Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Blood Was Not White Or Black


In late February a local newscaster in Buffalo, NY led a report (video, below) with

Tonight 75-year-od Martin Gugino has now filed a civil lawsuit against the city, the mayor, and the two officers caught on video shoving him to the ground during a protest on the steps of city hall. Gugino's story and this video you see here made international headlines last June.



If only. If only the assault upon the old white man, who was acting in support of the black lives matter protests, had made headlines in the USA for more than one day we wouldn't have tweets similar to this:

Gugino is a white man who had no mental health issues. And the police nevertheless shoved him to the ground, and with "blood immediately leaking from his ear," he was ignored by several officers from Buffalo's Emergency Response Team walking past him.

 No one was killed and no one suffered permanent injury, as far as is known. However, in most situations police officers do not prioritize race in determining the level of force they should apply..The racial left refuses to acknowledge this and continues to suffer from a myopia which will have harmful political ramifications.

 


At Least He Wasn't A Racist


After the USA's latest expression of Second Amendment rights, in Indianapolis.Indiana, NBC News reports

A motive for the attack wasn't immediately clear, but a year ago, the shooter's mother said she feared he might be suicidal.

“In March 2020, the suspect’s mother contacted law enforcement to report he might try to" attempt "suicide by cop," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan, who runs the bureau's Indianapolis field office.

The phrase "suicide by cop" refers to a self-destructive person who intentionally draws the attention of police in hopes of a deadly confrontation.

"A shotgun was seized at his residence. Based on items observed in the suspect’s bedroom at that time, he was interviewed by the FBI in April 2020. No Racially Motivated Violent Extremism (RMVE) ideology was identified during the course of the assessment and no criminal violation was found," the statement said. "The shotgun was not returned to the suspect.”

Wait- what? Evidently, the agency dropped its investigation of 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole because neither a criminal violation nor a "racially motivated violent extremism (RMVE)" was identified.

If the FBI doesn't proceed simply because no criminal violation was found, that would be easily understood, though it does raise additional questions. However..... no "Racially Motivated Violent Extremism?"

That appears to mean that law enforcement went on its way because Hole's violent tendency was not motivated by racial hostility. It was irrelevant that the individual may have harbored great hostility with sophisticated plans to shoot a whole lot of people- only that his motivation was not racial.

A closer look at FBI policy adds detail. At a hearing of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in June, 2019, chairperson Jaime Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, explained

But now the FBI has collapsed these prior 10 specific categories into four combined categories. It now uses, one, racially motivated violent extremism, which we have been told is an umbrella term that combines the prior subcategories for white and black racially motivated extremism; two, antigovernment/antiauthority extremism; three, animal rights/ environmental extremism; and, four, abortion extremism.

Thus the FBI addresses violent extremism, which it divides into four categories, one of which is racially motivated violent extremism.  Hole did not threaten to commit violence motivated by racial bias. If only he had invoked a derogatory term for blacks, Latinos, immigrants, Latinos, ethnic Asians, or any other racial, religious, or ethnic group, action which might have derailed Thursday's attack may have been taken.

Nonetheless, the agency ultimately ignored the lethal  danger posed by an individualbecause racism was not a motivation.  There is a serious chance that Hole would not have shot up the FedEx facility if the FBI had believed it was its responsibility to investigate a violent person who might not have been a bigot.

We don't know whether Brandon Scott Hole was animated by racial animus when he went on a shooting rampage at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis. But that apparently was not what motivated him thirteen months ago. So the FBI let him go. Now there are eight people dead.



   




Thursday, April 15, 2021

"Mask Up"


The long-range forecast has changed. Once for sunny with pleasant termperatures, it is now more dire.

On April 13, Tucker Carlson remarked "if the vaccine is effect, there is no reason for people who have received the vaccine to wear masks or avoid physical contact. So maybe it doesn't work and they're simply not telling you that."

The next morning on CNN, Fauci struck back, maintaining Carlson's skepticism is "counter to the safety and health of the American public" and rhetorically asking "why would we not tell people if it doesn’t work?”

If the reports of the exchange are accurate, Fauci did not directly address the contradiction Carlson suggested, and that night he contended" like most Americans, we’re grateful for vaccines (and) we're not against it (vaccination) on principle."

Carlson then proceeded to question both the efficacy and safety of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. Whether or not Carlson's skepticism is warranted, it is clear that Dr. Fauci is unclear on whether masks will be the norm once herd immunity against this virus strain is reached.

In late February CNN's Dana Bash (seen at 9:31 of the video below), drawing upon her education at the finest university in the USA, asked Dr. Fauci

You and the President have suggested that we'll approach normality by the end of the years. What does "normal" mean? Do you think that Americans will still be wearing masks for a while in 2022?

