Derek Chauvin Has Been Convicted

I watched the Chauvin trial and it was obvious to me that the was guilty. I was worried that, for whatever reason, it wouldn’t be obvious to the jury but, earlier today, they found him guilty on all three counts.

He’ll probably appeal. They’ll say that the jury voted to convince Chauvin because they worried of being retaliated against if they didn’t. I’m sure that some members of the jury were concerned about that and that’s not a good thing. At the same time, the evidence overwhelmingly showed that Chauvin was guilty.

He’s due to be sentenced in June. He faces up to 40 years in prison.

It Gets Worse

I, along with thousands of others, just watched surveliance footage of George Floyd in the moments before he was killed by a police officer kneeling on his throat.  As much as I hate linking to TMZ, I’m going to because it’s an important story.

The footage shows two police officers — neither one of whom is the same officer who put his knee on Floyd’s throat — approaching Floyd’s car.  (The police had been called because Floyd apparently paid for a meal with a counterfeit ten dollar bill and not because he was writing a bad check, as was initially reported.)  Two women get out of the car.  Because of the positioning of the car and the camera, it’s difficult to see what happens when Floyd gets out of the car but it does appear that there was a slight scuffle when he first got out.  However, it doesn’t look like like it was a huge fight (if anything, it looks like the reaction of a man who is shocked that he’s being arrested) and Floyd is quickly hand-cuffed and appears to be cooperating, even if he is understandably upset.  When more police officers arrives, Floyd is taken across the street.  The surveillance footage does not show what happened in the moments that led to Floyd being down on the ground with that cop’s knee on his throat.

Watching the video, I don’t see someone violently resisting.  I see someone who is upset because he’s being arrested, as I think anyone would be.  I would especially be upset if I was being arrested for having a counterfeit bill.  Money gets passed around and that includes bill that may be counterfeit.

None of that matters, though.  Even if Floyd did struggle or knowingly committed a crime, that’s not a reason for keeping your knee on the throat of a man who has been subdued.  They could prove that Floyd was the biggest counterfeiter in Minnesota and it still wouldn’t change the fact that he shouldn’t be dead right now.  In the video of Floyd’s death, the cop in question taunts Floyd by asking him if he still thinks he’s a tough guy.  Floyd’s death was all about power.  The cop wanted to show off his power and as a result George Floyd is now dead.

Charges need to be filed soon.

George Floyd Should Be Alive Today

Today, I’m thinking about George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis as the result of a cop keeping his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes and essentially suffocating the man until he was dead.  Floyd was filmed saying that he couldn’t breathe before he died.  Even after Floyd fell silent, the cop kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.  It didn’t appear to occur to any of the cops in the video to investigate why Floyd was no longer speaking.

Floyd was being arrested for a non-violent crime, Forgery.  Apparently, police were called because it was believed that Floyd was writing a bad check.  Bodycam footage of what happened during the arrest has not been released yet so we don’t know the exact details of what happened before Floyd ended up on the ground with the cop’s knee on the back of his neck but it doesn’t really matter.  Even if Floyd resisted arrest or tried to flee, he was subdued, handcuffed, and on the ground by the time he started to say that he couldn’t breathe.

Why was Floyd left on the ground?  Why, after he was handcuffed, was he not put in the back of a police cruiser?  Why was he left on the ground with a cop’s knee on the back of his neck?  Judging from the video, the cops appear to be very calm while Floyd is dying.  They don’t appear to be in fear for their lives or recovering from any sort of chase or struggle.  They appear to be very nonchalantly going about their business while Floyd dies below them.

It’s disturbing to see and it’s the latest example of police brutality.  The job of the police is to keep everyone safe, including the people that they are arresting.  The job of the police is not to act as society’s avenger or to “teach lessons” to criminals.  Until we get serious about changing law enforcement culture, shit like this is going to keep happening.


Lockdown Journal: 4-3-20

Right now, Lisa and I are watching Akira Kurosawa’s Drunken Angel.  It’s the first time for her and the first time in a long time for me.  Movies, books, and music are all providing us with a welcome distraction at this time.

After spending the first part of last month telling people that masks were useless, both the government and the media are now saying that wearing a mask when you go out is essential.  On twitter, Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, who was one of those saying that people should not be panicking about masks in March, tweeted out that he ordered his masks back in February.  Around the same time that Vox was telling people not to worry about masks, the surgeon general’s office also sent out a tweet, telling people that they were wasting money on masks.  The more you dig into it, the more it seems that the many of the same people who told everyone not to get a mask were, at the same time, hoarding masks for themselves.  That’s one of the many scandals of the pandemic and it should not be forgotten when (if?) all of this ends.

(Fortunately, because we trust neither the government nor the media, we do have masks down here.)

In sad news, Bill Withers died on March 30th.  In good news, murderer Ira Einhorn died today in prison.  Sometimes, you have to take the bad with the good.

Today, it turned cold.  The temperature plunged from 70 to 48.  It’s supposed to rain for the next few days.  Fortunately, we were already planning on staying inside for the foreseeable future.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez

Last night, I watched Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.

