Saturday, December 1, 2018

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan

    Amazon Prime’s   series “Jack Ryan” pilot episode gives you plenty to look at right out of the gate.    The opening scene puts you back in time to when you popped cassettes into your   boom box and danced solo around your bedroom  to the amusement of your little brother.   Except that this is not America and the two boys in the opening sequence are not American kids.  They’re dancing to a “Men Without Hats” tune when a   formation of low flying jets lays a heap of bombs on some  real estate.  This is how kids grow up to be terrorists, according to a popular TV meme. It’s as good a place as any to start  begin an international spy thriller series. 

 From the Middle East to America then where  the studious mildly athletic  preppy boy Jack Ryan is  wearing his  Boston College tee-shirt while rowing his crew boat up a placid river. John Krasinski is an engaging Jack Ryan.    Extreme closeups of his face while rowing   make you like him right away.  He’s the kind of guy mothers want their daughters to marry. He’s the kind of guy the girl’s dad wants to corner into a conversation about the Washington Redskins. Later on when he’s being the virtuous non-polluting CIA analyst riding his bike to work we run into Jack’s boss, James Greer (Wendell Pierce).

Pierce was a a laid back street-wise cop in “The Wire” but here he’s been ddemoted to a job behind a desk after screwing up some unknown business in Pakistan.    Greer’s not thrilled with anything about his new post.    He’s accustomed to more action than he expects to get in this new backwater job posting.    He’s an operations guy.  The team he leads at Langley is a heady group of academics and policy wonks.  

 “I heard he went all Colonel Kurtz in the desert. Started making S.A.D dip their bullets in pig’s blood so anyone they killed wouldn’t go to Paradise,” one analyst gossips to Ryan.  So you see right away the creators of this spy thriller are not afraid to call a spade a spade, even if you can’t tell one spade from another until it’s too late.  

Dr. Jack Ryan’s office has this plaque at its entrance:  “CTC Terror Finance and Arms Division.”  He’s no James Bond, in other words.   Jack Ryan’s job is to find patterns of evil in the labyrinth  of financial transactions.  There’s a lot of alphabet soup mentioned, things like SINGINT, fun to look up if you’re so inclined.   I’ll save you the trouble of an online search for SWIFT;  It’s a system set up to track terrorist financing networks around the world. And of course Ryan gets a lead on a high value target who has an unusual pattern of financial transactions in Yemen where the Saudis are battling Houthi rebels not only capsizing Yemen but threatening the Saudi southern border.

The filming is picturesque, the camera roaming over medieval fortificatioins and desert plains to  ( Al Menajeer Syria) the house where the HVT lives with his wife and children.   A convoy of menacing strangers armed to the teeth approaches the compound.  Hanin, the wife of the terrorist mastermind, is tasked to hide away a light complexioned Chechen terrorist and a bunch of other guys.    In Suleiman’s (the HVT)  world, women are expected to ‘know their place.’  

Of course,  Ryan and Greer are hot to find these sweethearts.  Among their more hideous schemes was a plan to infiltrate a joint U.S./Arab military base and free a terrorist held prisoner there.  Clever stuff all the way through makes “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” one of the liveliest action shows on TV.  They way the terrorists gain access to the compound is chilling.  They’ve hidden weapons in the sewn up body cavities of dead fighters who were sent to the compound morgue. A massive gunfight follows and seems never-ending.  

Performances were solid throughout. Great direction of this fast action episode and taut editing made any weak spots fade quickly into memory.  The script writers did a fine job with dialogue, quippy, spare, informed,  not drowning the characters in hollow “Go, go, go!” or “I’ve got this” kind of heroics. 

Virtue doesn’t triumph here. The bad guys get away in the end as they often do in real life.     As far as serial action films go, this first episode of “Tom Clancy”s Jack Ryan” sets a high bar for others including its own future episodes.



Monday, November 26, 2018

Gomorrah: Second Time Around

Just finished watching for a second time an Italian TV series called Gomorrah.  Rhymes with Camorra.   Unlike the American Mafia or the Sicilian Mafia, the camorras have no hierarchical structures.  There is not one single camorra – there are several, rather like constellations.

Organization is horizontal, rather than pyramidal. Positions may be inherited. Rules are not always followed.

It seemed strange to me how the actors and directors of this TV series were, in interviews, saying such nice things about American films and TV series.  Unless they were referring to ‘slick,’ I kind of thought the opposite. The Italian version of a crime epic was grittier and more realistic than the ones I’ve watched – excepting perhaps “Casino” where there is not much room for romanticism. 

But even there, Gomorrah was hands-down more realistic than any mafia conforming fare found on American TV and film. Hey listen, wiseguy, I’m not putting down the American films like Godfather and Casino and TV shows like “The Sopranos.” I thought they were great.

Gomorrah is different, that’s all I’m saying.  Part of it is my own taste for realism. The more realistic the better. So let’s face it, the comorras of southern Italy don’t play very nice. 

Gomorrah, offered by Sundance TV and still “On Demand” has three directors. You may have noticed that earlier I used the plural when I referred to the director (s).

There is Stefano Sollima, the key director of the character Pietro Savanstano, head of the clan. His wife is named Imma for Immaculata – how’s that for an Italian name? She gets her own director but in most cases she needs one only to move her through the scenes. Then they have a son.  His name is Gennaro. At first he’s clueless but then grows into a chip off the old block.  His director is Claudioo Cupellini. 

What’s up with three directors?  Well, Stefano Sollima is the top man but the other two have a great deal of independence.  There are three driving forces therefore. Just as in real life the tensions occur between people, so it is with these characters.  It’s fascinating – it’s conflict you can feel. It gets under your skin. The characters are despicable and noble at the same time. As in Game of Thrones, these three characters live in separate kingdoms, separate domains.

Other details:  The screenwriter is Stefano Bises.  The filming makes use of 126 different locations, 225 actors, and hundreds of actors. Italians go big if they go at all. The series transformed Naples into a huge movie set.

Though some Italians have complained of bad publicity for Naples (See Naples and Die) actor Salvatore Esposito, who plays Gennaro Savastano, points out that tourism to Naples has increased, not the other way around. I have to say that I am curious, too.  My father was a ‘Napolitano” (Neopolitan). 

The stories are true. They come from Robert Savio’s book of the same name:  Gomorrah. Some of the inspiration, too, comes from Matteo’s film which was adapted also from Savio’s book.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Romanoffs and the French Ruling Class

Just watched the first episode of “The Romanoffs” a social satire sometimes requiring English subtitles.  The location is Paris.   Don’t frown – there are millions of people who love subtitles – it gives us a sense of superiority.  Actually, I’m thrilled by subtitles.  They provide a heighted sense of superiority that you just can’t get from films in your native language. We get to test our three or four years of high school French. 

