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Glad to read the French police managed to successfully storm the hostage locations with minimal loss of non-terrorist life. One starts to worry when one sees pictures like this:

Emergency Services Attend Further Hostage Situation In Kosher Deli

I’m really hoping that’s just how the camera angle looks and that cop isn’t actually pointing his rifle at the head of the other cop keying his mic. Either way, nice shooting on the part of the French Police.

UPDATE: Ooops… I thought these were Gendarmes, but the decal on the hood says “Police Nationale,” who are the other French national police.

Quote of the Day: Charlie Hebdo Edition

From Richard Fernandez. To be honest, I’m haunted by this conundrum:

One of the notable things about the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris was how swiftly it was carried out. “It lasted five minutes,” said one witness. The cops were already there — guarding the newspaper offices. Two of the cops were killed.

The assailants gained admittance by forcing a cartoonist to enter the door security code at gunpoint. A large percentage of people — maybe nearly everyone — would have done the same thing, yielded to that threat, in a moment of fear. A certain smaller percentage, perhaps 2 to percent, would for some reason refuse; and refuse unreasonably without quite knowing why. Which of the two groups one belongs to nobody knows until the day.

Read the whole thing. I would think that an outfit as threatened as Charlie Hebdo would have anticipated a scenario where a code is entered, but where an enterer could indicate it was entered under duress. But that would probably require more depth of defense than 21st century French society is capable of providing. I still want o know whether the police assigned were armed police. I’ve heard multiple reports, I don’t know how credible, of police responding, but not having weapons to deal with it, could not confront the situation.

It Can Definitely Happen Here

There are plenty of jurisdictions in this country that are just about, if not more gun free than Paris. Jim Geraghty notes:

We watch chilling scenes like that and wonder whether a small group of Islamist terrorists could do the same here. One might figure that the much higher rate of gun ownership among Americans makes it likely that any attempted attack would face armed response from ordinary citizens much quicker. (Two policemen were among those killed in the Paris attack.)

But this was an attack on a satirical magazine, in the country’s biggest city and capital. How many people in media offices in New York City or Washington, D.C. own guns and carry them with them to work?

I have little doubt the Islamists are noting the non-reaction to brunch interruption in polite society in the blue model cities. A similar attack in New York City would be just as effective.

Happy New Year

I know I’m jumping the gun a bit, but let’s face it, we celebrate the New Year when the clock ticks over, and then nurse hangovers on the actual holiday. I’m glad to see 2014 go, and am optimistic that 2015 is going to be pretty good.

No champagne for us tonight. I don’t really like champaign. Back in November I made a Belgian Wit and a German Hefeweizen. Both have been in secondary for a few weeks, so today I kegged the brew and force carbonated it. It’s chilling and settling now.

I’m only mildly satisfied with both. The hefeweizen lacks body, and is too watery. I probably should have fermented it at a higher temperature. I also had problem with yeast viability pitching. I’ll have to make some more attempts at this style. The Wit is better, but I think I’d prefer a more citrusy profile. The bitter citrus rinds they sell in the home-brew shop aren’t quite up to making the right flavor, I think.

Try, try, again

So, we have had two cases recently of police officers who committed homicide in the line of duty and were later not indicted by grand jury. And we have heard a clamor that they should have been tried anyway, that the grand jury process in both cases was unusually deferential to the officers (in contrast to the process in which a regular citizen’s actions are judged by a grand jury), and that “it should be settled in court!”

My question for those people clamoring for a trial is: What makes you think the result will be any different, save that a vaster amount of money will be spent?  Regardless of the unusual deference given to the officers in the grand jury process in these cases, an actual trial in front of an actual jury will give them even more deference. It only takes a majority of a grand jury to indict, but it takes a unanimous petit jury to convict. And the usual financial and temporal difficulties experienced by  defendants not employed as police officers will not apply – their defenses will be paid for not out of their own pocket, but by the same taxpayer who is paying to prosecute them. The prosecutor will be the same one who presented the case in front of the grand jury and supposedly softballed it.

In short, what do they expect from a trial that they didn’t get from the grand jury at a much lower expense and effort?

(The cynic in me says “another 6 months of media frenzy.”)

Criminal Everything

This isn’t gun related, and it’s not really a case of true over-criminalization (though it easily could be if the state wanted to go after the family for truancy caused by the school), but it’s still something that pisses me off about the nanny culture getting its panties in a twist over any type of non-conformity.

If you’re a school administrator, there are some battles worth fighting. Students who fight, drug or alcohol abuse that impacts the school environment, and maybe even a few slaps on the wrist for overly revealing clothing. Then there are things that aren’t actually disruptive to anyone other than a tight ass who feels an absurd need to punish those who do not engage in groupthink. The principal of Muscle Shoals, Alabama appears to be one of those people.

He kicked out a girl for dying her hair red. Yup, red. Not purple, not blue, not green, not glittery silver, just red.

For the record, those other colors were all colors that I dyed my hair in high school without ever disrupting the school. The closest you might consider a disruption was at the end of my junior year when the school newspaper used me for a trivia question and asked what my normal hair color really was, and no one could remember so they kept asking me throughout the day. Yup, that’s the extent of “disruption” that hair color caused.