Fauci responded

You know, I think it is possible that will be the case. I really think it depends on what you mean by normality.... If normality means exactly the way things were before we had this happen to us, I mean, I can't predict that. obviously, I think we're going to have a significant degree of normality beyond, what, the terrible burden that all of us have been through over the last year that as we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with the President completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality. It may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019 but it will be much, much better than what we are doing right now.

Fauci is laying the groundwork for an America that will look and feel much different that it did in 2019 but hoping that it does not feel that way to Americans.

He was noncommittal. Although the Administration touts at every opportunity the increasing number of people receiving one of the vaccines, Fauci would not even hold out a likelihood that in 2022- nine months from now and roughly 22 months before the danger of the coronavirus fully surfaced- that masks would be unnecessary.  He did not say even that they'd be unnecessary unless a variant emerges as a significant peril.

Yet, he insists on predicting "a signifcant digree of normality" and a situation "much, much better than what we are doing right now." 



“If the vaccine is effective," Carlson insisted, "there is no reason for people who have received the vaccine to wear masks." But Fauci- and President Biden- are reasonably confident of the vaccine's effectiveness. However, they anticipate that wearing a mask will prove (necessarily, in their minds) to be either a semi-permanent or recurring practice.

If the risk of contracting a coronavirus declines even minimally, Fauci and the President will not deter "reopening" of the economy. It's good for the bottom line and will help keep Republicans off their backs.

Restaurants, even bars, will get the green light because commerce will be encouraged. Patrons officially will be requred to  keep their masks on except when eating or drinking, a condition few will comply with. Still, masks will be encouraged, perhaps even mandated, for offices, drugstores, supermarkets, home improvement stores, and the like.

Consequently, Dr. Fauci predicts a great deal of normalcy while he does not evince any concern for people wearing masks into the third year of a pandemic. Hence, there is the opaque phrase "may or may not be precisely the way it was in November of 2019." With support of the President, he is setting people up for accepting a lifestyle that will include masks while business and pleasure proceed apace.

If this p;ans out, ultimately there will be a backlash from individuals mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore. While Anthony Fauci's disposition is sunny (or at least pleasing) his hazy forecast is for clouds with a better than 50% chance of heavy rain.





Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Power In The Cause Of Prejudice


On April 12, I argued that Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center, MN police department erred in concluding before investigation that the killing by Daunte Wright by a police officer was an "accidental discharge."  However, I noted also that Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot acted reprehensibly in recommending that the police officer, later identified as Kimberly Potter, be fired.

Left unsaid, though implied by criticism of one man for a premature observation and another for premature verdict and sentencing, was praise for the town's city manager He had responded to a question at the city's news conference on Monday by first stating

My name is Kurt Boganey, B-O-G-A-N-E-Y. And in response to the question about termination, all employees working for the city of Brooklyn Center are entitled to due process with respect to discipline. This employee will receive due process. And that’s really all that I can say today.

"Due process." What a novel concept! It shouldn't be controversial but is in many quarters today. Boganey remarked additionally

we are providing reports to the city council about officer discipline, about information on staffs of black and brown people, or people of color in the city of Brooklyn Center. We are developing some task forces to assess if any of our policies or if any of our practices lead to disproportionate inequitable results. our objective for doing that analysis is to eliminate any inequity that occurs as a result of our practices and our policies. That has been communicated to the chief and to the police officers or the city of Brooklyn Center.

In the old days of the previous decade, that was commonly called "pro-active" until people realized how awful that term was. Nonetheless (or "further"), it seems to be a rather progressive approach to policing: gather information; address possible inequity; communicate with the police department and city officials.

Boganey also replied to one question "I can't make that judgement" and to another, "I can't speculate." Given that many facts were not yet determined and the officer had not yet been interviewed, those remarks were not only fair but prudent.

Of course, that meant he had to go.  Open minds make some politicians uncomfortable and can inhibit the formation and spread of bias. Monday evening we learned that Brookly Center

now has a new city manager and — at least temporarily — a new de facto leader of the police department after a city council vote that granted the mayor “command authority” over the agency.

The overhaul is likely to give Mayor Mike Elliott the power to fire the police chief and police officers, one legal expert told The Washington Post.

“At such a tough time, this will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” Elliott wrote after the motion passed by a 3-to-2 vote. Elliott, who by law serves on the council, and two other members voted in the affirmative.

The police chief "resigned" the following day. Brooklyn Center did have a chain of command and leadership, the latter unfortunately seized by a narrow-minded mayor. It now is turning over a dangerous amount of power to one official, who was discomfited by the professional leadership offered by its city manager, who valued facts over bias.  Given today's climate, that may not be surprising.  And that's the problem.


