Monday, July 22, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Louise Fletcher, 79. So, so, wonderful on DS9. One of the very best TV villains, and of course she was one of the very best movie villains, too.

A new week, and more good stuff:

1. An interview with the Monkey Cagers.

2. Sarah Binder on the Senate showdown.

3. Remember lazy mendacity? That was, during the campaign, the idea that Republicans were not even bothering to pretend that their claims were true; apparently they cared far more about the initial headline and getting a story out there than they did about the effects on their reputations when it turned out that the story was untrue -- to the extent that I noted a couple of times when they themselves linked to an obvious debunking. At any rate: we're seeing it in Obamacare "rate shock" stories, as Jonathan Cohn describes.

4. TNC on Obama's comments on Friday.

5. And Andrew Sprung on Obama.


  1. Sailer did a version of Spring's piece.

    It's strange that Sprung bemoans Obama not identifying as black enough when you consider that his job is supposedly not to create more racial animosity (although progs seemed to like a comment about "wise latinas" so who knows?)

    Note that even Sprung has figured out that SYG was not used by Zimmerman's lawyers. I predict that most progs will eventually follow him in this without admitting that they were ever in error.

  2. As the week has passed, my sympathy has increased for the protesters of the Zimmerman verdict. Though the protesters have been more organized and vocal, in the court of public opinion they have been to some extent shouted down by the obvious conclusion of the trial. Even pundits such as Ta-Nehisi, before he expresses sympathy for the protestors, feels obliged to caveat with the observation that not guilty was an obvious verdict given that specific trial. However, there's more to this case than what happened within the four walls of that courtroom.

    Take, for example, lead detective Chris Serino. It was Serino that initially pushed for charges to be pressed; it was Serino that expressed doubt about Zimmerman's defense (e.g. Zimmerman was okay to work the next day, Zimmerman's fear was overstated). Then Serino was demoted to the beat, and by the time the trial rolled around, he was suddenly a friend of the defense. See Serino only through the lens of the trial, and he's quite pro-Zimmerman.

    Zoom back a little, and Serino's actions tell a somewhat different story. I don't know if that changes my conclusion, but it does make me think my view that Zimmerman is "probably innocent" could very well be incorrect.

    1. Was Serino demoted because he wouldn't file 2nd degree murder charges?

      Zimmerman's fear was overstated

      If one is unable to push off an attacker who is mounted and striking hard enough to break skin repeatedly, when does it make sense to use lethal force? I know that a busted nose and scalp cuts don't look like much when they're cleaned up, but was Zimmerman supposed to intuit that No_Limit_Nigga only intended to whoop his ass for being a creepy-ass cracker? I don't know how one makes that judgement. I wonder if Martin (who wanted to buy a pistol) would have shot if he were in Zimmerman's shoes or would he have understood this was merely supposed to be an easy beating?

    2. backyard, certainly the narrative you present above, a colorful version of the one the defense team put forth in court, would be enough to conclude that Zimmerman is, at a minimum, not provably guilty. As I note above, many concerned commentators have noted as much.

      The issue is whether the narrative in court is a reasonable representation of what happened in real life. We can't know that. Changing one's tune (such as Serino apparently did between the time of the incident and the trial) would be a pretty reasonable basis to wonder how accurately the trial represented what really happened.

    3. My meta-perspective on Zimmerman is thus.

      1. Initial protests were mostly about the fact that he was just let go. Call me crazy, but I think if you shoot someone and kill them, no matter the circumstances, you need to show up before a judge in one capacity or another. We've seen other stories crop up--the Jacksonville Car Stereo killing, Spooner in Milwaukee shooting his 13yo neighbor (who I hadn't even realised was convicted last week until just now)-- which have dead unarmed black youth and non-black shooters. However, in these cases, the shooter was arrested and the case went on the path to a trial. We first learned about Zimmerman and Martin when GZ was going to walk with no evidence, no testimony ever being presented. If you understand recent history, you can understand why folks were pissed at that.

      Even with it still resulting in an acquittal, if the case had been in the trial pipeline all along, we'd probably wouldn't have heard nearly as much about it.

      2. Post-trial, while some is about Zimmerman, most folks accept that the prosecution didn't prove the case. At least, it's like this from the pundits I read. Instead, the focus seems to be that, unlike Zimmerman, Martin was not presumed innocent. He's out at night in the rain in a hoodie. He's suspicious because he's walking slow. He's suspicious because he's going fast. His tweets prove he was drug dealer and a gun runner thus deserved death. He thought the guy following him was creepy, so he's a gay basher (not that most of the folks repeating that line gave a flying fish about gay bashing before...) who deserved death. Fatal profiling that is impossible to avoid (how fast should he have been walking?). By all indications, Zimmerman never once considered that Martin might have lived there, might be in danger from whoever had committed the break-in. Zimmerman determined he was guilty with a glance.

