Some of you may have already grown tired of my tweets expressing awe that, rather than the 15 pound turkey I had ordered from our farmers, I came home Tuesday with a 21 pounder. They just didn’t have any smaller birds this year, it seems.
So there she is, our enormous bird, all slathered with bacon, also from Jill and Mary, far more than we need but enough that we’ll be enjoying (frozen) leftovers until summer.
It somehow feels appropriate that the turkeys are so big this year.
Last year, the farmers in Michigan — and those of us who purchase directly from them — seemed to reach Thanksgiving with a shocked worry. The summer of drought had devastated key Michigan crops, especially the state’s tart cherries. You couldn’t find Michigan pears and other orchard crops were similarly scarce. Meat farmers, even those who rely on local grains, had to cope with CAFOs from Indiana buying up all Michigan’s straw and grain; people thinned herds because there wasn’t enough food to make it through the winter. A number of the farmers we rely on seemed worried whether they would make it.
So while this year’s record floods brought new worries, when the crops all came in in order, and in great bounty, it was a relief. Fat Al Gore hadn’t done us in yet! I had enough tart cherries to dry and will still have MI pears in the fridge for several weeks yet. A local craft cider maker recently told me that scores of farmers with orchards of old, forgotten (but tasty!) apple varietals could save those orchards because they had a buyer for their boom harvest this year. And for Mr. EW and I, in the home we moved into the day before Thanksgiving last year, we’ve even still got green tomatoes, kale, and carrots from our garden.
The harvest was especially generous this year.
But I’m also acutely aware that so many Michiganders — my neighbors — enjoy little of that bounty. MI was in a depression before the economy crashed, and too many people have never recovered. Because our unemployment remains among the highest, Michiganders will have access, still, to somewhat extended unemployment benefits. But every one of those long-term unemployed represents a family that may never recover from financial setback. Add in the cuts to food stamps, and I worry that what Mother Nature has spared (thus far), our dysfunctional society has condemned to suffer.
And so as we sit down to our MI wine and turkey and bacon and brussel sprouts and spuds and sage-and-sunchoke-stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie and cream, I will be grateful for this year’s bounty. I will be thankful for the gifts my family provided me and the support and community our readers have given. I will be grateful for that enormous turkey.
But let’s remember those who face scarcity among the bounty.
Updated with pic of done turkey. Before the 7.5 pounds of leftovers, I mean.
Where were you fifty years ago today? If you were old enough to remember at all, then you undoubtedly remember where you were on Friday November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm central standard time.
I was at a desk, two from the rear, in the left most row, in Mrs. Hollingshead’s first grade class. Each kid had their own desk, and they were big, made out of solid wood and heavy. They had to be heavy, of course, because they were going to protect us when we ducked and covered from a Soviet nuclear strike. There were, as there were in most elementary school classrooms of the day, a large clock and a big speaker on the wall up above the teacher’s desk.
I can’t remember what subject we were working on, but the principal’s voice suddenly came over the loudspeaker. This alone meant there was something important up, because that only usually occurred for morning announcements at the start of the school day and for special occasions. The voice of Mr. Flake, the principal, was somber, halting and different; perhaps detached is the word. There was a prelude to the effect that this was a serious moment and that the teachers should make sure that all students were at their desks and that all, both young and old, were to pay attention.
There had occurred a tragic and shocking event that we all needed to know about. Our attention was required.
Then the hammer fell and our little world literally caved in.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. Shot and killed in Dallas Texas. Then without a moment’s pause, we were told that the nation was safe, Vice-President Johnson was in charge, the government was functioning and that we need not have any concerns about our own safety. We were not at war.
Twenty four some odd little hearts stopped, plus one from Mrs. Hollingshead. You could literally feel the life being sucked out of the room like air lost to a vacuum. Many of us began looking out the window, because no matter what Mr. Flake said, if our President was dead, we were at war and the warheads were coming. They had to be in the sky. They were going to be there.
