Patterico's Pontifications

5/27/2022

Texas Dept. of Public Safety Official: “It Was The Wrong Decision”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:39 am



[guest post by Dana]

In a follow-up to the Uvalde massacre, Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said this morning that the wrong decision was made by officials to wait for more equipment and not engage with the shooter:

While a gunman slaughtered children inside locked adjoining classrooms in a Texas elementary school, a group of 19 law enforcement officers stood in a hallway outside and took no action as they waited for more equipment, a state law enforcement official said Friday.

“The on-scene commander at that time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said.

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that.”

The decision explains the lengthy wait between when officers first arrived to the school at 11:44 a.m. and when the gunman was finally shot at 12:50 p.m. The tactical team ultimately entered the locked classroom to confront the gunman using keys from a janitor, he said.

Here is a former active shooter trainer reviewing what is the standard, across-the-board protocol for law enforcement when at the scene of an active shooter, and also, what constitutes a “barricaded suspect” situation:

Ryan Searles, a security consultant with IMEG Corp and a former active shooter trainer, says the procedures are very similar across the nation.

“The primary goal of law enforcement during an active shooter is really to accomplish two things — one, stop the killing. And two, stop the dying…We learned from Columbine. You can’t sit outside and wait while kids are getting shot inside. You need to make entry right away, whether you’re a single officer or you’re waiting for your contact team,” Searles said.

But every scenario is different, and officers have to be ready to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

Though Searles is not privy to the mass shooting investigation in Uvalde, he said the training is standardized so that everybody can respond in the same way when mutual aid is called.

“An active shooter scene can change very quickly from an active shooter to barricaded suspect. As long as they make entry into a room and they’re barricaded, and no shots are fired, it’s now not treated as an active shooter event. It’s treated as a barricaded suspect,” Searles said.

hat’s when backup teams, like SWAT, are called.

“But as soon as a single shot is fired, it is a switch from a barricaded suspect immediately back to an active shooter, and you have to make entry. You can’t wait outside the classroom. You make entry right away, and you mitigate that threat,” Searles said.

–Dana

5/26/2022

Per Wall Street Journal: Frantic Uvalde Parents Handcuffed and Tased By Police While Outside of School (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:42 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The Wall Street Journal reports that parents who were waiting outside of Robb Elementary School while there was an active shooter inside, claim that they begged the police who were standing around to take action. This is absolutely damning. First, what happened outside of the school (Note: I’m going to quote heavily from the report because it is so mind-boggling awful):

The gunman behind the mass shooting at an elementary school here lingered outside the building for 12 minutes firing shots before walking into the school and barricading in a classroom where he killed 19 children and two teachers, authorities said…

Victor Escalon, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said he couldn’t say why no one stopped the deceased gunman, 18 year-old Salvador Ramos, from entering the school during that time Tuesday. Most of the shots Ramos fired came during the first several minutes when he entered the school, Mr. Escalon said.

DPS officials previously said an armed school officer confronted Ramos as he arrived at the school. Mr. Escalon said Thursday that information was incorrect and no one encountered Ramos as he arrived at the school. “There was not an officer readily available and armed,” Mr. Escalon said.

According to Escalon, here is the timetable of events. Note that a 911 call was placed just two minutes after the gunman began shooting at witnesses outside of the school:

Ramos shot his grandmother Tuesday morning and then used her truck to drive to Robb Elementary School, crashing the truck into a nearby ditch at 11:28 a.m…The gunman then began shooting at people at a funeral home across the street, prompting a 911 call reporting a gunman at the school at 11:30. Ramos then climbed a fence onto school grounds and began firing before walking inside, unimpeded, at 11:40. The first police arrived on the scene at 11:44 and exchanged gunfire with Ramos, who barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom. There, he killed the students and teachers.

It was at 12:40 – an hour later – that a Border Tactical Team got inside the school and killed the shooter.

With regard to the frantic parents outside of the school gates – who knew the shooter was inside with possibly their children this is the account from the Journal based on videos and parent/witness statements:

Videos circulated on social media showing parents confronting police outside the building while Ramos was barricaded in the classroom.

