Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for March, 2012

Comments on the Trayvon Martin case

Posted by Charles II on March 31, 2012

I’ve tried to be careful in judging this case, because so much of what we think we know is based on selective leaks, statements by people who do not have any independent knowledge of the case, and judgments reached on the basis of emotion. For example, it is certainly possible, as the right wing claims, that Martin doubled back on Zimmerman and confronted him. (to see the full range of right-wing claims about the case, one can consult the threads I selected to document the role of racialist hatred in the national, um, dialogue about this case)

So, let’s dispassionately consider some of these points. Here are my comments, which are based on a layman’s–not a lawyer’s– understanding of law.

1. How would the legal implications change if Trayvon Martin did confront George Zimmerman, or even physically assault him?

There would be no change. Martin correctly believed that he was being stalked by an unknown male. The stalker was probably not behaving unlawfully in simply following Martin, but neither did he enjoy the protections given to officers of the law. He was acting as a vigilante. Since there was no objective reason to believe that Martin had committed any crime, Zimmerman had no right to confront Martin. However, Martin did have a reason to fear that his stalker might be about to harm him. Therefore, under Florida’s poorly-written Stand Your Ground law, Martin did have justification to confront Zimmerman with force. If Martin even suspected that Zimmerman had a gun, he would have been justified in killing him. This is what the statute says:

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

2. What if Martin was involved in drugs, petty crime, loitering with intent (or whatever)?

None of these allegations, which originate from unlawfully released and/or fabricated school records, have any bearing on the case. George Zimmerman did not know Trayvon Martin, had not witnessed who was responsible for crime in his area, and had no other reason to suspect that Martin was anyone but a kid walking back home from the convenience store. The Miami Herald did not serve the public by releasing those records. It defamed a dead kid.

Indeed, those allegation have fed directly into a white supremacist smear campaign. According to CJR’s Ryan Chittum, Stormfront published photos of someone, not Trayvon Martin, and these found their way onto Business Insider (thereby demonstrating the close connectivity of white supremacists and the country clubbers in the Republican machine) and thence onto ABC’s Good Morning America (showing the close linkage of the media to the Republican machine).

Separately, an anonymous person calling himself Klanklannon apparently hacked the dead boy’s accounts to find material to defame him with. How much of what he released is fact and how much is fabrication is anyone’s guess. But, just to add injury to homicide, people began sending e-mails from the deceased’s accounts. Our mainstream media took part in this ghoulishness [added: to be clear, the media didn't send e-mail from Martin's account. They defamed him in other ways].

When Joe Scarborough comes off as the only good guy in the mainstream media, you know that we’re in trouble.

3. In principle, could there be circumstances which would justify not charging George Zimmerman?

One can’t entirely rule it out. A judge has ruled that a person whose car radio has been stolen was entirely justified in pursuing the thief and stabbing him to death, then taking the other stolen radios (and selling them), all apparently on the say-so of the killer. With a law that poorly written, one can’t absolutely rule out the possibility that there was some legal reason why George Zimmerman was released.

However, it’s difficult to understand why Zimmerman would have been in fear of his life. He was the pursuer, not the pursued. He had no reason to believe that the boy he was pursuing had committed or was about to commit a crime. He was in contact with police. He shrugged off advice from police not to continue following Martin (I would not characterize “We don’t need you to do that” as an order, even in the south). He was not so afraid of Martin that he stayed in his truck. And, of course, Zimmerman had his own past which, unlike Trayvon Martin’s alleged tattoos and spraypainting a locker with “WTF” and having a baggy with residues of marijuana, included commission of actual crimes of violence. And, finally, photos of Zimmerman after the incident do not show serious wounds.

Returning to the statute, Zimmerman claims he was attacked while he was engaged in a lawful activity. If Martin attacked him, then he could certainly claim that he’s covered by the statute. But that’s something for the courts, not right-wing radio, to decide.

4. Is it possible that both Martin and Zimmerman were acting lawfully according to the statute?

I think it is possible. By saying that a person who is in a public place engaged in lawful behavior has no duty to retreat, it leaves open the possibility that two people, engaged in lawful behavior, could come to blows in such a manner that both were protected by the statute.

