#Ferguson: How about justice for these victims?

November 25, 2014

Somebody want to explain to me what Natalie DuBose did to deserve having her hopes and dreams burned to the ground?

Per PJMedia:

One of those businesses was a cake store, Cakes and More, owned by Natalie DuBose. DuBose sold cakes at flea markets while she saved up to open up her own store so she could feed her kids and succeed.

She did succeed, only to have the rioters destroy her business among the nearly three dozen businesses that were looted or burned or both.

Another that I heard about was a Little Caesar’s pizza place. Mostly likely a franchise operation. In other words, a small businessman or businesswoman. Now it’s gone, burned to the ground, along with the jobs it provided. Vandals and thieves laying to waste what took years to build. This is “justice?”

Will any of the race-panderers in the Congressional Black Caucus call for justice for Natalie DuBose and the other small business people harmed last night by the rioters?

No, I’m not holding my breath.

PS: An update on Ms. DuBose. She show far more generosity of spirit than I’d likely be able to manage.


#Ferguson and the racists of the Congressional Black Caucus

November 25, 2014
Justice is individual, not social

Equal justice for all

Ran across something disgusting last night while reading about the riots that erupted in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict a White police officer for killing a Black teen:

On Monday Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) called the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown a “miscarriage of justice.”

In a statement released through the Congressional Black Caucus, which she chairs, Fudge said the decision not to indict Wilson “is a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail.”

“This decision seems to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill Black men in this country without consequences or repercussions,” Fudge said. “This is a frightening narrative for every parent and guardian of Black and brown children, and another setback for race relations in America.”

“My heart goes out to Michael Brown’s loved ones, and to the loved ones of all the Michael Browns we have buried in this country,” Fudge said.

The news of the grand jury’s decision came out between 6 and 7 PM PST. The time stamp on the PJMedia article behind the link is 11:23 PM PST, so 4-5 hours after the news broke, Rep. Fudge was rushing out her statement. There is no way she (or, more likely, her staff) had any chance to read the transcripts of the proceedings to consider the same evidence the jury took weeks to hear and mull over. And yet, that same night, she is sure that there had been a miscarriage of justice and this was due to some sort of “open season” rule on Blacks. (Read the rest of the piece to see how her soon-to-be successor is of the same mind.)

The congresswoman’s opinion seems to be a common one among the membership of the CBC, in fact. That same evening, my representative (hah!) tweeted this:

Why “disturbed?” The grand jury did its duty: consider the evidence and decide if there was probable cause that the suspect committed a crime. They found the evidence showed otherwise, and so they refused to return an indictment. Does Congresswoman Bass, who also could not have considered the evidence presented, know better than the grand jurors who spent weeks on the case? Is not Officer Wilson entitled to the same 5th Amendment protections as any other American — including a member of Congress, who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the Untied States?

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”

The Constitution does not consider the grand jury to be a rubber stamp. It is a core protection. It stands as the buffer between the government prosecutor and the citizen-suspect; it safeguards Americans, who are presumed innocent, from being subjected to the anxiety, infamy and expense of a trial unless there is probable cause to believe they have committed a serious offense.

But Representatives Fudge and Bass, and perhaps many in the CBC, really don’t care a whit about constitutional protections in this case. Not when the officer is White and the victim is Black. Were the roles reversed, would they be so quick to issue statements claiming a “miscarriage of justice?”

Call me cynic, but I don’t think so.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been all too many incidents of police brutality towards Blacks; it continues to this day, though I think not to the extent the race-grievance hustlers would have us believe. And that sad experience can understandably make Blacks suspicious of authorities or of ever getting justice from the system. When abuse happens, corrective action needs to be taken, including criminal legal proceedings.

But, in the specific case of Mike Brown, Officer Wilson, and a terrible day in Ferguson, Missouri, the prosecutor took the unusual step of presenting all his evidence (1) to the grand jury. Not just enough to indict a ham sandwich, but everything. And then he asked the grand jury, as representatives of the community, to decide if there was probable cause to take Officer Wilson to trial. Bear in mind that a grand jury operates on a lower burden of proof, “probable cause,” than a trial jury, which needs proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict.

