AreYouLiberal.Com
22Dec/14Off

Exclusive: Taxpayers Fund Legal Group With Role in Rap Video About Killing Police Officers

The Obama administration’s Justice Department funneled at least $1.5 million in grants to a New York legal-aid group featured in a new rap video that depicts two young black men aiming handguns at a white police officer.

Some may find the lyrics eerily similar to the social media postings of the man accused of shooting and killing two New York City police officers execution-style in Brooklyn on Saturday.

>>> Exclusive to The Daily Signal

The video for  “Hands Up,” which also shows a white police officer shooting down a black motorist wearing a hoodie, contains lyrics suggesting revenge for much-publicized deaths of black men in confrontations with police.

Credited to rappers Uncle Murda and Maino, the video is subtitled “Eric Garner Tribute,” a reference to a black man who died while being pinned and restrained on a sidewalk by New York police officers.

The taxpayer money that went to the organization shown in the video, the Bronx Defenders, comes from a Justice Department program named for Edward Byrne, a New York Police Department officer who was shot dead at close range in 1988.

Among the lyrics to “Hands Up”:

For Mike Brown and Sean Bell,  a cop got to get killed

’cause I’m black, police think they got the right to shoot me

No jail time, their punishment is death’s duty

… By any means necessary let’s make them respect us

Photo: Screengrab from World Star Hip Hop

Photo: Screen shot from “Hands Up,” World Star Hip Hop

Police investigators say that hours before he shot Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn, Ismaailyl Brinsley wrote these words on his Instagram account: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”

In a recurring image in their video, rappers Uncle Murda and Maino point guns at the front and back of the head of a man in a police uniform. The video also features other men in police uniforms and cars with the markings of NYPD cruisers.

In September, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., announced the award of $350,000 to the Bronx Defenders from the Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Fund. Serrano represents a portion of the Bronx.

“Bronx Defenders offers legal services for criminal trials, but their service model goes beyond that,” Serrano said, adding:

It also offers social services and help with employment, housing and other issues that may arise because of a person’s involvement with the criminal justice system. I am glad to see that the Department of Justice recognizes the successes of their work.

The organization, which was founded in 1997 and boasts some high-powered corporate lawyers on its board, has enjoyed a steady flow of taxpayer dollars since President Obama took office in 2009.

In  2012, Bronx Defenders also received $350,000 from the Justice Department’s Byrne grant program, according to data at USASpending.gov.  It received a $300,000 grant in fiscal 2011 and $250,000 in both 2009 and 2010, for a total of $1.5 million.

The New York Post first reported Bronx Defenders’ cameo appearance in the rap video. That report, however, did not mention taxpayer funding through the Justice Department for the organization.

Bronx Defenders received $47 million from New York City over the past two years, the Post reported.

In a statement given to the newspaper, the lawyers group said it  had not been informed the video would show a police officer held at gunpoint.

The group said it had asked for the video to be pulled. As of today it remained on the website of its producer, worldstarhiphop.com, and on YouTube.

Photo: Screengrab from World Star Hip Hop

Photo: Screen shot from “Hands Up,” World Star Hip Hop

Uncle Murda is the stage name for New York rapper Leonard Green, 34, who was signed to a major-label deal by rap superstar Jay-Z.

Green survived being shot in the head as he sat in a parked car in New York in January 2008, according to his Wikipedia entry. He refused to cooperate with the investigation and blamed police for the shooting.

Maino is the stage name of Brooklyn-born rapper Jermaine Coleman, 41.  Convicted of robbing and kidnapping a drug dealer, Coleman began rapping during a 10-year prison term, according to Wikipedia.

Among other lyrics from their “Hands Up”:

Killin’ unarmed black men, makin’ mothers holla

And this what the government payin’  with our tax dollars?

(Crazy!) All these unjustified shootin’s

Then they call us animals when we start lootin’

Those kids ain’t had no gun and the police knew it

Jay need to talk to Obama or let me do it …

My lil’ homie told me he ready to ride

Ferguson was on his mind, he ready to fire

Staring at a cop who got death in his eyes

He want to kill me, I can tell, so my head’s in the sky

I’m stressing so I’m grabbing my MAC-11 [pistol]

Told my mama I’m’a end up on Channel 11

In one segment, the video shows a distraught woman, presumably the mother of a victim of police brutality, walking into the offices of Bronx Defenders.  She is comforted by someone who appears to be Jesus Perez, the group’s managing director of technology and evaluation.

Perez and executive director Robin Steinberg have not responded to emails seeking comment, including on whether Bronx Defenders helped finance the video.

