The Bookworm Beat 6-6-15 — the “I’m still standing” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I’m sorry for the long silence, but to quote Granny Clampett, “I was just plumb tuckered out.” Between escalating work demands and the usual family demands, I haven’t had either spare energy or spare time. It was only two days ago that I stopped being in denial and accepted that, for the time being at least, I have a 3/4 time legal job that requires a heightened level of commitment and organization. (Incidentally, I’ve found that, for managing large projects, Microsoft’s One Note, when combined with a good calendaring program, is very helpful.) I still intend to blog, but I just need to buff up my time management skills a bit.

And that’s it for the excuses. On to the post itself:

It’s not such a wonderful life

Victor Davis Hanson has scored another home run with his post examining at Obama’s new world order as another Pottersville:

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Watcher’s Council forum on events in Baltimore

The following is how Watcher’s Council members and their friends view events in Baltimore. Good stuff, as always.  I’m embarrassed that I didn’t participate, but the forum is a weekend event and, all too often, my weekends are given over to family matters:

Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What’s Your Reaction To The Baltimore Police Being Criminally Charged?

Wolf Howling :I outlined the basic facts of the case here on my blog.

Three days prior to the arrest of Mr. Gray, a memo was sent through the Baltimore City Police Department mandating that suspects being placed into the police van be placed in a seat and secured with a seat belt. Mr. Gray was simply lain on the floor of the vehicle. Mr. Gray continued to complain and act agitated while in the van. At some point, and perhaps twice, he requested medical aid, which requests were ignored. Within 30 minutes, Mr. Gray was taken from the van by paramedics where he expired a week later as the result of an 80% severing of his spine at the neck. There were no other injuries to Mr. Gray. As Bookworm Room has pointed out, there is some basis to suspect that Mr. Gray’s reported prior exposure to lead may have left him particularly vulnerable to the type of injury that caused his death.

On 1 May, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that six Baltimore City Police officers have been arrested and charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Of the six officers, three are white, three are black, one is a woman. Two of the officers have been charged with crimes relating to wrongful arrest. Three others have additionally been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The driver of the police van has been charged with second degree murder.

So, on the facts above, what is my reaction to the police being criminally charged?

As a threshold matter, Freddie Gray deserves justice, period. That is beyond question. It will certainly mean civil damages for his death. Whether his death involved criminal wrongdoing such that others deserve punishment is a separate question. Equally, those involved in Freddie Gray’s death are entitled to justice. They need to be prosecuted to the degree to which they are culpable, and spared any punishment if they are not.

There is not enough information yet to say for certain if the ends of justice are being served by the arrests of these six officers. My initial reaction, and I dearly hope that I am wrong, is that a lot of this is nothing more than a sacrifice to the racial grievance industry. This is not a planted evidence case, nor a case of brutality by the arresting officers. If they wrongly arrested, that would, in the normal course, be a matter for internal discipline as well as open the officers up to civil suit. But now a wrongful arrest on these facts is being used, in at least three cases, to end careers and criminally prosecute police officers? It appears that all three of them are the white officers, by the way. That seems utterly outrageousjust on the facts available. Indeed, it seems a lynching, no less than that which happened to Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.

Likewise, charging three officers with involuntary manslaughter, just on the known facts and the lack of established policy regarding transport, seems as if it is quite a stretch. It is far less of a stretch to the extent the charge of involuntary manslaughter is based on failing to timely render aid, if such aid was requested and may have in fact saved Mr. Gray’s life. But it is not clear which evidence is being relied upon to support each charge against each individual.

Lastly, the driver of the police van, a black officer, has been charged with second degree murder. He, having sole custody of Mr. Gray from the time Mr. Gray was placed in the van until he was removed, injured, by paramedics, is likely at least guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That said, a charge of second degree murder, which requires some degree of intent or extreme recklessness, is likely an overcharge, just on the basis of the known facts.

So my reaction is mixed. At least one of the indictments – and perhaps as many as three – are or may well be warranted based on the available information. Several seem like nothing more than a lynching to satisfy the Al Sharpton wing of the left, who would dearly like to turn this into an indictment of racism and police brutality with which to, somehow, blame the right.

