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2018

Right now I’m guessing that the Democrats will gain some seats in the House but nowhere near enough to take the majority, and I think we will wind up with less Senate seats then we do now. I didn’t think this a month ago, but the way we’re headed is that we’ll win big in blue states, bigger than ever. And that’s about it. Don’t expect any big shift in governorships and state legislatures either, except that blue states on the coasts will get bluer, a deep California blue. But though the GOP will be crippled going into 2020 by their own civil war, the Democrats could come out of 2018 with less seats than they have ever had. Still, it’s highly doubtful a Republican will be elected president in 2020, even though they will dominate every other level of government in the country. Ain’t politics funny. As for 2018, we lost that this summer. Too late to fix now, and the red states will come out of this summer redder than ever. Purple is a fleeting color, and it already flit.

A mistaken cop can shoot you down at any time, and that is the law.

Despite what you keep reading on social media, it’s not likely that the cop who shot the woman in Minnesota would be convicted by a jury, provided it even goes to trial. Because if the cop believed the person he shot was potentially a mortal threat, he will be acquitted. He apparently shot her from the passenger seat through his partner’s door where she was talking with his partner. She died from a shot to the abdomen, though not instantly. She might have quickly bled to death, or went into cardiac arrest. There is no word on whether she was handcuffed. Nor is there any explanation as to why she was shot. We can only assume the shooting officer thought she had a gun in her hand. No gun was found, however her cell phone was found, and the officer must have assumed that her cell phone was a handgun and that this lady in her pajamas could be a cop killer. And that is the key. Even if the partner who was talking to the woman knew she had no gun, the fact that the shooting officer thought she had a gun in her hand is all that is required for acquittal. This has been famously established by several juries. You can see the impact of these latest jury decisions on police behavior. They shoot, knowing that all they have to say is that they thought their victim was armed and might be going to kill them. Providing clear cut evidence that the victim was neither armed nor intending any sort of violence will not convict the officer. All that is required for acquittal is that the officer thought his life (or his partner’s life) was in jeopardy. Prosecution will have to prove that the officer could not have believed his life was in danger. And juries have shown absolutely no tendency to believe an officer could be mistaken. The bar has been set so low for justifiable homicide by a police officer that convictions, no matter how egregious the shooting, are just about impossible. Indeed, Justine Ruszczyk (aka Justine Damond) is just the latest in a line of women who officers somehow believed were cop killers. Seattle police shot an unarmed pregnant woman named Charleena Lyles in her kitchen recently. She was African-American, and just as Justine Ruszczyk had called the police (to report what sounded like a sexual assault nearby), Charleena Lyles had called the police to report a burglary. At some point the two white responding officers suddenly decided she was a cop killer and shot her repeatedly in front of her children. The department found that they followed proper procedure. Odds are that the Minneapolis Police Department will come to the same conclusion in this latest shooting. It’s not that Justine Ruszczyk did anything wrong. It’s just that the officer did nothing wrong either. He apparently thought she had a gun, and while shooting someone to death through a car door based on a wrong assumption will get you a long stretch if you are a civilian, it is legitimate self-defense for a police officer as far as juries are concerned. He may be a Somali cop and she a pretty white lady, as both ends of the political spectrum keep pointing out, but he is still a cop and she wasn’t and the cop is always right. As jury after jury has established, a mistaken cop can shoot you down at any time, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. That is the law.

Modern day presidential poetry

My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!

We will always take care of our GREAT VETERANS. You have shed your blood, poured your love, and bared your soul, in defense of our country.

Damn. The prez is a modern day presidential freakin’ poet.

Trump. The Donald. T. The Verse-o-nator in Chief. The modern day presidential Shakespeare, not some Fake Shakespeare in the Park.

Dig:

You have shed your blood, poured your love, and bared your soul, in defense of our country.

That extra comma, it blows my mind. It grooves thunkishly. It shudders like a fucked up carburetor. Or an unexpected belch: Mama mia that was a spicey meat ball.

