoxicated stays, Rick Perry is the bad guy and needs to go. Right. Got it.

By any standard, Lehmberg’s behavior was disgraceful. She pleaded guilty to a .23, almost .24, blood alcohol level (almost three times the legal limit), was oppositional with the arresting officers, and tried to use her political heft to avoid the charges.

Here’s the arrest video:

And here’s the video of her doing her “do you know who I am and who my friends are?” routine:

And for those who aren’t conversant with that blood alcohol level, Ace has a handy-dandy (and funny) cheat sheet.

Gene Simmons fights back against political correctness and in favor of immigrants learning English

I hate Gene Simmons, the KISS rocker. (It was the snake-like tongue that did it for me. I hate the tongue in Miley Cyrus too.) However, I very much admire Gene Simmons, the American immigrant who courageously speaks truth to political correctness. His latest outburst is about the criminally wrongful act of insisting that immigrants to this country shouldn’t be forced to learn English.

As a sort of aside about political correctness, my daughter said that she tried to watch Robin William’s movie Hook. She thought that the premise — Peter Pan returns to Neverland as an adult — intriguing, but hated that the casting was manifestly done to meet a racial quota. There were carefully calibrated numbers of Asian, black, white, and Hispanic boys. She said “The acting was awful, even for a 90s movie, so it was obvious that they didn’t choose the best actors; they just chose actors to be the right race.”

All I could do was agree with her. I found the movie unwatchable back in the day and for the same reason. I added, because I can never resist moralizing, that political correctness destroys everything it touches: art, humor, free speech, creativity, education, etc.

What patriotism used to look like in the mainstream

Back in 1970, John Wayne hosted a July 4th special celebrating America. Can you imagine something like this being made nowadays for mainstream TV, staring mainstream stars? I can’t. It’s simply impossible to imagine:

Modern feminism has nothing to do with freedom or equality

My wonderful sister-in-law reminded me of a Tumblr site I’d meant to mention, but then forgot. It’s called Women Against Feminism, and has women explaining why they feel empowerment comes about when they’re not feminists.

I was speaking to a young Swede today who expressed surprise that I chose to stay home as much as possible to raise my own children, rather than go to work and have the state pay for some other women to raise my children. He said that, because of “equality” women are expected to work. He was even more surprised when I suggested that forcing women to work is just as bad as the old days, when women were refused the right to work. Both deny women the freedom of choice. That thought had never occurred to him.

Pictures

(Thanks to Caped Crusader for this amazing picture round-up.)

The Tea Party Conspiracy

Hamas speaks to Israel and CNN

Obama tells tales about Iraq

Slavery in Africa

Emperors foreign policy

Eisenhower on total security

Why it’s impossible to argue with Progressives *UPDATED*

Father and son shoutingI said yesterday that we have to confront Leftists, because they will never go away.  Today, though, I got a perfect example of why it’s so gosh darn difficult to deal with them.  To understand this point, I need to take you back to the post I wrote about a killer who is about to be released from prison in Texas.

Here’s the brief run down:  In 1996, Bernie Tiede shot and killed 81 year-old wealthy widow Marjorie Nugent.  He hid her body in a freezer and spent the next few months running through her money before he was caught.  He confessed to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

At this point, we need to be clear about a couple of things:  First, Tiede is not facing the death penalty.  Second, no one is arguing that any type of prejudice played a role in Tiede’s conviction.  He was convicted the old-fashioned way:  he confessed to a premeditated murder and got the time for doing the crime.

Since Tiede’s conviction, a few things have changed:  Texas Monthly, a reliably Progressive publication, wrote about Tiede, saying he’d remembered that he’d been sexually molested as a child and that he revealed that he was a closeted gay man in East Texas.  The magazine article led to a 2011 movie starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and other big name stars.  And lastly, the prosecution and defense have agreed that Tiede’s recently-remembered childhood sexual abuse and the stress of being a closeted gay man in Texas were such that he couldn’t be held responsible for his well-organized murder and equally well-organized spending spree.  Tiede is therefore set to walk free.

I think this is a travesty.  It would be one thing if Tiede had been an innocent man railroaded because he was gay.  It’s another thing entirely saying that childhood molestation and being gay are mitigating factors to a life sentence for cold-blooded murder.  Mike Devx neatly parsed what happened:

“Stress made him do it”, is what this comes down to.

Well, the stress of being a soldier in war often leads to PTSD, and that stress must be worse than this stress.  So the way I see it, every soldier who has been or will be diagnosed with PTSD is now free to kill anyone they want to, and take the dead person’s money and live on it.  It’s only fair.

Precisely.