  “The Romanoffs” is more of an anthology than a series.  The plots and subplots are not on-going, and neither are the characters. The only link from one episode to another will be some kind of connection, scientifically illusory,  to the Romanoffs.  It must also be mentioned that the ‘episodes’ of “The Romanoffs” are more like individual high concept feature films.

You know the Romanoffs, right?   The  last royal line to have ruled Russia before the Bolshevik revolution?   The Romanoff family came to a bizarre and gruesome ending when they were slaughtered, along with mad monk Rasputin who became a legend by refusing to die easily.  The foundational element of the story is that there was a female survivor who trailed a long line of descendants.  

 In the past  there were several frauds who claimed to be   descended from the Romanoff line.   Those frauds finally came to an end in 2008 when forensics scientists  dated and identified some old bones of Anastasia Romanoff, the purported survivor.

 Portraits of the   Romanoff family being shot down in their palace  are matched to the tune of hard-rock-driven Tom Petty’s “Refugee.” Tom would have liked that, maybe he saw it anyway.   The song bring you back from the era of the portraits to the present — modern France with its clash of old and new.  

 We’re speeding along in an ambulance where   an autumnal post-middle aged aristocratic woman begs to see the Arc de Triomphe one last time before she dies.  She is not dying. She is a drama queen, a grand-dame who puts on airs and lives in a luxurious apartment in the hear of Paris. ( Marthe Keller is Anushka,)   

That she doesn’t die is the problem for her American nephew Greg and his acquisitive girlfriend Sophie. Sophie is acquisitive in the sense that she’s hooked onto Greg with a view to acquiring the multi-million dollar apartment said to be the former home of one of a famous Romanoff duke.    Among the abode’s many treasures is what appears to be an original Faberge egg,  important for other reasons late in the episode.

 Back at home and not getting all the attention she feels she deserves, Anushka is attended by her nephew Greg (Aaron Eckhart) and Sophie (Louise Bourgoin).  Sophie is highly annoyed that she and Greg had to cancel a planned vacation because of Anushka’s fainting episode.  The caregiver Greg has hired to assist his aunt arrives late.  Anushka could likely hold her own with American rappers when it comes to trash talk:  “I forgive you for coming here in yesterday’s clothing and smelling of testicles,” she says to the poor girl, and then fires her. 

 Beautiful images of Paris swim in the background.   Lively French tunes play accompany the visuals.   Sophie’s  burning  hot and  uses her good looks to keep Greg on his toes. Even during their lovemaking she keeps up a lively chat which   doesn’t in the end defeat her dual purposes, the least noble of which is to acquire Anushka’s apartment.  “We’re never going to get that apartment unless the bitch dies.” And the bitch never dies.  But that’s the foreplay Sophie employs while Greg tries to get it on.

 It’s not as if they’re destitute.  On the contrary, Sophie owns a small hotel of the middling sort, complaining to friends that her patrons are increasingly of the lower classes. At a dinner with friends, one of them makes a complaint that seems to be heard everywhere these days: “The middle class is gone.  There is nothing left but the poor and ultra-rich.”  

   After firing the “Polish slut,” Anushka must now endure Hajar Azim, the Muslim caregiver replacement who is greeted by having the door slammed in her face.  There are other insults to follow and an ultimate accommodation which leaves Sophie reeling.   Beyond the bigotry, there is   class warfare and a history lesson.  Madame Anastasia LeCharnay (Anushka, for short)  claims historical superiority over the young Muslim woman who endures it all with kindness and patience.  “We beat you at Tours in 732. In 1204, we burned Constantinople (Istanbul, now). We beat you in Jaffa, Damascus, and Beirut.  We took Jerusalem and gave it to the jews, and in 1683, we pushed back from Vienna for good.”  Tormenting the poor caregiver further, she holds up a croissant to deliver the final blow:  “We took the symbol from your flag. . . “ She holds up a croissant (shape of a crescent) “. . . and every day we eat you for breakfast.”  

 Anushka may be the Archie Bunker of the French aristocracy but she’s not stupid.  While she remains tethered to her class superiority, she develops an uneasy and often intimate alliance with Hajar.  The relationship is funny, not mean, and Hajar endures all this with the determination of someone who wants to achieve an important goal. In Hajar’s case, she desires to complete her studies and become a full-fledged nurse.  Weiner’s motif here isn’t to inspire hatred of the French upper classes, but rather to ridicule them for their fear of a  changed world.   The satire is hopeful rather than mean-spirited and  thereby more successful.   Should I say that Anushka, mainly to spite Sophie but also because she’s become deeply attached to Hajar,  changes her will so that Hajar inherits the apartment and its luxuries?  

Having watched the episode develop I should have seen it coming but I didn’t.  Let me tell you now, I’m dying to.  Sophie gets the egg.  How she gets the egg is kind of charming and funny but also predictable. What’s not predictable is that it’s a convention   in film and TV that one go in the sack doesn’t lead to pregnancy.  But come on, boys, admit you have   fallen for the shy Muslim girl in the hijaj. What’s up with that anyway? Is it a lurid Arabian Nights fantasy or a pornographic writer’s dream?      The stark reality of it becomes clear  to Greg when Hajar turns up at chez Sophie-Greg with her seriously stern mother.  You do not want to take on this Tunisian woman. The enterprise never loses its comic side, delivering another clever and simultaneously symbolic poke at the avaricious   stunned, rejected, and aggrieved Sophie leaves the luxurious apartment clutching the fake Faberge egg. 

I think I like “The Romanoffs.”   It has no violence. I watch violence in films but only when it makes sense.  Same deal in real life, only there it hardly ever makes sense, though I suppose that’s part of it’s attraction for some people.  Amirite?

Check out “The Romanoffs.”  Only if you’re smart though.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Faulty Reasoning Candidate of the Week: Senator Patty Murray D-WA

Faulty Reasoning Candidate of the Week is Senator Patty Murray, Democrat, of the state of Washington.  Murray appeared on Sunday’s Meet the Press  with host Chuck Todd. Todd asked for Murray’s opions about the allegations  made by Christine Blasey Ford regarding Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.  This writing is not to discuss the allegations, but to focus on Murray’s weak thought process when answering Todd’s question.

Before asking for her opinion with regard to Ford’s credibility, Todd played two opposing political clips, one of them at odds with Ford’s allegations, the other in sync with it.

When Todd then asked whether Ford could be believed, Murray used some very specious reasoning.  “Well, if a person calls in and says their car is stolen, no one questions that.” 

That’s patently false.  But it’s what a senator in the U.S. Congress professes to believe, and such fecklessness  and/or sophistry scares me.    Senator Murray’s presumption might apply to persons as privileged as she is, but in large part, an allegation of car theft is routinely questioned by authorities in terms of its credibility.

