Salman Rushdie Is Talking

Like everyone outside of a few fanatics, I was shocked and angered by the attack on Salman Rushdie on Friday.

I didn’t want to say anything about it until it was clear whether or not he would survive the attack.  The initial reports were grim, with Rushide being on ventilator, not able to speak, losing an eye, and suffering damage to his liver.  On Saturday night, though, news came that Rushdie is now off the ventilator and he is now able to speak.  Hopefully, this is a sign that Rushdie will recover from the attack.

On Shinzo Abe

I’m still in shock over the assassination of Shinzo Abe.  What makes it all the more shocking is that the man who assassinated Abe was apparently not motivated by any sort of political reasoning but instead, he may not have even realized who he was shooting.  Apparently, the assassin was under the impression that he was assassinating the “head of a religious order,” and not Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister.

Most people’s natural inclination is to find a complex conspiracy or deeper meaning in these type of shocking events.  When the news first broke that Abe had been shot, there was some speculation that he was targeted because of his support of Taiwan.  But appears to have been just another random nut, trying to build himself up.

It’s About Time

Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby federally indicted on perjury, false mortgage application charges

That Marilyn Mosby was corrupt has been an open Baltimore secret for a while now.

I was amused by Mayor Scott’s official statement regarding the Mosby indictment, which was empty by even Baltimore standards:

“With so much at stake, Mayor (Brandon) Scott will continue to champion transparency and accountability to maintain trust in City Hall and prove that local government can operate in the best interests of Baltimoreans. Mayor Scott will not allow these charges to distract his administration from addressing Baltimore’s most pressing needs and paving a new way for our city. The mayor remains committed to the mission of building safer neighborhoods, creating jobs, and leading Baltimore’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts.”

What does that mean, Brandon?

The 24 Hour Rule

Someone drove a red SUV through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin earlier today.  There’s a lot of speculation out there about who was driving the SUV and what their motives may have been.  In the wake of the Rittenhouse verdict, many people are being very quick to label this a terrorist attack.

I’m forcing myself not to speculate.  When I first heard the news, I did jump to a conclusion but I’m not going to post it.  One of the huge problem that we have in this country is that too many people jump to conclusions before they have all of the information.  We’re so quick to blame the other side that we forget that people are hurting right now and that people need help.  Being attacked by someone with no politics is just as dangerous as being attacked by an ideological zealot.

The 24 hour rule is a good one to observe.  Whatever or whoever you may think is responsible for what’s happened, keep it to yourself for 24 hours.  For now, just keep the victims in your thoughts and hope for the best.

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.