To get to my point about the difficulty of arguing with a Leftist, let me repeat the core matters at issue in the Tiede case:  Tiede is a self-confessed murderer who got a life sentence, but is about to be set free because he has successfully proven himself to be a member of the official victim class of the 21st century, relieving him of any responsibility for his evil acts.

So what does one of my reliably Leftist friends say when I politely (very politely) pointed out on Facebook that a cold-blooded, self-confessed murderer will get released from a life sentence because he was stressed? My friend says this:

I don’t know what to think. The movie made me feel sympathy for him, but I also think he wouldn’t have been released from his life sentence if he was black. Since our system is inherently racist, we must abolish the death penalty.

Did you see anything in Tiede’s story about either race or the death penalty? I didn’t. But in response to my politely expressed surprise about a murderer walking because it’s tough to be gay in Texas, she makes a bizarrely disjointed statement about sympathy for Tiede because of a Hollywood film, which she somehow contrasts to the fact that black people would be treated differently.  And then, having inserted race into the matter, she speeds ahead to announce that the death penalty is inherently unfair to blacks so the institution should be demolished.  I’m dizzy and confused.

Because I pick my battles, I don’t feel inclined to waste my time pointing out to this “well-educated” Progressive that, not only is her statement confused, random, and illogical, but she’s also wrong when it comes to data about blacks and the death penalty.  Because all of you care about facts, though, I’ll share the actual data with you:

2. [From ABC:] “Some states . . . for the same crime [are] three times more likely to sentence an African-American defendant to death. I think that’s very, very troubling. . . . Race is an issue.”

This is simply false. In murder cases, whites are executed much more frequently. Nationally, from 1977, when the death penalty was reinstituted, to 2011, the last year for which the FBI has compiled data, 64.7 percent of those executed were whites, but whites committed only 47 percent of the murders.

Nor do individual states stand out in the way this statement claimed. I went through the totals for each individual state over the seven years from 2005 to 2011, and none have the imbalance the ABC News panel complained about. Missouri was close, with five blacks and two whites executed. Only three other states, including heavily Democratic Maryland, executed more blacks than whites, and in each case only one more black was executed. (To see state-by-state data for a given year in this range, search for “capital punishment [insert year] statistical tables.”)

An honest evaluation has to start with explaining why white murderers are executed at a greater rate than black murderers.

Just like adolescents, Progressives won’t stick to the subject, ignore the facts, and are willing to repeat their unfounded statements ’til the cows come home.  It makes for very difficult arguments, because you have to ignore the red herrings and resolutely and repeatedly bring your errant Leftist back to the main issue.

UPDATE 2: The twitter image below, in my original update is false, says Sturmtrooper. I got pwned. Bad me! I did buy into my own biases, since it so perfectly aligned with the actual Facebook comment that a genuine friend of mine actually made.

The twitter picture is fake. The real moms demand action handle is @momsdemand note the D at the end. The one in the picture is momsdeman without the D.
If you look on the actual momsdemand twitter page they even mention it.

UPDATE: Another example of Progressive “logic” in action:

Rape versus guns

Move over “Twinkie Defense”! The “closeted gay” defense has come to town.

Bernie Tiede and Marjorie NugentIn 1979, the nation was outraged when Dan White, who successfully carried out a premeditated plan to murder San Francisco’s mayor, George Moscone, and first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, was acquitted because his attorneys convinced the jury that White’s excessive consumption of Hostess Twinkies had rendered him effectively (and legally) insane when he pulled the trigger.  Thirty-five years later, Progressives all over America are celebrating the fact that a man who murdered in cold blood an 81-year-old woman, hid her body in the freezer, and, over the course of several months, freely spent her money is being released from life in prison because the Texas legal establishment has concluded that his status as a victim of childhood sexual abuse and his life as a closeted gay man in East Texas excused his crime.

Stop laughing!  I’m not kidding.  This is for real:

Bernie Tiede, the Carthage man who fatally shot a wealthy widow in November 1996 and was later sentenced to life in prison for the crime could be freed on $10,000 bond, after the DA who prosecuted him agreed to free him.

New evidence about sexual abuse he suffered in childhood has come to light, leading to a probable reduction of the life sentence he received in 1999.

In 1996, Tiede shot Marjorie Nugent, 81, and sealed her body in a freezer in her home. Tiede, an assistant funeral director in Carthage, struck up a friendship with Nugent and the two became close companions, living, traveling, and shopping together.

After Nugent’s killing, Tiede continued spending her money and was rather charitable in the community. Police discovered her body nine months later, hidden under frozen food.

