The Widdershins


Posted on: February 14, 2014

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

Here’s hoping your Friday is a wonderful one free of ice, sleet, snow, and other hateful things that travel through the air and settle upon your world making life generally annoying like the news.

There’s so much stuff floating around out there in the world, today’s post is just going to be a jump ball of issues — add others, comment on these or dismiss them at will, but these are some of the things that have piqued my interest.

Stand Your GroundStand Your Ground

The trial of Michael Dunn for the killing of Jordan Davis and attempting to murder three other teenagers, even more than the senseless killing of Trayvon Martin, has focused on the merciless inequities underpinning the “Stand Your Ground” laws.  The practical effect of these “Stand Your Ground” laws is to award a statutory “reasonableness” defense for preconceived bigotry.  Simply put, if you find yourself in a situation where you are in the proximity of a person about whom you harbor a preconceived prejudicial fear and that fear gives you a belief of imminent harm, you have a legislatively sanctioned right to kill.

In the case of killing seventeen-year-old Jordan Davis, was it reasonable for Michael Dunn’s “alleged fear” to be triggered by music?  Was it reasonable for Dunn to see an “invisible” shotgun no one else saw or no one else found?  Was it reasonable after the killing for Dunn to drive to a hotel and have pizza and wine?  Was it reasonable to unload an ammo clip at four teenagers even as they sped away?  Was it reasonable for Dunn to get up the next day and drive 175 miles home without so much as a call to the police?

The larger question is whether we, as a society, find it reasonable to look the other way at the extermination of a human being based upon meritless, unfocused, preconceived bigotry portrayed as fear after a killing?  Lord, I hope not.

Performance Art Politics

Steve Stockman, the drugs in the underwear, homeless, outrageous in every respect two-term Congress-thing (I won’t flatter him by calling him a critter) is running against Texan John Cornyn for Senate.  Stockman is known for his over-the-top Tweets like his favorite gun lubricant is “liberal tears,” or the best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out, or the solution to abortion is distributing firearms to babies.

If Stockman was smarter, he might well be a Sasha Baron Cohen character, but he isn’t.  What he is, is a great example of politics for profit performance art — move over Herman Cain, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump — there‘s new competition on the way.

$10.10 an Hour

In conservative circles, there is almost uniform opposition to raising the minimum wage.  It is understandable considering the reflexive reaction of the Republican Chamber of Commerce crowd.  It seems to have gone unnoticed by these folks, but their position puts them squarely in the corner of more social welfare expenditures.

If wages are increased, more people will fail to qualify for assistance, thereby reducing the welfare rolls.  Opposing an hourly wage increase equates to subsidizing businesses with government entitlements for employees and thereby supporting higher benefit expenditures.  If Conservatives, for a moment, stopped and considered their position on this, their heads might explode.

Clinton ChristieHillary Clinton and Chris Christie

Why is it that the characteristics admired in alpha males — boldness, decisiveness, and intensity — are characteristics loathed in women?  Somehow describing Chris Christie as ruthless is positive, but describing Hillary Clinton as ruthless is an anathema.  My bet — Hillary will be taking some alpha males to obedience school.

My Second Home is a Boat

The tax break allowing taxpayers to deduct loans for yachts as second homes if they have a toilet, galley, and a place to sleep has been around for 73 years.  There’s legislation to finally repeal it — don’t hold your breath.  My question:  What was happening at the height of World War II in 1941 to reward the country’s yacht vacationers?


For someone who believes cooking with anything other than real butter is a sin against the cow gods, after 40-some years I was pleased the annual consumption of butter has once again surpassed margarine.  Margarine usage is hitting a 70-year low.  Finally!

West Virginia WaterWest Virginia Water Spill

Up until he caused the water to be cut off for 300,000 West Virginians, Carl Kennedy, the guy who ran Freedom Industries, had only been convicted of siphoning payroll taxes for sports cars, a private plane, Bahamian real estate, and conspiracy to traffic cocaine.  I guess if you stick around long enough everyone gets a second or third act.