 False reports of car thefts are common.  Criminals pay other criminals to have their cars stolen to collect insurance money. There are many other reasons for false reports of car theft, and authorities have just as much right to question such claims as they have to question Christine Busey Ford’s as yet unfounded accusations of Brett Kavanaugh.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Solid Evidence Lacking in British Spy Poisoning Story

AFP Photo

For months now, Democrats and some Republicans, in their zeal to topple the Trump administration, have been  beating the drum against everything and everyone connected with Russia.  I’m expecting any day now that caviar, borscht, and kvas will soon be subpoenaed in Brighton Beach, by order of Special Prosecutor Mueller.   If  you can indict a ham sandwich then why not borscht?

Anyway, there’s nothing to wax eloquent about regarding these paroxysms of Russophobia.  Suffice it to say that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ does not apply here.  The British have declared that Russia and Putin have ordered the poisonings of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The U.S.  and the rest of the world has been expected to get in line behind the British in putting this crime on   the Russian Federation, and also on Putin’s doorstep. Unless the British or the sabre-rattlers provide something ever remotely resembling proof, there are good reasons for deep skepticism of the British claims.

First of all, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the countries involved suffered through a period of free-for-all where state assets could be bought cheap.  Everything and anything could be bought. A Showtime documentary airing now shows shady underworld characters buying helicopters, motorcycles, and even a submarine at unimaginably low prices. It was like Germany before WWII, even worse.  There was no economy except for foreign dollars. I would expect that somewhere a terrorist or criminal group has some really nasty and deadly material, even including Novochok, which was developed by the Russians. 

Consider the following:

Novochok is not just a single substance. It has several varieties and compositions, with varying lethalities.  Novochok 5 is said to be the deadliest.  All are said to be binary – meaning they need an activator or catalyst to become active.  So now the story is someone activated the substance and put in on the Skripal’s doorknob?  No security cameras operating? No one else (like the postman or a visitor) touched the doorknob?  For how  long would the substance be an effective killer?  I

British first reports virtually swore that the Kripals were poisoned in the park where they were found. Months later, the claim is that a deadly nerve agent was put on the doorknob of their house.  I don’t know how far the park is from the Kripal house but if they were poisoned at the home, and the poison was to be so deadly as to kill almost immediately, how did the Kripals manage a walk in and to the park?  We might get some answers since Yulia Kripal has come out of her coma and is reportedly being interviewed on those matters.

Russia does not deny the nerve agent was developed in a lab of the former Soviet Union.  British security services say it was developed in the town of Shikhany, southeast of Moscow.  The Russians say that their former stocks of chemical weapons were not stored there. "All the bases where chemical weapons were stored are well-known,” says Mikhail Babich, a former chairman of the Kremlin commission for chemical disarmament,

The British newspaper “The Times”  reports   the British defense lab analyzing the nerve agent  could not say for certain the substance came from Russia.  So why are we hearing this now? All of America has been bombarded with news that the British were 100 percent certain the substance came from Russia.  

Several former Russian scientists including Vil Mirzayanov say the Novichok group of nerve agents were invented by scientist Pyotr Kirpichev in Shikhany.  This is very likely true, but that is old news.  Mirzayanov is a welcome defector who has long been living in a million dollar house in ivy-covered Princeton, New Jersey.  The scientist-teacher also said it was difficult to establish where the poison came from.

Vladimir Uglev, one of the chemists who worked on the nerve agent, told one newspaper that components to produce the weapon could be bought in several countries. Isn’t this what happened with nuclear weapons in general?  Once the secrets are out, anyone might be able to get their hands on the formula. Thugs, criminals, terrorist factions, non-state operators, the list is long.

The really dangerous thing about blaming Putin and Russia for the poisoning is that everyone seems to accept the British version as if handed down from God.  And the west is going down this blind alley of sanctions, hostility, revised foreign policy, and accusations without any real evidence?

Why not give the Russians a sample of the substance for their own analysis as they have requested?  We seem to believe Russian scientists are competent only after they have defected. But  why did   the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons bow to political pressure and decline to investigate the matter independently?  That was also requested by the Russians – an independent inquiry. So much for ‘global chemical watchdogs,’ as the organization is described.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Red Sparrow: Jennifer Lawrence with Clipped Speech

The really cool thing about Jennifer Lawrence’s new movie “Red Sparrow” is that you can watch the trailer and get the whole story without paying up.   

There’s no need to discuss the story line, most of which is borrowed from other spy films and TV shows.  Ms. “Red Sparrow” is essentially blackmailed into becoming a double agent. She’d better do it or else her desperately ill mother won’t have a doctor.

Aside from Jennifer Lawrence’s brand name, Jeremy Irons also lends his name and reputation to the project.  At least he can do accents perfectly and change personas as needed. Jennifer Lawrence’s accent, like those of the other Eastern European ‘agents,’ is tortured.  Why didn’t the fillmmakers go whole hog and hire handsome Costa Ronin and the beautiful Anette Mahendru  . Hire Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields – they might be willing to help now that they’ve shot all episodes of what will be “The Americans” last season.
Judging from the trailer “Red Sparrow,” looks like something that resembles a 2018 version of the TV drama “Man From Uncle” or perhaps “I spy.” B 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Fake News Du Jour: Missing Canadian Fireman ‘Found’

 I love these   stories about the “mysterious” disappearance of a person from one place to another, usually far away.  Or rather, I would love them if only they weren’t so expensive and such a waste of precious resources.   The latest fake story comes from a ski resort in upstate New York. 

Worst of all is the way such stories are reported in the media.  With utter gullibility, expecting the same from you.  As if everyone’s taken stupid pills just before reading it in the media.   Or has chronic cognitive-dissonance.

The latest b.s. story of its type (though I’m linking to a Fox News story, it’s been reported wall-to-wall in every kind of media ) concerns Toronto ‘fireman’ Danny Fillippidis, age 49, who supposedly disappeared from New York’s White Face Mountain on a cross-country skiing trip. 

The first stories did not mention Danny was on a cross-country skiing trip where it’s almost impossible to get lost or have a tragic accident especially when you’re with a large number of your firemen buddies.  Okay, you could jump off a cliff if you’re on cross-country skis and, right now, sane people are wishing Danny would do just that.

Instead, he calls his wife from Sacramento CA where he’s supposedly ‘found’ wearing his ski suit and goggles.   I’ve been unable to find just  one eyewitness report of his being ‘located’ with his helmet, goggles,and ski suit on so this is likely either entirely or partially fictional.   Imagine Danny meeting the police who ‘located’ him – after hurriedly dressing in the rest room of a gas station:  “Hey, look at me officer. I’m goofy. It’s 40 degrees out here in Sacramento;  there’s no snow;  and all I can remember is a truck ride in a “big rig,” buying a new I-phone, and getting a haircut. 

Listen to me.  Danny Filippidis pulled a failed stunt, went way out on a limb and didn’t know how to get back from it.  “Hello, it’s me darling,” he says to his wife. “Guess where I’m at?”

All together now, breathe a sigh of relief that this ‘tragedy’ has had a happy ending. And yes, go on with your lives, lucky that it didn’t happen to you.