According to the Texas Tribune, psychiatrists that examined Tiede learned he had been sexually abused from the age of 12 until he was 18. The suppression of this led him to be able to disassociate himself from reality, including a murder by his own hand. Living as a closeted gay man in a small East Texas town also created issues for Tiede.

The Twinkie defense is so passé.  We call this updated version the “closet gay” defense.

It didn’t hurt that Hollywood got hold of Tiede’s story and turned it into a big-name movie:

The story of Tiede and Nugent’s relationship was made into the 2011 movie Berniebased on a Texas Monthly article and directed by Texas’ own Richard Linklater. Starring Jack Black as Tiede and Shirley MacLaine as Nugent, it also marked the career resurgence of Matthew McConaughey, who played District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson.

I have never been sexually abused, which means that I can only sympathize, not empathize, with Tiede’s youthful suffering.  I would never dream of denying how horrible childhood sexual abuse is nor can I presume to say what it would do to someone’s psyche.  Still, murdering a friend, hiding her body, and spending months living off her money seems less like the act of a person with a deeply traumatized psyche (he “disassociate[d] himself from reality”) and much more like a garden-variety sociopathic act of greed.

When it comes to the trauma of being a closeted gay man in East Texas, I haven’t experienced that either.  I do, however, live day-to-day as a closeted conservative woman in central/southern Marin, which is probably comparable in terms of my need to keep an important part of my life secret for fear of being viewed as dangerous and deviant.  Despite the constant psychic injuries I suffer, though, I haven’t felt any urge yet to shoot a friend to death, stuff his (or her) body in the freezer, and live high on the hog with my victim’s money.  (And there is a lot of money to be had in Marin.  Just sayin’.)

Back in the 1990s, Damian King, a young black man, was acquitted of trying to beat Reginald Denny to death during the Rodney King riots because he was “caught him the rapture” of the moment. I thought then and continue to believe now that this was a shockingly racist verdict. California’s legal system accepted as given that a young black man could not exert any degree of human control over his thought processes and moral functioning. Instead, he was simply a maddened dog, functioning purely on animal instinct.  Raaacist!!!

Things have only gotten worse since then.  Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century and we’re being told that Bernie Tiede, a young gay man, was completely out of control when he shot his friend, hid her body, and, over the course of many months, enjoyed living off of her money.  The mere fact of his having to  hide is sexual orientation, we’re told, left his thought processes and moral functioning so fragile he couldn’t be expected to comport with the order rules of human decency and morality. Be nice to gays, because they’re sub-human and can be deadly if denigrated.  If I were gay, I wouldn’t be celebrating this verdict; I’d be insulted.

Do keep in mind that this is entirely different from a situation in which an East Texas jury convicted an innocent man solely because he was gay.  This is a guilty man being freed because he was gay.  That’s just so wrong.

Nugent’s family is unimpressed by Tiede’s new PC status as victim, rather than criminal:

A spokesman for the Nugent family, Ryan Gravatt, told the Texas Tribune that they believe that Tiede should remain in prison and serve out his life sentence.

“He confessed to her murder and his confession was admitted in his trial,” Gravatt told reporters. “A jury found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison, where he should remain.”

The Nugents have my sincere condolences, must as Moscone’s and Milk’s family and friends did when Dan White got away with murder because he liked junk food.  The real crime is that, back in 1979, everyone knew that the Twinkie defense was a travesty, while in 2014, way too many people think that the “closeted gay” defense is something to be celebrated.

Friday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe Taliban has hit Marin County (indirectly).  Marin County is headquarters for Roots of Peace, an admirable charity that seeks to advance agricultural development in poverty-stricken areas.  It has an outpost in Afghanistan, where it seeks to enable the Afghani people to feed themselves.  The Taliban can’t have that kind of thing happening in its country.  It therefore sent off some foot soldiers to attack the Roots of Peace Kabul office, killing a child in the process.  If radical Islam had a cable-TV station, it’s motto would be “All war, all the time.”  One wonders if this will be a bit of reality that mugs that peaceniks who are so self-centered that they cannot envision cultures that have, as their core value, a desire for perpetual warfare.

***

David Clarke, Milwaukee’s Sheriff, made a splash when he encouraged Milwaukee’s beleaguered citizens to arm themselves:

Police chief get a gun

I think Clarke may have found a kindred spirit in Detroit Police Chief James Craig. During a press conference in which he discussed the rising numbers of homeowners (successfully) using arms to defend themselves, he had this to say:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”

We want more law enforcement like Clarke and Craig, and less like Marin’s Second Amendment-challenged sheriff.

