Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Choosing Sides

20.12.2014 (10:16 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Society ::

Today was a bad day to be a police officer – 2 New York City cops were murdered execution-style by career criminal Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Brinsley, who had shot his girlfriend hours before, committed suicide in a subway tunnel after the murders.

From the article:

Mayor de Blasio and Police Comissioner Bill Bratton addressed the media at Woodhull, where hundreds of cops gathered in the wake of the shooting. Bratton spoke first, identifying the slain officers as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. He also identified their killer: 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. “They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” said Bratton. According to the NYPD chief, Brinsley, “Took a shooting stance on the passenger side and fired his weapon several times through the front passenger window, striking both officers in the head.”

“Officer Ramos and Officer Liu never had the opportunity to draw their weapons,” he continued. “They may never have had the chance to see their murderer.” Bratton also confirmed that Brinsley, whose last known residence was in Georgia, shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore on Saturday morning before traveling to New York. According to the Baltimore Sun, the 29-year-old woman is currently in a hospital in serious condition.

Bratton said that Brinsley appeared to have “a very strong bias” against cops, and that he had used Instagram to threaten violence against them earlier today. “They Take 1 Of Ours….. Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner [sic] #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post,” said a post featuring a handgun. “I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.”

In an ironic, but hardly surprising, bit of waffling, Al Sharpton – who in recent weeks has been busily agitating against police departments all over the United States – had this to say:

“I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today,” Sharpton said in a statement. “Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.”

Sharpton’s backpedalling doesn’t mitigate his involvement in – and partial responsibility for – these killings.  Such is the power of the bully pulpit and make no mistake, Sharpton is a bully who uses his race as a weapon.

In fairness, the reprehensible Sharpton’s involvement with the Brown-Garner protests doesn’t mean that police killings are not a problem.  Cops are employed by the people to serve and protect, not to act as executioners, and public oversight of their actions is both right and necessary.  In our system, that oversight is ultimately the function of the grand jury and, the protests to the contrary, both cases were thoroughly reviewed by citizen panels.  Although the decisions weren’t to the rioters satisfaction, justice was probably served – to the extent possible.  I say probably, because justice is not – and can never be – a binary function, not in cases like these.

But today’s police killings are another thing entirely.

Nearly simultaneously, more protesters disrupted business at Minneapolis’ Mall of America.

12 people were arrested for protesting illegally on private property, but no major violence was reported.

Black lives do matter.  They do.  However, they do not matter more than anyone else’s.  That is the definition of equality and this point is a non-negotiable truth of American life.

The problem with the anti-police protests and Sharpton’s race-baiting demagoguery is that both ignore another fundamental American truth, which is that minorities commit a vastly disproportionate number of crimes in this country.

The African-American population accounts for approximately 12% of American citizens, but according to the US Department of Justice, blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.  Similarly, in 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery.

I feel obligated to defend these statistics by reminding the reader that the data have nothing to do with racism – they represent hard, cold facts.  Unfortunate, but nonetheless true.

The corollary to these statistics is that, the more crimes a group of citizens commits, the more run-ins members of that group are going to have with with police.  So, it’s hardly surprising that African-Americans are “disproportionately” involved in violent encounters with police, relative to their percentage of the overall population.

Another blow to the myth of African-American’s being unfairly targeted for killing by whites is the fact that most murders are intra-racial, with 93% of black victims murdered by blacks.  In contrast, 84% of white homicide victims murdered by whites, meaning that, if anything, the exact opposite is true.  But that is a subject for another time.

In the moment, what is important to realize is that this country’s police forces are not in the business of oppressing the citizenry, regardless of their race, creed, or color.  Criminals are criminals and the law is the law.  Everyone in America knows the rules of behavior and the consequences for violating those rules.  Being a criminal is an active choice these people make.  This cannot be denied, even by men like Al Sharpton.

Regardless of the Brown-Garner cases, the choice before us is simple:  If Sharpton and the worst of those whose passions he has chosen to inflame are going to deliberately stalk and execute police officers, the American people will have to choose sides between those who enforce law-and-order and those who circumvent and destroy it.

Gunman Dead at U. of Texas

28.09.2010 (10:04 am) – Filed under: Crime,Society,Stupidity ::

image A psycho gunman was loose on a college campus this A.M. and is believed to have committed suicide.  A second armed perpetrator is alleged and the search is underway for this person.

I’ve asked this question before, but what ever happened to the era of quiet desperation when the terminally insane simply shot themselves? What’s with the incessant need for sinking people to take others down with them?

