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Online Fact-Checkers Rate All Their Rulings Infallible

December 03, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

politifactIn a recent skirmish with Georgetown Professor and MSNBC regular Michael Eric Dyson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani got into trouble for noting that 93% of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave Giuliani two Pinocchios, claiming that he “omitted important context”—namely, that 84% of white homicide victims are killed by whites.

That “important context” is utterly irrelevant to Giuliani’s point.

To set the stage: Giuliani was responding to racial agitators’ charge, in the context of the Darren Wilson-Michael Brown shooting case in Ferguson, Missouri, that the most serious threat young black males face today is racist, trigger-happy white cops.

Giuliani argued that those who profess concern about racial justice should focus on the reason for the preponderance of cops patrolling black neighborhoods—high black homicide rates—and the primary source of high black homicide rates—black homicide culprits.

Dyson retorted that cops make an oath to uphold the law, whereas most black homicide culprits are punished and sent to jail. Giuliani responded by asking why the black community didn’t work to bring down the black homicide rate so that black neighborhoods don’t need so many cops.

Why did Giuliani specifically address black-on-black homicide? To the extent that blacks are killed at higher rates than whites and other groups, there’s a societal interest in examining such cases more thoroughly to see whether there are trends underlying their causes, such as blacks being more likely to come from broken homes, belong to gangs, suffer poverty, or emulate gangster culture.

But Dyson reacted with outrage to Giuliani’s statement that “The white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other 70-75% of the time” (an underestimate). Dyson cried, “Look at this! This is the defensive mechanism of white supremacy in your mind, sir!”

Except that Giuliani didn’t claim that only white police officers are capable of stopping crime in black neighborhoods. He was simply responding to Dyson’s argument that there are too many white cops in black neighborhoods. He did so, not by demanding that cops in black neighborhoods be white, but by explaining the reason behind Dyson’s claim that there are too many white cops in black neighborhoods—namely, these neighborhoods need lots of cops, and most cops are white.

Similarly, Giuliani wasn’t claiming that the intraracial nature of black homicides is responsible for the preponderance of white cops in black neighborhoods. Giuliani recommended that the black community work to reduce black-on-black killings, not because black homicide perpetrators are more lethal than white ones, but because racial agitators like Dyson always lump people into communities based on skin color and foment racial divisions. If it’s “black lives” that we’re focusing on, Giuliani implied, then why don’t blacks step up and change a culture that tolerates killing so they don’t need white cops around?

But all of this was irrelevant to Fact Checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee, herself guilty of “omitting important context”—namely, why Giuliani made his comments in the first place.

Lee—who joined chief fact-checker Glenn Kessler at the Post last week—wrote that Giuliani had implied “that intraracial violence in black communities is uniquely bad.” But Giuliani never implied any such thing. He was simply responding to Dyson’s illogical demand that society focus disproportionately on white cops killing blacks.

Lee’s absurd reaction to Giuliani’s comments would be like a feminist claiming that most insults directed toward women are generated by males, with a male social scientist responding, “Actually, studies show that 93% of insults toward women are generated by women”—and the feminist crying, “You’re lying, because 84% of insults directed against men come from men!”

You don’t say. Was anyone asking that question? In our hypothetical example, men weren’t out there raging that men are being verbally victimized primarily by women and not other men.

Similarly, Giuliani was simply refuting the claim that blacks’ high homicide rate is largely due to racist white cops.

(In fact, to the extent that interracial violence occurs, blacks kill whites nearly twice as often as the reverse. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 7.6% of black homicide victims in 2013 were killed by whites, compared to 13.6% of white homicide victims who were killed by blacks.)

The Giuliani-Dyson dustup demonstrates the flaw in these supposedly neutral fact-checking sites: namely, they’re so unreliable that they need their own fact-checkers. The exposés they publish regularly betray political bias by putting the most liberal possible spin on a statement if there’s any conceivable room for differing interpretations.

Lee’s closing argument gives her game away: She says that Giuliani’s statement “lacks significant context—especially because race relations and police treatment of minorities are complex and emotionally-charged topics.” Got that? Because Giuliani didn’t make up claims as a sop to the weepy emotional crowd that thinks there’s a pandemic of white cops shooting innocent black boys, Lee calls him a liar.

Yet Post editors are simply “thrilled” with Lee’s first week on the job, writing, “Her work already is making an impact, with a post on Rudy Giuliani’s claim about black-on-black violence that was a big hit with readers.” That’s true—if by “a big hit with readers” you mean “a big hit job that generated about 95% hostile comments from readers.”

Given the biased character of online fact-checkers, a statement made by a conservative rated ‘False’ likely has more truth value than a ‘True’ statement made by a liberal.

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Why Did the Michael Brown Case Go to a Grand Jury?

November 26, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

f_surv_ferguson_140815_fc4b4377e4f790941ed2809c99d5d7b9The media are spotlighting Ferguson, Missouri rioters who are upset over a grand jury’s recent decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old resident Michael Brown. But they’re ignoring the actions of the individual who may inadvertently have been most responsible for unleashing this recent wave of unrest: prosecutor Bob McCullough.

In mid-August 2014, about a week after Brown’s shooting death, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough made a fateful decision that would end up subjecting the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri—and the nation—to three months of nail-biting suspense and an all-but-guaranteed second round of mayhem and property destruction. McCullough set this chain of events in motion by submitting the Brown case to a county grand jury instead of declining to press charges against Wilson. He made this decision, even though the subsequent release of the grand jury proceedings’ transcript reveals that he had to have known that there was little or no physical evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Wilson’s part, and therefore no reason for a grand jury to convene.

How can we surmise that McCullough knew a grand jury was unnecessary? For one thing, McCullough took the unusual step of declining to file a charge before convening a jury. Contrary to his usual M.O., McCullough went straight to the jury, as though he didn’t believe there was enough evidence to prosecute Wilson.