Journalistic skepticism survives in some places but it’s on life support.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

CBS 60 Minutes Segment Too Dumb to Believe

I haven’t watched “60 Minutes” in a year or more but a segment they did on McKesson Corporation caught my eye.  McKesson’s largest profile is as a distributor of medical technology. It also supplies pharmaceuticals to medical facilities and pharmacies around the nation. 

The segment I watched was called “Too Big to Prosecute” and the broadcast depended entirely on the presentation by David Schiller, a retired 30 year DEA special agent.  I know and you know all DEA agents are not alike.  The agents who work dangerous smuggling and interdiction cases risk their lives and stress their families. 

It isn’t news that the U.S. has a huge illegal narcotics problems.  It also has a huge legal narcotics problem.  But CBS 60 Minutes and similar entities are part of the problem for the simple reason that  they wish to pretend that big business is    always to blame while the individuals consuming drugs are not.

 Therefore they listen to   jackass David Schiller tryin to tell them McKesson was responsible for  America’s opiate addiction. 

The DEA’s own lawyers refuse to prosecute McKesson in criminal court because they have no case and would be sure to lose.  60 Minutes presents this as a dark conspiracy in which the motives of big business and DEA lawyers are aligned. 60 Minutes did not interview a single DEA lawyer to explain why they chose not to prosecute McKesson for, if they did, the silliness of this segment would have been exposed.

   McKesson   distributes pills to pharmacies and hospitals, some small part of which are disreputable, unethical, if not outright corrupt.  But is McKesson responsible for every facility, pharmacy, or legitimate small business that requests a delivery or fills a prescription?  Is McKesson responsible for overprescribing doctors?  Are they responsible for drug store robberies, illegal labs in the U.S and other countries which make counterfeit versions of legitimate drugs?   Is McKesson responsible for the the fool who crushes oxycodone into a liquid and shoots it into his/her arm?

The only reason the DEA put the squeeze on McKesson is because of political pressure from people like Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.  New Hampshire is not alone in its opioid addiction problem but the difference is that Hassan sees political opportunity in it. 

‘Opioid addiction’ is the current  popular buzzword politicians can rely on to convince Americans they are actually doing something.  ‘Opioid addiction’ is real but bludgeoning a population with buzzwords is only a way to hide deeper problems.  Chicago is on track to beat its former record of 716 homicides, many of these due to gang wars over   drug selling turf.  Common sense tells you that ghetto drug wars are not fought over pharmaceutical opioids, although these pills would certainly be in the mix.  Cocaine, heroin, MDMA,  meth, an entire pharmacopoeia of drugs are smuggled into the U.S. daily.  The focus on “opioid addiction,” parroted most recently by New York governor Andrew Cuomo is meant to hide their ineffectiveness in dealing with the problem.  It is political suicide these days to tell people to ‘say no to drugs.’  It is to one’s political advantage ot say that the user is not responsible.  “You are a victim.  You would not be an addict if not for the predations of wealthy American businesses.”

The DEA has not been effective in stopping the drug trade. The best they can come up with is a strategy of squeezing businesses with deep pockets. The  intimidation of McKesson has led to  a $150 million dollar settlement because it’s cheaper to pay the invoice than to be dragged through years of litigation by DEA bureaucrats.    Such settlements serve publicity objectives and also makes a good bit of change. But such tactics are cowardly. 

The only thing this 60 Minutes segment got right was that McKesson is the 5th largest corporation in the country with about  75,000 employees. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

CBS Report Calls Assault on Rand Paul a "Fight"

Just watched a CBS report on the assault of Rand Paul by his neighbor, Rene Boucher.  The police are still investigating but discovered enough evidence to charge Mr. Boucher with 4th degree misdemeanor assault. That carries a possible prison sentence of up to one year. Crimes that result in a prison sentence of more than one year are classed a felonies.  According to a Kentucky state police officer interviewed about the case, the charges could be elevated to a felony if, after the investigation is complete, the crime warrants it.

Rene Boucher is out of jail on a low $7500 bail.  That's reasonable; the wealthy neighbor of Mr. Paul is not a flight risk.  Mr. Boucher, under U.S. law. is innocent until proven guilty.

 Rand Paul is far from my favorite congressman but I think he deserves to be treated as well as Boucher, the alleged perpetrator of a crime.  Being treated fairly means not having the media behaving like the defense attorney for Mr. Boucher  who, as a wealthy physician, has hired the very best.  The unfair treatment I speak of is, in their TV broadcast, calling the attack on Mr. Paul "a fight."

It may appear a small distinction but it's not. A fight assumes that Mr. Paul was an active participant before the facts of his injury.  We don't know that.  Nowhere is that reported except in the broadcast by CBS.  CBS cites their sources of a "fight" as being the neighbors.  It may be appropriate to report the opinions of neighbors in a news piece but not as an absolute fact. This is what CBS has done.  It has not said "alleged fight." It has absolutely stated there was a fight.

Being attacked from behind while sitting on a lawnmower (the police version of an action resulting in a charge of 4th Degree Assault) is not a fight.  If you or any other person is attacked from behind at a subway station or anywhere else, would CBS call that a fight too.  Let me answer that for you. They wouldn't.

To be quite honest, Rand Paul pisses me off with what I view has his obstructionist tactics.  But unless it's proven there was " a fight," he should be fairly treated, especially by a major news organization which leans to one side, and may be gratified by neighborhood gossip about a dispute over lawn care.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Virginia Company Gives Employee the Finger

The Guardian, a left-leaning British newspaper, is up in arms about a Virginia woman fired from her job with a marketing/communications company doing business with the federal government.    Juli Briskman was riding her bicycle when Donald Trump’s presidential motorcade passed her by.  Unwilling to forgo a missed opportunity to express her political views, Ms. Briskman gave the president her middle finger.  A photographer with the presidential motorcade saw her little act of protest, took a picture and posted it on the internet.   Freedom of expression all around!   This is good right? 1st Amendment! 

 But when Akima LLC, the government contractor company she works for exercised its own right of free speech  and gave her the finger, The Guardian seems to think it’s an outrage.  No,  the 1st Amendment applies to everyone equally.   Screw you Juli Briskman and your sense of privilege and entitlement.   You know how it works, don’t you?

You live in an area where few Americans can afford to live and work.  You are well paid by a company which does contract work with our government.  Your company needs those contracts in order to pay you.  When they seek such contracts they ensure your employer (the taxpayer) that the company will represent the hiring party in the best way possible. The best way possible does not include a rump-heavy employee   lumbering along on her bicycle beside a presidential motorcade   giving an American president the finger.   

If the government were looking to hire a plumber, would they hire the plumber who gets their attention with an obscene gesture?  At least a plumber being fired for making an obscene gesture at an American president would understand why he/she was fired. Ms. Briskman seems to think that she can defecate where she eats and be applauded for it.

