Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

St. Louis prosecutor joins war on cops

Unablogger cartoon portrait

The Unablogger

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner (D) wants to control all investigations of police “use of force” incidents, including officer involved shootings. Her proposal would seize these proceedings from the Police Department’s existing Force Investigation Unit, and she has requested $1.3 million of scarce city funds from the Board of Aldermen to set up her own shop to go after cops.

Riding a wave of discontent following a not guilty verdict in the bench trial of Jason Stockley, an officer charged with first-degree murder in the death of an African American alleged heroine dealer, Gardner claims that people — “especially people of color” — feel that the current system is rigged against them. The current system involves investigation and discipline by the police department and, in this case, trial on criminal charges in which the charged officer has the same rights as any other criminal defendant. Stockley’s exercise of his right to waive trial by jury and be tried instead by a circuit judge is the focus of public protests that have lasted three weeks and counting.

Gardner wants to provide what she calls “unbiased” investigations that “promote confidence in the criminal justice system.” She believes that the Force Investigation Unit cannot be trusted because that is just police passing judgment on their own “brothers.” That’s a fair criticism. Yet, the St. Louis Police Officers Association opposed its initial creation, fearing that investigators who were out of touch with real-life police work would be second-guessing  officers’ split-second decisions in the field. The SLPOA now favors the Unit’s continuation, facing the prospect of Gardner’s draconian proposal.

Gardner’s investigations would be anything but “unbiased.” I wrote shortly after Gardner’s election (actually her primary victory that left her unopposed in the general election) that she appeared to be a protege of Marilyn Mosby, the controversial cop-hating Baltimore state’s attorney. Gardner’s election had been opposed by both the predominantly white SLPOA and the predominantly black Ethical Society of Police. I observed then that Gardner owes her office to the black community and owes law enforcement nothing but payback. Within the past week, Gardner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she had been entrusted by residents to hold police accountable, especially in officer-involved shootings. However, it is clear from the ongoing protests of the Stockley verdict that the only acceptable form of police accountability is finding the charged officer guilty. Gardner even publicly belittled a charged officer’s constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, stating, “If you’re telling the truth, you have nothing to fear.” Such a statement about any other criminal defendant could result in professional discipline, and should in these cases as well. With that mindset and mission statement, Gardner’s office’s investigation would have an anti-police bias from start to finish. Gardner would provide revenge, not justice.

Gardner’s proposal would empower her investigators to guide all witness interviews and the collection of evidence. That often determines the outcome of the case. Tea Partiers recall how the office of St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch (D) insured that the brutal attackers of vendor Kenneth Gladney outside a Russ Carnahan town hall in 2010 would walk scot-free by not calling (or even interviewing) key witnesses.

There is more to this issue than just giving Gardner a pile of money. The Post Dispatch reports that Alderman Terry Kennedy, chair of the aldermanic public safety committee and a Gardner ally, has suggested that creating a team giving Gardner the authority over police shooting investigations would probably require a new ordinance or even a charter amendment requiring a city-wide vote of the people.

Gardner’s proposal is just the latest hit on police morale. Mayor Lyda Krewson (D), perhaps intimidated by protesters who had earlier stormed her home with bricks and red paint, called out police for chanting the protesters’ own chant ‘Whose streets? Our streets!” while arresting protesters for vandalism on the third night of protests. Police stress, she said, was no excuse. She also dressed down her interim police chief for saying that police had “owned the night,” claiming that it was inflammatory. The mayor had little or no criticism of the vandalism itself.

Police perform a great public service that is both difficult and dangerous, but their actions are not beyond scrutiny. They need to be held accountable, just like the rest of us, but not by the star chamber Gardner envisions. A truly unbiased (or balanced bias) investigation of alleged police misconduct would include representation from both police and a cross section of the citizenry. Existing civilian review boards could either perform the function or serve as a model for a separate investigative unit. The only proper role of the prosecutor would be to prosecute any offenses documented by the independent investigation.

Advertisements

Sanctimonious bipartisan grandstanding

The Unablogger

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City)’s ill advised late-night Facebook response to a friend, expressing a desire for the assassination of President Trump, has presented politicians of all stripes a golden opportunity to lay claim to the moral high ground. They uniformly criticize her, which is fair and proper, but most also take the extra step of calling for her resignation and/or expulsion from the state senate.

Before getting to a rational discussion of the senator’s post, I want to call out those who are opportunistically piling on. Republicans calling for her resignation and/or expulsion, including Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parsons, are acting partisan, seeking to deflect some of the negative press coverage aimed at President Trump over to a high-profile Democrat. Some might say they also want to remove a Democrat vote from the senate for a while, but Republicans already hold a prohibitive senate majority even with Sen. Chappelle-Nadal in place.