 



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

No, It's Not "No"


Twitter is where stupidity goes to thrive and proliferate. The same is true for much of social media but I'm on Twitter, so following the most recent shooting (fatal in this case) of a black man by police, there is this:

 

Mr. Tache's self-description is "My family is LGBTQ, Black, Latinx, white, immigrant, indigenous." Thus, even though his son is black, Tache himself may not be. Nonetheless, I'll assume, as he probably wishes readers do, that he is black. This eliminates that one obvious question but leaves several others, asked in no particular order, including:

 

  • What neighborhood does this individual live in?  Sate, dangerous, or not clearly either? Is it close-knit, one in which residents regularly communicate with each other?
  • Is the neighborhood well-patrolled or ignored by police?
  • What is the individual's standing in the neighborhood? (He might be well-respected, secretly despised, a newcomer thus slightly more at-risk, or none of the above.)
  • How old and big is the fellow? (Age and size might affect his degree of vulnerability.)
  • What kind of dog will he be walking? (If I were intent on assaulting an individual and see him walking a Doberman Pinscher, well, I'll take a pass.)
  • What time of day (or night) would he be walking the dog? Similarly, what is the weather like and will the street be deserted, filled with other respectable individuals, or filled with disreputable individuals? 


If Mr. Tache is concerned only with the possibility of attack by police, then: congratulations! He lives in a safe neighborhood. If this is his only concern about walking the dog, then he should- won't, but should- be interested in recognizing the response to protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota which

began Sunday, the day 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed in what the police chief described as an accidental shooting following a traffic stop. The officer who shot Wright, identified by authorities as Kim Potter, has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She has been placed on administrative leave.

Police fired tear gas and stun guns to disperse Monday night's demonstrators who were defying a curfew, while protesters threw "bottles, fireworks, bricks and other projectiles at public safety officials," according to a tweet from Operation Safety Net. The operation is a joint effort of local agencies to ensure public safety during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer facing charges in the death of George Floyd, being held around 10 miles away.



Defying a curfew, the demonstrators were subject to arrest. Some reportedly threw bottles, fireworks, bricks and other projectiles at law enforcement personnel. They were calling for the head- figuratively, I think- of a police officer, who is the colleague, and in a few cases the friend, of those same law enforcement personnel.

Although a few in the crowd may have been attacked in some way by police, we know of none for now. And as far we know, the number of protestors, many of them black, who were injured or even hurt by police, appears to be a number less than 1. Mr. Tache has his answer.




Monday, April 12, 2021

Mayor Issues His Verdict


Stacey Elizabeth Plaskett served as one of the managers at the second impeachment trial in the USA Senate of Donald J. Trump. A member of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives, Plaskett represents the US Virgin Islands and is a delegate, thus officially "Delegate Plaskett" rather than "Representative Plaskett." Still, she is right:

 



Star System



On March 9 we learned from the Miami (South Florida) Sun Sentinel that then-Miami Heat big man Meyers Leonard, not a household name, had

issued an apology Tuesday evening about the slur, saying he was unaware of “how offensive it is to the Jewish community.”

On the video, Leonard can be heard saying, “F------ cowards, don’t f------ snipe at me you f------ k--- b----.”

The anti-Semitic slur was uttered in the middle of the two profanities amid video-game play of Call of Duty, a war-simulation online game.

Leonard issued a statement on Instagram several hours after his comments came to light.

“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” the statement issued opened. “While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.

"I was just wrong" are the words of a genuine apology. Despite- or perhaps because- of that, as Bill Maher explained (at 37:10 of a video no longer available) Friday on Real Time

I mean, before the day was out- banned.  fined by the NBA and trded. I mean- and then they're making him- of course, the groveling apology and then he's meeting with rabbis, Holocaust survivors. Do we have to drag the Holocaust into this- really, Passover? He goes on, has to go on Zoom in front of college kids so they can yell at him. Does everything have to be a summary excutionin America? What happened to just accepting the apology?

Why merely accept the apology when getting the offender to grovel is so much more satisfying? A moment later, Maher would add  "But the reason it's important to talk about it- the reason it's important- would they have done it if it was the star of the team?" Guest Heather McGhee apparently thought the team would have, for she responded  "probably more, right, I would have heard about it if he was the star of the team, right?" Maher responded to the response with

But there could be a big name NBA player, somebody, anybody who didn't understand this term or used it in a fit of anger and regretted it. Would they have suspended him? I don't think so.

We have a pretty good idea if they would have because a somewhat similar incident occurred in December 2018 when we learned

After talking with Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, the NBA will take no action in the aftermath of his social media post of a song lyric that referenced "Jewish money," a league source told ESPN on Monday.

The league office accepted his explanation that he made a mistake, a source said.

James had been quoting the song "ASMR" by the performer 21 Savage on Saturday, typing the lyrics "We been getting that Jewish money. Everything is Kosher" onto a public Instagram account with 45.9 million followers.

After the Lakers' 107-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin, "Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone. That's not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That's what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So, I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn't through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody."

LeBron James, as anyone on planet Earth (and possibly elsewhere) knows, was (and arguably still is) both the face of the National Basketball Association and its best player. On anyone's list, James is one of the ten greatest non-centers in league history and one of the five greatest on most lists.