***

I also want more of this:  An Ebony magazine editor went on a rant against conservative blacks; got called on it; claimed that the person calling her out was a white racist; when she learned that the person calling her out was black apologized for calling him white; and then doubled down on rants that were both anti-conservative black and anti-white.  (That’s not want I want to see more of.  It’s this next thing I like.)  Normally, Republicans would run away screaming from this type of confrontation, leaving the racist Leftist in control of the field.  This time, the RNC demanded an apology . . . and got it.

***

Speaking of the Left’s racial obsessions:  Any half-sentient being knows that Stephen Colbert’s shtick is that he created a faux-conservative character who is pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc., and that Colbert, a marginally-talented generic Leftist, uses this character to claim that all conservatives are pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc.  That’s why it’s hysterically funny that, when his show tried to  highlight (non-existent) Republican racism by having his character ostensibly tweet out a crude anti-Asian stereotype, the Asian community got riled and demanded that Colbert be fired for being an anti-Asian racist.  Asians should stop getting their knickers in a twist about stupid TV shows and should start looking at where their real politic interests lie.  (Hint:  It’s not the Democrat Party.)

***

Leland Yee has been around forever as a fixture in Bay Area politics.  As his name implies, he’s Asian, he’s hard Left, and he represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo in the California legislature.  Since Sandy Hook, Yee’s been very vocal about being anti-guns.  He also just got indicted for gun running, including trying to sell arms to Islamist groups.  The MSM has been trying hard to ignore his story, as it’s been trying hard to ignore a bunch of other stories about spectacularly corrupt Democrat figures.  Howie Carr therefore serves a useful public service when he calls out the media, the Democrat party, and the crooks.

***

Speaking of crooks, Harry Reid claims never to have called Republicans liars when it comes to Obamacare, despite footage of him calling Republicans liars because of Obamacare.  There’s some debate on the Right about whether Reid’s gone senile or is just trying out his version of The Big Lie.  My theory is that we’re seeing malignant narcissism in play.  As I’ve said a zillion times before in speaking about Obama, malignant narcissists never “lie” because their needs of the moment always dictate the truth of the moment.  That is, if they need to say it, it must be true.  (It’s nice to be your own God.)

***

Keith Koffler identifies the four roots of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy.  I agree with him, although I would add a fifth, which is that Obama desperately wants to see America knocked down to size as punishment for her myriad sins.  Perhaps Obama should read the DiploMad, as he explains why Russia, the country before which Obama is now weakly doing obeisance, has always been much worse than America could ever be, both as a protector and an enemy.

***

Adm. Jeremiah Denton, Jr. has died at 89.  The public learned about Denton during the Vietnam War when, during one of the forced confessions that the North Vietnamese liked to televise to the world, he blinked out a Morse code message — “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” — thereby providing the first proof America had that the Commies were torturing American POWs.  During the same interview, he bravely said he supported his country, a statement that led to more torture.  Denton was also America’s longest-held POW, spending almost 8 years in the Hell that was the Hanoi Hilton, and various related prisons.  During that entire time, he was brutally and repeatedly tortured and he spent four years in solitary confinement (where he was tortured).  My heart bleeds when I read what happened to him.  But Denton came home and he got on with a full, rich life, including six years in the U.S. Senate.  If anyone deserves to Rest In Peace, it is Adm. Denton.

***

I don’t think much of Stanford.  It’s nothing personal.  I think all the big universities (and most of the small ones) have become intellectually corrupt.  However, Prof. Michael McConnell, at Stanford Law School, has somewhat restored my faith in Stanford by writing one of the clearest analyses I’ve yet seen of the problems facing the government in the Hobby Lobby case.  Of course, law and logic will not sway Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer, all of whom are activists much more concerned with making policy than with applying law.  As happens too often, Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote — a reality that places way too much power in the hands of a man who seems too often to blow, not where the Constitution takes him, but wherever his fancy for the day alights.

***

And to end on a light note, two more ridiculously funny Kid Snippets, offering an inspired combination of kid wisdom lip synched by some remarkably talented adult actors:

 

The shakedown artistry of our criminal justice system

Defendant Standing Before the JudgeBack in October, I wrote about the fact that one of my sister’s friends had been arrested for allegedly doing a very bad thing.  I noted at the time that I had no idea whether or not he’d done the bad thing, but that it was apparent that the prosecutor’s office was setting it up so that he would go to jail whether he was guilty or innocent:

The guy ended up being charged with 21 counts, many of them duplicative, and all of them carrying very high minimum sentences.  He will almost certainly plea bargain.

If he’s guilty, a plea may be a good deal for him.

If he did what he is alleged to have done, but there are extenuating circumstances, that’s irrelevant in terms of deciding the risk of going to trial.  The moment a jury concludes that he committed the acts, he’s done for.  So again, a plea bargain is the way to go.