What is it about you that thinks your company should continue to pay you for hurting their business?  And do  you think the Office of Management and Budget will want to hire an entire phalanx of people like you to represent them? Do you think   using the viral picture as your icon on social media is a badge of honor?   And how did you manage now to block that image from social media?  You did it. You should own it.

But now you’re fired!  The taxpayers have given you the finger. That’s their right of free speech.  They are okay with the fact you don’t like the president or his policies. Just don’t make them pay public money for your elitist sense of entitlement. Where is your integrity?  Did Akima not ask you to further their business objectives?  Why did you take money from a governmental administration you are so vehemently opposed to anyway?

Perhaps when you find that job you say you’re looking for with Planned Parenthood or PETA, you will be sensible enough not to march outside with signs or obscene gestures protesting the organization’s mission.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dark Underbelly of Fusion GPS in 2016 National Elections

One of my dark secrets is that I have a psycho-crush on Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel.  Making it clear, she had nothing to do with this writing.  You really need to read her column today in the WSJ to get the full picture, but I’m breaking it down here for the street.
If today you hear of Rep. Adam Schiff tearing his hair out and throwing a tantrum on the House floor, it’s because Strassel has shined a spotlight on his misdeeds as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. That committee is a misnomer (intelligence) where Schiff is concerned.  He’s an infiltrator, representing some arcane and unknown parties, and he’s been tasked with obstructing probes into the Democrats’ collusion with the shady FUSION GPS during the 2016 elections. 
Fusion GPS is above the law, you understand. That’s according to its many lawyers who are sliming a congressional investigation into its activities.  Now why would Fusion GPS and Adam Schiff be smearing Rep. Nunez who heads the Intelligence Committee?  Why do they fear a probe into their relationship with a former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele?
Steele, you remember, is the guy who colluded with some unsavory (or unnamed) supposedly Russian FSB-KGB types to create a fake dossier sabotaging Trump (I voted for Bush, incidentally) during the presidential campaign.  Real steamy stuff in the dossier too – the kind of behavior you expect from top Democrats like Harvey Weinstein.   
These guys at Fusion GPS are above the law. They don’t have to respond to congressional subpoenas like the rest of us plebes. They told the committee to go screw – refusing to answer a single question.  This happens  at the same time Democrats are making a big deal of  supposed   Russian ‘interference’ in the election.  That’s another joke – the idea that Democrats are worried about anyone but Hillary Clinton who lost the election. The idea that Russian hackers could have caused Hillary’s election loss is absurd.  How many Hillary supporters do you know who changed their vote because of some agit-prop in the media?  Show me one.
 The GPS lawyers and their lobbyist Schiff (really, he should register as a lobbyist)    argue Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination. The laughs keep coming.
 Most Americans know courts are not supposed to interpret 5th Amendment (taken in response to every question by the Congressional investigators) rights as admission of guilt but my little blog here is not a court of law.  We can rightly wonder and think about anything we please.  It is very important to know  what Fusion GPS  and Adam Schiff, their sleazy imposter on the House Intelligence Committee,   are hiding. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Americans Season 6 on FX in 2018: The Real Cold War

So here I am in the end-of-summer doldrums and waiting for the sixth and final series of “The Americans,” a spy drama that takes place when Reagan was president.  It will be a frustrating wait until the final season airs in 2018 because events happening now seem tangled up in events that happened then. 

Back then there was the Cold War.  The word “war” in that phrase was no exaggeration.  Nasty things were done to Russians and Europeans and Americans in the wake of Soviet style communism.  There is very little left of Soviet style communism which basically began to collapse in 1989 when Mikhail Gorbachev was Reagan’s opposite number.

The collapse became widespread in the 1990s and there was  a mad grab for money, power, and position.  Elbows were thrown. People were hurt.  A country doesn’t become a full fledged democracy in three seconds flat any more than American did after the American Revolution.

When the Soviet Union collapsed,  there was every reason to celebrate the demise of soul crushing communism.  But  then it was abandoned, forgotten, left along it until it was needed again by American political elites who wish to seize a political moment to gain and keep power and, with that in mind, to revive the Cold War.     

Every day someone gets up in Congress or goes on TV to talk about the ‘Russians’ as if a straight line runs from every event in that vast country to a former KGB Colonel become President named Vladimir Putin. Contrary to the average American’s real interests ( which include terrorists, the economy, high cost of health insurance premiums, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) both major political parties are trying to upstage each other with fake patriotism.   

Don’t believe it.  Don’t cooperate. It’s naïve, it’s stupid, it’s phony.   It’s never a good thing when you have nearly 99 percent of the members of Congress marching in lockstep, all trying to outdo each other by raising their voices the loudest and shouting meaningless cant about ‘Russia.’ 

And these same people think that ‘Russians’ changed all the people who were going to vote for Hillary Clinton into Donald Trump voters.  And that it was Vladimir Putin’s fingers on the keyboard used to hack into the Democratic National Committee election plans to reveal John Podesta’s sideways manipulations of Democrat Party dirty tricks.   Is all this blame-shifting and propagandizing against Russia not embarrassing?

We are not in the 1980s any more.

In the  First Episode of Season Five of "The Americans,"  there was a new character named Tuan.’ Tuan  is a young Vietnamese KGB trainee posted with Soviet spies Philip and Elizabeth Jennings as their adopted son. He’s hard-core, a blind believer in the Soviet system, gung-ho to the point that even Elizabeth can hardly stand his psychotic utterings at the dinner table.  One astonished gaping look from Elizabeth  says it all. The kid is too whacked even by   KGB standards.

It’s not as if American espionage agents were playing softball.   The CIA has hired a dissident Russian working for the  U.S. to develop a strain of fungus that will destroy the Soviet Union’s wheat crop.   That’s a bit of overkill. The failure of the Soviet socialist-communist system is evident in filmed food lines, bare supermarket shelves, rotting food, tractors mired in mud up to the hubcaps.

There is a KGB joke which shows the cynicism that pervaded all aspects of Soviet Communism:  “ A guy goes into a food market and asks: “Don’t you have any meat?” Market owner replies: “We don’t have any fish. The market that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”    Starving and chaotic Venezuela is a paradise by comparison.

The dissident scientist Alexei in  “The Americans”   has a great deal of enthusiasm for America, its freedom and plenty.   He criticizes  his home country while unwitting talking to Soviet spy Philip, who is disguised as an airline pilot.“Good thing you don’t work for Aeroflot. Their planes crash all the time. They’re dirty. You want food you have to stand in line for hours.  In Russia, you must share toilets, pay bribes. Awful country.”   

The Americans is never without humor, though it’s often of the droll, mordant kind. Stan Beeman is a Steven Martin style ‘lonely guy’ FBI agent when he pops in on the Jennings with a sixpack of beer.  Neighborly chit-chat.

