Monday, June 26, 2017

St. Anthony, Part Two

As I mentioned in the previous post, the primary purpose of the Saint Anthony Police Department is revenue collection. If you ask them, they'll give you the "serve and protect" story you get from most police departments, but as a practical matter it's really about the speeding tickets. Because St. Anthony provides police services to three different communities, it employs a larger force than a town its size typically would employ. And to pay the freight, writing tickets is a big part of the job.

We see St. Anthony cops all the time in our area. The main road to the south of our neighborhood is County Highway 93, which is known as County Road D in Ramsey County, which becomes 37th Avenue NE once it crosses into Hennepin County. County Road D is technically in the jurisdiction of New Brighton and Roseville, but becomes the jurisdiction of St. Anthony once you cross Highcrest Road. A screen shot from the map shows you how it works:

The main drag

As a result, it is common to see squad cars from all three communities on the road. The Shell gas station in my neighborhood, shown at the far top right of the map above, is a popular hangout for cops from all three areas and you can often find a St. Anthony squad car in the parking lot, even though the station itself is in New Brighton. If I stop for gas in the morning on my way to work, there's almost always a St. Anthony cop or three sitting at the counter in the window. I would wager Jeronimo Yanez was one of those cops in the window a year ago. Cops from all three departments might pull you over for a speeding ticket at different times, although for the St. Anthony cops, there's more money to be made about three miles to the south, on Larpenteur Avenue. And that's where we'll pick up the story next.

Friday, June 23, 2017

St. Anthony

Another pick at the bones of the Jeronimo Yanez trial...

It's a tough case for me, because St. Anthony Village is quite real to me. Many of the national observers pronouncing judgment on the matter would have a difficult time finding St. Anthony. Many people who live in the Twin Cities would have difficulty finding it, too. That's part of its allure. Most suburbs in the Twin Cities are accessible from the interstate highway system. My town, New Brighton, sits at the intersection of 35W and 694, which meet on the eastern edge of town. While 35W nicks the far southeast corner of town, no major highways go through St. Anthony; the busiest road in town is a 4 lane county highway that was once, many years ago, part of the old U.S. highway system. If you are going to find St. Anthony, you need to look for it.

No one will confuse St. Anthony for tonier enclaves like Edina. Generally it features post-war homes, comfortable and generally well-maintained. The population of the town skews older than most of the communities in the area. The city itself has about 9000 residents and their pride and joy is a small school district that produces some of the best-prepared kids in the state. The streets are safe and quiet. There is a retail area, Silver Lake Village, that is on the site of an early rival to Southdale, Apache Plaza. That mall was torn down in the 1990s and a "lifestyle center" development took its place. There are a few shops and a grocery store, along with a moribund Walmart, on the site, but it's not exactly bustling.

St. Anthony's police force, which employed Jeronimo Yanez, generally doesn't have much to do other than issue traffic tickets. They perform that task in their city, along with the neighboring towns of Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, which both contract with St. Anthony for police services. It was in Falcon Heights where Philando Castile died. Falcon Heights in similar to St. Anthony in some ways, but it also houses the State Fairgrounds, so at some points of the year it can be a busy place. Larpenteur Avenue, the road where the traffic stop occurred, is a busy thoroughfare with a significant retail presence to the east.

More to come.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Late to the party, but. . .

We have been traveling the last few days, primarily in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. A fair amount of news has come through since then, so a catch-up is in order.

