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On August 15, 2014 a Texas Grand Jury indicted Governor Rick Perry on two felony counts.  These charges have nothing to do with bribery, as the Governor said he thought while speaking in New Hampshire.  They are basically an abuse of power charge against the Governor.  It happened something like this.

Rosemary Lehmberg the Travis County District Attorney with the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was arrested and convicted with DWI.  This outraged the Governor so bad, he publicly threatened to veto the funding for the Public Integrity Unit unless Lehmberg resigned her post.  When Lehmberg refused to resign, he did veto the funding for her unit.

Lehmberg is a Democrat who was elected by the Travis County electorate.  Coincidently, the Public Integrity Unit was investigating some of Perry’s cronies at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas at the time he sought to force her out, and replace her with his own appointee.

Let us be clear.  Texas is a Red State.  Travis County on the other hand is a Blue and progressive County.  So, the national media immediately painted this as “sour grapes” and declared the indictment as frivolous.  But there are some things that have not been clearly reported by the national press.

Even though Travis County is a Democratic county, there were no Democrats involved in the case.  The Grand Jury was called by McCrum, a respected conservative former federal prosecutor.  Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison once recommended McCrum for the job of U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. McCrum could have dismissed the complaint. Instead, he took it to a grand jury.

Even before McCrum was appointed, the case went before two Republican judges who could have dismissed the case before it even started.  Neither of these judges saw fit to dismiss the case, and the second judge was the one who appointed McCrum as Special Prosecutor.

Another issue in this case is that Perry remained silent when two different Republican district attorneys were previously convicted of DWI.  One hit another vehicle and it was his second offense.  But, Perry didn’t see any need for them to step down from office.  So, why all of the outrage in this case?

Some, even on the left, are saying the indictment is an attack on the Governor’s right to veto.  That is not the true anymore than if the Governor vetoed a bill in receipt of a bribe.  As it was said, you may have the right to vote, but you don’t have the right to “sell” your vote.  Using a veto threat in order to force a public official to resign is just as egregious.

It is fascinating to see the national media kind of blow off this indictment as political games, while the two biggest papers in Texas are taking the charges very seriously.   Jeff Cohen, of the Houston Chronicle, and Keven Ann Willey, of the Dallas Morning News, the state’s two largest dailies, both of which have editorialized in support of seeing the investigation proceed:

The Chronicle wrote that the indictments “suggest that the longest-serving governor in Texas history has grown too accustomed to getting his way when it comes to making sure that virtually every key position in state government is occupied by a Perry loyalist.” The Morning News editorial board stated: “It’s in every Texan’s best interests for the charges against Perry, whatever your view of them, to traverse the entire judicial system as impartially as possible.”

Investigative journalism is supposed to be the keystone of the media.  Unfortunately, the national media doesn’t seem to be very interested in that process anymore.  Investigative journalism costs money and is expensive to produce.  The national media seems more interested in sound bites that are less expensive to produce, but still bring in ratings and money.

If it wasn’t for investigative journalism, we may have never gotten to the bottom of Watergate.  I am not comparing this to Watergate, but the lack of investigative journalism by national media is puzzling at best.  Before any judgement of this case is made by media and/or pundits, we must let the case run its course.  It may turn out that Perry will win the case and be cleared of any wrongdoing.  On the other hand, a Grand Jury in his own state determined there was enough evidence to proceed with a trial.

I guess if we really want to know the exact nature of the case we will have to depend on local Texas reports and not the national media.

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The right-wing war hawks are revving up again.  The usual actors are calling for a “big war plan” against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.  Heck even Paul Ryan said that the U.S. military needs to “finish [ISIS] off because we will either fight them here or we will fight them there,” adding that the deployment of ground troops to Syria or Iraq or wherever should not be “off the table.”   Not to be outdone, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Obama “is becoming derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”

The President has already assigned about 1,000 troops into Iraq as advisors.  The right-wing says that isn’t enough and more “boots on the ground” are needed.  Of course they complain that we didn’t keep a military presence in Iraq when we pulled our troops out.  Of course, they fail to mention that Iraq refused a treaty that would have kept troops there.  As a result, we could not keep troops in Iraq because the Iraqi Government told us they didn’t want us there.