And then there’s the question of whether he’s innocent.  By charging him with 21 acts, the prosecutor, by bringing 21 counts against him, has already sent a signal to the jury that this is a “bad” man.  The legal presumption may be innocent until proven guilty, but a jury will almost certainly think “Boy, that’s a lot of smoke.  How about if we just convict him on one of the charges?”  The jurors won’t know, of course, that just one of those charges can mean decades in jail.  So again, the best bet for the guy is to plead out.

So think about that for a moment — we have created a judicial system where a person, whether guilty, innocent, or with a good excuse, begs to go to jail rather than to face the stacked deck in court.

But there’s more to it than that: This system encourages lousy police work, because the police know that they probably won’t be called upon to answer for it before a judge and jury.  Police are rational and they are overworked.  Even the best and most decent of them will eventually fall down the slippery slope of dangerously careless policing.

I wrote about a single case.  Glenn Reynolds has indicted the entire criminal justice system:

Here’s how things all-too-often work today: Law enforcement decides that a person is suspicious (or, possibly, just a political enemy). Upon investigation into every aspect of his/her life, they find possible violations of the law, often involving obscure, technical statutes that no one really knows. They then file a “kitchen-sink” indictment involving dozens, or even hundreds of charges, which the grand jury rubber stamps. The accused then must choose between a plea bargain, or the risk of a trial in which a jury might convict on one or two felony counts simply on a “where there’s smoke there must be fire” theory even if the evidence seems less than compelling.

This is why, in our current system, the vast majority of cases never go to trial, but end in plea bargains. And if being charged with a crime ultimately leads to a plea bargain, then it follows that the real action in the criminal justice system doesn’t happen at trial, as it does in most legal TV shows, but way before, at the time when prosecutors decide to bring charges. Because usually, once charges are brought, the defendant will wind up doing time for something.

The problem is that, although there’s lots of due process at trial — right to cross-examine, right to counsel, rules of evidence, and, of course, the jury itself, which the Framers of our Constitution thought the most important protection in criminal cases — there’s basically no due process at the stage when prosecutors decide to bring charges. Prosecutors who are out to “get” people have a free hand; prosecutors who want to give favored groups or individuals a pass have a free hand, too.

Please read Reynold’s entire article.  It’s an important one, especially because we live in a time when it’s become impossible to know what the law is.  Ours is not a society of “few rules but unbreakable.”  Instead, it’s a society of “many rules, mostly unknowable.”  If we get in the government’s cross hairs, the government can retrofit our seemingly innocent conduct to comport with some obscure rule or regulation . . . and then it nails us to the wall.

This is why the NSA spying is so terribly disturbing.  Between an accessible database of every bit of information about us, and an unknowable arsenal of laws that almost certainly touch upon things that all of us do or have done, we have a police state without brakes.

When I posted Reynold’s article on Facebook, a friend of mine who served in the Navy JAG back in the early 1980s noted that, when he was a military prosecutor, he and his team were barred from talking about “my” case or, after a successful prosecution, from saying “I won” or some variant of that.  The theory was that a prosecutor who became too personally invested in prosecution could essentially go rogue.  That was a good rule.  It doesn’t seem to apply anywhere any more, whether to military, federal, or state prosecutions.

Thoughts on racism and race in America

You’ve already heard, I’m sure, about Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran who was beaten to death by two black teenagers.  The police are assuring everyone that there’s no need to get worried, because this wasn’t a race crime.  Instead, it was Delbert’s own fault.  According to the police, when the boys tried to rob Delbert, he had the temerity to fight back, leaving them with no other option than to beat an old man to death.

A friend of mine noted that, using this reasoning, if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that the race-hustlers are correct and it was Zimmerman who started the fatal encounter with Trayvon, then Trayvon was responsible for his own death because he had the temerity to fight back by climbing on top of Zimmerman, raining punches on his face, and trying to turn Zimmerman’s head into Silly Putty by smashing it repeatedly into the pavement.  My friend is right, of course.

But I’ll add something else to the mix.  The police are desperate to avoid saying that the white on black crimes that are flooding the news lately arise because blacks are — gasp! — not merely racist in Obama’s hystically race-conscious America, but aggressively so.  They don’t want to admit that the aggressive focus on race that surrounded Obama’s election didn’t destroy forever the linger vestiges of racism in America — the presumed outcome of a nation open-minded enough to elect a black man to its highest office — but, in fact, created an aggressive form of black-on-white racism.

Here’s the problem:  the new black-on-white racial motivation, although disgusting, is an intellectually recognizable reason for vile conduct.  If you deny its existence, all you have left is the admission that American blacks have become feral.  That is, they’re not killing for political reasons; they’re killing because they have an animal’s blood-lust, without a human’s self-control, morality, or reasoning skills.