And what did James do in response to being asked about his demonstration of anti-Semitism? He issued an apology so lame, so transparently insincere, that it was an insult to lame, insincere apologies. He might well have said "Yea, sure, O.K., if for some reason someone was offended but, hey, that's me. Take it or leave it."

The NBA, obviously, took it.  LeBron James was not fined, has since won a championship with the Lakers, is due to be paid over $39 million this season, over $41 million next season, and over $44 million the following season. Not bad for an anti-Semite.

I might be the last person to deny that James' behavior was tolerated in part because he rejected the option of an apology in favor of the classic "I apologize although I did nothing wrong." However, it would be violating the law of parsimony to argue that the primary reason he was not penalized, with the incident forgiven and forgotten, was because he refused to admit error.

In all likelihood, the  National Basketball Association chose to give LeBron James a pass largely because he is LeBron James.  In a league in which player is valued over team and superstar celebrated over mediocrity, James, and is, someone the league will appease at every turn. Thus, when Bill Maher remarked if "a big name NBA player" had done this, "Would they have suspended him? I don't think so," he nailed it.

 


Saturday, April 10, 2021


Before Matt Gaetz, there was George Costanza. CNN on April Fools' Day reported

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican being investigated by the Justice Department over sex trafficking allegations, made a name for himself when he arrived on Capitol Hill as a conservative firebrand on TV and staunch defender of then-President Donald Trump. Behind the scenes, Gaetz gained a reputation in Congress over his relationships with women and bragging about his sexual escapades to his colleagues, multiple sources told CNN.

Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.

"It was a point of pride," one of the sources said of Gaetz.

There's no indication these pictures are connected to the DOJ investigation.

There's no indication these pictures are connected to the DOJ investigation. So is that (it) wrong? It is unlikely any selfies were taken of Gaetz showing the pictures and therefore there is no smoking gun and the allegations probably never will be proven.

However, it should be a firing offense, though by the time the Gaetz saga is played out, he likely will be indicted and the "nude women he had slept with... while on the House floor" will become no less a footnote than a dangling participle.

Nonetheless, as an example of "not satisfactory" or "needs further improvement" of job performance, it ought to bring to mind an old Seinfeld episode, which George Costanza describes beginning at :58 of the video below:

My favorite George line. I can't remember the name of the episode. It might have been the red dot, with the red dot on the seater. But it was when George was working at Pendant Publishing and he was having sexual relations with the cleaning woman in his office and gets called- he gets called into the boss; office played by Richard Fancy and Richard did a great job of the tee up, where he's really not quite looking at me and goes "George, it's come to my attention that you've been having sex on the desk of your office with the cleaning woman."

Now of all the things that George could have said- all of the potioential lies- I mean you know you're dealing with Larry David so the things that he could have come up with are innumerable but what they wrote for me was "Was that wrong? Should I not have done that 'cause I got to tell you, I've worked in a lot of offices and that kind of thing goes on all the time. If anyone had said to me when I started here that that was frowned upon..."



Life does not exactly imitate art. "Was that wrong" was brilliantly funny but tactically foolish. It's more effective, as Gaetz has done, to deny, deny, deny.  But both acts took place in the workplace- Costanza with the cleaning woman and Gaetz (allegedly) with male colleagues at his workplace, as he (allegedly) tastlessly and crudely flaunted his sexual exploits.

Moreover, one was appropriately fired and the other should be fired by his constituents, if it must come to that. But given that the operative auxiliary verb is "should" rather than "will," let's hope Matt Gaetz doesn't escape the clutches of the penal system for the illegal acts he (allegedly) committed.


 



Friday, April 09, 2021

The Name Of The Game Is Control


Althought Tucker Carlson often is slammed as a "racist," his commentaries are less often informed by racial bias that partisanship.

Carlson is funamentally hyper-partisan; not compared to Sean Hannity or even Laura Ingraham, yet far more than allowed by the image of one dedicated to standing up for the beleagured white majority. On April 8, he remarked

.... where the government shows preference to people who have shown absolute contempt for our customs, our laws, our system itself and they're being treated better than American citizens. Now I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement"; if you sugggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that's what's happening actually. Let's just say it- that's true.

With few exceptions, the only people using the term "replacement" are the people who are complaining that people are using the term "replacement." Unfortunately, he continues

If this was happening in your home, if you were in the sixth grade, for example, and if without telling you, your kid- your parents adopted a bunch of new siblings and gave them brand new bikes and let them stay up later and helped them with their homework and gave them twice the allowance they gave you, you would say to your siblings "I think we're being replaced by, by kids that our parents love more. And it would be kind of hard to argue against you because look at the evidence.

I don't know what preceded or followed this rant. However, the supporters of immigration rights are not advocating that immigrants be granted increased rights, privileges, or new bikes but a path to citizenship, which would render them eligible for the same- not increased- benefits as others. Some recommend mere legalization (against which I've vociferously argued). At the extreme, in a few jurisdictions (such as California), privileges already conferred upon citizens and legal immigrants are being conferred upon illegal immigrants.