“The police were doing nothing,” said Angeli Rose Gomez, who after learning about the shooting drove 40 miles to Robb Elementary School, where her children are in second and third grade. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

Ms. Gomez, a farm supervisor, said that she was one of numerous parents who began encouraging—first politely, and then with more urgency—police and other law enforcement to enter the school. After a few minutes, she said, federal marshals approached her and put her in handcuffs, telling her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.

Ms. Gomez convinced local Uvalde police officers whom she knew to persuade the marshals to set her free. Around her, the scene was frantic. She said she saw a father tackled and thrown to the ground by police and a third pepper-sprayed. Once freed from her cuffs, Ms. Gomez made her distance from the crowd, jumped the school fence, and ran inside to grab her two children. She sprinted out of the school with them.

Videos circulated on social media Wednesday and Thursday of frantic family members trying to get access to Robb Elementary as the attack was unfolding, some of them yelling at police who blocked them from entering.

“Shoot him or something!” a woman’s voice can be heard yelling on a video, before a man is heard saying about the officers, “They’re all just [expletive] parked outside, dude. They need to go in there.”

After the confrontation ended with Ramos dead, school buses began to arrive to transport students from the school, according to Ms. Gomez. She said she saw police use a Taser on a local father who approached the bus to collect his child.

“They didn’t do that to the shooter, but they did that to us. That’s how it felt,” Ms. Gomez said.

For his part, Escalon says that “Our job is to report the facts and have answers. We’re not there yet”.

Q: How is it that the police were not compelled to do more than just form a perimeter around the site while an active shooter was killing any number of individuals in real-time? Why weren’t they obligated to act?

I cannot imagine the rage of these parents. And for any who were frantically waiting outside the gates and weren’t as fortunate as Ms. Gomez to be able to rescue their children, that rage and anguish must be a hundredfold.

ADDED: In light of frantic Uvalde parents desperately trying to rescue their children while the police stood idly by, and then being restrained, handcuffed, or tased, it’s pretty sickening to learn that some police officers went into the school to…rescue their own children. While I’m thankful their children were spared, what about the parents outside the gate who loved their children just as fiercely and wanted to rescue them just as much as the police officers???

I’m going to leave you with the sight and awful sounds of anguished parents who were desperate to get to their children:

UPDATE: Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez answered questions today from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about why the police did not engage with the shooter. Frustratingly, the short answer is “they might have been shot”:

Blitzer asked his guest if officers at the scene made the correct choice to wait for backup before they went after the gunman.

Olivarez said officers were inside the school quickly, and they heard gunfire when they arrived. They called for reinforcements, he said. The officers in the building waited for a special tactical team to show up as they isolated the shooter to one classroom.

“Don’t current best practices, don’t they call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on site?” Blitzer asked him.

Olivarez said the officers who arrived at the school quickly might have been shot had they attempted to take out the gunman alone. He said,

“The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots.

They are receiving gunshots. At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

I’m left wondering how many of those children could’ve been saved and survived their gunshot wounds had the police decided that the risk was worth it instead of leaving them trapped inside with a madman and his guns.

–Dana

In Georgia, It’s the Election Denier vs. the Republican

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Feels weird to say that.

It will be Kemp vs. Abrams in the state Abrams shrewdly dubs “the worst state in the country to live.”

Stacey Abrams refused to concede the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago, even after it was clear she had lost.

“Concession means an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that,” Abrams told supporters 10 days after Election Day, alleging persistent voter suppression allegations, though state officials certified the results. “Georgia still has a decision to make about who will we be in the next election. And the one after that. And the one after that.”

The next election has arrived, and she has another chance against Kemp, who on Tuesday defeated a primary challenger backed by former president Donald Trump in a landslide. Abrams has long sought this rematch, refusing some pleas to run for the Senate in 2020 and building a reputation as a leading advocate for voting rights.

This time, Ms. Abrams, when you lose, admit it.

5/25/2022

NRA Scheduled To Hold Annual Meeting In Houston Just Days After Massacre At Texas Elementary School (2nd UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:10 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Three days after the mass shooting in Uvdale, Texas that saw 19 children and two adults killed, the National Rifle Association will hold its annual convention in Houston:

Donald Trump is still scheduled to speak at an NRA meeting in Houston…The former president is set to join fellow Republicans, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Dan Crenshaw, at the annual NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum over the weekend.