Democrats calling for the senator’s ouster, including U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and U.S Rep. Lacy Clay (both D-MO), emit a different, but equally foul, odor. McCaskill, whom CNN (I know, fake news) has tabbed as the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection next year, is desperately trying to portray herself as a fair, even-handed, moderate, even bi-partisan public servant. Her record, especially her repeated votes to block debate on even the most sensible changes to the fatally flawed Obamacare legislation, contradicts that phony image. She sees piling on the controversial, outspoken Chappelle-Nadal as a low-risk high-reward ploy. From Claire it’s a cheap shot.

Clay has payback on his mind. Chappelle-Nadal challenged Clay unsuccessfully for renomination to his otherwise safe congressional seat last year, and Clay is jumping on the opportunity to destroy her credibility in case of a rematch.

The bipartisan piling on worsens a trend that is harming political discourse. Bullies on the left insist that everyone criticize President Trump’s inclusion of the alt-left in blame for the Charlottesville incident, identifying anyone who applies even the slightest nuance, or even remains silent, to be a Nazi! Now politicians are acting similarly towards anyone who dares to defend Chappelle-Nadal. This process intimidates rational discussion.

Nuance is good.

Now the promised rational discussion of Chappelle-Nadal’s post. What should happen is already in progress. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the incident. They will examine her intent and the possibility that her post might inspire others to take action. I personally believe that Chappelle-Nadal’s post was merely an emotional outburst of hyper-partisanship with no intent either to cause or inspire actual harm to the President, but that’s not my call. If the Secret Service determines that her post is worthy of charges being brought against her, then her resignation and/or expulsion becomes appropriate. Opportunistic politicians jumping the gun and calling for such actions before then are wrong.

Yes, Chappelle-Nadal is being justifiably criticized for her remarks. But calls for her resignation and/or expulsion are not justified at this point.

Jamilah Nasheed campaigns on public dime

The Unablogger

Today I received the 2017 End of Session Newsletter from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (Democrat, 5th District). It’s a lovely puff piece, complete with four full-color photos of Nasheed (three on the first page) and her summary complaints about  Republican legislation. She invites recipients to three town hall meetings she has scheduled, in north St. Louis, south St. Louis and the Central West End. (Curiously, the last page asks recipients to return the form to her, with our own postage, even though the form is not a questionnaire seeking any input from recipients. That’s weird, but just a diversion from the point of this post.)

This is a fairly typical newsletter, produced at state expense (without any “paid for by” disclaimers required for campaign mailers), that all state senators and representatives get to send to their constituents. The problem? I am not a constituent of Sen. Nasheed. I live in the 4th District, a few miles from the closest boundary with Nasheed’s 5th District. I have my own state senator from whom to receive publicly financed propaganda.

Why would Sen. Nasheed send her mailing to me and others out of her district? She is probably planning to run for another office, perhaps citywide or maybe Congress. The three town hall meetings throughout the city that the newsletter promotes would certainly promote such a candidacy. While I don’t live in her district, I do live in the city and the First Congressional District in which Nasheed resides and wields clout. It would benefit such a campaign if people within the boundaries of whatever office she is seeking got to see her puff-piece newsletter. Not having the campaign literature disclaimer might even give it greater credibility. All the better if she doesn’t have to spend her own campaign funds to produce and mail it!

This abuse needs to be curbed.

Robin Smith is no political outsider

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Democrat Robin Smith is portraying herself as a political outsider in her campaign for Missouri Secretary of State. She isn’t.

Both Ms. Smith and Republican challenger Jay Ashcroft are second-generation candidates of political families. While the Ashcroft patriarch, former Governor, U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, is better known with greater accomplishments, Smith’s political pedigree is actually larger. She is preceded in politics by both her father, the late Wayman Smith, Sr., and brother, Wayman Smith, Jr. Both were St. Louis aldermen serving in the rigidly controlled political machine of the late legendary state senator J. B. “Jet” Banks. With the Banks machine’s reputation for shady election practices, it is no coincidence that Ms. Smith’s choice of offices to seek is the one that supervises Missouri elections. The office also certifies and disciplines notaries public, who certify the identity of voters casting absentee ballots, the abuse of which was the election fraud that overturned the results of a contest in this year’s Missouri Democratic primary.

Recent Ashcroft ads disclosed that Ms. Smith has been delinquent in paying taxes. Ironically, the political career of Sen. Banks ended shortly after his conviction on felony charges of filing false state income tax returns.

