Thursday, March 05, 2015

Major Constitutional Issue Highlighted in DOJ report

As I read the Ferguson report something particularly bothersome stood out:
FPD and other law enforcement agencies in St. Louis County use a system of “wanteds” or “stop orders” as a substitute for seeking judicial approval for an arrest warrant. When officers believe a person has committed a crime but are not able to immediately locate that person, they can enter a “wanted” into the statewide law enforcement database, indicating to all other law enforcement agencies that the person should be arrested if located. While wanteds are supposed to be based on probable cause, see FPD General Order 424.01, they operate as an end-run around the judicial system. Instead of swearing out a warrant and seeking judicial authorization from a neutral and detached magistrate, officers make the probable cause determination themselves and circumvent the courts. Officers use wanteds for serious state-level crimes and minor code violations alike, including traffic offenses.

FPD command staff express support for the wanted system, extolling the benefits of being able to immediately designate a person for detention. But this expedience carries constitutional risks. If officers enter wanteds into the system on less than probable cause, then the subsequent arrest would violate the Fourth Amendment. Our interviews with command staff and officers indicate that officers do not clearly understand the legal authority necessary to issue a wanted. [My underlines]

At times, FPD officers use wanteds not merely in spite of a lack of probable cause, but because they lack probable cause. In December 2014, a Ferguson detective investigating a shooting emailed a county prosecutor to see if a warrant for a suspect could be obtained, since “a lot of state agencies won’t act on a wanted.” The prosecutor responded stating that although “[c]hances are” the crime was committed by the suspect, “we just don’t have enough for a warrant right now.” The detective responded that he would enter a wanted.
This right here should land a LOT of people in jail. There is a constitutional requirement for a warrant. Interactions with the justice system rests on probable cause. For a department to officially implement practices that directly contravene the 4th amendment is extremely problematic. Any and every official that wrote up, signed off on, voted for or were otherwise involved with such a policy ought to removed from office AND brought up on Civil Rights violations.

DOJ Ferguson Report

Read it here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/04/us/ferguson-police-department-report.html And then see if you spot the VERY obviously missing material that is extremely relevant to any report of this type.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

No Case Against Wilson

Read the report or read every post I made on the subject:

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REPORT REGARDING THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE SHOOTING DEATH OF MICHAEL BROWN BY FERGUSON, MISSOURI POLICE OFFICER DARREN WILSON

Wilson’s Subsequent Pursuit of Brown and Shots Allegedly Fired as Brown Was Running Away

The evidence does not support concluding that Wilson shot Brown while Brown’s back was toward Wilson. Witnesses, such as Witness 118, Witness 128, Witness 139 and others, who claim to have seen Wilson fire directly into Brown’s back, gave accounts that lack credibility because the physical evidence establishes that there were no entry wounds to Brown’s back, although there was a wound to the anatomical back of Brown’s right arm, and a graze wound to Brown’s right arm. Also, other witnesses who say that Wilson fired at Brown as he ran have given accounts that are not credible because significant aspects of their statements are irreconcilable with the physical evidence, such as Witness 101 and 127, whose statements are suspect for the reasons noted above. Similarly, Witness 124 claims to have seen Wilson following behind Brown while steadily firing at him. However, Witness 124 dramatically changed her accounts of what she saw between the time of her first statement to the SLCPD and second statement to the FBI. She refused to meet with the federal prosecutors to clarify her varying accounts. Also, her account was dramatically different from that of her husband, Witness 115, who was standing next to her during the incident. Witness 115 stated that he thought he saw Wilson fire once at Brown as he was running away, but other aspects of his account lack credibility for the reasons set forth above, i.e. he did not witness significant parts of the shooting and based parts of his account on assumption. Witnesses 128 and 137 initially claimed that Wilson fired at Brown while he was running away, but then acknowledged that they did not see what Wilson and Brown were doing at this point and thus do not know whether Wilson fired at Brown as he was running away. Witnesses 105 and 106 thought they saw Wilson fire at Brown as he was running, but describe seeing Brown hit in the leg and back in a manner that does not match the autopsy findings. Accordingly, there is no credible evidence that establishes that Wilson fired at or struck Brown’s back as Brown fled.

Shots Fired After Brown Turned to Face Wilson

The evidence establishes that the shots fired by Wilson after Brown turned around were in self-defense and thus were not objectively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The physical evidence establishes that after he ran about 180 feet away from the SUV, Brown turned and faced Wilson, then moved toward Wilson until Wilson finally shot him in the head and killed him. According to Wilson, Brown balled or clenched his fists and “charged” forward, ignoring commands to stop. Knowing that Brown was much larger than him and that he had previously attempted to overpower him and take his gun, Wilson stated that he feared for his safety and fired at Brown. Again, even Witness 101’s account supports this perception. Brown then reached toward his waistband, causing Wilson to fear that Brown was reaching for a weapon. Wilson stated that he continued to fear for his safety at this point and fired at Brown again. Wilson finally shot Brown in the head as he was falling or lunging forward, after which Brown immediately fell to the ground. Wilson did not fire any additional shots.