Ben Duke, a Bronx Defenders board member, declined to say whether he thought his group should apologize for its participation in the video. “I am not in a position to comment,” he said.

Duke, a prominent corporate lawyer, promised to relay a request for comment to the organization.

A message left with the press officer for the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, which oversees the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant Program, has not been returned.

Various renditions of the sometimes obscene lyrics to “Hands Up” may be found online, including here, here and here.

Evan Gahr, an investigative reporter, previously was a press critic for the New York Post and a reporter for Insight magazine, a sister publication of the Washington Times.

  • Ken McIntyre, news director of The Daily Signal, contributed to this article.

The post Exclusive: Taxpayers Fund Legal Group With Role in Rap Video About Killing Police Officers appeared first on Daily Signal.

22Dec/14Off

North Korea’s Internet Access Is “Toast”

Image via Shutterstock

Even if the US had something to do with this, the government would probably never admit it, but I think it's doubtful. North Korea's network is very small by world standards, and it wouldn't require a nation state to take it offline with a simple brute force DDoS ...

22Dec/14Off

Waterboarding: ‘Repugnant,’ ‘Over the Line,’ and Perfectly Legal

After he was nominated to succeed Alberto
Gonzales as George W. Bush's attorney general in 2007, Michael
Mukasey told
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that waterboarding and
other "enhanced interrogation techniques" were "repugnant" and
"seem over the line." But exactly which line he had in mind was
unclear, because he refused to
say whether waterboarding was illegal. "Hypotheticals are different
from real life, and in any legal opinion the actual facts and
circumstances are critical," Mukasey
wrote
in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the nine other Democrats on the
committee. "Legal questions must be answered based solely on the
actual facts, circumstances and legal standards presented."

Today, having considered those facts, circumstances, and
standards, Mukasey unequivocally declares that
waterboarding does not amount to torture because it does not
inflict "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." Nor is it
"cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the former attorney
general explains in a recentWall Street Journal op-ed
piece, because that description is limited to actions that "shock
the conscience," the definition of which depends on "what is at
stake—like, say, national security." When national security is
invoked, it seems, a technique can be repugnant and over the line
without shocking the conscience. 

Mukasey adds that we know waterboarding is not really torture
because Navy SEALs and journalists have undergone it voluntarily,
and torture is "a procedure to which no rational person would
submit voluntarily." Leaving aside that debatable definition of
torture, Mukasey ignores the huge psychological difference between
submitting to waterboarding once for the sake of military training
or journalistic research—situations in which the subject can be
confident he is in no real danger—and being waterboarded repeatedly
against your will by captors with uncertain intentions. The fear
triggered in the latter context is bound to be much greater, which
is the whole point.

Mukasey suggests that waterboarding is not all that scary once
you get used to it. "9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
perhaps the worst of the three waterboarded terrorists, eventually
came to know the precise limits of the procedure and was seen to
count the seconds by tapping his fingers until it was over," he
writes. "Some torture." While many people would see counting the
seconds as a coping mechanism for withstanding torture, Mukasey
sees it as evidence that torture is not occurring. But in
minimizing the unpleasantness of waterboarding, he casts doubt on
the rationale for performing it. "Arguably," Mukasey writes, "what
broke [Mohammed] was sleep deprivation." And we know that forcibly
keeping someone awake for days on end is not torture because people
voluntarily pull all-nighters to complete important projects.

If the legality of waterboarding is as clear as Mukasey claims,
what are we to make of the letter that CIA lawyers wrote in July
2002, asking the Justice Department for "a formal declination of
prosecution, in advance, for any employees of the United States, as
well as any other personnel acting on behalf of the United States,
who may employ methods in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah that
otherwise might subject those individuals to prosecution." The
letter, discussed on page 33 of the Senate Intelligence
Committee's torture
report
, added that the "aggressive methods" contemplated by the
CIA would be prohibited by the ban on torture, "apart from
potential reliance upon the doctrines of necessity or of
self-defense."

As John Sifton, advocacy director at Human Rights
Watch, points out, this
acknowledgment "dramatically undermines the credibility of previous
claims by the Bush White House and the CIA that they did not know
whether the interrogation tactics were legal until they received
guidance from [the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel]."
The 2002 letter shows "the CIA knew their tactics were illegal
before receiving such counsel, but were seeking a legal cover—at
first, via an immunity-giving advance declination, but when that
failed, apparently the OLC memo." If the notion that brutal
interrogation methods such as waterboarding were illegal is
"demonstrably false," as Mukasey now insists, why were the CIA's
lawyers so worried?