But now Tucker finally gets to the real issue when he maintains

So this matters on a bunch of different levels but on the most basic level it's a voting rights question. In a democracy, one person equals one vote.

Well, no, it doesn't, in part because this is a republic, not a democracy. In 2018, Democrats failed to gain control of the lower legislative chambers in three states while winning a majority of votes statewide. One of those states  was North Carolina, in which Republicans won 10 of 13 seats in the US House despite losing the statewide vote

Over in the other federal chamber, North Dakota has 770,000 residents and two Senators while South Dakota has 897,000 residents and two Senators. They are granted four senators, reliably Republican and conservative, for 1,667,000 individuals. California has nearly 40 million residents and two Senators, fairly reliably Democratic. Thus, there is one Senator for every 416,750 individuals in the Dakotas and one for every 19,806,750 individuals in California. If it's one man, one vote in the Dakotas, it's 47 men, one vote in California.

And then there is the race for the presidency, in which the Democratic nominee won the popular vote in 2000 and 2016 but lost in the Electoral College, leaving the nation with two individuals who turned out to be disastrous presidents.

Still, Carlson continues with

If you change the population, you dilute the political pwer of the people that live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter. So I don't understand, what you don't understand, is everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it and ooh, the white replace theory- no, no, no. This is a voting rights question. I have less political power because they are importing a brand new electorate. Why shouldn't I sit back and take that? The power that I have as an American guaranteed at birth is one man, one vote and they're diluting that.  No, they're not allowed to do that. Why are we putting up with this?

Now people are imported goods who don't come to this country to escape tyranny or extreme poverty and hunger but because "they (presumably Democrats) import a new voter" continuosly.   Carlson won't tell his audience that these imports can vote only once they go through the arduous process of becoming a citizen, a full-fledged American because it would disabuse it of the ignorance he depends upon.

Voting rights is an issue, the main (if not only) issue uniting the party pols with the party faithful. Ingrained in GOP voters is the myth that once an immigrant, legal or illegal, enters the country, he or she gets to vote. Do not pass go; just vote. Thus, most of those voters want immigrants to stay put in their native countries while most of the party's officeholders and office seekers are fine with immigrants coming as long as they don't gain citizenship, thus the right to vote. 

Many Republicans believe, as Tucker is claiming, that every immigrant who votes further disenfranchises him and others like him. But they are not being disenfranchised. They are competing with other Americans and, in some instances, actually cooperating with them in electing a Republican to office. 

The electorate always is changing. Carlson rails against a "brand new electorate," though every individual of every ethnic group becomes a new part of the electorate once he or she turns 18 and registers to vote (which should be made far easier).

The Republican Party could compete for these voters but for the most part chooses not to do so. Competition is the key, just as the left should compete in the marketplace of ideas rather than trying to shut down Carlson or other right-wing voices.  If you wish, however it might annoy persuadable voters, call Tucker Carlson "anti-semitic, racist, and toxic" or a "white supremacist" with "a hood or swastika."  Surely, his appeal is not to brotherhood or a generosity of spirit.  Nonetheless, his aim is not to bring back the Ku Klux Klan but to shrink the electorate for eletoral gain. It is less for racial hegemony than for Republican hegemony.

 



Thursday, April 08, 2021

Judge, Jury, And Executioner



Our criminal justice system has a serious problem- bias and the blind biases resulting from the bias. Presumably sporting a straight face, ladies and gentleman, a prime-time host on MSNBC:

 

As Reid notes, "I ate too many drugs" truly is a very unusual thing to say. However, opposing  "the defense is trying to build its case on smearing George Floyd" suggests she misunderstands the fundamental nature of our jury system.

It's unclear what defense Reid would find legitimate.  Derek Chauvin was killed and someone is responsible. The defense must argue that he is not primarily responsible for the victim's demise and could blame it on Floyd's neighbor, or the victim's mother, or on Joy Ann-Reid herself. Given that none was present at the scene or in any way connected to the incident, that defense would be as implausible as it is silly.

Denying Chauvin the right to hold responsible for the victim's death someone other than the defendant himself is effectively to deny the right to a fair trial.  Notwithstanding the preference of Reid and the not-insignificant number of people who agree with her, the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution mandates "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial  by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed."  The right to a fair trial is undermined in the absence of an impartial jury.

