In Florida, you can receive a death sentence for shoving someone

Seriously.  Good God these “stand your ground” laws are truly insane.  No, you should not strongly shove some stranger confronting your family in a parking lot, but, if you do, in Florida, that stranger apparently has the right to then shoot you to death.  And it’s all here on video.  I’ll even give the you the guy drawing his gun (this is America), but after he draws his gun, it is crystal clear the shover is no additional threat.  This is an execution.  And legal in Florida!

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri showed a video of a deadly July 19 shooting in Clearwater, Fla., and explained why Florida law protects the shooter. (Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)

Britany Jacobs sat parked in the handicap spot, right in the middle of Michael Drejka’s pet peeve.

She had just finished up a nursing shift Thursday, and she and her boyfriend, Markeis McGlockton, had a car full of children, all under age 6. So she sent McGlockton and their 5-year-old into a Circle A in Clearwater, Fla., for snacks and drinks while she rested in the parked car — or at least tried to.

Also in the lot was Drejka, a regular at the Circle A who regularly took issue with able-bodied people parking in the reserved spot. He circled Jacob’s car, looking for a handicap decal and, finding none, proceeded to forcefully explain to her the finer points of Florida’s disabled parking regulations.

“He’s getting out like he’s a police officer or something, and he’s approaching me,” Jacobs told the Tampa Bay Times.

Jacobs said the conversation grew heated, drawing the attention of other store patrons, including McGlockton, who abandoned his snack run. He came out of the store, then quickly closed the distance between himself and the man confronting the mother of his children and shoved Drejka to the ground.

That action, and the seconds that followed it, have thrust the dispute over the handicap parking spot into the nationwide debate about “stand your ground” laws.

Now seated on the ground, Drejka reached into his pocket, pulled out a pistol and fired a single shot into McGlockton’s chest, an action shown clearly on surveillance video released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

McGlockton clutched his chest, staggered into the convenience store and collapsed. Later, his girlfriend ran into the store and applied pressure to the bullet wound in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the bleeding.

McGlockton, 28, died a short time later, leaving his family to bury him and the rest of Pinellas County to grapple with the legality of his killer’s actions.

On Friday, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced that Drejka would not be arrested or charged with a crime, saying that his actions fell within the legal boundaries of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Then, in an expansive 30-minute news conference, he tried to explain how the law connected to what was going through Drejka’s mind when he pulled the trigger.

This is insane!  The idea that because somebody shoves you– and may even come back for another shove– gives you the legal right to a lethal response is just nuts and America and its absolute worst.  Ugh.

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Quick hits (part I)

Sorry for the slow week (and the late quick hits), but you’ll be glad to know I had a damn good time at the beach.

1) Enjoyed Adam Gopnik on immigration and France’s World Cup win.

2) Still can’t beat the original Ali G show for me (this may be my favorite clip), but I’m still a big Sacha Baron Cohen fan.  Oh, boy did he make some Republicans look stupid advocating for toddlers to have guns.

3) As much as I wanted to write about Trump and Putin this week, I decided my time was better spent in the Atlantic ocean.  That said, I particularly enjoyed some of the following takes.  Max Boot:

President Trump habitually calls the press “the enemy of the people” — a loathsome calumny, redolent of dictatorships, that he repeated on Sunday. In fact, by asking tough questions at Trump’s joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, reporters once again showed that they are the sentinels of America democracy. If anyone is “the enemy of the people,” it is Trump himself.

Those are words I never thought I would write about an American president — even one as boorish and bigoted as Trump. But after his appalling performance in Helsinki at what CNN’s John King aptly called the “surrender summit,” questions about Trump’s loyalty to the American people will only intensify. Indeed, the question came up at the news conference itself. The Associated Press’s Jonathan Lemire courageously asked “does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?”

Think of how extraordinary — how unprecedented — that moment was. Can you imagine a similar question being asked about any previous U.S. president? I can’t.

4) Drum rounds up a bunch of pretty tough criticism of the “Surrender Summit,” but I could not help but notice how there’s hardly any meaningful criticism from sitting Republican officeholders.  What a bunch of cowards!!

5) James Fallows, “This Is the Moment of Truth for Republicans: The GOP can either defend the United States or serve the damaged and defective man who is now its president.”  Sadly, I think we all know what choice we’ll make.  On some level I understand the desire to hang onto political power, but do these Republicans have no genuine patriotism at all?!

There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.

Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.

Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.

Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions.

Whatever the balance of motivations, what mattered was that Trump’s answers during his joint press conference with the Russian president were indistinguishable from Putin’s, starting with the fundamental claim that Putin’s assurances about interference in U.S. democracy (“He was incredibly strong and confident in his denial”) deserved belief over those of his own Department of Justice (“I think the probe is a disaster for our country”)…

Trump manifestly cannot help himself. This is who he is.

Those who could do something are the 51 Republican senators and 236 Republican representatives who have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, pass resolutions of censure, guarantee the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation, condemn the past Russian election interference, shore up protections against the next assault, and in general defend their countryrather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president.