22Dec/14Off

Don’t Try to Blame ‘Rhetoric’ for the Deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos

This is the man who killed Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. His name is not de Blasio.On Saturday, Ismaaiyl Abdullah
Brinsley took a bus to New York and murdered two police officers,
Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Since then, opponents of the
burgeoning movement against police brutality have been trying to

pin the blame
for the killings on the movement—and, even more,
on any political leader they consider insufficiently pro-cop.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani reacted to the officers' deaths
by
claiming
, "We've had four months of propaganda starting
with the president that everybody should hate the police." Former
New York Gov. George Pataki tweeted
that the slayings were the "predictable outcome" of the "divisive,
anti-cop rhetoric" of Attorney General Eric Holder and New York
Mayor Bill De Blasio. Pat Lynch, the combative chief of the city's
biggest police union, blamed Liu
and Ramos' deaths on "those that incited violence on the street
under the guise of protest," then declared that the "blood on the
hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the
mayor."

I don't think the mayor's office is actually on the steps. But
you get what the man is saying.

We've been
through this argument before
. For the last five years—heavily
from 2009 through 2011, more sporadically since then—pundits have
identified a (dubious)
trend of "rising right-wing violence" and then attempted to blame
it on rhetoric they dislike. More recently, we have been hearing
about an (also
dubious
) "war
on cops
," which again has been blamed on rhetoric that pundits
dislike. Sometimes we get
both narratives at once
.

This latest attempt to blame words for deeds is happening
against a new backdrop of mass protests against police abuses; and
the politicians now accused of inspiring murder are mostly
liberals, not conservatives. That changes the political dynamics of
the debate. But the core argument is still wrong. Here are three
reasons why:

1. Responsibility for a crime lies with the
criminal.
 It was Ismaaiyl Brinsley who decided to pull
that trigger two days ago, not anyone else. If Mayor de Blasio
had gone on TV Friday night and urged the world to "go cop-hunting
tomorrow," I could understand why someone would assign him partial
blame for Liu and Ramos' deaths. But of course he did nothing of
the sort, and neither did any of the other politicians being
accused of inciting the crime, from Holder to Obama
to Rand
Paul
.

When Scott Roeder killed the Kansas abortionist George
Tiller in 2009, several commentators tried to blame the
assassination on Tiller's many critics in the media and the
anti-abortion movement. The maverick Marxist Brendan O'Neill
then pointed
out
 what this criticism implied: that "public debate
should be watered down to the level of polite tea-party
disagreements, lest any borderline cranks be agitated or inflamed
by it." The same objection applies in Brinsley's case, except
that this time most of the alleged inciters are already
speaking in watered-down terms. (De Blasio's
great crime
, in his opponents' eyes, are some public remarks
about telling his biracial son "to take special care" around "the
police officers who are there to protect him." Not exactly fighting
words.) By this standard, we aren't supposed to criticize anyone at
all.

2. It's far from clear that the killer was even listening to
the alleged inciters' rhetoric.
Brinsley apparently invoked
Eric Garner and Michael Brown in an
Instagram post
before he headed out to kill, so the current
controversies about the police were clearly on the man's mind. But
he also had a long history of violent and mentally unstable
behavior, a fact that suggests that the issues at work here go a
lot deeper than any recent rhetoric he may have heard about the
police. The Daily Beast aptly
calls him
"a suicidal serial criminal who finally got his death
wish."

During the panic over right-wing violence, the perps often
turned out to have similar
histories
. When some of us suggested that this made it
difficult to blame someone else's speech for their violence, the
usual counterargument was that it actually demonstrated the dangers
of incendiary rhetoric: that words will not drive ordinary
Americans to take up arms, but they can give unstable people a
target and a feeling of validation. When
Jerad and Amanda Miller
killed two cops in Las Vegas earlier
this year, for example, David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law
Center
blamed the crime
on a "combination of radical antigovernment
views with personal problems."

I have several
disagreements
with this argument, but the biggest, as far as
Brinsley is concerned, is that we don't have any reason to assume
that any of the rhetoric people have been blaming for his murders
played any role in his thinking at all. It is absurd to assume that
Bill de Blasio's comments about his son would prompt a man to kill
some cops, and it's not clear anyway that Brinsley even knew about
those remarks. It's even less likely that he heard the genuinely
violent but more obscure anti-cop rhetoric
that has come from some of the movement's radical edges. A person
is perfectly capable of getting mad at the police without a
demagogue inflaming his passions. Brinsley spent two years in
prison, so it's not exactly unlikely that he already had a grudge
against the law.