Finally, my guess is that Zimmerman confronted Martin with a weapon in order to menace and intimidate Martin, that Martin–justly fearing for his life–jumped Zimmerman, and Zimmerman panicked. If that guess is correct, Zimmerman is not protected by the statute. But it’s just a guess. From the evidence that has emerged, nothing can be proven except that one more kid is dead thanks to Republican encouragement of vigilantism.

Posted in crimes, Florida (where magical things happen), gun issues | 3 Comments »

As usual, only one man can summarize the healthcare case before the Supreme Court correctly

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2012

In its entirety:

The following message was released today by the National Alliance of Funeral Directors:

This week, several Republican Supreme Court Justices have argued that the Affordable Care Act supported by the Obama Administration is unconstitutional. At the National Alliance of Funeral Directors, we couldn’t agree more.

It was Revolutionary War hero Patrick Henry who said, in 1775, “Give me liberty or give me death.” From that moment on, legal scholars have agreed that the Constitution guarantees every American the liberty to be dead. Here at the Alliance, we will fight for your right to be dead to the death.

Let’s take a look, if you will, at the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which protects every American’s right to shoot another American. It says nothing about giving the person who is shot health insurance to prevent him from dying. This cherished constitutional right to shoot people and make them dead is currently recognized in all fifty states, most recently Florida.

In commenting on the Affordable Care Act this week, Justice Samuel Alito compared the Obama healthcare plan to burial insurance. Coincidentally, burial insurance is the Republican healthcare plan, and one that we enthusiastically support. Under this plan, every American would be mandated to buy a coffin from one of our member-owned and operated funeral homes. May we recommend the Peaceful Valley Royale,™ a luxury mahogany casket with sienna satin interior and the finest imitation antique nickel handles ($2899).

As the organization representing America’s funeral directors, gravediggers, embalmers and cremators, we are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately do the right thing and decide that healthcare flies in the face of every American’s constitutional right to the pursuit of deadness. And when they do, we’ll be waiting for you.

Sincerely,

The National Alliance of Funeral Directors

Andy Borowitz

Posted in health care, judicial rulings, judiciary, Republicans as cancer, Supreme Court | 4 Comments »

Preserving the best of white hate for posterity: Trayvon Martin edition

Posted by Charles II on March 30, 2012

I feel an obligation to preserve the sayings of Free Republic for posterity. All too many liberals do not know what goes on in Red America and imagine that Congress would somehow magically reform itself if people would vote for Dennis Kucinich for President.

The reality is that Congress knows its constituents. The problem is that both liberals and conservatives pander to their constituents rather than educating them. In a country where the real left has been destroyed by decades of assault, many liberals pretend to be moderates and many ::cough:: conservatives pretend (or not) to be neo-Nazis. Neither of them seem to believe anything at all. No one does what is right for the country. Read these posts understanding that they represent perhaps one third of Republicans (and only a few of the 20 or so threads about the Martin case). Other posters occasionally make weak protests against the sort of hate-the-victim comments, and surely many stay silent in the face of this evil. What comes to the fore during cases like the murder of Trayvon Martin is the racialist wing of the Party.

Averting one’s eyes is no longer an option. These people mean to seize power, through sham elections and domination of the courts that that enables, if possible, but if not… well, read and see what you think.

As an aside, seven of the over 20 threads on the Martin case are initiated by someone who reveres the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, having taken the nickname that McCarthy took to celebrate his heroism in World War II, Tailgunner Joe. Wikipedia remembers the heroism of the real Tailgunner Joe:

He would leave the Marines with the rank of captain. It is well documented that McCarthy lied about his war record. Despite his automatic commission, he claimed to have enlisted as a “buck private”. He flew twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer, earning the nickname of “Tail-Gunner Joe” in the course of one of these missions.[15]

He later claimed 32 missions in order to qualify for a Distinguished Flying Cross, which he received in 1952. McCarthy publicized a letter of commendation which he claimed had been signed by his commanding officer and countersigned by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, then Chief of Naval Operations. However, it was revealed that McCarthy had written this letter himself, in his capacity as intelligence officer. A “war wound” that McCarthy made the subject of varying stories involving airplane crashes or antiaircraft fire was in fact received aboard ship during a ceremony for sailors crossing the equator for the first time.

Interesting that what Joseph McCarthy actually did in lying about his service record was how they smeared John Kerry.

So, here goes, local interest first.