Stan’s been isolated too long and divorced not long enough. He bores a wry Phillip (Matthew Rhys,  great actor, and real life husband of Keri Russell)  with a non-eventful tale about a woman he’s seen at the gym. “I met a woman,” he tells Phillip. To ordinary mortals, this would mean he has possibilities. To nerdish Stan however, it means the woman on the treadmill next to him smiled at him while walking away.  

But the primary concern of the Soviet spies  is to get a sample of a biological warfare agent developed at an FBI lab in Virginia.  The Lassa virus had accidentally killed one of the embedded Soviet agents and it’s up to Elizabeth and Philip to dig up his body to get another sample.    It’s not going to be easy.  The CIA secretly buried  the toxic foreign agent in a sealed plastic overcoat inside a metal box buried fifteen feet deep in Fort Dietrich’s   back yard.

A team of agents, under the guidance of Philip and Elizabeth, sap the perimeter of the American compound and beginning digging. And digging. And still more digging. It’s pretty hard to explain how about 20 minutes of film digging can make for exciting TV but it does. 

You smell the dirt in more ways than one. The KGB team digs up the stinking body of their dead agent, cuts a chunk of his flesh out for transport back to Moscow.  One of the KGB team members slips off the ladder and cuts his wrist during the process. This exposes him to the Lassa virus. He panics,knows he’s going to die.   Elizabeth calmly reassures him that everything’s going to be all right, don’t worry, be calm.  When the man calmsdown, Elizabeth pulls a pistol and  shoots him in the head. Dead fall into the hole.

The ends justify the means. It’s brutal. This is a depiction of the real Cold War. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Things I Don’t Understand and Maybe Neither Do You

Media is abuzz with the story of Donald Trump Jr. meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised to give him the down-low-and-dirty on Hillary Clinton.  Trump Jr. admits the meeting, says it came to nothing, and released details and emails pertaining to that meeting in the interest of transparency.

Okay, Trump Jr. stumbled over himself in his enthusiasm to help his father.  But that’s not the real story. The real story is that there is no real story.  The battle lines in the Trump v. Hillary campaigns were already drawn sharply.   Hillary voters wouldn’t be deterred from voting for her if it was proven she had murdered someone. 

What I don’t understand is how  congressional  frauds like Tim Kaine and Adam Schiff and   ideological conservatives like Charles Krauthammer can tell people that things like this are even capable of influencing an American election.  If Americans are so vulnerable to such innuendo, they better put their hands in the air and wave the white flag because such people haven’t learned how to think for themselves.

And therefore, they are more dangerous to democracy than ‘the Russians’ or Vlad or anyone. 


Saturday, June 3, 2017

News Flash: Portland is Not Portlandia

The TV series called "Portlandia" showcases the capital city of Oregon as a paradise of coffee and left-wing progressivism.  Until now the national media has been too busy in its navel-gazing exploits in Washington, D.C. to disabuse us of the notion. 
But finally CNN has found something to fill its Saturday programming that was really quite interesting.  It was in a segment of "CNN Newsroom with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul" (though I don't much care for CNN's biased coverage of late, I like both of them) that a professor named Randy Blazak appeared, not expressly to debunk the popular myths  about Portland (though he did that perhaps inadvertently) but to call for peace between dueling political factions scheduled to show up for competing political demonstrations tomorrow (Sunday). 
“We have this bubble we sort of live in –that it’s this sort of Portlandia liberal paradise but in fact there’s this racial tension been underneath all along.”
Blazak imparted a bit of interesting Oregon history, previously unknown to me.  (It's that state tucked up into the corner there so. . .)  During the Civil War era, Oregon had a bitter discussion regarding whether to be a slave state or to outlaw slavery in the state.  The anti-slavery group won the debate but with the provision that it be an "all-white" state. 
In other words, no blacks allowed?  Never heard of such a thing?  But this is a de-facto collective sociological  disorder among liberal states of the Northeast -- thinking of Vermont and New Hampshire particularly as I write this.
Professor Blazak advised that one or both groups should cancel in order to prevent violence.  He was particularly concerned that professional disruptors were coming from outside Portland with the intent of violent confrontation.   He described the left-wing organizers coming from out of town as feeling "there is a need to violently address the other side.”
I'm of largely conservative leanings, and as such very vehement in my concern for civil rights,  and I agree with Professor Blazak. Even if the progressive left threatens violence and mayhem in protest of the train stabbings that occurred during the past week, I think the conservative free-speech demonstrators planning a meetup in a park separated from the other by just one street should re-schedule theirs for another day.
Of course, they couldn't and shouldn't reschedule twice.  But it would be an informative exercise for the public.  It would clearly show who is really for 1st Amendment rights, and who really is operating in the interests of the country and its people. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

American Crime S3E4 Beating Them Down on the Farm

In the previous episode  of “American Crime,”  Coy Henson witnesses the rape of a young female field worker by Diego, one of the migrant labor bosses. As one of the few Anglo outsiders in a community of undocumented Latino farm laborers, Coy’s observance of the rape puts him in serious danger.

   Isaac is also on the spot as a go-between.  Jeanette Hesby is deeply disturbed about the fire that killed a group of farm workers but feels helpless to do anything about it.  Meanwhile, pregnant teenager Shae is sharing her own trauma in a group therapy session with  other teens at the shelter.

  Luis Salazar gets hot on the trail of his son Teo when a young Aztec woman tells Luis that one of the farm bosses gave Teo a beatdown when he tried to defend her from being raped.

Check out my review of the latest episode of American Crime on TVEskimo -- it's free. No signup or other b.s. required. Click HERE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Voter Fraud Deniers in Alt.Left Media

I read two articles this morning about President Trump’s call for an investigation into voter fraud during presidential election years.  One was from the Associated Press and called up weak assertions that past assertions of voter fraud were insignificant overall. These voter fraud deniers were largely the statements of state officials entrusted with managing elections.  Why wouldn’t they reject assertions that they weren’t doing the job?  To admit voter fraud would mean they’d have to do something about it, and that would upset the mostly Democratic Party apple cart.

I saw the second article pushed  on me by my cell phone push system was from the New York Times. I thought ‘Hey, the NYT has become a liberal pamphlet but they still hire some decent reporters.”  Far worse! Their article, by reporters Jonathan Weisman and Steve Eder,  begins with the a priori conclusion that Trump is lying! Read it yourself but if you don’t have time, here is how it begins:I

Standing by his false allegations of extensive voter fraud, President Trump promises a “major investigation.”

False allegations? How do they come up with “false allegations?”  How the New York Times can use such a self-condemning and Orwellian phrase like “false allegations” astounds me.  An allegation is an allegation.  What is a “false allegation?” I’ll tell you what a ‘false allegation’ is – a false allegation is a reporter who believes he/she can dictate the news rather than find facts and then report those facts.
Everyone knows there is voter fraud. The issue is more to determine how much voter fraud there is and how much can political parties get away with before they’re prosecuted? 

