Zimmerman had a problem. Burglars were breaking into units in his gated community. Statistically, they were more likely to be white, but that's another story.
Whoever they were, Zimmerman was on patrol, and he kept calling the police to investigate all of the suspicious looking black kids he saw. The police did their usually thorough job of investigating burglary ... a felony crime that can carry a life sentence in Florida.
That's right, they barely investigated at all.
"Fucking punks, they always get away." And now you know why. The cops can't be bothered to investigate burglary, a capital crime in years past. Why? What is more important than protecting citizen's property from thieves?
Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates, according to a report released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report also found that marijuana arrests now make up nearly half of all drug arrests, with police making over 7 million marijuana possession arrests between 2001 and 2010. "The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Billions of Dollars Wasted on Racially Biased Arrests" is the first-ever report to examine nationwide state and county marijuana arrest data by race.
"The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color," said Ezekiel Edwards, director of the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project and one of the primary authors of the report. "State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost."
The findings show that while there were pronounced racial disparities in marijuana arrests 10 years ago, they have grown significantly worse. In counties with the worst disparities, Blacks were as much as 30 times more likely to be arrested.
I learned of this when I saw a story in my local paper, the Gainesville [FL] Sun. It showed blacks to be six times more likely to be arrested for pot possession in Alachua County . . . higher than the national average disparity reported by the ACLU. I'd give you the link, but the story is now archived and behind a firewall.
Discuss . . . starting with last Friday's video.
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Every stretch of coast in Florida has a name. The Emerald Coast is around Pensacola. The Sun Coast is around St. Petersburg. The Treasure Coast is Palm Beach. I grew up in Brevard County. Brevard County is the Space Coast.
Where I went to school, you had a choice. You could watch Mercury, Gemini, or Apollo spacecraft lift off on television. Or you could go outside and watch them directly. They were 35 miles away, but you could still see them. My father was pumping gas in 1986, and watched the Challenger explode.
My father was an engineer who worked for a government contractor. He worked with a government engineer, a civilian with the Department of Defense, and together they built a string of telemetry antenna's that stretched from Merritt Island, into the Bahamas, the lesser Antilles, the South Atlantic and South Africa.
This civilian DOD engineer had a son who I grew up with. From the moment he drew his first breath, until he left home, every single calorie that crossed his lips was paid for by the United States government -- just like me.
As a son of the space program, he was fascinated with flying. He wanted to become a pilot with the Air Force, but his eyesight was bad. He had to settle for being a navigator, but settle he did. Being a highly intelligent young man, he was able to gain admission to a prestigious engineering school, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering -- and extraordinary difficult course of study, in case you're wondering.
His education was paid for by an ROTC scholarship. In payment for his education,,the government then paid him to serve as a navigator on air force jets like the B-52. He wound up spending 20 years in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Which means that from the day he was born until he almost 45 years old, he never spent a single dollar he didn't get from the United States government. He can literally claim to a be a creation of the United States government, which government spent literally millions of dollars on his education and training. Indeed, the government started spending on his prosperity years before he was born, when it sent his father to engineering school on the GI bill.
This friend of mine, who grew up with me watching rocket ships leave the earth from Cape Canaveral, occasionally complains about having to pay taxes.
Meanwhile, on the other side of tracks, the government has spent much less of his tax money mostly just keeping poor, uneducated, kids alive. Where he and his parents enjoyed things like FHA and VA mortgages to help them become home owners, poor folks get Section 8 rent subsidies . . . subsidies that help other middle class slum lord wannabe's pay the mortgages on their rental properties. He and his parents were given very expensive educations, and put to work in good paying government jobs.
What investment have we made on the poorest among us.
That is the write up. If you'd like to see the video, you know what to do.
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Cross posted at Working Man Radio. If you like this diary, recommend it, like the video and then share it.
It's one of those perennial questions raised by rightwing ideologues. "Why should the rich pay higher marginal taxes?" Flat taxes are said to be "fair," as opposed to "redistribution" which is "stealing."
For today's podcast, we offer the simple obvious argument for the simple justice of progressive taxation, especially with respect to the estate tax. We start with the question of what exactly the Walton sisters, as an example, did to earn their fortune?
Is it really harder to push your way out of a rich woman's vagina?
As for why the Walton should pay more, that's simple. They use more government services.
Local police protects Walmart's goods from thieves.
Walmart uses interstate highways to transfer tons of goods to their stores.
