Archive for Justice

Baltimore Ravin’

My brother was fond of ending debates by saying “Opinions are like a**holes: everybody’s got one.” I always hated that line, but now I see his point.

In fact, I now see how opinions and a**holes are almost indistinguishable:

For a long time, our domestic affairs, or at least the portion of them most explicitly tied to race, have resembled a nightmare doomed to be repeated until the underlying conflict is resolved. President Obama addressed that recurrence in a press conference at the White House last Tuesday, when he spoke about the death of Freddie Gray and what has euphemistically been called the “unrest” in Baltimore:

Since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals—primarily African American, often poor—in ways that have raised troubling questions. And it comes up, it seems like, once a week now, or once every couple of weeks. . . . What I’d say is this has been a slow-rolling crisis. This has been going on for a long time. This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.

Who’s pretending it’s new? He’s been president for more than six years, and issues of race have never been worse. So much for “task forces”. (Maybe he should have tried a “discussion group” he’s so fond of at those “summits” he keeps holding.)

And I wouldn’t cite Ferguson as an example of police brutality if I were you, sir.

But his is not the a-hole/opinion I find most repellant:

Police departments point to the high rates of crime and violence that prevailed in previous years, and argue that aggressive police tactics to reduce them are therefore a hallmark of civic concern, not signs of callous disregard. The former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who is a potential Presidential contender, echoed that sentiment after last Monday night’s riot in Baltimore. As the city’s mayor from 1999 to 2007, he had introduced zero-tolerance policing, and he told CNN that it was likely responsible for a thousand Baltimoreans being alive, rather than dead, as victims of homicide. Violent-crime and homicide rates in the city did decline, but the numbers today reveal a profane truth. Last year in Baltimore, there were two hundred and eleven homicides; a hundred and eighty-nine of the victims were black males. Those numbers are categorical: Baltimore doesn’t have a homicide problem; it has a black-male-death problem.

BY HOMICIDE!

Black males in Baltimore are not dying of mesothelioma or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I just did the math (since the author couldn’t or wouldn’t): 89.5% of all homicide victims were black men. And I would wager that those homicides were committed by a similarly high percentage of black men.

That’s not a “slow-rolling crisis”; that’s a Himalayan avalanche of a crisis. Am I just being silly, or do black lives matter (to coin a phrase)?

It must be time to change the subject:

Talk to people in Baltimore—or Ferguson or Staten Island—and invariably you hear criticism of the police not as the police but as a symbol of an entire web of failed social policies, on education, employment, health, and housing. The real question is not one of police tactics: whether the use of body cameras can reduce civilian complaints or whether police-brutality cases should be handled by independent prosecutors. The real question is what life in an American city should be. The issues extend far beyond the parameters of race, but race is the narrative most easily seized upon. (It’s worth noting our tendency to think of declining, mostly white Rust Belt cities elegiacally, and of largely black ones moralistically.)

This would be when I toss the New Yorker across my dentist’s waiting room (followed by an apology to the old lady whose eye I nearly took out). Who goes around talking “elegiacally” about declining Rust Belt cities—or “moralistically” about declining black cities? Aren’t they largely one and the same? Detroit is 80% black, Cleveland 53% black. Pittsburgh? Milwaukee? Stop me before I wax elegiac about the decline of Buffalo.

Where I would agree with the author is on the manifest, provable, incontrovertible “failed social policies, on education, employment, health, and housing”. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Fifty years of the stuff and look where we are.

Again, however, it’s the citation of Ferguson and Staten Island I find troubling. Bull-rushing a cop (after trying to steal his weapon) and resisting arrest (however trivial the crime) are not “symbols” of anything but self-destructive behavior. So, I suppose, is burning down the very neighborhood you live in. But I don’t think that’s what the author meant.

To come to any understanding of what happened in Baltimore, from Freddie Gray’s arrest to the last arson ember dying out, we need to gather and consider all the facts. From the mayor’s overt encouragement to “destroy”, to the match-lighting of outside agitators, to the genuine grievances of the community, to the future of a city whose failure is now known to all. Not least to the actions or inactions of the six cops.