Unlike the hokey color coded terror alerts, ginned up fear mongering of Bush/Cheney, Ashcroft and Ridge, and today the terroristic fearmongering of Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein, things were dead nuts serious at the height of the cold war. If President Kennedy had been killed, we were at war; the missiles were on their way. Had to be. Looking back, the school officials and teachers had to have been as devastated and afraid as we were, yet they were remarkable. They kept themselves in one piece, held us together, talked and comforted us into calm.
We had not been back in class from lunch break for long; it was still early afternoon in the west. Before the announcement was made, the decision by the school officials had been made to send us home. The busses would be lined up and ready to go in twenty minutes. Until then there would be a brief quiet period and then the teachers would talk to us and further calm the situation. Then off we would go to try to forge a path with our families, who would need us as much as we Continue reading →
Well, you know, if you do not WANT the United States Government sniffing in your and your family’s underwear, it is YOUR fault. Silly American citizens with your outdated stupid piece of paper you call the Constitution.
Really, get out if you are a citizen, or an American communication provider, that actually respects American citizen’s rights. These trivialities the American ethos was founded on are “no longer operative” in the minds of the surveillance officers who claim to live to protect us.
Do not even think about trying to protect your private communications with something so anti-American as privacy enabling encryption like Lavabit which only weakly, at best, even deigned to supply.
Any encryption that is capable of protecting an American citizen’s private communication (or even participating in the TOR network) is essentially inherently criminal and cause for potentially being designated a “selector“, if not target, of any number of searches, whether domestically controlled by the one sided ex-parte FISA Court, or hidden under Executive Order 12333, or done under foreign collection status and deemed “incidental”. Lavabit’s Ladar Levinson knows.
Which brings us to where we are today. Let Josh Gerstein set the stage:
A former e-mail provider for National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Lavabit LLC, filed a legal brief Thursday detailing the firm’s offers to provide information about what appear to have been Snowden’s communications as part of a last-ditch offer that prosecutors rejected as inadequate.
The disagreement detailed in a brief filed Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit resulted in Lavabit turning over its encryption keys to the federal government and then shutting down the firm’s secure e-mail service altogether after viewing it as unacceptably tainted by the FBI’s possession of the keys.
First, the government is bereft of any statutory authority to command the production of Lavabit’s private keys. The Pen Register Statute requires only that a company provide the government with technical assistance in the installation of a pen- trap device; providing encryption keys does not aid in the device’s installation at all, but rather in its use. Moreover, providing private keys is not “unobtrusive,” as the statute requires, and results in interference with Lavabit’s services, which the statute forbids. Nor does the Stored Communications Act authorize the government to seize a company’s private keys. It permits seizure of the contents of an electronic communication (which private keys are not), or information pertaining to a subscriber (which private keys are also, by definition, not). And at any rate it does not authorize the government to impose undue burdens on the innocent target business, which the government’s course of conduct here surely did.
Second, the Fourth Amendment independently prohibited what the government did here. The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to be founded on probable cause that a search will uncover fruits, instrumentalities, or evidence of a crime. But Lavabit’s private keys are none of those things: they are lawful to possess and use, they were known only to Lavabit and never used by the company to commit a crime, and they do not prove that any crime occurred. In addition, the government’s proposal to examine the correspondence of all of Lavabit’s customers as it searched for information about its target was both beyond the scope of the probable cause it demonstrated and inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement, and it completely undermines Lavabit’s lawful business model. General rummaging through all of an innocent business’ communications with all of its customers is at the very core of what the Fourth Amendment prohibits.
The legal niceties of Lavabit’s arguments are thus:
The Pen Register Statute does not come close. An anodyne mandate to provide information needed merely for the “unobtrusive installation” of a device will not do. If there is any doubt, this Court should construe the statute in light of the serious constitutional concerns discussed below, to give effect to the “principle of constitutional avoidance” that requires this Court to avoid constructions of statutes that raise colorable constitutional difficulties. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. City of Alexandria, 608 F.3d 150, 156–57 (4th Cir. 2010).