His incompetence or malfeasance isn’t that unique.  In 2011 alone, 1,374 U.S. facilities discharged some 194 million pounds of chemicals into streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.  For those complaining over-regulation is so burdensome — just think, in order to dump 200-million pounds of chemicals into our streams, these facilities had to get their stuff to the river’s edge with no help from the government.  Viva la free enterprise!

Iron Deficiency

The new CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (the behemoth corporate Martha Stewart) is a former scrap metal executive brought in to save the brand.  How long do you think it will be before Martha is doing media pieces on the perils of iron deficiency?

Kentucky NRANRA the Bluegrass Way

The NRA has almost convinced the Kentucky General Assembly (GenAss) the Commonwealth needs two new laws.  One is to allow people to carry concealed weapons in bars, unless they are drinking.  Think about that for a moment:  Unless someone is so intoxicated as to point out his/her concealed weapon, who is going to then tell them, “Bad gun owner!  Give me your gun!“

The other law the NRA is trumpeting is even more ludicrous.  Kentucky Senate Bill 106 will allow judges issuing emergency protective orders to award the wonderful parting gifts of concealed carry permits.  Any domestic relations attorney can attest to the race to the courthouse by both parties to be the first to get protective orders — under this madness, both parties can leave the courthouse with concealed carry permits to go along with their EPOs.

Madness, just absolute madness.

Utah, then Kentucky, Oh My!

Yesterday, a federal judge declared recognizing same-sex marriages performed in another state to be constitutionally required in Kentucky.  It is noteworthy because the federal judge ordering the recognition was the first in the country to be appointed by a Republican, George H.W. Bush, back in 1992.  The judge was recommended by Sen. Mitch McConnell.  If tortoises can have dyspepsia, McConnell’s Tea Party opponent is giving him a good case of it.

One Big Buckeye Vote

In 2012, there were 5.63 million votes cast in Ohio.  There was one person convicted of voter fraud.  Now the Republican controlled legislature and Republican Governor John Kasich are passing voter id laws, reducing early voting, eliminating same day registration, eliminating weekend and extending hours voting, and eliminating same day registration.  In short, inconveniencing everyone and making it harder to vote.

That one fraudulent vote must have been some vote!

What’s on your mind, this is an open thread.


20 Responses to "Stuff…"

Here’s the sad thing about the Michael Dunn episode Prolix: I had to google it to remember which one that was. It’s not failing memory I don’t believe, but rather there have been so many shootings. Oy!

My bet — Hillary will be taking some alpha males to obedience school.

Heh. Don’t forget what James Carville said about Hillary back in 08.

On the tax break for yacht loans, if some in Congress try to repeal it, the first thing that will happen is some folks will say “Oh, you’ll be killing American jobs!”. There are some yacht shipyards in the country, like this one in Nola and the Miss. Gulf Coast.

Obviously, Dwayne Stovall, candidate for TX Senate against John Cornyn, is a reader of the Widdershins. He is up with a new ad calling out Mitch McConnell as a turtle. You can see it here:

@1 — The jury is still out in the Dunn murder trial — that is unbelievable to me. A jury being out this long means there is dissension — the prosecutors went with First Degree murder basically claiming he formed intent during the incident. I don’t believe they should have done that and needlessly complicated the case. I hope the differences are only on degrees and not guilt. Difficult to believe, but I think Dunn is even more egregious than Zimmerman.

This is the confusing part to me on the Dunn case:

He said he couldn’t believe what was happening and was frozen in his seat. Dunn said he saw the door move and thought he was going to be killed, but he said he still didn’t go for his gun. Dunn testified that Davis then said, “You’re dead.”

“This is the point where my death is imminent,” said Dunn. He testified that he responded, “You’re not going to kill me.”

Dunn said he saw about four inches of what he thought was the barrel of a shotgun.

Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a 9-millimeter handgun from his glove compartment and, according to testimony from law enforcement officers, fired nine times, striking Davis in the back and groin. No gun was found in the SUV.

Okay, he perceived a threat (which wasn’t there) but could lean over and reach into his glove compartment to get the 9mm out? I’m assuming he’s having to lean over because I think his fiance was with him? And if the dispute just kept getting worse as he says in this article, why not just leave?,0,6580882.story

Prolix said: the prosecutors went with First Degree murder basically claiming he formed intent during the incident I don’t believe they should have done that and needlessly complicated the case.