McCullough also clearly wasn’t expecting an indictment based on the content of his remarkable press conference following the grand jury announcement. Social media was abuzz with Brown supporters who were aghast at how quickly McCullough seemed to have folded in buying into the jury’s decision, and how much time he spent agreeing with their conclusion that there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Wilson.

McCullough actually made some rather incisive statements about prosecutorial methods for corroborating witnesses’ statements and physical evidence, and even the very nature of epistemology. Here’s the key passage from his 30-minute summation:

“A common and highly effective method of challenging a statement is to compare it to the previous statements of the witness for consistency and to compare it with the physical evidence. Physical evidence does not change because of public pressure or personal agenda. Physical evidence does not look away as events unfold. Nor does it block out or add to memory. Physical evidence remains constant, and as such is a solid foundation upon which cases are built. When statements changed, witnesses were confronted with the inconsistencies and conflicts between their statements and the physical evidence. Some witnesses admitted they didn’t actually see the shooting or were only repeating what they heard on the street. Some others adjusted parts of their statements to fit the facts.”

Yet most of this compelling physical evidence was available before McCullough decided to convene a grand jury. So why did he insist on initiating this nonstarter if the evidence strongly suggested he do otherwise?

As with Florida special state prosecutor Angela Corey’s dubious, politically motivated decision to bring second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting case in 2012, Democratic officeholder McCullough evidently wanted to give the appearance of being racially sensitive, even though he knew that his actions would only build anticipation in the populace and foment anger when the jury’s decision let them down.

McCullough’s words don’t match his actions: “I’m ever mindful that this decision will not be accepted by some, and may cause disappointment for others. But all decisions in the criminal justice system must be determined by the physical and scientific evidence and the credible testimony corroborated by that evidence, not in response to public outcry or for political expediency.”

So why did McCullough waste millions of taxpayer dollars on a two-month-long hearing whose conclusion we now know was foregone? Indeed, in a case that appeared so complex to outside observers, that required hundreds of hours of testimony, the grand jury deliberated for just two days before delivering their decision not to indict Wilson on any of the five possible charges against him.

Had McCullough used his prosecutorial discretion to decline to press charges back in August, there most certainly would have been outrage. Yet leading the public to believe that there was good reason to indict Wilson, when McCullough had seen all the evidence and knew this to be false, was irresponsible in the extreme. Leading Brown’s family and friends on was simply cruel.

Getting outraged over a perceived injustice and burning down innocent shop owners’ businesses is unjustified. But callously ginning up an aggrieved class of citizens into a murderous frenzy out of political cowardice is despicable.

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Slightly Better Than Eric Holder Is Still Pretty Awful

November 12, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

eric-holder-loretta-lynch-7c14ac64016affe7If it’s not a red flag that President Obama nominated U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to succeed Eric Holder as the next Attorney General on a Friday evening, without notifying top GOP Senate officials including presumptive Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, then the fact that Lindsey Graham is already gushing over her should be.

Democrats and RINOs alike are extolling the credentials of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, including her role in high-profile cases such as U.S. vs. Volpe (the Abner Louima case) and prosecution of an illegal immigrant smuggling ring involving owners of nine New York City 7-Eleven stores. But several bright spots on Lynch’s resume don’t compensate for some troubling aspects of her career and legal philosophy.

Like Holder, Lynch champions the practice of trying terrorist suspects in civilian rather than military courts. She argues that this procedural adjustment is necessary in the age of home-grown extremists, and is also the best and perhaps only way to gain valuable intelligence from suspects to help thwart future attacks. She fails to explain, however, why intelligence-gathering can’t be accomplished in more secure military courts that are isolated from the mainland and the citizenry.

(On a positive note, at least Lynch has spent part of her career prosecuting terrorists—in contrast to her predecessor, who defended them.)

Lynch claims that voter ID laws that require people to prove they are who they say they are before voting are racist and will undo the legacy of the civil rights movement. She’s apparently unmoved by the fact that citizen journalist James O’Keefe recently filmed election officials in dozens of polling places consenting to give him ballots belonging to people who hadn’t voted in years in her home state of North Carolina. She has pledged that her Justice Department would continue Holder’s legacy of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars suing states over such laws, even though they’ve already been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Lynch has had nothing but effusive praise for the divisive and disastrous tenure of Holder, the first Cabinet-level official in American history to be held in criminal contempt by Congress—with the support of 17 Democrats.

Lynch is better than Holder only in the sense that anyone would be better than Holder, who’s in a loathsome class of his own.

As Breitbart’s Joel B. Pollak noted, Lynch will have to answer tough questions about the Department’s actions in the aftermath of Operation Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, the decision to dump the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, and incitement of racial mistrust in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. She will have to provide responses for these questions, as well as her thoughts on the propriety of Obama’s imminent immigration amnesty pronouncement, even though Obama undoubtedly nominated her because she is outside his political circles and won’t be linked to these policies. Lynch may not have had a role in any of the aforementioned miscarriages of justice, but she will have to say how she plans to right those wrongs—or whether she even sees them as wrongs.

Pollak also suggests that Obama may be hoping Republicans will be reluctant to criticize a history-making black female nominee, just as they were his presumptive Secretary of State nominee Susan Rice. (If Republicans take a tough line against Obama’s nominee, prepare to be assaulted with a predictable slew of left-wing opinion pieces claiming that the GOP is “Lynch-ing” her.)

Senate Democrats are itching to start Lynch’s confirmation process and wrap it up before newly elected Senate Republicans take office in January. Democratic Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill offered this lame excuse for prompt confirmation: the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri could be released any day now, and we will desperately need an Attorney General to butt in and inflame racial politics—I mean offer words of wisdom and investigate atrocities committed against rioting protestors.