3. Where exactly do you draw the line? If you're really
intent on blaming other people for Brinsley's crimes, how far are
you going to take that? If any piece of speech played a role in
directing Brinsley's anger, it was the cell phone video of Officer
Daniel Pantaleo killing Eric Garner. If it weren't for that
recording, hardly anyone would know Garner's name. But much as Pat
Lynch might love to blame that video for last weekend's killings,
he probably knows that any argument to that effect would open a can
of worms. The videographer, after all, was simply recording events;
the man whose actions made the video newsworthy was Pantaleo. Since
Lynch is intent on arguing that Pantaleo isn't even responsible for
the slaying he did commit, I doubt he'd want to risk
linking him to any slayings committed by someone else.

No: People like Lynch want to keep our focus on their foes.
Their baseless accusations are
tools in a political war
, and they're a tool we've seen
politicians use before. As I once
wrote
, it lets them

discredit mainstream as well as radical political
opponents. There was a turning point in the mid-'90s standoff
between Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican House
Speaker Newt Gingrich, a moment when the White House was able to
start setting the terms of the debate and the GOP went on the
defensive. In most accounts, the shift came when the Republicans'
willingness to "shut down" the federal government backfired during
the budget battle at the end of 1995. But the April bombing in
Oklahoma City and the militia panic that followed was at least as
important in shifting the grounds of the argument. They allowed
Clinton's supporters to play up the "extreme" anti-government
rhetoric coming from Gingrich's supporters in the talk radio right,
and to link it to the "extremism" of McVeigh and the
militias.

It may sound odd to say that New York's most liberal mayor in
decades is being put in Newt Gingrich's role. But that's what Lynch
and the rest are trying to do.

22Dec/14Off

Is North Korea’s Internet Under Cyberattack in Response to the Sony Hack?

North
Korea's Internet, such that it is, has gone "completely dark"
today,
according
to The New York Times. An attack,
perhaps in response to North Korea's suspected hacking of Sony
Pictures, is suspected but not confirmed. Via the
NYT: 

The loss of service came just days after President Obama
pledged that the United States would launch a “proportional
response” to the recent attacks on Sony Pictures, which government
officials have linked to North Korea. However, there was no
indication, or easy way of determining, whether the failure was the
result of an accident, an attack, or some action by the North
Koreans themselves.

Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research,
an Internet performance management company, said that North Korean
Internet access first became unstable late Friday. The situation
worsened over the weekend, and by Monday, North Korea’s Internet
was completely offline.

“Their networks are under duress,” Mr. Madory said. “This is
consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,” he said, referring
to a distributed denial of service attack, in which attackers flood
a network with traffic until it collapses under the load.

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation formally
named
North Korea as the culprit in a massive hack attack on
Sony Pictures, a movie studio which had planned to release The
Interview,
a comedy about two journalists sent to assassinate
current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Christmas day. Last
Wednesday, Sony pulled the film from release after theater owners
backed out under threat of violence. 

As Gawker
notes
today, however, there are some security experts who are
skeptical of the notion that North Korea is really behind the
attack, suggesting that it's entirely possible that an ex-employee
is behind the hack.

In other words, there's still an awful lot that's unclear here.
That includes whether anyone will actually get to see The
Interview.

Sony execs said over the
weekend that the film will be released somehow, although they
didn't offer any specifics. A New York Post report
suggested that Sony would release the film on Crackle, a streaming
video service. But a Sony representative
said
later that the report wasn't true, at least for the
moment. 

What's holding Sony back? Sony execs have said that the decision
to pull the film came in response to the decision by theater chains
to pull out. That excuse will be harder to maintain now that a

coalition
of 250 indie theaters has written a joint letter to
Sony leadership asking Sony to let members screen the film. Sony
has similarly indicated that it hasn't pursued digital distribution
because none of the major digital video providers have indicated
interest. That may be true of Netflix and Amazon, but it's harder
to make sense of that excuse when it comes to Crackle; Sony

owns the service

22Dec/14Off

Sotomayor Is Right: SCOTUS Gave Too Much Leeway to the Police in Heien v. North Carolina

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in
favor of the police in a Fourth Amendment case in which the
arresting officer's "mistake of law" led him to conduct an
erroneous traffic stop (and subsequent car search) based on a
non-existent legal offense. Put simply, the officer in Heien
v. North Carolina
stopped a car for driving with a single
busted brake light when it is not actually illegal to drive in that
state with a single busted brake light. According to the Supreme
Court, however, "because the officer’s mistake about the
brake-light law was reasonable, the stop in this case was lawful
under the Fourth Amendment."