If he wants to go on about “failed social policies”, please include me out. It’s important, but irrelevant to this case. And, as I wrote earlier, not particularly useful to his argument.

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How to Succeed in Justice Without Really Trying

Heh. Get it?

Win friends and influence people:

“F*ck this court and everything it stands for,” is Tamah Jada Clark’s fitting title for her April 20 filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Clark, who identifies herself as a “Floridian-American,” claims that her civil rights were violated five years ago when she was arrested for plotting to break the father of her baby out of prison. Her berserk rant was submitted to express her displeasure with the dismissal of her lawsuit.

Clark identifies with the “sovereign citizen” movement, a group of individuals who reject the authority of the U.S. federal government and its courts. Fittingly, her memo is full of what is, to say the least, a dismissive attitude towards Judge Willis Hunt and other agents of the government.

“You think because you sit up there in that little black robe hiding behind the ignorance of the masses like a little b*tch, that ANYBODY gives a d*mn about you or what you have to say?” Clark says. “Well, just in case you haven’t noticed-I couldn’t give two f*cks about you or what you have to say. F*ck you, old man. You’re a joke. Your court’s a joke. You take it up the a*s; and you suck nuts. Lol.”

I’m lol-ing right now. In fact, I’m rotflmfao.

At other times, Clark mocks Hunt as a “castrated coward” and his court as a “panic-stricken hoe that has stolen money from her back-handing pimp.”

Clark’s personal attacks and legal arguments often spin off into more abstract political commentary seeking to advance her sovereign citizen viewpoints.

“The federal government currently taxes the people exponentially more than the British King could have ever dreamed of doing,” she says. “And people’s human rights are being violated faster than you can say the phrase ‘Willis B. Hunt, Jr. is a b*tcha*s hoe.’”

Her tone could use some refinement, but is she wrong?

“Look here, old man, when I told you I AM Justice-I meant it,” says Clark. “It took me about I month to study the history of the world and to learn the history and inner workings of American jurisprudence, literally. I was born to do this here. Don’t you know that your FBI and CIA have been trying to recruit me since grade school? Lol. But they’re unscrupulous losers like you, so it won’t be happening.”

Their loss is our gain, lol.

She’s got her own website, I note. Nothing as entertaining as the court filing, but illuminating. And she trademarks random groups of words, That’s our game, Aggie!

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Hey, You Wanna Die?

This’ll get it done:

Lingzi Lu and MIT Officer Sean Collier “weren’t always just the victims of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” a prosecutor told teary-eyed jurors yesterday as the stories of those murdered in the marathon bombings continue to dominate the death penalty sentencing trial.

“She was a beautiful nerd,” Lu’s Rhode Island aunt Jinyan “Helen” Zhao testified about the Boston University graduate student.

Lu, 23, who’d been in the Hub only eight months when she was killed by the bomb blast in front of the Forum restaurant, “loved everything good in life,” Zhao said. “She told me, ‘I can’t wait to see how pretty Boston will be in the spring.’?”

Zhao said her niece, a product of the Chinese government’s one-family, one-child population-control policy, had an insatiable appetite for love stories and desserts — even devouring an entire pumpkin pie during her first Thanksgiving in the States.

Her parents, still too stricken to travel here for the trial, made the gut-wrenching decision to bury their only child in the city she’d come to love, laying her to rest in a tiara and pink bridal gown with a music box and her favorite books. “I think they just felt she was part of Boston, part of the city, so the thing is she should be here,” Zhao said.

Jurors also heard yesterday from Joseph Rogers and Andrew Collier, the stepfather and younger brother, respectively, of Sean Collier, 27, who Tsarnaev and his older brother shot to death three days after the terror attack.

“I miss Sean. I miss everything about him,” said Andrew Collier, 27, a NASCAR machinist living in North Carolina. Sean, he said, was “a moral compass … right down to, ‘You can’t kill a bug, you have to put it outside.’ He was an amazing person.”