Perhaps he’s channeling Captain Kirk’s speech patterns:

No blah, blah, blah!

That’s modern day presidential poetry, baby,

the blood,

the love,

the soul,

the comma.

Fingers snap, saxophones play.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by tweets,

starving hysterical naked,

sad.

We will not turn red voters into blue. We will just have to outlive them.

Someone last night said that in that Georgia race the turn out was high for both Democrat and Republicans, but that the district just had more Republicans (and Republican leaning independents) than Democrats (and Democrat leaning independents). Still, though, it was close. Their side had only a few more votes than our side. I want to see the age data, though. If their side had lots more of the older voters than our side, and we had lots more of the younger voters than their side, then every election cycle in that district there will be less of their voters. This is how districts shift. This is how Glendale, California, for instance, went from being solid Republican to solid Democrat in twenty years. The Republican majority died off. Right now there are still lots of Baby Boomers around. Baby Boomers, despite their Woodstock image, are the most conservative generation since the 1920’s. It’s they who provide the winning margins to Trump and Trumpist candidates. And they are at that wonderful age where they vote as if their lives depended on it. Old people vote way more than young people and even more than middle aged people. That is a basic rule of American politics–old people just love to vote. Boomers are in their late fifties to early seventies now, a giant grey haired demographic bubble of a voting machine. Hence, we have Donald Trump. And wherever there’s a district full of Boomers, Trumpism will prevail. But it can’t last. It can’t even last a decade. Boomers are dying off, and will begin dying off faster and faster. And those rotten kids coming up to replace them are the most left wing bunch since the New Deal. So in the short run there will be lots of disappointments, a lot of elections where Democrats think they could win but get beaten by a wave of silver hairs who almost never miss the chance to vote. Add in the effects of voter suppression by the GOP and it just gives them an even better edge. It’s going to take ten or twenty years before this Trump cancer is eliminated from the body politic. He’ll be long dead and he will still have followers. But eventually they will disappear. In the short term those opposed to him, being that we vote less often than they do because we tend to be younger, will have to make extraordinary get out the vote efforts. Demographics more than any other factor drive voting trends, and voting trends decide elections. You will continue to be disappointed that we cannot seem to win over red districts. But there will be fewer and fewer red districts as the years go by. In the short term, unfortunately, Trump will do incredible damage. I wish there was way to avoid that short of waiting till 2020, but there isn’t. Even if he were to be removed from office, his people would still fill a Pence Administration, nor would a rock ribbed Indiana conservative like Pence make any move to undo much of Trump’s legacy. We are stuck with this for three more years, and it will take an extraordinary get out the vote effort and unity on our part to excise this monstrosity from the body politic. There will be no revolution, no magic wand, nor will Republicans decide they agree with everything we believe in and join us. We will not turn red voters into blue. We will just have to outlive them.

A doctrine created by defense attorneys defending rogue officers and made law by jury after jury.

Seems to me that the ease and alacrity with which the two Seattle police officers gunned down the pregnant woman holding the knife on June 18th was a direct reflection of the recent jury decisions on police shootings, and that was before the acquittal in Minnesota. Police have been given virtually a free hand in shooting civilians by a whole string of juries, and I suspect we will be seeing a lot more itchy trigger figure shootings. The bar has been set so low that all an officer has to think is that someone could conceivably be a potential cop killer and even if it turns out there was no basis for such an assumption whatsoever, it does not matter. All that matters is that the cop thought so. Reality has no place in judging police shootings anymore. What matters is what a cop thinks might be reality. Let that sink in. Police have a right to kill based on their perceptions of a possible threat alone. No actual threat is necessary. There is not a police department in the country that sought or supports that assumption. This was a doctrine created by defense attorneys defending what are essentially rogue officers and turned into law by not one but nearly every jury these past couple years deciding police shooting cases. I don’t think this has sunk in yet among the American public. Perhaps when people who are not black males are gunned down for no apparent reason by a paranoid cop who a jury then inevitably acquits, maybe then it will occur to everyone just how bizarre and dangerous a thing this is. Is there a way to stop it? No, there is not. Several juries have seen to that. The precedent has been set and under our common law system, this as yet unnamed doctrine is now on the books in more than one state. Worse yet, it can also be cited in Stand Your Ground states. It has suddenly become a lot easier to kill someone and get away with it in this country.

