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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Media still claiming that Trayvon Martin was shot while walking home from 7-Eleven but key revelation from trial was that Martin ran home first, then went back out, angry at "creepy ass cracka"

Two years after George Zimmerman’s acquittal widespread pre-trial misinformation about Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin remains set in media stone. It’s as if the trial never happened. After the last spate of coverage for Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin I started rounding up a survey of the coverage. That was back in February when the DOJ announced it would not file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

As documented below, almost every news report summarized Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin as occurring while Martin was on the way back to his father’s house from a nearby 7-Eleven. That is a direct contradiction of the testimony from Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel who had been on the phone with Martin when Martin and Zimmerman first saw each other. Martin initially started to approach Zimmerman, then decided to run away, at which point his phone call with Jeantel disconnected. She said in court that when they reconnected a short time later Martin sounded tired and told her that he was back by his father’s house (first reported by Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection).

The fatal confrontation occurred a couple of minutes later about a hundred yards back in the direction where Martin and Zimmerman had first seen each other. Thus the best and only evidence we have says that the beating of Zimmerman by Martin and the shooting of Martin by Zimmerman occurred, not when Martin was on his way home, but shortly after he left home, apparently in search of Zimmerman, who he called a “creepy ass cracker” according to Jeantel.

Of course that changes everything. It strongly suggests that Martin went back out to find Zimmerman, which strongly supports Zimmerman’s claim that it was Martin who initiated the confrontation and Martin who attacked him.

This best and only evidence about the actual sequence of events doesn't tell the story that our Democrat-dominated media wants to tell. They believe that stories of black victimization are advantageous for their political side so that is what they publish, the facts be damned.

When civil rights charges were not filed against Zimmerman most news reports explained this result by emphasizing the difficulty of proving that Zimmerman shot Martin because Martin was black, and their counter-to-evidence statement of the facts allowed them to create the impression that it was likely that the shooting of Travyon Martin was a race-motivated execution. Thus was the utter lack of any case against Zimmerman presented as yet another re-victimization of the black community.

Several major news reports went so far as to assert another strongly counter-to-evidence claim: that it was Zimmerman who initiated the fatal confrontation, and The New York Times fixed blame further by reporting that Zimmerman “got out of his car — ignoring the advice of a police dispatcher.” Anyone who is willing to listen to the recording of the call can verify for themselves that it was only after Zimmerman was already out of his car and could be heard getting winded that the police dispatcher advised him not to follow, at which point Zimmerman immediately replied “okay.”

The claim that Zimmerman declined to follow police advice is just a flat lie, which is no surprise. The Grey Lady is always the worst violator of journalistic ethics. Every lie that fits in print, if it serves the Democratic party’s perverse conception of its own interests.

This is obviously never going to stop so the second anniversary of Zimmerman’s acquittal seems a good time to lay out the actual evidence from the trial as it contradicts the media’s ongoing narrative. To keep this post manageable I am putting a lot of documentation (full survey results, etcetera) in a set of five addenda.  The body of the post focuses on the evidence that Martin had made it home before the fatal confrontation, and the front page coverage that this revelation received during the trial.

All the reporters know about it! Which makes their counter-to-evidence statements of fact all the more damning. Here are the first three summaries of the shooting incident that I came across when the DOJ announced there would be no civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Mis-statements of fact, set in media stone

From USA Today
Zimmerman shot Trayvon, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012, as the teen walked back to a relative's home after purchasing snacks at a convenience store in Sanford, Fla.
From ABC:  
The case sparked intense discussions over race in America because Martin was walking to his home with only Skittles and an iced tea in his hands.
And from US News
Zimmerman shot Martin in a Sanford, Florida, gated community after what Zimmerman described was a violent tussle with the 17-year-old. Martin was unarmed and walking back to the house where he was visiting father after a trip to a local convenience store.
Contrast these media summaries with the key revelation from the trial, where Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel testified about her second phone call with Martin, after he had run away from Zimmerman’s initial surveillance. The first call disconnected when Martin started running. When Martin and Jeantel reconnected 18 seconds later (see the phone-call timeline in Addendum 1) she testified that he sounded tired and (at some point in the conversation) that he said was back by his father’s house (about a hundred yards beyond where the fatal confrontation occurred):
JEANTEL: He sounded tired, sir. 
WEST: And you don't know how far he may have run. 
JEANTEL: No, sir.   … 
WEST: And you have this conversation with him for a couple of minutes, and then he says he sees the man again? 
JEANTEL: Yes, sir.  … He told me that he was close to him. 
WEST: Right. At that point he [Trayvon] decided to approach this man and say, why are you following me? 
JEANTEL: Yes, sir. 
WEST: And he could have just run home if he wasn't there. 
JEANTEL: He was already by his house. He told me.
There is no other evidence about where Martin was during the three and a half minutes between his running away from Zimmerman and his fatal encounter with Zimmerman a hundred yards from his father’s house. The best and only evidence is Jeantel’s claim that Martin told her at some point during this second phone call that he was back by his father’s house. That evidence says he was not heading home when the confrontation occurred, but has just left his home, very likely with the intent of confronting Zimmerman.