I suppose there’s some irony in that story being shared at a death penalty hearing. [Bleep] irony.

I opposed the death penalty as a liberal because, well, I was a liberal. I still oppose the death penalty as a conservative because, well, I was a liberal.

I suppose my best argument is also my weakest one: checking the power of the state. Once the criminal has been tried fairly and convicted, the state has already won. The murderer (or guilty party in some other capital crime) is already at the mercy of the state, never to see freedom again if the state so declares. State executions make me queasy. They are the default punishment of barbarian states like our friends, the Saudis, or Iran. That’s not my style.

But I have “evolved” on the issue, as Obama would say, to make exceptions. Does the convicted criminal still pose a threat? Has he killed or tried to kill while in prison? Will he? Even another murderer unfortunate to be locked up with our hypothetical sociopath does not deserve himself to be murdered just because we lacked the stomach to do what decency demanded of us.

And what about crimes so horrific that it is indecent to imagine the perpetrator alive? Timothy McVeigh of recent memory; Adolf Eichmann to name just one of the past. Not every murderer is a Mengele, but Mengele was. To argue for his life out of “justice” is perverse. (Mengele never met “justice” at all, having escaped to South America and having lived to age 67.)

Tsarnaev’s crimes, it seems to me, have to be judged in that light. Even though big brother, Speed Bump, was the ring-leader (if two sick brothers can form a ring), and he was the one who assassinated MIT police officer Sean Collier, it was only junior’s pressure cooker that actually took lives. He was the one standing so casually behind the Richard family before leaving his weapon of mass destruction to kill 8-year-old Martin and two others.

Is that a smile on his face? He should die just for that. Even if the Richard family disagrees. (As coaxed to by the Boston Globe, front page, above the fold, in large font.)

Much of my reconsideration of previously held beliefs has been tutored by writers I have come to admire—in this case, my rebbe Dennis Prager. His defense of the death penalty shows none of the tortured anguish I still betray. The issue is morally crystal clear in his mind. As I say, there’s much about Prager I admire.

I still oppose the death penalty, but with exceptions. I still support abortion, but with exceptions. My prejudice is toward life. That gets me through my qualms. Tsarnaev should die.

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Don’t Call it “Liberal Fascism”

It’s just fascism:

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking.

She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram.

She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door.

“I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police.

She got the dogs safely out of the house, just as multiple armed agents rushed inside. Some even barged into the bathroom, where her partner was in the shower. The officer or agent in charge demanded that Cindy sit on the couch, but she wanted to get up and get a cup of coffee.

“I told him this was my house and I could do what I wanted.” Wrong thing to say. “This made the agent in charge furious. He towered over me with his finger in my face and yelled like a drill sergeant that I either do it his way or he would handcuff me.”

They wouldn’t let her speak to a lawyer. She looked outside and saw a person who appeared to be a reporter. Someone had tipped him off.

Then they left, carrying with them only a cellphone and a laptop.

A one-time thing?

Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

Yet no one in this family was a “perp.” Instead, like Cindy, they were American citizens guilty of nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights to support Act 10 and other conservative causes in Wisconsin. Sitting there shocked and terrified, this citizen — who is still too intimidated to speak on the record — kept thinking, “Is this America?”

A two-time thing?

For the family of “Rachel” (not her real name), the ordeal began before dawn — with the same loud, insistent knocking. Still in her pajamas, Rachel answered the door and saw uniformed police, poised to enter her home.

When Rachel asked to wake her children herself, the officer insisted on walking into their rooms. The kids woke to an armed officer, standing near their beds.

The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer.

And, yes, there were the warnings. Don’t call your lawyer. Don’t talk to anyone about this. Don’t tell your friends. The kids watched — alarmed — as the school bus drove by, with the students inside watching the spectacle of uniformed police surrounding the house, carrying out the family’s belongings. Yet they were told they couldn’t tell anyone at school.

They, too, had to remain silent.

