A word from Jason Riley

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley appeared on the panel of Special Report with Bret Baier last night (video below). He commented on President Obama’s statement on Ferguson (and Iraq) earlier in the day. I can’t find a complete transcript at the White House site; the Washginton Post quotes it in relevant part here.

It was a statement full of the reigning leftist clichés, even retrieving the “anger” of “looting” and “carrying guns” from the dustbin of the sixties. Frantz Fanon must be making a comeback among the White House speechwriters. What next? Perhaps R.D. Laing and The Politics of Experience. You know, reality is crazy, man, and mental illness is a path to transcendence.

RealClearPolitics posts a transcript of Riley’s comments:

We don’t have all the evidence and I’m hesitant to try and litigate this in the press, but there’s also this false narrative being pushed out there by folks like Michael Eric Dyson and [Al] Sharpton and the rest of the hustlers is that black men live in fear of being shot by cops in these neighborhoods. That too is nonsense. I know something about growing up black and male in the inner city and it’s not that hard to avoid getting shot by a cop. They pull you over, you answer their questions, you are on your way.

The real difficulty is not getting shot by other black people if you are a young black man in these neighborhoods and again that is something we need to talk more about. Cops are not the problem. Cops are not producing these black bodies in the morgues every weekend in Chicago, in New York and Detroit and so forth. That’s not cops. Those other black people shooting black people.

Riley’s new book is Please Don’t Help Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.

This Is The Best Montana Dems Can Come Up With??

As mentioned yesterday, Texas Democrats are offering us the splendid spectacle of their idea of public integrity, Rosemary Lehmberg, but Montana Democrats, in selecting a replacement for the disgraced plagiarist John Walsh, may have topped Texas by tapping State Rep. Amanda Curtis as his replacement on the ballot.  It seems Rep. Curtis likes to share her thoughts up close and personal on YouTube on a regular basis, and let’s just say Montana Democrats have found someone who will fit in well on the Senate dais next to MENSA member Barbara Boxer (about 1:50 long, but worth it):

Darren Wilson’s side of the story (probably)

A woman identifying herself as a friend of Darren Wilson has provided what she says is the account of the officer who killed Michael Brown. The woman, who called herself Josie, gave the account to a radio talk show she called.

According to Josie, Wilson says he initially flagged down Brown for walking in the middle of the street. Nothing much came of that confrontation.

But then Wilson received a radio report that someone matching Brown’s description had robbed a convenience store. (It appears from video evidence that Brown did, indeed, rob a store and manhandle the clerk).

Wilson therefore pulled his car up to Brown and started to get out of it. Brown, who was enormous, pushed Wilson back into the car and punched him in the face, according to what Josie says is Wilson’s account. This conduct, if it occurred, would be consistent with Brown’s aggressive behavior in the convenience store.

Wilson had a gun. According to what Josie says Wilson told her, Brown reached for it and, in the struggle, the gun pressed against Wilson’s hip. Wilson was able to push the gun away.

Brown then fled with his friends. Wilson followed and told them to freeze. Instead, Brown turned and, from a distance of maybe 35 feet, began taunting Wilson and saying that he wouldn’t shoot. Then, according to this account, Brown charged Wilson. Wilson began firing, but Brown kept coming. Finally, a shot to the head stopped Brown just a few feet in front of Wilson.

This account is consistent with the autopsy finding that the bullets entered the front of Brown’s body, not the back. However, that finding is consistent with other scenarios too.

CNN reports that Josie’s version matches what the police, presumably relying on Wilson, has told investigators. If so, then this is probably Wilson’s side of the story.

Wilson’s problem is that Brown’s friends are likely to contradict this account. Wilson may be hard-pressed to find witnesses who will confirm it. No fellow officer was with him, though he “may have called for back up,” according to Josie. (If he did, would he have then murdered Brown in broad daylight, knowing that other officers were probably on the way?).

It is possible that Brown’s friends have already given accounts of the shooting that contradict what the autopsy shows. It’s also possible that, prior to the release of the video showing the convenience store robbery, Brown’s friends made statements inconsistent with that evidence. If Brown’s friends have been caught in a lie, then, assuming Wilson isn’t caught in any, he should be believed.