The case of Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots tight end who was accused of murdering multiple people when he was off the field and ultimately convicted of one murder, has always interested me.  If you believe what prosecutors charged (and, after watching the documentary, I do), Hernandez went from signing a 40 million dollar contract with the Patriots to killing people for the slightest of reasons.

After Hernandez committed suicide in 2017, his brain was examined and it was said that he was suffering from severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which could have been a factor in his lack of self-control.  I was always skeptical of the argument that Hernandez’s crimes could be explained away by CTE.  I don’t doubt that Hernandez had it but I’ve always understood that CTE usually didn’t start to really effect people until they were middle-aged.  Hernandez was only 22 when he was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd.  To me, especially after watching the documentary, it’s more probable that Hernandez was just a sociopathic punk who was desperate to prove his manhood.  In his mind, that meant going after anyone who had gotten under his skin or who he viewed as being a threat.  In the documentary, one of Odin Lloyd’s friends says that Aaron Hernandez was trying to be a gangster and I think that’s right.  The documentary also revealed that Hernandez was gay and deeply closeted and suggests that his own self-hatred was one of the main causes of Hernandez’s emotional instability.

The documentary features the audio of several phone calls between the jailed Hernandez and his mother and girlfriend.  What really got to me was how content Hernandez often sounded in those recordings.  It was as if being in prison and only having to deal with a small cell provided him with the structure that he had never had before.

The film reveals that Hernandez was not a smart criminal.  He murdered Lloyd just a few miles away from his house and he left behind hundreds of clues that revealed he was the murderer.  If Hernandez had been a smarter criminal, would be still be playing in the NFL today?  Would he be making millions off of endorsements and looking forward to a future as an ESPN commentator?  I doubt it.  Aaron Hernandez was so self-destructive that his downfall was going to come one way or the other.

Another good thing about the documentary is that it spent almost as much time exploring Odin Lloyd’s life as it did Aaron Hernandez’s.  With all the publicity surrounding Hernandez’s trial, it was often overlooked that Odin Lloyd left behind friends and family and loves ones.  Everyone in the documentary describes Odin Lloyd as being a good person and it’s obvious that, when interviewed, all of them were still feeling the pain of losing him.  The documentary remembers that this story is about more than just Aaron Hernandez’s fall from grace.  It’s also about the tragedy of Odin Lloyd’s death.

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez is currently streaming on Netflix.



Where is Ghislaine Maxwell?

For the record, I’m 99.9% sure that Jeffrey Epstein’s death was a suicide.  If you were going to murder Epstein in prison, why would you do so in a way that would automatically generate more conspiracy theories?  Why not poison him, for instance?  What some people are calling conspiracy (like Epstein being taken off suicide watch and the jail employees not checking on him) sounds more like everyday incompetence to me.  Jails are underfunded, overcrowded, and usually staffed by people who just want to finish up their shift, collect their pay, and go home.  As for Epstein, he was facing the prospect of going from having his own private island to being a prominent pedophile in prison.  He had every motive and opportunity to take his own life and that appears to be just what he did.

Far more interesting than the question of whether Epstein committed suicide is the question of just what exactly has happened to Ghislaine Maxwell.  Ghislaine Maxwell is the socialite who allegedly procured Epstein with most of his underage girls.  Maxwell was just as rich and socially connected as Epstein (there is a famous picture of her smiling at Chelsea Clinton’s wedding) and it’s been three years since anyone’s been sure of where she is.  The general assumption was that she’s somewhere in Europe but, according to the Daily Mail, she’s actually been living with her boyfriend in a mansion in Massachusetts.

Or has she?  According to Business Insider, Scott Borgerson (the tech CEO who the Daily Mail described as being Maxwell’s boyfriend) says that he is not dating Maxwell, that he hasn’t seen her in years, and that he wishes everyone was as concerned with the oceans as they are with his “former friend.”

So, where is Ghislaine Maxwell?  One that most Americans don’t know about this case is that Maxwell is the daughter of the infamous Robert Maxwell.  Maxwell was a shady Czech-born British businessman and media mogul who briefly served as a Labour MP.  After Maxwell’s own mysterious death, it was revealed that he used a number of fraudulent business practices to inflate his own wealth and that he was also probably an intelligence agent for at least some of his life.  (Interestingly, the same allegations have been made about Jeffrey Epstein.)  It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which Ghislaine Maxwell is using her father’s old connections to hide out from the legal authorities.

It’s easy to imagine that Ghislaine is in a former KGB safehouse somewhere in Romania.  It’s just as easy to imagine that she’s hiding in a mansion in Boston.  Maybe she’s in the witness protection program.  Maybe she has an island of her own.  It’s easy to imagine.  In fact, it’s probably too easy.  This is why conspiracy theories are so attractive.  They provide easy answers to complex questions.

Jeffrey Epstein’s Dead

Jeffrey Epstein is dead.  Right now, his death is being reported as a suicide.  Undoubtedly, there are a lot of powerful people who are breathing a sigh of relief this morning.

