Yes, The NYPD Officer Who Killed Eric Garner Should Have Been Indicted


You know the background by now so let me skip ahead to why I think the officer should have been indicted.

Here’s what we know. These are not facts in question.

1. Officer Pantaleo used a choke hold on Eric Garner.

2. The chokehold was the cause of Eric Garner’s death.

3. Eric Garner’s death was a homicide.

You do not need to decipher this from the video or a photograph. You do not need to talk to experts in MMA or police trainers on use of force. This is the official ruling of the NYC Medical Examiner.

The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that the cause of death was “compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest, and prone positioning during physical restraint by police.”

The ME is not some random person chiming in. This is the office charged with providing a legally binding determination on the cause of death.

Another thing we know for a fact is that the NYPD bans the use of chokeholds. From the NYPD Patrol Guide, which all officers are trained on.

Members of the New York City Police Department will NOT use chokeholds. A chokehold shall include, but is not limited to, any pressure to the throat or windpipe, which may prevent or hinder breathing or reduce intake of air.

So here’s what we know:

A NYC police officer used a prohibited technique on an individual leading to that individual’s death.

That’s not speculation or opinion.

So is that enough for a Grand Jury to find a crime has been committed? Clearly based on the indisputable facts above, the answer is yes. The question is what charge?

Sean Davis makes the case for Manslaughter in the 2nd degree.

At the very least I would argue that the threshold for Criminally Negligent Homicide (a lesser charge than Manslaughter) has been reached.

Here’s the NY State definition of Criminal Negligence.


NYC cops are trained not to use chokeholds for the very reason we saw in the Garner case…the danger outweighs the potential benefits. Officer Pantaleo knew this, or should have and ignorance of procedures is not a defense, yet he used the hold anyway (again, not according to me or a video but the NYC Medical Examiner). That on its face is proof of “a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation”.

Now, are there reasons why this may have happened that excuse the officer? Could the Medical Examiner be in error? Were there other factors that mitigate against a conviction? Of course. That’s what trials are for. The Grand Jury is not a trial. Its much simpler task is to find if there is “legally sufficient evidence” and that’s there’s “probable cause” that the target of the Grand Jury committed the offense.

Surely the ME’s report and the NYPD policy manual meet this threshold.  People have certainly been indicted on less.

Now, let’s move from the realm of facts to some speculation. You may not agree with my speculation but it doesn’t change any of the facts I’ve laid out to this point.

How did we get to the point where a Grand Jury didn’t find even “probable cause” to send this case to trial? The DA put his thumb on the scale in favor of the cop.

How did he do this? We can’t know entirely because the Grand Jury records are sealed but we do know some important facts.

All the cops at the scene that day, other than Pantaleo, were granted immunity from prosecution for their testimony before the Grand Jury.

First, why did they need immunity if he and they followed procedures and the law? Part of a cop’s job is to testify before Grand Juries and at trials, yet they were given rather special treatment here.

Second, why did the DA even call them before the Grand Jury? Clearly there were there to back up Pantaleo’s story because they weren’t needed to establish grounds for an indictment.

A prosecutor is under no obligation to present exculpatory evidence to a Grand Jury and a target of the Grand Jury has no right to testify before one. Yet the DA decided to let the cops put on a defense  (if they were there to buttress the case for an indictment they clearly did a terrible job and should be investigated for basic competence).

Here’s a thought experiment…how many people being investigated by the Staten Island DA are allowed to bring in 10 or so co-workers to help tell their side of the story to a Grand Jury?

My problem isn’t with enforcing the law against “lossies” (it’s a stupid law but it’s a law) and I’m not arguing that people may simply decline to be arrested. My point is that there are rules and laws about how cops may go about doing these things. To establish a system where police are never held accountable or even forced to account for their actions is a very dangerous idea.

The facts and the law are clear here. This case should have gone to trial.


Ace Is VERY Wrong On Executive Amnesty


I’d help Ace bury the body if ever killed anyone. Hell, I’ve picked him up at a train station (which is just below the airport ride on the guy list of how tight you are) but he’s incredibly wrong in arguing conservatives and Republicans shouldn’t focus on stopping Obama’s executive amnesty.