And, later in the pleading:
By those lights, this is a very easy case. Lavabit’s private keys are not connected with criminal activity in the slightest—the government has never accused Lavabit of being a co-conspirator, for example. The target of the government’s investigation never had access to those private keys. Nor did anyone, in fact, other than Lavabit. Given that Lavabit is not suspected or accused of any crime, it is quite impossible for information known only to Lavabit to be evidence that a crime has occurred. The government will not introduce Lavabit’s private keys in its case against its target, and it will not use Lavabit’s private keys to impeach its target at trial. Lavabit’s private keys are not the fruit of any crime, and no one has ever used them to commit any crime. Under those circumstances, absent any connection between the private keys and a crime, the “conclusion necessary to the issuance of the warrant” was totally absent. Zurcher, 436 U.S., at 557 n.6 (quoting, with approval, Comment, 28 U. Chi. L. Rev. 664, 687 (1961)).
What this boils down to is, essentially, the government thinks the keys to Lavabit’s encryption for their customers belong not just to Lavabit, and their respective customers, but to the United States government itself.
Your private information cannot be private in the face of the United States Government. Not just Edward Snowden, but anybody, and everybody, is theirs if they want it. That is the definition of bullshit.
We are going to take a little detour in our weekly lighthearted football trash talk here at the Emptywheel Blog. I will return to the actual games at the end of this post, but for now I want to discuss a hideous and, hopefully, transformative moment in football – the abusive workplace environment to which the Miami Dolphins subjected Jonathan Martin.
As you may know by now, Jonathan Martin is the second year Miami Dolphins offensive tackle who has left the team because of harassment, primarily by fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito, but apparently by other teammates as well.
Jonathan Martin’s toughness is not at issue. Jonathan has started every game with the Miami Dolphins since he was drafted in 2012. At Stanford, he was the anchor for Jim Harbaugh’s “smash mouth” brand of football and he protected Andrew Luck’s blind side.
The issue is Jonathan’s treatment by his teammates. Jonathan endured harassment that went far beyond the traditional locker room hazing. For the entire season-and-a-half that he was with the Dolphins, he attempted to befriend the same teammates who subjected him to the abuse with the hope that doing so would end the harassment. This is a textbook reaction of victims of bullying. Despite these efforts, the taunting continued. Beyond the well-publicized voice mail with its racial epithet, Jonathan endured a malicious physical attack on him by a teammate, and daily vulgar comments such as the quote at the bottom. These facts are not in dispute.
Eventually, Jonathan made a difficult choice. Despite his love for football, Jonathan left the Dolphins. Jonathan looks forward to getting back to playing football. In the meantime, he will cooperate fully with the NFL investigation.
Quote from teammate: “We are going to run train on your sister. . . . She loves me. I am going to f–k her without a condom and c– in her c—.”
“Hey, wassup, you half n—– piece of s—. I saw you on Twitter, you been training 10 weeks. [I want to] s— in your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your f—ing mouth. [I'm going to] slap your real mother across the face [laughter]. F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.”
This is beyond ugly conduct, and, frankly, beyond simple “harassment”. Worse, it appears that it was a pattern of conduct not only encouraged, but requested by Dolphins’ management. They ordered a code red on Jonathan Martin.
So, this hideous and intolerable conduct is legally actionable against Incognito (and the Dolphins via vicarious liability) by Jonathan Martin, right? Sure, anybody can sue anybody else, and Martin can certainly bring a civil complaint here. But the chances of success are far more tenuous than you likely think Continue reading →
I’ll bet tonight’s blog traffic will drop sharply, and explode on Twitter — and at 9:00 p.m. EDT exactly. That’s when the last episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad will air, following a 61-hour marathon of all preceding episodes from the last five years.