Wilson’s version of events is corroborated by the physical evidence that indicates that Brown moved forward toward Wilson after he ran from the SUV, by the fact that Brown went to the ground with his left hand at (although not inside) his waistband, and by credible eyewitness accounts. Wilson’s version is further supported by disinterested eyewitnesses Witness 102, Witness 104, Witness 105, Witness 108, and Witness 109, among others. These witnesses all agree that Brown ran or charged toward Wilson and that Wilson shot at Brown only as Brown moved toward him. Although some of the witnesses stated that Brown briefly had his hands up or out at about waist-level, none of these witnesses perceived Brown to be attempting to surrender at any point when Wilson fired upon him. To the contrary, several of these witnesses stated that they would have felt threatened by Brown and would have responded in the same way Wilson did. For example, Witness 104 stated that as Wilson ran after Brown yelling “stop, stop, stop,” Brown finally turned around and raised his hands “for a second.” However, Brown then immediately balled his hands into fists and “charged” at Wilson in a “tackle run.” Witness 104 stated that Wilson fired only when Brown moved toward him and that she “would have fired sooner.” Likewise, Witness 105 stated that Brown turned around and put his hands up “for a brief moment,” then refused a command from Wilson to “get down” and instead put his hands “in running position” and started running toward Wilson. Witness 105 stated that Wilson shot at Brown only when Brown was moving toward him. These witnesses’ accounts are consistent with prior statements they have given, consistent with the forensic and physical evidence, and consistent with each other’s accounts. Accordingly, we conclude that these accounts are credible.

Furthermore, there are no witnesses who could testify credibly that Wilson shot Brown while Brown was clearly attempting to surrender. The accounts of the witnesses who have claimed that Brown raised his hands above his head to surrender and said “I don’t have a gun,” or “okay, okay, okay” are inconsistent with the physical evidence or can be challenged in other material ways, and thus cannot be relied upon to form the foundation of a federal prosecution. [Footnote 28] The two most prominent witnesses who have stated that Brown was shot with his hands up in surrender are Witness 101 and Witness 127, both of whom claim that Brown turned around with his hands raised in surrender, that he never reached for his waistband, that he never moved forward toward Wilson after turning to face him with his hands up, and that he fell to the ground with his hands raised. These and other aspects of their statements are contradicted by the physical evidence. Crime scene photographs establish that Brown fell to the ground with his left hand at his waistband and his right hand at his side. Brown’s blood in the roadway demonstrates that Brown came forward at least 21.6 feet from the time he turned around toward Wilson. Other aspects of the accounts of Witness 101 and Witness 127 would render them not credible in a prosecution of Wilson, namely their accounts of what happened at the SUV. Both claim that Wilson fired the first shot out the SUV window, Witness 101 claims that the shot hit Brown at close range in the torso, and both claim that Brown did not reach inside the vehicle. These claims are irreconcilable with the bullet in the SUV door, the close-range wound to Brown’s hand, Brown’s DNA inside Wilson’s car and on his gun, and the injuries to Wilson’s face.

Footnote [28]: [The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said “don’t shoot” as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said “don’t shoot.”]

Other witnesses who have suggested that Brown was shot with his hands up in surrender have either recanted their statements, such as Witnesses 119 and 125, provided inconsistent statements, such as Witness 124, or have provided accounts that are verifiably untrue, such as Witnesses 121, 139, and 132. Witness 122 recanted significant portions of his statement by acknowledging that he was not in a position to see what either Brown or Wilson were doing, and who falsely insisted that three police officers pursued Brown and that the shooter was heavy set (in contrast to the slimly-built Wilson). Similar to Witness 128, Witness 122 told Brown’s family that Brown had been shot execution-style. Witness 120 initially told law enforcement that he saw Brown shot at point-blank range as he was on his knees with his hands up. Similar to Witness 138, Witness 120 subsequently acknowledged that he did not see Brown get shot but “assumed” he had been executed while on his knees with his hands up based on “common sense” and what others “in the community told [him.]” There is no witness who has stated that Brown had his hands up in surrender whose statement is otherwise consistent with the physical evidence. For example, some witnesses say that Wilson only fired his weapon out of the SUV, (e.g. Witnesses 128, 101, and 127) or that Wilson stood next to the SUV and killed Brown right there (e.g. Witnesses 139, 132, 120). Some witnesses insist that Wilson shot Brown in the back as he lay on the ground. (e.g. Witnesses 128 and 139). Some witnesses say that Wilson shot Brown and he went to the ground immediately upon turning to face Wilson. (e.g. Witnesses 138, 101, 118, and 127). Some say Wilson went to the ground with his hands raised at right angles. (e.g. Witnesses 138, 118, and 121). Again, all of these statements are contradicted by the physical and forensic evidence, which also undermines the credibility of their accounts of other aspects of the incident, including their assertion that Brown had his hands up in a surrender position when Wilson shot him.