Here’s the email I sent him:

I think you left something out of your post…executive amnesty isn’t just “not deporting people”, it’s giving them the benefits of legal residency.
DACA (the “deferred action” for “DREAMERS) gives them work and travel permits. If one of your arguments against amnesty is [it screws] over American workers (and I think it was), Obama’s DACA II will do that. It might be “temporary” but which Republican is going to undo it.
The argument in 2017 will be (no matter who wins)…look, they’ve been working legally here for years, we just have to pass whatever McCain writes up.
Surrendering on exec amnesty is surrendering on amnesty.

The GOP just won running in many races against this very policy. To sit back and say, “nah, not a big deal” is a betrayal of the voters who just gave you another shot to get it right. Isn’t it a little early to be talking about screwing them over?

Of Course Obama Is Going To Do Executive Amnesty Now. Here’s Why.



Matt Yeglisas says Obama’s broad executive amnesty died with last night’s election returns. So of course that makes it more likely.

I see a lot of liberals saying it’s dead but I don’t get why. Sure it would mean total war with the Congress but why wouldn’t Obama want that? He knows Boehner, McConnell and a lot of Republicans want to do an immigration deal and won’t want to go the barricades against him over it but they’ll have to (or at least be seen as doing it).

Obama would be happy to put the GOP leadership in a  box between the base that just delivered a huge election win and donors who want a return on their investment.

The only possible reason I could see him not doing it is if he thinks Team GOP is gung-ho on pushing something through on immigration and he’ll let the GOP rip itself apart over it that way. If what emerges from that blood bath is enough for him, he’ll sign it. If not, he’ll do his amnesty closer to the 2016 election to give the Dems the boost they think they lost this time.

But he’s going to do it and do it now. He knows there’s no place he’ll be able to cut deals outside of yearly Continuing Resolution fights, so what’s the downside for him if he does executive amnesty and “poisons the well” with the new GOP Congress?

Actually, The Threat Of An Active Weapons Program Did Make Up A Substantial Part Of The Rationale For Iraq War


Over at the HQ Gabriel Malor takes issue with the NY Times stating that the Iraq war was sold on stopping Saddam Hussein’s “active WMD program”. While I agree with Gabe that the WMD program wasn’t the sole rationale for the war, I take his issue with his characterization of role it played.

According to Gabe:

As I have demonstrated from Bush’s own contemporaneous words, an active weapons program was not the sole reason for war. In fact, an active weapons program was not even mentioned in the multiple speeches Bush delivered to the American public and to an international audience.

This is simply not accurate.

From Bush’s Cincinnati speech outlining his rationale for the war:

And surveillance photos reveal that the regime is rebuilding facilities that it had used to produce chemical and biological weapons. Every chemical and biological weapon that Iraq has or makes is a direct violation of the truce that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, Saddam Hussein has chosen to build and keep these weapons despite international sanctions, U.N. demands, and isolation from the civilized world.

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his “nuclear mujahideen” — his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year. And if we allow that to happen, a terrible line would be crossed

There was also Bush’s often debated reference to Iraq’s attempts to acquire “yellow cake Uranium” for use in a possible nuclear program.

In his 2003 State of the Union speech Bush announced he would be sending then Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN to lay out the United States rationale for the war.

From Powell’s presentation:

And that is my third point. And it is key. The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them. And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented.

It should come as no shock then, that since Saddam Hussein forced out the last inspectors in 1998, we have amassed much intelligence indicating that Iraq is continuing to make these weapons.

One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.

[He goes on to list eyewitness accounts of people who had recently seen these facilities in operation]


Under the guise of dual-use infrastructure, Iraq has undertaken an effort to reconstitute facilities that were closely associated with its past program to develop and produce chemical weapons.

For example, Iraq has rebuilt key portions of the Tariq state establishment. Tariq includes facilities designed specifically for Iraq’s chemical weapons program and employs key figures from past programs.

That’s the production end of Saddam’s chemical weapons business.