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts compared his
pro-police ruling to a hypothetical case in which an officer stops
"a motorist for traveling alone in a high-occupancy vehicle lane,
only to discover upon approaching the car that two children are
slumped over asleep in the back seat." According to Roberts, in
that scenario, "the driver has not violated the law, but neither
has the officer violated the Fourth Amendment." Roberts applied a
similar line of reasoning to reach his conclusion in
Heien.

But those two scenarios should not be treated equally. In the
first one, the officer is mistaken about the facts, not
about the law. Because it is actually a crime to drive alone in a
high-occupancy vehicle lane, the officer's only error was in
thinking that a legitimate violation of a verifiable statute had
occurred. It therefore makes a certain amount of sense for the
courts to view that mistake as a "reasonable" one.

But something very different occurred in Heien. Here,
as Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her lone dissent, "police
stopped Heien on suspicion of committing an offense that never
actually existed." This was not a reasonable mistake about the
facts on the ground—it was a mistake of law made by the police, the
very same government officials whose central duty is the proper
enforcement of the law.

"One is left to wonder," Sotomayor wrote in dissent, "why an
innocent citizen should be made to shoulder the burden" of such
encounters with law enforcement. Sotomayor was right to wonder. If
ignorance of the law is no defense for the citizenry, why should
ignorance of the law now get to serve as a shield for the
police?

22Dec/14Off

In a Military Embracing Social Change, Troops Increasingly Identify as Independent and Libertarian

Shifts in social attitudes,
politics, and attitudes toward government are seeping from the
civilian world into the U.S. military. The military is quickly
adapting to increased tolerance toward gays and lesbians in
American life, expanding roles for women, and growing distaste for
the established political parties and the performance of the U.S.
government. And, like many Americans, soldiers, sailors, and
marines are drifting away from the major parties, increasingly
identifying themseves as independents and libertarians.

A
survey of active-duty armed forces personnel
among the
readership of Military Times finds that support for gays
and lesbians openly serving in the military rose from 35 percent in
2009 to 60 percent in 2014. Overt disapproval fell from 49 percent
to 19 percent in the same time.

Support for opening at least some combat-arms jobs to women rose
from 34 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2014, with opposition
falling from 43 percent to 28 percent.

So military personnel match civilians in their increasing social
tolerance and embrace of expanding opportunities for everybody.
Honestly, why wouldn't they when they're recruited from the same
population?

Likewise, the troops match their friends and relatives in
growing disgust with the way the government handles its
responsibilities. The country at large has
presidential approval
underwater and
opinions of Congress
sunk somewhere in the Mariana Trench.
Military personnel, who generally think they're underpaid,
undersupplied, and underappreciated say that neither major party
has their best interests in mind. Approval in the ranks for
President Obama plummeted from a weak 35 percent in 2009 to 15
percent this year.

And like other Americans, military personnel look for
alternatives elsewhere. A generally conservative bunch, Democrats
and liberals make up only about 8 percent of the poll respondents.
But support for the Republican is hemmorrhaging away, with members
of the armed forces increasingly identifying as independents and
libertarians.

As Brian Doherty
noted
in 2012, the libertarianization of the military began
several years ago. At the time, Ron Paul had raised from
active-duty servicemembers and Pentagon employees more than four
times the combined take of the other three Republican presidential
candidates. President Obama had better fundraising luck than the
other Republican candidates—taking in a bit less than half of what
Paul managed.

If I remember right, a couple of Reason luminaries have
written something or other
about the growing independent strain
(and role of libertarian ideas) in American life.

Then...

...and now.

22Dec/14Off

The 20-year Demise of a Blue State

swnt

Seattle’s Socialist city councilwoman, who got the minimum wage increased to $15/hr.

I left Washington state about 20 years ago for Arizona. A Washington native, I had become fed up with the left-wing politics of Seattle. A couple of years ago, I moved back to the Pacific Northwest. A lot had changed while I was gone, and very little for the better. The only “improvement” I noticed was more greenery everywhere. The environmentalists had gotten so many restrictions passed on logging and burning dense forestation that the Evergreen State had started to look like a jungle.

Everything else had gone downhill. The roads and traffic had become horrendous, especially in the Puget Sound area around Seattle, since there was no longer enough money to keep up with maintenance and expansion, and the left-wing politicians had prioritized mass transit over road infrastructure and planning. This is despite the fact that Washington has one of the highest gas taxes in the country, resulting in high gas prices. Republican legislators in the state side with the Democrats on many issues, including higher taxes for education and gas. Legislation is now being considered that would tax drivers per mile. Seattle has the eighth worst traffic congestion among large U.S. cities, even though it is only the 22nd largest city. Consequently, drivers have lost their reputation for being the nicest in the nation.