The mom watched as her entire life was laid open before the police. Her professional files, her personal files, everything. She knew this was all politics. She knew a rogue prosecutor was targeting her for her political beliefs.

Now maybe you know what Scott Walker feels like.

Yes, Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Most Americans have never heard of these raids, or of the lengthy criminal investigations of Wisconsin conservatives. For good reason. Bound by comprehensive secrecy orders, conservatives were left to suffer in silence as leaks ruined their reputations, as neighbors, looking through windows and dismayed at the massive police presence, the lights shining down on targets’ homes, wondered, no doubt, What on earth did that family do?

Which. Was. The. Point.

Even Joe McCarthy (another Wisconsin homeboy) didn’t kick people’s doors in at dawn. Probably because he was still sleeping off a snootful.

Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer. The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights.

The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers.

But no matter the outcome of these court hearings, the damage has been done. In the words of Mr. O’Keefe, “The process is the punishment.”

We’ve covered the agitprop and thuggery of the anti-Walker crowd over the years, and even had an intellectual goon or two leave long, tendentious comments trying to counter our points (which were drawn from news coverage). Here’s one thread from the time. This one’s even worse.

As shocking as these home invasion stories sound, they are in keeping with the behavior of the Wisconsin Left. What a disgrace.

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You Lie!

Wow. How’d I miss this?

A federal judge sharply scolded a Justice Department attorney at a hearing on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, suggesting that the administration misled him on a key part of the program — and that he fell for it, “like an idiot.”

The testy court hearing was held Thursday in Texas by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. The judge suggested he could order sanctions against the administration if he finds they indeed misrepresented the facts.

Hanen chided Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett for telling him at a January hearing before the injunction was issued that nothing would be happening with regard to one key part of Obama’s actions, an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, until Feb. 18.

“Like an idiot I believed that,” Hanen said.

A flustered Hartnett repeatedly apologized to Hanen for any confusion related to how the reprieves and work permits were granted.

“We strive to be as candid as possible. It truly became clear to us there was confusion on this point,” she said.

Hartnett continued to insist that the 108,081 reprieves had been granted under 2012 guidelines, which were not stopped by the injunction, and that government attorneys hadn’t properly explained this because they had been focused on other parts of the proposed action.

But Hanen pointed out that the 2012 guidelines only granted two-year reprieves and that three-year reprieves are being proposed under the program now on hold.

“Can I trust what the president says? That’s a yes or no question,” Hanen asked.

Yes it is. It’s one we’ve all been asking lately.

The states asked that Hanen consider issuing sanctions because Justice Department attorneys had made “representations (that) proved not to be true or at a minimum less than forthcoming,” said Angela Colmenero, a lawyer with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the lead attorney for the states.

Colmenero said the three-year reprieves that were granted might have caused the states economic harm as the states may have already issued various benefits, including driver’s licenses, to immigrants who received a reprieve.

“There is absolutely no basis for sanctions here,” Hartnett said. “The government is absolutely trying to do the right thing.”

Hanen said he would issue a ruling “promptly” on what action, if any, he will take against the Justice Department.

Squeeze ’em till they squeal, your Honor!

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Will No One Rid Him of This Turbulent Judge?

Stephen Sondheim was lucky or wise enough to have written the lyrics to “America” when he did:

Rosalita: I like the city of San Juan.
Anita: I know a boat you can get on.

What rhymes with Tegucigalpa?

Every attempt by the Obama administration to force the launch of his immigration programs has been stymied thus far, and reading the legal tealeaves, their prospects in the lower courts don’t look much better.

The White House has attempted to dismiss as a political stunt U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling last month halting Obama’s issuance of work permits for millions of illegal immigrants.

In the weeks since Obama’s power play was put on hold, the White House has expressed confidence that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans would overturn Hanen’s decision.

However, the White House hasn’t received good legal news of late.

On Friday, that appeals court rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to lift the hold on Obama’s immigration programs. Though procedural, that development could bode poorly for when the court in New Orleans hears a broader appeal to the ruling, putting the brakes on a centerpiece of the president’s second-term agenda.