A friend expressed concern and astonishment at the public’s investment in this cable TV program, versus the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report published Friday, expressing heightened confidence in anthropogenic climate change:
“The report increases the degree of certainty that human activities are driving the warming the world has experienced, from “very likely” or 90% confidence in 2007, to “extremely likely” or 95% confidence now.” [source]
He’s right; we’ll be utterly absorbed by the conclusion of former high school chemistry teacher and cancer patient Walter White’s tale. We’ll have spent a fraction of intellectual energy on our own existential threat, in comparison to the mental wattage we’ll expend on a fictional character’s programming mortality.
But perhaps Breaking Bad’s very nature offers clues to our state of mind. Viewers are addicted to a program that upends perspectives and forces greater examination.
— The entire story of Walter White, a middle class white guy with a good education whose cancer threatens his life and his family’s long-term financial well-being, would not be viable were it not for the dismal state of health care in America. There are no Walter Whites in Canada, for example; the U.S. has become little better than a third world narco-state, our health and shelter dependent on ugly choices like crime because our system of governance cannot respond appropriately under pressure for corporate profitability.
We cling to White, though he has become the very thing we pay our law enforcement to battle, because he is us — morally conflicted, trying to safeguard our lives and our families in a deeply corrupt system. At the end of each Breaking Bad episode the distortion of our values is evident in viewers’ failure to reject a criminal character depicting a drug lord manufacturing and selling a controlled substance, while guilty of conspiracy, murder, and racketeering in the process.
In the background as we watch this program, we permit corporate-owned congresspersons to shut down our government in a fit of pique over the illusion of better health care for all. Continue reading →
[EW: Rosalind stole the keys! Awesome!!! Uh. Ut oh.]
Looks like Mom and Dad have been so consumed with all-things NSA they went and left the keys to the joint right out in the open. I better write fast.
One week ago the America’s Cup standing stood at New Zealand eight wins, USA one (they actually had three, but more on that later), with first team to reach nine the champion. Everyone - everyone – hoped the US boat could eke out a couple more wins before the Kiwis got that inevitable last win and took the Cup back home. Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill had other plans, calmly proclaiming his team focused on winning not just the next race, but the Cup itself. The World politely smiled and nodded, while rolling our eyes. Dude, c’mon, you’d need to reel off eight sudden death wins in – a – row.
I attended the Opening Weekend races and watched New Zealand take 3 out of 4, but what I saw in those races should’ve prepared me for the amazing feat Oracle was about to pull off. The US boat could’ve won two more of those opening races if not for some bad tactical decisions and poor boat handling during key tacks and gybes. The Kiwis had the faster boat upwind, but Oracle was faster downwind. If they could improve the tactical and stabilize the maneuvers, they had a real chance to get back into things.
They replaced the tactician with 5-time Olympian Ben Ainslie, got the new crew in sync, made tweaks to the boat night after night, and started to win. Every race. Every day. The World stopped smirking and the thousands along the San Francisco waterfront went wild as the US boat now stretched out its leads on the upwind legs thanks to whatever engineering tweak magic the techs had made.
(A moment to address the, uh, cheating thing: Oracle started the series in the hole -2 races due to a cheating incident with their AC45 boat in an earlier series. I can’t believe they were so stupid, and they deserve what they got, which was a 2 point race penalty, and the removal of their wing trimmer four days before the start of the series. Add in Oracle owner billionaire Larry Ellison’s uncanny ability to come off like a Bond Villain sent straight from central casting, and well, it can lead to rather fantastical musings – “That’s it! An Oracle sub with a magnet pulled the US boat upwind!”)
In today’s final the Kiwis got the jump at the start, rounding the first mark ahead while Oracle buried their bow and dropped their speed. They recovered, gave chase and took the lead, which New Zealand grabbed back, then USA pulled ahead. And then came Leg 4, a downwind leg, and Oracle put on their jets, shifted into a whole new gear and left the Kiwis almost 700 meters behind. From there the US boat just had to stay in one piece.