I don’t now how the FL statutes are written, but I agree with you. Do you know if the jury has the option to consider a lesser charge?

@6 and @7 — When all this was taking place, Dunn’s fiancee was in the store, not in the car. When he got his pistol, he shot 3 times, then 4 times, and then 3 times as the boys drove away. The prosecutors are claiming he formed “intent” during the break between the middle 4 shots and the last three. While a good bar exam question, it is a hard concept upon which to educate a jury during a trial. Typically, most people believe “intent” is long-term premeditation, not intent arising during the commission of the underlying act. While it is the same intent, most people don’t see it as worthy of the same type of punishment as someone who lays in wait or plans days or weeks in advance.

Yes, the jury was instructed on lesser crimes and may consider them as well.

Prolix said: The prosecutors are claiming he formed “intent” during the break between the middle 4 shots and the last three.

OMG! So I guess the first three were practice rounds? Trying to gauge the wind? (just kidding) Yep, I’m having trouble understanding intent after the first 3 were fired. What were those shots for? While I’m not willing to bet, I will say I believe the jury will go with a lesser charge if that’s the way intent was presented to them.

@10, Think of intent this way — it is the conscious idea of committing the underlying act. In this case from the prosecutor’s point of view, even if Dunn was “afraid” and got his gun and fired instinctively — just pulled the trigger — he might have not have consciously formed a notion to “kill” the teenagers. After he stopped, he had the time to figure out, especially as they sped away, I’m not in danger, (this is where intent comes in), but I am going to kill these kids, and fired the final three shots.

The really egregious piece of the Dunn case is the letter he wrote from jail. He goes so far as to actually say something to the effect, “If we kill some of these n********s, maybe they will change the way they act around the rest of us.”

Dunn is a loathsome human being, but he can’t be convicted of being loathsome — just a murderer of children.

@10: Man, that is going to be a difficult concept to prove, I would think.

That letter is disgusting. I do hope they convict him of at least 2nd degree if that’s an option.

@ “my second home is a boat”

I’ve been reading “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt”. I haven’t seen anything specifically about a yachting deduction, but Roosevelt had raised taxes to finance the New Deal, knew we were headed into an unavoidable war and was struggling with widespread isolationism, and had run for an unprecedented third term. So I wouldn’ t be at all surprised if he had to step back and let congress throw the upper class a bone. Oh, and he’d also given a bunch of destroyers to the Brits and had Churchill living in the White House for nearly a month. So maybe he figured he was better off if the rich kept on their yachts, since they weren’t too happy with FDR anyway. Just a thought.

Just wanted to mention that we’ll have a new post tomorrow by Fuzzy.

Dunn was found guilty of attempted murder, they couldn’t agree on murder. Seriously.

As far as butter – I’ve given up butter. I’ve become a fan of ghee, however, after doing a couple of rounds of a Paleo diet. Ghee is great!

DYB@14: I saw that on Dunn. Could have been as Prolix said about that count.

What on earth is ghee? Is it a spread of some type?

Weiner dog races at the Fair Grounds racetrack in Nola. 🙂

Mary Luke: Looking at the wx channel now. Looks like you all are getting the snow and winds. Are y’all doing okay?

Guilty of “attempted murder”? wtf does that mean. He shot a kid in cold blood, and his actions afterwards showed he didn’t have a shred of conscience. This makes no sense to me, but at least he’ll get a long sentence, I read 20-30 years for each count. I guess that is better than getting off scot free like the repulsive zimmerman.

Ghee is clarified butter. I’m glad butter (or ghee) is back. Margarine is horrible stuff. Even the kind they sell @ Whole Foods has unhealthy oils, like canola, in it.

Prolix, you did a great job of the Sunday roundup.

Re: the yacht tax, I think FDR loved yachts. I think he had a huge yacht. I dated a guy with a very nice one when I was young. I love sleeping on boats.

socal@18: Not to be a smart ass about it but it seems like the attempt worked in that one kid was killed.

Ghee is clarified butter. Ah..thanks for the “clarification”. 😉

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February 2014
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