Ms. Smith has also been involved in local politics. She was reputedly a close personal friend of notorious former St. Louis school superintendent Jerome Jones, whose administration was tarnished in 1987 by a scathing state audit called resulting from a citizen petition. Criticized for extravagant poorly documented spending of taxpayer funds, he may be best known for his comment that it was hard to find lunch in St. Louis for under $100. (Remember, those were 1987 dollars he was talking about.)

Ms. Smith’s claim to independence is her tenure as a reporter and anchor for three national television network affiliates in St. Louis. Toiling for local mainstream media outlets is anything but politically independent.

In addition to supervising elections and notaries public, the secretary of state also supervises business formation and disclosure, securities regulation and investor protection and publishes state administrative rules and regulations. While Ashcroft’s training and experience as an attorney well prepares him for these duties, there is nothing in Ms. Smith’s background that qualifies her for the job.

St. Louis gets its own Marilyn Mosby

Kim Gardner

Kim Gardner

Marilyn Mosby

Marilyn Mosby

Out of this past week’s politically correct celebration of the sweep of all three citywide offices by African American candidates in the Democratic primary in the City of St. Louis, there is a note of concern for adherents of law and order. Kim Gardner, the state representative who won the Democratic nomination for Circuit Attorney, appears to be a protege of Marilyn Mosby, the controversial cop-hating Baltimore state’s attorney.

Retiring Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has worked closely with St. Louis police to get criminals off the streets, a chore made more challenging since the social unrest following nationally publicized incidents in Ferguson. Joyce supported Chief Sam Dotson’s program of “broken windows” law enforcement, an efficient practice that was called into question after Ferguson.

Joyce’s policies are about to change. After being declared the winner of her primary, Gardner said her election was “about building trust. This is about doing things differently.” What would she do differently? In her campaign brochure Gardner had promised “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” She blamed the city’s crime problems on “decades of public mistrust in the criminal justice system (law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges alike).” She also said one of her goals would be to increase diversity in the office, in which African Americans currently comprise a little over 10% of the lawyers.

I see a huge problem with the lead prosecutor announcing her intention “to reduce over-incarceration of low level non-violent offenders.” Most burglaries are non-violent. So are car thefts, defrauding seniors and other victims with Ponzi schemes, election fraud,  identity theft and heroine sales. What about robberies where a weapon is claimed but not actually displayed, or where a gun is brandished but no shots are fired? Gardner just announced to criminals in our area that they probably won’t have to go to prison for those sorts of crimes. Sounds to me like open season on crime victims.

Gardner won her contest over the opposition of both police unions, the predominantly white St. Louis Police Officers Association and the predominantly black Ethical Society of Police. She owes her victory instead to the near unanimous backing of African American political leaders (including Congressman Lacy Clay), black newspapers, and certain prominent Black Lives Matter activists. Her campaign’s largest financial benefactor was a committee funded by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros, who has also funded militant protests by Black Lives Matter activists. Gardner piled up huge margins in predominantly black wards, topping 70% in seven of them. Her closest competitor, Joyce’s lead homicide prosecutor Mary Pat Carl, won most white wards by mere pluralities, topping 50% only in her home ward. Gardner owes her new office to the black community, and owes law enforcement nothing but payback.

How did this happen? Primarily, voters were kept in the dark about the danger of what a Gardner win would mean. I attended a neighborhood meeting where the only candidates who appeared were the two white candidates. They referred to each other as “my opponent,” in the singular, as though no other candidates had filed. They had to have seen Gardner’s campaign flyer containing the statements mentioned above. Did political correctness prevent them from criticizing, or even mentioning, these dangerous policies propounded by an African American candidate?

Gardner’s win cannot realistically be reversed in the November general election. No Republican or third party candidate filed for the office, and the deadline for filing an independent candidate has passed. Gardner will be the only candidate on the ballot. Write-in votes are still possible, but such campaigns are rarely successful.

When speaking in St. Louis after having been elected governor of California, Ronald Reagan reportedly took note Ramsey Clark, the civil libertarian who headed the Justice Department under President Lyndon Johnson. Reagan asked, “How do you win a war against crime when the attorney general is a dove?” That may turn out to be an apt description of the St. Louis crime scene with Gardner as Circuit Attorney.

Impact of disappearing LGBT identity politics

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Today’s Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage in every state has an unexpected side effect. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (the LGBT community), heretofore distracted by wedge issues dealing specifically with their sexual orientation, are now freed from their single-issue devotion to the Democratic Party. Issues that matter to the rest of the electorate are now more relevant to LGBT voters. Many will conclude that Republicans now represent a better choice.