My sailing friends and I have long dreamed of an America’s Cup series on the San Francisco Bay, and the reality has surpassed even our highest hopes. A gorgeous natural amphitheatre, miles of shoreline to watch up close, scary-fast boats that fly across the water and along the waterfront, so close the crowd and crew are able to feed off each others energy.
I celebrate the Oracle team for pulling off one of the most incredible sporting comebacks in history. I salute the New Zealand team for a great run and the Kiwi fans for being the nicest, funniest, fervent fans this side of Middle Earth.
And I raise a toast to the City of San Francisco and the America’s Cup Organization for showing what a true public and private partnership can reap, how beautiful public spaces can be used to great effect and benefit for the public.
To the thousands of fans who flocked to the City, and the happy hotel owners and cafe managers and taxi drivers et al, meet you back here in a few years!
NBC News, showing it can move 20 minutes into the future, has made a new and exciting digital acquisition. From Brian Stelter (who was a great replacement for Howard Kurtz today on CNN’s “Reliable Sources”. Seriously) at the New York Times:
When a plane crashes or a protest turns violent, television crews speed to the scene. But they typically do not arrive for minutes or even hours, so these days photos and videos by amateurs — what the news industry calls “user-generated content” — fill the void.
Those images, usually found by frantic producers on Twitter and Facebook, represented “the first generation of user-generated content for news,” said Vivian Schiller, the chief digital officer for NBC News. The network is betting that the next generation involves live video, streamed straight to its control rooms in New York from the cellphones of witnesses.
On Monday, NBC News, a unit of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, will announce its acquisition of Stringwire, an early stage Web service that enables just that. Ms. Schiller imagined using Stringwire for coverage of all-consuming protests like those that occurred in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
“You could get 30 people all feeding video, holding up their smartphones, and then we could look at that,” she said in an interview by phone. “We’ll be able to publish and broadcast some of them.”
Such a vision fits neatly into the future many academics predict. That future has fewer professional news-gatherers but many more unpaid eyes and ears contributing to news coverage.
Before we delve too far into the analogies with the once dystopian future we are now quickly inhabiting, it should be acknowledged that, while new and exciting, this is really just a big incremental step ahead of what CNN has been doing for a while with its “iReport” function.
But the Stringwire capability would look to provide even greater immediacy than CNN’s iReport and, perhaps, even streaming coverage. There is, of course, a very negative side to this potential should unfortunately slanted or particularly grotesque coverage be presented. Also a very real concern is the potential for interference in law enforcement investigations and trauma to people effected and/or prejudiced, including witnesses, defendants and future jury pools, by publication before news is ripe and edited.
The above being said, for my part, I find Groman’s Stringwire concept to be pretty exciting and think it a pretty smart move by Vivian Schiller and NBC News. But, boy howdy, does it bring to mind the once and, apparently future, dystopian information landscape of Max Headroom. From Wiki:
The series is set in a futuristic dystopia ruled by an oligarchy of television networks. Even the government functions primarily as a puppet state of the network executives, serving mainly to pass laws — such as banning off switches on televisions — that protect and consolidate the networks’ power. Television technology has advanced to the point that viewers’ physical movements and thoughts can be monitored through their television sets; however, almost all non-television technology has been discontinued or destroyed. The only real check on the power of the networks is Edison Carter, a crusading investigative journalist who regularly exposes the unethical practices of his own employer, and the team of allies both inside and outside the system who assist him in getting his reports to air and protecting him from the forces that wish to silence or kill him.
To elaborate a little, Edison Carter of “Network 23″ is one of several journalists, including another character by the name of “Blank Reg” of “Big Time TV”, who scour the landscape as one man newscrews, just them and their own videocam, for breaking news that will live feed instantaneously to their national networks to drive ratings. So, you can see the analogy to NBC’s Stringwire concept.
