Personal Accountability & Ferguson

The smoke (literally) has not cleared totally on the Ferguson riots. Since I wrote my blog a couple of days ago, protesters/criminals have continued to cause problems. The National Guard, which was conspicuously not called in by Missouri governor Nixon on the night of the grand jury decision, has helped calm the area, working in tandem with the police and state law enforcement officials. That’s probably not what most National Guardsmen signed up for. Our military is supposed to protect us from invasion, not from ourselves:

Danger Zones

The looters and rioters, setting fire to businesses and endangering lives, are not exactly focused on the presumed reason for the protest. Michael Brown doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of their thoughts; they are far more interested in destruction and grabbing “stuff” for themselves:

Stand for Justice

For instance, what did the woman who ran a cake bakery do to incite riots? Wasn’t she in business to offer a product to the community? Yet the destruction was indiscriminate.

Black Friday

Perhaps the most redeeming story to come out of this fiasco is that this woman has now received over $200,000 from Americans across the nation to help her rebuild her business. That’s the real America, which is far different than the racially divided country the media portrays.

Speaking of the media, some have pointed fingers at them as possible co-conspirators in this unfolding story:

Ideas

I have no problem with the media being on the scene to describe what’s happening on the ground, but whenever the line is crossed from reporting to agitation, there can be grounds for pointing those fingers.

But if we really want to get to the source of what occurred in Ferguson, there’s only one place to go:

Brown

It’s called a principle of personal accountability for one’s actions. It’s a principle that can be forgotten in the midst of turmoil, yet we need to constantly remind one another that each individual is a free moral agent given the ability by God to make decisions. Ultimately, no matter how one is raised, no matter how many wrong influences there are in one’s life, we all have to answer for ourselves. Our decisions are not predetermined; we still have the ability to choose, regardless of our environment. Society is not to blame.

Ferguson & the Rule of Law

Robert McCullochAt about 9:15 last night, I, along with countless other Americans, started listening to St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch provide the factual information that led the grand jury to refuse to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

McCulloch went to great pains to explain that decision. He also went into the kind of detail that prosecutors don’t normally go into publicly in an attempt to appeal to the reasonable portion of the citizenry that justice was served. In fact, after the press conference, all the testimony from the grand jury deliberations was released for the public to read. That’s called transparency.

He was both sympathetic to the family that lost its son and methodical in his rundown of the events of that day when Wilson shot Brown. The evidence, he said, showed Brown’s DNA inside Wilson’s car, on Wilson’s shirt and pants, and, most significantly, on the policeman’s gun. The evidence, therefore, backed up the story that Brown attacked Wilson while the officer was still inside his car.

McCulloch then thoroughly explained the various eyewitness accounts and how some of them didn’t comport with the facts. The majority of the eyewitnesses, though, were clear in their testimony that once Wilson got out of the car, Brown again came toward him menacingly. That’s when the fatal shots were fired. McCulloch also emphasized that those eyewitnesses were black, not white.

The grand jury, which was selected to represent the entire county, and included various minorities, three of whom were black, came to their decision after weeks of attention to the details. He praised the grand jury members for their willingness to extend their time on this jury by two extra months, just to ensure that the truth could come out.

Overall, I was impressed by McCulloch’s professionalism and desire for an honest outcome. He spoke both movingly and convincingly, even when answering questions from hostile members of the press in the courtroom. He was decorum personified. Yet one of those reporters had the nerve to shout at him as he left the room, “Are you going to sleep well tonight?”

Ferguson RiotsThat shout was the signal that this was going to be a long night. All that professionalism and appeal to reason went for naught, as the assembled crowd rose up in anger and began destroying their own city. Stores were looted, buildings burned (some businesses will not ever reopen again), and chaos ensued. The police are coming under fire today for their weak and inadequate response. Apparently, the desire not to be seen as oppressive overcame common sense. Appeasement of violent civil disobedience is a recipe for further violence.

The rioters were both local citizens and those from groups outside the city. They were a motley assemblage of Marxists, anarchists, and just plain old criminals who wanted to get something free for themselves. Reporters on the scene showed live shots of people breaking into stores and taking out everything they could carry; alcohol seemed to be high on their “shopping list.”

All of this in the name of justice? What justice was meted out to local businesses that were devastated? How did that help the community?

And what of Michael Brown himself? Was he a hero? A martyr for some cause?

Evidence shows that just prior to the shooting, he had robbed a convenience store, treated the store employee roughly, and then scuffled with Wilson. The toxicology report after his death revealed he had marijuana in his system. Is this really the poster child for innocence? For what cause is he a martyr—the right to steal?