      So the case wraps up three fears, all of which are much bigger than Zimmerman alone, but the case bears a resemblance to them.

      [1] Being presumed guilty and treated as a criminal without doing anything, and where nothing you do could make a difference. Simply for being.

      [2] Being killed by someone with a gun who "was afraid." Mostly, the fear is of being shot by a cop who can't tell a cell phone from a gun. Zimmerman doesn't match that, but it bears a resemblance for a lot of people.

      [3] That the victim won't have any chance at justice. We don't live in Jim Crow America anymore, but folks remember it well. They also know that cops who shoot young black men over nothing often just walk. That it has happened before, and will happen again. The individual case doesn't matter as much as the weight of all the cases.

      The fears are real. And justified. And endured by too many. Zimmerman doesn't cleanly and clearly tick all the boxes. But one doesn't have to squint for them to look alike. I think that's what's behind the meta-reaction, and what the President was talking about on Friday.

    4. CSH

      Changing one's tune (such as Serino apparently did between the time of the incident and the trial) would be a pretty reasonable basis to wonder how accurately the trial represented what really happened.

      What are you saying happened here? Did someone get to Cerino? Was he sure that Z should be charged, changed his mind because someone threatened him, then got demoted later when his superiors decided to charge Z and he was sick of changing his tune? You're not being clear.

    5. backyard, I didn't follow the trial closely enough to have a theory for the change in Cerino's POV between arrest and trial. I'm simply arguing that a person who suspects there's more to this story than what was in the trial could look to Cerino as pretty good support for that.

    6. The Bitter Fig,

      Initial protests were mostly about the fact that he was just let go. Call me crazy, but I think if you shoot someone and kill them, no matter the circumstances, you need to show up before a judge in one capacity or another.

      Why? The prosecution had NO case. What's the point of staging a meaningless and expensive trial? Z was handcuffed and questioned by cops for several hours without a lawyer and, as we all saw, there was no there there.

      Z said that M was suspicious because he was walking slowly in the rain while looking around in an area that had had several break-ins. He also knew many of his neighbors but not M. I don't recall Z ever saying that M was walking fast. The cops were sending a car because they thought Z might be on to something and wanted to question M.

      That M might have gay-bashed Z for being a creepy-ass cracker is mostly relevant to cons because it looked clear that M was acting like a violent maniac. Mounting and beating someone over and over is weird behavior to most people and since M can't say why he was whooping Z's ass, people start to extrapolate from incomplete information.

      1)What M could have done was: go home (he had several minutes to walk a short distance) or (if he were actually worried instead of pissed) call the cops to report someone following him. He did neither.

      2)Black men need to fear other black men, not cops. They should start snitchin and stop whooping ass to assert dominance.

      3)Wrong. This case is mostly about blacks and progs who wanted to tell a specific story that they find exciting and fun. When so many of the pieces that made up that story were shown to be nonsense, they just changed the stated reasons for their rage. Some are still stuck on M as 12 year old, Z as white, SYG, Z as cold-blooded killer, Z as totally uninjured, M as tiny, etc.. And many progs and blacks were acting as a deranged lynch mob. Now that the case is over, a few are where you are now, but it's all a calculated retreat toward sanity so that Ps and Bs can pretend that they weren't behaving like ignorant maniacs.

    7. CSH,


      Anyone can point to an inconsistency in any case or situation to poke holes. Ex: God of the Gaps. So what? If you have some reasonable doubt about this, why don't you point me in the right direction to a story more plausible than the one I just threw together. You're already prone to the worst case of proggish denial of genetics that I've ever come across. This just seems like more of the prog coming out.

    8. Ah, backyard, you're still mad at me for not worshiping at the church of the genetic origin of long-distance running superiority in a specific Kenyan valley. I've tried it, man, but every time they get to the part about the gene being so attractive that it proliferates throughout this valley, yet remains totally absent from these other, adjacent ones, cause, what the hell?

      Its not like its a gene for exceptional ability to run long distances, or anything -

      I tell you dude, I can't stick around, because your church is laughably awful.

    9. Alright, that was excessively snarky, I apologize for that. FWIW, I wasn't pointing out the Serino inconsistency because I believe it, I was just trying to understand the other guy's point of view. Not out of some righteous sense of open mindedness, but rather because I can't imagine why any stranger would care what my point of view is (any more than I typically care about theirs).

      As a peace offering, and since this will soon disappear forever beneath the fold, might I suggest you were on to something with the Wikipedia page the other day, though perhaps in the wrong section with the SYG part. The real explosive stuff is in the "Background of the shooting" section, in particular the demographic mix of the gated community in question, as well as what that particular mix of folks decided a few months prior to the incident - in coordination with the Sanford police - about who would lead their neighborhood watch program. I guess you could throw in there the apparent lack of paper trail about dissatisfaction from the neighbors about how the watch handled its appointed rounds.

      Not a prog. Like them a lot, but not one of them.


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