Obama has even alluded to a possible battle at the Supreme Court over the largest change to the immigration system in decades.

“The next step is to go to a higher court, the 5th Circuit. That will take a couple of months for us to file that and argue that before the 5th Circuit,” he said at a recent immigration town hall. “We expect to win in the 5th Circuit, and if we don’t, then we’ll take it up from there.”

Maybe John Roberts will rule the patently invalid executive action as a pardon, millions of ’em. Legions of illegal aliens will be like Thanksgiving turkeys, saved from the metaphorical Jihadi John treatment by the benevolence of The Man, The Law, The State, C’est lui.

It will take an Army of Davids—Judge Hanen, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, Jodi Ernst, Mia Love, et al—to defeat this Goliath. You’re both welcome to join, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

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Picking Up the Pieces of a Shattered Justice System

You think the immigrations system is “broken” (everyone’s favorite word)?

After Ferguson, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Justice together again:

And it confirms that eyewitnesses either lied to investigators or refused to be interviewed out of fear of local vigilantes.

“Witness 109 claimed to have witnessed the shooting, stated that it was justified, and repeatedly refused to give formal statements to law enforcement for fear of reprisal should the Canfield Drive neighborhood find out that his account corroborated Wilson.”

Witness 113 “gave an account that generally corroborated Wilson, but only after she was confronted with statements she initially made in an effort to avoid neighborhood backlash. . . . She explained to the FBI that ‘You’ve gotta live the life to know it,’ and stated that she feared offering an account contrary to the narrative reported by the media that Brown held his hands up in surrender.”

Now there’s a story for the media: A community in which honest people can’t tell the truth for fear of running afoul local thugs enforcing “the narrative reported by the media.” Or is that more of a story about the media?

Courts can send you to the can for five years for the crime of perjury; another five for suborning perjury. Intimidating a witness has its own set of sentencing guidelines.

How many of you out there think a single witness or community “activist” will be charged with lying before the Grand Jury? Me neither. Same goes for those who looted, pillaged, and incited riot. Nothing. No justice.

So, Darren Wilson gets off (under an assumed name and new identity somewhere in Idaho); not so lucky Ferguson:

But let’s move to the other Ferguson fable, which is the Justice Department’s allegation, in an unfortunate second report, of systemic racism in the Ferguson police department.

This isn’t to say that the report doesn’t uncover more serious problems, including a number of racist emails in the department, policing that seems needlessly obnoxious or aggressive, and a municipal government desperate to prosecute every minor violation of the law in order to maximize city revenues—in effect, using cops as taxmen.

But this only demonstrates the journalistic truism that you can always find the “story” you’re looking for. Using ticket revenue and other fines to raise revenues is one of the oldest municipal tricks in the book, so much so that the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis even published a paper about it in 2006. “As local tax bases have been exhausted and public opposition to increases in local tax rates have increased over time, local governments face increased pressure to find alternative sources of revenue,” noted economists Thomas Garrett and Gary Wagner.

That turns out to be as true in Milwaukee, Nashville and Washington, D.C., as it is in Ferguson. So are we talking about institutional racism or just the usual government bloodsucking?

Exactly. The police were acting on instructions from elected officials. Just as they were in Staten Island, when trying to arrest Eric Garner for the tax crime of selling loose cigarettes on the street corner. It is a terrible use (and abuse) of police power, corrosive to the relationship between the officer on the beat and the community, but it is lawful. Blame the politicians who demand it, not the cops forced to carry it out. Same goes for the SWAT teams fielded by any number of federal agencies, from Education to the Railroad Retirement Board.

[T]he lesson of Ferguson is that there is no truth in statistics. There is truth in fact. There is truth in reason. There is truth in truthfulness. Nothing less.

To which I would add there is no truth in anything Obama and Holder have to say on race. None. Which is why they return to the subject so often.

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Where Does Darren Wilson Go to Get His Reputation Back?

Witness protection:

The Justice Department formally closed its investigation of Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, declining to bring criminal charges for the killing of Michael Brown.