When the problems in Syria kicked off, the right-wing was all for bombing and putting troops in Syria to help oust Assad.  But, just like in Iraq, they didn’t have an end game for after Assad was kicked out.  It was that lack of an end game in Iraq that led to the mess that is occurring there now.

President Obama recently has ordered surveillance planes over Syria to gather intelligence.  The war hawk Washington Post editorial board takes that to mean we will soon be shooting in Syria.  But, their advice is a little different from Graham’s.  The U.S. needs to launch a war on the cross-border Iraq-Syria theater and find partners: “Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq, the Iraqi government if it can become more inclusive, what is left of the Free Syrian Army.” That should be real easy to do with a few phone calls. “Aiding them does not require a U.S. invasion,” the editorial continues, “but it will need ‘boots on the ground,’ as Mr. Obama already has acknowledged by sending close to 1,000 special forces back to Iraq. They will be needed for training, to assist in air targeting and perhaps more.”  Aren’t “boots on the ground” the same as an invasion?

The White House’s main concern, at this point, doesn’t seem to be about getting involved in Syria — it’s about “how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad,” as the New York Times writes.  As we know, you can’t have a nice little war without boots on the ground too.  But, there is a big problem with all of this war talk that no one seems to be talking about.  How are you going to pay for it?

President Clinton left President George W. Bush a surplus budget.  Two wars later we are $17 Trillion in debt mostly due to the cost of the wars that were not paid for.  Additionally, we are a war-weary country.  Our troops have spent their blood in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We know that the VA is  a mess and veterans are still having problems getting their benefits including health care and disability ratings so they can get their pensions.  Yet, the war hawks are calling for more war across international borders.  You know the same kind of borders that they claim Russia is breaking in the Ukraine, which he is.

It is amazing to me how the only “veteran” who is calling for more war is John McCain, and he should know better.  Regardless of what you hear from other forums, military personnel are not all gung-ho to go to war.  We are the ones who pay the price for war.  We would rather be a tool used to prevent war rather than a tool to force it.

I would like to think that all of these war hawks would encourage their own children and/or grandchildren to sign up for the military right now.  Maybe, they wouldn’t be so quick to send our troops into another war.  How about Sarah Palin telling Bristol she should join up as her patriotic duty?  Or Lindsey Graham tell his children or grandchildren to sign up.  I say that knowing full well that will never happen.  War hawks want a war, they just don’t want their families involved in them.

They like to keep it to the “little people” like us.  My father served in WWII and the Korean War.  I served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.  My son served in the Marines during the second Iraq War.  My grandson is going through the process to enlist in and serve in the Navy.  There are a lot of reasons why we have all served.  Mostly it is because we love our country.  Unfortunately, these war hawks don’t feel the same responsibility to serve their country.

I don’t know if we will be forced to join in a war against ISIS or ISIL whatever they call themselves.  But, if we are, it must first be voted on by the full Congress.  We must make sure that every single member of Congress either buys into another war or goes on the record against it.  And, it must include a way to pay for it!  We also must make sure that these veterans will be properly taken care of when the fighting is over.  Something that this country has failed miserably at for generations.

It was once said that war is hell.  It is!  I urge the President to force a vote on this issue in Congress.  Even if it is a bombing campaign.  There can be no doubt in November who was for and who was against military action in a foreign country.  I have no doubt that the men and women in uniform will do their job whatever the outcome of this debate is.  It is time for Congress, and especially the war hawks to do theirs first!

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School is beginning.  As we know, there have been a lot of pieces about college rape.  Unfortunately, there have been too many fluff pieces that actually make the victim out to be the guilty party.  This phenomenon has made talking about rape even harder than it has always been.  Now Bloomberg has joined the chorus of men being taken advantage of by the rape issue.