Obama Ferguson StatementPresident Obama chose to come out and make a statement right after Mr. McCulloch finished his press conference. Perhaps the most ironic comment of the night was his opening line about how we are a nation that abides by the rule of law. After his executive order on immigration last week, it was nice to witness his “conversion.” Rule of law is a useful concept, depending on the circumstance.

I listened to his entire monologue. After a while, it rambled and seemed to lose a lot of coherence. I don’t think it inspired confidence in many. And while he was speaking about the need for peace, the split-screen showed the beginnings of a riot as a police car was in the process of being overturned.

Something else was missing from the president’s statement: any concern whatsoever for Darren Wilson, who has been exonerated of murder, who acted in self-defense, and whose life from now on will be forever changed. Will he have to live “underground,” in fear of retaliation? What occupation is now open to him? Will he be given a new identity? Facial reconstruction? The president never even mentioned him by name.

In my opinion, both the president and Eric Holder have done nothing but inflame this situation from the start. Their public empathy for Brown and his family only made things worse, implicating Wilson as the culprit before all the facts were obtained.

Racial Fire Dept

Al Sharpton is due to arrive in Ferguson today. I don’t use the “Rev.” in front of his name; it’s an oxymoron. Not only is he one of the primary racial agitators in America today, and has been for decades, but he also is considered a special outside adviser to President Obama. He goes to the White House often. That, in itself, is a disgrace to this administration.

Sharpton

They should be embarrassed by this connection, but embarrassment is a quality to which they seem immune.

The activities last night were a blot on America, but not for the reason the protesters believe. The rule of law was attacked once again and emotion took precedence over reason and the facts.

John AdamsI’m reminded of a famous quote from John Adams as he defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial. This was a highly unpopular thing for him to do, with possible repercussions to his career and life. Yet he did what was right, and he ended with this statement:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Wishes, inclinations, and dictates of passion ruled the night. What awaits us in the aftermath? Continue to pray for God’s mercy on a nation that increasingly doesn’t deserve it, yet desperately needs it.

Liberty vs. License: Where I Stand

Comments from one reader of yesterday’s blog post leads me to want to explain something further. Yesterday’s post was concerned with the rush to judgment in Ferguson and the possibility that the greatest potential victim in this entire episode is the death of due process. There has been, in my opinion, too much pre-judging taking place. You saw it in the many nights of protest that included looting and rioting. You saw it in the statement of Missouri’s governor when he said a vigorous prosecution had to go forward. You saw it also in the arrival on scene of Eric Holder, who made it clear he empathized with the protesters. I questioned whether the DOJ would really conduct a fair and balanced investigation, based on Holder’s public position on the event.

Yes, I have serious doubts about the storyline being promoted by Michael Brown’s defenders. First, the main eyewitness was Brown’s partner in the manhandling of a store clerk and the robbery of the store just prior to the fatal incident with the policeman. Is this a trustworthy witness? There are also accounts of the policeman who fired those fatal shots being attacked by Brown. Who is telling the truth? All I’m asking for is an approach that gets all the facts first, then makes a judgment as to guilt afterwards.

I was asked by one commenter if I wasn’t concerned about how the police acted, and that this might be an indication of statist control of society. Let me be very clear here. Anyone who has ever read this blog on a regular basis cannot fail to understand that I sound the alarm on statism constantly. I firmly believe in the rule of law. The end-run the Obama administration always tries to make around the Constitution is a genuine threat to liberty.

That word “liberty” requires some explanation as well. Some people have a terrible understanding of what liberty actually comprises. It is not licentiousness. That’s why I can never be a libertarian politically. Ideological libertarians want nearly a non-existent government, not only in the economic and educational spheres (where I have substantial agreement with them), but also in the moral sphere (where I disagree with them vehemently). They replace the God of the Bible, who has ordained civil government for very specific purposes, with the god “Liberty.”

True liberty always includes personal accountability and a framework, in society, for order. Liberty to do whatever one wants is not true liberty, but license. What I saw on the streets of Ferguson, as business owners had to defend their private property from those who wanted to just grab things for themselves, was license. A police force must stand against those actions. The responsibility of the police is to protect the innocent from those who are out to hurt and destroy.

Did the Ferguson police go too far? There is an honest difference of opinion on that. I suspect that some of those business owners wish the police had been more of a presence than they were. Did the police charge the protesters, killing and maiming everyone in their way?  I didn’t see any footage like that, did you? In fact, they seemed rather tentative at times, worried perhaps about the reputation they were getting. That never would have stopped Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Castro. We are hardly on the verge of a police state, at least at the local level.

Now, does that mean I have reached a definite conclusion about the events of that night when Michael Brown died? Regardless of my leanings, which are based on what I have read and seen thus far, I nevertheless would have to continue to suspend any final judgment. If I were a resident of Ferguson, I would have a clear conscience sitting on a jury to decide this matter. I would look carefully at all the evidence and make my final judgment only after reviewing the facts as presented by both sides.