Over the past several elections, Democrats drew LGBT voters into their smokescreen of identity politics by playing on their fears of repression by Republican-led governments. Maybe those fears were justified, or maybe not. But as of today, it doesn’t really matter, because the reason for those fears is gone. Any kind of discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation, including their right to marry each other, is now illegal. Done. As passe as anyone having to sit in the back of the bus. People who oppose gay rights, whether a conservative Republican or a religious African American, can no longer hurt them. The Democrats’ single issue has evaporated.

Now other issues, which have long determined the votes of non-LGBT voters, can and will be considered by LGBT voters without being overcome by suddenly irrelevant identity politics. In addition to LGBT voters (about 4% of the electorate), many other voters under age 40 (Millennials and the youngest of Generation X) have been sympathetic to their cause and voted accordingly. LGBT voters and their young sympathizers may now be up for grabs. On some of these issues, the remaining relevance of sexual orientation actually tilts in favor of Republicans.

Take, for example, national security. Long a strong suit of the Republican Party, this issue is currently of prime importance. The inept efforts and lackadaisical attitude of the Obama Administration in general and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, towards the rapidly growing threat of Islamist extremists have the nation feeling less secure. These policies and attitudes permeate the Democratic Party. Every Republican presidential candidate (with the possible exception of libertarian-minded Sen. Rand Paul) offers the nation greater security than Clinton or any of her intra-party challengers. The LGBT community is keenly aware that the Islamic extremists who threaten us don’t merely discriminate against gays, they execute them!

On the domestic side, tax policy is a key battleground. By and large, the LGBT community enjoys higher incomes and wealth than the nation as a whole. LGBT voters may come to resent Democrat tax policies singling out higher incomes as the source of their “revenue enhancements.” Also, as same-sex couples act on their opportunity to marry, they will see the fundamental unfairness in the tax code’s “marriage penalty.” Republicans have long tried to end it, while Democrats have labored to preserve it.

Younger voters may now pay more attention to the economy. They are the ones most affected by job competition from illegal immigrants, by being forced to settle for part-time employment without health insurance, by being forced to buy health insurance they neither want nor need, or by having insurance from work but no real health care because of high deductibles they can’t afford.

In addition, married voters tend to vote more Republican while single voters tend to vote more Democratic. Married voters with minor children are especially more Republican. As gays and lesbians marry and add adopted children to their families, they will find themselves subject to the same financial and social concerns that influence current married couples to support conservative Republican candidates and policies.

Here in St. Louis, the Supreme Court’s decision coincides with the first day of Pride Fest, the annual LGBT celebration. With fortuitous timing, the only political party organization to have a booth on the fairgrounds is the Republican City Central Committee. Perhaps these new developments will enhance the party’s outreach.

Are Democrats poised to steal the midterms?

The Unablogger

The Unablogger

Something weird is in the air this election season, and I don’t like what I smell. I think it’s a rat.

Most factors point to a big Republican win in the midterms, with the GOP expanding its majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and, more significantly, wining control of the U.S. Senate. Republicans appear poised to take the six net (8 takeaways minus 2 givebacks) Democrat-held seats necessary for a 51-seat “Biden proof” majority, and a Republican wave raising all GOP boats as little as 2 more points would give them 10 net new seats (rescue the two vulnerable seats, plus 2 more where incumbent Democrats are currently slightly ahead) and insulate their senate control against the loss of a few vulnerable seats in 2016.

Yet, something’s in the air. President Barack Obama exudes confidence in the midterm results. He even went out of his way to brand reluctant vulnerable Democrat senators with his mark, stating publicly that his policies are on the ballot because all those Democrats voted for them. Why would as politically savvy a politician as Obama do such a thing? He must be positioning himself to take credit for their wins. What does he know that we don’t?

My fear is that the fix is in.

What could dishonest Democrats possibly do to overturn a massive nationwide Republican wave? Old-fashioned ballot box stuffing, for starters. One way involves hoards of lower-level (i.e., not important enough to be recognized) political operatives voting in the names of others in several hand-picked polling places staffed by party-loyal clerks who won’t challenge their signatures. (In many inner city areas, thee aren’t enough legitimate Republicans to staff polling places, so Democrats fill those slots with their own people, and the bi-partisan checks and balances are out the window.) The operatives vote in the name of a registered voter who the party is confident won’t show up to vote themselves. Voters over age 90 (or known to be incapacitated, or even dead) who haven’t voted in several consecutive elections are a prime source for names. (For examples, see here and here and here.) This is what voter-ID laws are designed to prevent, and it’s why Democrat lawyers fight so hard to get judges to overturn or delay implementation of those laws.