Their headline declared that the hookup culture was waning “amid assault alarm.”  They seem to think that there is a massive hookup culture that is the root cause of these rape allegations.  But, Last year, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that less than 30 percent of college students had more than one partner in the previous year. Which about equals data from surveys taken over the last twenty years. This means, as Time’s Maia Szalavits noted at the time, college students “aren’t hooking up more than they ever were, or even more than their parents did.”

Not to be swayed by these facts, the Bloomberg piece says:

Sex and relationships are always tricky terrain for college students. Those arriving this year are finding schools awash in complaints and headlines about sexual assault and responding with programs aimed at changing campus culture that has been blamed for glorifying dorm-bed conquests, excusing rape and providing a safe haven for assailants. For many young men, it’s an added dimension in a campus scene that already appears daunting, said William Pollack, a Harvard Medical School psychologist.

Pollack said a patient recently told him about making out with a girl at a party. Things were going fine, the student said, when suddenly a vision of his school’s disciplinary board flew into his head.

“‘I want to go to law school or medical school after this,’” Pollack said, recounting the student’s comments. “‘I said to her, it’s been nice seeing you.’”

And here again is the trouble with how we talk about sex, consent and sexual violence in the United States. There are so many ways to flirt and have really enjoyable casual sex without being predatory, but we never talk about them. Part of the problem is that the importance of listening to the person you are interested in having sex with isn’t being taught in schools.  Nor is being alert to non-verbal cues.  So we get a vacuum about relationships and healthy sexuality.  That vacuum gets filled by wackos like George Will, Caitlin Flanagan and the people on Fox News who can scream the loudest saying that much of what is called sexual assault is actually just “regretted sex,” a product of the ambiguities of the hookup culture.

But it is more than just a lack of proper education in schools.  It is down to pop culture as well.  It is also down to the antiquated religious beliefs of man’s entitlement!  The very idea that a man is entitled to whatever he wants, and a woman’s place is to be subordinate to a man, is at the heart of this problem.  How can we expect men to behave properly when they are subjected to years of this “a woman is subject” to a man theory?  It has been proven that men who objectify women are more likely to coerce a woman into having sex and/or raping them if they don’t submit.

During my life I have heard all kinds of “definitions” of what it is to be a man.  It is rare that any of these definitions include the phrase that a “woman is an equal” in life.  I have been married for a long time.  Yes, I do sometimes say “my wife.”  But, I never mean that she “belongs” to me or that she is “property” of mine.  She has been a partner in life.

Women are not objects.  They are not property.  They are people who deserve the same consideration that men deserve.  It is stupid pieces like Bloomberg that have men basically viewing their female peers as rape bombs just waiting to explode and ruin their lives. “Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders,” according to one of the men interviewed for the piece.

The Bloomberg piece is mostly framed to support the idea that women cry rape and that asking men to assume any responsibility to prevent sexual assault is asking too much.  Of course, the Bloomberg piece also doesn’t mention that rape in committed by men.  Rape is a violent crime against a person.  It is not something that is an entitlement because a woman is supposed to be subordinate to a man.

I wrote once before that if you asked a man what he would do if his daughter or wife was raped, you would probably hear something like “I would kill the bastard!”  But, if ask you the same man what he thinks about his son being charged with rape, you would probably hear something like  “She asked for it”, or “The bitch probably had it coming!”

This is the attitude that needs to be changed before rape is treated as the violent crime it is.  This is the attitude that makes the victim the guilty party in a rape case.  This is what it looks like when women are treated as objects and not as people!

 

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With the advent of the FOX News Network, and I do use the term ‘News” loosely, there has been a lot of talk about how things have gone from bad to worse.  Especially considering that FOX has a tendency to cleanse things to their liking to prove their point.  This is hardly new information.  And, FOX is not the first of the so-called “conservative” networks on TV and Radio that are guilty of this.

