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.

Farewell, Eric Holder (We Hope)

Right about the time I was leaving for a week and not planning to write any blogs, Eric Holder announced his resignation as attorney general. Of all the high-level appointees in the Obama administration, he was probably closer to his boss than anyone. In most ways, he was the extension of Obama into the American justice system.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not saying that was a good thing. Holder was arguably the most divisive attorney general in American history, again a mirror image of his chief. For him, and for Obama, nearly everything has a racial angle. Neither did he have much respect for the laws of the nation with which he disagreed, not even bothering to enforce them.

His tenure at the Department of Justice was a travesty in so many ways it’s hard to come up with a complete listing of his egregious actions.

Work Done

Holder raised stonewalling and disingenuousness to an art form. If you are to believe him, nothing wrong ever happened on his watch:

Holder Scandals

Some of the cartoonists played upon an identical theme after learning of his upcoming resignation:

Relief

Leaving You

Justice

The whole concept of equal justice under the law has taken a real body blow under Holder. The rule of law has been dismantled plank by plank.

Why leave now? Some have speculated he’s just getting out while the getting is good, before the house collapses around him:

Now Hiring

A scarier prospect is that he is now in line to be nominated to the Supreme Court. That would be an even greater travesty—and tragedy—than having him as head of the DOJ. That’s another reason why it’s so crucial that Republicans control the Senate the last two years of Obama’s reign. Hopefully, there would be enough backbone in the Republican senators to doom any attempt to put this man on the highest court in the land.

Farewell, Eric Holder. And may we never again see your type in the position you have held for nearly six years.

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.

Obama & the Terrorist Threat

If you were one of those who believed all the hype about Barack Obama when he first ran for president in 2008, you were probably expecting the smartest man in American history was about to take the helm. Obama was so educated, so concerned about you, and was the one who would rise above all petty divisions in the country and unite us all, particularly healing any breach between black and white.

If you’re someone who has paid attention since then, you have been sorely disappointed.

The Obama reign has brought greater division, as he seems to want to inflame racial resentment, it has seen a government takeover of the healthcare system—a botched takeover at that—, a parade of neverending scandals, an aloofness and arrogance that never seeks to bridge the political gap, and the retreat of American leadership in the world, as evidenced by the growing Islamic terrorist threat.

Don't Test Well

The rise of ISIS in the Middle East is the latest threat we face. In a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Secretary of Defense Hagel warned that ISIS is “beyond just a terrorist group” and that this organization is well funded and “beyond anything that we’ve seen.” ISIS is now considered more dangerous than Al Qaeda at its peak. Yet this is the group that Obama called the “junior varsity” not too long ago.

This is the group that now boasts it will fly it flag over the White House. Empty boast? Well, in the literal sense, probably, but what’s to stop ISIS operatives from crossing over our leaky border? Perhaps they have done so already. I’m one who sees the threat coming to our shores, not just relegated to the Middle East. And what confidence do we have in our president’s leadership, given his track record of threats and warnings that have never come to fruition?

Draw Red Line

By the way, where is our president at this critical time? Vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, of course. But don’t worry, he can get back to the White House and be in charge of the Situation Room if something really urgent needs his attention:

Urgent Matters

Even the beheading of American journalist James Foley, one of the most barbaric and disgusting actions put on YouTube for the whole world to see, merited only a statement of outrage and more empty threats from the presumed leader of the free world. Ten minutes after delivering his statement, he was off again to take care of his more urgent business:

Drop Me Off

One wonders what it will take to get him really upset:

Obama's Attention

If you were a soldier under orders from this commander-in-chief, would you be inspired by his leadership?

Credibility

What, specifically, is the Obama administration now going to do about the ISIS terrorists who murdered Foley? Incredibly, the DOJ, under the ever-steady hand of Eric Holder, is now planning to file criminal charges against them, complete with a courtroom drama that provides those who carried out this deed—if indeed they can be located and captured—with all the constitutional protections of American citizens when charged with a crime. This is how the Clinton administration tried to handle terrorism as well. It’s a return to the foolishness of affording “rights” to those who make war on our nation.

Caught

This is a recipe for disaster and Barack Obama is the chief chef cooking it. Unfortunately, we are the ones who are being force fed a concoction that will poison us all.