Baltimore City is a model of left wing urban governance and has been a social laboratory for nothing but left wing social policies for the past half century. The fact that Baltimore City, as well as its Police Department, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the left, and indeed, are led by minorities, is meaningless to the developing narrative. Already, Joan Walsh of Salon is tweeting that “there is no debate that tragically, black police officers often absorb the attitudes of their colleagues.” Shades of white Hispanics. The left will do anything to insure that whatever comes out of the Baltimore riots, it will not be a platform for rational discussion of the problems besetting Baltimore and inner city blacks. And if justice actually occurs in Baltimore — justice for Freddie Gray as well as the six officers — I am afraid it will be purely by accident.

 JoshuaPundit : I’m sorry…it must be my depraved sense of humor but listening to Marilyn Mosby announce the charges as the crowd reacted like someone had just gifted them all with big screens made me laugh almost as much  as the videos of ‘reporters’ getting beaten up and mugged and still describing their assailants as ‘protesters’  afterwards.

Mrs. Mosby is an elected official (as is her husband, Councilman Nick Mosby, who demanded  the Baltimore PD  ‘stand down’ as the rioting broke out) whose offices depend on the votes of a city that is 68% black whom mostly see this issue through a racial prism. Regardless of what color they are, the police, even black cops, are seen as the enemy. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake the mayor and president of the city council (both black) made of calling the rioters thugs and  then having to grovel and walk back their statements. The video of Baltimore Council president Jack Young appearing with a herd of Bloods and Crips toapologize and refer to the rioters as ‘misdirected youth’ makes me chuckle just thinking about it.

The sad part is the jobs that will be lost, the houses that were burned and the long miles people who live in the neighborhood  and were simply trying to work hard and keep things going  will have to travel to buy groceries or find a pharmacy thanks to these ‘misdirected youth.’ And imagine trying to sell a house here and move to a better neighborhood now.

State Attorney Mosby referred to the arrest as ‘illegal’ and used the term ‘false imprisonment’ in her remarks. OK,  but it seems to me that a number of the criminal charges involved are motivated by a political desire to appease the Mob and will be modified significantly later. And I understand that.

But what we have here, not to be harsh, was  a career criminal whose rap sheet included multiple arrests for things like burglary, assault and lots and lots of drug trafficking arrests.  As a matter of fact, Mr.Gray had an upcoming trial coming up this month based on a December arrest for  selling narcotics. He was a known drug dealer talking to someone on the streets in a fairly crime ridden area when he saw the police and took off running.

Chances are he was pursing his chosen career and realized that a fresh bust could affect his out on bail status, his coming trial and his chances of a plea bargain, so he simply went to try and dispose of his stash before he was caught.  Given his reputation, there was definite probable cause and since Baltimore, like many jurisdictions allows suspects to be held 72 hours before being charged,  I can’t see his his arrest as illegal since he could have been interrogated and the area could have been searched while he was in custody.

The main thing the police seem to be guilty of at this point is not securing Gray in a seat belt in accordance with a general order that came out 3 days before the incident,  and maybe  with getting him a medic in a timely manner. That could certainly be called  that negligence, but murder two? Among other things, the prosecutor will have to figure out some way to establish intent for that to stick.

Of course, if the trial’s held in Baltimore, the jury will be composed of those ‘protesters’ and their allies and will likely resemble a carbon copy of some of the old Jim Crow jurisprudence we keep hearing about.  Or if it’s held elsewhere and some or all of the police are acquitted, it can be used as more fuel for Seething Racial Grievance. So it’s a win-win either way if you take my meaning.

The Glittering Eye : think there’s been a rush to judgment. I understand the states attorney’s motives but whether because she’s inexperienced or ambitious or for whatever reason the theory of the case one would take from her public statements have painted her into a corner that will make it difficult to obtain convictions, particularly on the more serious charges. Note how many of the legal experts have pointed that out.