North Korea

That Otto Warmbier autopsy report will be quite the news item when it finally comes out. Apparently there was no evidence of botulism, and if there was any evidence of beatings or abuse of any sort, it’s likely to show up in the autopsy report. I’m surprised the North Koreans released him when he was so close to death. They’d rendered him brain dead already, you think they could have buried him somewhere and then executed the grave diggers, like were done to the hundreds who built Genghis Khan’s tomb, and then the guy who designed it. (Risky business, Mongol tomb building). But a nation that executes its prisoners by anti aircraft guns, mortars, rocket grenades and flamethrower probably doesn’t think much about autopsies. Instead they let Trump (or was it Dennis Rodman?) bring the still breathing body home to his parents to die among friends, family, and world class pathologists. The bizarre botulism explanation isn’t holding up (where do the North Koreans get these ideas? Quincy?) and if the kid’s sad corpse reveals any signs of the abuse that killed him–and it almost surely will–then we suddenly have ourselves a big giant foreign policy catastrophe on our hands. Let loose the pups of war, the curs upon the land. Fortunately, Defense Secretary Mattis (the one member of the Administration who didn’t kiss Trump’s ass in that kowtowing excuse of a cabinet meeting last week) just laid out in some detail how awful a war with North Korea would be to members of Congress.  Among other things, he said, you can kiss Seoul goodbye. Did the president hear the same information? Or more importantly, are there Trump properties in Seoul within range of Kim Jong-un’s guns? (Actually, there are.) Meanwhile, friends and family of Otto Warmbier watch as his body is lowered into the earth. His part in all this is all over, even as the plot thickens. It’s an incredibly sad story with a finish right out of old time radio. How will it end? Only the Shadow knows.

North_Korea statue

Apparently the Donald Trump statue, where the Washington Monument is now, will be even bigger, the biggest ever.

Pregnant woman shot by police

Here we go again. Seattle this time. “Pregnant woman shot dead by officers after police say she brandished knife.” Why the hell two cops would shoot a pregnant woman with a knife to pieces mystifies me as these things always do. Police training anymore emphasizes force protection at all costs, if a cop thinks he is being threatened his first responsibility is to fire as many shots as possible at the threat. If a cop thinks another member of the force is being threatened his duty is also to shoot as many shots as possible. And you don’t even have to threaten the cop. If the cop thinks he is being threatened that is also a justifiable reason for killing someone. Juries have made that clear in decision after decision. If somehow this ever went to court (and there is a very slim chance of that) a jury will almost inevitably give the cop the benefit of the doubt. Neither officer attempted to grab the knife, or even to shoot her in the legs (nor are they supposed to shoot to wound, but always shoot to kill.) Nor did they Taser her. They went from zero to fatal in a couple seconds. Had a private security guard done the same he’d be in jail. Had a private citizen blown her away under the exact same circumstances (she picks up a knife and you shoot her a few seconds later) you might as well throw away the key. Shooting in self defense is allowed in Washington state, as it is in California, but the circumstances making it your duty to retreat and not fire are strict and this would not likely qualify as justifiable homicide for a private citizen and certainly not for two privates citizens firing multiple shots at the same time. Citizens and cops are judged by two very different legal traditions. You are assumed to have murdered unless a clear cut case of self-defense can be proven. A police officer lierally has a license to kill. Most, of course, will never kill anyone. Most never even fire their guns in anger. And there are limits to that license to kill. A police officer, like you and I, cannot murder with forethought. And a police officer cannot just kill anyone at anytime for little reason. But if an officer feels threatened or is under the notion that he is threatened, whether that notion is true or not, he can shoot to kill. Indeed, he is supposed to shoot to kill. And right now that power to shoot to kill is stronger than it has been in a long, long time, due to the stunning decisions by a series of juries.

