Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zimmermann and Martin, One More Time

The latest news out of this case is the rumor that Trayvon Martin was a user of a concoction called "Lean" or "Purple Drank," a recreational drug popular in the hip hop community in the southeastern United States.

A simple review of a number of Martin's Facebook posting make it clear that he was in fact pursuing the ingredients for "Lean." The latest right wing claim is that the Skittles and Arizona Watermelon Fruit Drink (NOT Ice Tea as it turns out) represented 2/3 of the formula with over-the-counter Robitussin cough syrup the final 1/3 and that Martin must have been high on "Lean" which, so they claim, can produce side effects of "paranoia and agitation."

Time out guys. The main ingredient for Purple Drank is prescription cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine which is exactly what Martin is looking for in his posts. If he ever succeeded is unknown.

Codeine is the active ingredient and the syrup is usually mixed with a soft drink like Sprite and a hard candy such as Jolly Ranchers which gives it flavor to cover the cough syrup which is pretty vile. To imply that Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail, Skittles and over-the-counter Robitussin are the ingredients for "Purple Drank" is flat out dishonest. At most it's some sort of kiddy version.

Now, that doesn't mean there wasn't some sort of street formula out there claiming such a mix would provide a high. But the codeine is the active ingredient in "Purple Drank" and there is no codeine in those ingredients. So, I don't see how it could be more effective than the alcohol content of the Robitussin or as a sort of street placebo.

In any event, Martin certainly didn't have the time to mix anything and no cough syrup, codeine based or otherwise, was found.

Is anyone really shocked that a 17-year-old was into, or trying to get into, the current thing? As for the side effects of "Purple Drank" (which Martin wasn't making without codeine), I've never seen "paranoia and agitation" listed as effects. Rather the opposite so I'd have to see a reputable medical source for that claim.

But ultimately, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what happened that night and we'll never know the whole story. What we do know, or don't know, is:

(1) Zimmerman left his car to see which direction Martin went. When asked by the 911 operator if he was following Martin, and he said he was, he was told he didn't have to do that.

(2) We don't know how the physical confrontation started. Everyone talks about Zimmerman's right to self-defense but Martin had the same right and Zimmerman was the man with the gun.

(3) Martin had no knife or other weapon. He wasn't much of a "thug," as I've heard him called, if he wasn't even carrying a knife.

(4) Zimmerman knew the police were on the way because he had spoken to the 9/11 operator yet somehow he still felt he had no choice other than to put a 9 mm slot into Martin's heart.

The jury said not guilty and we should accept that. Only Zimmerman knows the true story and he'll have to live with it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's a Boy!

Ah well, Duchess Kate gave birth to an 8-pound 6-ounce baby boy today in London at 4:24 PM.

I was really hoping for a princess. Now we wait to see what name they'll give the third in line to the British throne.

Congratulations and let the celebrations begin!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Race Card

Have you noticed that criticism of Obama invariably leads to the accusation that it's because he's black?

In some cases that may be true but I don't think it's true in general. So what's the deal here?

I suspect it's because the criticisms are often vague name calling and hand waving. Rarely do you ever see specific issues articulated. Just a lot of juvenile absurdities such as he's a Marxist or a Muslim or he hates America. So the problem is if you can't take the criticisms seriously, what's left to explain the venom?

For what's it's worth, here's my opinion of the situation. Many people in the US feel like they are losing control of their country and that the US is losing its ability to influence what's happening in the world. Of course, they're right.

The demographics of the US are changing rapidly. The economic power is shifting to China and generally evening out around the world. This is frightening a lot of people and there is some justification for that fear. Obama is the visible manifestation of these changes because they're happening on his watch so, subconsciously, they blame him for what's happening.

The fact that he's black, actually, he's HALF black, makes him an even more potent symbol of the changes especially to the change in US demographics. His policies haven't been terribly radical. You can disagree with any number of them, and I do by the way, but I don't see anything in policy disagreements that can explain the pure hatred many people seem to feel for this guy. It's just not justified based upon politics as usual.

Things seem to be going downhill and people figure it can't be their fault; it can't be the country's fault because they've been weaned on the fiction of American exceptionalism. But it must be someone's fault? So hey, Obama is as good a whipping boy as anyone.

You know, about losing the country, people said the same thing during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War protests. And at least then we weren't also in the middle of scary economic changes as well.
It's a tough time. But it's always a tough time for some reason or other. In the 30s it was the Great Depression; in the 40's a little thing called World War II; in the 50s and early 60s the challenges to segregation, which brought enormous changes; in the late 60s the Vietnam War and in the 70s we had runaway inflation and a series of useless presidents. Now we have terrorism, lingering economic issues, including an ever increasing degree of income inequality and a ridiculous debt burden. Then of course there is the emergence of the Gay Rights movement.
Tough and sort of scary times indeed. The country is definitely changing, but we got through all the other tough times and all the other changes and we'll get through these too IF we start to focus on the issues and problems. I don't believe we're doing that right now and that worries me more than anything else.

Monday, July 15, 2013

George Zimmermann Round 2

In the wake of the not guilty verdict there have been a number of protests. Most have been peaceful although in Los Angeles demonstrators allegedly threw things, including batteries which hurt like hell if they hit you, at police.

On the legal front Zimmermann's attorneys say they will now proceed with the law suit against NBC news which admittedly botched, and then broadcast, some 911 call editing.

Zimmermann is claiming defamation of character. Usually defamation means demonstrating there was malicious intent rather than just a simple error. That will be the hard part. He's entitled to his day in court on this and we shall see where it leads.