When someone like Jeffrey Epstein dies, the natural impulse is to say, “Good riddance” and maybe to mourn that he didn’t suffer more.  What is often forgotten is that Epstein couldn’t have done what he did if he didn’t have powerful people protecting and enabling him.  From what little came out before Epstein death, this scandal sounded like it had the potential to be an American Profumo Affair.

Now that he’s dead, expect to see all those stories and investigations pushed to the side.


Everything’s Coming Up Blago!

Here’s the latest political rumor: President Trump is thinking about commuting Rod Blagojevich’s 14-year prison sentence.

The former governor of Illinois has been in federal prison since 2012.  He was convicted of soliciting bribes for political appointments.  Specifically, he was best known for not only trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder but also for being stupid enough to allow himself to be recorded while doing so.  After Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office (and just imagine how corrupt you have to be to be too corrupt for Illinois!), he appeared as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice.  He didn’t do well on the Celebrity Apprentice but, during his brief time on the show, Donald Trump made it clear that he did like him on a personal level.

One of the funny things about Blagojevich is that he was initially elected governor as a reformer.  In 2002, Blagojevich ran as the hope and change candidate and attacked “politics as usual.”  After he was first elected governor, many people expected that Blagojevich would be the Illinois politician who challenged Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination.  Of course, two years into his term as governor, Blagojevich was overshadowed, both in Illinois and nationwide, by Barack Obama.

Normally, the chance of Blagojevich getting any president to agree to commute his sentence would seem to be close to zero.  (Obama not only refused to do it but also went out of his way to deny having ever been allied with Blagojevich.)  However, with Trump, I think Blagojevich’s chances probably jump to 50/50.  Trump is going to do whatever he wants to do.

If Trump does commute Blagojevich’s sentence, I’m sure there will be the usual outrage.  But does anyone outside of a few political junkies and pundits actually remember Rod Blagojevich?  It’s been ten years since he was first arrested for trying to sell Obama’s senate seat.  In today’s world, ten years might as well be a century.

Below is what Blagojevich looks like today.  As you can tell, 7 years in federal prison have turned him into actor William Devane.  If Rosland Capital ever needs a new spokesman, they know where to look.



Andrew Golden Is Dead

Drew Grant in 2008

Last night, news broke about an accident that occurred on a highway in Independence County, Arkansas.  One car drifted into oncoming traffic and collided with another car.  Both drivers were killed.  The driver of the second car was a 33  year-old resident of Missouri named Drew Douglas Grant.

It’s the type of thing that happens nearly every day.  What made this accident national news was that before Drew Grant was known as Drew Grant, he was known as Andrew Golden.  In 1998, Golden and his friend Mitchell Johnson were responsible for what was, at the time, the 2nd most deadly school shooting in U.S. history.  After Golden pulled a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, he and Johnson ambushed and shot 15 people.  4 students and one teacher died.

At the time, Mitchell Johnson was 13.  Andrew Golden was 11.

Andrew Golden in 1998

Because of their age, Johnson and Golden were tried as juveniles.  Convicted of five counts of murder, Johnson and Golden were imprisoned until they each reached their 21st birthdays, at which point they were released and their criminal record was officially wiped clean.  Johnson and Golden became the only two living mass murderers who were not incarcerated.

Can someone who did something terrible as a child be reformed and go on to be a productive adult?  That is a question that haunts the juvenile justice system.  After his initial release, Johnson continued to get into trouble with the law and spent even more time in prison on drug and theft charges.  (Johnson is currently free and living, under probation, somewhere in Texas.)  Andrew Golden, on the other hand, changed his name and, with the exception of one time when he attempted to get a concealed weapon permit under his new name and failed to disclose that he had spent time in prison, kept a low profile.

If you go on YouTube, you can find a 2008 disposition that Golden gave in a civil case.  For two and a half hours, Golden was asked about the shooting and his life afterwards and most of his answers consisted of replying, “Not that I remember.”  When asked to describe the day of the shooting, Golden claimed that Johnson approached him before school and, while holding a pocket knife, threatened to kill Golden and his father unless Golden helped with the shooting.  When asked why he didn’t run away or make any attempt to warn anyone when Johnson supposedly ordered him to enter the school and pull the fire alarm, Golden can only shrug and say that he doesn’t remember.  Golden, who was considered to be an excellent marksman even at the age of 11, also claimed that he only started shooting to try to warn everyone the teachers and students about what Mitchell was planning.  Despite having fired nearly every fatal shot, Golden insisted throughout the disposition that he only fired his gun in the air and at a wall.  Watching the disposition, it is evident that Golden was not ready or willing to take responsibility for his actions in 2008.  Had that changed by 2019?  Was Golden even capable of making that type of change?  Who can say?

Andrew Golden is dead, the victim of an accident that appears to have been as random as his actions in 1998 were deliberate.  If his death brings some sort of peace to those who he hurt, good.