People will continue to debate this issue, but there is no doubt in my mind, these illicit procurement efforts show that Saddam Hussein is very much focused on putting in place the key missing piece from his nuclear weapons program, the ability to produce fissile material.

We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more.

Vice President Dick Cheney on Meet The Press lays out the case that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program:

And over time, given Saddam’s posture there, given the fact that he has a significant flow of cash as a result of the oil production of Iraq, it’s only a matter of time until he acquires nuclear weapons. And in light of that, we have to be prepared, I think, to take the action that is being contemplated.

MR. RUSSERT: And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree, yes. And you’ll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let’s talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. We’ve got, again, a long record here. It’s not as though this is a fresh issue. In the late ’70s, Saddam Hussein acquired nuclear reactors from the French. 1981, the Israelis took out the Osirak reactor and stopped his nuclear weapons development at the time. Throughout the ’80s, he mounted a new effort. I was told when I was defense secretary before the Gulf War that he was eight to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon. And we found out after the Gulf War that he was within one or two years of having a nuclear weapon because he had a massive effort under way that involved four or five different technologies for enriching uranium to produce fissile material.

We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq’s concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don’t have any reason to believe they’re any more valid this time than they’ve been in the past.

There is no doubt liberals twist the history of the run up to the Iraq War to suit there needs. That doesn’t give supporters of the war (of which I was one) license to engage in our own distortions. That Iraq had an existing WMD was most certainly a significant part of the Bush administration’s rationale for war. We simply can write that out of history.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Iraq’s Sunnis?

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Up front confession: I haven’t a clue how to answer the title question. The bigger problem is it doesn’t seem any one else does. Until we have a reasonable answer to that question, just about any military action is doomed to fail over the long term.

Here’s what President Obama said in his address to the nation about the Sunni population in Iraq.

We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control.

Is there any evidence that these Sunni communities want to be freed from ISIL? And even if they do because they are tired of ISIL’s style of governance that doesn’t mean they want to live under the writ of the Shia dominated government in Baghdad.

The President can talk all he wants about the importance of an “inclusive” national government but that doesn’t mean the people on the ground share his desires. The Sunni minority  ruled Iraq for decades through the Baathist dictatorship. In the years since Saddam’s overthrow the Sunnis have made it quite clear they are not interested in an arrangement which sees their status diminished to match their actual representation in the country.

One potential solution is partitioning the country but that leads to some serious problems and require an almost miraculous series of events to have a chance at working.

The areas the Sunnis would control have almost no oil reserves compared to the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the south.

If Sunni Iraq became a separate nation what would prevent it from being what it already is…a terrorist haven that will destabilize the rest of Iraq and pose a danger to the west?

How do you cut a political deal with people who have no interest in what you are offering and know you really can’t even deliver that much? We could crush them militarily like we did Germany and Japan to the point where their will to fight is simply beaten out of them but there’s zero will to do that in the US.

There’s no reason to believe that Iraq’s Sunni population is interested in building a nice, quiet little desert state with almost no natural resources. Equally, there’s no reason to believe that Iraq’s Sunnis will find a way to live as the red headed step-child to the country’s Shia majority.

ISIL is a symptom of the problems we face in Iraq, not the underlying disease. Even if we could make ISIL disappear tomorrow, we’d still be facing a crisis in Iraq we have no idea how to solve. The 2003 invasion of Iraq unleashed forces we didn’t understand and couldn’t control. What we are facing today is the cost of our Iraq gamble going bust.


The NRCC Says I Shouldn’t Vote For A Republican That Is Carrying Obama’s Baggage. So I Won’t.

NRCC: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

NRCC: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

The National Republican Campaign Committee is running an ad arguing voters in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District shouldn’t vote for Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick because she voted yes on three bills to hike the “debt ceiling” and that means she’s “carrying Obama’s baggage”.

The votes the NRCC cite are:

Roll Call Vote 48 in 2010
Roll Call Vote 30 in 3013
Roll Call Vote 61 in 2014

All Republicans voted no in the 2010 vote when Democrats had control but after that things get…tricky.