Is it too much to ask that the media’s one and two line summaries of the case not directly contradict key evidence from the trial? We don’t have a real press anymore. We have Democratic operatives with bylines.

“That’s real retarded sir”: Jeantel’s testimony about Martin getting back to his house was the most highlighted moment of the entire trial thanks to defense attorney West's confused attempt to refute it

When Jeantel revealed that during the second phone call Martin had said he was by his house, Zimmerman’s attorney Don West, not realizing that Jeantel had just made his case for him, started suggesting that maybe Martin had been lying about having reached his father’s house. When West persisted in this counter-to-interest line Jeantel astutely observe that West was being “real retarded,” landing the exchange on the front page of most major newspapers.

Any reporter who is the least bit familiar with the case would have to know about it. Even left-wing outfits like Huffpo/AP reported it (6/27/13):
At one point, West suggested that though Martin told her he was by his father's fiancee's house while Zimmerman was following him, that she doesn't know that for sure. 
"Why he need to lie about that, sir?" Jeantel asked West. 
"Maybe if he decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn't want you to know about it," West replied. 
"That's real retarded, sir," she said.
Together with the eyewitness testimony of John Good that it was Martin who was on top raining down punches “MMA style,” and the physical evidence that Martin had been bashing Zimmerman’s head into the concrete, Jeantel’s testimony that Martin said he was home, and by implication must have gone back out in search of Zimmerman, makes self-defense a near certainty.

The burden of proof goes the other way. It is the prosecution that has to show beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not defending himself, thus the only miscarriage of justice was that Zimmerman was ever charged at all, but that truth does not serve the media’s interests, and to evade it they are willing to mis-report even the most high profile facts.

In my semi-complete survey (Addendum 3) only Fox and NBC managed not to actually contradict key evidence but no press organization described how the evidence supported Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. Presented with an opportunity to shed light on why civil rights charges were not viable our press corps chose instead to either take a pass or to actively un-explain the decision, making it seem as if a guilty man was going free (again), in most cases by directly contradicting the facts that came out in the trial.

They all know that the trial’s big “that’s real retarded sir” moment was about Jeantel’s revelation that Martin said he was back at his house minutes before the fatal confrontation. They just don’t want you to know what they know.

Alternate juror explains the import of Trayvon having reached his house before the confrontation

If reporters cannot figure it out for themselves, an alternate juror came out after the trial and explained it to everyone. In his account the keys to the verdict were the injuries to Zimmerman and Jeantel’s admission that Martin had reached his father’s house, then somehow ended up pummeling Zimmerman a hundred yards away.  If the best evidence they had was that Martin had gone back out looking for Zimmerman, that strongly supported Zimmerman’s  claim that it was Trayvon who attacked him:
And then she [Rachel Jeantel] called back and she called to talk to him again. 
At that point, Trayvon said he had lost the man and he was at this -- this -- where his father was staying. He was at that place. At the same time of that -- that happening, George Zimmerman had only just gotten out of his car about 25, 30 seconds. So he was still up at the T. 
And Trayvon, according to Jeantel's -- or Rachel's testimony, would have been down the other end of the buildings at that point. So somehow, those two got back together up at the top of the T. 
And you know, we don't know how that happened but -- and in all likelihood, in my mind, you know, even if George Zimmerman had walked down to where Trayvon was, they both walked back up to the T. So that would have implied that Trayvon had followed George Zimmerman back up. 
If George Zimmerman didn't walk down there, then Trayvon walked up, back up to the T somehow because then the earwitnesses heard the noises up there, most of the earwitnesses, I believe. One of them said the noises went the other direction. But the majority of them had the noises coming from the top of the T down to the truck where -- where John Good saw him laying on the ground, or Trayvon on top of George Zimmerman. 
And I believe that John Good said that it was -- I believe -- I believed that it was Zimmerman because he had the color of the jacket that he had. 
And so tying all those together and the injuries that George Zimmerman had, that's where I -- that's where I came to my conclusion that it was justifiable.
With the revelation that Trayvon had reached his father’s house the verdict is easy to explain, which is why the press pretends that this information never came out.