The pro-gun lobbyist group is still intending on holding on the meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center from Friday to Sunday, despite the massacre at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Michael Heckman, CEO of Houston First, the government corporation that oversees the convention center, said he was not aware of any plans to cancel the event or change the schedule in the wake of the school shooting.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that the NRA meeting will be held in Houston as scheduled because if they were to renege on the contract, “it would open the city up to a number of lawsuits”:

“The convention has been on the books for more than two years,” Turner said during Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “It’s a contractual arrangement. We simply cannot cancel a conference or convention because we do not agree with the subject matter.”

The NRA’s website continues to promote the upcoming event:

The Exhibit Hall is open all three days and will showcase over 14 acres of the latest guns and gear from the most popular companies in the Industry…Make plans now to join fellow Second Amendment patriots for a freedom-filled weekend for the entire family as we celebrate Freedom, Firearms, and the Second Amendment!

After the massacre, the NRA tweeted this:

Meanwhile, Rep. Sheila Lee Jackson, who represents Houston in Texas’s 18th congressional district, has called on the NRA to cancel its event in light of the massacre. I rarely agree with her on anything, but I do agree with the representative on this: “It’s not the time” for the event to be held.

Also, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was all about bringing gun control measures to the floor today, announced that it would not be happening:

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told colleagues on the Senate floor Wednesday that he will not immediately bring gun control measures to the floor in the wake of two mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, because he doesn’t expect them to muster enough Republican votes to pass.

Instead, the Democratic leader said he will wait for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and other members of his caucus to try to negotiate a bipartisan compromise with Republicans on a measure that has a better chance of securing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

“There are some who want this body to quickly vote on sensible gun safety legislation, legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans,” he said. “They want to see this body vote quickly so the American people can know which side each senator is on …. I’m sympathetic to that, and I believe that accountability votes are important.”

But Schumer said he thought that bringing gun-control legislation in the immediate aftermath of Buffalo and Uvalde, where two lone shooters left a total of 31 people dead in the span of 10 days, would be fruitless because of staunch Republican opposition to such reforms.

As with Sheila Jackson Lee, I can’t remember agreeing with Schumer on much of anything, but I have to say I agree with him on this, regardless of his posturing:

“If the slaughter of schoolchildren can’t convince Republicans to buck the NRA, what can we do?” he said, referring to the National Rifle Association.

I believe the optics of the NRA holding their convention this soon after the shooting and this close to Uvalde are horrible. Nothing like rubbing salt into an unspeakably raw wound.

I don’t know what the answer is with regard to getting current measures on the books enforced and establishing new safety measures. We’ve discussed tightening up red flag laws, increasing wait time for purchase, universal background checks, more available mental health outreach and treatment, an armed presence at schools (including teachers/staff), etc. But really, unless Texas raised the legal age to purchase firearms, would any of the above measures have prevented the 18-year-old with no criminal record from legally purchasing the two guns, 375 rounds of ammunition, and a tactical vest? As I said yesterday, I’m gutted by yet another school massacre where small children who had just barely begun to live their lives are now dead. In perusing the internet, it remains shocking that some gun advocates seem to feel that the imposition of having to wear a mask or the thought of having Ruby Bridges Goes To School read to elementary students is cause for a much more immediate and bigger response than the massacre of 19 children. I don’t get it.

In the face of the Second Amendment, America’s romance and reverence for guns, the staggering proliferation of guns in the U.S., and an increasing level of hostility and anger as a result of social upheaval and the massive political dysfunction of Washington, at the very least, let’s start here:

UPDATE: As expected, protestgroups will be at the George R. Brown Convention Center where the NRA annual convention will be held this weekend in Houston. Several groups will be represented:

Ashton P Woods says they [NRA] are not welcome in his home town.

“These people are coming into our community. The city of Houston needs to kick them out,” said Woods, an activist and founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “We have to be just as tough about these things as they are.”