On the broader question the lynch mob mentality that has set in , not merely on the part of the demonstrators and rioters but on the part of the media and public officials is deeply concerning. We can only imagine the reaction that will occur if these officers are acquitted. That shouldn’t be the case. The presumption of innocence should always be paramount.

I don’t know what happened to Freddie Gray but neither do the demonstrators or the states attorney. We need to keep an open mind until we hear statements made under oath and read official statements on the forensic evidence. I’m beginning to fear for the republic.

Laura Rambeau Lee,  Right Reason : Maryland State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man who died, apparently after suffering lethal injuries while in their custody.

Her announcement came after a night of rioting, looting and violence that left the city reeling and seething in racial anger for several days. It appears to have been a rush to judgment on her part to alleviate the demands of the mob.

In a city with a large black population, black female mayor, and black prosecutor it kind of rings hollow to allege systemic racism is to blame. We should be looking at the Democratic social policies that have run the city for nearly half a century.

When a society makes it easier for people to live on welfare, food stamps and cheap housing than strive to better themselves, the result is another generation of Democrat voters to keep the free stuff coming. The left cries for more money, that not enough funds are going to help the poor. Baltimore has one of the highest amounts of education funding per child in the country. More money does not equate with a good education. No amount of money will help the people living in the poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, or any city for that matter.

This is not systemic racism. What we are seeing is systemic destruction of the family. The left is bent on destroying America by attacking traditional values, instilling feelings of entitlement for perceived grievances, withholding valuable education children need to better themselves, and making them believe they are victims in a country where opportunities do not exist for them.

As we have seen so many times before, it may just come out that the police are found innocent of the charges. What then? The left will never permit a real discussion on the issues facing poor black families in America. In reality, they are slaves to a system created to maintain and grow the power of the left.

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD : Marilyn Mosby delivered a clear message when she stepped in front of the cameras to announce charges against six Baltimore police officers at a surprisingly early stage in the investigation.

Mosby deftly framed the serious charges leveled against the officers in a seemingly political context. On one hand, she promised Freddie Gray’s family that she would fight ceaselessly to bring about justice in the case. At the same time, she made it clear that she is not the avenging angel of the African-American community. As in every constitutional democracy, one is considered innocent until proven guilty in the USA.

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, andyou won’t want to miss it.

And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

Stolen valor exposed right here in our own Marin County

Marine capAlmost five years ago, I wrote a post about 1st Lieutenant Gregory Allen, a retired United States Marine who ran a fitness center in San Rafael (part of Marin County), the purpose of which was to get young people ready for military boot camp. The City of San Rafael was trying to shut Allen’s gym down, and people who supported his mission sent out a flier seeking money to keep the gym open in spite of new fees that San Rafael was imposing on the gym.

In a twist no one could have expected five years ago, it turns out that there was no 1st Lieutenant Gregory Allen, USMC ret. Instead, there was stolen valor:

For more than a decade, “Lieutenant” Gregory Allen pumped up young military hopefuls at his gym in San Rafael, California. The bulky and bald-headed drill sergeant told war stories from his stint in Vietnam, collected donations, and even posed for photos in a U.S. Marines uniform with a Purple Heart and Bronze star.

The only problem: the Marine Corps says Allen, 67, never served. Now the wannabe jarhead is under investigation by the FBI and Department of Veterans Affairs for allegedly faking his entire military record.

The sham soldier’s fall from grace came last week, after one former Marine’s own detective work prompted the federal probe.

“He’s helping young people who want to join the Marine Corps, but he was doing it through lies and deception,” said James Brown, the watchdog who tipped off authorities.

There’s no doubt that Allen genuinely ran a gym and that the gym did mimic the training young people do at boot camp, especially Marine boot camp. Allen’s whole bio, though, was a lie through and through:

But Allen’s story publicly unraveled after a Bay Area TV reporter exposed his dubious military career Friday. He never served in the Marines or in Vietnam, and never received any medals, ABC 7 discovered through a records request.

Instead, the poser Marine enlisted in the Navy in 1968 but was discharged after eight months because of a knee injury that he sustained playing football prior to enlisting.