When the shootings are viewed, as they must be, in light of all the surrounding circumstances and what Wilson knew at the time, as established by the credible physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, it was not unreasonable for Wilson to fire on Brown until he stopped moving forward and was clearly subdued. Although, with hindsight, we know that Brown was not armed with a gun or other weapon, this fact does not render Wilson’s use of deadly force objectively unreasonable. Again, the key question is whether Brown could reasonably have been perceived to pose a deadly threat to Wilson at the time he shot him regardless of whether Brown was armed. Sufficient credible evidence supports Wilson’s claim that he reasonably perceived Brown to be posing a deadly threat. First, Wilson did not know that Brown was not armed at the time he shot him, and had reason to suspect that he might be when Brown reached into the waistband of his pants as he advanced toward Wilson. See Loch v. City of Litchfield, 689 F.3d 961, 966 (8th Cir. 2012) (holding that “[e]ven if a suspect is ultimately ‘found to be unarmed, a police officer can still employ deadly force if objectively reasonable.’”) (quoting Billingsley v. City of Omaha, 277 F.3d 990, 995 (8th Cir. 2002)); Reese v. Anderson, 926 F.2d 494, 501 (5th Cir. 1991) (“Also irrelevant is the fact that [the suspect] was actually unarmed. [The officer] did not and could not have known this.”); Smith v. Freland, 954 F.2d 343, 347 (noting that “unarmed” does not mean “harmless) (6th Cir. 1992). While Brown did not use a gun on Wilson at the SUV, his aggressive actions would have given Wilson reason to at least question whether he might be armed, as would his subsequent forward advance and reach toward his waistband. This is especially so in light of the rapidly-evolving nature of the incident. Wilson did not have time to determine whether Brown had a gun and was not required to risk being shot himself in order to make a more definitive assessment.

Moreover, Wilson could present evidence that a jury likely would credit that he reasonably perceived a deadly threat from Brown even if Brown’s hands were empty and he had never reached into his waistband because of Brown’s actions in refusing to halt his forward movement toward Wilson. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Loch v. City of Litchfield is dispositive on this point. There, an officer shot a suspect eight times as he advanced toward the officer. Although the suspect’s “arms were raised above his head or extended at his sides,” the Court of Appeals held that a reasonable officer could have perceived the suspect’s forward advance in the face of the officer’s commands to stop as resistance and a threat. As the Court of Appeals explained:

Although [the suspect] had by this time thrown his firearm in the snow, … [the officer] did not observe that action. Instead of complying with [the officer’s] command to get on the ground, [the suspect] turned and moved toward the officer. [Plaintiffs], noting that [the suspect’s] arms were raised above his head or extended at his sides, suggest that [the suspect] was simply trying to find a suitable place to get on the ground, because his truck sat near a tree and snowbank. But even if [the suspect’s] motives were innocent, a reasonable officer on the scene could have interpreted [the suspect’s] actions as resistance. It is undisputed that [the suspect] continued toward [the officer] despite the officer’s repeated orders to get on the ground …. Thus, a reasonable officer could believe that [the suspect’s] failure to comply was a matter of choice rather than necessity. Loch, 689 F.3d 961, 966 (8th Cir. 2012).

Were the government to prosecute Wilson, the court would instruct the jury using Loch as a foundation. Given the evidence in this matter, jurors would likely conclude that Wilson had reason to be concerned that Brown was a threat to him as he continued to advance, just as did the officer in Loch.

In addition, even assuming that Wilson definitively knew that Brown was not armed, Wilson was aware that Brown had already assaulted him once and attempted to gain control of his gun. Wilson could thus present evidence that he reasonably feared that, if left unimpeded, Brown would again assault Wilson, again attempt to overpower him, and again attempt to take his gun. Under the law, Wilson has a strong argument that he was justified in firing his weapon at Brown as he continued to advance toward him and refuse commands to stop, and the law does not require Wilson to wait until Brown was close enough to physically assault Wilson. Even if, with hindsight, Wilson could have done something other than shoot Brown, the Fourth Amendment does not second-guess a law enforcement officer’s decision on how to respond to an advancing threat. The law gives great deference to officers for their necessarily split-second judgments, especially in incidents such as this one that unfold over a span of less than two minutes. “Thus, under Graham, we must avoid substituting our personal notions of proper police procedure for the instantaneous decision of the officer at the scene. We must never allow the theoretical, sanitized world of our imagination to replace the dangerous and complex world that policemen face every day.” Smith, 954 F.2d at 347 (6th Cir. 1992). See also Ryburn v. Huff, 132 S. Ct. 987, 991-92 (2012) (courts “should be cautious about second-guessing a police officer’s assessment, made on the scene, of the danger presented by a particular situation”); Estate of Morgan v. Cook, 686 F.3d 494, 497 (8th Cir. 2012) (“The Constitution … requires only that the seizure be objectively reasonable, not that the officer pursue the most prudent course of conduct as judged by 20/20 hindsight vision.” (citing Cole v. Bone, 993 F.2d 1328, 1334 (8th Cir. 1993)) “It may appear, in the calm aftermath, that an officer could have taken a different course, but we do not hold the police to such a demanding standard.” (citing Gardner v. Buerger, 82 F.3d 248, 251 (8th Cir. 1996) (same))). Rather, where, as here, an officer points his gun at a suspect to halt his advance, that suspect should be on notice that “escalation of the situation would result in the use of the firearm.” Estate of Morgan at 498. An officer is permitted to continue firing until the threat is neutralized. See Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012, 2022 (2014) (“Officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended”).

For all of the reasons stated, Wilson’s conduct in shooting Brown as he advanced on Wilson, and until he fell to the ground, was not objectively unreasonable and thus not a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.

Willfulness

Even if federal prosecutors determined there were sufficient evidence to convince twelve jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Wilson used unreasonable force, federal law requires that the government must also prove that the officer acted willfully, that is, with the purpose to violate the law. Screws v. United States, 325 U.S. 91, 101-107 (1945) (discussing willfulness element of 18 U.S.C. § 242). The Supreme Court has held that an act is done willfully if it was “committed” either “in open defiance or in reckless disregard of a constitutional requirement which has been made specific and definite.” Screws, 325 U.S. at 105. The government need not show that the defendant knew a federal statute or law protected the right with which he intended to interfere. Id. at 106-07 (“[t]he fact that the defendants may not have been thinking in constitutional terms is not material where their aim was not to enforce local law but to deprive a citizen of a right and that right was protected”); United States v. Walsh, 194 F.3d 37, 52-53 (2d Cir. 1999) (holding that jury did not have to find defendant knew of the particular Constitutional provision at issue but that it had to find intent to invade interest protected by Constitution). However, we must prove that the defendant intended to engage in the conduct that violated the Constitution and that he did so knowing that it was a wrongful act. Id.