The New Republic’s Sam Kleiner criticized Grassley for cautioning that “U.S. attorneys are rarely elevated directly to this position.” Kleiner sniffed, “The suggestion that a U.S. attorney is unequipped to serve as attorney general makes about as much sense as claiming that a governor is unprepared to serve as president.” Except that, um, two paragraphs later Kleiner admitted that “[I]t is rare for a U.S. attorney to be selected directly for the position of attorney general.” So I guess some caution is warranted after all, as long as it doesn’t come from a Republican.

It doesn’t matter whether, as Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly recently claimed, Lynch is the most acceptable choice out of anyone Obama might nominate—i.e. is slightly less awful than Eric Holder.

After the drubbing Democrats suffered in the midterms, in which Americans made clear their disgust with Obama’s party, why should Republicans settle for a marginally less horrific nominee for the nation’s top law enforcement post who will serve during Obama’s final kamikaze two-year rampage in office?

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Liberals Shrug at Gun Homicides That Aren’t Covered by TMZ

May 28, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

052414-elliot-rodgers-launch-3According to The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik, Richard Martinez—father of Christopher Michael-Martinez, one of the victims of the mass shooting at UC Santa Barbara last week—was courageous for correctly pointing out that the N.R.A. caused his son’s death.

Echoing Martinez’s charge, Gopnik wrote, “Christopher died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the N.R.A…. How do we know that they are the ‘because’ in this? Because every other modern country has suffered from the same kinds of killings… and every other country has changed its laws to stop them from happening again, and in every other country it hasn’t happened again. (Australia is the clearest case—a horrific gun massacre, new laws, no more gun massacres—but the same is true of Canada, Great Britain, you name it.)”

This is a gross distortion of the facts and a negligent failure to see the big picture.

The higher prevalence of shooting rampages in the United States compared to other first-world countries is demonstrably due to cultural differences, not gun availability.

According to Peter Squires, an American criminologist at the UK’s University of Brighton, European countries are more tight-knit and collectivist; their residents are more likely to notice if an acquaintance is deeply troubled and about to go off the rails, and more apt to step in and prevent this from happening.

In contrast, the U.S. is a highly individualistic culture in which it’s easier for loners to drift away from society and become absorbed in their psychoses. With little social support and much suppressed antagonism toward communities they believe have failed them, these lone wolves sometimes lash out at others with what they see as justified mass violence.

In support of the notion that cultural factors are a bigger driver of mass shootings than gun availability, countries such as Germany, Norway, Finland, and Canada have experienced relatively few mass shootings over the past several decades, yet all have relatively high firearm ownership.

According to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, the U.S. has the highest civilian firearm ownership rate in the world, at 88.8 firearms per 100 people. But many other modern countries have high gun ownership rates as well, including #3 Switzerland (45.7), #4 Finland (45.3), #6 Cyprus (36.4), #10 Sweden (31.6), #11 Norway (31.3), #12 France (31.2), #13 Canada (30.8), #14 Austria (30.4), #15 Iceland (30.3), and (tied for) #15 Germany (30.3).

The contention that every other modern country has dramatically restricted gun ownership simply isn’t true.

Gopnik cites Australia as a model country for curbing gun violence via strict firearm control laws. After the Port Arthur mass shooting of 35 people in 1996, Australia enacted strict gun restrictions; advocates subsequently pointed to the drop in gun homicides over the next two decades as vindication of their approach. But gun homicides had already been dropping steadily for the previous two decades, and merely continued to drop after gun control was put in place. If you draw a trend line from 1979 to the present, you would actually predict a slightly lower volume of gun deaths in recent years than took place.

Meanwhile, Great Britain—which Gopnik cites as a successful gun control story—banned handguns in 1997 after the Dunblane mass shooting of 16 children in 1996. The country hasn’t seen any mass shootings since, though whether this is a result of firearm restrictions is highly debatable. What the country has seen, however, is gun crimes soaring 89% between 1998 and 2008, and the number of people injured by firearms more than doubling over approximately the same period—despite the pro-gun-control British government’s best efforts to cover up this troubling news.

Yet Great Britain is near the bottom of the list of countries by civilian gun ownership, at just 6.2 guns per 100 people—exactly where anti-gun liberals tell us Brits should be if they want to be safe and sound. Now, after almost two decades of this failed policy, angry Englishmen are clamoring for their guns back.

Gopnik mentions Great Britain as an example of how we could prevent mass shootings in the U.S. if only the gun lobby and gun-rights advocates weren’t influential enough to prevent draconian gun restrictions. Yet it’s undeniable that handgun violence has shot up since Great Britain banned handguns. So how can Gopnik claim that the British ban on guns was responsible for stopping mass shootings, yet somehow failed to stop—and indeed led to a spike in—gun crimes that weren’t part of mass shootings? Are mentally ill, would-be serial killers more likely to scrupulously observe handgun bans than purse-snatching punks?

Even if Gopnik’s theory were true, and the greater incidence of mass shootings were a result of gun availability, concealed-carry permits unequivocally lead to decreases in everyday gun violence. Is Gopnik fine with eliminating the occurrence of rare mass shootings at the cost of dramatically increasing far more common run-of-the-mill gun deaths?

It’s as though the left believed that gun homicides that are part of mass shootings are more tragic than those that happen willy-nilly, one or two at a time, to people they never hear about. Would they have gotten so worked up over Christopher Michael-Martinez’s death if he had been shot by a home invader or convenience store robber?

In the face of evidence of soaring gun crime in Britain, the most dramatic example of a modern state enacting severe restrictions in a misguided attempt to reduce gun violence, liberals seem willing to sacrifice huge numbers of everyday victims in order to prevent the occasional mass killing that makes them all weepy from being splashed across the front pages of tabloids.