[snip]

Brown teamed up with [local ABC news reporter Dan] Noyes to investigate Allen. It all started when the sergeant major for the local Marines asked Brown if he knew who Allen was and why he was taking so much credit for helping young recruits.

Brown told The Daily Beast it wasn’t hard to poke holes in Allen’s story: pictures of the supposed lieutenant did the work for him. In one online photo, Allen stood next to the flag-draped casket of a fallen Marine, but the medals on Allen’s red Marines blazer were out of order. (This Marine was mentored by Allen, and later committed suicide while in the service, Brown said.)

“He’s got a combat action ribbon above the Purple Heart and Bronze Star,” said Brown, a board member of the Wine Country Marines. “Anyone fresh out of boot camp would have known that was wrong. Veterans look at ribbons as resumes.”

In some photographs, Allen donned a Marine Corps Rifle Marksman badge, while in others he had a Rifle Expert badge. But Brown says a Marine can’t be both once you’re a veteran. (“What you have qualified for when you get out of the service, is what you’ve got for life,” Brown said.)

Allen was also wearing a different number of ribbons in various photos.

The fake Marine couldn’t answer questions on the names of his boot camp, class or drill instructors, Brown said.

Adding to the pile of suspicion was the original name of Allen’s gym: “Fitness Boutique.” Brown says Allen transformed his business into a military-style stomping ground 10 years ago after fitness boot camps gained popularity.

Allen has a felony record to boot. He served a three-year prison sentence for violating a restraining order in 1997. According to the ABC7 report, Allen climbed to his wife’s bedroom window and threatened to cut her throat and shoot her.

Apparently Allen dreamed up the whole scam a decade ago in order to capitalize on the growing trend in fitness circles for “boot camp” style training.

Incidentally, Dan Noyes knows the real deal when he sees it: His son just turned down some serious water polo scholarships to enlist in the Marines. Grayson’s a great kid and I know he’ll do the Marines (and his family) proud.

The Bookworm Beat 4-6-15 — the nighttime edition and open thread

Woman writingMy work is done and there’s still twenty minutes to go before the family yields the TV to me. That can mean only one thing: a quick round-up. Yay!

Can the MSM stifle Ted Cruz?

One of the most frustrating things about being a conservative is that conservative politicians tend to be inarticulate. Part of this is because conservative ideas don’t yield easily to the hysterical bumper sticker politics that the Left favors. Part of it is that the media twists the message. And part of it is that the conservatives who get into politics seem to be tongue-tied.

I mention this because of a post Rod Dreher wrote after talking about RFRA to a deeply-closeted conservative law professor. It was the professor who made the point about the absence of a standard-bearer for conservative ideology:

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield [not the professor's real name], Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

“The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”

The one person who is emerging as an incredibly articulate spokesman for conservative thinking is Ted Cruz. He’s unafraid and, rather unusually for a man as academically brilliant as he is, capable of being pithy. Cruz can bring in the money quotation:

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[VIDEO] Bill Whittle on the rot at the heart of American politics

Hillary emails corruptionI always enjoy Bill Whittle’s videos.  He has a knack for describing social and political issues with tremendous clarity.  I’m convinced that ordinary Progressives (not the True Believers, but the knee-jerk voters), would change their views if they would make themselves watch a steady diet of Bill Whittle and Prager University videos.

This latest Bill Whittle video, however, is something special — which is why I emailed it to all of my local conservative friends and family.  In it, Whittle describes not just a particular bad act, but a particular mindset that goes to the heart of the contract between America and her government (a contract more commonly known as the Constitution).

As you watch the video, keep in mind that, while it’s directed at Hillary Clinton and the Democrat establishment from Obama on down, it’s also an indictment of Republican politicians who are complicit in this lawlessness in so many ways.  They too engage in it, profit from it, ignore it, strike deals with it, etc.

At least in the old days, members of the nobility could convince themselves that their blue blood meant being above the law.  Nowadays, though, American politicians truly seem to believe that getting elected is carte blanche for white-collar crime and political malfeasance.  And while it’s true that Republicans are less likely to commit these crimes (in part because Democrats are more likely to prosecute them in politically inspired witch hunts), the fact is that they all do it.