It is not unheard of that both sides are trying to cherry pick the points they want to expose.  It is very easy to take a quote, pick out the parts you like or dislike, and make those small points out to be major problems.  When this type of reporting is done, that leads to misinformation rather than informing the public.  I admit that both sides are guilty of such practices.  However, the length that FOX goes in this is remarkable considering that they not only cherry pick the points they want to make, they then demonize anyone who points out that is what they are doing.

But, FOX is not the leader in this either.  Limbaugh has been lying to his listeners since Reagan did away with the policy of allowing opposing views on any news point.  It used to be that if Limbaugh said something that another group disagreed with, his network was required by law to air an opposing view on the same topic.  Reagan did away with that law, and the lying moved to new heights.

Throughout the past elections, there has been talk about the public being uninformed.  There is a lot of talk about low informed people going to the polls and basically voting against their own interests.  An example are white poor people who continuously vote for politicians who want to take away the very social safety nets these poor people depend upon.  They vote for these politicians against their own interests because the politicians tell them that their plight is the fault of those “other” people.  And, that is what the poor white people want to hear.

This leads us to the mess in Ferguson, MO.  As I have written before, I am opposed to the violence that has occurred there.  Looting and rioting is not the answer to the shooting and killing of a black man who was unarmed.  However, the nice people at FOX seem, at least to me, to want this incident to continue.  It is my opinion that they are helping to foster the atmosphere that usually leads to trouble.

Many of the FOX “reporters” and pundits are making statements like the victim may have deserved to be killed.  They are leaning towards their opinion that the police can never act badly and that the shooting was justified.  Instead of reporting on the facts of the case, they are more interested in reporting that the New Black Panther Party has a couple of their members there.  As if that makes everything the police have done and are doing justified.

When the Ferguson Police released a security video showing a man who looks like the victim robbing a store of a box of cigars, FOX went on the rampage basically saying “see, he isn’t innocent.”  It was much later that the Ferguson police stated that the officer involved in the shooting was unaware that Brown may have been a suspect in the robbery. FOX did not back off though.  They are still saying that the shooting may have been justified.

They keep bringing up the fact that Al Sharpton is in the area.  They keep bringing up that people like Louis Farrakhan have made comments against the shooting.  They keep bringing up that the New Black Panthers have people there.  They even go so far as saying that the reporters who were arrested in a McDonalds deserved to be arrested.  Their argument is that they did not “obey” the police order quickly enough or that videoing them in the restaurant provoked the police.  For a network that claims to be a “News” network, that is a remarkable thing to say.

This is a perfect example of how so-called news reporters can lie and mislead the viewers into believing something based on totally unrelated information.  Rather that reporting the facts, they look for side stories that show the victim is the one to be blamed.  They are actually using the defense too often used by rapists and their lawyers.  The victim wanted or deserved what happened to them.

However, when the “offended” person is white, they call them patriots.  Remember Cliven Bundy?  Here is a freeloader who owes the government about a million dollars for illegally grazing his cattle on government land, and FOX called him a patriot.  Worse, the man in the picture lying flat on the ground of an overpass behind concrete barriers pointing a high-powered rifle at Federal Agents, they call a patriot.  The difference in these cases is that in the second, the government was acting on court orders.  Yet, the criminal was a patriot.  In the first case, a young black man was shot and killed by a white officer.  That makes the victim not a patriot, but a criminal who deserved what he got.

When people hear lies enough, they begin to believe them.  When people already believe that Brown was guilty of something, then the lies are even easier to swallow.  FOX news plays to the hate and bigotry that already exists.  I won’t go so far as to say they make things up, but they do emphasize the points to justify the bigoted beliefs that the victim was wrong.

It used to be that “fair and balanced” meant that all sides of a story would be explored.  That the truth, no matter what it turned out to be was the primary focus of news reporting.  That meant that all sides of a story had to be reported.  FOX News has perverted that phrase of “fair and balanced.”  They have made it to be whatever they deem to be fair, and balanced has nothing to do with reporting the news.