One difference between Max Headroom and the current television news existence is that, in Max Headroom, the television broadcasters wholly consumed and dictated to a puppet state government. The current existence of television news seems more tilted to the profit centered, shallow mass consumption oriented, stenography of government issued and manipulated propaganda. One need only look back at the coverage of the Iraq war, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, torture, the rise of the surveillance state or any report from Barbara Starr at CNN (thank you Michael Hastings) to see the problem.
So, while there is certainly potential for some concerns, maybe a function like Phil Groman’s Stringwire at NBC News can not just bring an immediacy to television news, but eradicate some of the governmentally issued bullshit that results from “Breaking News” from the likes of Barbara Starr.
All hail the future. Big Time Television, “All day every day, making tomorrow seem like yesterday.”
Glut of superhero movies is because of 2 things
1. We sense impending eco-catastrophe
2. We seem unable to alter course to save ourselves
There’s something to this if we look at the history of the oldest superheroes recently reprised. Superman was “born” in 1933 and Batman in 1939, during the Great Depression. The public latched onto the escapist fantasy that some incredibly powerful force would rescue them when most needed.
Perhaps there’s something to the nature of these two superheroes in terms of timing: Superman originated earlier in the Depression, when any outside force with supreme powers for good might be welcomed eagerly. Batman originated later in the Depression; his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, heir to wealthy industrialists, was willing to wield his fortune to save Gotham as both collective identity and individuals. By the late Depression with recovery underway and a new world war looming, the public may have wanted a more realistic, human hero rather than an outsider, though both Superman and Batman remained popular figures.
Today we see the reverse order, Batman reprised first by Christopher Nolan in his Dark Knight trilogy of increasingly crypto-fascist persuasion, and Superman renewed most recently as Man of Steel after Batman has “died.” In the last Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, collectivism for the common good is completely upended and perverted so that its leader, Bane, is the villain. The public can blame the ills befalling their municipality on the masked man with the strange voice, “the other” who makes himself out to be the defender of the people:
“…We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. …”
How is this not a corruption of the Occupy Wall Street movement’s mission?
Superman’s latest iteration as Man of Steel redeems the iconic common man, though, with a serious departure from the original canon Clark Kent-as-journalist. In the most recent version, Kent is presented first to the audience not a college educated smartie in a suit but an itinerant worker of midwestern farm roots, willing to brave what appear to be mortal threats to save others. We’ve come back around from the rich industrialist’s hobbyist rescuer to the alien-man from the former Dust Bowl — now drought-blighted Kansas — as savior.
Because right now, we can’t rely on the rich guy, or the distorted collectivist. Our ills are so great, we’re so very desperate we need a “super man” to save us.
In this respect, Peter Webber is spot on; we don’t appear to be able to change our course and are now betting on outside forces as salvation.
Where one might take issue with Peter’s premise is eco-catastrophe. It’s huge, of that there is no doubt. The problem of climate change is so very massive and ugly that the American public has been unwilling to wrap their heads around it, too eager to lap up the propaganda offered by petrochemical companies like Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil.
In this is the real problem, the reason why we cannot effectively tackle the eco-catastrophe we can see looming behind us in the rear view mirror. It is the ongoing assault on our sensibilities by corporate forces, demanding we continue our rampant consumerism, that keeps us from saving ourselves. We remain addicted to petrochemicals in spite of what they do to our environment and to our world in terms of the political price we must pay to maintain our supply, tethered mortally to our corporatist dealers and pimps. Continue reading →
Some of you may have been at Netroots Nation this summer, along with Team Emptywheel. I couldn’t go this year.
I stayed home because my teen son needs more parental guidance right now.
My once-sunny 15-and-a-half year-old who carried As and Bs all through grades K-8 suddenly became a difficult student. He failed a class one term, earned a C in another class; he might have done worse in other classes had I not leveraged threats ranging from dropping sports to elimination of all electronics. He’s going to have to re-take the failed class.