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Zimmerman Verdict Will Save Black Lives

July 17, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

Neighborhood Watch signNotwithstanding their chances of being hit by rubber bullets at mob rallies glorifying Trayvon Martin as a civil rights hero, African-Americans unquestionably will be safer as a result of George Zimmerman’s acquittal of second-degree murder charges last weekend.

The Zimmerman verdict demonstrates that anyone—of any color—brave enough to risk his life to protect other community members—of any color—against potential criminals—of any color—won’t be punished by being tossed in jail to soothe a nation’s collective racial guilt.  And any law-abiding citizens lucky enough to live near such neighborhood watchmen will benefit from their service.

Ignoring the unseemly labels applied to Zimmerman by penthouse liberals with six layers of home security in front of them who never have to dirty their manicured hands to protect themselves, what is the purpose of a neighborhood watch?

It’s to allow neighbors who live where police are unwilling or unable to respond to every instance of rampant crime to band together, in the hopes of supplementing the efforts of overburdened law enforcement officers.

The neighborhood watch is a storied American tradition that dates back to colonial times, developed in its modern form in the late 1960s, and has spread to countries as far-flung as Australia and South Africa.  During the high-crime late 1980s, criminologists estimated that one in five Americans participated in a neighborhood watch.

Neighborhood watches reflect the twin American values of self-reliance and community engagement, and are demonstrably effective at reducing crime.  Their participants should be commended, not castigated.

But the left insists that crippling private citizens’ efforts to defend their neighborhoods will somehow promote public safety, just as they believe restricting lawful firearm ownership will somehow shame criminals into going straight.

The left calls Zimmerman a “wannabe cop” for putting himself in danger to shield his neighbors at The Retreat at Twin Lakes from a rash of burglaries.  (At least Zimmerman was volunteering his own time.  Can we refer to liberals as “wannabe philanthropists” for volunteering our tax dollars to support their causes?)

The New York Times declared, “In the end, what is most frightening is that there are so many people with guns who are like George Zimmerman.”

No, in the end what is frightening is that there aren’t more people with guns who are like George Zimmerman, and that they are treated like monsters for trying to protect their neighborhoods from vicious criminals who, unlike Martin, often wield firearms.

But what about the racial angle?  The left believe they have made the absolutely devastating point that if Zimmerman had been black and Martin white, the nation would have dismissed Zimmerman as a thug and thrown him in jail.

Salon’s Paul Campos wrote, “Suppose Trayvon Martin had been a 230-pound 30-year-old black man, with a loaded gun in his jacket.  Suppose Zimmerman had been a 150-pound 17-year-old white kid…  How do you suppose the big scary black man’s claim of ‘self-defense’ would have gone over?”

A site called The Political Freakshow photoshopped racially reversed images and cited their juxtaposition as proof that a black Zimmerman “would be headed for death row.”

But you can’t just reverse the races in this hypothetical Freaky Friday scenario.  You have to reverse all of the other details as well.

You have to assume that young white men had committed a recent rash of burglaries in a majority-black community.  You have to assume that the black man had been part of the neighborhood watch and had been the victim of a burglary himself.  You have to assume that the black man had come from a mixed-race background, had a white grandfather, and was tutoring a white woman and her daughter; and that the young white man had a history of vandalism and assault; and that all of the forensic evidence and eyewitnesses suggested that the young white man had been the aggressor.

Under those circumstances, not only would the jury have acquitted the black man on grounds of self-defense, they would have submitted him to the Vatican for canonization.

Look how easily the left turned Martin into a saint.  Beyoncé actually started her Nashville concert Saturday night with a moment of silence for Trayvon and a rendition of “Halo.”  One can only imagine how the media would have treated a black neighborhood watchman who got himself a smashed skull and broken nose fending off the equivalent of a teenaged Alec Baldwin.

The Guardian’s Gary Younge declared “open season on black men” and proclaimed, “Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.”  When the young men in question—black or otherwise—happen to be high on pot, have an affinity for gang culture and a history of assault, and propagate violent social disorder against a neighborhood watchman, I’d say that all law-abiding citizens’ interests are served.

As is his wont, President Obama butted in a day after the verdict to announce, “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.”

No, we’re not.  We should be scrapping draconian state and local gun control laws, especially in vulnerable high-crime and minority neighborhoods; issuing more concealed-carry permits; and refraining from demonizing volunteer patrolmen who perform a dirty and dangerous job.  That would be a good start.

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Race-Baiting Only Gets You So Far In Our Justice System

July 03, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

race-baiting-president1Well, what did liberals think was going to happen during the first week-and-a-half of testimony in a race-baiting trial they insisted on holding, despite the rapidly mounting evidence contradicting every wild conjecture and irresponsible accusation central to their case?

The second-degree murder charges against neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin have crumbled to powder in the first seven days of testimony, with prosecution witnesses breaking left and right in Zimmerman’s favor and lending unexpected support to the defendant.

Eyewitness Jeannee Manalo, who told police she had seen a large man straddling a figure lying on the ground the night of the shooting, testified last Wednesday that it was Zimmerman who had been on top.  However, under cross-examination, she admitted that she had based her conclusion on the media’s widely disseminated photograph of Martin as a 12-year-old boy rather than the 6-foot 3-inch, 17-year-old man he was at the time of the altercation.  Manalo confessed to defense attorneys that the media’s photo had colored her interpretation and that she could not conclude it was Zimmerman who had been on top.