All I think we know right now is that shortly before he encountered Wilson, Brown had engaged in criminality/thuggery and that Wilson didn’t shoot him as he was running away.

The protesters in the streets of Ferguson can hold their hands up and say “don’t shoot” all they want. I’d be surprised if Brown had his hands raised when he was shot.

Is “Climate Change” Causing the Western Drought?

Much of California, and other areas in the West, are enduring a severe drought. In February, President Obama decreed that the drought is the product of man-made “climate change.”

This is a good example of a proposition that should be self-evident, but is generally ignored: you can’t talk intelligently about climate change unless you know something about climate history. Which, not surprisingly, Barack Obama doesn’t. The reality is that California is no stranger to drought, and hasn’t been for millennia. This chart from Anthony Watts, covers the American West beginning in 800 A.D., based on tree rings:

california_drought_timeline

As Watts headlines, “Spot the portion of California drought caused by ‘climate change’.” With regard to climate, as in other fields, ignorance of the past tends to lead to hysteria whenever anything changes.

The Significance of the Michael Brown Autopsy

The results of the first of three planned autopsies on the body of Michael Brown were released today by Dr. Michael Baden. Dr. Baden found that Brown was shot six times, with all six bullets coming from the front. This appears to rule out the claim that Brown was shot while running away from police officer Darren Wilson.

The New York Times tries to make the best of it, repeating that Brown was “unarmed” three times. But that is not very significant. If he was charging officer Wilson, Wilson would reasonably have perceived a risk of grave bodily harm and would have been entitled to use deadly force to defend himself, regardless of whether Brown was armed or not.

Likewise, the suggestion that six shots are somehow excessive is misguided. It usually takes several bullets to stop an attacker, and in this case, it appears that only the last shot, which hit Brown in the top of the head, would immediately have incapacitated him. The location of that bullet is consistent with the theory that Brown had his head down and was charging toward Wilson, but it could be consistent with other scenarios as well.

Other than the fact that the bullets all came from the front, the only significant autopsy finding is that Brown had marijuana in his system. From news accounts, I can’t tell whether he was high at the time of the encounter with officer Wilson, or whether it was a residue from pot he had consumed the evening before. In any event, I wouldn’t think marijuana would cause a person to do something as crazy as to try to assault an armed police officer.

To me, the most puzzling aspect of the Brown affair is that we still haven’t heard Darren Wilson’s account of what happened. Given that rioting and looting are going on, multiple investigations have been launched, and many observers are making assumptions (probably false) about what transpired, I don’t understand why Wilson’s side of the story hasn’t been made public. At this point, those who are disposed not to believe whatever he says will think that the Ferguson police deliberately put off releasing Wilson’s account to see what other information–videos, eyewitness accounts, autopsy findings–would come out that potentially might contradict it. That is unfortunate.

Between law enforcement and looters, Obama is, as usual, neutral

President Obama said today that he will not visit Ferguson, Missouri so as not to “put[] my thumb on the scale” in the investigation into the killing of Michael Brown. We should be grateful that he’s staying put.

Yet, short of following the investigators around, it’s not clear why Obama being in Missouri would put his thumb on the scale of the investigation. It’s his comments, not his physical presence, that matters.

Nor is there any need for Obama’s thumb. With Eric Holder’s Justice Department involved, the investigation is already in reliable left-wing hands.

When it came to the pressing matter of enforcing the law in Ferguson, Obama showed no reluctance to put his thumb on the scale. He stated, “I’ll be watching over the next several days to assess whether [the National Guard] is helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson.” If that isn’t an attempt to shape the National Guard’s conduct, I don’t know what is.

Moreover, Obama’s statement makes little sense. The National Guard’s job isn’t to “help progress” in the abstract. The Guard’s job is to restore order.

How might the National Guard “hinder progress?” Presumably, Obama was referring to policing that alienates the mob. But at this stage, it’s difficult to see how the looting and rioting in Ferguson can be stopped without alienating the mob.

