Friday, December 01, 2017

Awful Situation Made Worse

As of this moment, the US Senate probably is on the verge of approving a bill which, if enacted, may complete the trifecta of further shoving wealth upwards from the poor and the middle class, exploding the deficit, and sparking a recession.

The President of the United States has tweeted fake news videos from a "fringe British ultranationalist group," upsetting the relationship with arguably the USA's most important ally, which recognizes that framing the fight against radical Islamism as one of west vs. east or Christianity vs.Islam threatens the safety of European citizens.

The bad news is this post is not about either of those extraordinarily significant issues. The good news is that it is also not about sex, which has been the dominant news of the past six weeks in this nation.

Kate Steinle was killed in July 2015 with a Sig Sauer .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol, stolen from an apprently locked car of a US Bureau of Land Management ranger. The assailant was unconnected to the theft and may or may not have himself brought the weapon to the Pier 14 in San Francisco. It is not clear how the incident- which candidate Donald Trump exploited in his campaign for a border wall- occurred. As CBS News explained

Garcia Zarate said he found the stolen gun wrapped in a shirt under a chair on a pedestrian pier and that the weapon accidentally fired when he picked it up. The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway before it struck Steinle.

His attorneys say the ricochet showed the shooting was an accident. Much of the testimony during the trial has focused on ballistics experts...

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's difficult to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up.

(The prosecutor) painted a picture of a man who hid a firearm in his baggy clothes, went to a pier filled with tourists and whirled about on a stool for more than 20 minutes before shooting it at Steinle's back.

Zarate then threw the weapon, whose bullet may have traveled as much as 78 feet before striking the victim, into San Francisco Bay and ran away.

The understated spokesperson, Alex Bastian, for the District Attorney's Office stated "We will respect that decision... This is really about the Steinle family. Our hearts go out (to) them."

Words matter. I will accept the decision, much as I accept the statement of the D.A.'s office. But I will not respect it.

The defendant will not walk away unscathed because he was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon and ICE plans to pursue his removal from the country. However, Garcia was acquitted of first and second degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter.

The maximum sentence in California for involuntary manslaughter is four years of incarceration while for voluntary manslaughter it is eleven years in prison.

Never mind involuntary manslaughter.  The Shouse California Legal Group believes that according to California Penal Code 19 (a) PC, when an individual "intentionally kill(s) another person (without a legal excuse for doing so) or act(s) with a conscious disregard for human life," he has committed either murder or voluntary manslaughter.

Having not acted- according to California standards- with "malice aforethought," Garcia evidently was not guilty of murder.

But let's review. A man, who has committed drug crimes though no violent crime, has been deported five times for illegally entering the country and is awaiting deportation for the sixth time. He either took the gun to the scene or picked it up and somehow assumed it was- what- a football? a broom handle? a dildoe?

I wasn't on the jury, and so do not know all the facts. Nonetheless, most of us (evidently excluding members of the jury) are in possession of common sense, which  would have dictated a finding of guilty on the charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Predictably, Donald Trump already is trying to exploit the decision.   Little will be heard from the left, most of in thrall to immigration, even of the illegal kind, which is washed, dressed up, and trivialized as "undocumented."

The victim was the totally innocent, unsuspecting Kate Steinle. However, there also is a failure of the American political system, in which neither side of the argument- unconcerned about guns- can lay claim to making any more sense than did the jury. It's as if the political class and activists both buy the ridiculous "guns don't kill people, people kill people" trope.

For Donald Trump, the victim was killed by a Mexican, necessitating a border wall of perhaps tens of  billions of dollars, conflated by his supporters as justifying a war against Muslims. (With the big stories of the day, this will hopefully not provoke a major backlash from the right.) Many of his critics probably will view the killing as an accident coincidentally committed by an immigrant who might as well have merely forgotten his documents at home. Like the GOP Corporate Tax Cut Scam of 2017 or the President's war against the world, it was a  phenomenally tragic event and crime which will bring about nothing positive.

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