Woods is helping organize one of several protests planned just outside the George R Brown Convention Center…

The goal of the Black Lives Matter protest, Woods said, is to “get loud” outside while powerful speakers take the podium inside. Woods said the issue of firearms was particularly important to the civil rights group that primarily tackles issues of police brutality in America.

“Whether it be death by suicide, death by cop, death by mass shooter, we need to control the access people have to deadly weapons,” Woods said. “These things are interconnected.”

Outside the convention center, multiple counter-demonstrations are expected in Houston – especially in light of a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Hansen and Pecinovsky have organized an interfaith gathering that will include a silent march and a moment of reflection when organizers will read the names of those who died in Uvalde.

UPDATE 2: After facing pretty widespread criticism, it was announced that Texas Gov. Abbott will no longer be attending the NRA convention, but will instead be sending in a pre-recorded video address to attendees:

Abbott, 64, was originally slated to speak in person as the three-day event gets underway at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

But the Republican governor changed his plans after facing a widespread backlash for holding a fundraiser just hours after a gunman stormed into a Uvalde elementary school, killing 19 students and two teachers.

He will instead head to the site of Tuesday’s horrific school shooting to hold a press conference “on state’s ongoing efforts to support the Uvalde community.”

Also no longer attending the convention are several country music artists who were slated to perform this weekend.

And just this morning, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced he is dropping out of speaking at the convention after giving it “prayerful consideration”.

–Dana

5/24/2022

Another Horrific School Shooting Today (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:31 pm



[guest post by Dana]

This latest mass casualty incident took place in Texas, 85 miles west of San Antonio:

Fourteen students and a teacher are dead after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

The 18-year-old suspect, a student at Uvalde High School, is also dead, he said.

“He shot and killed horrifically and incomprehensibly 14 students and killed a teacher,” Abbott said during an unrelated press briefing.

The suspect also allegedly shot his grandmother before entering the school and again opening fire, Abbott said. He did not say anything further about her condition.

Abbott said the shooter — identified by law enforcement sources and the governor as Salvador Ramos — had a handgun and also possibly a rifle.

Additionally, law enforcement and the National Counterrorism Center don’t believe there is a “terrorism nexus” at this time.

Also, there seems to be uncertainty about the number of fatalities. While Gov. Abbott said 14 students and one teacher had been killed, a local hospital reported that two people were killed and dozens more were injured. It’s early days yet, so things are bound to change as new information becomes public.

This is just gutting. I really can’t imagine the horror these families must be going through today. Not even remotely.

UPDATE:

The death toll from a shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas rose to 18 children and 3 adults Tuesday night after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside an elementary school earlier in the day…Three people wounded in the attack are hospitalized in serious condition, Gutierrez told The Associated Press.

As a reminder, Robb Elementary School serves second, third, and fourth-grade students (about 7, 8, and 9 years old).

–Dana

It’s Kemp Buries Perdue Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Sorry, Mr. Donald the Trump. Not looking so good for you or your plans to install a flunky in Georgia who will steal the election for you.

Gee. That’s too bad.

5/23/2022

Big Media’s Motto: Anonymity for Our Friends, Unmasking for our Enemies

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



CJR has a piece on the NYT Pitchbot guy from Twitter:

Though his subject matter might suggest otherwise, NYT Pitchbot does not work in media or politics. He is a fifty-two-year-old math professor and father of two who describes himself as a “committed Democrat” of the “slightly hardcore left.” He is anonymous on Twitter, and asked to remain so for this story, citing personal and professional concerns. (CJR contacted him via email and spoke with him on the phone, verifying his association with the Twitter account over direct message. He shared his real identity with CJR, which we verified with two other sources.)

I’m glad they kept him anonymous since he wanted to remain that way. Funny how he gets that courtesy but the LibsofTikTok lady does not.

5/20/2022

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:47 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Republicans take the hit:

For the 2020 census, all states were not counted equally well for population numbers used to allocate political representation and federal funding over the next decade, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday.

A follow-up survey the bureau conducted to measure the national tally’s accuracy found significant net undercount rates in six states: Arkansas (5.04%), Florida (3.48%), Illinois (1.97%), Mississippi (4.11%), Tennessee (4.78%) and Texas (1.92%).