The prosecution’s star witness, Rachel Jeantel, betrayed numerous discrepancies in her testimony on Wednesday and Thursday, including reciting two versions of what Zimmerman had said to Martin and three versions of Martin’s last words, and claiming that the confrontation had been instigated by race and then saying it wasn’t.  The climax of Jeantel’s testimony came when she stated that she had heard someone being hit over the phone and somehow knew it was Trayvon.  Defense attorney Don West challenged her: “You don’t know that Trayvon didn’t at that moment take his fists and drive them into George Zimmerman’s face.”  Jeantel’s charming reply: “That’s retarded, sir.”  The consensus among even liberal news outlets was that Jeantel had helped the defense more than the prosecution.

On Friday, neighbor Jonathan Good testified that Trayvon had been planted atop Zimmerman doing a “ground and pound.”  According to the eyewitness, who had been brought onto the stand to bolster the prosecution’s case, “I could tell that the person on the bottom had a light skin color.”

On Monday, Officer Doris Singleton, who had interviewed Zimmerman at the station the night of the killing, testified that Zimmerman hadn’t known Martin was dead until she had told him, and that he had been visibly distraught.  This reaction undercuts the precondition that the defendant must have malice toward the victim and a “depraved mind” to be found guilty of second-degree murder.  Singleton also reported that Zimmerman had offered his testimony to police without asking for a lawyer to be present.

Also on Monday, the prosecution called FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone, who testified that it was easier for someone who was familiar with a voice to recognize that person on an audio recording.  This seemed to bolster the notion that Martin’s parents had correctly identified the screams for help on the 911 tape as Martin’s.  But upon cross-examination, Nakasone admitted that identification is often biased when made by multiple parties simultaneously, as Martin’s parents did, because the witnesses often reinforce each other’s views.  Indeed, Martin’s father’s first impression upon hearing the tape alone had been that the voice was not his son’s.

On Monday afternoon, lead detective Chris Serino testified that he had originally been skeptical of Zimmerman’s claims and had questioned him aggressively.  Then Serino tried bluffing by telling Zimmerman that Martin may have videotaped the encounter, to which Zimmerman responded, “Thank God!”  That, Serino admitted, was when he had decided that he believed Zimmerman.

And all this before the defense has even started calling witnesses!

The presumption of innocence central to our judicial system occasionally results in a jury letting a black defendant such as O.J. Simpson go free out of some twisted notion of collective racial guilt.  But the formula rarely works in the other direction.

A jury doesn’t find four Caucasian cops guilty of criminal charges of excessive use of force as payback for white racism, not when they’ve seen the unedited videotape of a drug-addled Rodney King rising and lunging at them even after repeatedly being knocked down.  A jury doesn’t find three white lacrosse-playing college students guilty of raping a black stripper just because of their privilege, not after having sifted through her outrageous lies.

And a jury isn’t likely to convict a neighborhood watchman with sterling character references, a racially tolerant background, and forthcoming and impeccably consistent testimony, of second-degree murder just because he’s half-white, especially not when his stoned, racial-epithet-spewing, gangster-idolizing victim boasted a history of assault, vandalism, and theft, and clearly had a bone to pick with the “creepy-ass cracker” he imagined was stalking him.

Liberals, race-baiters—all those who have a visceral desire to see George Zimmerman rot in jail—can’t alter reality, as much as they’d like to.  Our legal system is designed to slow things down, calm people’s tempers, and force us to examine the evidence methodologically and without prejudice, and under those conditions they can’t force the jury or the nation to swallow their argument.

The flimsy, racially instigated case against Zimmerman is falling apart so precipitously that it’ll be surprising if Martin supporters are shameless enough to even express outrage over the defendant’s likely acquittal.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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Kimani Gray: Trayvon Pt. II

March 20, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

Kimani-GrayHere’s what we know: On Saturday, March 9, 2013 around 11:30pm, two plainclothes officers—Sgt. Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova—emerged from a maroon sedan on East 52nd St. in East Flatbush and approached a group of eight teenage boys, including 16-year-old Kimani Gray.  According to police and other eyewitnesses, Gray started backing away from the approaching officers in a suspicious manner, and at some point reached for his waistband.  Cops claim he pulled out a gun and aimed it at them, though some witnesses claim he didn’t pull out a gun, and other witnesses didn’t see enough to be sure.  The police ordered Gray to freeze, and when he disobeyed, they fired 11 bullets, 7 of which hit him.  Two hit his right thigh, two the backs of his thighs, one the back of his left shoulder, and one each his left ribcage and forearm.  Gray fell to the ground and was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

We also know that police recovered from Gray’s body a .38-caliber Rohm’s Industry revolver with two spent and four live rounds.  Police learned after Gray’s death that he had been arrested four times for adult charges including grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and inciting a riot.  Police believe Gray was a member of the Bloods gang, based on his presence in two online videos in which he wore a red hoodie and dressed down a member of the rival Crips.  Ex-gang member Shanduke McPhatter, who works with troubled youth in Gray’s crime-ridden neighborhood, set the context for the shooting: “[T]he situation on the streets has grown more complex for law enforcement: gangs are less organized, replaced instead by informal crews with few requirements and in which leadership is frequently up for grabs among increasingly young members.”

Here’s what we don’t know:

We don’t know whether Gray pulled out his gun and pointed it at police.

We don’t know the order in which the bullets hit Gray or whether police shot him in the back.  Coroners are attempting to ascertain these details, which could help determine which way Gray was facing when police shot him.  The fact that only three bullets hit Gray from the back suggests he may have turned and tried to run after being shot in the front; the testimony of eyewitness Camille Johnson supports this account.  That two bullets hit Gray in his right thigh implies police shot him from the front first: had they already shot him five times from the back and side, it’s unlikely they would have precisely targeted two shots to his right thigh.  Four bullets in his thighs suggest cops were not shooting to kill but to wound.

That’s what we don’t know—but don’t worry: not having all the facts isn’t preventing overheated rhetoric and wanton violence from cop-haters and liberals who condescend to people who live in high-crime areas by assuming they don’t want a strong police presence.