And so, let’s talk about two recent local news stories that the MSM is assiduously ignoring.

In Anderson, Indiana, a 17-year-old black teenager assaulted and raped a 93-year-old woman.  This is what Iquise Taylor did to Amelia Rudolf:

Police say the youth lived within in a block of the woman’s house. Investigators say he broke into her home by kicking in the back door and then sexually assaulted her.

The 93-year-old had been sleeping at the time and awoke to find the youth in her bedroom.

Apparently elderly white women are quite the hot commodity amongst the non-racist blacks, because a similar event occurred happened in Poughkeepsie, NY.  That’s where 99-year-old Fannie Gumbinger had the misfortune to cross paths with 20-year-old Javon Tyrek Rogers, a black man who is a career burglar.  Well, Mrs. Gumbinger didn’t actually cross paths with Rogers.  It was more a case of his entering her house and killing her.  Why would one kill a frail 99-year-old lady (and believe me, because of my Mom’s retirement home I know precisely how frail 99-year-old ladies are)?  Well, it wasn’t a “hate crime,” of course, because blacks don’t commit hate crimes.  That means, as Wolf Howling put it, that it was a “feral” act.

The race hustlers have repeatedly put themselves in the position of conceding that black Americans are feral, whether it’s because they say that Damian King couldn’t help trying to beat Reginald Denny to death in the wake of the Rodney King riots, because he was “caught him the rapture” of the moment; or the two teens who couldn’t help killing an 88-year-old because he fought back; or a 17-year-old who couldn’t control his lust for an 93-year-old woman (who his lust for power over a 93-year-old woman); or a 20-year-old who had to murder a 99-year-old lady who was interfering with his burglary; or the five young blacks who tortured a random white couple to death in such a horrible way that I can’t bear to right about it.  If these young black people (and they’re all young products of America’s thirty years of institutional Progressivism) acted without a motive, no matter how disgusting that motive was, then the only thing left is to concede that they are either evil incarnate, which argues a certain moral knowledge that the actor deliberately ignores, or that they are so inhuman that they have become like animals.

Even likening them to animals, though, seems to me to be too generous.  Animals kill to eat or to control territory.  Animals do not waste their energies, nor do they put themselves at risk, simply to indulge in blood lust.  That type of act is seen only in rabid animals that have been rendered insane through infection.

So what disease has affected our black underclass to the point at which it has parted ways with humanity and entered dimensions in which, normally, only infected animals dwell?  I leave you to think up your own instance.

Incidentally, I do not write this post as an overarching indictment of blacks, God forbid.  I am not a classic racist, in that I do not believe that one race genetically inferior to another race.  I recognize differences (skin color, musculature, bell curve spread over such traits as book-oriented intellectualism or physical stamina, etc), but I consider those differences virtuous, insofar as they provide a wonderful range of human abilities, with no one quality trumping any other — although there are times, whether through natural- or human-caused events, when certain traits may help one group survive better than another group.  I consider myself a “values-ist,” meaning that I judge people by their values, not their skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.

So if it’s not genetics, it must be culture — and black culture is Leftist culture or, rather, black culture is the victim of elitist Leftist culture.  It’s the Leftist ruling class, in government, in the media, and in education, taht thinks so little of blacks that these elites are content to accept that young blacks normally exist in a diseased, feral state, because it seems right and natural to the affluent Leftist eye.  If, Gaia forfend!, they concede that blacks are endowed with the same moral and intellectual abilities as whites, then these same elites must also concede that blacks do not need to be perpetually dependent upon the states for all their needs, a status that assumes racial inability.

Catharsis versus celebration — pictures of the corpse

If you’re not squeamish, you might want to wander over to Dan Riehl’s blog, where he has posted a very graphic picture that is alleged to be of Tamarlan Tsarnaev’s bloodied corpse, complete with a gaping hole in the side put there by doctors trying to save him (or, perhaps, to hasten the inevitable).

The picture’s interesting, but what’s more interesting is what the Boston police had to say about it:

The image of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, dead and naked on a slab, snapped by an unknown person, was e-mailed repeatedly by law enforcement officers Friday.

“Suspect 1” was written above the gruesome picture.

Seeing a photo of one of the Marathon bombing suspects dead was cathartic, said one law enforcement official who saw the picture.

Passing it around was a rare chance “to revel” while other officers searched for Tsarnaev’s brother, Dzhokhar, the official said. “Mission accomplished. We’re halfway there. Justice is served.”