Latest news indicates 10 shots may have been fired from an AK-47. The gunman aside, no one seems to have been hurt.

Peter Cantu Executed

21.08.2010 (10:40 am) – Filed under: Crime,Death Penalty ::

Houston and the world at large are a better place following Tuesday’s execution of Peter Cantu, the 3rd gangbanger to be euthanized for the horrific north Houston gang rape and murder of Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena in 1993.

Cantu was found to have exhorted the other ‘bangers to kill the girls after the sexual assaults and was turned in by his own brother after bragging about the murders.

I understand from a recent commenter that the Ertman family has no other children. Their family died 17 years ago while Cantu, the literal scum of the Earth, lived on. His execution is, I’m sure, meager recompense for their loss.

This small justice is, nonetheless, needed by society as a whole as evidence of law in a lawless world, the hard-won triumph of civilized people over brute animals such as Peter Cantu, and the painful, necessary excision of cancerous cells from the human body.

Rest in peace, girls. Millions of Houstonians will remember your names and faces until we too are buried in God’s ground.

There’s Only 1 Way to End the Mexican Drug War

05.04.2010 (9:21 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Drugs,Mexico ::

Almost 20,000 Mexican citizens have died in that country since President Felipe Calderon’s government declared war on the drug lords that even now seem to rule many parts of that country.

Worse, that’s not likely to change says Ismael Zambada, a top member of Joaquin Guzman, Mexico’s most notorious drug lord:

"Millions of people are wrapped up in the narco problem. How can they be overcome? For all the bosses jailed, dead or extradited their replacements are already there."

The hell of it is that Zambada is probably right. In theory, such deadly force could be applied to the battle against the narco-terrorists that bit players would find it too risky to step into leadership positions when their bosses fall. But that’s unlikely to happen because of the collateral damage that would inevitably accompany such an offensive.

There are two ways to convince a bad apple to get his life right: fear and persuasion. When fear is not going to work, persuasion may have to do. In this case, it’s economic persuasion that might convince drug runners that the business isn’t worth the risk.

Obviously the U.S. government isn’t going to get into the business of buying drug smugglers off. I say that blithely – it’s clear that very little is completely beyond the pale these days – but I do think it’s true. But a marked decline in demand for illegal drugs would have the same effect as an all-out war on Mexican pushers by reducing the incentive for manufacturers and smugglers to stay in business.

The Washington Post still thinks that doing so is possible via law enforcement:

Perhaps the top contribution the United States could make is to redouble its efforts to reduce American demand for illegal narcotics. The trafficking in Mexico is driven overwhelmingly by U.S. consumption — especially of cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine — which is estimated to exceed $60 billion annually. Moreover, the U.S. government estimates that $18 billion to $39 billion flows south each year as a result of American sales of illegal narcotics.

The fact of the matter is that reducing demand is far easier said than done and will never be achieved through military means. Unless what is now illegal is made legal, that is. Legalization is, sadly, the only viable untried option: we’ve attempted everything else and nothing has made more than a small dent in the flow of illegal drugs into this country. One need only look at the foolish period of Prohibition to recognize where this will all end up.

Many well-meaning and law-abiding Americans may rail against the notion of legalizing marijuana and narcotics, but the truth is that their friends and neighbors have already voted in favor of drugs with the most powerful ballot of all – their wallets – and it’s impossible to undo that choice.

Why? Primarily because these people simply don’t want things any other way and don’t care that thousands of people have died and are still dying every day so that they can indulge their drug habits.

Legalization, whether partial or complete, is the inevitable end to the drug wars. No other end short of Turkish Draconianism is possible. The only question is how many more bystanders will die before the conclusion is reached in Washington.

This is Why the Death Penalty is a Good Idea

21.03.2010 (9:32 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Death Penalty ::

The Houston Chronicle’s Anita Hassan writes:

A 4-year-old girl was shot to death in the parking lot of a north Houston apartment complex in an apparent carjacking Sunday afternoon, police said.

Police are still investigating the killing at 1351 Greens Parkway.

A suspect armed with a semiautomatic weapon approached the father, demanding the car keys, which were in the ignition, police said. Before the father could get his family out of the vehicle, the suspect began firing shots, police said.

Regardless of his race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or political affiliation, this creature does not deserve to be part of human society, period.