But there are some things that are clear to me:

  • Scripture requires an orderly society based on the rule of law.
  • Government is not a necessary evil, but an institution established by God to restrain evil and maintain order.
  • Rioting and looting are sinful actions that need to be met with the force of the government and put down with a force equal to the sinful actions themselves.
  • Guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, not in the media or on the streets by the loudest voices.

This is where I stand, and I make no apologies for my stance.

Fairness & Due Process under Obama

Michael Brown’s funeral is now over. Nightly unrest seems to have left Ferguson, Missouri, for the present. However, expect it to return if the legal process doesn’t go as some desire. This incident is not unique with respect to making a judgment before all the facts are known; it’s becoming alarmingly common in matters touching on race.

All the Facts

Gov. Nixon of Missouri and the Obama administration, represented by Attorney General Holder, have made it clear they have prejudged the situation. Nixon tried to walk back his comment about a vigorous prosecution of the police officer, but few are buying his semi-retraction. Holder says the DOJ will investigate fairly, but that is difficult to accept, given his predisposition to believe the narrative offered by Brown’s advocates. The loss of one life is always a tragedy, but less so if that person attacked the policeman. We’re still waiting for all the facts to come out. While we wait, we must ensure we don’t suffer an even greater tragedy that would affect everyone:

Due Process

My reluctance to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fairness and the rule of law stems from a long train of abuses in the past 5-plus years. The president seems to take any and every opportunity he can to blame Republicans for all the ills of society, never once taking any blame for himself:

Teenage Girl

Anyone who would use the IRS in an attempt to destroy political opponents has a lot of nerve casting blame on others:

Free T-Shirt

Congressional elections are drawing near. Prospects for Democrats are not good. They have to hope all these issues can somehow be buried and that the electorate will suffer from collective amnesia:

Election Issues

Unfortunately for the Republic, they’ve been able to do this before. Only an alert and principled citizenry can ensure it doesn’t happen again.

California: A Cautionary Tale

Those of us in the current events “business” spend a lot of time pointing to the disaster-in-waiting with the national debt. Maybe we should more clearly show how one state is running ahead of the curve, providing a cautionary tale for those at the national level. California, once rescued from financial embarrassment by Ronald Reagan when he was governor, has reverted to its old ways. Of course, that’s no surprise, seeing as how the voters in the state chose to place Jerry Brown back in the governor’s mansion. This is the same Jerry Brown who followed Reagan’s tenure and who undid all the positive progress.

The state is billions of dollars in debt, yet keeps on spending as if there’s no problem. When Gov. Brown called for higher taxes, opinion polls showed the voters approved of that remedy. The old maxim remains true: the government is merely a reflection of the people who vote it into power. They are getting what they deserve. Unfortunately, those who voted for real change and lost are suffering along with those who are trying to pretend there’s a bright tomorrow via the taxing and spending route.

The debt is growing and there’s no end in sight due to the foolish policies the politicians are pushing. If this sounds familiar, it should:

Individual cities are suffering as well from their bloated promises to their citizens. Some have taken steps to reverse the trend, but most remain blind to the sinking ship:

One city in particular, Stockton, has decided to declare bankruptcy. Has this ever happened before? I’m not sure, but it’s another indicator of the mess that’s been created:

All the governor’s horses and all the governor’s men . . .

The latest fantasy is that the state can afford to spend billions on a new rail system, while ignoring fiscal reality:

It’s sad to witness a once-thriving people fall into ruin, but it’s happened time and again throughout history:

As California goes, so goes the nation? No, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not inevitable. We the People still have the opportunity to make wise choices. We can start being wiser again this November.

More Election Fallout

The common term for what happened on Tuesday is a Republican tsunami. Yet there were places unaffected by it. Not every state took part in this wave. They were kind of like the odd men out in the crowd:

Perhaps the most discouraging race was in Nevada where Harry Reid pulled it out, but the state most oblivious to the emergence of the Republican majority was California. Barbara “Call Me Senator” Boxer now has six more years at the public trough. California also decided to return to the inglorious Jerry “Governor Moonbeam” Brown days of yesteryear. The legalization of marijuana initiative failed to pass, but maybe that’s because too many of the voters were already smoking it when they went to the polls. The cartoonists have had a field day with that:

Then there’s this one:

And finally …

For the president, the path is clear, but what is not clear is whether he will take it:

For Republicans, there is also a well-defined path now that they have the majority in the House. Again, there is trepidation in some circles whether they will follow through:

For their sake, and for the sake of the country, now is the time to stay principled and firm.