Last week, Democracy Now's Amy Goodman had as a guest Nekima Levy Armstong following an article she had wriitten on the BET website, which quite remarkably referred to her as a "civil rights attorney." This "civil rights attorney," hostile toward the civil rights of the accused, remarks in "A GuiltyVerdict For Derek Chauvin Is The Only Justice Acceptable For George Floyd"

We have had to sit through the jury selection process, which has reinforced the notion that the justice system is inherently unfair. We watched as Juror No. 76, a Black male elder who had previously served in the military and who lived just blocks away from where Floyd was killed, was summarily dismissed from the jury pool after answering questions truthfully about his negative experiences with police. Juror No. 76 talked about experiencing racism and his concerns that killer cops have been allowed to go free. He said that maybe if he was in the courtroom during the trial, he would be able to figure out why that was the case. Juror No. 76 was arguably the most qualified person to serve on the jury, given his lived experiences that were akin to Floyd’s experiences as a Black man living in Minneapolis. Yet, we saw the system fail us again by treating Juror No. 76 as if his perspective and real-world experiences did not matter. 

The constitutional demand for an impartial jury runs counter to Armstrong's demand for a jury pool experienced in racism, in "killer cops," and in "experiences that were akin to Floyd's experiences as a black man," which are presumably horrifying. Goodman wants not individuals who have had experiences with police, but ones she specifies as negative. Those who believe they have benefitted from police protection need not apply.

Obviously- to individuals who have not determined, ahead of the evidence, the only legitimate outcome-  any experience which might compromise the individual's objectivity does not immediately qualifiy him or her as the ideal juror. 

Imagine a white juror hearing a case in which the defendant is a black male charged with murder.  The juror may be concerned with insufficient protection in her community from crime or with black men having been "let off" with probation instead of being incarcerated for serious crimes.  This juror may have one or more run-ins with black men in the community or blame conditions in her neighborhood on African-Americans.She may even have been turned down for a job which went to a black man and believed, justifiably or not, that she was the victim of racial discrimination.  

In those situations, the juror has "perspective and real-world experiences," which Good man believes qualifies the individual- if he or she is black. However, there is a prohibition on excluding jurors by race, and valuing these experiences likely would produce a jury hostile to a black defendant. The door swings both ways.

In the voir dire, Chauvin's defense team was able to strike as jurors individuals it believed would be prejudiced against its client; the prosecution did the same for potential jurors it believed would be biased in favor of the police officer. Zealous protection of constitutional rights benefits all Americans, minorities especially.

Here in the USA, we prefer the jury to be impartial, even to the extent that we utilize citizen juries, ones in which the jurors often have little experience with anything approaching the crime or criminal suspect being tried.  We practically encourage ignorance.

That preference would be reversed if we instituted a system of professional juries, in which all jurors would recognize the right of a defendant to present a vigorous defense and would evaluate evidence in context, informed by their professional and personal experience. 

Objectivity of the individuals would be safeguarded by a rigorous screening process. However, Armstrong maintains "specifically in Minnesota, in spite of the odds, we are demanding, seeking and expecting a 2nd degree murder and manslaughter conviction against Derek Chauvin." 

For those keeping score at home: that's a "civil rights" lawyer demanding a specific outcome from a jury. If able, I would challenge Nekima Levy Armstrong and Joy Ann-Reid to advocate objective, professional juries.  I'm guessing I could safely call their bluff.



 

 


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

And He Says It With A Straight Face


 OMG @therecount! Can't make this shit up



Senate Minority Leader (and how nice it is to say the middle word) Mitch McConnell says "and I found it completely discouraging to find a bunch of corporate CEO's getting in the middle of politics.  My advice to the corporate CEO's of America is to stay out of politics." One tweeter appropriately snarked "...except when you contribute to my reelection fund to a tune of $4.3M over 5 years.  Thank you.  Otherwise stay out."

He was remarking narrowly about corporate contributions to the Minority Leader but could have been speaking (and probably was thinking) broadly about McConnell's role in lending a bullhorn to corporations to control American politics.  Last September, a columnist for The Michigan Daily explained that McConnell

has collected millions of dollars in speaking fees, personal gifts and campaign contributions from his “special friends” at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Then, inconspicuously, the senator filibustered several tobacco regulation bills and cast doubt on the negative health effects of secondhand smoke. This trend set McConnell on a direct collision course with another prominent Republican figure: the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The two warred over campaign finance reform for years with McCain partnering with Democrat Russ Feingold to create the McCain-Feingold BCRA in 2001. After introducing the bill several times and having it filibustered time and again by McConnell, the pair finally passed the bill with the bare minimum 60 votes in 2002. However, McConnell, ever the snapping tortoise, sued the Federal Election Commission based on constitutional grounds.

This case became McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, in which McConnell's attorneys filed an amicus curiae brief and for which in 2003 the Supreme Court

largely upheld the BCRA's limits on "soft money" and electioneering communications, but overturned its ban on party committees making "both coordinated and independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate after that candidate's general election nomination." As a result of the ruling, parties were no longer required to choose between one or the other. Upholding the First Amendment rights of minors, the Court overturned the BCRA's restrictions on contributions from individuals under the age of 18.

That decision in turn paved the way for the Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which "overturned election spending restrictions that date back more than 100years" and invited an explosion of dark money in politics.