Her mother seems to understand how to distinguish between actual problematic behavior in teens and a bottle of red hair dye:

“I dyed my hair when I was her age. I was excited it was that, [that] it wasn’t a tattoo that she wanted or piercings, or something. There are so many girls that do it and there could be worse things. As long as she’s a good student, hair is the least of my worries.”

I framed things the same way to my mom when she was initially skeptical of my blue hair experiment. I could do drugs. I could engage in risky sexual activity. I could get myself arrested. I could “rebel” in any number of harmful ways. Instead, I was an honor student goodie two shoes who rarely did anything against the rules and I just dyed my hair. Hair that grows back. Hair that can be dyed back.

Even though I said at the beginning that this isn’t related to gun issues, I think I need to take that back a bit. The principal’s inability to handle a student who dyes her hair red is engaged in the same kind of thinking of not knowing how to distinguish between a real disruption or threat and something that’s just a little bit outside of the lines of “group” behavior that leads to actions like Six Flags banning veterans wearing military-themed shirts from their parks because the military shirt has a firearm. I’m not sure how you fix that kind of stupid by people who simply refuse to think critically and use a little common sense.

On the St. Louis Riots

Charles C.W. Cooke thinks a lot of folks on the right are having the completely wrong reaction:

Whatever its cause, it is indisputably true that the United States has a problem with blacks killing blacks. And yet this has absolutely nothing to do with the question at hand, which is: “Did a police officer unjustifiably kill an unarmed black man in Missouri?” It is feasible, is it not, to be worried about the internecine violence in America’s inner cities and to want to get to the bottom of an allegedly unwarranted shooting? So why the conflation? After all, whether or not it is intentional, reacting to a community’s grief by raising an entirely separate topic smacks largely of distraction — of reflexively throwing up a roadblock to what is a legitimate line of inquiry in the hope that the subject might swiftly be changed. 

This is exactly right. If the officer in question did, then he ought to be held accountable for it. I don’t know the whole story, There’s a strong movement beginning on the more libertarian leaning portions of the “right” or “conservative movement” or whatever you want to call it, that is becoming increasingly sympathetic to the idea that there are some cops that run roughshod over the communities they serve and are never held properly accountable for it.

But I’ve never understood the tendency to react to injustice by cutting off your right leg to show everyone how angry you are. If rioters were burning city hall, or overturning police cars, I still wouldn’t condone it, but I’d understand. At least that’s where the people are that wronged you. Reacting to tragedy by destroying your own neighborhood is a reaction that baffles me.

The alleged circumstances surrounding the shooting are certainly suspicious, but there needs to be an investigation. Unlike citizens, police are often allowed to shoot fleeing suspects (whether that’s right is another question). But shooting someone who’s actively surrendering is murder. Even if it was a mistake (booger hook on the bang switch), it’s still manslaughter. But that’s not to say everything is as advertised. These are matters for investigators, prosecutors, and if the facts support it, ultimately a jury.

James Brady Passes Away

News is breaking today that James Brady died at 73 years old. As most of you know, he’s the man that the Brady Campaign is named after.

I honestly don’t have much to add since I don’t remember the assassination attempt (I was only 3 months old), and that’s interesting to consider when you look at the Brady Campaign branding. For many of their post-Newtown followers, today’s news articles may be the first time they are hearing about the context of the name.

Creating Child Porn to “Prove” Child Porn

My outrage meter was off the charts yesterday with something that wasn’t gun-related, but it is related to the issue of freedom and the out-of-control state.

In Northern Virginia, a teen boy’s girlfriend sent sexy pictures of herself and he sent one back. Now they want to charge the kid with felonies for child pornography and are trying to “prove” it’s him by creating their own collection of child pornography to compare it against. When the response by the prosecutor and the cops is to think, “hey, we should haul a 17-year-old boy to a hospital and give him a shot to force an erection so that we can take nudie pictures of him all hot and bothered,” it’s time they need to reconsider their choices in life.

I’d also like to point out that the fact that they aren’t bringing the same charges against the 15-year-old girlfriend appears to be a little sexist.

I’m just curious though why there isn’t someone in the life of DA Claiborne Richardson – a friend or family member – who hasn’t sat down with him and said, “Really? Really? Giving a teen boy a forced erection and taking naked pictures is how you want to be remembered for all of history? Making a kid a felon for showing his girlfriend a video of his d*** that she’s probably already seen in real life many times if she’s sending dirty pictures of herself is what you consider an effective use of the justice system? Don’t you think it’s time to reconsider your life and how out of touch you are with reality if you think this is a perfectly reasonable course of action?”

The Meaning of Memorial Day

I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day and take some time out to remember what the day is about – those who have fallen while serving our country.

Here’s a NYT piece that I highly suggest reading today. You might discover you have a little something in your eye that causes them to well up a bit at a few lines, or maybe not.

One of my favorite genealogy blogs puts this in the very real description of her fourth great grand uncle who was one of the first in her family to die for the freedoms we so value today because he died in the Battle of Trenton. He had no wife and no descendants, so he was almost forgotten to history except for a single mention in a pension application by his brother. It’s very touching to see that sometimes these little bits of history do have meaning.

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