In the 2013 vote Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon (and current Chairman of the NRCC, which ran this ad) as well as then GOP Whip (and current Majority Leader) Kevin McCarthy voted yes along with Kirkpatrick. Also voting yes on this was my GOP Congressman. According to the NRCC I shouldn’t vote to reelect him because he’s carrying “Obama’s baggage”.

In the 2014 vote Walden voted no but McCarthy and other Republicans voted yes.

I’m not one to say there are no differences between the parties but the NRCC seems to think on the issue of raising the debt their isn’t one and you should vote accordingly.

Shifting Ground On Immigration?

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The big immigration news today (such as it is) is Tom Cotton, GOP Senate candidate in Arkansas going hard after Democrat Mark Pryor over immigration.

Pundits on both the left and right note that this is probably the hardest hitting ad on immigration yet this cycle coming from an establishment candidate (Cotton is an establishment/TEA party hybrid and is pretty popular with both camps).

It’s clearly hit a nerve as the Pryor campaign came out swinging in defense of their man even before the Cotton camp officially released the ad. And how did they do it? By hugging McCain and Rubio on amnesty</a> and insisting he doesn’t really think the border is secure.

Does this represent a change of attitude for Republican candidates? Perhaps. If we see other mainstream Republicans coming out forcefully against amnesty it won’t be because the party has changed it’s desire but the reality of the issue will simply compel them to take this course.

The next question is what will popular opinion, which seems to be shifting away from the Democrats, have on Obama’s planned next round of executive amnesty? Perhaps another hot August like we saw in 2010 could force him to rethink his plans, at least until after the elections.


Chris Christie’s Troubling Indifference To Hobby Lobby Decision

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Chris Christie was asked about the hottest political topic of the day (the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision) and the main of a million opinions was strangely disinterested.

The fact is that when you’re an executive, your Supreme Court makes a ruling and you’ve got to live with it unless you can get the legislative body to change the law or change the Constitution. The point is: Why should I give an opinion as to whether they were right or wrong? At the end of the day, they did what they did. That’s now the law of the land,” he said.

“This is the way that you get bogged down in those things. You know what? I don’t think that’s the most central issue that we need to talk about this morning when you look at the challenges that face our country,” he said. “And if I allow people to put me into that box? Then shame on me; I’m not a good politician, I’m not a good leader.”

So it’s too much to ask a guy who is running for President where he stands on the major religious freedom case of the day? There’s something more important than protecting the basic freedoms enshrined in the Constitution? As President would Christie’s default position be that his opinion on these matters are irrelevant if they are going to wind up in court? That would be a strange position to take for someone who wants to be the nation’s chief executive. It’s not like a President Christie’s Attorney General and Department of Justice can or will be silent on these matters.

Politically it’s an insult to the people whose votes he will need to win the GOP nomination. Voters want leaders who share their beliefs and their passions. They want candidates who will stand up for their values when they are under assault. Sure there’s plenty of time in a campaign for him to make a play for conservative voters but conservative positions are under attack now.

Politicians love to tell you how they are there for you…when they need your vote. The true test is are they there for you the rest of the time. Today, as conservatives are being attacked for waging “a war on women” and liberals are attacking fundamental constitutional principles. Christie wants to take a pass on that? Fair enough. So is remembering this when the time comes and he starts trying to sell himself to conservatives.

Christie likely didn’t want to get into the Hobby Lobby case because he didn’t want to get caught up in the whole “war on women” thing. This is a major problem with liberal Republicans, they think they can avoid the media’s dishonest attacks because, hey they are moderates not crazy kooks like Ted Cruz.

Ask John McCain and Mitt Romney how that works out.


Your Daily Vox.Com Moment Of Zen

At this point most of their traffic has to come from people clicking to see if they are really as stupid as the seem.

Today’s highlight is courtesy of founder Ezra Klein.

Now the Aereo case decided by the Supreme Court is highly technical and complicated case so I have my doubts that Vox has it all locked down and you can go home now.