And then there is the problem of why cops use maximum force against black people far more than against non-black people. The pregnant woman had mental health issues. And she did have a criminal history (what we do not yet know), and was just out of jail, so the cops went in thinking she could be violent, I suppose. But skin color seems to have been the deciding factor in whether one tases or unloads your service revolvers, as it always does. You are far more likely to be shot by police if a black male than if you are a black female, but black females are far more likely to be shot than any other females. African-Americans, for whatever reasons, are by far the most likely ethnic group to be shot and killed by police. Doesn’t matter if they were born here or in the Caribbean or in Africa or wherever. Doesn’t matter their income level, or education, or even if they are a police office out of uniform. If you are black you are far more likely to be shot by a police than if you are white, or Hispanic or Asian or whatever. Police culture has built in biases (probably going back deep into the 19th century, at least) and I wonder if they are even aware of them, and as long as juries keep telling itchy trigger fingered cops (of all races, incidentally, though the two in Seattle were white) that it’s OK to keep shooting people and in particular black people like this, it’ll continue.

This will certainly explode into a huge issue. Again. The public will be stunned, and a jury, in the incredibly unlikely event this was found to be unjustified by the police themselves and the district attorney, will side with the officers, as they do over ninety per cent of the time. All the police body cams and cruiser cams and people filming with their cell phones matters nought, as this is no longer about police shooting someone who is not a seriously mortal threat but whether or not a cop thinks that person was a threat when they shot him. You can have a thousand witnesses attesting to the fact that a harmless, unarmed man was shot and it will not matter because all that counts is what the officer perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be a mortal threat. Worse yet, the standard has slipped from being a threat to being a potential threat. These past several acquittals in police shooting cases have established that if an officer thinks that a person could conceivably be a threat, and can present evidence of how the shooting officer could have seen the shooting victim to be a potential threat even if the victim did not do anything threatening at all, then shooting that person before he becomes a threat is justifiable homicide. That is a helluva leap. Like shooting a dog because you thought it could be rabid. The standard of justification for a police officer to kill a person has now dropped to a very low level. No matter how wrong a cop’s judgement can be, a jury in all likelihood (probably well over 90% of the time) will conclude that the cop felt threatened and therefore was obligated to shoot to kill. The last few acquittals have solidified this idea. A cop’s right to shoot to kill under just about any circumstances been thoroughly grounded in legal precedent going back a decade, and a cop’s right to shoot and kill black people far out of line with their percentage of the population cannot be questioned. Shoot a white person it’ll be a much harder case for the police. Shoot a Hispanic is easier to justify than shooting a white but still, it’s not as safe a bet as shooting an unarmed black person. When a jury in liberal St. Paul, Minnesota established that fact, it’s pretty much law across the country. So shooting a pregnant African American woman wielding a knife and who was just in jail a few days before is a given. If you can shoot unarmed, cooperating black males and get away with it, shooting an unhinged black woman with child and a knife and a criminal record is just part of the job description. Or so a jury would tell you. Most cops wouldn’t, I am pretty sure. They certainly would have some reservations. There is a reason that so few cops ever shoot anybody. But then this isn’t up to most cops. This is up to juries, and in nearly every case they seem to have no reservations at all.

As a footnote on the hypothetical consider this: had Charleena Lyles lived, somehow, and the unborn baby died, she would probably have been charged with murdering her unborn child. At least we are spared that.

Here’s the police recording. The conversation seems calm, and you can hear a child throughout. She suddenly gets angry at the end, the cops yell get back a few times, and then there are the shots. Inexplicable how it went south so fast, or why they shot her instead of tasing. Come to your own conclusions.