Mar 232012

Yesterday I left for the prison shortly after getting the blog up.  It was the first of two annual “banquets” that the group of men, for whom I volunteer, hold for family members, volunteers, and themselves.  The group has become so large that the prison visiting room is not large enough to accommodate all at once, so there are two banquets for half the men each.  The second will be next month for the other half of the guys.  They pay for the food themselves out of the $1 – $3 per day they receive for their prison jobs.  I particularly enjoy an opportunity to talk to family members about how hard their husbands, sons and brothers are working to learn the skills they need to be pro-social, law abiding citizens.  The down side is that I returned home sore and exhausted.  My COPD limited my sleep, so I am too tired and foggy for a normal day of research and writing.  This is today’s only article.  I am not current with replies, but will be tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a catch-up day.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:28 (average 4:50).  To do it, click here.  How did you so?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged on Friday with 17 counts of murder and various other charges, including attempted murder, in connection with the March 11 attack on Afghan civilians, a senior United States official said on Thursday.

Because the acts, however horrific, seem so out of character for this man, I hope this trial focuses more on the war.

From MoveOn: The Most Eye-Opening Fact About Inequality That We’ve Seen All Week


That certainly paints a true picture.

From MSNBC: Authentic Christianity

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is what happens when authentic Christians act on their belief.  It is the polar opposite of Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christianity.




  14 Responses to “Open Thread–3/23/2012”

  1. For those of you who love to where hoodies, but are even more concerned given the fact that Fox’s Idiot-in-Residence, Geraldo Rivera said:

    You might want to minimize your risk by picking this one up at eBay:
  2. 3:48 I “rammed” that one home.

  3. The minimum wage was no Sunday picnic back in the 1980s. I tried living on it for awhile. I can’t even imagine trying now.

  4. There’s been some interesting exchanges toward the end of the Comment section beginning with #11 of TC’s recent “Trayvon Martin: 2nd Amendment Solution?” post.  I posted a long response this morning to someone who appears to be defending Zimmerman’s actions.  However, it does contain quite a few documenting links – way more than the two we’re allowed – so I don’t think it’ll appear yet as it says “Pending Moderation”.  But since Trayvon’s murder is moving into a more legalistic direction, I thought you might want at least a preview – so I’m posting it here.  Here we go:
    A few points in response to your comment:
    [A] You have made numerous assertions of facts, but have not once provided any corroboration.  Please be so kind as to provide responsible (NOT some right-wing rag like FreeRepublic, etc.) responsible links documenting your multiple assertions of facts.
    [B] You are DEAD WRONG (no pun intended) when you claim, “If someone is waving a .38 revolver in your face … are you gonna [sic] wait a few minutes and see if they’re joking?  Because that’s what the law would have you do in the absence of ‘stand your ground’ laws.”
    One can make a good case that Zimmerman is NOT – repeat, NOT – protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.  Even state representative Dennis Baxley (R), the statute’s author says Zimmerman is NOT protected by his law.
    “There’s nothing in this statute that authorizes you to pursue and confront people, particularly if law enforcement has told you to stay put. I don’t see why this statute is being challenged in this case. That is to prevent you from being attacked by other people.”
    Prior to “Stand Your Ground” one could avoid being liable for battery after beating someone up if you were acting in self-defense.  Originally that defense came with the requirement that you backed off from the fight if you could, known as the “duty to retreat”.  (There is an exception to the “duty to retreat” known as the “Castle doctrine” where you are in your own home, – but that doesn’t apply to the murder of Trayvon Martin.)
    Then came Baxley’s “Stand Your Ground” statute which says that someone “who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat”. Florida Statute § 776.013
    If the Sanford Police had not been negligent in their botched mishandling of this entire case, at that point Zimmerman should have been arrested for probable cause, he could try to claim self-defense, the prosecution would say he should have retreated and Zimmerman would point to Section 776.013.  And then we’d be on our way in a court of justice.  But instead, through Sanford Police Department’s own negligence and malfeasance, they established themselves as judge, jury and – quite literally – executioner.
    As documented above, even the bill’s own author has said that the Florida law does NOT give someone the right to “pursue and confront”.
    So the two questions then become [1] was Zimmerman “engaged in unlawful activity” at the time of the attack, and [2] did Zimmerman “meet force with force” (i.e., the law does NOT allow one to bring a gun to a Skittles and Iced Tea fight).
    [1] So was Zimmerman engaged in unlawful activity?  We know that Trayvon’s girlfriend was talking to him just before the attack, and that Trayvon [1] knew he was being pursued, and [2] he was trying to get away.
    Although you provided no documentation to your claim that Zimmerman was a few inches shorter than Trayvon, we do know that Zimmerman weighs 100 pounds more than Trayvon. So if not by the words Zimmerman yelled at Trayvon (which we’ll never know), then certainly by his physical demeanor and his actions Zimmerman created a “well-founded fear” in Trayvon and caused him to feel threatened.  Consequently Zimmerman would be guilty of assault under Florida law. (Fla. Stat. § 784.011)
    Additionally we know from the 911 tapes that Zimmerman [A] admitted to following Trayvon and [B] directly ignored the police’s instructions not to pursue Trayvon.  Florida law makes it a crime if someone “resists, obstructs, or opposes” a law enforcement officer.  (Fla. Stat. § 843.01)  So Zimmerman is guilty of both assault AND resisting an officer – and therefore he was “engag[ing] in unlawful activity” and consequently he would lose the protections of the “Stand Your Ground” statute.
    [2] Moving now to Zimmerman’s second defense of “meeting force with force” – as the law does allow.  For Zimmerman to invoke that defense, it would require that Trayvon to have been the aggressor.  There is nothing – NOTHING – in any eyewitness accounts or 911 tapes that portray Trayvon as the aggressor.  In fact, the evidence is quite the opposite as the law says one cannot be the aggressor when being illegally pursued, as Zimmerman was clearly doing.
    So Zimmerman can ONLY avail himself of the “Stand Your Ground” protection if
    [1] He was not guilty of assault (which we saw he clearly was)
    [2] He was not guilty of resisting an officer (which the tapes prove he clearly was)
    [3] Trayvon was the aggressor and initiator throughout the entire series of events (which he clearly was NOT)
    You can say, “But we’ll never know if Trayvon might have actually initiated the fight.”  While that is true, we need also remember that the defendant (Zimmerman) bears the burden of proof when invoking an affirmative defense that HE was attacked (as Zimmerman is clearly trying to do).  So if Zimmerman cannot prove that Trayvon acted first, which is what he would have to affirm, then he is no longer protected by the “Stand Your Ground” statute.
    We will never know all the facts that led to the murder of Trayvon.  But what we can say is that the Sanford Police Department, both by their actions and inactions with regard to standard police protocols, are directly responsible for negligently mishandling the case and preventing justice to be served for a child who was murdered in cold blood.
    That we can say with NO fear of contradiction.
    • Indeed there has been, Nameless.  I had yours released within an hour.  The one that claims to be studious, isn’t.  I hope you enjoyed having them for lunch. 😉