I’ll tell you where I’m coming from.  I was a Republican election monitor at two national elections, both of them resulting in the election of George W. Bush.  My ‘spot’ was sort of out in the boonies of Pennyslvania where I was virtually assaulted by a team of Democrats who barged in from somewhere shouting and intimidating anyone and asking loudly how anyone could vote for idiot Bush.  The guy leading them was about six foot six, maybe 250 (I’m good at guessing weight b/c I was a boxing trainer for a good number of years) and he had some followers who were far less intimidating but who, I assumed, were going to be duplicate voters. 

What I’m saying is not factual proof of voter fraud but it bears investigation.  Also bearing investigation is another voter, a Bulgarian immigrant ( a legal immigrant possessing a valid green card), who told me he voted Republican (that was a surprise) in the same election.  He was not a citizen yet. I know this because I personally drove him to Philadelphia for his citizenship swearing in ceremony. It was during our ride to the Philadelphia INS swearing-in ceremony that he told me he had voted in two elections, and so did many  of his Bulgarian (not yet citizens)  acquaintances.

Both of these anecdotes provide opportunities for plausible denial, which seems to be the mainstay of people running national elections.  But I know what I know and you should know it too.

It is hard to believe that there has been no serious or extensive federal investigation of the entire process which is so important to our democracy. This is in a country that has done extensive investigations into such vital topics as cow farts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


This is a composite of a news story, an editorial, and a rant:

Two prime candidates for the death penalty were arrested in Pennyslvania yesterday in a shocking fantasy/rape/murder of a fourteen year old disabled child name Grace Parker.  Forty-four year old Jacob Sullivan was arrested after telling hospital staff that  he murdered and raped the child adopted by his girlfriend Grace Packer.  Sullivan was in the hospital after a suicide attempt which he survived when a second girlfriend found him unconscious at his home in Horsham Twp. PA.  Sullivan had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and left a suicide note calling authorities ‘pigs’ and expressing love for his ‘babies’ and ranting about how he was being falsely accused. 

His lover and the victim’s adoptive mother, who worked for seven years with Northampton County’s Children and Youth Services, also tried to commit suicide.  They were apparently capable of the most heinous crime imaginable, torturing the victim who had been awarded to them by the state’s child adoptive services.  Sara Packer, the adoptive mother of mentally challenged fourteen year old Grace Parker, also attempted suicide by overdose. 

According to an Abington Police Department public information release, Jacob Sullivan and Sara Packer had been planning to the murder-rape fantasy for a year or more and then decided to act upon it July 8.  They took Sara to another house that they had purchased, largely through moneys paid by the state and federal government for adoptions (the victim has a male sibling, also adopted by ‘mom’ Sara Parker).  Jacob Sullivan then beat and raped the 14 year old child, attempting then to kill her with an overdose of drugs. Sara Parker was 'aroused' by watching the torture, Sullivan told police.  Sullivan had taken Viagra to augment his manliness. Both alleged murder/rapists left the house and came back at 3:00 a.m. the next morning to find Sara still alive, whereupon Jacob Sullivan strangled her to death.

Packing the body into a container with moth balls and cat litter to stanch the odor of decay and death, the alleged murderers did not return until October when police announced they were going to enter the victim’s name into a national missing persons database.  This prompted Sara Parker to go to a Tractor Supply store to purchase a bow saw and two extra blades with which the two accused murderers dismembered Sara Parker’s body and scattered her remains in a far away remote Pennsylvania woody location in Wyoming County. The torso was  discovered by hunters; the other body parts found by police during the investigation. 

It is natural to wonder how such things happen and, once again, it seems that the system failed victim Grace Parker. After killing Grace, Sara continued to collect the child’s $700 plus Social Security disability check (likely SSI).  It is likely that other federal and state monies were paid to the evil couple – either foster care payments or federal disability checks. How do people manage to own two houses with no jobs or other visible means of support?  This is not to say that adoption payments, foster care payments, SSI, and other disability support aren’t warranted.  But it is to say that these programs and the systems dispensing such funds are unmonitored, and  out of control.

According to some news reports, Sara Parker was fired from her former position with Northampton County Children and Youth Services.  Can we assume it was ‘for cause?’  If it was ‘for cause,’ then why were the adopted children allowed to be near these monsters? And why should the state and the taxpayers pay for such hideous criminals? Alleged, of course, always alleged.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Celebrity Death Means More

This is going to sound mean, but the death of a celebrity puts more points in the win column than your own. The latest celebration of tragedy concerns Carrie Fisher but the personality doesn’t matter.  Celebrity is the point and you’re invited to unburden yourself of emotions normally reserved for friends and immediate members of one’s own family.  I’m sounding the alarm bells now – it may be that, when you die, there’s not enough emotion left to invite even one tear to flow at your terminal service in this world.

I appreciate people of talent, whether it be Carrie Fisher or George Michael, but I’m finding these excesses a bit hysterical.  You turn on your TV and hear of these celebrity deaths and some talking head or other tries to coax from you some little memory that you can piously share on social media. 

It would be understandable when the celebrity in question is really a giant – say an Ernest Hemingway or a Muhammad Ali – but most of these teary drip-fests are for people of average talent who are hoisted into the celebrity success category by virtue of celebrity parents. This seems to be the case with Carrie Fisher, daughter of film star Debbie Reynolds and handsome Eddie Fisher. How hard can it be to achieve success when celebrity parents have already paved the way and no one dares to question the level of talent?

Part of this sententious kabuki theatre concerns the non-stop dramatization of the deceased celebrity’s struggle with a) drugs b)alcoholism c) mental health issues d) dysfunctional parents e) and most nauseatingly, with celebrity itself.

It’s okay for a news organization to report the death of a Carrie Fisher, a Prince, a George Michael or anyone it wants to.  But there are tabloid newspapers whose function it is to satisfy the consumer need for morbid pathos.  And they do a better job of it than CNN which spends precious hours sharing tired and clichéd eulogies of the ‘personality.’ 

I’m sure that the producers of these shows have the obituaries and eulogies already handy, and just pull them out of a drawer (a computer drawer) and use them up as if they are sheets of toilet paper.  You can’t know what’s going on in the world because the internet, too, gets clogged with wet tissue. 

All these eulogies are alike unless the deceased celebrity is a real larger-than-life figure – Malcom X and Martin Luther King come to mind – and at least these giants didn’t die by their own hand.  Some of the most touted celebrities on TV are people you don’t want your kid to emulate so what are they doing?  Haven’t they heard that excessive drinking, risky sex, and drugs aren’t good for them?