Those cop-haters—joined by a smattering of Occupy Wall Street types—have engaged in the following helpful activities while awaiting all the facts:

After a vigil for Gray Monday night, dozens of protestors marched to the local police precinct, where they threw bottles and garbage at the station, forcing police to don riot gear and set up a roadblock.  They threw rocks and glass bottles at oncoming traffic and broke several bus windows.  A group of 60 rioters stormed a local Rite Aid, destroying merchandise and knocking over a cash register.  They struck a pastor over the head with a wine bottle, stole his cellphone, and assaulted the store’s manager.  After looting the drugstore, they hit a local fruit market, where they demolished merchandise and stole money from the cash register.

After another vigil Wednesday night, rioters were at it again, throwing bricks at officers, hurling chairs, and tossing projectiles through police van windows.  Forty-six hooligans were arrested for disorderly conduct, assaulting police officers, and destroying property.

What does it say that Gray’s supporters behaved this way after his shooting?  It doesn’t imply his guilt, but it certainly doesn’t help their case.  As with the Trayvon Martin shooting, rioters seem to think behaving like savages and harming innocent people will help their legal argument.  Do they really believe it will draw more support for their side?  Do they see themselves as courageous freedom fighters?

There was a time in this country when racial injustice was prevalent and African Americans couldn’t get a fair deal from our criminal justice system.  The time of demonstrable, documentable, provable police bias is long over.  An occasional shooting of an armed or suspicious-looking black suspect in a high-crime neighborhood who disobeys police orders is not proof we are living in Jim Crow America.

During the civil rights era, crusaders for justice stood their ground with quiet dignity and let racist cops and governors disgrace themselves by turning on the fire hoses and releasing the attack dogs.  This new trend—riots in Los Angeles, flash mobs in Philadelphia, ransackings in Miami Beach—is a perversion of civil disobedience and the polar opposite of justice.

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Christopher Dorner, Left-Wing Martyr

February 13, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

LAPD-Cop-Killer-Christopher-Dorner-is-A-HEROWhat’s the difference between Christopher Dorner’s L.A. cop-killing spree that ended on Tuesday and the numerous acts of violence falsely attributed to conservatives and Tea Partiers over the last four years?

No, it’s not that those acts were carried out by conservatives.  Those acts were all carried out by leftists, too.

Dorner was the first case in which the perpetrator outlined his left-wing affiliations up front, and a significant portion of the left supported him.

In all of the other political acts of violence attributed to conservatives since Obama became President, the evidence that the perpetrator sympathized with the left was abundant, yet the media never bothered to piece it together, or insisted that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions (except the conclusion that the suspect was right-leaning).

Meanwhile, the media papered over the content of Dorner’s 11,000-word manifesto explaining his motives and outlining his ideological heroes.  The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, and BBC all failed to mention Dorner’s leftist sympathies in their lead stories.

Dorner praised left-wingers like Diane Feinstein, Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mia Farrow, and Barack and Michelle Obama.  (“Off the record, I love your new bangs, Mrs. Obama.”)  He expressed drooling admiration for Piers Morgan, Chris Matthews, Soledad O’Brien, Tavis Smiley, Anderson Cooper, Jeffrey Toobin, Walter Cronkite, and hacking group Anonymous.  He cursed Wayne LaPierre and his family, Mitt Romney and his family, George W. Bush, and George Zimmerman.

Sounding like a Hollywood liberal, Dorner wrote of gun control, “The time is now to reinstitute a ban that will save lives.  Why does any sportsman need a 30 round magazine for hunting?”  Dorner then parted ways with bodyguard-hiring, filmic violence-glorifying celebrities by openly admitting his hypocrisy: “All the firearms utilized in my activities are registered to me and were legally purchased at gun stores and private party transfers…  [S]hould I be able to purchase these class III weapons…  NO.”

Though the left didn’t report on any of this, they certainly ate it up when they thought America wasn’t looking.  Peruse the abundance of comments on Facebook and left-leaning political sites supporting cop-killer Dorner.  On Twitter the hash tags #WeAreAllChrisDorner and #GoDornerGo were trending before his death.

Dorner’s supporters—who accepted uncritically his flimsy allegations of racism experienced while on the police force—were presumably tickled that he tied up hundreds of LAPD cops for weeks trying to find him, and that 50 officers and their terrified families were under 24-hour police protection.  They were also probably thrilled that Dorner diverted resources from border patrol agents and U.S. Marshals.  (Dorner no doubt lost points for being a former U.S. Navy Reservist.)

Contrast Dorner supporters’ fawning sentiments with the vitriol heaped on American hero Chris Kyle last week when a psychologically disturbed veteran shot him at a gun range.  The left—and Ron Paul—denounced Kyle as a psychotic bitter-clinger.  Liberals were more upset about Kyle’s killing of 150 Iraqi freedom fighters than they were about Dorner’s murder of black victim Keith Lawrence and his fiancée Monica Quan, daughter of former Police Chief Randall Quan, and his other innocent victims.

The left claimed, not that Dorner was a deranged lunatic whose complaints about the LAPD didn’t justify his killing rampage, but that—as the New York Times winked—many could sympathize with his motives.  Dorner was fired in 2008 after filing what was determined, after multiple levels of review and testimony of three eyewitnesses, to be a false allegation of police brutality.  Dorner then swore to carry out “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against racist, corrupt LAPD officers in revenge.

The Daily Kos linked to Dorner’s essay and glowed, “[T]he manifesto does highlight the problem of police brutality, which has plagued police departments all over the country for decades…  [P]olice brutality is an ongoing problem and Christopher Dorner is very articulate and powerful in his arguments.”  (Did they really just call an African-American mass murderer “articulate”?)