Ballot stuffing, part deux, takes place after the polls close and corrupt Democrat pols get a feel for whether more needs to be done. If more votes need to be manufactured, the election judges take care of it. (As I noted above, many inner city polling places are staffed exclusively by Democrats.) They don’t have to guess who isn’t going to vote, because they have the official list of who really did vote and, more important, who didn’t. Filling out paperwork for those who didn’t vote turns those nonvoters into straight Democrat ballots that count. This can be time consuming, especially if a lot of votes need to be manufactured. But they’ll take whatever time is necessary. Ever notice how the most Democratic precincts are always the last ones to turn in their ballots for tabulation?

Close contests in areas that have significant concentrated pockets of super Democrat support are most vulnerable. Rogue precincts in liberal college towns and inner-city parts of Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro can keep North Carolina’s seat in Democrat hands. Little Rock and precincts along the Mississippi River could save Arkansas for the Democrats.

Colorado’s all-mail ballot is tailor-made for fraud. Corrupt politicians are busy voting phony ballots right now. And if they fall short, count on them “finding” new uncounted ballots a few days after the election. It worked six years ago for Al Franken.

Georgia and Louisiana could be a two-part affair because of runoff laws. Democrats may try to steal these elections on election day by creating enough phony ballots to give the Democratic candidate the majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Or the fun could be repeated at (or deferred until) the runoff, when fewer legitimate voters will participate. By then, results from other states will have determined whether these contests will be decisive for senate control. If they are, there will be tons of money, lots of lawyers and plenty of experienced locals to make sure the senate stays under Harry Reid’s thumb. Atlanta provides a treasure trove of inner city votes to manipulate, and plantation country in southwest Georgia can provide backup if needed. In Louisiana, Republicans will need to overcome creative voting in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

But some old-fashioned fraud may not be necessary for Democrats if high-tech voter fraud can provide an election day surprise or two, especially under the radar in totally unexpected places. This worries me because of what happened on June 10, 2014, in the Republican primary in Virginia’s 7th congressional district. Underfunded Tea Party challenger David Brat upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an election that pre-election polls had universally showed Cantor winning by 13 to 34 points. Brat succeeded where virtually all other (and better funded) Tea Party challengers across the country had failed, and no one seems to know why. With no disrespect to Brat, whom I believe will be a fantastic, principled congressman, I believe Brat was the innocent beneficiary of manipulated vote tabulation on the part of Virginia Democrats. I suspect that VA-7 was a successful test run for a much bigger national prize on November 4. Fast forward to last week’s early voting in the Chicago area, when an observant Republican candidate “caught” his touch-screen voting machine changing his vote from Republican to Democrat. That candidate got that machine pulled out of service (just a “calibration error,” nothing to see here, move along), but what about all the other rogue machines that ordinary people don’t notice? (Say Goodnight, Bruce Rauner. You’re toast.)

Low population states with low-visibility, seemingly uncompetitive Republican-favored senate contests are prime targets for scattered “calibration errors,” because these states have even fewer voters to overcome than VA-7. Possible targets include Alaska (where the senate race is close), as well as seemingly safe states like Montana and South Dakota. Are they as “safely out of reach” as Eric Cantor seemed to be on June 9? And while Oklahoma and South Carolina are larger and would require more fraud to overturn, they are also tempting targets because they are “twofers;” both have two senate seats on this year’s ballot. Democrats would especially love to eliminate South Carolina’s black Republican Sen. Tim Scott, because his presence contradicts their racial narrative.

While blatant voter fraud such as this seems like it would be too risky to try, don’t bet on it. When you don’t know ahead of time what’s going on or where to look, vote fraud is hard to detect and even harder to prove. The only witnesses are people who were involved. Even among innocents, the communities where voter fraud takes place have a long “don’t snitch” tradition that intimidates witnesses, especially vulnerable elderly people. Deadlines for challenges are too short to put together evidence, and confidentiality laws prevent much evidence from being discovered. Furthermore, the Obama Administration has a history, from its onset, of refusing to prosecute the few who are caught. Remember the New Black Panthers case in Philadelphia? And if all else fails, Obama himself, with his pen and his phone, is around for two more years to issue pardons.

For the sake of the country, I hope I’m dead wrong. I want people holding up this article and laughing at me on Election Night. But Obama’s cocky, seemingly misplaced confidence worries me. What does he know about the midterms that we don’t?