Walmart tracks it's inventory, and moves money around using satellites and communication infrastructure built at taxpayer expense.
Last but not least, the United States Navy protects the sea lanes between China and the Walmart store near you.
The argument is simple . . . and you need to use it everytime you hear your favorite conservative complaining about how "unfair" taxes are to millionaires.
As usual, the video is much more entertaining than the dry write-up. Enjoy.
And make your morning drive faster with our daily audio podcast available at Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
Cross posted at Working Man Radio. Please recommend this diary, like the video, and share it with your friends.
The other day, diarist Will Smith wrote an open letter to "white anti-racist activists." Here is the money quote . . . at least for what I want to talk about, today.
However, in my sensitivity about race, I realize that I have been insensitive to those white people who do not partake in and who refuse to adhere to this system of white supremacy. They refuse to be a part of the racist culture that is so pervasive in our society.
Let me first say, to the extent that I qualify as an "anti-racist activist," I appreciate the kind words. But I really must confess to something.
To the extent that I might be an "anti-racist activist," it is not primarily for anyone else's benefit. My activism is about nothing more difficult to understand than my desire to create the kind of country I want to live in. Not only do I dislike the ugliness of bigotry, I realized many years ago, that bigotry is just simply bad for us.
You have only to consider the south before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Before that landmark legislation, the south was nothing short of a third world dung heap. It was a stagnant backwater, ruled by some of the most corrosively violent people in history. The south was by far the poorest region of the nation, and no white person in the south appeared to have the slightest interest in changing that.
It was only after the south ended such absurdities as colored drinking fountains and segregated lunch counters, that capital started flowing to the south. The prosperous new south didn't exist until the Ku Klux Klan was driven, at the point of rifles pointed by the 101st Airborne [among others], back under the rocks they crawled out of.
As a southern white man it is crystal clear for me. I don't want to go back that bad history. I don't want to go back to literacy tests, and armed vigilantes.
I also don't want the economic stagnation of the south to become the economic model for the nation.
Make no mistake, the current strategy of the wealthy elite, is obstruction, and economic stagnation. They have managed to amass more wealth than ever before in history, and bottom up prospereity is a threat to their position. Full employment, rising wages, improved healthcare, all threaten to liberate ordinary Americans -- white, black, hispanic, and native, alike -- from the tyranny of wage slavery and sweatshop capitalism.
This was always what racism, white supremacy and bigotry were all about. It was a deal with the devil offered to working class white to accept a few extra crumbs, and marginal improvement in status in exchange for serving as the bullies and lick spittles of the wealthy. The result was a poorer society . . . even for the allegely privileged whites.
So yes, I oppose racism, white supremacy, and bigotry, but only because I understand how much better off everybody will be, "privileged" whites included, when we finally see the end of it.
As always, the video includes everything you just read . . . and maybe a little bit more.
Apparently, CNN is now worrying about what poor George is going to do for a living.
For the 29-year-old Florida man, the financial picture is cloudy. Critics have already accused Zimmerman of profiting from the case. Will the donations keep pouring in? Will he win a monetary reward in his defamation lawsuit against NBC? Could he cash in on his personal story with a book or movie deal?
We already have a template for how to derail any book deal, at least with a reputable publisher.
But while the juror's remarks were being broadcast over CNN, an online backlash was already underway. A collection of tweets by Twitter user @MoreAndAgain showed the mounting pressure on Los Angeles-based Martin Literary Management agency president Sharlene Martin to drop the juror's book deal.
Of course, the wingnut welfare industry might pick up the slack. A commenter in another diary suggested a Fox News gig.
I say the Martins should sue George Zimmerman and seek punitive damages. The standard of proof will be the preponderance of the evidence, and the elements will not include "malice." All they have to prove is that Zimmerman acted in "willful and wanton disregard" for Trayvon Martin's rights. If they prove that, they can win punitive damages, which Zimmerman will not be able to discharge in bankruptcy.
Then they can levy on every dime he earns from book deals and movie rights . . . whether from the rightwing noise machine or some legitimate media outlet.
We're talking book deals, movie rights, television appearances, and speaking engagements. George Zimmerman is the next "Joe The Plumber" -- a poster boy for the bigoted right, who is now poised to cash in and profit from killing a 17 year old boy.