In a report released Wednesday, prosecutors said that “Wilson’s actions do not constitute prosecutable violations” of federal civil rights law.

“There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety,” the Justice Department report said.

The Justice Department investigation found that Brown reached into Wilson’s squad car and that a struggle ensued. Prosecutors couldn’t corroborate Wilson’s claim that Brown reached for his gun, but couldn’t find any evidence to disprove Wilson’s account. Brown moved at least 180 feet away from Wilson, but then turned and moved toward the officer, prosecutors said. Several witnesses claimed that Brown had his hands up, signaling surrender, when Wilson shot him. Some gave varying accounts, and some later recanted those claims made in media interviews.

The report says: “While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson — i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants — and varying accounts of how he was moving — i.e. ‘charging,’ moving in ‘slow motion’ or ‘running’ — they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him.”

Hands up, don’t shoot? Try hands out, don’t stint.

But Holder always gets his man (in blue):

In a separate report, the Justice Department described what it said was a “pattern and practice” of discrimination against African-Americans by the Ferguson police and municipal courts.

The department suggested 26 recommendations, including requiring the Ferguson police to providing training to ensure officers aren’t using bias in policing; that officers practice community policing by getting out of their cars and getting to know their communities; and that the police focus stops, searches and ticketing on protecting the public instead of as a fundraising method for the city’s coffers.

The investigation found that the Ferguson police and courts used minor traffic and other violations to raise money for the city, targeted African-American motorists for traffic infractions, and black residents disproportionately for violations such as jay walking.

Fine. Squeeze the cops till it hurts. As a jay walker of pallor, I support the equal opportunity to cross against the light. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find this sort of behavior in most police departments. The Ferguson fracas and fiasco wasn’t about the execution of an unarmed black man; it wasn’t about how much black lives matter; it was about jay walking. What a waste of time, money, and wide-screen TVs.

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That’s It?

To employ one of my recurrent themes: what was that all about?

ACCORDING TO a report in Monday’s New York Times, the Justice Department is preparing to tell the embattled Ferguson, Mo., police department to shape up or get sued. In an impending analysis, the Justice Department will reportedly accuse Ferguson authorities of racially discriminatory practices, a move that will force them to change their behavior voluntarily or face a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Uh-oh. Here comes the boom:

Justice Department investigators conducted a wide-ranging inquiry into the Ferguson police, from patrol car to lockup. One major finding, according to the Times, is that officers disproportionately pull over and arrest African Americans.

Eric Holder storms into Ferguson, MO like some crusading crime fighter, with the might and weight of the Justice Department behind him (and the rest of the Executive Branch behind them), and all he comes up with is excessive traffic stops for black people? For cause, it would seem, given the arrests that followed?

That’s it?

I use the analogy too often, but it so often fits: they nailed Al Capone only for tax evasion. Except in this case, the Ferguson PD isn’t guilty of much more than excessive ticketing (if even that). If the arrests after the traffic stops were bogus, I’m sure the Justice Department would have said so.

Michael Brown didn’t die because he or anyone else was pulled over in a traffic stop. He died because he got high, knocked over a convenience store (roughing up the owner in the process), walked obliviously down the middle of the street and MF-ed the cop who told him to knock it off, got into a fight with said cop, punching him and trying to grab his sidearm, then bull-rushed the cop when ordered to stop leaving the scene of the above crimes.

For Holder and company to go all Elliot Ness on FPD and come away with this report is an embarrassment. To Eric Holder.

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The Chicago Way

Do you think this is where Chimpy Bushitler McHalliburton and Dick-Don Cheney-Rumsfeld got the idea?

Seems too uncannily similar to be a coincidence:

If there’s one thing you must read today, it’s this: an expose in The Guardian, detailing the Chicago Police’s secret “black sites,” inspired by Guantanamo Bay and used to illegally detain American citizens.

According to the Guardian, a “nondescript” warehouse in Chicago’s Homan Square is used by the CPD for work they would like to keep “off-the-books,” particularly work that happens to violate the Constitution. “It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place,” Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes told The Guardian. “If you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re there,” being subjected to the following treatments:

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.

Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.

Shackling for prolonged periods.

Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.

Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

You sure this wasn’t Abu Ghraib?

Or even Gitmo?

The article’s author, Spencer Ackerman, recently published another expose about the Chicago police, in which he accused an award-winning Chicago detective of engaging in horrific acts of interrogation and torture, including “shackled suspects to walls for extended periods, threatened their family members, and perhaps even planted evidence on them.” The detective, Richard Zurley [Zuley, actually], eventually transferred these tactics to Guantanamo Bay, where he “oversaw a shocking military interrogation that has become a permanent stain on his country.”

The examples of abuse in the article date from 2012 and 2013, well within the reign of Rahm Emanuel. I wonder if he recommended Det. Zuley to Obama for employment at Guantanamo?

Obama sure seems grateful.

PS: The original Grauniad article suggest the black site has been operational since the late 90s—so it could well have served as the model for Bush’s medieval torture chambers. Thanks for the suggestion, Chicago!

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Sorry, Trayvon

Can’t say they didn’t try:

The Justice Department announced Tuesday that George Zimmerman will not face federal criminal civil rights charges for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, 17, while the unarmed African American teenager was walking in Sanford, Fla. The shooting became a national flash-point, sparking a discussion of race relations that continues to reverberate in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and other incidents across the country.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country.”

Holder that the “comprehensive examination” determined that there was not enough evidence for a federal hate crime prosecution. But he said that Martin’s “premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface.”

Absolutely, sir. We’ll continue that dialogue and confront those issues and tensions like there’s no tomorrow. For example, do not pound the head of someone who’s carrying a loaded weapon.

And lose the fascination with gangsta “culture”. Not healthy.

I disagree with the caption. I don’t thank Zimmerman for getting into that situation. He’s not liable, criminally or civilly, but he’s not entirely blameless.

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Guilty

Oh, to have been on this jury:

New York federal court was scheduled to hand down a verdict later Monday as to whether or not the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization can be held responsible for terror attacks that killed US citizens in Israel.

The $1 billion lawsuit was filed over a series of deadly attacks in or near Jerusalem that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, a decade ago. The plaintiffs have turned to the US court because some of the victims were American citizens.

At issue are several Palestinian terror incidents between 2001 and 2004 targeting civilians, including a bombing at a packed cafeteria at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, as well as suicide bombings and shootings on busy streets.

From the trial:

Family members suing Palestinian governing bodies took to the stand last week to share often heartbreaking memories of relatives killed in a spate of attacks against Israeli civilians in the early 2000s, known as the Second Intifada.

During one witness’s testimony, a juror “broke into sobs and uttered an expletive,” the Palestinian Authority’s lawyer Mark Rochon said.

“I don’t want to embarrass jurors, and I am very cognizant of the fact that an element of the damages can be powerful emotional testimony, but if someone has a personal experience … that would affect their ability to be fair, that’s something we do need to know about,” he added.

Rochon, from the Washington-based firm Miller & Chevalier, suspected that unexpected testimony about “sexual assault issues” caused the juror to weep.

Declining to issue a jury instruction, U.S. District Judge George Daniels commented, “This isn’t the first time that I have seen a juror cry or react strongly to the emotional testimony of a particular witness.”

Lawyers for the families contend that Palestinian Authority payment records, employment files and intelligence documents show a tie to the bombing’s “mastermind,” Ahmed Barghouti.

Lawyers for the families submitted records from the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service allegedly linking their employees Ahmed Salah and Ali Ja’ara to that attack, a spokeswoman said.

Ja’ara was the bomber, and Salah was convicted of aiding it, she added.

The Palestinian Authority’s lawyer Rochon contends that the paperwork reflects only his client’s massive “social welfare state.” He estimated that he would kick off a four-day defense case this week.

They got Al Capone for tax evasion. If they take down the PA and the PLO by bankrupting them, it won’t be enough. But it’ll have to do.

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