“[A]ll the attendant circumstance[s]” should be considered in determining whether an act was done willfully. Screws, 325 U.S. at 107. Evidence regarding the egregiousness of the conduct, its character and duration, the weapons employed and the provocation, if any, is therefore relevant to this inquiry. Id. Willfulness may be inferred from blatantly wrongful conduct. See id. at 106; see also United States v. Reese, 2 F.3d 870, 881 (9th Cir. 1993) (“Intentionally wrongful conduct, because it contravenes a right definitely established in law, evidences a reckless disregard for that right; such reckless disregard, in turn, is the legal equivalent of willfulness.”); United States v. Dise, 763 F.2d 586, 592 (3d Cir. 1985) (holding that when defendant invades personal liberty of another, knowing that invasion is violation of state law, defendant has demonstrated bad faith and reckless disregard for federal constitutional rights). Mistake, fear, misperception, or even poor judgment do not constitute willful conduct prosecutable under the statute. See United States v. McClean, 528 F.2d 1250, 1255 (2d Cir. 1976) (inadvertence or mistake negates willfulness for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 242)

. As discussed above, Darren Wilson has stated his intent in shooting Michael Brown was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson under section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true – i.e., that Brown never assaulted Wilson at the SUV, never attempted to gain control of Wilson’s gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have failed to perceive. Given that Wilson’s account is corroborated by physical evidence and that his perception of a threat posed by Brown is corroborated by other eyewitnesses, to include aspects of the testimony of Witness 101, there is no credible evidence that Wilson willfully shot Brown as he was attempting to surrender or was otherwise not posing a threat. Even if Wilson was mistaken in his interpretation of Brown’s conduct, the fact that others interpreted that conduct the same way as Wilson precludes a determination that he acted with a bad purpose to disobey the law. The same is true even if Wilson could be said to have acted with poor judgment in the manner in which he first interacted with Brown, or in pursuing Brown after the incident at the SUV. These are matters of policy and procedure that do not rise to the level of a Constitutional violation and thus cannot support a criminal prosecution. Cf. Gardner v. Howard, 109 F.3d 427, 430–31 (8th Cir. 1997) (violation of internal policies and procedures does not in and of itself rise to violation of Constitution).

Because Wilson did not act with the requisite criminal intent, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt to a jury that he violated 18 U.S.C.§ 242 when he fired his weapon at Brown.

Conclusion

For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Obsidian on Monique's Hollywood Shut Out

We learn of Mo’Nique’s troubles by way of acclaimed director Lee Daniels, who recently stated in an interview that the Oscar-winning actress has been shutout of the movie-making business due to her unwillingness to “play the game” – in other words, to be courteous and pleasant to be around and fairly easy to work with.
Ouchness. Of significance though:
For example, last week I made the case that a major reason why Black women as a group have the lowest net worth of any group of American women, was due to the fact that they are the least partnered group of women – they have the lowest marital rate, the highest divorce rate, the highest rate of breakup and infidelity (both cheating and being cheated on) in relationships, and of course, the highest out of wedlock birthrates – and that this too, was due at least as much to the adherence to “diva culture” among Black women, than anything else. I stated a simple truth: that for most average Americans, a surefire way of upping your economic profile was to get married, stay married and work together with your spouse to build a better life. It’s something that has worked, and continues to work, and if anyone knows this, it’s the White feminists in our time who have successfully implanted the notion into the minds of millions of Black women that “they don’t need no man”. They’ve played a seriously cruel joke on their “sistas” – one that amounts to real dollars and cents lost on the ledger.
I made this same point many years ago:
Page 4 of the report has a chart that shows the net median wealth of people by household type and race. That chart shows that single Black women have a median net wealth of $100 ($5,000 if vehicle is included. I wouldn't). Single Black men have a median net wealth of $7,900 ($12,600 if vehicles are included). A stark difference indeed. The next group is highly instructive though.

Black men and women who are cohabitating or married have a median net wealth of $31,500 ($46,900 if vehicles are included). This is something that I believe ought to be front and center of this discussion. Being married to or cohabitating with a black man raises the median net wealth of black women by 310X.

That. is. HUGE.

By not being married to, or cohabitating with a black man, black women are being deprived of $31,400 in wealth. I cannot fathom how anyone who advocates for black women to "do them" and how they "don't need no man" is even tolerated since it is statistically clear that getting with a black man "medianly" has an extreme economic benefit to black women.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Was Darth Vader a Liberal and Feminist?

After reading the staggering number of Democrats that thought that the president ought to be able to ignore court rulings that he (or they) felt they didn't agree with and wasn't "best" for the country, I slept with that on my mind. This morning I woke up with Star Wars Episode III on my mind and realized that maybe, Darth Vader really wasn't the embodiment of right wing evil as it has been popular to think but was actually what happens when liberalism runs unchecked. Hear me out.