So is there any substance to Dorner’s charges?  Dorner cited one dubious event in which he attacked two officers for an allegedly racist incident.  After believing that he had heard a fellow officer use the n-word during a ride in a noisy passenger van, Dorner wrote that he “jumped over my front passenger seat and two other officers where I placed my hands around Burdios’ neck and squeezed…  What I should have done, was put a Winchester Ranger SXT 9mm 147 grain bullet in his skull and Officer Magana’s skull.”

But Dorner dismissed the LAPD’s allegations that he was a bully.  He actually listed every city he had ever lived in and encouraged journalists to confirm his pacific nature with his former classmates.  He claimed that being a roughneck was “not in my DNA,” then hedged, “[A]ny instances where I was disciplined for fighting was in response to fellow students provoking common childhood schoolyard fights, or calling me a nigger or other derogatory racial names.”  I never beat anyone up—but if I did, it was because they deserved it!

Throughout his rambling manifesto, Dorner revealed himself to be a serial grudge-holder who defensively strung together unrelated charges against everyone he had ever known, insisting that everything he had ever been accused of was Not His Fault.  (No wonder the left loved him!)  He accused lesbian officers of wielding too much power.  He scolded Asian cops for not stepping in to defend him against officers with whom he was quarreling.  He blamed the LAPD for costing him his naval career and his relationships with his mother, his sister, and his friends.

Dorner accused one officer of having “delusions of grandeur,” then wrote, “You have misjudged a sleeping giant.  There is no conventional threat assessment for me.  JAM, New Ba’ath party, 1920 rev BGE, ACM, AAF, AQAP, AQIM and AQIZ have nothing on me…  I am a walking exigent circumstance with no OFF or reset button.”  (Dorner made Obama seem humble and retiring.)

What is the state of the modern American left?  When a mass murderer declared his leftist sympathies and named specific journalists and politicians who had provided him with inspiration and courage, conservatives were tactful enough to remind the public that liberals weren’t responsible for the actions of a deranged lunatic.  Then the left, showing their true colors, preempted that sentiment by expressing their solidarity with the killer.

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NATO Protesters Try to Recapture That Rancid Occupy Magic

May 23, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

Far-right conservatives don’t protest far-left institutions the way leftists protest even center-left institutions.

Witness liberals’ uproar over the NATO summit held in Chicago earlier this week, at which protester turnout was augmented by Occupy Chicago sympathizers seeking to recapture the rancid magic of last fall’s anti-Wall Street movement.

What’s puzzling about the left’s agitation over the summit is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not exactly the John Birch Society.  The topics on the agenda this year included: removing international troops from Afghanistan by 2013, not intervening militarily in Syria, and rolling back austerity measures in France—all stances you’d think the protestors would be in love with.  Yet leftists marched and rioted and looted all weekend as though Mitt Romney had established Mormonism as the state religion of Illinois.

What is it about leftists and protesting?

Conservatives certainly protest a thing or two, now and then; witness the vigorous and effective Tea Party movement of the past three years.  But note the differences in how conservatives and leftists make their views known:

Raised voices and signs warning of abridged liberties and financial ruin are about as extreme as conservatives get.  In contrast, leftists fancy cop-bashing, firebombing, destroying property, blowing up bridges, threatening public safety, and generally hastening the decline of civilization.

Conservatives target government officials who rack up trillions of dollars in debt.  Leftists target Starbucks patrons, Walgreens shoppers, and elderly diners at family restaurants.

Conservatives hope to send career politicians home to their districts for an early retirement.  Leftists end up sending innocent people to the hospital.

Conservatives obtain protest permits, provide sanitation facilities, buy liability insurance, hire security personnel, and bring portable defibrillators.  Leftists occupy space that isn’t theirs, pee in the streets, defecate on police cars, offer safe haven for junkies, and spread new diseases.

Conservatives protest in their everyday garb, notwithstanding an occasional Ben Franklin impersonator or tricorner hat.  Leftists sport masks, scarves, bandanas, and hoods, dress as zombies and clowns, and splash red paint on their bodies to fake police-induced injuries.

Conservatives label themselves Constitutionalists, neoclassical liberals, and libertarians.  Leftists call themselves anarchists.

Conservatives’ weapons include words, arguments, and quotes, from the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, and references to Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Ayn Rand.  Leftists’ weapons include cyber attacks, hammers, batons, Molotov cocktails, and assault rifles.

The mainstream media cover for leftist protestors by minimizing the severity of their crimes, blowing out of proportion minor indignities they bear during their uncooperative arrests, and implying moral equivalency between ruffians and cops.  According to the media, for example, leftist protestors don’t wreak havoc; police don’t try to restore order.  Rather, protestors and police “clash,” as if they were the Crips and the Bloods.

The media skim over injuries suffered by the police, but wail over the “safety” of short-sighted protestors who don’t bring enough water to drink.  They smear undercover cops’ efforts to prevent imminent attacks as infiltration, subterfuge, and entrapment.  They approvingly quote protestors who complain that cops are trying to “frighten people,” “diminish the size of the demonstrations,” and spread “fear and intimidation.”

By MSNBC’s reckoning, the noble NATO protestors’ biggest weakness isn’t that their message is incoherent, but that they have “too many messages” to absorb.  Yes, the beleaguered public just can’t keep up with the comprehensive brilliance of The Occupation Diaries of 2012.

Leftists and a complicit media demand ludicrous double standards that permit protestors to dress any way they want without being criticized, disrupt police efforts to control them, and abandon the law in order to save it.  The media remain neutral while leftists turn urban spaces into war zones and harass police squadrons defending the city from their assaults.

The domestic terrorists whose work was on display over the weekend are the ideological descendants of Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and the Weather Underground.  These thugs view the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention as their movement’s crowning historical achievement.

