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JANUARY 27-28,  2023

A GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING:  Jonathan Turley, of the George Washington University school of law, is one of the best and most understandable legal commentators we have.  You can see him often at Fox News.  In the hours since release of the deeply disturbing video from Memphis, he has published an analysis of the event that I recommend to all readers.   From the New York Post: 

The release of the videos from the lethal arrest of Tyre Nichols, 29, is shocking for its lack of professional tactics and procedures. This looks like adrenaline-filled rage … from the officers. At certain points, it is the suspect who sounds to be trying to de-escalate the situation. 

It is unfortunately not unique. In physical encounters, officers can escalate violence and lose control with lethal consequences. 

The footage helps establish a number of legal points. The force is clearly and undeniably excessive. It was a complete breakdown of training and supervision. 

It is hard to look at this tape objectively and analytically given the emotional impact of the scene. Yet, the footage helps establish a number of legal points. 

There is both a state and federal investigation ongoing and the tapes will help and hurt aspects of those cases. 

There is ample basis for taking a second-degree murder case to trial. However, the tape also shows where the defense is likely to go in the coming weeks. 

The officers are not just facing second-degree murder charges but a whole slew of charges from aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping to official oppression. The aggravated assault and official oppression charges are amply supported by the videotape. The defense will likely focus on controlling the damage rather than leave the case unscathed.

The defense is likely to attack the second-degree murder charge because there was a rapid escalation and a defendant fled. While the beatings on the tape could well justify most people fleeing in fear, second-degree murder is “a knowing killing of another.” It does not require premeditation. The officers appear out of control but the counsel will argue that they did not knowingly or intentionally try to kill Nichols. Indeed, his death may have been caused in part by the delay in medical aid.  

The aggravated kidnapping could also face a challenge. Usually, an invalid stop or arrest is not treated as kidnapping, particularly after a suspect allegedly flees. 

Finally, the “one size fits all” charges for five officers could prove problematic. The officers are not using the same level of force. The worst acts include an officer positioning himself to get a clear shot to kick Nichols in the face as two officers struggle with him on the ground. 

Most horrific cases tend to look monolithic at the outset. However, more granular details emerge over time that can differentiate the conduct of individual officers. The detail on these tapes shows different conduct and levels of force that a jury will have to balance. 
The tapes would initially appear to show a death caused by excessive force rather than racial animus. However, this case was quickly framed in racial terms. That is not unique to our hair-triggered commentary and coverage. 

This month, when a man killed 10 people and injured 10 others in Southern California, politicians and pundits rushed forward to declare the attack a hate crime. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer denounced the “bigotry and hate” of the crime. 

Politicians did not wait to learn that it was committed by an Asian American with a history of mental illness who claimed to be “the president of Tokyo.” 

Similar comments followed the death of Nichols before it was revealed that all of the officers are also African-American. 

That is why the move of the Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation is surprising. While denouncing this killing, Police chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis told the public that the race of the officers “takes off the table that issues and problems in law enforcement [are] about race.” 

There was a general rule that such civil rights investigations would follow state investigations and charges. That rule was discarded by the Obama Administration in cases like the killing of Trayvon Martin. After the fanfare of the investigation, the Administration quietly shut it down and did not bring any charges. 

COMMENT:   Please read the whole thing, and other good commentaries.  An observer charged that CNN has hyped its coverage of this tragedy as if it were the Super Bowl.  I'm afraid that's true.  It is the role of the knowledgeable commentator, like Jonathan Turley,  to supply the sober context that will make the legal case understandable, and to do so in an informed, neutral manner.  This contribution is sorely needed.

January 28, 2023       Permalink

 

OH HOW EMBARRASSING:  I just hate to see it.  All that hype about electric cars going down the drain.  What a waste of public relations talent.  From PJ Media: 

The Biden administration is always telling us that the best thing we can do is buy an electric vehicle. In fact, various members of the administration treat it almost flippantly — it’s a no-brainer that you should buy an expensive electric car or two. Doing so will rescue the planet from certain environmental collapse and will save you loads of money, even though the average cost of an electric vehicle was $66,000 as of August of last year.

Plenty of people are falling for it, and it’s easy to see why. The siren song of the tax credit is hard to ignore, and the idea of not having to contend with rising prices at the gas pump is attractive. But is it all true?

To quote Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice, “Think again, please.” It just so happens that, for now, it’s actually cheaper to drive 100 miles in a gas-powered vehicle, also known as an internal combustion engine (ICE), than in an electric vehicle.

Ryan Erik King at Jalopnik reports that “a recent report from the Anderson Economic Group (AEG) found that fueling costs from mid-priced ICE-powered vehicles are lower than similarly priced electric vehicles. Combustion drivers pay about $11.29 per 100 miles on the road. EV drivers who charge up at home spend about $11.60 per 100 miles.”
It gets even more delicious when you take into account those commercial chargers that pop up in a lot of places.

“The price difference is more dramatic for those who mainly recharge at stations,” King writes. “Frequent charging station users pay $14.40 per 100 miles.”

According to the report from AEG, the numbers are slightly different depending on the type of vehicle:

• Mid-priced vehicles−In this market segment, fueling ICE vehicles was more economical than comparable EVs in the 4th quarter, regardless of charging primarily at home or commercially.