Driving in downtown Seattle is dreaded as much as driving in larger cities like Washington, D.C. and New York City due to congestion and parking. The Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, which has been under construction in downtown Seattle since summer 2013, making traffic a nightmare, was never approved in any general election or referendum, and has been the subject of multiple lawsuits. It is scheduled to be completed in 2016, but no one believes it will on time due to unions, and it is frequently compared to Boston’s corrupt “Big Dig.”

Read the rest of the article at Townhall

22Dec/14Off

RIP Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker, so much to say and not words enough to do the man justice. For the most part, I remember him as someone who could barely sing a lick but he always did so with great enthusiasm.

Youtube Video

Youtube Video

Thanks for the music and the great ride, Joe.

More: Joe Cocker ...

22Dec/14Off

Investigation into Overtime Fraud at Detroit Police Department Expanding

Detroit Police Department central districtA lawsuit by a former homicide detective at the
Detroit Police Department (DPD) alleging retaliation for blowing
the whistle on overtime abuse has sparked a wider investigation
into pay fraud at the DPD. The Detroit News
reports
:

The internal investigation was launched last month after
allegations surfaced of overtime abuse in the Homicide Unit,
according to information obtained by The Detroit News and confirmed
by Police Chief James Craig.

The charges included officers allegedly filing for overtime they
didn't work and writing up false subpoenas to appear in court so
they could collect extra pay.

The probe recently expanded into other units, Craig confirmed,
including Sex Crimes and the former Narcotics Section, which was
disbanded this summer amid another internal probe of alleged
wrongdoing.

It’s unclear how widespread the fraud is yet, or, for that
matter, just how much police overtime costs the city of Detroit,
mired in a budget crisis for years. That’s because, according to
the Detroit police union’s attorney, the department keeps poor
records on overtime. Michigan Capitol Confidential
reported
in 2012 that as other departments faced decreases in pay of $15.3
million, cops and firefighters saw a $13.3 million increase, even
while the city saw a drop in full-time “public protection”
employees.

Via
Michigan Capitol Confidential
:

Pension costs for police and fire union employees jumped $60.4
million in 2011 compared to the previous year, according to city
documents. The increase was mainly due to higher contribution rates
by the city due to poor market performance of pension fund assets,
the report said.

The city’s report on overall salaries and wages includes
overtime. Police and fire departments traditionally have triggered
large amounts of overtime during staff reductions, although it is
unclear if that is what happened in Detroit.

It’s becoming clearer.

Reason on Detroit.

22Dec/14Off

Reacting to killing

I hate Twitter, mostly for politics. I use it for work, for which it is quite useful. But for discourse about controversial topics, it is a horrid medium. And with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Twitter and other outlets such as blog comments have again shown themselves to be atrocious places to converse about such events.

There has been a great deal of angst and anger on the Right about how some have responded to the NYPD police officer murders. I don’t think it needs to be pointed out that there has been a not-insignificant drumbeat from “law and order” conservatives that Brown and Garner deserved it, etc. And I think at least some of the offensiveness from the Left in this situation is a direct response to that. They see the outraged response on the Right as verification that whites only care about murders when it happens to someone who’s not black. Is it all a cause/effect to the Right’s attitude? Probably not. But I’m quite certain that there is some component there.

The knee-jerk response to all of this is “People like Sharpton and Jackson and DeBlasio are responsible for the officers’ deaths because they are fostering an anti-cop mentality”.  Ben Domenech addressed this in his newsletter “The Transom” this morning:

Are politicians supposed to refrain from criticizing the actions of specific cops because it could contribute to a culture of disrespect for officers of the law? Of course not, any more than someone should refrain from criticizing any government official because it could create a climate of disrespect for such officials. Saying a military leader is bad at his job and ought to be fired for incompetence does not mean that all military leaders everywhere are incompetent or ought to be fired. But in a climate where the social viewpoint is increasingly collectivist, where tribal loyalties to class or creed or memetic affiliation are the most important definitional aspect of life, it’s to be expected that people make the mistake of exaggerating and overextending the actions of one member of a class to a whole. I distrust police officers generally, but I know that #NotAllCops are racist or corrupt, even in Washington, D.C. It would be unhealthy to think otherwise.

Criticism of something we disagree with isn’t a bad thing.  People DO that.  But, there is a need for all of us to think about what we say sounds like to those in “the other side” and stop saying stupid stuff just to fan the flames, and this is true on the Right and the Left.  Twitter not only enables it but encourages it, and a lot of the time people do it just to piss off someone else. And that is just wrong, no matter what part of the political spectrum you live in.

All of these events were unnecessary losses of life and as humans we should have sympathy for the families and friends of the victims and not try to score points because of what has happened.