Understand that in Episode III, indeed the entire prequel series there are two agents. The Emperor we see as a power hungry sith who wishes to consolidate power. He does so by getting the senate to grant him more and more "temporary" powers until he has enough power to essentially banish the senate itself. Why does the senate need abolishment? Because it is too tied to rules, discussion, deliberation and all the stuff that gets in the way of "I know what's best for everyone."

Then we have Anakin. Anakin descent into sithdom comes not because he is necessarily power hungry but because he wants what is best for the people he loves the most, who just happen to be women. Anakin cannot deal with the loss of his mother and faced with the threat of losing his lover/wife, he deems that he must get as much power as possible to save her. Anakin is the ultimate captain save a ho.

Anakin was warned many times about his attachments and that they would be his undoing. Similarly, if one listens to the rhetoric of liberals, they talk endlessly about "ending" things that will never be ended. And to get to this unattainable utopia they gain more and more power and restrict the rights of those who oppose them.

Recall that the rebels were those who were fighting to maintain proper order: Civil liberties and the structures of democracy. It was Anakin who saw that such things conflicted with his ability to create the "perfect system" where he could end suffering, as if that was possible.

So it is with modern liberalism. Women want someone other than themselves to pay for their birth control. Forget the rights of those who object and have a constitutionally protected right to not be forced to do so.

Business doesn't want to make a wedding cake for a gay couple but will serve them anything else? Forget their rights make em do it or shut 'em down.

Illegal immigrants flooding the country and displacing citizen workers? Forget the citizens, lets pass laws and appropriate money for the illegal entrants. If you object YOU are the problem.

Man accused of rape? Believe the [no even so called] victim, punish the accused. Why have an investigation or trial. These men have no rights a woman or government must recognize. We have to stop rape you know!

Black guy beats on a store owner while stealing, Assaults a police officer and goes for his weapon? Lets ask for a lynching of the police officer, officers in general and try to change the laws so that we can get the results we want, not the results the facts call for. Black lives matter, unless killed by other blacks.

And so it goes. And on it goes. Darth Vader may have been envisioned as a fantasy Bush Jr. with his "you're either with me or against me." But the more we look we see that this sentiment is more in line with modern American liberalism.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Should Obama Ignore the Federal Courts?

This is what happens when the courts do not rule on the basis of the law, but rather on the basis of personal or public opinion.
But perhaps more unsettling to supporters of constitutional checks and balances is the finding that 43% of Democrats believe the president should have the right to ignore the courts. Only 35% of voters in President Obama’s party disagree, compared to 81% of Republicans and 67% of voters not affiliated with either major party.
On the one hand I think that there are a number of recent decisions that the states ought to simply refuse to recognize because they were plainly done in contravention to precedent, misstating of prior law, or plain unwillingness to stand up for certain principles. But I completely understand what would happen if states and presidents up and decided to ignore rulings whenever they felt like it (even if the reasoning is sound).

This is why it is paramount that the courts be run by people of uncanny respect for the Constitution first and foremost. With a keen eye on things like enumerated rights, separation of church and state and the like. Also a clear understanding that US law comes from English Common Law and should be referred to whenever applicable (gay marriage for instance).

​Europe ‘feels like Nazi Germany,’ says Madonna

You know..this is the reason I think artists should generally speaking, simply not speak on certain topics.
Rising intolerance and anti-Semitism have reached the point when “it feels like Nazi Germany,” pop icon Madonna said, adding that France, in particular, no longer encourages diversity and freedom.
Why should France be "diverse" in the first place? How about Madonna go to China and talk about diversity. Or Japan for that matter. I have said it before and I will say it again, France and the rest of Europe are for the French and those respective natives. France and the rest of those countries are not settler, or nation of non-native immigrants. France belongs first and foremost to the French where they should and ought to be free to be and promote French culture above any and all other who may choose to reside there.

That's the general problem with Americans in general. They wander all over the world telling people what their countries should be like. You shoudl have X type of government. And X type of laws and like X,y z types of behavior. We're Americans and we know best.

The French people, the natives that is, should tell Madonna to fuck off.

The 56-year-old singer also pointed that France has totally lost its tradition of welcoming diversity and honoring freedom, saying that "anti-Semitism is at an all-time high" in the country.
Madonna should find out that a large part of these anti-semitic actions are actually the activities of non-native French (though native French have their own behavior to account for).
The pop icon added that France was once a country “that accepted people of color, and was a place artists escaped to, whether it was Josephine Baker or Charlie Parker."
While I'm sure "color" and the associated linked traits are an issue to many French, I think the fact that those non-French that the French have a problem with are the ones who insist on pushing their religion and culture upon the French in their own homeland. I don't recall Josephine Baker running around France in a burka. Did Charlie Parker run around France talking about how it would submit to Sharia?

Personally I wouldn't be so welcoming to folks like that in my home either. I wonder if Madonna allows such persons on her personal property. For their differences with French in their politics (decolonialism and racism) folks like James Baldwin actually fit in to a large extent with the dominant home culture and most of the French, even those what disliked black people strongly, would admit that they posed no cultural threat to the French republic. The current issues? Not even remotely the same.

I am against colonialism and the threats against native populations by outsiders whether they be in Africa, Asia and, yes, Europe. And I cannot speak ill of those native who object to such threats whether they be in Africa, Asia and yes, Europe.