Stop please, we’ve had enough!  Our own close friends and family are dying too. So are our soldiers, our cops, our children of the streets.  That their eulogies will be quiet, largely unknown affairs doesn’t make them less important than the death-of-the-month celebrity.  I’m finding this death-of-a-celebrity business very twisted and nearly always these days carried to extremes. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Gun Control New York Style (HS agent Leaves MP4 on Backseat

What happened in upstate New York would qualify for comedy if the MP4 stolen from Homeland Security agent Leroy Doctor didn’t end up in the hands of gangsters.  An MP4, if you don’t know, is a fully automatic version of the sporter rifle AR-15 (single-fire).  It’s just the thing a police officer with a family (or anyone else) would not want to go up against.

I don’t know if the thugs who trafficked the weapon will abide by Andrew Cuomo’s ten round limit. Probably  the two 30 round clips also stolen from the rear seat of the Homeland Security agent’s will be too tempting to dispose of.  Maybe the bulletproof tactical vest will also come in handy for some gangbanger.

This stuff can only happen when bureaucrats are running the show.  It boggles the mind how a federal security official would leave a machine gun in the back seat of a vehicle in his driveway or on a public street.  And no word on terminating the agent – or at least transferring him to washing cars in the motor pool where he can’t do any harm.

The agent’s excuse, according to the ATF affidavit, was that he locked the front doors but forgot to lock the back doors.  That’s the story we’re asked to believe.  Do people really think the public is that stupid? The excuse must be some kind of joke unless the HS agent was driving something like a 53 Ford. 

In any case, a heroin addicted thief stole the automatic rifle from the agent’s car and sold it, along with the two thirty-round clips and the bulletproof vest, to another player.  None of this has been recovered, and it looks like the agent still has his job, perhaps rescued by an uncle among the higher-ups.  Nothing of politics in New York will surprise anyone – we are beyond being shocked.

New York’s strict gun control laws provide nothing more than a platform for its politicians to preen over. It was just two years ago that Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a dead of night maneuver that trampled on democratic process, passed his 7 round magazine limitation order (later expanded to ten rounds).

The wishful thinking and infatuated views of Democrats and homogenized Republicans of this state is intended to make people believe they are doing something about crime. The fact of the matter is that the more gun control measures,  the more homicide.This applies to big cities like Chicago as well as small cities like Syracuse, New York which experienced its 27th homicide.  This surpasses all previous records.

While the tendency is to beat their breasts piously and blame neighboring states for the problem, the reality of Cuomo’s edict is far different. The only people impacted by the New York gun restrictions are people who rarely, if ever, break the law.

On the other hand, the social engineers of this wealthy state seem to have done nothing but aid the criminals. Aid them, that is, when they are not arming them. 

Go here if you want to read the full story.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Anis Amri: Couldn't Make a Life So He Made a Death

He was shot to death about 3:30 in the a.m. by Italian police.  Anis Amri was armed with a .22 caliber handgun , which he pulled from his backpack, managing to shoot one of the police officers in the shoulder.  Both cops fired back, hitting Amri twice.  One of the cops’ bullets went where it was supposed to go – center mass – the thorax.  You don’t recover from that.  The officer who was shot is thankfully doing well and recovering, according to Italian officials, but Amri was likely dead before his body hit the ground.

I  understand the reasoning of people who say it would have been better if Anis Amri had been captured alive. Then law enforcement could perhaps find out more about his contacts and support system.  That presupposes that he would give up information under interrogation. Argue that all you want, but include me out.  Amri’s victims got justice at least, and justice is coming for the others who aided him.   

 But really, it is doubtful that the Berlin mass casualty killer would provide information to police when there is no death penalty in Germany . Anis Amri would have his rights, including the right to keep silent, the right to television, the right to get media interviews, maybe a book contract. Maybe even conjugal visits.  The authorities couldn’t offer any more than a long life sentence so he would probably adapt to the institutional life and perhaps proselytize to other inmates.

What’s coming next (and has already begun) is the imbecilic question of whether Anis Amri was a ‘lone wolf’ or whether he was ‘self-radicalized.” Such questions do not apply to the world we live in. With the internet, we have become factional or even tribal. It’s easy to see how many little divisions and subdivisions there are in our society, all linked together in ‘groups” with ‘followers” and particular rules of engagement.  This bifurcation exists in all aspects of our society, even in music where a person’s choices are broken down into various classes (check Spotify, Amazon Music, I-Tunes, I-Heart Radio, and a whole bunch more)  Within the context of international terror, all you have to do to join ISIS or AQ is to have a smart phone and you’ll get hooked up. You’ve already acquired enough hate and resentment to become the slave of any master who relieves you of the burden of freedom by telling you whom to hate and what to do about it.

There are easily a thousand slave-mastering militant Islamist groups promulgating the notion that Muslims are victims of the ‘infidel.’ The ‘infidel’ can be anyone not Muslim, or better yet, not adhering to the basest interpretations of the political system sometimes described as a religion. 

By definition, Islam needs enemies. If every single person in the world were Muslim, and the Shiite Muslims converted to Sunni, then the remaining Muslims would invent an enemy.  Because to do otherwise would require rabid Islam (and I don’t mean secular Islam or the kind and tolerant Muslim lady who works in the local supermarket) to examine itself and pull back from its death dream of world political conquest.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rape Kit Redux

It’s unfortunate that everyone seems to care about justice while few can agree even on what justice is. But some things are obvious – like the 12,000 untested rape kits held in Memphis Tennessee in 2013. 

That’s a number reported on CBS evening news this week.  And it’s not justice. When the red flag was raised on the staggering number, the county attorney general Amy Weyrich kicked up processing.  About 7,000 of the 12,000 were sent away for processing, returning about 3700 with DNA which could potentially be matched. 

The 3700 plus rape kits gave rise to only ten convictions, prompting  CBS reporter Jerika Duncan to comment: “That’s not a high number.” 

No, and it’s probably not any easier for the district attorneys in four cities with a backlog of nearly 29,000 untested rape kits.  That’s a whole lot of potential rapes in four cities (Houston, Memphis, Detroit, and Cleveland) even with a population as large as ours.  But when thousands of untested rape kits were processed, the number of convictions was remarkably low, around 1% . 

The one city where progress was made was Cleveland, where the state paid for the testing, allowing the prosecutor’s offices to hire 25 investigators and 6 more prosecutors. That resulted in 5000 kits tested with 239 convictions.

There are several reasons which justice will be avoided in thousands of rape cases, but an important one is that sexual assault cases have statutes of limitations. The rape kits are untested. Time flies. The states have limitation statutes ranging from 3 to 15 years.

It’s mostly a lack of money that allows rapists to go free. Lab fees for rape kit processing are in the range of $1,000 to $1500, according to  Labs are overwhelmed with all kinds of cases requiring attention. Prosecutions are costly, too, and, in doing battle with defense lawyers, there are no guarantees of victory.  Moneyed defendants can often outwait and delay budget-strapped district attorney’s offices.

But there is another huge reason why the number of reported rapes, and rape kits is high while the number of convictions is low. Unless DNA is matched to a person already in a police database , processing of a rape kit only reveals the DNA of an unknown person.