I sympathize completely with the police.  They are experiencing the warriors’ subdued, albeit cathartic, pleasure in seeing dead someone who planted a bomb that, mere days before, killed three people and horribly wounded dozens of others, and who hours before had killed one of their own (correction:  killed two of their own).

In this regard, I believe that the police’s response, and their covert circulation amongst themselves of something that’s not quite a war trophy, but is a proof of success, is completely distinguishable from the Muslims in Gaza (a place that Boston liberals strongly support) who danced in the streets and handed out candy to celebrate the death of an 8-year-old boy among others.  Wildly, joyously celebrating an innocent’s death, even if the death occurs in what you perceive as a war, is barbaric.  There’s no other word for it.

A civilized nation will do what it needs to do to win a defensive war, but it never loses sight of its morality.  It mourns the innocents, even as it acknowledges that their deaths may be necessary.  Having said that, though, I think any law enforcement or military that has engaged in a fierce battle is entitled to have proof positive that its direct enemy — the one firing bullets and throw bombs at it — is actually dead.  That’s cathartic, not immoral or barbaric.

Yesterday, I blamed Obama for causing a problem; today, I echo Pamela Geller’s complaint that federal agencies are useless

My head is spinning.   I just wrote a post for Mr. Conservative based upon the most current news stories saying that an arrest had been made.  From the time of those stories to the time I published the post, it was about 10 minutes.  Within one minute after the post went up, all of the major news sites were recanting the story, saying a suspect had been identified, but not arrested.  (See here for an example of the swift turnaround in news reports.)  Breitbart has given up on specific headlines and just says “Chaos in Boston,” which is about as accurate as anything I’ve seen today.  CNN still has its stand-by fallback position, which is that it’s the Tea Party’s fault, while Fox reminds everyone that pressure cooker bombers are commonly used in such Islamic war places as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

That last point — about the differing CNN and Fox News stories — highlights one of the two truths we know with certainty amidst this swirl of rumors.  The first is that Obama lied through his teeth when he promised in 2008 that his election would heal divisions within America and that his presidency would further smooth the rift, once again creating a truly United States of America.  Instead, using his bully pulpit to demonize half of America (something no president has ever done before), Obama has deepened the rift between Blue and Red America to a point probably not seen since 1860.  Obama, therefore, is easy to blame for the bombing, because a truly united America would not be a good target for this type of attack, no matter who launched it.

The other thing we know with certainty is something that Pamela Geller highlights — we’re not getting any bang for the buck from the alphabet soup of federal law enforcement agencies we taxpayers support.  After commenting derisively on reports that law enforcement describes the terrorism attack investigation as “wide open,” and is begging media outlets to help, Geller points out how embarrassing this is:

This is where the status of the investigation is.  In Europe, and in Israel, whenever there is a terrorist attack, they have someone or some group in their sights or in custody every time.  Take 3/11 in Madrid, 7/7 in London, the Glasgow jihad plot — every jihad attack and jihad plot in Europe, European authorities are right on it, identifying and apprehending the perpetrators.  They know exactly who the bad guys are.  They know exactly where to go.  This is a historical first: that America is not dramatically ahead of the curve, but dramatically behind the curve.  So American citizens are now considered expendable, just the way our soldiers are in Afghanistan.

It should bother every American that Europe and Israel are so far ahead of us in intel that we’re begging CNN and Fox for clues — and apparently detaining people who have nothing to do with the bombing, raiding their homes, taking bagfuls of evidence out, and then saying, “Never mind.”

Really?  The billions that Americans spend for the CIA, FBI, DHS, NSA, JTTF, and all the other various counterterrorism agencies, and they don’t have a clue?  All they have for us is 1-800-CALL-FBI?  This is unconscionable.  If that’s where we are, disband these incompetent, inane agencies that call jihad “workplace violence” and name Atlas Shrugs as a “domestic hate group,” when in fact Atlas Shrugs is battling violence and mass murder across the world.  How did this happen eleven years after 9/11?

In 1995 (Oklahoma City) and 1998 (Atlanta), we didn’t have a multi-armed federal law enforcement infrastructure that, in return for tax dollars and vast, often unconstitutional powers, promised to keep us safe.  Just as Obama broke his promise to heal the rifts in American society, the federal alphabet soup has broken its promise to keep us safe and/or to bring wrongdoers quickly before the law.  Indeed, I seem to remember that it’s been more than half a year since the FBI jetted out to investigate what happened in Benghazi.  So far . . . nothing (although with Hillary screaming “what difference does it make,” investigators may have lost their momentum).

I guess we should all resign ourselves that for at least the next three years, the best we can hope for from our administration is “What difference does it make?”  Unless, of course, the difference is about emasculating our once robust Constitution.  But that’s another story for another post….