Girls discovered him. I don’t think it was the other way around, having accidentally come across text messages. He began to talk with one girl on a regular basis, bleeding his heart out to her about all the conflicts he used to discuss with me. In her he found a personal fan club; she patted his back about the crap hormonally-overloaded teen boys do to each other, as well as the horrors a “tiger mother” inflicted on her child, especially a parent whose partner is away from home a lot due to the demands of their job. You can imagine some of the dialog:
HE: OMG she made me study all eve i hate her
SHE: poor thing i feel so sorry for you come over and we’ll watch movies
At the same time, my son was burning his candle at both ends. He ran 30 or more miles a week with the cross-country team, attended at least two meets a week, while juggling advanced classes and the girlfriend. It was just too much for him.
Add dramatic growth spurts to this picture; he shot up nearly eight inches inside a year’s time, completely messing with his classmates’ and teachers’ perceptions of him.
I expected the separation between parent and child; distancing is a necessary part of growing up. But the failed grades and a sketchy first-time relationship? Nope. I have to double-down on supervision before he becomes an even more difficult high school sophomore.
He gets moody, takes off and hides out, cellphone in hand at all hours. The moodiness bugs me all to hell; he’s far worse than his older sister ever was. But this is another contributing factor. His sister left for college this year and now all the attention at school and home is on his back with laser-like focus. Because of his track record I need to watch him closely, but appear not to do so at the same time. It’s utterly crazy-making for both of us.
In spite of the painful occasional I-don’t-want-to/Yes-you-are-right-now screaming matches, I’ll be here. I’ll protect him as I guide him, with the help of his teachers and coaches. He may tower over me at nearly six feet, but his brain and nervous system have not caught up. I’m sure his IQ suffered on occasion, mirroring results of studies on teen growth. His frequent clumsiness and poor choices attest to ongoing changes (i.e., not studying, playing video games into the wee hours, eating a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting, so on). He needs me here to make sure he makes it through this last leg of the marathon from birth to adulthood. Just three or four more years of vigilance and he’ll be ready to take on most adult functions by himself.
You’ve got the picture now: pouty, moody, and alone, roaming the neighborhood in the evening, sweatshirt hood up while he’s on his cellphone with his girlfriend. My son is not unlike Trayvon Martin.
Which is why I am absolutely horrified and appalled about the Zimmerman-Martin case.
I have said this from the get go: In the case of State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, under the actual facts of the case from the State of Florida’s own disclosure, as opposed to hype from Benjamin Crump and his public relations team, who have self interest from representation of family members in a civil damages case, not to mention well meaning, even if uninformed, mass and liberal media, there has never been a good factual rebuttal to George Zimmerman’s own account of self defense. You know why? Because there is not any compelling rebuttal within the facts as adduced in the investigation and entered in the record at trial. And the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in the American criminal justice system still mean something.
Yes, I know what I am saying runs counter to the popular meme and what people emotionally feel and want to hear. But everything I have noted from the start of this case has been borne out in the trial evidence and resulting posture as the case heads to closing arguments and to the jury for deliberation.
Did you know that powerful local mayoral office politicians involved themselves, by meeting with only the victim’s family and their attorneys, in an improper ex-parte manner, to go over the most critical evidence during the early stages of the investigation and before said Martin family members’ statements were relied on to file charges? I bet you did not, but that has been the testimony in the trial record.
Did any of you see the young female neighborhood homeowner, Olivia Bertalan, that testified Wednesday as to the crime spree that was ongoing in her and Zimmerman’s neighborhood, Retreat at Twin Lakes, including the home invasion where she and her child were victims of one or more home invaders, and who was effusive in her praise for the concern of the neighborhood watch program and George Zimmerman? Did you know that, thanks in part to the actions of Zimmerman and his wife, the juvenile suspect was caught and sentenced as an adult by this same judge, Debra Nelson, to five years in prison? Probably not is my guess. But that, too, is the evidence.
Did any of you see the other neighbors, of all races, in Retreat at Twin Lakes who testified on Zimmerman’s behalf about the the facts of the case, that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor on top of Zimmerman when the shooting occurred, and the crime afflicting the neighborhood and the need for the neighborhood watch program? My guess is you did not. But that, too, is part of the evidence in the trial record.