It also uncovered significant net overcount rates in eight states — Delaware (5.45%), Hawaii (6.79%), Massachusetts (2.24%), Minnesota (3.84%), New York (3.44%), Ohio (1.49%), Rhode Island (5.05%) and Utah (2.59%).

Still, the 2020 results stand in stark contrast to the findings from the bureau’s follow-up survey for the 2010 census, which had no statistically significant over- or undercounts for any state.

Second news item

Ukraine emergency aid package passed by Senate:

The Senate passed a $40 billion emergency aid package Thursday to buttress Ukraine with weapons and other military help as the Eastern European country fends off the Russian invasion.

The chamber’s 86-11 vote clears the legislation for President Joe Biden’s signature, just in time to keep the Pentagon from exhausting its power to send weapons to Ukraine from U.S. stockpiles. Top lawmakers in both parties insist the multibillion-dollar injection is just what Ukraine needs to bolster its defenses as Russia approaches its fourth month of conflict.

Third news item

Donors and local BLM chapters hardest hit:

Following the reveal of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s IRS tax documents, it’s now safe to say that there’s something questionable going on at the social justice nonprofit.

According to the group’s Form 990, first reported by Associated Press, BLM is worth nearly $42 million in net assets—after spending more than $37 million of the $90 million it previously had on high-end real estate, familiar consultants, ambitious grants, and more.

One of the more concerning situations revealed by the financial disclosures is the fact that co-founder Patrisse Cullors was the foundation board’s sole voting director, and held no board meetings, before stepping down last year. Under her leadership, Cullors authorized a six-figure payout to be given to her child’s father for various services, paid $1.8 million to companies owned by her relatives, and ensured that her brother, Paul Cullors, was one of the highest-paid employees of BLM.

This is yet another wave of bad news for Cullors, who has constantly denied financial impropriety, as she has previously tried to quell any growing concerns around her decision-making. These tax documents not only proved that Cullors lied about misusing some of the funds (such as hosting a birthday party for her son and throwing a private Biden inauguration celebration in the multimillion dollar property intended for activists and creators), but that she did so repeatedly.

Fourth news item

Yet another example of why parents nationwide are vexed at their schools and people who run them:

“I am going to give you an assignment given to my 15-year-old daughter at a local high school. This will be horrifying for me to read to you but that will give your perspective on how she must have felt when her teacher required her to memorize this and to act it out in front of her entire class,” said parent Kandra Evans at the meeting during public comment.

As Evans began to read a passage from her daughter’s assignment her mic was cut off by CCSD Trustee Evelyn Garcia Morales.

“This is a public meeting. I ask for decorum,” said Garcia Morales.

“If you don’t want me to read it to you, what was it like for my 15-year-old daughter to have to memorize pornographic material?,” Evans said.

According to a report in Newsweek, the parent was allowed her allotted time to complete her comments (without the profanity). Moreover, the outlet claims that “any suggestion that the material quoted in the meeting was part of the curriculum appears to be false and was instead created by students for the class.” (Did the teacher approve of it?) Regardless, the point remains that the student was required to read the assignment out loud to students and presumably the teacher as well, while the parent was not allowed to read the very same thing out loud to the *adults* in the room at the school board meeting because decorum. And if that’s an accurate account, then parents are right to be angry about the situation.

Fifth news item

Racism rears its ugly head in a noted private school:

The Roeper School is the oldest K through 12 school for gifted children in the country. But the school is facing a wave of controversy after students were given an assignment titled ‘an introduction to primates’ and former President Barack Obama’s photo was listed.

The assignment was passed out in the high school biology class earlier this month. The Birmingham private school prides itself on diversity and an alternative education, which costs up to $30,000 each year.

But this month, the curriculum passed out to students instructed students to pick from a gallery of photos labeled apes, monkeys, and lemurs. And there, in the second row, is former President Barack Obama.

FOX 2 obtained a photo of the school assignment from someone who was appalled at the racist messaging, which came from a teacher.