6) David Remnick (who damn well knows Russia):

At the press conference in Helsinki, Trump proved himself, at best, a heedless amateur, blind to the bogus arguments and offers being made by a shrewd adversary. “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today, and what he did is an incredible offer,” Trump said. “He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the twelve [Russian intelligence officers who were indicted by Mueller]. I think that’s an incredible offer.” Incredible is the word, and not just for the offer. Trump’s incredible journey to Europe was an act contrary to the interests of his country. Now we will see who, particularly in the Republican Party, will stand up not to applaud the Great Leader but to find the capacity to say what is obvious and what is true.

7) All that said, I did enjoy Douthat’s more temperate take (though it is still plenty damning):

And what about the election-season contacts with suspicious Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, the Don Jr. meeting and the Roger Stone forays? In this theory they’re indicators that Trump, a shady guy surrounded by shady guys and professional morons, might well have colluded given the opportunity — but they don’t prove that any such opportunity presented itself. After all, neither the hacking nor the leaking of emails required his campaign’s cooperation, so there was no reason for the Russian side to advance beyond a deniable low-level meeting and WikiLeaks D.M.s, and thus no real opportunity for the Trump team to be a true accessory to the underlying crime.

This narrative does not exonerate Trump; indeed, it provides various grounds to condemn him. But those grounds are the same grounds that were obvious during the campaign: We watched him blow kisses to dictators then, complain about our allies then, promise a détente with Russia while exploiting the D.N.C. hacking then, double and triple down on falsehoods and bogus narratives then, cling to self-destructive feuds (the Khans, Alicia Machado) in the same way that he clings to public flattery for Putin … and after all this, he was still elected president. So be appalled when he behaves appallingly, but do not be surprised, do not confuse Trump being Trump with Trump being treasonous — and recognize that he isn’t leaving office until you beat him at the polls.

Overall it’s a theory that fits Trump’s personality extremely well, fits the available facts reasonably well, and doesn’t require any new revelations or heretofore-hidden conspiracies. So I continue to give it a … (consults extremely scientific methodology) … 65 percent chance of being the truth.

8) And, then, there”s the red-headed Russian spy, Maria Butina.

9) Okay, switching gears…  What do transgender men have to tell us about the reality of gender in America.  I found the intersection with race particularly interesting:

One night somebody crashed a car into my neighbor’s house, and I called 911. I walk out to talk to the police officer, and he pulls a gun on me and says, “Stop! Stop! Get on the ground!” I turn around to see if there’s someone behind me, and he goes, “You! You! Get on the ground!” I’m in pajamas and barefoot. I get on the ground and he checks me, and afterward I said, “What was that all about?” He said, “You were moving kind of funny.” Later, people told me, “Man, you’re crazy. You never call the police.”

I get pulled over a lot more now. I got pulled over more in the first two years after my transition than I did the entire 20 years I was driving before that. Before, when I’d been stopped, even for real violations like driving 100 miles an hour, I got off. In fact, when it happened in Atlanta the officer and I got into a great conversation about the Braves. Now the first two questions they ask are: Do I have any weapons in the car, and am I on parole or probation?

10) I should’ve probably spent a little more time in the ocean, but had such a hard time pulling myself away from what is now one of my favorite books ever.  Tom Sweterlich’s The Gone World, was just unbelievably brilliant and one of those books that stick with you so much.  I recognize that time travel books aren’t for everybody, but, damn did this book hit all my sweet spots from dystopia, to time travel, to the meaning of identity, to murder investigation, to great plotting, to terrific characters.  Wow.  If you are inspired and read it, please let me know what you think.  Of the many reviews I read, I think the Kirkus one sums it up best:

Sweterlitsch’s latest (Tomorrow and Tomorrow, 2014, etc.) is a mind-blowing fusion of science fiction, thriller, existential horror, and apocalyptic fiction.

Initially set in 1997, the story revolves around Shannon Moss, a federal agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who is assigned to track down a missing girl whose family has been brutally murdered in their home in southwestern Pennsylvania. When Moss realizes the potential killers are missing astronauts whose spaceship vanished while on a black ops mission called Deep Waters, involving time travel, she must figure out how members of a lost crew are now suddenly living clandestinely as domestic terrorists in America. An undercover time traveler herself for the Naval Space Command—she even lost part of her leg exploring a far-future Earth—Moss must track down the killers as the looming darkness of the Terminus, the death of humankind that is at the end of almost every Deep Waters journey, moves ever closer. The power of this novel is twofold: Sweterlitsch’s intricately plotted storyline will keep readers on the edges of their seats until the very last pages, and his extended use of bleak imagery coupled with his lyrical writing style make for an intense and unforgettable read.

11) So, this was interesting.  Dave Leonhardt highlighted the Weekly Standard cover story on the hazards of marijuana.  Had no idea that my friend from freshman year at Duke, Tony Mecia, was now a conservative writer (I do remember him being very conservative way back then, though).  Anyway, I didn’t give a full read, but from my perspective…1) of course there are downsides to marijuana use and it is foolish to pretend otherwise, but 2) those downsides are far less than that for many other mind-altering drugs and it is intellectually dishonest to not at least consider the substitution effect of using marijuana in place of more harmful drugs– including alcohol!

 

 

 

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