I don’t agree that most Americans are low informed.  I do believe that they are misinformed on purpose for political points.  That is not reporting, it is propaganda.

 

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I have often scoffed at Bill O’Reilly.  Actually, that is not hard to do.  It seems every time he opens his mouth, something stupid comes out of it.  But, I must confess, I am beginning to have pity on the self-anointed prophet.  I am not a doctor, so I cannot say for sure what is going on in his poor little brain.  But, whatever it is, he definitely needs help.

He had a conversation with Carl Rove on his show Wednesday night.  As I watched the clip, I was stunned that even Carl Rove seemed somewhat bemused by what O’Reilly was saying.  O’Reilly was actually calling for the U.S. to build a “Berlin Wall” on the southern border.  He didn’t actually call it a Berlin Wall, he called it an East German Fence.  He apparently knew that using the words Berlin Wall may have caused pace makers in his viewers to stop working.

He went on to say “I was there and I was there for it coming down — the wall coming down in Berlin — and I was actually there on the scene,” “Nobody could get through that fence, all right? Nobody. It was a formidable obstacle.”  He further justified his claim by saying that the Israelis have built a similar fence to “keep out terrorists”.  Then he said  “We haven’t done that … That’s mistake number one.”  He then suggested that we need to put the National Guard at the border to “stop the madness” there.

Okay, let’s look at the East German Fence that O’Reilly seems to love so much.  First, the Berlin Wall was built not to keep people out, but to keep its citizens in.  It wasn’t so formidable that people weren’t able to escape East Berlin.  Actually, thousands of people managed to get past the Wall in order to gain freedom in West Germany.

Secondly, it was a formidable fence especially when you consider that there were “watch towers” positioned all along it with armed guards stationed there with orders to “shoot to kill” anyone trying to get over the wall.  Even so, there were still people who tried to get over or under the wall with that threat hanging over them.

Maybe in O’Reilly’s warped brain this is where the National Guard comes in.  I wonder if he is suggesting that we build our own version of the wall, place watch towers on it with armed National Guard members in them with orders to shoot to kill anyone trying to come over the fence into the U.S.  Here is an arm-chair patriot who has railed against Communism right up to today, advocating that we emulate the East Germans and build a “formidable” fence on our border.

As I said, I am not a doctor.  But, it seems to me that poor Bill has lost his mind!  Maybe Bill is suffering from dementia.  Maybe he has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Maybe he has just lost it altogether.   I think it is time for Bill to seek medical help for whatever is ailing him.

As a veteran, it is absolutely appalling to me that anyone in the country would suggest we emulate the ruthless East German government and build a new Berlin Wall.  Even I didn’t think Bill was that stupid.  There must be a medical reason.

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Republican War Mongers are beating the war drums again.  They want us to redeploy to Iraq.  A group calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are making headway in the country.  There is a growing fear there that their next move will be against Baghdad.  Of course, according to the war wing of the Republican Party, this whole mess is the President’s fault.  They are decrying the fact that President Obama pulled our forces out of Iraq.

What they fail to mention in all of this hoopla is that the President did try to get Iraq to sign a mutual defense agreement which would have kept some troops in Iraq for just such cases.  The Iraqi government refused to sign the treaty.  They wanted all U.S. troops out of the country.  Part of the reason was because they wanted to continue to keep the separation between the various sects alive.  They are now facing the consequences of that policy.

They didn’t want to share power.  They didn’t want to even recognize the other side of these conflicts.  Now, their policies have risen up an bitten them in the face.  As a result, McCain is running his mouth about how we should “bomb Iraq” all over again.  His bromance partner Lindsey Graham is saying we should put troops back on the ground there.