TailgunnerJoe, posting an article from MPR on pro-Trayvon protests at U. Minn. gets the following responses:

“…protesting over the death of the 17-year-old who shot and killed as he walked to his father’s home as he was attacking the local neighborhood watch captain by George Zimmerman”
3 posted on Friday, March 30, 2012 7:35:16 AM by Mr. K (If Romney wins the primary, I am writing-in PALIN) [The interesting slip in the quote is MPR's. For reasons not clear to me, the website administrator also gave it a URL "hoodie rally" that seems strange]

The predator underclass is furious that their prey are shooting back.
“Justice” = only criminals can have guns.
4 posted on Friday, March 30, 2012 7:36:11 AM by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini–nevertheless, Vote Santorum!)

“you mess with one of our young people and we will bring the people to you,” Miller said.
A thug, masquerading as a caring person.
Referring to Miller.
All these demonstrations, justifying resort to criminal conduct. The media, the president, numerous politicians, all elevating the commission of a crime into sainthood.
The Legend of Saint Skittles is that of turning criminal conduct into exemplary conduct.
5 posted on Friday, March 30, 2012 7:36:29 AM by Cboldt

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Posted in John Kerry, race in America, ratf*cking, Republicans as cancer | 8 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on March 30, 2012

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

Context is everything: Murdoch, Israeli intelligence, and the plot to control the media

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2012

This is one of those odd little stories that you have to think about to understand why there is probably more to it than a simple payoff to police.

Here is the context-free presentation by Cahal Milmo, London Independent:

A payment made to Surrey Police by the News Corporation company accused of using piracy to crack pay-TV rivals’ technology was earmarked by the force for use “in the fight against organised crime”, it emerged. NDS said the £2,000 was a “one-off charitable donation” and received an acknowledgement from a senior detective understood to have been in charge of running undercover operations for Surrey Police. He said the funds would be channelled “directly” into efforts to combat organised criminals. The payment was ordered in June 2000 by an NDS executive who said in an internal email he had been doing “some work” with Surrey Police. A senior Labour MP said it raised a “shower of questions” and called for police watchdogs to investigate links between Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the force. The revelations came as Mr Murdoch warned he would “hit back hard” following a rash of allegations that London-based NDS, which is being sold to computing giant Cisco for $5bn, used hacking to target the encryption codes of satellite television operators. NDS issued more denials of wrongdoing and attacked its accusers, including the BBC’s Panorama.

Booooring, right?

And now some context fromKim Zetter, Wired:

It’s been four years since Rupert Murdoch’s NDS subsidiary was largely cleared in a civil lawsuit charging that the company employed hackers to sabotage rival companies.

Now the allegations have surfaced again, this time with internal e-mails allegedly documenting a coordinated scheme to damage competitors to Murdoch’s media empire that was led by a former Israeli intelligence officer and former UK police officers working for the Murdoch firm.

[The Echostar haccking case] also involved a former U.S. hacker named Christopher Tarnovsky who worked for NDS and was accused of helping pirates steal services from NDS competitors.

But according to the Australian Financial Times, Tarnovsky was just one of many actors associated with a secretive group of former policemen and intelligence officers within News Corp known as Operational Security.

That group, the paper says, embarked on a coordinated plan to derail Murdoch’s pay-TV competitors in Australia and elsewhere by distributing crack codes for competitor’s satellite services. According to the paper, which has published internal emails from the group, their actions devastated Murdoch competitors such as DirecTV in the U.S., Telepiu in Italy and Austar in Australia, and allowed Murdoch to then try and swoop in to buy up the businesses at reduced costs.

Now it’s the stuff of spy thrillers. Crooked cops! Mossad! (or whoever) Computer piracy! And a mad media mogul intent on breaking the kneecaps of every competitor!

The only thing that’s particularly interesting about the involvement of Israeli intelligence is that so many Israelis seem to be guns for hire for almost every repressive regime, whether it’s apartheid South Africa or the Honduran dictatorship. For a tiny country of a few million people, their former intelligence and military officials sure get around.

But the story is really about Murdoch, and how amoral and corrupt he and his people are. A $3000 bribe to a police department? All in a day’s work.

Posted in corruption, Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

68 year old Marine shot to death in his own home

Posted by Charles II on March 29, 2012

DemocracyNow:

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, JR.: This is his pendant right here. It was triggered, and the medical company—there’s a box inside his home. The medical company asked him if he was all right. They didn’t get a response. So, automatically, if you don’t get a response, they send medical services to your house. They informed the police that they are responding to a medical emergency, not a crime. And once they arrived at my father’s home, my father did tell them that he was OK. But for some reason, they wanted to gain entry into my father’s home. I don’t know why. And in the audio, you hear my father telling them that he’s fine, he’s OK.