A RANT: Jon Stewart exemplifies why Obama is in the White House

Jon StewartBarack Obama is a desperately bad president. The economy is flabby and gaseous, unemployment is at historic highs; he pretends that radical Islamists don’t exist while castigating Christians for crimes 1,000 years old; he sits passively by as aggressors dedicated to subjugating human kind make tremendous strides in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and the form Soviet bloc; he actively works to give regional dominance to Iran, a nation at perpetual war with Israel and America, and one, moreover, that subscribes to am apocalyptic brand of Islam that encourages the faithful to bring about Armageddon; he’s brought racial divisions to lows last seen in the Jim Crow era; and that’s just the start of the list.

And yet the Left worships him, votes for him, and almost savagely supports his agenda. Part of this worship is because of ideological blinders. Having elevated him to god status, garden-variety Progressives cannot deny the central tenet of their faith.  Part of it is that a lot of his acolytes agree with his accomplishments to date and encourage his goals.

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An update on the self-defense trial in Marin County

Gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phoneJames Simon, the doctor who shot a man who followed him home, tried to pull into the doctor’s garage, and started storming the house, has pled “not guilty” to felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and negligently discharging a firearm. The judge also refunded him his $160,000 bail, finding that the 71-year-old doctor is not a flight risk.  Something interesting is going on here:  This is now the second Marin County Superior Court judge — let me repeat again “Marin County” — who seems to be taking a stand in favor of gun rights against the local prosecutor.

As those who have been following this story know, one Marin County judge also refused to indict Simon, believing that there was no case against him (i.e., the judge thus accepted Simon’s claim that he acted properly to defend himself and his wife). Dissatisfied with the judge’s ruling, the prosecutor, Edward Berberian, immediately convened a grand jury, and pushed through a new indictment:

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The Bookworm Beat 1/17/15 — Supplemental edition and Open Thread

Woman writingSince I wrote the preceding Bookworm Beat, two things showed up on my computer that I wanted to address.

You’re not brave if there’s no risk

In 2006, as part of Project 2,996, I wrote about New York Fire Fighter Brian Ahearn. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for the ghosts and traces of Lt. Ahearn, and ended up feeling as if I really knew the man who, despite a lovely and fulfilling life, bravely raced into a burning high rise hoping to rescue people from the destruction. Lt. Ahearn was never seen again. In my post about him, I thought a lot about his raw courage and it was this idea — this courage — that opened my post:

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Another law enforcement agency looks at violence and says “it’s the criminal’s fault, not ours”

Police lives matterSan Mateo County is a good Progressive county.  That’s why it was a surprise to find this angry post coming from its Deputy Sheriff’s Association regarding a police officer who was killed in Indianapolis. What set the Deputy Sheriff’s Association off was a local media story sympathetically recounting the killer’s problems, including the last line in the story, which says it was the police officer’s own fault that he died because he was doing is job by trying to deal with an armed career criminal.  I can’t find anything to disagree with in this Facebook post.  How about you?

I think that police departments across America are grappling with the ultimate values clash: Their “government union” identity, which hews Progressive, is clashing with their “law & order” identity, plus their “I want to go home alive” identity, both of which hew conservative.

Straight talk about Lena Dunham’s “rape” and the indignities of being black in America

film critics association arrivals 160111Political correctness demands that I agree with Lena Dunham that she was raped and that I agree with blacks, race hustlers, college students, and communists that the race problem in America is a white problem, not a black one.  To hell with political correctness.  I hereby pronounce myself unfettered, and am going with the truth as I see it — which is that young woman and American blacks need to own the problems about which they protest so vehemently — and that the situation won’t change until they change their behavior.

Here’s the truth about Lena Dunham: Lena Dunham was not raped. Lena Dunham was stupid.

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The Bookworm Beat 12/8/14 — Monday evening wrap-up and open thread

Woman writingNo time for an intro. I’ll just head straight for snark and links:
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