Once again, all of the dire consequences of an illegal war is jumping up against us again.  We should never have invaded Iraq in the first place.  We should never have totally eliminated the Iraqi Army as we did.  The problems facing Iraq are multiple.  There has always been sectarian fighting in the country.  As a matter of fact, if the western powers had taken these sectarian differences into account when they “formed the boundaries” of the country, it is possible that none of this would have happened in the first place.  But, oil played the major role in determining the boundaries of Iraq and many other mid-eastern states that were formed after WWI.

To make matters worse, as least here at home, the news talk shows are rolling out the same war-mongers who started the mess in the first place.  They are asking the liars for advice on how we should react.  David Gregory invited Paul Wolfowitz on Meet the Press last Sunday to ask just that advice.

Wolfowitz, as deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, was one of the chief visionaries and supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And he got just about everything wrong, from the cost of the war to the presence of WMD. And he doesn’t particularly care.  In an interview with the Sunday Times last March, Wolfowitz made the argument that even though they got it wrong on WMD in 2003, everything they said was happening (but wasn’t) would likely have happened later. “We would very likely either have had to go through this whole scenario all over but probably with higher costs for having delayed, or we’d be in a situation today where not only Iran was edging towards nuclear weapons but so was Iraq and also Libya.”

Of course, Mr. Wolfowitz was justly rewarded by Bush for his wrongness.  He nominated him to the presidency of the World Bank. While at the World Bank he violated ethics rules and caused a scandal that paralyzed the institution. He was forced to resign after governments around the world called for him to be fired.  So, after everything he has touched in the last decade has turned into an international disaster, David Gregory thinks he is the right person to ask advice on the Iraq mess that he initially helped to create.

He isn’t alone in this bizarre phenomenon either.  L. Paul Brenner, the former special envoy to Iraq, who also was the architect of dismantling the Iraqi Army post-invasion, argued for military intervention in an op-ed granted by the Wall Street Journal.  “Of course Americans are reluctant to re-engage in Iraq.  Yet it is President Obama’s unhappy duty to educate them about the risks to our interests posed by the unfolding drama in Iraq.”

Of course others are howling at the moon over this crisis too.  All of the former Bush associates are running their mouths.  All are calling for more bombing, more troops on the ground, and more war.  The thing that really bothers me in all of this, is why are these idiots still being called on to voice their opinion?  These are the very same people, that should have been tried for war crimes.  They did after all invade a sovereign nation on false pretenses.  That is what is commonly called “waging a war of aggression”.  Yet, the mainstream media keep trotting them out like they are experts in foreign policy.

Maybe something needs to be done.  Maybe Iraq needs help in this mess.  But, rather than a knee-jerk reaction of sending in troops to spill blood again, let’s at least have some grown-up discussions about all of the options this time.  We need to figure out the best way to handle this because we are also winding down in Afghanistan.  What we do in Iraq will foretell what will happen in Afghanistan if it too falls into disarray when we leave.

Unfortunately, the right-wing war-mongers won’t shut up.  Their simple philosophy is to start an armed conflict.  If it turns into chaos later, that is just another reason for more armed conflict.  But, don’t look for any of them or their sons and daughters to be involved on the ground.  That task falls to “others” not the elite.  I still hear then presidential candidate McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.”  His tune has only changed at the end so now he sings “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq.”  What the hell, it is only one letter off.

 

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I am not sure whether Sean Hannity has gone completely off his rocker, or if he thinks backing law breakers and calling them heroes is a great ratings stunt.  Since conservatives have always billed themselves as “law and order” people, it has to be one or the other.  There is no other explanation for his behavior recently.

The first example could almost be explained away by his zeal against anything having to do with the Federal Government.  We all remember how he tried to make Cliven Bundy a national hero standing up to government overreach.  To follow his logic on that case, all you had to do was forget that Cliven Bundy was a freeloader making profits off of the taxpayers.  But, his rants on air almost seemingly to dare someone to take a shot during the “standoff”, was bizarre even for him.