He was sleeping and accidentally triggered his alarm.

KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN, JR.: Ultimately, after using expletives and racial slurs, they broke down the door. You can see on the video from the taser that they fired a taser at him. And I’m assuming that both prongs didn’t go in. He stood about maybe eight to 10 feet away from them with his hands down to his side. And at one point, you hear one of the officers say, “Cut it off.” And it was at that point they shot and killed my father.

There were no orders given to him once they knocked the door down, though, which you would have expected, that they would have given some type of verbal command and said, “Get down on the floor. Put your hands up. Get against the wall.” None of those things were said.

Although this incident clearly had racial overtones (the police used the N-word, though we don’t know the race of the officer using the word), it is more than that. Nor is it just a matter of inadequate training. And, while I have deep sympathy with the fact that officers are sometimes in the line of fire and make mistakes, a man on the other side of a door is not even a potential threat until you break down the door. So, this was not a mistake. Nor is this just a problem of that locality.

Very simply, police powers have become too great. They have become arrogant. At all levels and in many localities, police are abusing their powers. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the treatment of Occupy. But it is also evident in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and certainly in the police murder of Kenneth Chamberlain, a man who served his country well and was shot down in cold blood, as if he had been a mad dog.

Posted in abuse of power | 5 Comments »

Laffer Was Wrong: Tax Cuts Don’t Help Economy, Tax Hikes Don’t Hurt It.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 29, 2012

Hat tip to David Dayen for passing this NYT piece along:

It is true that high-income Americans carry the biggest tax burden. While fewer than 1 in 20 families make more than $200,000, they pay almost half of all federal taxes.

However they feel about the tax man, there is a case to be made that they can pay much more. The reason has nothing to do with fairness, justice or ideology. It is about economics and math [...]

For 30 years, any proposal to raise taxes had to overcome an unshakable belief that higher taxes inevitably led to less growth. The belief survived the Clinton administration, when taxes rose and the economy surged. It survived George W. Bush’s administration, when taxes were cut yet growth sagged.

But now, a growing body of research suggests not only that the government could raise much more revenue by sharply raising the top tax rates paid by the richest Americans, but it could do so without slowing economic growth. Top tax rates could go as high as 80 percent or more.

It gets better. As Dayen says, quoting from the article in question:

My favorite conclusion of theirs was that the rich don’t really contribute all that much to economic growth:

Perhaps the most controversial conclusion, made by Mr. Saez and two colleagues in another study published last December, is that while the rich would respond to a big tax increase by shielding income from the tax man and maybe working less, this would not slow the economy at all. That’s because a lot of what the rich do does not, in fact, generate economic growth. So if they reduced their effort in response to higher taxes, the economy wouldn’t suffer.

In other words, losing the rent-seeking behavior of the rich from the economy will only help it.

Dayen goes on to cite Ezra Klein’s quotation of this research paper by Filip Spagnoli of the National Bank of Belgium:

Low tax rates can be seen as a desirable policy goal for a variety of reasons. Your views on justice and desert may require a system of taxation that allows people to keep as much as possible of what they earn. Or you may have strong opinions on property rights, self-property, self-reliance and the “undeserving poor.” In this paper, however, I will examine the merits of another and prima facie more convincing rationale, namely that low levels of taxation — especially low levels of taxation on the income or wealth of the so-called productive segments of society — are beneficial for economic growth. I criticize both the theoretical underpinnings of this view and its factual basis . . . It may even be the case that low tax rates have unwanted harmful consequences instead of the assumed beneficial ones.

There you go. Or, as Dr. Thompson and Cicero might say, res ipsa loquitur.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Lysistrata lives!

Posted by Charles II on March 28, 2012

Too delicious for words. Not sure whether via Avedon, Ritholtz, or who. Anne Sewell, Digital Journal:

Spanish banks have come under fire recently for many reasons, including foreclosures on thousands of homes. Madrid’s high-class escorts are getting revenge.

The ladies have taken it on themselves to regulate the Spanish banking sector by withholding sexual favours from bank employees.