That's why Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, needs to bring suit against George Zimmerman. Immediately. He needs to seek substantial punitive damages, and he will likely get them. The standard of proof will be preponderance, also known as the "greater weight of the evidence." If he has an unpaid judgement with a punitive damage award -- not dischargeable in bankruptcy -- Trayvon Martin's familiy can levy on every dime Zimmerman earns from his new found notoriety, until the judgement is paid.
A punitive damage judgement will not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, which means that a punitive damage judgment will follow George Zimmerman, preventing him from accumulating a thin dime in net worth for the next 20 years. That is reason enough to bring the suit, and refuse the settle unless Zimmerman is willing to confess judgment including punitive damages.
But wait, there's more.
Who paid for Zimmerman's lawyers? Why the George Zimmerman legal defense fund, that's who. According to the top post at that site, they raised $77,000 in a single week. The web page includes lots of quotes from donors about the need for a "fair trial." Of course, they don't show you messages saying things like "good job killing that n****r." Perhaps they're discoverable, in a civil suit that is.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman said in his infamous Sean Hannity interview how "sorry" he felt for Trayvon's family.
If you say so, George. Why don't you prove it? Why don't you make personal appeal to all of your non-racist supporters, who are just concerned about justice doncha know, to help you out?
While he's at it, what with being "sorry" and all, why doesn't Zimmerman go ahead and negotiate that movie deal, and that book deal, and turn all of the money over to the Martin family? He doesn't have to wait for a jury.
Maybe Zimmerman will do that -- and if he did, I would consider that to be a big step toward redemption. I have my doubts, but we'll see.
As for Zimmerman's supporters, I have no doubt, none whatsoever, that not a single contributor to Zimmerman's defense will cough up a nickle to pay a judgement against Zimmerman. They do not care about George Zimmerman. This case was nothing more than an opportunity to vicariously participate in the killing of a black teenager.
And don't forgot. If you've got a commute, it's always nice to have something to listen to. Try a good, hard hitting audio podcast, at Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
This is not an exact transcript, but it's close. The video of course, is much better than the cold text.
Cross posted at Working Man Radio. Please recommend this diary, and share the video and the charts.
George Zimmerman called police 47 times between 2004 and 2012. Seven of those calls involved "suspicious" individuals (as opposed to vehicles and 'disturbances"). One of those "suspicious" individuals was white. Six were black.
In one of those calls, Zimmerman made his famous statement about "break-ins" which had occurred in the development. I will go out on a limb and speculate that he believed the thieves were "probably black."
He would be wrong.
Here's how I know. The State of Florida Department of Corrections has a website. On that website you can do huge searches by category of crime and race. You can also look by incarceration status -- probation/parole, released from incarceration, and presently incarcerated. I looked at the raw numbers of everyone under the offense category "theft" for white, black, and hispanic offenders.
White thieves outnumber black thieves in the DOC database by 50%.
Interestingly, it seems the State of Florida hands out stiffer sentences to black thieves. This leads to the perverse result that more known thieves who are white are out on the street in even greater numbers.
This data destroys the most powerful motivator for white bigotry, namely fear of "black crime." There is simply more "white crime."
As for why Zimmerman was frustrated in his efforts to find the thieves in his gated community, we now have a really simple explanation.
Could Zimmerman be acquitted? Absolutely. The evidence of marihuana use is a sterling example of what can go wrong. Of course the simple solution would be for the state to produce a rebuttal expert to testify that marihuana makes you LESS aggressive. But the state would have to undermine decades of drug war propaganda, something they may not want to do.
So the defense may have a free hand to use the marihuana evidence anyway they want to, and those who fear a travesty in this case may see their worst fears realized.
In 1993, Rodney King's neigbors rioted, and the haters in this case are already predicting as much. In these days of twitter and facebook, we may hope that such a counterproductive backlash does not occur.
But something needs to be done -- something more effective than the usual, ineffective protest march.
I actually came up with an idea, which lo and behold has an historical precedent. It was called the "March Against Fear." In 1966, it was led by James Meredith, the first African-American admitted to the University of Mississippi. He started by himself, walking through Mississippi, but by the end hundreds had joined him.
The version I propose would take place in the most exclusive, wealthiest sections of every city in Florida, simultaneously on the same day. The idea is to simply dress up in a hoodie, create a big banner that says "We Are Trayvon," and walk en masse where you're "not supposed to be." One place in particular would be Palm Beach, right by Rush Limbaugh's house.
Make sure the effort is well publicized, and I guarantee the wealthy power structure will take notice. They might even prevail on their Republican legislators to repeal the more egregious portions of the Stand Your Ground law.