Sixth news item

Via Time123: 2000 Mules of malarkey (2000 Mules being the latest movie by Dinesh D’souza):

Read the whole thread.

Seventh news item

Who they have chosen to embrace says all you need to know about CPAC. P.S. Tucker Carlson was billed as special guest speaker…:

The Hungarian leader, Viktor Orbán, has told a conference of US conservatives that the path to power required having their own media outlets, calling for shows like Tucker Carlson’s to be broadcast “24/7”.

Orbán, recently elected to a fourth term, laid out a 12-point blueprint to achieving and consolidating power to a special meeting of the US Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), under the slogan of “God, Homeland, Family”, held in Budapest.

The Hungarian prime minister said that with his fourth electoral victory on 3 April, Hungary had been “completely healed” of “progressive dominance”. He suggested it was time for the right to join forces.

“We have to take back the institutions in Washington and Brussels. We must find allies in one another and coordinate the movements of our troops,” Orbán said.

He told Republicans…that media influence was one of the keys to success. In Hungary, the prime minister and his allies have effective control of most media outlets in Hungary, including state TV.

“Have your own media. It’s the only way to point out the insanity of the progressive left,” he said. “The problem is that the western media is adjusted to the leftist viewpoint. Those who taught reporters in universities already had progressive leftist principles.”

He portrayed the US media as being dominated by Democrats, who he claimed were being “served” by CNN, the New York Times and others.

“Of course, the GOP has its media allies but they can’t compete with the mainstream liberal media. My friend, Tucker Carlson is the only one who puts himself out there,” he said. “His show is the most popular. What does it mean? It means programs like his should be broadcasted day and night. Or as you say 24/7.”

Eighth news item

Russia hits back at Finland, which already has plans ensuring that they will be okay despite Russia’s move:

Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland’s state energy provider, the latest salvo in a growing confrontation between the two countries over the war in Ukraine.

Finland this week applied to join NATO, reversing a longstanding policy of military neutrality and angering Russia, which sees the eastward expansion of the alliance as a threat to its national security. Moscow had previously threatened “retaliation” if Finland joined NATO. The two countries share an 830-mile border.

The ostensible reason for the halt in Russian gas exports, though, was a dispute over payments that had been rumbling for weeks.

Gasum, the Finnish energy provider, said on Friday that Russia was suspending the supply of natural gas to Finland starting at 7 a.m. the next morning because the country had failed to comply with Moscow’s demand to make payments in rubles. The move comes just days after Moscow also suspended electricity exports to Finland, citing payment issues.

Ninth news item

Progressive prosecutor comes out in support of efforts to recall city district attorney:

Brooke Jenkins supports diversion programs for low-level crimes…as well as programs to shorten excessive sentences and free the wrongfully convicted. A Black and Latina woman, she deplores what mass incarceration has done to communities of color. She said that she appreciated how compassionate and reform-focused San Francisco was as a city. Thus, she said, she looked forward to working with Boudin when he came into office.

Yet, working on murder cases for him, she said, she came to question whether he was the right person for the job. He had decided what not to do and where to pull back, she said. But he had not figured out how to fight the crime the city was facing. “Chesa has refused to switch hats,” she told me. “He maintains the outlook or the mindset of a public defender. His view is that crime is just a part of life, something that we all have to endure and deal with. It’s never going to go away. No amount of punishment for any offender is going to change what happened, even in a murder case.”

She worried that this posture discourages people from reporting offenses against them. She also worried that it disrespects the victims of violence—a personal issue for her, after her husband’s cousin was murdered in the summer of 2020. “I don’t think he’s willing to listen to those Black voices,” she told me. “He believes, in his mind, that he knows what’s best for them.”

MISCELLANEOUS

An absolutely vibrant painting by Ernie Barnes recently made a big splash:

The unexpected star lot of last week’s Christie’s 20th century auction was The Sugar Shack, the most famous painting by Ernie Barnes. The 1976 work went for $15.3 million, or an astonishing 76 times its high estimate of $200,000.

A celebration of Black joy, the painting depicts an enthusiastic crowd of men and women with elongated limbs, seemingly carried away by the music as they dance the night away.