The Ferguson Debacle

I’m glad having a black president and a black attorney general has taken care of the racial issues in America once and for all.

Yes, I’m being slightly sarcastic.

I’ve watched the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, as I’m sure everyone else has also, but have refrained from commenting until all the facts are established. That may not happen for some time, though, so I do want to offer some thoughts on what is already obvious.

First, the killing of Michael Brown has exposed once again the deep racial divide that exists in the minds of some. I emphasize “in the minds of” because it’s rather baffling to me how anyone can call America a basically racist society when the president, attorney general, and key figures in the media, academia, and the sports world are now black. I guess it depends on one’s perspective:

Long Way

I freely admit I’m of the opinion that we truly have come a long way. Now, a critic would say that’s simply because I’m white, but I would counter that critique with my bedrock conviction that God created only one race—it’s called “human”—and that He sees us all as His potential children. I firmly believe there is no Scriptural basis for setting people against each other for any external reason, whether that’s the color of one’s skin or ethnic background. God looks at the heart.

That leads me to another observation: what’s in the hearts of those who think that justice is served by rioting, looting, and destroying legitimate businesses in the Ferguson community? Looting and destruction are not racial issues; they are sin being manifested. I don’t know if hatred was at the root of the Brown shooting; I can’t see into the policeman’s heart. But when I see resentment blazing into outright hatred and destruction of other people’s property, it’s not hard to read the hearts of those involved in such actions. Of course, what they don’t realize is that their selfish, sinful actions are only destroying what they claim they want to preserve. That’s what sin always does.

Back Off

The media has focused on the reaction of the police force and has condemned what it calls an “overmilitarization” of the police. Here’s how one cartoonist has expressed that feeling:

Tear Gas

Not being on the ground in Ferguson myself, I don’t know if the police have overreacted. However, I do know that some of the business owners don’t believe the police have done enough. The rioting and looting continue, and their livelihoods may be destroyed. Police also are being criticized for releasing a video that seems to implicate Brown in a convenience store robbery just prior to his death. I’ve seen the video; it looks pretty conclusive to me that Brown was acting like a thug. At 6’3″ and 300 pounds, I hope you might forgive me if I wonder if the policeman who came upon him later might have felt rather intimidated. The police are also criticized for having only 3% of the force black in a city where nearly 70% of the citizens are black. The former mayor was on TV this morning, though, explaining that they have an active search for black officers, but the pool is small from which to choose. In other words, racism is not the cause of the ethnic composition of the force.

On top of that, we now have the federal government getting involved. Both President Obama and Attorney General Holder are now inserting themselves into this local problem. How is this a federal government responsibility? Look at the pattern: these two men have spoken out on previous events that they concluded were racial, even when that was not necessarily the case—the Louis Gates incident in Boston and the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman spectacle in Florida. If they can fan the flames of racial division, they seem intent on doing so.

Let all the facts come out. If the policeman was out of bounds, acted wrongly, and his actions led to a death that should not have occurred, he should be punished for that. If Michael Brown was the one initiating the action, let’s don’t put him on a pedestal as some kind of martyr.

Above all, don’t let these incidents become trigger points for increased racial tension. Recognize that there are sinful people of all races and ethnicities who would like nothing better than to use such events for their own selfish purposes. Let’s be wise in our analysis and try our best to see this through the lens of Biblical principles.

Cartooning Made Easy

It’s always a bit of a break for me to make one of my posts center more on political cartoons. They do such a fine job of illustrating absurdity that they deserve a central place regularly. For instance, on the current border crisis, what can make the point any better than this?

Crazy Idea

Eric Holder’s always a prime candidate for skewering. He’s at it again, equating any opposition to Obama’s policies as a product of racial animosity. Well, at least he’s consistent:

Reflexes Fine

And Holder’s DOJ is one of the most corrupt of the corrupt government agencies. He says the FBI is doing a great job investigating the IRS scandal. No need to look into it further:

Heads Up

If the DOJ is asleep, it’s by order of the man who runs it.

And there’s always the president himself, wholly devoted to running for office continually, even when he can’t serve another term. His primary occupation seems to be attending fundraisers. That makes lampooning him almost too easy:

Fundraiser

The hypocrisy is so blatant, it makes the cartoonists’ job simple. If only I could draw . . .