Trayvon Anniversary

One of the consequences of reading across the ideological spectrum is that one has to deal with material, from both the left and right, that is outright racist. Those on the far right tend to think black people are generally stupid criminals who are just looking for the opportunity to kill and maim white peopple. Those on the left, think that black people have no agency and that everything we do that is negative is the fault of some white person(s) somewhere at any and every time, ever. I have a strong stomach so most times I chuckle and move along. On occasion I have to respond. This is one of those occasions.

This week being the anniversary of the Trayvon Martin killing, the dissident right has had an ongoing tribute to Zimmerman while defaming the name of Martin. No doubt the failure of those on the left to properly discuss that incident (Stand Your Ground was irrelevant) has given these folks ammunition, but I am still bothered by the commentary coming from the right on this matter as it reflects growing trend of cart before horse thinking as has been seen in the issue of campus sexual assault.

Jared Taylor of Ameren.com posted a video a few months ago asking us, black folks in particular whether "facts matter". While it was triggered by the Ferguson matter to which the clear answer from the left was "no, they do not". He brought up Martin as an example of denial of facts. I came about this close to posting a response but didn't. Today however I'm going to address the issue of Martin, yet again for those who simply don't get why Trayvon's demise was so troubling.

The right has spent a lot of time perusing Travon's Facebook and whatever to show him smoking weed, calling himself 'no limit nigga" and whatever else they could find as if any of it was actually relevant to the events on that night. Yet there was a total failure to understand why Trayvon was the victim. Lets go over the sequence of events:

Trayon left his father's house to get some sugary treats at a local store. He is seen on video tape completing his purchase without incident because unlike the late Mike Brown, he wasn't out trying to rob anyone.

It was a misty rain outside and Trayvon was wearing a hoodie. He put the hood up while walking to protect his head from the water. Some on the right have taken this as evidence that he was a criminal because wearing a hood in the rain while outside is evidence of intent to do wrong. George Zimmerman, armed George Zimmerman happened to see Trayvon walking back to his father's apartment and decided that Trayvon looked suspicious. I emphasize armed because I am of the belief that a person who is armed has a larger responsibility to not initiate or escalate conflicts.

What was Trayvon doing to be seen as suspicious. Allegedly it was because he had his hood up and was looking at the homes he was passing along the way to the place he was residing. To even allow oneself to think this is acceptable shows a mind that is possessed. Why? Because who walks down a street and doesn't look at one's surroundings? Matter of fact I would find it odd if a person was walking down a street and not looking around. Situational awareness anyone?

The trial showed that Trayvon was on his cell phone talking to his friend Rachel. We know that while on that phone call Trayvon indicated that Zimmerman was following him and that Zimmerman came across as creepy. That Trayvon called Zimmerman a cracker is irrelevant. The fact that Trayvon thought of Zimmerman as "creepy" IS highly relevant. We can induce that it is likely that Trayvon's head swiveling was in likely him looking to see what the creepy guy in the car is doing rather than actually looking at the homes. But that is supposition. We do not know this because Trayvon was unable to be questioned and no one else has evidence to offer to back up this idea.

What we do know, and what is a fact is that armed Zimmerman was following Trayvon. Trayvon noticed this "creepy" person following him. We know that Trayvon had not, was not in the process of, or intending to commit a crime. He was lawfully going about his business. These are facts. whatever it was that Zimmerman thought was suspicious about Trayvon existed entirely in his head. Whether the audio recording of Zimmerman's phone call said "coons", "goons" or "guys" doesn't really matter. That he used a term that indicated that he assumed criminal activity where there was none does matter. There was no criminal activity and Zimmerman had no rational basis for later confronting Trayvon.

I have said to many people that if one EVER thinks one is being followed that one should NOT go to one's home. Why would you lead a potential killer to your place of residence? The police say that Trayvon was hiding behind a sign (and/ore bushes) when he finally confronted Zimmerman. In terms of self-defense Trayvon's hiding makes perfect sense.

Meanwhile, armed Zimmerman calls the authorities to report suspicious activity. Mind you, as we stated before Trayvon hadn't done anything suspicious. He was lawfully walking to the place that he resided, while on the phone with his friend and observing his surroundings.

The authoritites, being professionals, told Zimmerman to not follow the "suspicious" person. There are two major reasons for the professionals to say this to Zimmerman:

1) Zimmerman may be harmed by the criminal and they do not want to place a civilian in harm's way.

2) The alleged criminal may in fact be an innocent civilian who is alarmed by armed Zimmerman who is not an offical and uniformed law enforcement officer and a conflict may arise that may cause harm (or death) to that civilians and/or Zimmerman.

Zimmerman decided to disregard the directions and handle things himself. This is what we call "negligence". That Zimmerman, armed, decided to take the law into his own hands, on a person who had not committed a crime, was not in the process of committing a crime meant that HE was escalating the situation.

Looking at it from Trayvon's perspective, as we should, he sees a person following him in a car. He tries to shake the person by hiding and that person leaves their car to follow him on foot. To Trayvon this is potentially life or death situation which has escalated from a person in a car to a person on foot. . He doesn't know Zimmerman. What reason does Trayvon have to believe that the stranger who is following him means him no harm? None!

Then we have the conflict. We only have Zimmerman's story to take but there is a confrontation. On one hand we have a report that Trayvon says "Why are you following me!?" and on the other Zimmerman says that Trayvon simply jumps out the bushes and says "you're going to die tonight" and starts to beat on him.