  5. 3:46 Nailed it!

    How wonderful that the inmates hold that dinner for all of you. It must give them a sense of accomplishment.

    Sgt. Bales seems to be a victim of his surroundings. I hope they focus the trial on the war too.

    Geraldo should have known better than to make such a ludicrous statement. He looks like a thug if you ask me. I would definitely cross the street if I saw him walking toward me.

  6. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales — I in no way condone Bales’ alledged actions, however, I know there is more here than meets the eye.  My step-father was a Canadian paratrooper during WWII, jumping into northern France, Belgium and Holland — he was 18- 20 years old.  After the war, he did all the normal things of working on the family farm or in factories, and raising a family.  One thing that he would not do was talk about the war.  That was his way of keeping the horrors locked away.  And they stayed locked away until he died in 2004.  Each person will react differently to the actions he/she is called upon to make in times of war.  The lines are fuzzified!  Is this a civilian or a combattant dressed like a civilian?  Is this person wearing a suicide bomb or are they just wearing loose clothing?  Like TC, I hope that the trial will focus on the tasks that soldiers are asked to take, and their affect on soldiers — long standing affects that can not only blurr the lines of right and wrong, but change a person in ways that the person is often not aware of until something inocuous happens — the perverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

    MoveOn — Definitely a good one!  I remember back in 1972 trying to rent an apartment — it was $250/mth but I only netted $220/mth.  Someone today doing the same work still can’t afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment and get by.  Yet Bank executives sure do manage well, and not in a one bedroom apartment.

    Lawrence O’Donnell — Excellent!  When I first heard of Trayvon Martin, and now James Craig Anderson, my first thoughts were of Troy Anthony Davis.  From the letter to the courts from the Anderson family ” . . . sparing them may help to start the dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”  His sister talked of respect, love and faith in God in court.  These are people, in very difficult times, living their faith.  This is the Christianity of the true Jesus Christ.

    Cartoon — Louisiana hasn’t recovered from the last disaster, the BP oil spill, and they end up with more sludge!  Disgusting!  But then all the Greedy Old Pharts are sludge!

    • Thanks for the personal touch Lynn.  A lot of the prisoners, whit whom I work, are vets and I have seen how badly war can screw up a person.

      In 1967, the onlky reason I could make it on minimum wage is that I had a rent-controlled apartment: $35.


      Thank you for the idea for today’s cartoon

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