The grand jury worked on this case for weeks and still refused to indict. Representative Fudge notwithstanding, justice did prevail, because indicting someone without probable cause to think he had committed a crime would be the height of injustice.

Yet Fudge (who speaks for the CBC) and Bass found it “deeply disturbing” and a “miscarriage of justice” that no indictment was issued.

You know what I find disturbing? That Members of Congress, who swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, could so easily forget or ignore their duties. That members of an ethnic group that’s been subjected to terrible bigotry and awful treatment for centuries would themselves rush to demand what would be little better than a show trial, based just on the skin colors of the policeman and the victim.

They could have set examples for everyone by calling for calm and supporting the rule of law and the colorblind rights of all, perhaps even by asking people to wait and read the evidence for themselves.

But, no. They had to impugn the integrity of the legal process and feed the grievance beast, in their own petty way enabling the agitators trying to generate riots in Ferguson and elsewhere.

All because the cop was White and the victim Black.

You know what that’s called.

Footnote:
(1) Really, read the linked article. It’s an important education into how prosecutors and grand juries work.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh — “The grand jury process was fair.”


#ISIS: Rand Paul’s declaration of war

November 24, 2014
"Of course you know, this means war."

“Of course you know, this means war.”

One of the criticisms of President Obama’s conduct of our foreign affairs (and of our domestic affairs, frankly) is that he disregards statutes and the provisions of the Constitution whenever it is convenient for him to do so. This extends to the war powers inherent in the presidency under Article II. Both in Libya and, now, in Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIS, Obama has been accused of acting without authorization from Congress, either under the specific War Powers Act of 1973 or Article I of the Constitution, the latter of which grants Congress the sole power to declare war. With regard to ISIS, Obama has claimed authorization under the existing Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda, since ISIS is an al Qaeda “spawn.” Not surprisingly, critics call that a stretch.

One of the critics is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has often accused Obama of acting unconstitutionally. At PJM, Bridget Johnson reports that Paul has plans to assert Congress’ authority over the war-power by introducing a bill to declare war on ISIS:

The resolution would kill the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force and put a one-year expiration date on the 2001 Afghanistan AUMF. The administration has been leaning upon those war on terror statutes to conduct current operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

It notes that “the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State has declared war on the United States and its allies” and “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region, including our embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.”

“The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution,” the resolution states.

“The President is hereby authorized and directed to use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats posed thereto by the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).”

The bill also contains specific limitations on the authorization to use force, namely action is to be limited to ISIS and its “affiliates,” and specifies that ground troops can only be used to protect Americans and American facilities, and in certain limited offensive operations.

I have my quibbles with this proposal (1), but overall I support the idea. Obama has created a constitutional crisis by pushing the limits of the presidency’s powers past their breaking point. We’re running the risk of passively acquiescing to our transformation from a republic with separate, co-equal branches of government, each with their own powers, to more of a strongman presidential model, such as in France (2).

To prevent that, Congress needs to start acting to jealously guard its prerogatives and assert its status, as Madison described several times in the Federalist Papers. Senator Paul’s bill to declare war may be a good start to redressing the balance.

RELATED: Charles Cooke on why Republicans should not retaliate in kind for Obama’s usurpations. Jay Cost on the proper way to rebuke Obama. Andrew McCarthy on “President Orwell.”

Footnote:
(1) Namely that I believe US “boots on the ground” in offensive operations will be necessary to defeat the new Caliphate; the Arab forces in the area are worthless.
(2) Not that I’m implying that France is a dictatorship — far from it. But the presidency under the Gaullist system is quite a bit more powerful than the legislature.


Obama Ignored US Embassy’s Warnings On Climate Change Speech

November 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Our petulant man-child president strikes again, this time insulting a close ally in order to push his climate-change claptrap. The only word to describe such a performance is “juvenile.”