. Since we have no video or eyewitness at this point, I have to make assumptions. I think Trayvon probably said BOTH things. I think that Zimmerman flashed his gun while demanding of Trayvon to explain "what he was doing here". I cannot prove it but given his behavior after the trial, we can surely believe that Zimmerman is the type to have brandished his weapon. I think once Trayvon caught sight of the weapon, he decided that he would take on Zimmerman physically and it was during that fight that Zimmerman was able to shoot Trayvon (lesson, always control the hands of your opponent and ALWAYS end the fight quickly, an eye jab and groin kick would have ended this fight in favor of Trayvon).

So we come to the jury decision. Due to the total fuck up by the prosecution, the jury was lead to focus on the end fight that claimed Trayvon's life. Indeed without argument Zimmerman shot Trayvon in self-defense. But that self-defense is like the self defense a gang member who assaults another gang member during a turf dispute could claim. Yeah, you defended yourself, but YOU initiated the conflict. And here, the facts show that Zimmerman initiated the conflict.

It was Zimmerman that stalked Trayvon. Zimmerman made Trayvon fear for his safety and life by following him for no good reason. It was Zimmerman who disregarded the professional safety personel's advice to not exit his vehicle. That was negligence. It was the armed Zimmerman who decided to up the ante and stalk Trayvon on foot and confront him (while possibly showing his weapon which would be menacing).

The problem I have with those acting like the actual criminal in this case was Trayvon was their total disregard for the idea that one can be stalked by an armed man. That an armed civilian, emphasis on civilian, has the right to demand to ask you why you are on a public street or public thoroughfare and if you resist that and get shot, YOU are the criminal.

Of course I've read enough on these websites to know that many of them are of the opinion that black people, males in particular ought be subject to interrogation by any white person who find their presence disturbing. Yet these individuals do not realize that such an idea poses a threat to general law and order (supposedly a conservative platform) whereby citizens can stalk and harass and threaten other citizens going about their lawful behavior.

As a postscript I find it very interesting that the same people who scoured the net for Trayvon's childish web postings often ignored the frequent interactions with police that Zimmerman has had, which often involved his gun. If Trayvon's antics at his school and on Facebook and Twitter are to be evidence of his "racist" and "criminal intent" towards Zimmerman, the it would stand to reason that Zimmerman's activities with his gun are also evidence (although late) of the likelihood that he did in fact threaten to use his weapon against Trayvon (menacing) and it was THAT escalation that lead to the fight and Trayvon's death. Which would be legally felony murder (a homicide that occurs during the commission of or result of another crime).

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Oscars and That Selma Movie

Something bothered me about the “Glory” Oscar last night. I stumbled upon the performance and award when I turned for news. There was the replica of the bridge and folks sangin' Glory! With John Legend doing his gospel thing. It was a spectacle and I mean that in the best sense of the word.

So I saw that Legend and Common won an Oscar for best song. Well OK. Look, Gospelly stuff is generally not my thing. The song is decent but honestly I've heard better. I suppose in the subjective world that is movie award shows one can say it was best. But knowing that for example Mo' Betta Blues had IMO far better music, I would say standards have come down some. But even then, I don't even think that is the case. See I think this was a clear example of award via white guilt.

Prior to this I was under the impression that the movie Selma had been totally ignored by the Academy. That was my fault. The actual problem some people had was that the director and main character wasn't nominated for an award. The basis of this anger was that since both of them were black and made a film about a person who black people love to death, it should have been nominated. By not nominating it for best director or actor was a snub and insult to all black people.

Really.

Look, I'm old enough to remember when Denzel Washington did Malcolm X and didn't win shit for it. He was nominated but didn't win. And as far as I'm concerned the lengths to which Washington went to portray Malcolm through his various stages was far more of a stretch than playing King in one phase of his. And certainly, IMO, the effort gone into 23 years a slave also trumps Selma. But that's my particular bias.

But it seemed to me that the whole “controversy” was a non controversy made to attract attention and I think that it was a bad reflection on all involved. For example, after all the charges of racism made about the non-nomination, imagine if Glory had not won. Would it have been accepted as a matter of merit or would it have been yet another claim of racism? And since Glory won, can we honestly say it was given because of merit or because the Academy didn't want to deal with charges of racism....again?

And when the audience gave Legend and Common that standing O. What were they to do? Imagine a room full of mostly non-black people staying seated and applauding politely after the show. What then? “White Crowd Barely Responds to Oscar Winning Song. Racism!” There was an ony one way to win situation. You don't applaud the black folk on stage you are a racist. Were there folks who truly were moved by the performance? Sure. But can you imagine what would happen if one of those folks did a Kanye and were like, yeah, I don't know...I think so and so (white) was better.

Lastly, let me comment on the little speech Legend made, in particular his commentary about how many black people are in prison relative to slavery.

Firstly if you want to make such a comparison you could say that there are also more white people in Prison than were ever under indentured servitude (slavery with an out clause). The point being that historically, given, you know, the population growth, you would expect more [pick a category] people now than then.

Secondly, I don't get why folks think that pointing out the prison statistics is something to applaud when the fact of the matter is that black folks who are in prison are there largely because they have voluntarily committed crimes that get you locked up. And also contrary to popular opinion, it is not because of drug laws like the crack cocaine laws. Nope. It is because of assaults, robberies and murders that black persons, mostly males commit 7x more than whites on a national level and has high as 22x that of whites in certain locations such as Los Angeles.