RT reports that in the Spanish capital, Madrid, the largest trade association for luxury escorts has started an indefinite strike. They say that until bankers return to providing credits to Spanish families and also small- and medium-sized businesses, there will be no sexual pleasures for their employees.

The Mexican news website, SDPnoticias.com, reported that the bankers became so desperate that they even called in the government for mediation in the issue.

I now predict an early resolution to the European crisis.

Lysistrata lives!

Posted in banking, financial crisis, Good Things | 2 Comments »

Voter ID? How About ALEC ID? HF 2972 Would Shine Light On Secretive Group

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 28, 2012

Hat tip to Sally Jo Sorensen for passing this on:

Representative Phyllis Kahn has thrown HF2972 into the hopper, a bill to require legislative meetings:

to be open to the public; model legislation lobbyists and principals, and scholarship fund principals and public officials requirements added; public campaign fund established; political contribution refund amount increased, and money appropriated.

The first part of the bill requires legislative meetings to be open to the public, no doubt a much-needed response to the closed meetings that took place during the government shutdown. For a refresher on the problem, check out Pat Kessler’s Reality Check from last summer: Reality Check: MN Legislators’ Private Shutdown Meetings. And there are some changes to the way campaigns are funded.

But the rest of the bill concerns “model legislation lobbyists and principals, and scholarship fund principals and public officials requirements added;” in short, provisions that will require ALEC’s activities on behalf of model bills to be as transparent as those of lobbyists.

A similar effort, SF 2334, has already been voted down by Senate Republicans, so it’s likely that this bill will meet a similar fate. But if the local establishment media would just turn off the Cone of Silence they have switched on around ALEC, things might go differently.

One wonders how many companies that currently back ALEC would still do so if it were public knowledge that they do — especially as ALEC’s backing of “model bills” that have among other things given us the murder of Trayvon Martin are not things that go well with a company’s efforts to depict itself as a good public citizen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Comments Off

Dear GlaxoSmithKline: Is Trayvon’s Death What You Wanted Your ALEC Money To Buy?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 27, 2012

Yeah, yeah, I know, you’re only in it for the deregulation and stuff. But when you sign up with the American Legislative Exchange Council — which was founded by raging Fundie Paul Weyrich and has the John-Birch-Society Kochs among its key backers — you’re not just supporting freedom from regulations every private citizen must heed and paying the taxes every private citizen must pay, you’re also backing things like ALEC’s Shoot First (aka “Castle Doctrine”) model bills that, when enacted into law, cause things like the murder of Trayvon Martin.

Worse, the political party whose legislators enact these laws for ALEC has as their base people who make comments like these left at the FOX News website about Trayvon Martin:

What a shame—a tragedy, really— because the dead lil’ gangsta could’ve used “‘A-FIRM-TIV AK-SHUN” to go to kollige an play footballz and make lotsa cash munny!”

[…]

Zimmerman felt threatened by Martin’s gang’s actions…this could have possibly lead to these terrible circumstances. Gang violence MUST BE STOPPED OBAMA!

[…]

Blacks can do no wrong, period! That is the DOJ’s excuse for becoming involved. 50+ years of being told they are special and entitled and the gov’t’s only focus is to make it so!!

[…]

In any event, it appears to be a case of one sc u m bag Cuban-type (Zimmerman) offing some scummy b l a ck kid (Trayyy-Vonnnn)…in some trash neighborhood….

but now, because the dead kid’s a kneegrow, we have:

the BIG BAD FBI on this “important” case…and

the usual BLACK-RADICAL-PROTESTERS who can’t mind their own business!

[…]

Gated communities exist because people are afraid….& negros thrive on crime…Look at our prisons.

[…]

Need that too….But Negr0s only have their welfare checks….and in any event can’t follow rules

[…]

What time do the riots start? Gotta get my popcorn and munchies ready for the “hood” burning!

As a horrified onlooker said:

Imagine you’re a black teenager reading this sludge. It’s one thing to see it on Storm Front or a KKK site, but this is one of the largest news networks in the world and it reflects the views of the supporting base of one of the two major political parties in this country.

So, GlaxoSmithKline, are the bennies you get from being an ALEC backer worth Trayvon Martin’s death?

Are they worth collaborating in the cultivation of race hatreds as a way to justify tax cuts (aka the longtime “Southern Strategy” alliance between big business and bigots)?

Well, are they?

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

 
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