Below is a video discussing the idea.
And don't mis a good, hard hitting audio podcast, check out Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
I am seeing much discussion about the Zimmerman case in the wake of my diary last week, including the video, which have posted again below. [The second video.] The relevant statute is FS 776.041, which lays out the circumstances when the so-called "stand your ground" defense is unavailable. Here is what it says:
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
. . .
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
An interesting word in this statute is "provoked." You are not privileged to use force to defend yourself if you "provoked" the attack. What does "provoked" mean? Does it mean fighting words? "Hey you paper hangin' sumbitch . . . " Or does "provoke" require a physical assault or battery? I have not yet found a case interpreting that word, but it doesn't really matter in this case.
In this case, George Zimmerman very clearly "provoked" the affray with Trayvon Martin. Again, evidence is clear and unequivocal.
George Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman believed Trayvon Martin was a "criminal" up to know good. This is evidenced by his statement "these assholes always get away."
Trayvon Martin was on the telephone when the affray started, making it highly unlikely he initiated the affray.
Rachel Jeantel heard the fight start, while Martin was on the phone.
As the one who started the fight, "stand your ground" is not available to George Zimmerman, unless . . .
Such force [used by Trayvon Martin] is so great that the person [Zimmerman] reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger . . . .
In other words, you can start a fight, but if your opponent introduces deadly force, and if you have "exhausted every reasonable means to escape . . . " you may use deadly force.
At common law, and in most jurisdictions, if you start the fight, your defense is known as "imperfect self-defense" and you are guilty of manslaughter. There is a certain amount of justice to this, since the deceased would not be deceased but for the actions of the Defendant.
The Florida Statute does not say that, and a commenter on my previous diary opined that "imperfect self-defense" is not recognized in Florida. Again, I have so far, found no cases on this question. For purposes of Zimmerman's defense, I will assume that opinion to be correct and that an aggressor can walk free if his opponent introduces deadly force.
The question then becomes whether Zimmerman was subjected to . . .
Such force . . . so great that the person [Zimmerman] reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm . . .
Zimmerman says Martin was smashing his head on the sidewalk, and he feared Martin would bludgeon him to death. Indeed, he quotes Martin as saying "you're going to die tonight." Presumably he articulated himself, while in what Zimmerman describes as a homicidal frenzy.
If the jury believes that, [and indeed, if it is true], Zimmerman is not guilty under Florida law.
There is substantial evidence from which the jury can conclude: 1. that George Zimmerman was not under any such "imminent danger of death or great bodily harm."
That evidence includes the following:
Notwithstanding his claim to having his head smashed on the sidewalk, Zimmerman display no evidence of concussion or head injury.
He did not lose consciousness.
He suffered no nausea associated with concussion.
He suffered no blurred vision, no impairment of motor function, no learing disability.
He has, subsequent to the incident, displayed no evidence of concussion.
His wounds are entirely superficial not even requiring stitches.
Add to that the fact that he is demonstrably, provably lying, as evidenced by the following.
He says Martin punched him first . . . while talking on the phone to Rachel Jeantel.
He says Martin jumped out of bushes . . . which bushes are not evident in any crime scene photo I have seen.
He may be lying about other matters as well, but those lies are definitive. It only takes one.
Last but not least, George Zimmerman is the party with the malice toward Martin. He believed Martin was "up to no good," and referred to him as "these assholes." He was so convinced that Martin was "up to no good" that he ignored instructions not to follow Martin.
As we now know, Martin was unarmed, was a guest of his father who lived in the neighborhood, and was up to nothing in particular, other than talking to Rachel Jeantel.
The jury has ample evidence to discount Zimmerman's story, and to conclude that George Zimmerman was a loose cannon, who started the fight, lost it, and shot Trayvon Martin in retaliation. The best conclusion they might reach from Zimmerman's point of view is that yes, Zimmerman thought his life was in danger.
But George Zimmerman was a coward, and his belief, as evidenced by his trivial injuries, was not reasonable.
Will the jury see it that way? Maybe. Maybe not. The question for those who fear a travesty is what to do in the unfortunate event that the George Zimmerman is acquitted. We will discuss that tomorrow.
And don't forget. For a good, hard hitting audio podcast, check out Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
George Zimmerman has hatched another brilliant plan for his defense. The facial justification is to prove that Trayvon Martin was as scary as Zimmerman feared. The real reason is the inflame the jury and make them similarly afraid of Martin.