Me?  I’m just tired of the always-on anger.  Take 3 steps back, take a deep breath, read some Scripture, calm yourself down and think about how the other person feels.

The post Reacting to killing appeared first on RedState.

22Dec/14Off

Vermont’s Single Payer Health Care Plan Failed For One Big Reason: It Cost Too Much

There are a number of reasons why Vermont's
proposed single-payer health care plan failed: It was too complex,
too ambitious, too difficult to achieve within the context of the
rest of the U.S. health care system.

But biggest reason was that it simply cost too much. The
financing wouldn't have worked.

As Vox's Sarah Kliff
reports
in a long post-mortem on the proposal, which Democratic
Gov. Pete Shumlin killed last week in a surprise announcement, the
final estimates indicated that the plan would have required the
state to raise an extra $2.5 billion in revenue annually. This is
in a state that typically only raises about $2.7 billion total each
year. In other words, it would have cost nearly the amount that the
entire rest of the state government cost—and that's presuming that
those estimates were accurate, and that the one-of-a-kind program
encountered no unexpected cost overruns. 

Raising that kind of money would have required significant tax
hikes—a payroll tax increase of 11.5 percent and a 9 percent income
tax increase. Even in liberal Vermont, with a governor who
campaigned on single payer and who was dedicated to the cause, that
was just too much. This was perhaps the best possible environment
for single-payer in the United States, and it failed. 

Kliff has spent a fair amount of time reporting on Vermont's
plans, and her
entire piece
is worth reading. This bit from the end, in
particular, is notable: 

"You'd think that, if there was any state where this could fly
politically, it should have been Vermont," said Matthew Dickinson,
a political science professor at Middlebury University. "But in
this case, the price was so big that even a state as solidly blue
as Vermont wasn't able to swallow it."

When I interviewed Shumlin in March, he said that whether or not
Vermont succeeded at its single-payer push would have huge national
ramifications. Back then, his state had the potential to serve as a
model. It could be what Romneycare was in Massachusetts: a template
for national reform. But if single-payer couldn't succeed in
deep-blue Vermont, Shumlin and others mused, how could it possibly
move forward anywhere else?

"If Vermont gets single-payer health care right, which I believe
we will, other states will follow," he predicted. "If we screw it
up, it will set back this effort for a long time."

I'm not sure this quite counts as a screw-up, exactly; faced
with the reality of the costs the plan would impose, Shumlin chose
to walk away. But I suspect that Shumlin wasn't far off in his
prediction, and that the failure of Vermont's plan will end up
keeping future single-payer plans at bay for quite a
while. 

22Dec/14Off

Rudy Giuliani on Brooklyn Police Shootings: It’s Obama’s Fault

How can you tell Rudy Giuliani is considering another run at the Presidency? When he starts saying really stupid things to appeal to the knuckle-dragging Tea Party base: Obama's 'Propaganda' Pushed People to 'Hate the Police,' Giuliani Says.

President Obama has engaged in "propaganda" encouraging people to "hate the police," ...

22Dec/14Off

A Secret Santa With White House Connections Brings Christmas Cheer to Sick Children

Some sick children in Texas just got the surprise of their young lives: Santa Claus dropped by the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas to hand out toys.

But this surprise visitor wasn’t just one of Santa’s legion of merry helpers. This was former President George W. Bush, looking like a jolly old elf indeed in his Santa Claus costume and beard.

Some might call the former president somewhat of a “Secret Santa,” because no media were called to cover the event.

“Guess who just came and gave Emily a Christmas present dressed in a Santa suit with Secret Service and all?!?!?”

In fact, the press didn’t catch wind of Bush’s stint as Santa, which apparently occurred Dec. 16, until reports surfaced Saturday after someone posted an image on Twitter.

According to The Daily Mail, Natalie Smith, whose daughter Emily recently underwent a heart replacement, wrote on Facebook:

Smith lost another daughter, Shayde, earlier this year to a rare heart disease called restrictive cardiomyopathy.  Emily had heart transplant surgery for the same condition, but her body began to reject the new heart.

Her girls’ condition prevented Natalie Smith from working. A GoFundMe page has been set up to post updates and collect donations for the family’s medical costs.

Five years ago, CBS News reported on the two sisters’ rare condition. See that report here:

In addition to his white beard and red suit and hat with trimming, Bush apparently arrived at the hospital in Dallas with Secret Service agents dressed as Santa’s elves.

No word on what was inside Santa’s wrapped presents, but there’s no question he brought holiday cheer to families during a difficult time.

The post A Secret Santa With White House Connections Brings Christmas Cheer to Sick Children appeared first on Daily Signal.