• Luxury cars−Drivers of high-end electric vehicles still enjoyed a significant fueling cost advantage, but the gap narrowed in Q4. Assuming mostly home charging, the cost benefit to fuel a luxury EV vs. a luxury ICE car dropped from $11.20 per 100 miles to $7.56.

• Pickup trucks, entry-priced cars−ICE vehicles are still the only widely available options in these two segments.

COMMENT:  Frankly, I object to all this false economic posturing.  I mean, what does it truly matter?  We all know that the real reasons for buying an electric car are to impress your liberal boss at work or to really impress the admissions director of the college your kid wants to attend.  Just pull up to Barack Obama University in your Zapmobile and watch the gates open.

January 27, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

JANUARY 26,  2023

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE:

WHO NEEDS THAT LEARNIN' STUFF?  From Fox:   A Biden judicial nominee was unable to answer basic questions about the U.S. Constitution posed by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., during a Senate hearing on Wednesday.  Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, of Spokane County Superior Court in Washington State, was nominated by President Biden to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bjelkengren could not answer Kennedy's questions about what different parts of the U.S. Constitution do and how courts might interpret laws.  "Tell me what Article V of the Constitution does," Kennedy instructed Bjelkengren at the beginning of his question time.
"Article V is not coming to mind at the moment," the judge said.  "How about Article II?" Kennedy followed-up, but she was unable to recall the answer.  Article V of the Constitution concerns the amendments process, and Article II invests the Executive power in the president of the United States, enumerating the powers of the Executive Branch.  Next, Kennedy asked if Bjelkengren knew what "purposivism" is, but she was again unable to give an answer. Purposivism, or the purposive approach, a philosophy of interpreting the law that emphasizes the law's purpose – advocating for judges to enforce the spirit of the law when it contradicts with the text of the law, according to Harvard Law professor John F. Manning, writing in the Columbia Law Review.   How impressive.  But I'm sure she'll be confirmed, and maybe someday she'll be qualified for the job.

NATIONAL SURVIVAL:  From American Thinker:  As recently as 2004, 91% of Americans were extremely or very proud to be American, and the United States ranked first in the world in national pride. However, in less than twenty years there has been a stunning reversal that portends a dire future for the United States as a precipitous erosion in national pride has undermined societal confidence, self-reliance, optimism, and cohesion.  A recent poll revealed that a record low of just 68% of the citizenry are extremely or very proud to be American. However, underlying that overall dismal outcome is the reality that among the two youngest generations only 38% of Millennials and 16% of Gen Z are proud to be American despite being the beneficiaries of living in a unfathomably prosperous nation that has not known any profound national adversity since the Great Depression.  What we are seeing play out is the reality of demographic change in America as the younger mal-educated generations account for over half of the populace and are increasingly becoming culturally and politically influential. Within these generations an overwhelming majority have been indoctrinated by socialist/Marxist ideologues to believe that a capitalist United States as founded is irredeemable and must be transformed.  One of the best histories of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is called "At Dawn We Slept."  A history of the present American period might someday be called "For a Generation We Slept."  There are some signs that America may be awakening, realizing what's been done to our national character.  The spreading revolt of parents against the educational establishment is perhaps the most encouraging sign.  We'd better hurry, for the time to save America is getting short. 

January 26, 2023       Permalink

 

UKRAINE – THE SHADOW OVER EVERYTHING

Even when it's not in the daily news, Ukraine is there, one of the few situations that has the potential to spin out of control and involve us in a major war.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but the Western nations have decided to defend the country against the brutal Russian invasion.  Why?  Because of the lessons learned in the 20th century, that aggression by a major power, if unchecked, leads to more aggression and wider conflict.  Some don't buy the comparison with the 1930s, but I agree with the growing bipartisan consensus that, in the basics, it applies.  Not too many Americans care much about Ukraine's borders, but they care about containing the new version of imperial Russia. 

And yet, one yearns for a clear military strategy and a presidential address from the Oval Office that lays out our goals.  Are we merely going to supply Ukraine with enough weapons to keep its conflict with Russia going, or will we go all out and supply all that is needed, even at painful financial cost, to achieve victory?  I suspect most Americans dread the possibility of a long war that goes nowhere and ends in a question mark.  Been there, done that.

But even at the level of our contribution today, there are problems because our own stockpiles are diminished, thanks to misguided policies.  From Fox: 

Despite President Biden’s promise to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine on Wednesday, it could take months for the artillery to arrive, according to reports.

The New York Post reported that Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh confirmed that the U.S. does not have enough M1 Abrams tanks in its stockpile to send over to Ukraine at this time.

If the tanks were in the Pentagon’s possession, it would take less than a week to get the tanks boxed and shipped. But when using the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, or USAI, program, it could take months or years because the government goes through procurement to identify and hire contractors to build the weapons.

Biden announced the weapons approval on Wednesday, just hours after German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz said Ukraine would also get Leopard 2 tanks from Berlin as Russia plans for a major offensive.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin joined Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who described the tanks as the "most capable tanks in the world," which will enhance Ukraine’s ability on the battlefield.

"This is about freedom, freedom for Ukraine, freedom everywhere," President Biden said.
The decision to send tanks came after weeks of stalled and frustrated negotiations with Germany, which senior defense officials described as the "product of good diplomatic conversations."

COMMENT:  Not very encouraging.  Douglas MacArthur once remarked that all military disasters begin with two words:  too late.  He was correct.

January 26, 2023       Permalink 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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