Things We Dare Not Do (and What That Says About Society)

12.02.2010 (8:05 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Free Speech,Justice,Society ::

Despite being married, 23-year-old Alyssa Branton was stalked for months by a much older man who recently shot her dead outside her office building after she refused his advances. Despite providing more than 70 pages of documentation detailing Roger Troy’s bizarre and unwanted behavior, Branton was denied the restraining order that might have saved her life by a Florida judge. His reasoning? She hadn’t provided proof that Troy was a menace.

Evidently for some judges a victim’s knowledge of the danger she’s in doesn’t become proof until the murder is on the books. Judge Moxley, a former prosecutor, should have known better than to allow Troy to harass Ms. Branton unfettered. Her death is the direct result of his failure to intervene on her behalf. When did it become wrong to protect young, beautiful women against perverted, violent older men? That fear of wrongly limiting Troy’s rights caused Moxley to rule as he did is conjecture on my part, yet why else would he fail to execute his duty to protect Alyssa Branton?

Significantly, the Branton case is but one example of society’s impotence in the face of violent criminals. The failure to act to protect the defenseless from violent attacks has never been more evident than in the recent beating of Aiesha Steward-Baker in a Seattle transit tunnel. This brazen stomping took place in full sight of at least two Metro Transit system’s security guards who did nothing to stop the attack even after Baker was knocked down and was kicked repeatedly in the head and face.

Baker, who her attackers allege was violent herself, had repeatedly asked Seattle police for help that evening and was obviously hoping Metro security would protect her. Instead the men ignored her pleas for help and allowed the attack to escalate while they tried to talk the other girl out of her violent frenzy.

When did the idea that paid security forces are not allowed to use force to fulfill their basic duty become the rule that must be obeyed? The guards’ failure to act is an abomination and an abdication of their manhood. Yet they do not deserve the blame; rather, our system that is dominated by the ever-present fear of being sued in court is what created the circumstances that forbade them from interfering on Baker’s behalf. Such is duty and chivalry in the age of the liberal trial lawyer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is actually increasing the scope of its police powers by obtaining personal cell phone call data, not only for matters of national security but also for routine matters such as bank robbery, etc. This is in addition to making increasingly sophisticated attempts to mine Internet browsing and email history.

The pattern is clear: Americans are discouraged, at risk of their freedom, from taking matters of their own personal security into their own hands even as local law enforcement fails to meet their needs for fear of making mistakes that might lead to public embarrassment or civil lawsuits. At the same time, the federal government is moving to make personal privacy a thing of the past.

Indeed:

the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their–or at least their cell phones’–whereabouts. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers say that "a customer’s Fourth Amendment rights are not violated when the phone company reveals to the government its own records"

The three cases I’ve briefly outlined above reveal a deeper pattern that we must strive to correct. Individual rights to privacy and personal security have, far from being protected by our system of jurisprudence, been diminished to the point at which Alyssa Branton was murdered in plain view of witnesses after the system failed her.

The cause of the system failure is clear, for the ability of both law enforcement and individual citizens to make judgments has been removed and a complex, legalistic web of process and procedure has been band-aided together in place of common sense and decency.

The number and type of actions that we dare not take has increased dramatically in the post-WW II era. Gone with such acts of courage and principle seems to be the American ideals of truth and justice. In their place, politically correct, non-offensive behavior is required and society has become a dimmer, less secure place as a result, at least for people like Alyssa Branton and Aiesha Baker. In contrast, the criminals who attacked them seemed confident enough in their right to act as they damn well pleased, didn’t they?

Justice System Fails, Cop Killer and Child Rapist Run Free

30.11.2009 (10:17 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Law,Race,Society ::

East of Houston, Baytown residents are looking over their shoulders tonight as a repeat rapist and child molester runs free, possibly in their town. Meanwhile, most of a continent away, Seattle residents are likewise afraid after 4 police officers were gunned down by Maurice Clemmons in a coffee shop in that city. Not a good day for law enforcement, nor to be a resident of either city today.

After leaving Huntsville, Texas, Arcade Comeaux, who’d been in a wheelchair for some years, managed to pull a gun on prison guards while in transit and escape in Baytown. Local law enforcement, masters of the non sequitur, had this to say about their duped my Comeaux:

“Comeaux was in a wheelchair, which he claimed was necessary for his mobility,” [TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle] Lyons said. “Since he was able to flee on foot, his claims of limited mobility obviously are in question.”

Obviously. It’s unclear how long or how frequently Comeaux, twice convicted of aggravated sexual assault, once with a child, has been confined to the wheelchair; however, he was using it as far back as 1999 when he tried to murder his wife during a prison visit.