If anyone had their civil rights violated it was George Zimmerman, first by Trayvon Martin, then by President Obama

Between Martin and Zimmerman the only one who seems to have been motivated by race (necessary for a civil rights violation) was Trayvon Martin. In contrast to Martin’s racially bigoted “creepy ass cracker” remark, Zimmerman did not mention Martin’s race (“he looks black”) until asked by the 911 dispatcher (regardless of NBC’s doctoring of the 911 tapes to say otherwise).

The 911 tapes also reveal incredible forbearance on Zimmerman’s part. A voice that can only be Zimmerman’s was recorded screaming for help (or “yelping for help” according to the police report) 14 times in 38 seconds, and before that 911 call began the fight had already been going on for 27 seconds (the gap between the end of the second Martin-Jeantel call and the first 911 call), plus whatever part of the fight Jeantel heard before her call disconnected.

Over this span Zimmerman absorbed numerous “MMA style” ground-and-pound punches and had the back of his head smashed into the concrete multiple times before he finally pulled his gun and fired a single shot at his assailant. Wow dude, what took you so long?

The strong evidence that Martin went back out from his house to confront the “creepy ass cracker” who had been keeping an eye on him indicates clearly that Martin’s use of life-threatening force against Zimmerman was not in self-defense and had a clear racist motivation. Martin was violating Zimmerman’s civil rights, while Zimmerman’s extraordinary reluctance to use lethal force belies any claim that he was acting in other than self-defense.

The obvious miscarriage of justice here was the decision to charge Zimmerman at all, never mind under blatantly racist pressure from the President of the United States, who was emoting at the time how: “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

In 1986 The U.S. Court of Military Appeals opined that “Command influence is the mortal enemy of military justice,” and the same holds true for the civilian courts. Due process must prevail not just in the courts but in the prosecutor’s office and there is no more improper process than to base a prosecutorial decision on racial sympathy for one of the parties, never mind under the influence of high level political pressure, but this is exactly the pressure that “constitutional scholar” Barack Hussein Obama brought to bear.

As Zimmerman himself has protested, that is a real wrong. In contrast, there is nothing wrong at all when a murderous assailant is killed by the defensive actions of his would-be victim. If only it could always turn out that way.

The end

Further documentation and discussion are provided in the following five addenda

Addendum 1:  Map of the scene and phone call timeline

Addendum 2: Other counter-to-evidence media claim  (that Zimmerman initiated the fatal confrontation and that he disregarded police instructions or advice) 

Addendum 3: My semi-complete survey of errant media summaries of the facts

Addendum 4: Rachel Jeantel’s post-trial revelations

Addendum 5: The Media’s refusal to portray Trayvon (“no limits nigga”) Martin as he saw himself

Addendum 1:  Map of the scene and phone call timeline

The 7-eleven that Trayvon Martin was walking back from (1125 Rinehart Rd) was a half mile or so to the east/left down Oregon Avenue at the top of the image above (click for larger). When George Zimmerman first spotted him inside the gated Twin Lakes community Martin and his friend Rachel Jeantel had already been talking on the phone for about fifteen minutes. That could explain why Martin seemed to Zimmerman to be “just walking around” in the rain, “looking about.” Here is the beginning of Zimmerman’s call to the Sanford police department. He gives his location as near the clubhouse, which is near the intersection inside the northern gate: 
Zimmerman: Hey, we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there's a real suspicious guy. … This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about.
Martin saw Zimmerman watching him and correctly assessed that Zimmerman was looking at him as a possible criminal. According to Jeantel’s testimony Martin called Zimmerman  a “creepy-ass cracker,” which she would later explain to Piers Morgan meant “a person who act like they are police.”

From Zimmerman’s call, Martin’s first reaction to being watched seems to have been aggressive, before he changed his mind and ran away:
Zimmerman: Something's wrong with him. Yep, he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is. 
Dispatcher: Ah, OK, just let me know if he does anything. 
Zimmerman:  Get an officer over here. … 
Zimmerman: s---, he's running. … Down toward the other entrance of the neighborhood.
The “other entrance” is at the southeast corner of the neighborhood, next to Martin’s father’s fiancée’s house. 

The second Jeantel-Martin phone call

It was 7:11:41 PM when Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that Martin was running.  Seven seconds later, at 7:11:48, the first Jeantel-Martin phone call disconnected (see the 13:35 mark of this video testimony from T-Mobile representative Raymond MacDonald) and the evidence suggests that he ran all or most of the way back to his father’s fiancee’s house.