We now have a system Mitch McConnell fought for, has supported, and has thrived in.  So when the Senate Minority Leader advises corporate bosses to stay out of politics, the nod and the wink is understood by everyone.

 


Monday, April 05, 2021

Reputation Laundering


Go easy on Michael Cohen. As a con man in his previous life, he himself was an easy mark. He can be heard on this portion of a podcast remarking

I was involved in the raising of millions of dollars-many millions of dollars. And this wasw with Eric Trump, by the way, whith his eric Trump Foundation, which solely benefitted St. Jude's hospital. And that's just to name a few.

After he was briefly interrupted, Cohen continued

Look, there are many things that we can say about him, and they're all true . But anybody that raises, or helps to raise, millions of dollars for children with cancer- I'll give him a pass on that. I don't give him a pass on anything else. But that part I'm going to give him a pass on.

The voice off-cameria is heard explaining that such apparent charity

launders your reputation. It allows you to have cover in business, in politics, and in whatever area of life you go on. And then on an infinitely grander scale your father becomes President and whatever happens to health care funding, to hospitals, whatever happens to any number of aspects of our system where, yet again, you raised a couple of million dollars for someone, now there's billions of dollars fewer in expenditures on any number of good causes, right.

So we have to get a lot smarter about generosity not being a substitute for justice, about philanthropy not being a substitute for actually being a good person and, kind of, personal kindness not being a substitute for systemic kindness.


Nonetheless, even this charitable behavior was part of the Donald J. Trump criminal enterprise. Forbes described an event at Trump National Golf Course in Westchester, NY in September of 2016 in which "the real star of the day" was

Eric Trump, the president's second son and now the co-head of the Trump Organization, who has hosted this event for ten years on behalf of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. He's done a ton of good: To date, he's directed more than $11 million there, the vast majority of it via this annual golf event. He has also helped raise another $5 million through events with other organizations....

In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it's clear that the course wasn't free--that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Forbes found that the Donald J. Trump Foundation

apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

All of this seems to defy federal tax rules and state laws that ban self-dealing and misleading donors. It also raises larger questions about the Trump family dynamics and whether Eric and his brother, Don Jr., can be truly independent of their father.

Especially since the person who specifically commanded that the for-profit Trump Organization start billing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the nonprofit Eric Trump Foundation, according to two people directly involved, was none other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump....

The Donald J. Trump Foundation famously acted like an arm of the overall business, using the charity's money to settle a Trump business lawsuit, make a political donation and even purchase expensive portraits of its namesake. Meanwhile, Trump businesses billed the Trump campaign, fueled by small outside donors, more than $11 million to use his properties, chefs and private aircraft.

In October of 2020 David Farenthold and three of his colleagues at The Washington Post revealed

Since his first month in office, Trump has used his power to direct millions from U.S. taxpayers — and from his political supporters — into his own businesses. The Washington Post has sought to compile examples of this spending through open records requests and a lawsuit.

In all, he has received at least $8.1 million from these two sources since he took office, those documents and publicly available records show.

The president brought taxpayer money to his businesses simply by bringing himself. He’s visited his hotels and clubs more than 280 times now, making them a familiar backdrop for his presidency. And in doing so, he has turned those properties into magnets for GOP events, including glitzy fundraisers for his own reelection campaign, where big donors go to see and be seen....

Since 2017, Trump’s company has charged taxpayers for hotel rooms, ballrooms, cottages, rental houses, golf carts, votive candles, floating candles, candelabras, furniture moving, resort fees, decorative palm trees, strip steak, chocolate cake, breakfast buffets, $88 bottles of wine and $1,000 worth of liquor for White House aides. And water.

Since Trump took office, his company has been paid at least $2.5 million by the U.S. government, according to documents obtained by The Post.

In addition, Trump’s campaign and fundraising committee paid $5.6 million to his companies since his inauguration in January 2017. Those payments — turning campaign donations into private revenue — continued even this year, as Trump fell behind in polls and his campaign ran short of money.

There was nothing President Trump wouldn't monetize, nothing he would balk at turning into a money-making opportunity with the bonus that he would be cheating and manipulating Americans- and if illegal, all the better. However, the Trump experience also should remind us that personal charity pales in importance to systemic or institutional assistance, easily forgotten in the Go Fund Me age.


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Sunday, April 04, 2021

Or Try "Yes, We Can"


Donald Trump and Dr. Jill Biden have something- other than neither being over 6'0"- in common.

"I love the poorly educated," declared Trump after winning the GOP primary in Nevada in 2016.  He continued to roll up big numbers among lesser-educated voters despite- or perhaps because- he declared his patronizing attitude toward them.

Even more famously, Trump once boasted "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters." thereby assuring his people that he realized they are idiots.

Although Trump was the king of stupid utterances, the practice is bipartisan. On Wednesday, Jill Biden spoke at a gathering of farmworkers in California to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, so named for the late, great labor activist. As reported

While delivering remarks to the socially distanced crowd, Biden first noted that Chávez “understood that no matter the obstacles, when people come together united in a cause, anything is possible.