  • I'll probably watch the dashcam video of the Philando Castile/Jeronimo Yanez encounter, which went quite badly, at some point, although I try to avoid snuff films. From what I can gather, it's clear Yanez panicked and shot Castile. Is that murder? Probably not, which is why John Choi and his prosecutors went for manslaughter. Even so, it's a heavy lift for a conviction, especially when Yanez was able to have Earl Grey, one of the best lawyers in the Twin Cities, represent him. It's an injustice that Castile died that day, but there are no easy solutions to the issues surrounding this case. And man, are there issues. More to come on all that.
  • Just about everywhere I traveled in the last few days, if there was a television on in the background it was tuned to CNN. In many cases, the sound on the television was turned down. Good thing, too. If you watch the screen and don't hear the sound, you can concentrate on the facial expressions and body language. What's evident is barely concealed rage. The parade of talking heads with unremitting scowls suggested that everyone involved would rather be doing something else. The obsession with Le Grand Orange is turning everyone on that network into Captain Ahab with somewhat better tailoring.
  • In case you hadn't heard, the Republican (Karen Handel) won in the special election in Georgia. Another harpoon misses the Great Orange Whale, who swims along in the tears of his would-be tormentors. I probably shouldn't enjoy it, but to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Jon Ossoff's campaign without laughing.
  • Pro tip -- if you want to visit Philadelphia and you only have an afternoon for sight-seeing, don't go on the day of the Pride Parade. Some of the worst traffic I've ever encountered.
  • Pro tip two -- if you need to get across Washington, D.C., during evening rush hour, pick a day when severe thunderstorms aren't coming through. Also some of the worst traffic I've ever encountered.
More on the college visit aspect of our trip in a future post.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Events are in the saddle

Light posting the next few days. Probably will weigh in at some point, though.

Home truth

The end of a long rant from the Ace of Spades:
You may not be interested in Social War, but the Social Warriors are deeply, deeply interested in you, and bringing you to heel, and making you confess that you are indeed a creature with fewer rights and privileges than they possess.

No one's ever going to put them in a position of authority over others -- which is why they desperately need you to accept they have authority over you.

I didn't particularly want Kathy Griffin fired -- but it was necessary.

I actually envy her lack of inhibition and total feeling of freedom. She felt she could do whatever she wanted, so long as it broke no laws.

I'd like to feel that way. But I can't.

I can't feel that way, because I know the progressive mob is always scalp-hunting, and that I am not free to say or think as I might like.

They rule part of my brain -- my very fear of them limits my thoughts, creates inhibitions and limitations in me which I did not choose for myself, but were forced upon me from without.

I have become, partly, a recruit in the Social Justice Warrior army. Their dicta, their demands, their fury is always alive inside of me.

I know to fear them. And so I must self-censor.

I do the same thing. Have been doing it for years. A read through this feature, now in its 12th year, will reveal constant examples of that fear. There's more: 
My fear of their power makes part of my own brain their appointed warden for the rest of my head.

So a big part of my anger is in seeing Kathy Griffin act as a totally free spirit and free agent, able to do what she likes just because she thinks it's funny, or "edgy," or whatever.

It makes me angry to see her living a life where she can just do something without fearing the consequences -- but I can't.

And neither can you.

My hatred of Kathy Griffin isn't a hatred of her -- it's a hatred of the vicious caste-based system which says she has more rights than Sean Hannity, and more rights than you, and more rights than me.

If keeping some of my diminished amount of freedom means that I have to thuggishly begin taking it from others -- so be it.

I didn't make the rules.

I'm just trying to survive them.

I don't want her to have less freedom -- but the only way to make sure I keep the limited, constantly-eroded freedom I currently have is to insist that I am not a serf, and I will not be held to different laws than the Lords.

As I cannot accept that -- and as I will not accept that -- I must insist she pay the same cost I would be expected to pay if I were to do what she did.

Otherwise, I'm saying Sir/Ma'am to the Ruling Caste, and confirming that I accept my lower position.

And the part that matters the most:
Hillary Clinton called half of the country "The Deplorables."

It's really not so different from the lowest caste in India -- the "Untouchables," is it?

They're not even attempting to turn us into serfs covertly any longer -- it's now just pretty much out in the open.

No more.

No more.
It's essentially the same argument Gino is making. War is here.

The Castile Case Comes to a Predictable End

The result I expected, up and down the line:
A jury found St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty Friday in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, whose livestreamed death during a traffic stop stunned a nation.

Castile’s family called the decision proof of a dysfunctional criminal justice system, while prosecutors cautioned the public to respect the jury’s verdict “because that is the fundamental premise of the rule of law.”