Did you know that the state, by and through Angela Corey, relentlessly engaged in Brady violations with regard to discovery and evidence disclosure and that, as a result, discovery and depositions thereon have been ongoing even during the trial, all to the detriment to, and prejudice of, Defendant Zimmerman? My guess is you did not, but that too is part of the record.
In spite of all of the above, the political, and cravenly so, prosecution may still tug on enough emotional and falsely racial heartstrings to wrongfully convict Zimmerman. Almost surely there will be no conviction of the always wrongfully charged 2nd degree murder charge; but the possibly of a flawed compromise verdict to a lesser included charge of manslaughter, battery, or other lesser included offense, is very real. If so, it will, despite all the emotions of this case, be a tragedy of justice.
No matter what you think of George Zimmerman personally, the rule of law should militate in favor of an acquittal. Yes, if the burden of proof in the American criminal justice system is truly “beyond a reasonable doubt”, and if there really exists a common law right to “self defense”, then acquittal is exactly what the verdict should be, and must be.
I have no affinity for George Zimmerman. Frankly he strikes me as a hapless dope. Under no circumstances do I support George Zimmerman, or anybody else, wandering around with concealed carry, locked and loaded, firearms on neighborhood patrol (even though he was not on patrol, but only on his way to Target for family shopping). It is a tragic event waiting to happen and nowhere close to what the founders had in mind with regard to the Second Amendment. But my, and your, beliefs are not the law of the land either in Florida or anywhere else in the United States under District of Columbia v. Heller. And that is the law of the land, both for the Zimmerman case at bar, and and all others elsewhere.
We shall see how willing to follow the law the jury will be, and what their verdict is. But this case is not now, and NEVER has been, about what has been pitched and portrayed in the media. Never. It is not about racial prejudice and profiling (and the DOJ Civil Rights Division so found), and it is not about murder. It is about a tragic and unnecessary death, but one that is not a felony crime, despite all the sturm and drang.
State of Florida v. Zimmerman is a straight up traditional self defense case. It has never been pled as a Stand Your Ground defense case, irrespective of all the press coverage, attention and attribution to Stand Your Ground. It’s never been Stand Your Ground, and certainly is not now that the evidence is all in on the trial record. It is a straight self defense justification defense, one that would be pretty much the same under the law of any state in the union including that which you are in, and that I am in, now (so don’t blame “Florida law”).
There is nothing whatsoever unique in the self defense posture that has been effected in this case. Nothing. And it is, whether it is comfortable or not, a compelling self defense case. Actually, let us be honest: It is not comfortable. Not even close. But no matter how uncomfortable it is to say, Zimmerman needs to walk, because the self defense case is strong. The burden of proof in the instructions to the jury will read that not only is there a general presumption of innocence afforded Zimmerman but, moreover, the state must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did NOT act in self defense. Under the facts as adduced in the trial record that ought be, by all rights, an impossible burden for the jury to get past, whether on the pending count of 2nd degree depraved murder or any possible lesser included charge given to the jury.
The facts, the rule of law, and the constitutional burdens of proof compel an acquittal. Uncomfortable to hear; yes, it is. Necessary for an acquittal to occur; also, yes it is.
[UPDATE: Just a couple of quick notes. First off, the jury instructions: Judge Nelson accepted a lesser included for standard voluntary act manslaughter under FLRS 782.02(1). Nelson, thankfully, denied the wild request by the state to give a third degree murder instruction based on child abuse. It was a ridiculous attempt by the state and would have provided fertile ground for an allegation of reversible error had there been a conviction. So, the jury will deliberate only on the 2nd degree murder and the lesser included manslaughter charges, which is how it should be.
Prosecutor gave a long closing argument this afternoon. Parts of it were pretty good, parts fairly diffuse and rambling. Overall competent though, and he will still have a rebuttal after the defense closing tomorrow by Mark O’Mara.