“The painting transmits rhythm, so the experience is re-created in the person viewing it,” Barnes, who died in 2009, said in an interview with the Soul Museum. “To show that African Americans utilize rhythm as a way of resolving physical tension.”

Have a great weekend!

–Dama

5/19/2022

Russian Military Analyst Boldly Says The Quiet Part Out Loud: …The Whole World Is Against Us … We Need To Get Out Of This Situation

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:18 am



[guest post by Dana]

Three months into a humiliating war, a well-known Russian military analyst and veteran shocked his fellow guests on state-controlled television by offering an honest, no holds barred assessment of Russia’s current status in the unprovoked war with Ukraine while simultaneously giving Ukraine a much-needed gift of hope:

“The situation, frankly speaking, will get worse for us,” Mikhail Khodaryonok, a retired Russian army colonel, told the “60 Minutes” talk show on Rossiya-1 TV program hosted by Olga Skabeyeva, who’s renowned for her pro-Kremlin stance.

“You should not swallow informational tranquilizers,” Khodaryonok told the host as he warned that Ukraine was in no way near being beaten by Russia, and that Kyiv could mobilize and arm a million people if it wanted to.

The report notes that Khodaryonok had warned against invading Ukraine. Russia has faced several humiliations in the face of Ukrainian determination to push back the invaders. As a result, Russia is now focused on Eastern Ukraine. Khodaryonok also noted the difference between the invading force and the everyday Ukrainians willing to take up arms to defend their homeland:

Khodaryonok emphasized that even if Ukraine had to rely on hundreds of thousands of conscripts that only had rudimentary military training, what mattered is that their hearts would be in the fight, and that would not bode well for Russia.

“The desire to defend one’s motherland in the sense that it exists in Ukraine — it really does exist there and they intend to fight to the last,” Khodaryonok said before he was interrupted by Skabeyeva who was trying to downplay the effectiveness of Ukraine’s forces.

“We need to treat this million Ukrainian soldiers as a reality in the nearest future,” he said.

I’ll leave you with Khodaryonok’s inarguable observation that left his fellow guests stunned:

“The main deficiency of our military-political position is that we are in full geopolitical solitude and — however we don’t want to admit it — practically the whole world is against us … and we need to get out of this situation”…

**It’s so shocking to hear such blunt unvarnished truth coming from a Russian veteran (and on state television), that I’m left wondering if Khodaryonok will soon disappear, or at the very least be compelled to publicly recant his observations? I suspect it’s only a matter of time…

Here’s Gary Kasparov confirming Khodaryonok’s concerns about the willingness of Ukrainians to fight for their homeland:

Moreover, in a recent report about the Mozart Group, which is currently in Ukraine to help train troops, the organization, which is made up of special-operations vets and whose two goals are: “to increase the Ukrainian military’s capability and sustainable capacity in a manner consistent with US foreign policy and to protect vulnerable civilians,” group leader Andy Milburn offered his observations on Russian and Ukrainian troops. Unsurprisingly, his views were similar to Khodaryonok’s when it came to troop resolve and morale, or the lack therein:

In areas where Ukrainians have fended off the Russian offensive, what do you think has allowed them to be successful?

Morale and resolve have been key components of success — but the terrain has been an important factor in enabling Ukrainian forces to hold their ground.

In the north and urban regions, the Russian proclivity to remain on the roads has played against them. Outside the cities in the north, the ground is either thickly wooded or swampy, and this has allowed the defenders to infiltrate easily through Russian lines to strike armored columns from the flank.

What’s your assessment of the Russian military’s performance so far? Is there anything it did well, and to what would you attribute its struggles?

Russian units here have proven to be singularly unimpressive. Almost without exception, they are poorly trained, ill-disciplined, and lack cohesion. Their tactics belong to a bygone era — little understanding of combined arms and no infantry integration with their armored attacks.

**I wrote this post yesterday afternoon, and this morning checked for any updated information on Khodaryonok. Sure enough, he is backpedaling on his assessment:

Regardless of his corrections, the damage is done and we all know it. Especially Ukraine. Also, Khodaryonok gets to live another day.