“Yes we can. Sí se puede,” she continued.

Later, while closing her speech, Biden said enthusiastically, “So say it with me, ‘Sí se pwaud-way,’ the future is ours. Thank you.”

She then waved as she walked away from the microphone, being met with light applause as she and Newsom began to depart the stage.

“Sí se puede,” which roughly translates to “Yes we can,” was popularized by Chávez and his United Farm Workers, which used the phrase as a motto in the 1970s.



It's not as if the expression lay dormant since the 1970s. Barack Obama revived it in his first presidential campaign, when

“Yes we can” defined his most famous 2008 speeches in New Hampshire and in Chicago’s Grant Park, and was chanted at political rallies nationwide. It appeared on campaign posters and inspired a song and celebrity-packed music video by artist will.i.am.

As Obama  understood and Biden doesn't: when engaging in cultural appropriating: pronounce the phrase correctly. Nonetheless, the White House probably was helped, however marginally, by invocation of the saying by the First Lady. As Donald Trump (and, to a lesser extent, countless other politicians) demonstrated, most people love being pandered to.  It encourages a feeling of familiarity and the (inaccurate) notion that the public figure cares enough about them to pander.

There is a downside to Mrs. Biden's reprehensible mangling of a simple phrase, however. There will come a time when the right will question the insistence of the First Lady or her fans in using the prefix "Dr." in a context outside of education policy. As when this previously occurred, her supporters will howl in protest.

The use of the prefix "Dr.", inferring superiority, is meant to imply a higher degree of education  and understanding.  And so it does- in that field. At most other times, "the First Lady" or"Mrs. Biden" (or "Jill," if familiarity is warranted) will do just fine. Sí, podemos hacer eso.

 


Saturday, April 03, 2021

Why The Blackout?


As The New York Times on March 30 first reported

Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is being investigated by the Justice Department over whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel with him, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws, the people said. A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.

Far less serious legally but more salaciously

Behind the scenes, Gaetz gained a reputation in Congress over his relationships with women and bragging about his sexual escapades to his colleagues, multiple sources told CNN.

Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.

"It was a point of pride," one of the sources said of Gaetz.



These allegedly are "relationships" (plural) and "escapades" (plural) affording the Florida Representative, creating a reputation he did not get overnight.

He has been no wallflower.  CNN adds

Gaetz was one of the most vocal backers of Trump's lie after the 2020 election that the election was stolen from him. After 10 Republicans voted to impeach Trump in January, Gaetz personally took up the task of trying to oust the House's GOP conference chair Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking Republican to support impeachment, traveling to Wyoming to hold a rally against Cheney in her home state.

In March 2020, when the scale of the Covid-19 pandemic was not yet clear, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the floor of the House during the first vote on an emergency funding bill for the coronavirus response.

Gaetz was admonished last year by the House Ethics Committee for a tweet threatening Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen ahead of his 2019 testimony before the House Oversight Committee. The committee found the tweet "did not violate witness tampering and obstruction of Congress laws" but did not "reflect creditably" upon the House. The Florida bar also investigated the case and cleared Gaetz. He apologized for the tweet.

Later that year, Gaetz led a band of House Republicans who barged into a closed-door House impeachment inquiry interview, occupying the House Intelligence Committee spaces for several hours in a publicity stunt to protest the investigation that would lead to Trump's first impeachment.

Gaetz has also found himself in hot water over his spending practices. Politico reported last year that Gaetz improperly sent $28,000 to pay an LLC affiliated with a speech-writing consultant. Gaetz's office returned the funds to the House and said it was a "glorified clerical error."

Women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor.  You would think that C-Span cameras would have noticed Gaetz sleeping with women on the House floor. It's not a common practice.

Dangling participles aside, it's possible that the sources are lying. But they are saying it. And if they're saying it, either they had said so previously or they had not.

This was not private sexual behavior. If the information were available yet not reported, the news media was negligent or has been corrupted by, presumably, a preference for access journalism. Showing pictures of nude women on the House floor is not part of the orientation for new Representatives. Covering up such behavior, even if it were from a backbencher, would be outrageous.

If the legislators had kept mum, it is a problem of a different nature. It would mean not only that they were aware of these acts, but kept their silence. They were complicit, certainly; but Gaetz would have been at the center of it. And they kept it to themselves. It''s unlikely, though possible, that Democrats were among the group because they would have had a political incentive to blow the whistle on Gaetz.

Thus far, this stuff appears unrelated to the criminal investigation of Matt Gaetz.  But it shouldn't take a Justice Department leak about child sex trafficking for us to find about what's going on in the People's House.

 


The Blood Was Not White Or Black

In late February a local newscaster in Buffalo, NY led a report ( video , below) with Tonight 75-year-od Martin Gugino has now filed a ci...