In Seattle, Maurice Clemmons, who has a previous murder conviction in Arkansas, allegedly told associates to watch the news because he was going out to kill some cops. Unfortunately he succeeded, although it is now thought that he may have been wounded in the process.

This writer has only sympathy for the murdered police officers. It’s easy to understand how a cold-blooded killer could get the drop on them in an off-duty situation. What’s not so easy to understand is how Clemmons, a sociopath with a long history of violence, was allowed to roam the streets after serving only 11 years for his first murder.

Former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee knows the answer to that riddle. As well he should – then-governor of Arkansas, Huckabee commuted Clemmons’ sentence for the murder in 1990 and allowed him to go free.  Huckabee admitted as much today, expressing regret for his decisions and respect for the slain officers. He added this about Clemmons’ history in his state:

He  was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him.

Last year I endorsed Huckabee for the Republican nomination for the highest office in the land. Today Huckabee faces his Willie Horton moment, one that will in all likelihood end his political career. While it took, in Huckabee’s words, a series of errors to allow Clemmons the opportunity to kill the 4 Seattle officers, the former governor’s mistake, that of excessive mercy, was the first and most egregious violation of the public trust in that chain of mistakes.

You see, there is a profound difference between a botched prison transfer that allows an animalistic brute like Arcade Comeaux to escape through force of arms and that of a public policy decision that deliberately sets violent criminals free to kill again, as Maurice Clemmons has done. That difference is, of course, that Governor Huckabee, the highest official in his state, should have known better than to substitute his judgment for that of the men and women of the juries that sentenced Clemmons to decades in prison for his crimes. Prison guards can be bribed or hoodwinked; at their level of responsibility, perfection is not possible. But we expect more from our leaders, of which Huckabee was one.

And in the aftermath of the debacle Mike Huckabee helped to create through his excessive charity to Maurice Clemmons we see the ultimate justification for politicians to be tough on crime. It should now be obvious that our leaders’ support for law enforcement and long sentences for violent, repeat offenders is not just a set of slogans to be trotted out during their campaigns for office. Rather, it is a recognition of the highest form of public trust, that of our physical security.

There are those politicians and social justice advocates, primarily liberals, who have gone on record saying that harsh prison sentences for murderers are the result of both explicit and implicit racism, that enforcing the law is inherently unfair to African-Americans, and that the higher-than-average representation of blacks serving life sentences and on death row is proof of a racially-flawed justice system.

Yet 4 police officers are dead as a result of Huckabee’s overly liberal policy of reducing prison sentences for murderers he was responsible for keeping behind bars. That fact cannot be obfuscated by the faux intellectualism of criminal apologists. Would-be leaders who espouse these misbegotten value systems should be remembered on election day and removed from office.

In the final analysis, law-abiding citizens do not seek to prosecute or incarcerate men of any class, creed, or color because of their appearance. Rather, it is the actions of such brutes that bring upon them the condemnation of society and rightly so. Our laws are clearly defined and the penalties for breaking them should be applied with equal precision.

Unanswered Questions About Fort Hood Madness

05.11.2009 (11:38 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Islam,Military,National Security ::

The story of the day is one of madness, for what other word can describe the actions of a man who guns down dozens of innocent people in a purposeless act of rebellion? Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed at least 12 of his fellow soldiers today at Fort Hood and no one really knows why.

Perhaps he was, as reported, fearful and resentful about an upcoming deployment to Iraq. Apparently Hasan’s loathing of the Army’s mission in that country was so great that he hired an attorney to help him get out of the military.

Frankly that explanation doesn’t pass muster. Anyone who works, in any line of business, has to do things that he or she doesn’t want to do, often for months at a time and under difficult circumstances. Although the stresses of most of our daily 8-to-5s can’t compare to those experienced by our deployed military personnel, the comparison is still a useful tool.

Considering it’s unlikely that a trained psychologist like Hasan would be put into a front-line situation, it seems that he would have had relatively little to fear in terms of his personal safety had he been sent overseas.

What then could Hasan’s motive been in attacking his fellow soldiers? Josh Marshall jumped in early on this point, noting that Hasan’s heritage contains Islamic elements.  Scott McCabe confirms this assertion, writing:

Hasan attended the Muslim center for about six years and seemed like a good person, [Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring President Ishtiaq] Chughtai said.