And their techniques are becoming more extreme.  One anarchist group called the Black Bloc recently held training sessions on how to use “improvised explosives, swords, hunting bows, throwing stars and brass knuckles.”  Palestinian brutes in the West Bank throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers are more civilized than these barbarians.

Except that Palestinian militants don’t generally attack their own side for not being militant enough.  The hacking group Anonymous recently tried to shut down the website for the city of Chicago—arguably the most generous, profligate, left-wing dispenser of taxpayer-funded largesse in the U.S. outside of the federal government—because it has a police department that won’t let them rampage with abandon.  Three NATO protestors were charged over the weekend with plotting to attack Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and the Obama 2012 reelection headquarters.

What does it says about the left that they are more likely to violently protest insufficiently liberal institutions than conservatives are to do the same for far-left causes?  It says either that leftists are so intolerant of dissenting views that they can’t stand the existence of entities who slightly disagree with them, or that they hold society in such contempt that they get their kicks trying to tear it down.

Neither possibility is particularly flattering to their movement.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics


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Race-Baiters Batting .000 in Trayvon Case

April 25, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Crime/Ethics

Up till now, the most accurate reporting the mainstream media have done on the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case has been relaying the fact that Martin had Skittles and iced tea on him when he was shot.  At the rate they’re going, I won’t be surprised if it emerges that he was carrying Pop Rocks and Four Loko.

Here is a partial list of the wild, reckless, irresponsible claims the left-leaning media have made in the Martin-Zimmerman case, every one of which has been rendered highly suspect or outright false:

Zimmerman is a white racist who killed Martin because he was black.

Multiple acquaintances of Zimmerman’s, including black friends, testified to reporters that Zimmerman—who is half-Hispanic—isn’t racist.  Zimmerman comes from a multiracial family and, during the period when the shooting took place, was tutoring a black neighbor’s two young children and helping raise money for her all-black church.

Maybe Zimmerman wasn’t racist, but he racially profiled Martin and told a 911 dispatcher Martin looked suspicious because of his race.  Zimmerman also uttered a racial slur.

In an egregious act of journalistic malpractice, an NBC producer chopped up the 911 audiotape to make it seem as though Zimmerman had found Martin suspicious because he was black, when in fact Zimmerman was merely responding to the dispatcher’s request to identify Martin’s race.  As for the slur, forensic experts enhanced the sound quality of the tape to isolate Zimmerman’s voice and concluded, not that he had used the archaic term coon, but that he was lamenting the cold.

OK, Zimmerman may not have racially profiled Martin, but he was a trigger-happy vigilante who shot Martin because of the cover provided by Florida’s barbaric Stand Your Ground law.

As Walter Olson and others have explained, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is utterly irrelevant in the Zimmerman case.  If Zimmerman stalked Martin and shot him in cold blood, then obviously he didn’t act in self-defense.  If Martin set upon Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, and started pummeling him, as Zimmerman claims, then Zimmerman couldn’t have safely retreated, which is what Stand Your Ground opponents would have potential victims do instead of fighting back.  Either way, Stand Your Ground has no bearing on the propriety of Zimmerman’s actions.

Well, Martin wouldn’t have started a fight with Zimmermanhe was a sweet, innocent kid.

The night he was shot, Martin was serving a suspension for carrying a plastic baggie with traces of marijuana.  Previously he had been suspended for tardiness, truancy, and spray painting graffiti on school property.  Martin had been reprimanded for possessing an assortment of stolen women’s jewelry and a lock-breaking device.  His Twitter account revealed an affinity for gangsta culture, a flood of misogynistic tweets describing graphic sexual fantasies, and the suggestion that he had assaulted a school bus driver.  Photos of Martin displayed a menacing figure grimacing at the camera with a grill over his lower teeth.

Martin’s school suspensions are irrelevant.  He may have gotten into a bit of trouble now and then, but clearly Zimmerman was lying about Martin bashing his head into the concrete.

Police on the scene confirmed Zimmerman’s injuries and the presence of grass stains on his clothes.  When ABC News released a grainy surveillance video taken in the Sanford Police Station that didn’t show obvious wounds on the back of Zimmerman’s head, the media jumped all over him and called him a liar.  When ABC later released an enhanced video that showed clearer evidence of two gashes on the back of Zimmerman’s head, liberals claimed the evidence was inconclusive and that conservatives were playing Columbo.  When multiple witnesses attested that Zimmerman had bandages on his head and nose the day after the shooting, skeptics questioned the witnesses’ credibility.  Finally, last week ABC released a graphic photograph taken just after the incident showing thick rivulets of blood streaming down the back of Zimmerman’s head.  Liberals have been silent while trying to figure out how to squirm out of the latest corner they’ve painted themselves into.

Confronted with evidence disproving their claims of discrimination, race-baiters always shift the standard of proof to make their case just one step harder to discredit, so that they get a clean slate from their previous raft of false accusations and must meet only their current, self-determined burden of proof.  When that standard is refuted, they cry, “Yes, but…” and move on to the next unmet standard, claiming that all of the previous standards are irrelevant to their case.  The logical endpoint of this burning platform approach to argumentation is for the left to claim that, okay, the facts don’t support their case this time around, but the problem they are decrying is nonetheless legion.

If the sheer volume of circumstantial evidence exonerating Zimmerman accumulates to such a degree that a majority of the population comes around to his side of the story, the left won’t ever admit that they were wrong.  They won’t take responsibility for the multiple retaliatory beatings across the country incited by their inflammatory race-baiting.  Just as they did with false rape allegations against the Duke lacrosse players, the flurry of phony noose-hanging and anti-black vandalism incidents on college campuses, the apocryphal rash of black church burnings, the Tawana Brawley case, and a million other made-up incidents, liberals will simply claim that the charges against Zimmerman were fake but accurate, because they drew national attention to a problem that in fact exists only in their heads.

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics

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