Of course had someone pointed that out they would be called 'racist” if white and a “sellout” if they are black. But of course nobody is going to challenge Common or Legend on the reasons for the high incarceration rates. And that's the problem. Nobody wants to challenge black folks when we say dumb and unsupportive shit. And because we go unchallenged we do not get to grow as a group.

Oh and it is significant that Legend didn't point out that since that march there are more black people in the middle class than there was during slavery. More black people with college degrees than during slavery. More black representatives and, oh yeah, that black president.

But see none of that would get keep the guilt trip going so all of that goes unsaid.

But back to the movie and non-nomination. I understand that Interstellar was the studios expected nominee and that fell through and so they went with Selma. Here's the thing to me, though Interstellar had some serious story flaws. I found that far more interesting than a movie about Selma. One reason was that it looked to the future rather than the past which in the case of Selma has been covered in many, many documentaries some of which I have watched (and I've also been there). Secondly the entire concept of space-time and relativity is hard to portray in a movie in a time compressed format without boring people to tears. So to me, that was a better effort.

Does that make the events of Selma less important than they were? No. It means that IMO a movie about it has to do more than trade on guilt and emotion to get an award. That is some tiring thing. Seriously, another black director made another movie about black folks being mistreated by white folks and wants an award for it.

Now had ol' girl came up with and did Interstellar THAT would have been different. Or, I don't know a movie about Dubois, Fredrick Douglas, Garvey, Turner. You know folks other than King. Then perhaps we can trade on originality rather than guilt. It was Carter G Woodson, father of Black History Month that said that the Negro needed to delve into his own history and his own mythos' and createnew works. Here's a quick result of a search for movies on Dr. King. Here is a search for movies on Fredrick Douglass.

Can we do something else now please?

3 Out Of 4 Isn't Bad

Australia has decided to "get tough" on terrorists.
SYDNEY, Australia — Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia said Monday that the government would seek to revoke the citizenship or curb the rights of Australians involved in terrorism and tighten immigration, visa and hate speech laws in a crackdown on terrorism.
1) Revoke Citizenship: Absolutely. One should ask why citizenship was given in the first place. How did they fool the authorities? Who were the authorities who were fooled?

2)Curb the Rights of Australians Involved in Terrorism: I believe the law for that is called treason. Nice to know that Australia has figured that out.

3)Tighten Immigration: Exactly what any nation should do if the people who declare war on you say they'll use immigration as a means of infiltration.

4)Tighten Hate Speech Laws: Ummmm....no. restricting speech beyond that which is an immediate danger to the public (fire in a theatre) is wrong, wrong and wrong. And European countries with special speech codes to protect Jews and the like should be held accountable for that and have those laws revoked. Yes, we have to tolerate the site of Nazis, Klansmen and the like in order to maintain this basic and essential freedom.

James Bovard Leaves Something Out In His Piece About Holder

James Bovard discusses USAJ Holder's non-actions in regards to the DC police back in the early 90s.
The number of killings by D.C. police quadrupled between 1989 and 1995, when 16 civilians died owing to police gunfire. D.C. police shot and killed people at a higher rate than any other major city police department, as a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post investigation revealed in late 1998. But Holder had no problem with D.C.’s quick-trigger force: “I can’t honestly say I saw anything that was excessive.” He never noticed that the D.C. police department failed to count almost half the people killed by its officers between 1994 and 1997.
Of course there is a very obvious thing missing here. Well a few things: First is that DC has a huge black population and we already know that where there are huge black populations there is a higher level of violent crime, meaning more interactions with police who are dealing with a hostile population. That's not to excuse police brutality but it is relevant. Secondly we know that the DC police at that time had actually allowed gang members (and some ex-gang members) to actual join the police force. Those persons were then able to use the "color of law" in order to do their own dirty business.
The tale of how a drug dealer served 18 months as a D.C. police cadet is part of a larger story of breakneck hiring and training by the department in 1989 and 1990 with still unraveling consequences.

The most obvious of those consequences is the worst: An investigation by The Washington Post found that graduates in those two years alone, who make up about one-third of the force, account for:

More than half of the 201 D.C. police officers arrested since 1989 on charges ranging from shoplifting and forgery to rape and murder. Some have been arrested more than once and in more than one year.

More than half of those involved in departmental disciplinary proceedings for breaches such as neglecting duty, making false statements and failing to obey orders, which have doubled since 1989.

Half of those on a list of 185 D.C. officers so tainted by their own criminal problems that prosecutors won't put them on a witness stand as officers of the law...

Yet the rates at which officers are arrested in other large cities, including New York, pale in comparison with the D.C. figures. In 1993, there were 79 arrests of officers on the 4,220-member D.C. force, a rate of nearly 19 per 1,000 officers. There were 90 arrests that year among the 30,000 New York City officers, a rate of 3 per 1,000 officers.

Detroit police, with 4,000 officers, handled 69 arrests through the department's internal affairs section in 1993, but some of those arrested were not police officers. The same year, there were 20 arrests of officers in St. Louis, which has a 1,500-member force.

Now you would think that James Bovard would inform the reader of some of this highly relevant information. Why not disclose the background of the officers in question? Why not discuss the hiring bing and the reasons it was done?

I suggest it is for the same reason 1400 girls got the official coverup behavior in Rotherdam. Don't wanna seem racist and talk badly about the black folks who can do no wrong. Better to just say "police" when we know full well if the issue was white police they would have been identified.