Obama’s preferred “liberal policing” has already been tried. It didn’t work. Thus, the time has come for Obama to let the professionals handle the law enforcement crisis free from the intimidation that comes with him looking over their shoulders.

What we see from Obama in Missouri is similar to what we see from him in foreign hot spots. He stands high above the fray passing judgment — almost always adverse — on all sides.

In Israel, Obama had “no sympathy for Hamas” but was quick to condemn Israel for its attempts to destroy the weapons used by these terrorists. And his administration was at least as apt to support a cease fire proposed by the backers of Hamas’s terror (like Qatar) as it was to support one proposed by Egypt.

Looking to the wider Middle East, Obama seems to blame the U.S. (pre-Obama) and the mullahs equally for the hostility that exists between the two nations. In Syria, he was unable to pick a side in any sense that mattered.

For years, he blew off the non-jihadist rebels who were fighting both the Iran/Hezbollah-backed regime and the brutal Islamist opposition. Apparently, they failed to measure up to his lofty standards.

In Iraq, Obama found the government of Maliki too much of a hindrance to progress to lift a finger to help it as ISIS swept through the western part of the country towards Baghdad. Then, he found the Kurds too much of a hindrance to the government of Maliki to help them when ISIS swept north.

In this context, Obama’s apparent neutrality in Missouri is hardly the most worst example of his detached and perverse judgments. But it’s egregious nonetheless.

We do need to get to the bottom of the Michael Brown shooting. But right now, the priority is restoring order in Ferguson. To the extent Obama watches, his focus should be on whether the National Guard is accomplishing this mission, not on whether it’s helping promote some leftist notion of “progress.”

How To Wreck Thomas Frank’s Day in Three Easy Steps

If Thomas (What’s the Matter With Kansas?) Frank didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him as a museum specimen of a clueless liberal.  Among other things, if people are supposed to vote their economic self-interest, why didn’t he write What’s the Matter With the Upper West Side?  Apparently only voting against your economic self-interest for Republicans counts as evidence of stupidity.

But Frank’s own retrograde ignorance is on full display in a Salon column this week, “How to Wreck the GOP in Three Easy Steps.”  The three-steps to this dance are a doozy of a liberal Hokey-Pokey, because Frank really needs to turn himself around.  Let’s take them in order:

1. President Obama should instruct his Attorney General to start enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws the way Democrats used to do.

Once upon a time, monopoly and oligopoly were illegal in America. Our ancestors believed, correctly, that concentrated economic power was incompatible with democracy in all sorts of ways.

Boy, here’s a slogan to stir the masses at the ballot box.  Well, they can try that if they want to, but they’ll likely lose in court.  Frank is obviously unaware of the revolution in anti-trust theory and law back in the 1970s that received the approval of many liberals, such as Lester Thurow.  How many Nobel Prizes in economics were won for the devastating critiques of antitrust theory?  I lost count.  So who’s being anti-intellectual now?  In any case, the Reagan Administration scaled back anti-trust prosecution in part because of better economic analysis, but also because they began losing most of the cases they did bring to court.

2. Investigate and prosecute fraud committed during the housing bubble.

Fine with me.  So when are we going to arrest Franklin Raines, Jim Johnston, Janet Napolitano, and all the other Democratic factotums who ran Fannie Mae, one of the primary engines of the housing bubble and crash?  And let’s not forget to subpoena that other Frank (Barney the dinosaur) as a hostile prosecution witness.  Oops.

3. Make it clear that he will no longer tolerate the college tuition price spiral.

So we’re going to kill off all of the government loan programs and federal mandates that have been a primary driver of college tuition inflation?  I’m all for it.  When do we begin the layoffs of all the associate deans for diversity and the compliance officers for Title IX?  When do we start demanding higher teaching loads from tenured faculty at our public research universities? That ought to go down well with Obama’s primary constituency.

Maybe I should go easier on Frank.  I’m starting to wonder whether Frank isn’t a Karl Rove (or Koch brothers) plant inside the left, designed to work mayhem.  If so, it’s another genius idea that is working splendidly.