22Dec/14Off

NYT calls for prosecution of Dick Cheney

I’ll admit that I’m one of those Americans that Dick Cheney frightens. I also agree with comedian Christian Finnigan that he looks like the Penguin from the old Adam West Batman series (which is a delightful comparison and series overall). Still, while he may scare me, I fail to see what exactly he’s done that the New York Times editorial board would call for his prosecution over. Via Dylan Byers at POLITICO:

“But any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos,” the board continued. “There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.”

The calls from the Times and the ACLU and HRW come after the recent release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on U.S. torture practices, including a 524-page executive summary that detailed grotesque interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, hanging by the wrists, death threats, confinement in coffins and “rectal feeding.”

First of all, I can’t be the only person who sees the phrase “rectal feeding” and think first of a South Park episode, but I digress. Actually, I’m not sure it’s all that big a digression, considering this editorial is a parody in and of itself. The editorial board at the New York Times feels strongly enough about a partisan, largely unconfirmed, and completely pointless Senate Intelligence Committee report on “torture” of military combatants who condone, if not actively participate in, the murder of non-combatants (specifically women and children) that they would, weeks after the report was released, publish an op-ed about it in their paper.

Consider that the report was political theater to distract the public from the Jonathan Gruber testimony (which, admittedly, was political theater to distract conservatives from the full funding of Obama’s executive amnesty). Consider, too, that the New York Times has had weeks to come up with an editorial on this. Why publish it today, rather than, say, a few days after it came out. Hell, I strung together these thoughts in about fifteen minutes after reading Byers’ piece on this.

Well, as Byers points out, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) begin their “investigation” into the practices of the United States on military combatants/terrorists. The naming of Dick Cheney goes to the lead-in paragraph of this post – Dick Cheney is still the evil, no-good boogeyman of the Left and, by God, let’s do whatever we can to make sure he goes down in history as a monster.

Allow me to close, however, with a happier thought: When Dick Cheney took office, there were concerns over his health, which the media loved to report on (weird how much they reported on his heart condition while simultaneously saying he didn’t have a heart). As time went on, not only did he survive some issues, he seemed to thrive. If you or your family have a history of heart problems, ask your doctor if liberal tears are right for you.

The post NYT calls for prosecution of Dick Cheney appeared first on RedState.

22Dec/14Off

How New York Football Greats Salute Fallen NYPD Officers

Less than 24 hours after two New York City police officers were shot and killed in broad daylight Saturday, New York Jets player Nick Mangold and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin publicly honored the slain officers.

Mangold, a center for the Jets, sported a black NYPD baseball cap yesterday while walking into Metlife Stadium. The five-time Pro Bowler’s gesture followed the deaths of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in an execution-style shooting as they sat in their patrol car working overtime in Brooklyn.

Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl winner, displayed a more subtle tribute to the slain police officers during the Giants’ away game against the St. Louis Rams.

“We wore this because the New York Giants wanted to honor and mourn the assassination of the two New York City policemen that took place last night in our city,” Coughlin said after the game:

We also wanted to wear this pin to represent peace. Let’s hope that the voice of reason can prevail. Violence never solves anything. I realize there are issues, but solve them with nonviolent means.

Police said the shooter, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, killed the officers to exact “revenge” on law enforcement following the deaths of Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner of Staten Island, N.Y., in confrontations with police. Both men were black and unarmed; grand juries declined to bring charges in either case.

>>> 13-Year-Old Son of Fallen NYPD Officer Posts Heartbreaking Goodbye to Father on Facebook

Mangold told Yahoo Sports that after he heard about the shooting, he reached out to a friend with connections in the NYPD to get the cap.

“I’ve been here nine years,” the Jets center said:

Every one of those [police officers] that’s out there, they risk their lives every day. They go out there to keep the community safe, and for that to happen to those two guys, their families, that’s a raw deal.

“For that to happen to those two guys, their families, that’s a raw deal,” says New York Jets center @NickMangold.

Mangold’s statement came just weeks after five St. Louis Rams players made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture to protest Brown’s death before a Nov. 30 game. The players faced some backlash for their actions, and reports differ as to whether or not the team apologized.

When asked if he feared a similar response to his gesture, Mangold said he hadn’t thought about it.

“It didn’t cross my mind. Even if there was backlash, those families deserve support,” Mangold told Yahoo Sports. “I would have been happy to take it. I just wanted to do something to support them.”

Mangold’s salute to the NYPD earned him praise from 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whom the player supported in that campaign.

The post How New York Football Greats Salute Fallen NYPD Officers appeared first on Daily Signal.