–Dana

5/18/2022

Abject Failure: White House Disinformation Panel Likely to be Scrapped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:03 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Here is thus far the best political news of the week:

After a wave of backlash, the Department of Homeland Security is considering shutting down its just-created Disinformation Governance Board, which was officially tasked with combatting false narratives around domestic terrorism and human trafficking along the border, but which was widely interpreted as having a much broader brief to monitor and possibly curtail disfavored political speech.

Just three weeks after its inception, the disinformation board’s operations have been “paused,” multiple anonymous DHS officials told the Washington Post. DHS reportedly decided to shut down the board entirely on Monday and its director, Nina Jankowicz, tendered a voluntary resignation letter on Tuesday. But DHS officials quickly called Jankowicz to give her the option to stay on while the Homeland Security Advisory Committee determines whether to shut down the board entirely.

Beyond the potential for Orwellian behavior from a government board tasked with determining what is legitimate political opinion and what comprises “disinformation,” the selection of Ms. Jankowicz as director was a completely avoidable error that the White House nevertheless blundered straight into. A fellow (but not a fella) at the Wilson Center, an ostensibly nonpartisan research center but one which receives almost a third of its funding from the taxpayer, and an alleged expert on Russia and Ukraine, Ms. Jankowicz has also distinguished herself for her insider dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story, her weird feminist musings which require her to concoct largely implausible scenarios of male boorishness to make her points, and her curious penchant for making up really weird songs and sharing them with the public.

The collapse of this ill-considered initiative has naturally disappointed the Biden Administration’s amen corner in the media, with the increasingly-shrill Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Post taking to her keyboard to huff about the unfairness of it all:

[W]ithin hours of news of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the very forces she dedicated her career to combating. The board itself and DHS received criticism for both its somewhat ominous name and scant details of specific mission (Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it “could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn’t”), but Jankowicz was on the receiving end of the harshest attacks, with her role mischaracterized as she became a primary target on the right-wing Internet. She has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.

[. . .]

Jankowicz’s experience is a prime example of how the right-wing Internet apparatus operates, where far-right influencers attempt to identify a target, present a narrative and then repeat mischaracterizations across social media and websites with the aim of discrediting and attacking anyone who seeks to challenge them. It also shows what happens when institutions, when confronted with these attacks, don’t respond effectively.

Odd that Ms. Lorenz never bothers to cogitate on why Ms. Jankowicz, with her background in what Ms. Lorenz characterizes as “multiple nonpartisan think tanks and nonprofits,” would have drawn particular ire from “far-right influencers.” Could it be because Ms. Jankowicz’s online presence indicated nothing so much as a committed Democrat who viewed her mission as promoting the conventional center-left Washington wisdom, no matter how staid and fetid it has become? It’s not as if Bidenism, a less confident and thus more malleable version of the smug assuredness of Obamaism, has distinguished itself at all over the past sixteen months.

Ms. Lorenz argues that the board which Ms. Jankowicz was appointed to lead would have had no authority to declare any news stories as “true” or “false” and would have no regulatory power to threaten ISPs or media outlets, yet it’s a certainty that the board would exert an influence similar to that of a Politifact or any of the other gate-keepers who get to determine why a mostly true claim from a conservative source is wrong about some picayune item while a mostly incorrect claim from a progressive source has yet to be disproven. Since when has a Washington DC board hewed strictly to its mandate and not instead attempted to increase its reach well beyond its charter?

In any case, we are left to hope that this “pause” is actually the death-knell for the Biden Administration’s “disinformation governance board.” Like so much of what this Administration has proposed, it’s an idea that might sound vaguely practical in theory — at least to the media/academic/bureaucratic axis that runs the Democrat Party these days — but is so clearly open to manipulation and abuse that any thinking American who prizes personal liberties and a humble role for government would immediate recognize as a colossally bad idea.

ADDENDUM: I see that over at Powerline Steve Hayward points out a few more peculiarities in the WaPo’s coverage that I overlooked, like the standard reliance upon unnamed “experts” and the typical headline which announces what the paper really thinks about all of this. Indeed, as with most Taylor Lorenz pieces there is no shortage of elements to criticize.

– JVW

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