It seemed like he was itching to have someone get shot so he would have a bigger story.  Especially if that shot came from a Federal Agent.  Then he could rage on this for at least a year and raise his ratings.  Maybe that is what happens when you are beat in the ratings by Rachael Maddow and demoted by your boss to the 10PM time slot.  Plus, you have to backtrack from your present hero, Cliven Bundy, when he proves himself to be nothing but a racist.

But, his latest hero is even more disturbing than the racist Cliven Bundy.  His new hero?  Minnesota homeowner Byron Smith.  Smith was convicted on April 29 of two counts of murder for shooting two teenagers who broke into his house.  The defense tried to use the “castle doctrine” as defense for his crime.  The jury didn’t buy it.  Maybe this is the reason:

On April 29, Minnesota resident Byron Smith was convicted on two counts each of premeditated first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Haile Kifer, 18, and Nick Brady, 17. Brady and Kifer were killed on Thanksgiving Day 2012 after breaking into Smith’s home. 

While homeowners have broad latitude in defending their residences from intruders, a jury believed that Smith went too far. Prosecutors compared Smith’s actions on Thanksgiving Day to the setting up of a deer stand. After spotting a neighbor he believed had previously burglarized his house, Smith moved his car to make his home seem unoccupied and then waited in his basement “with a book, energy bars, a bottle of water and two guns.” 

Smith also set up an audio recording which captured what transpired. After breaking a window, Brady came down the basement stairs and was shot two times. Smith was then heard saying, “You’re dead,” before firing a third shot into his face. He then put Brady’s body on a tarp and moved him to another room. 

Moments later, Smith wounded and then killed Kifer execution-style with a shot under her chin.

On his show, Hannity dismissed the murder convictions, claiming with exasperation, “They broke into the guy’s house.”   One of his guests put up a mild objection while another claimed, “The guy should get a medal of freedom for what he did.” Geraldo Rivera objected to the execution style coup de grâce but admitted that he would have shot them too, after which Hannity happily exclaimed, “You’re becoming a right-winger!” And then they all shared a hearty laugh about the whole thing. 

In Montana Markus Kaarma opened fire with a shotgun into his darkened garage in Missoula, Montana, early on Sunday, killing 17-year-old Diren Dede of Hamburg.  Again the defense say they will use Montana’s “castle doctrine” as a defense.  Kaarma, a 29-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter, told police that while watching on a video monitor he had seen a male in his garage.

Throughout the years, there have been hundreds of self-defense arguments for killing an intruder.  Even before the so-called “stand your ground” laws, it was possible to legally kill someone breaking into your house.  In both of these cases, the victims were in fact, either committing a crime of breaking and entering, or trespassing.

But, there has been one factor in all of these laws that specifically says that you must believe that you or someone else is in imminent danger of great physical harm or death before using deadly force.  The jury in Minnesota found that Smith pre-planned his murders.  Neither he nor his defense even discussed whether or not the teenagers he killed were armed.  They simply broke into his house after he made it appear no one was home.

The case in Montana is a bit different.  But, I cannot see where Mr. Kaarma can justify using deadly force just because he saw a male in his garage.  He didn’t try to stop the teenager, he simply pulled out his shotgun and killed him by firing into a “dark garage”.  It will be up to the courts to decide if he could reasonably argue that he felt “a threat of great bodily harm or death”.

I am not against gun ownership, nor am I against self-defense.  However, I am against using these “stand our ground” and “castle doctrine” laws to simply give license to anyone to shoot someone just because of a crime.  Gun ownership demands responsibility.  It is not a license to just shoot someone without justification.

I am sure that Mr. Hannity will soon try to start up the bandwagon calling Mr. Kaamar a hero too.  After all, the teenager was in his garage.  What he was doing there, we will never know because he was shot dead, not held until the police arrived.   There is a definite flaw in any law that allows someone to shoot first and ask questions later.

It is time we rethink these laws.  It is time we come up with better definitions for when and when not we can shoot an intruder.  I do understand that sometimes it may necessary to use such force.  There are some very bad people out there.  But these laws are making it too easy for people to shoot first.  Is that the society we are becoming?

 

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