If I were NBC, who has already fired a technician and a reporter over the incident, I think I'd tell Zimmermann to stick it. You know what they say about there being no such thing as bad publicity and if Zimmermann sues, the NBC attorneys can force him to testify. Although of course the judge may rule that testimony about the incident itself may be irrelevant to what NBC is alleged to have done.

In the meantime, the Department of Justice has resumed its investigation, suspended to allow the state of Florida to complete its case, into whether there was a civil right violation.

I think I'd rather not see Zimmermann charged in Federal Court as that would just open up a whole new can of worms.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

George Zimmermann Found Not Guilty

Back in April of 2012 when this all started I said they couldn't convict him of 2nd Degree Murder and that getting him on the lesser charge of Manslaughter, while perhaps more appropriate, was just going to complicate things.

Well, apparently the prosecution couldn't meet its burden of proof on either and Zimmermann was found not guilty.

It was a tough situation. On one hand you hand Zimmermann testifying to what occurred and expert witnesses swearing the evidence was "consistent with" that version of events.

On the other side all the prosecution could due was present speculation and you're never going to convict someone that way.

We'll never know exactly what happened but once it got to the point of Zimmermann, a 29 year-old adult with defense training, getting his ass kicked by a 17 year-old kid armed with a box of skittles then apparently, according to Florida law, he was allow to act in self-defense which, in the South, apparently means pulling out a 9 mm and shooting the kid in the heart.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Evidence? We don't need no stinking evidence.

A fundamental difference between conservatives and normal people (moderates and liberals) is that while normal people tend to understand that evidence matters and will, sometimes grudgingly, accept where it points.

Conservative on the other hand tend to go with their gut. Here's a perfect example from Eric Rush.

"I know it’s typical for those on the political left to demand peer-reviewed studies, videotape and signed affidavits proving the assertions some of us make concerning the machinations of the Obama administration and socialist encroachment at large..."

Well, yeah, because unsupported assertions are, well, worthless.

"... but we all are aware by now that this is a diversion."

No, it's not, it's because unsupported assertions are, well, WORTHLESS you moron!

Rush among others throw out a constant stream of allegations, assertions, surmises and speculations with absolutely nothing to back them up. You can easily spot them by the liberal use of the words "could," "may," and "possible."

Friday, July 05, 2013

Silver Coins

The British mint will be providing silver pennies for babies born on the same day as the eagerly awaited new member of the royal family.

I think that's a nice touch. The British have class as opposed to their prodigal offspring on this side of the pond south of Canada.

So what will the royal baby be?

I'm hoping for a little princess.

Actually, I think they already know it will be a girl which is why they changed the rules about royal succession to include girls for the first time.

Any day now, any day now.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

So who lies the most? rates the statements of politicians and others as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire for real whoppers.

The first rule is always look at the numbers so let's look at them shall we? In the order of highest percentage of true claims:

Barack Obama - True or Mostly True (46%), Half True (27%), Mostly False or False (26%) and Pants on Fire (2%)

Hillary Clinton - True or Mostly True (46%), Half True (25%), Mostly False or False (26%) and Pants on Fire (2%)

John Boehner - True or Mostly True (35%), Half True (9%), Mostly False or False (52%) and Pants on Fire (4%)

Mitt Romney - True or Mostly True (31%), Half True (28%), Mostly False or False (32%) and Pants on Fire (9%)

Rick Perry - True or Mostly True (27%), Half True (26%), Mostly False or False (38%) and Pants on Fire (9%)

Paul Ryan - True or Mostly True (26%), Half True (26%), Mostly False or False (43%) and Pants on Fire (5%)

Rick Santorum - True or Mostly True (20%), Half True (25%), Mostly False or False (44%) and Pants on Fire (10%)

Nancy Pelosi - True or Mostly True (18%), Half True (45%), Mostly False or False (27%) and Pants on Fire (9%)

Michelle Bachmann - True or Mostly True (15%), Half True (10%), Mostly False or False (50%) and Pants on Fire (25%)

Hermann Cain - True or Mostly True (13%), Half True (17%), Mostly False or False (56%) and Pants on Fire (13%)

Rush Limbaugh - True or Mostly True (6%), Half True (12%), Mostly False or False (53%) and Pants on Fire (29%)

It's a bit of a concern that no one is above 50% for True or Mostly True isn't it?

There wasn't enough history to list Bill Clinton or George W. Bush although I suspect that neither of them would do well. We all know Bill lied about his women and Georgie probably lied about the WMDs but only under duress from Dick Cheney (*cough, cough*).

What the Hell is Going on in Egypt?

Things appear to be taking a violent turn in Egypt.

President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood appear to be loathe to relinquish power and the military is taking a dim view of their reluctance.

Nothing like a riot or two to upset things.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing,, but I suspect it's a good thing.

The Egyptians elected Morsi under the assumption he would reform the corruption and excesses of President Hosni Mubarak's reign but, according to Tamarod's website, "the average citizen still has the feeling that nothing has been achieved so far from the revolution goals which were life in dignity, freedom, social justice and national independence."

In other words the Egyptian's think they were hoodwinked into exchanging one dictator for another. Serves them right for electing a Theocrat.

Still, democracy rarely emerges from a military coup and that what appears to be occurring there at the moment.

Before the right wing types start criticizing the Egyptians, let us not forget:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...

So the Egyptians are merely exercising their right to abolish a government they feel has become destructive to "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."

I say go for it guys and better luck this time around.