I'm not sure how well that strategy is going to work.
A photo in which Martin shows his gold teeth to the camera while sticking up his middle fingers.
Martin's school records, which include a suspension from his Miami high school -- less than a month before his altercation with Zimmerman - for possessing a baggie with marijuana residue.
Texts and photos from Martin's cellphone that refer to or show firearms. "U gotta gun?" reads a text from Martin's phone, sent eight days before his death. The defense cited a photo of a hand holding a gun, taken with Martin's phone, and another picture of a gun on a bed.
Texts with marijuana references, and photos that show Martin blowing smoke and what appear to be marijuana plants.
Texts and video that suggest that Martin was involved in organized fights.
Sounds terrible, right?
What if this "evidence," such as it is, were shown regarding a 17 year old white kid.
Would you be horrified to learn that a 17 year old white boy had smoked marijuana?
Would you be shocked, shocked I tell you, to find out that a red blooded American television watching white 17 year old had an interest in firearms?
Next thing you know they'll be showing Trayvon reading a copy of Guns And Ammo ... just like millions of American white male subscribers.
But wait, Trayvon was a 17 year old who knew how to fight, and we know he knew how to handle himself.
We also know that George Zimmerman didn't. George Zimmerman was fearful, and impatient that the police weren't dealing with this weed smoking delinquent.
Make no mistake. George Zimmerman really, truly, genuinely feared Trayvon Martin. No doubt he believes his "evidence" is damning, and maybe you fear it for the same reason.
What the evidence really shows is a healthy, active, slightly mischievous teenage boy -- kind of like another healthy, active, slightly mischievous teenaged . . . who grew up to be President.
That's what George Zimmerman feared.
And don't forget. If you need something to listen to on your long commute, I have a good, hard hitting audio podcast. Check out Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
Watching the Zimmerman trial, the images coming out of the courtroom seem to be convincing some media observers that Zimmerman's self-defense claim is colorable.
Zimmerman's case is that Martin jumped out some bushes, said "what's your problem," and then punched Zimmerman. According to Zimmerman, Martin then jumped on top of Zimmerman and began slamming his head into the sidewalk ... leaving no blood, and causing no concussion.
This is becoming the media's narrative, making the case whether Zimmerman was in sufficient danger to warrant using deadly force.
There is just one problem with Zimmerman's defense. He's lying about who was the aggressor in starting the fight. He's lying, and the proof is right in front of everybody.
Let me just lay out the relevant facts and evidence. It's very simple.
Trayvon Martin was on the phone when the fight started. He was talking to Rachel Jeantel.
You don't have to believe Rachel Jeantel, there are phone records that show the call. Furthermore, her description of the call are entirely consistent with the known facts. Here is what she said about the call -- the only thing you need to know.
“Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here?’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.
We know that Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin.
So it is entirely believable that Martin would ask "why are you following me."
We know that Zimmerman suspected Martin of being a burglar or something. We know that Zimmerman complained about "these assholes always get[ting] away."
So it is entirely believable that Zimmerman said "what are your doing around here?"
And we know that Zimmerman and Martin fought each other .... making it entirely believable that Rachel Jeantel heard them scuffling.
That's all you need to know to make George Zimmerman a liar. Phone records show Martin on the phone with Rachel Jeantel, and Jeantel testifies to facts that are entirely consistent with undisputed facts.
Trayvon was on the phone with Rachel Jeantel. Which makes Zimmermans story about Martin jumping out of bushes so much hogwash. It also disproves Zimmerman's claim that Martin threw the first punch. Martin was talking on the phone. Talking on the phone and starting fights are mutually exclusive activities.
And that's it. Zimmerman's a liar. Whatever he says about any alleged attack, whatever he says about being punched in the nose, whatever he says about the "danger" he was in, whatever he says to make out his self-defense claim, George Zimmerman is a liar. Beyond a reasonable doubt.
Do not underestimate the value of proving that George Zimmerman is a liar. In order to acquit him, the jury must first believe him.
The video below summarizes the facts above . . . so I have omitted the transcript. I do recommend it, because frankly, the video presentation is much more powerful than this cold written description. And make sure you like it, subscribe to it, and share it.
And if you like a good, hard hitting audio podcast, check out Working Man Radio. Available on iTunes.
Below are cartoons drawn over the past several decades by Cabu, one of the most emblematic cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo (if not the most). Cabu was murdered along with his colleagues this past week. ...