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

US_Embassy_Seal[1]Obama’s Climate Fiasco Drives Aussies Closer To India & China

Barack  Obama defied the advice of his embassy in Canberra to deliver a stinging attack on the Abbott government’s climate policies in Brisbane last weekend. The US embassy, under the leadership of ambassador John Berry, advised the President, through his senior staff, not to couch his climate change comments in a way that would be seen as disobliging to the Abbott government, sources have revealed. Historians of the US-Australia relationship are unable to nominate a case of a visiting president making such a hostile speech for the host government. — Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 23 November 2014

The United States embassy in Canberra advised President Barack Obama not to make the provocative, anti-Abbott speech on climate change which he made at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. That the President acted against the advice of his own embassy reveals a…

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Worst drought in California history? Not really…

November 22, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

A little needed perspective on California’s drought.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Guest essay by Robert Moore

The progression of the Palmer Drought Severity Index for California over the past three years. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

The progression of the Palmer Drought Severity Index for California over the past three years. Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

Is it true that we are in the worst drought in California history? Let’s look at the facts for the last 120 years (1895 to present).

clip_image002

As shown in this chart from the Western Regional Climate Center website (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu) — this is not even the 2nd driest water year for California in the last 120 years.

The driest year was 1924 (9.23 inches, or 40% of normal). The current water year (October 2013 through September 2014) ranks as the 3rd driest in the last 120 years (at 52% of normal).

As for the claim that this is the worst multi-year drought in California history – look at the period of 1910-40 on the WRCC chart. Wow… that was really a dry 30 year period.

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Endorsed: Bar Obama from making his State of the Union address before Congress

November 21, 2014
The President who would be King

The President who would be King

Since it became apparent that President Obama was about to (and did, last night) usurp the legislature’s authority to write and amend our laws, Republicans and conservatives (and some liberals) have been bandying around several strategies to fight back: some form of defunding, censure, even impeachment.

Writing at Ace of Spades, Drew M. adds a symbolic but very powerful idea: do not let Obama give his State of the Union address before the joint houses of Congress.

There’s one idea I’d like to add that is in many ways symbolic but that would focus the nation on the seriousness of this problem, do not invite Obama to address a joint session of Congress to deliver the State of the Union address.

The Constitution simply requires that “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Nothing requires that he do so in person. The modern in person State of The Union dates back to Woodrow Wilson but Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon all gave written reports as was the custom from Thomas Jefferson to Wilson.

And Presidents don’t simply show up whenever they please to address the Congress, they must be formally invited. That’s where Boehner and McConnell can strike a blow for the legislature…simply don’t invite him.

Yesterday, Boehner said, “The president had said before that he’s not king and he’s not an emperor,” Boehner says. “But he’s sure acting like one.”

There’s a reason for the reference to the behavior of kings: it’s a part of our history, dating back at least to the crises that gave rise to the English Civil War. In 1642, King Charles I attempted to usurp the powers of the House of Commons by barging in with soldiers to arrest five members. In commemoration of this, the House of Commons slams the doors in the face of Black Rod when he comes to summon them to hear the Queen’s Speech. Nowadays, this is just a ceremonial tradition, a reminder of the Commons’ independence from the Crown.

It is also an echo of a very real crisis.

We are England’s heirs, and Congress is facing its own crisis with an arrogant, usurping Executive. Let Speaker Boehner and (soon to be) Majority Leader McConnell reach deep back into our history and, along with more substantive actions, assert the legislature’s rights as a co-equal branch of government. Refuse our modern King Charles the stage his ego so desperately needs (1).

It’s time to bar the doors.

via Gabriel Malor

Footnote:
(1) Come on, you know Obama’s ego is so brittle that this would drive him nuts. As a narcissist, he craves a stage from which to lecture his inferiors.


Video: Sen. Cruz Invokes Cicero’s Words Against President Obama’s Lawlessness

November 20, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Well-played by Senator Cruz. This Classics fan nods in approval.

Originally posted on Nice Deb:

Obamacaligula

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking  Senate floor, Thursday, harkened back to Cicero’s famous warning to the citizens of Rome over 2,000 years ago. The Roman philosopher, Marcus Cicero, was advocating a return to a Republican form of government after the emperor Julius Caesar died. The words, as spoken by Cruz have special resonance today in respect to our current President’s lawlessness.

The text of the speech:

The words of Cicero powerfully relevant 2,077 years later. When, President Obama, do you mean to cease abusing our patience? How long is that madness of yours still to mock us? When is there to be an end to that unbridled audacity of yours swaggering about as it does now? Do not the nightly guards placed on the border, do not the watches posted throughout the city, does not the alarm of the people and the union of all good men and women, does…

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