Let’s go to the “card” in their post labeled “You Didn’t Answer My Question”. Wait, how is that possible this post was billed as “Everything you need to know”. How could their be unanswered questions?

This is very much a work in progress. It will continue to be updated as events unfold, new research gets published, and fresh questions emerge.

So if you have additional questions or comments or quibbles or complaints, send a note to Timothy B. Lee:

What happened to “Everything you needed to know”?

Pro tip: If you’re a journalist or well, anyone, and you’re tempted to say or write, here’s everything you need to know about….odds are you’re a fool.

But don’t worry, Vox isn’t done for the day! They were very happy about massive ObamaCare inspired healthcare spending saving the economy before they were happy about a decrease in healthcare spending tanking the economy.

The Problem With Calls For “American Leadership”…Who Exactly Are The Followers?

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As Speaker of the House John Boehner succinctly put it, “A leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk”. It’s not often that I quote the Speaker approvingly but that quote nicely sums up the problem with the right’s constant calls for a more robust form of “American leadership” around the world.

But which countries are screaming to be led?

In the Mideast, the Israelis don’t want to be “led” to a force peace with the Palestinians. The Saudis don’t want to be “led” in their efforts to dominate the Sunni nations around the Persian Gulf. What both want is for America to carry the burden of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The story is the same in Asia. Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and others want American security guarantees from an expansionist China but in other areas, they have their own interests and policy prescriptions.
There’s no sign that India, a major emerging regional power, has any interest in American leadership or even security guarantees against China or Pakistan.

Does anyone think Brazil is interested “American leadership” on how to exploit and profit from its energy resources?

And in Europe where the once was American leadership (for a very brief time following WWII), “old Europe” is clearly uninterested in “American leadership” on any number of issues from economics to defense to dealing with Russia. Granted, in the “new Europe” there are countries that are interested in being seen as reliable partners and friends to the United States. From its participation in Iraq, a willingness to host missile defense bases and CIA black sites, Poland has stood out and been badly used by this administration. But at its heart, Poland’s interests are in security guarantees from a resurgent Russia.

It’s in Russia where calls for “strong American leadership” seem the most ridiculous. During the run up to the Iraq War France and Germany didn’t see fit to be led by George W. Bush (a man the “leadership” brigade would certainly call a strong leader) and even Tony Blair’s UK, as steadfast ally as there was, wasn’t simply “led” into war. Remember much of the time wasted at the UN prior to the invasion was because Blair thought explicit UN approval was necessary or at least desirable.

In the current crisis with Russia over Ukraine, there’s no amount of US “leadership” that is going to get Germany to forego its energy supplies. France won’t commit to not delivering the Russians an advanced amphibious assault ship. And even the usually reliable UK has decided that Ukraine isn’t the hill to give up billions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros sitting in their banks, markets and economy courtesy of Russian oligarchs.

Another example from the Bush years to demonstrate how amenable our ersatz followers are to our “leadership” is Iran.

The Bush administration made it clear they were interested in dealing with the Iranian regime but our European followers got us bogged down in a series of debates and processes at the UN (P5+1) and the IAEA. They ran out the clock on Bush (and were assisted by a mendacious National Intelligence Estimate).

If invoking “America leadership” were all that were necessary to get the world to fall in line, surely George W. Bush was the man to do it
People who talk about wanting “American leadership” aren’t using leadership in the traditional sense of influencing others to pursue a common goal. What they are really saying is they want America to take on the burdens of dealing with whatever problem they want solved. From Europe to Asia and South America to the Mideast, countries don’t want America telling what to do, they want us to come running when they call (you don’t consider the police or fire department your leaders do you? You just call 911 and expect them to show up and solve the problem). They also want to tell us how to solve their problems and reserve the right to complain the entire time we are doing it.

Others want “America to lead” as long as we’re buying. The second we ask others to pay their share for our supposed “common goals”, our leadership is out the window.

There are arguments in favor of America bearing a disproportionate share of the world’s load. People advocating for that course should have the decency to admit they aren’t arguing for shared responsibilities of leaders and the led but for unilateral American burdens that are occasionally covered by a fig leaf of coalition