They Deserve to Lose

Today, I would like to single out those running for office who are so unacceptable that they truly deserve to lose their races. Of course, if I tried to list everyone I thought should be included in that category, this would be an exceptionally long posting, so I’ve decided to concentrate only on those who have a chance to lose. Consequently, you won’t find individuals such as Nancy Pelosi in this list; she is a mirror image of her district. However, if things go as I hope they do, she will lose as well—her post as Speaker of the House.

We can start, though, with her counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid used to be pro-life. At least that’s what he claimed. As the premier pusher of the Obama agenda, he scuttled whatever small amount of credibility he had on that issue. He also famously declared the Iraq War lost—then came the surge, which he still refuses to recognize as having achieved a measure of stability in that country. Reid has shown himself to be insufferable in his constant comments—“only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good”—and the Rush Limbaugh name for him, “Dingy Harry,” seems rather appropriate. Nevada needs to divest itself of this national embarrassment.

Barbara “don’t call me ma’am” Boxer is trying for her fourth term as senator from California. She is about as prickly as they come, which led to that comment above to a military officer during a congressional hearing. She really loves being a senator and having the perks of the office. Boxer also secured travel for the radical group Code Pink to go to Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004 to give aid to the people who had killed 51 Americans that same month. Even the extremely liberal newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, refused to endorse her this year due to her undistinguished record. Her opponent, Carly Fiorina, a pro-life woman who has experience in the business world, would be a welcome relief to Californians who have had enough of Boxer.

Let’s stay in California for the Retread of the Year Award. Yes, Jerry Brown is running for governor again. He already had that job back in the 1970s, following Ronald Reagan and ruining most of what Reagan had accomplished. He was known as Governor Moonbeam back then for his New Age philosophy. He hasn’t changed much. When California voters rejected a referendum on homosexual marriage, Brown, who is currently the state’s attorney general, made it clear he wasn’t going to enforce that vote. A real attorney general cannot make a decision like that. Brown as governor would be a disaster—again.

How about a Republican? Well, perhaps a Republican. It’s a little hard to tell right now. Her name is Lisa Murkowski, and she lost the Alaskan Republican senate primary to attorney Joe Miller. Only Murkowski refuses to believe it, so she’s now spearheading a write-in campaign because … well, because she wants to stay a senator. She doesn’t exactly have a solid set of philosophical beliefs that guide her besides wanting to be a senator. She’s not pro-life, so she dilutes the Republican side of the aisle on that issue. How did she get to be a senator in the first place? Her dad, who resigned from the Senate to become governor of Alaska, appointed her to take his place. She really earned that job, didn’t she? The main thing driving her now seems to be that she is a sore loser. May she remain one.

Then there’s Massachusetts icon Barney Frank. He first hit the national radar many years ago as one of the first outspoken homosexual congressmen. Shortly afterward, the House ethics committee had to investigate accusations that a prostitution ring was operating out of his D.C. townhouse. Those accusations turned out to be true. Frank’s response? Gosh, I had no idea that was happening! A mere slap on the wrist later, he remained in the Democratic leadership. He’s been back in the news as one of the key proponents of forcing banks to give mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them, thereby triggering the massive econonic crisis we’re still experiencing. He also, along with Sen. Chris Dodd, has been the main supporter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, blocking any real oversight of those corrupt lending institutions—which still march on uncorrected today as he helps derail any legislation that would hold them accountable for their actions. For the first time in his political career, he actually has a real race to run against a genuine opponent. Will Frank’s many sins catch up to him this year? It’s still a long shot, but it would be one of the most gratifying of all the races if he were to go down to defeat at last.

Let’s go to my current state of Florida for the final two who deserve most to lose. How can I neglect to mention Congressman Alan Grayson, the most obnoxious man in Congress—and that’s going up against some pretty stiff competition. I had an entire post on Grayson not long ago, so I won’t try to repeat everything again. If you don’t remember him, you can remember one of his most arresting moments when, on the floor of the House, he concluded that the Republican healthcare plan was for people to die quickly. May his tenure in Congress suffer the same fate.

Last, but not in any way least, is the winner of the Chameleon of the Year Award, Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Forcefully declaring himself to be a Reagan conservative who was proud to be a Republican and who would never leave the party to run as an independent, Crist thought he had clear sailing into the open Senate seat. Then he ran into a buzzsaw named Marco Rubio. When it became painfully obvious to Crist that he couldn’t win the primary, he cut his ties with the Republicans and ran as an independent. Over the past couple of months, he has changed his position on almost every issue as he attempts to get Democratic votes to go along with independents who are scared and not thinking clearly [thanks to President Obama for that brilliant insight]. Now he’s trailing Rubio badly in the general election. This may be Crist’s swan song; for the sake of all Floridians, and the nation at large, let’s hope it is.

Well, that’s my list of those who most deserve to lose. If they all do lose, America will be the winner.