“I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota,” Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said at a news conference shortly after the verdict was read in court about 2:45 p.m. “My son loved this state. He had one tattoo on his body and it was of the Twin Cities — the state of Minnesota with TC on it. My son loved this city and this city killed my son. And the murderer gets away.”
And the predictable aftermath:
Hours later, at the tail end of a protest march through the streets of St. Paul, hundreds of people headed out on Interstate 94 at Dale, shutting down the freeway. Over the course of about an hour, the crowd thinned out and was moved to a ramp near Marion before State Patrol officers moved in after 12:30 a.m. Saturday and began making 18 arrests. Among those arrested were reporters Susan Du of City Pages and David Clarey of the Minnesota Daily, who were covering the protest.
Where to begin? Well, a few preliminary thoughts:

  • The prosecution made one huge tactical error, I thought. They didn’t present the BCA testimony that Yanez gave the day after the shooting as part of their case, because they were hoping to use it against Yanez during cross-examination when Yanez testified in his own behalf, but the judge didn’t allow it. I understand the strategy; the idea was to impugn Yanez’s testimony on the stand, but you can’t withhold evidence during one part of the trial and expect to pull it out of your hip pocket later on. Had the judge allowed the testimony at that point, it would have given Yanez’s attorneys a great shot at overturning a guilty verdict on appeal. As a matter of law, the judge’s decision was correct. Whether it served the cause of justice is another matter entirely.
  • More generally, we've seen this before -- cops are given an enormous benefit of the doubt in most of their interactions. In nearly every case we've seen over the last five years, the cop has prevailed at trial. It's a high bar to clear.
  • Blocking the highways doesn't help anyone's cause. I expect we'll be seeing a number of different highways blocked in the coming days here in the Twin Cities. I hope nothing happens that will lead to additional tragedy.
  • I don't mean to minimize the grief of Castile's mother, but there was no way for Yanez to know how much her son loved Minnesota. What Yanez knew, or thought he knew at the time, was that there was an armed robbery suspect on the loose who bore at least a passing resemblance to Castile. We still don't know who that individual is, because apparently he hasn't been brought to justice yet. Based on every report we've seen, it wasn't Castile. Yanez didn't know that until much later.
  • For its part, St. Anthony Village has ashcanned Yanez. I'm not surprised that happened. It's possible that the protests could come to St. Anthony in the coming days. As regular readers of this feature know, I live about a mile and a half from St. Anthony City Hall, so the potential unrest that we can expect could have a direct impact on us. We'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tweetin'

Say what you want about Le Grand Orange, or his Twitter habits, but he raised a fair question on his Twitter feed yesterday:

Because they hate you, that's why
I still contend that the best thing Trump could do at this point is start investigating the hell out of the Democrats, from Hillary on down. He has the power to make it happen. He should do so and let the chips fall where they may. Let's see all the corruption in Washington.

The jury remains out

It's now been most of the week and we still don't have a verdict, or anything close to a verdict, in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights:
Jurors concluded about 24 hours of deliberations in the manslaughter trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez without reaching a verdict, pushing talks into their fifth day Friday.

There was little activity Thursday before the jurors were recessed for the day about 4:30 p.m.

In a change from previous days, the jury had lunch catered in instead of leaving the Ramsey County Courthouse. The jury of five women and seven men, including two people of color, first appeared to be stalled Wednesday on whether Yanez is criminally culpable for last year’s fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

About 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, and her attorney Glenda Hatchett arrived at the eighth floor of the courthouse to await any developments, leaving about an hour before jurors when it became apparent that nothing would come that day.
The longer the jury is out, the higher the tension rises. The key issue remains unresolved -- it's not whether Yanez shot Castile, which is beyond dispute. What matters more is why Yanez stopped Castile in the first place:
Prosecutors argued that Yanez, who is Mexican-American, racially profiled Castile, a black man, when he stopped him for a nonworking brake light. Yanez testified that he also wanted to investigate whether Castile was a suspect in the armed robbery of a nearby convenience store four days earlier. Castile was never connected to the robbery.