Islam — the prisoner’s friend (and not because it brings remorse, redemption, and amends)

In July 2006, I quoted my cousin, who was then working as a prison chaplain on prisoners’ conversions to Islam:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

Today, I’ll quote Robert Spencer on the fact that James Holmes (aka the Colorado gunman) has converted to Islam:

Holmes’s conversion reveals that instead of being unaware of what he did, or utterly remorseless, as one might expect of a psychotic or a sociopath, the murders must trouble him a great deal. For it is souls that are troubled — intellectually, morally, spiritually, psychologically — who cast about for some solution to what troubles them, and often find it in religious conversion.

But it is what Holmes converted to that is significant. Had Holmes converted to Christianity, he might have found relief for any remorse he might be feeling for the massacre in the proposition that in Christ his sins, no matter how great, were forgiven; if he had explored Buddhism, he might have focused upon developing right intention, right speech, and right action, and eradicating the illusions that led him to kill in the first place.

Instead, Holmes chose Islam. A prison source noted: “He has brainwashed himself into believing he was on his own personal jihad and that his victims were infidels.”

Exactly. Guns are merely the vehicles.  The driver is man and the evil that he embraces.

A country with too many laws is effectively a country without any laws

Traffic fine for going 2 miles below speed limit

Too many laws, or laws enforced arbitrarily, simply become a trap for the unwary. Such was the case for a Maryland woman driving on Interstate 95 in bad weather, with wind speeds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. Because the winds were ferociously buffeting her car, the woman (who remains anonymous) dropped her speed from the maximum limit of 65 MPH down to 63 MPH.

Little did the woman know that the easiest target for law enforcement is people who break the little laws, not the big ones. As far as one highway patrol officer was concerned, driving two MPH below the speed limit in the left (or fast) lane is going to get you a moving violation. Not just any violation, but (a) a fairly expensive one, coming in at $90; and (b) a black mark against the driver’s record for committing a moving violation.

The woman later told reporters that she was “really shocked.” Her first thought was, “Oh my God, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

The woman plans to fight the ticket and AAA is on her side. According to John Townsend, speaking on behalf of AAA Mid-Atlantic, the violation sends drivers “the wrong message.” Drivers should not have to cope with a police force that thinks “We will tolerate you driving at more than the speed limit, but if you drive below the speed limit then you’re penalized for that.”

Motorcycle officer writing ticket

Interestingly, those more concerned with convenience than reason, are applauding the officer who ticketed her, not for speeding, but for going a mere 2 MPH below the limit in the fast lane. Travis Okulski, who writes at the car blog Jalopnik, said

There are a lot of little things that annoy me on the roads. One is a slow driver in the left lane on the highway. Seems like that annoys Maryland cops too, because they just ticketed a woman for doing 63 in the fast lane in a 65 zone. Good for them.

[snip]

Of course, the AAA thinks the ticket is “silly” and “sends the wrong message.” It’s actually the opposite. The message it sends is 100 percent accurate. If you feel you need to slow down due to road conditions, feel free to do so. Just don’t do it in the left lane.

The problem with Okulski’s rant and the officer’s ticket is that both clearly violate Maryland land. The Maryland Transportation code section governing maximum speed limits says that “A driver may not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed that exceeds these limits.” The woman wasn’t exceeding the speed limit.

Maryland law also says that “A person may not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed that, with regard to the actual and potential dangers existing, is more than that which is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.” One of the reasons it may be prudent to slow down is “because of weather or highway conditions.” The woman slowed down slightly on account of inclement weather.

It’s true that Maryland law says that “a person may not willfully drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.” Considering, however, that the drivers in the fast lane are prohibited by law from going faster than 65 MPH, it’s doubtful whether the woman’s 2 MPH decrease in speed to accommodate weather conditions “impede[d] the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”

If the woman had been driving more than 5 MPH below the speed limit, on a clear day, both the officer and Okulski would have had a point. However, to the extent that 63 MPH is only 2 MPH below the maximum speed limit, the only conclusion one can draw from ticket is that the highway patrol is encouraging drivers to speed in the fast line – which, of course, violates the law.

And that’s the problem. There are so many rules, both spoken and unspoken, in today’s America, that it is impossible for people to avoid infractions that will lead to police action or a law suit. The same officer, on another day, can just as easily hand out a ticket to someone going 66 miles an hour in the fast lane. If people cannot know or understand the law, they will lose respect for the law and, eventually, break the law.

The effect of too many rules is the same as the effect of too few rules: anarchy, with government officials deciding what the law is at any given time.

(Written by Bookworm; first published at Mr. Conservative.)