Hasan exhibited a dark side at work, however, as noted while he was an intern at Walter Reed:

Hasan had some “difficulties” that required counseling and extra supervision, said Dr. Thomas Grieger, who was the training director at the time.

Grieger said privacy laws prevented him from going into details but noted that the problems had to do with Hasan’s interactions with patients.

Moreover, Hasan made anti-American, pro-Muslim statements to officers at Fort Hood, including now-retired Colonel Terry Lee:

“He was making outlandish comments condemning our foreign policy and claimed Muslims had the right to rise up and attack Americans,” Col Lee told Fox News.

“He said Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor and that we should not be in the war in the first place.” He said that Maj Hasan said he was “happy” when a US soldier was killed in an attack on a military recruitment centre in Arkansas in June. An American convert to Islam was accused of the shootings.

Col Lee alleged that other officers had told him that Maj Hasan had said “maybe people should strap bombs on themselves and go to Time Square” in New York.

As Marshall says, things may get very dark indeed with regard to Hasan’s true motives if Lee’s assertions about Hasan’s Muslim sympathies prove true. Previous cases indicate that this is a line of questioning that should be scrupulously followed up on.

For if Hasan’s fear of being deployed to a war zone is, as I believe, insufficient to explain his cowardly, murderous actions, his motivations must have come from a deeply rooted personal sense of vengeance. While it is premature to conclude that Hasan’s religious and social beliefs caused him to commit mass murder, it’s nevertheless obvious that this should be a primary line of inquiry, wherever it leads on the path to the heart of darkness.

Darker still are the larger questions about whether followers of Islam can truly belong in a democratic society. Millions do fit in successfully, just as Nidal Hasan did, to all appearances, prior to today’s shooting spree.

There is a tension between religion and government in democratic societies. Despite founding the first modern democracy here in the United States, American Christians feel it. I suspect that Muslims feel it more keenly yet what with the demanding, legalistic nature of their path to salvation.

Can that tension be resolved to the benefit of democratic society? Or is Islam inherently detrimental to democracy? This is the darkest question of all: Must Islam always seek to undermine secular government in order to gain power, as it has in Turkey and, to a lesser extent to-date, in many European countries? 

Certainly it has in the past and still does in the present. But must it? If the answer is Yes, that democracy and Islam are oil and water, never mixing, always distinct, constantly fighting, then hard times and hard choices lie ahead for the citizens of western democracies.

A man can only serve on master. One wonders what Nidal Hasan served.

Obama’s Medical Marijuana Decision Sensible

19.10.2009 (1:08 pm) – Filed under: Crime ::

The Obama administration will no longer pursue the course of harassing patients using medical marijuana or their providers in states where the drug is legal for that purpose.

Ed Morrissey says:

On the point of marijuana, it also holds some promise as the first step in reviewing the war on the herb that costs us billions of dollars and infringes on personal liberties while attempting to protect us from ourselves — and a product less lethal than alcohol.  Maybe we can finally have a rational debate on at least this front of the “war on drugs,” which has done more damage to federalism than Democrats or Republicans combined.

Agreed.

First, it must be said again that the War on Drugs is both a disaster and a farce.  It’s done little except waste billions of dollars and cause a run-up in crime and gang-related violence.  This outcome was predictable given the American experience with Prohibition, another bad idea that empowered the federal government overmuch.

Second, the Bush administration’s puritanical pursuit of medical marijuana miscreants clearly violated the rights of states to make the final judgment about the criminal code within their own borders.

If anything, the Obama administration’s decision doesn’t go far enough.  Rather than merely stating that it won’t enforce federal laws, it would be better to remove them from the books entirely.  Why not begin that process immediately?

Democrats’ William Jefferson Guilty, Guilty, Guilty

05.08.2009 (7:55 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Politics ::

image A jury in Alexandria today ruled as everyone knew they would and found former Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of “cold cash in the ice box” infamy guilty on 11 counts of corruption.

Nearly 2 years ago I wrong that Jefferson “should be dealt with – and will be, in time, I am confident – with all the weight and force of the legal system.” 

“He never let an opportunity to demand a bribe payment pass him by,” said assistant U.S. Attorney Rebeca Bellows in her closing argument.

Justice, long denied by Jefferson’s misuse of his position and bizarre legal posturings, has finally been serviced.  If more people were aware of it, this case could serve to reinforce the public’s shaky faith in the American legal system.  It often seems that the powerful can do as they please.  Happily, that did not prove the case for William Jefferson, one of the most baldly corrupt politicians of the decade.