Defense attorneys argued that Castile was culpably negligent in the shooting because he volunteered that he possessed a gun without disclosing that he had a permit to carry it, that he reached for it instead of keeping his hands visible, and that he was high on marijuana, rendering him incapable of following Yanez’s order not to reach for the gun. Yanez testified last week that he fired because he feared for his life.
We keep hearing that Castile was not connected to the robbery, but at that point Yanez could not have known that. We've touched on it before, but to this day the robbery remains unresolved.

I live about a mile and a half from St. Anthony's government complex. If the jury comes back with a not guilty verdict, we could see a Ferguson-type response to the verdict fairly close to home. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Out in the open

The coup is on and the mask is dropped:
The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.
Officials said. What they didn't say directly is they are coming for Trump, though the message is unmistakable.

I made no bones about my views on Trump during the campaign. I did not support him. Once he was elected president, that had to end, so I've treated Trump in the same manner I've treated his predecessors -- criticize when deserved, but praise when earned. Trump's opponents in Washington and elsewhere don't see things that way. They want him gone and they don't care how it happens.

Let's get real. The special counsel in this case is conducting an investigation that has one purpose -- to overturn the results of an election and disqualify the winner, by turning actions the president has every right to do into a process crime. We do not have the rule of law in this country. We only have the rule of those who deem they should rule. Donald Trump is not part of this cohort. Robert Mueller is. And we're now going to find out who is right.

This is ugly now. It's going to get a lot uglier. And if you think you can reason with the people staging this coup, forget it. The norms do not apply. This is an exercise in raw power.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Res ipsa loquitur

As seen on Facebook:

And he's sincere about it

Boom boom out go the lights

Power was out at our house this morning, so I wasn't able to get a blog post up. Power is apparently back on, but I'm at work now, so have an open thread.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trial Balloons

Powerline is floating so many trial balloons right now you'd think you were at Temecula. A number of the posts seem to be suggesting that the Leader of the Free World ought to give Robert Mueller the Archibald Cox treatment. Here's Paul Mirengoff, discussing Mueller's hiring decisions:

Mueller has selected Deputy solicitor general Michael Dreeben as one of his advisers. Dreeben is a premier criminal law expert. However, he’s considered a left-winger by people whose judgment I trust. And Preet Bharara — former US attorney of the Southern District of New York and current Trump adversary — says he’s over-the-moon about Dreeben’s selection.

Dreeben does not owe his selection to investigative prowess. He’s on the team to evaluate whether the fruits of the investigation give rise to a crime.

That’s fine if Dreeben has no agenda. But if he’s anti-Trump, there’s reason to fear he will bend over backwards to spin out a theory through which Trump can be prosecuted.

Mueller has also tapped Jeannie Rhee, formerly a federal prosecutor and high-level Justice Department official. Rhee provided legal services for the Clinton Foundation, a fact the Washington Post omits from its account. In addition, she donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC “Hillary for America.”

As bitter as the Clintonistas are about losing the election (or rather having it “stolen” by the Russians), it seems unconscionable that Rhee would be on a team that will decide whether to prosecute President Trump at the end of a “Russian interference” investigation.
Meanwhile, Mirengoff's colleague John Hinderaker is making a related argument:
The idea that Jeff Sessions had something to do with a spearfishing expedition into the DNC’s email server (the Russians, if they were Russians, tried the same thing with the RNC, but the Republicans weren’t dumb enough to fall for it) is ridiculous. No one believes it, not even the most rabid Democrat. To say that there is no evidence to suggest any such thing is an understatement.

No doubt CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Times will pretend to find something “troubling” in Sessions’s testimony tomorrow, no matter what he says. But it is becoming increasingly obvious to any sane person that with regard to the “Russian investigation,” there is nothing to investigate.
Meanwhile, Le Grand Orange is tweeting again this morning:

Sad!
Do you think something's up? I do.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Lightning Round -- 061217

Lot of scary stuff in the sky yesterday:

Green is never a good color
So time for a little lightning round:

  • The jury will begin deliberations in the Jeronimo Yanez case today. Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year, testified in his own defense on Friday. I wasn't in the courtroom, but apparently he was pretty compelling. I'm watching the case carefully, because any outcome that doesn't include a guilty verdict is going to mean things will get rough, potentially close to me. 
  • Apparently Team Trump has decided that the way to stop the scandal mongering in Washington is to go on offense and start attacking the integrity of those conducting the investigations. I'm not sure that's going to work, but it's never been tried before, so we'll see. We'll be in the Washington, DC, next week for a brief visit, so it will be interesting to see how things look from there.
  • I'm officially tired of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just so you know.
  • Joel Kotkin is always worth reading and his latest piece in the Orange County Register is particularly good. A taste: 

Unlike its failed predecessor, this new, greener socialism seeks not to weaken, but rather to preserve, the emerging class structure. Brown and his acolytes have slowed upward mobility by environment restrictions that have cramped home production of all kinds, particularly the building of moderate-cost single-family homes on the periphery. All of this, at a time when millennials nationwide, contrary to the assertion of Brown’s “smart growth” allies, are beginning to buy cars, homes and move to the suburbs.

In contrast, many in Sacramento appear to have disdain for expanding the “California dream” of property ownership. The state’s planners are creating policies that will ultimately lead to the effective socialization of the regulated housing market, as more people are unable to afford housing without subsidies. Increasingly, these efforts are being imposed with little or no public input by increasingly opaque regional agencies.

To these burdens, there are now growing calls for a single-payer health care system — which, in principle, is not a terrible idea, but it will include the undocumented, essentially inviting the poor to bring their sick relatives here. The state Senate passed the bill without identifying a funding source to pay the estimated $400 billion annual cost, leading even former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to describe it as “snake oil.” It may be more like hemlock for California’s middle-income earners, who, even with the cost of private health care removed, would have to fork over an estimated $50 billion to $100 billion a year in new taxes to pay for it.
  • I don't know if you remember this joke from The Naked Gun:

Sometimes life imitates art:

Delta Airlines and Bank of America pulled out of their sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater on Sunday over a production of “Julius Caesar” that reimagines the main character as President Trump.

Shortly after Delta, who was a four-year sponsor, made its announcement, Bank of America yanked its support as well.

The Shakespeare in the Park play tells the story of the leader assassinated by Roman senators over the fear that he’s becoming too tyrannical, but rather than the original setting, the production stages Caesar (Gregg Henry) and his wife, Calpurnia, (Tina Benko) with Donald and Melania Trump lookalikes.
Where have you gone, Frank Drebin?

Friday, June 09, 2017

The Co-Me Generation

Random thoughts on Comey:

  • One shouldn't have to say this, but apparently we do -- disagreeing with James Comey on the state of the FBI does not make Donald Trump a liar. Trump's relationship with the truth is episodic, but not in this instance. If Trump felt the FBI was in disarray, he's certainly entitled to that opinion, no matter how much it hurts Comey's feelings.
  • It's ludicrous for Comey to assert that his firing was designed to stop any investigations, because the investigations haven't stopped. He knows that, of course, but his immediate career goal is amour propre.
  • Comey admitted he's a leaker. That's important, because it helps to establish a pattern that needs to be addressed. As I'm writing this, Trump is tweeting the same point:
Epistemology, again
  • Comey's leak did accomplish what he wanted, since he did get a special counsel named. Now that we know the provenance of all this, it makes Robert Mueller's next moves especially interesting. Mueller could take the usual approach and go all Inspector Javert on Trump, or he might conclude that the pretext for the investigation is based on vapor and close up shop quickly. I would expect Mueller to take the Javert approach, because he's going to respond to incentives like anyone else and leading the charge against Trump is far more likely to get you praised in the Washington Post, but we'll see.
  • In many respects, the underlying narrative took on a lot of water yesterday. It's going to be difficult to go after anyone concerning Russian spying, because it's not really much of a story. We're now in the process crime phase, which was the point of this exercise in the first place. It's obstruction of justice, apparently, because Comey himself is Justice, and you can't fire Justice. Nice racket, actually -- it's every bureaucrat's dream!
  • The next move, quite clearly, is to bring Comey back to the Hill, but this time in front of the Judiciary Committee. Comey finally started to throw Loretta Lynch under the bus yesterday and we need to know more about that. He'd clearly rather not talk about those matters, but it's time he did.