It was only 18 seconds later, at 7:12:06 PM, when Jeantel got Martin back on the phone for a final three minutes and 38 seconds (see the 13 minute mark of the T-Mobile testimony). When they reconnected Jeantel testified that Trayvon sounded tired, and at some point in the call he said he was back at his house. As quoted earlier:
JEANTEL: He sounded tired, sir. 
WEST: And you don't know how far he may have run. 
JEANTEL: No, sir.   … 
WEST: And you have this conversation with him for a couple of minutes, and then he says he sees the man again? 
JEANTEL: Yes, sir.  … He told me that he was close to him. 
WEST: Right. At that point he [Trayvon] decided to approach this man and say, why are you following me? 
JEANTEL: Yes, sir. 
WEST: And he could have just run home if he wasn't there. 
JEANTEL: He was already by his house. He told me.
WAPO phone-call timeline, with the two Martin-Jeantel phone calls added

The Washington Post created a graphic time-line of Zimmerman’s call to the police, and the subsequent 911 calls. I added timing marks and annotations for the Martin-Jeantel phone calls as well (click for larger image):

It is not clear how much of the struggle Jeantel heard before her phone disconnected, but it seems that the fight went on for at least about 80 seconds.

Zimmerman did NOT get out of his car against police advice

Note also that when the police dispatcher asked Zimmerman if he was following the suspect, Zimmerman was already out of his car. He did not get out of his car against police advice, which is another piece of disinformation that some leading press outlets are pushing (see NYT in addendum 2 below.

At the 2 minute mark in WAPO’s recording of Zimmerman’s call he says that the suspect is running. A few seconds later, at the 1:52 mark, Zimmerman can be heard getting out of his car and shutting the door (WAPO’s time stamps count down instead of up). Zimmerman’s breathing quickly starts to get heavy and there is wind noise and only then does the dispatcher asks Zimmerman if he is following Martin.

The dispatcher is clearly responding to audio evidence that Zimmerman is already out of his car and is pursuing on foot. Zimmerman says “yeap” and at 1:40 the dispatcher say “okay, we don’t need you to do that,” and Zimmerman says “okay.” 

WAPO’s summary of the audio gets this sequence right: 
Zimmerman got out of his truck to follow him. The dispatcher told him to stop, and at 7:13:38 p.m, the call ended.

Addendum 2: Other counter-to-evidence media claims 

The LA Times repeats the counter-to-evidence claim that Martin was walking home when the confrontation occurred, and adds the unsupported assertion that it was Zimmerman who confronted Martin:
Martin was visiting his father and his father’s girlfriend at a gated community in Sanford, Fla., when he went to a convenience store in the rain. Wearing a hoodie, he was on his way home when Zimmerman confronted him.
No, Martin was not on his way home, and even Trayvon’s friend Rachel acknowledges that the first words between them were Trayvon challenging Zimmerman: “Why are you following me for?”

The question by itself sounds like it could be Martin challenging Zimmerman for coming up behind him, but once you know that Martin has already been home the interpretation changes completely, suggesting that Martin, who had from the beginning been complaining about out Zimmerman watching him, had gone back out to challenge Zimmerman over it, just as he started to do when he first saw Zimmerman.

The question of who initiated the fatal confrontation is critical. If it was Zimmerman that tends to vitiate his claim of self-defense. Of course it would be legal for him to approach and question Martin, but even such fully legal behavior could raise the question of whether Martin felt legitimately threatened, possibly leaving Zimmerman with some responsibility for the turn to violence, which could tend to support a manslaughter conviction, making the LA Times summary of the case very harmful to Zimmerman, but it is also completely without support.

The New York Times backs up the claim that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation by adding the counter-to-evidence assertion that Zimmerman ignored police advice not to follow the suspect:
[Zimmerman] got out of his car — ignoring the advice of a police dispatcher — and followed Mr. Martin, setting off a confrontation that led to Mr. Martin’s death, prosecutors said. 
Angry at Mr. Zimmerman and feeling threatened, Mr. Martin pushed him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head into the pavement, leaving visible wounds, defense lawyers said. Mr. Zimmerman, flat on his back, took out a gun and killed Mr. Martin. He told the police it was self-defense.
The police dispatcher did not advise Zimmerman not to get out of his car. Zimmerman was already out of his car when the dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to follow Martin, to which Zimmerman answered: “okay.” The Times is just lying here. See the timeline discussion in Addendum 2 above. 

The Times tries to get away with their false depiction by putting it in the mouth of the prosecutor but the prosecution is not a neutral party. They are one side, in this case the losing side, of an adversarial contest. It is obviously inappropriate to base a one-line summary of the incident on just the prosecutor’s assertions. Zimmerman denies that he continued to follow Martin and all the evidence is on his side.

Zimmerman tells the dispatcher that his truck is parked by a “cut through,” which turns out to be the bend in Twin Trees Lane where a walkway cuts over to the eastern side of Retreat View Circle. He has been out of his car for 15 seconds when the dispatcher suggests he stop following Martin and Zimmerman says “okay,” but the wind noise continues for several more seconds. It isn't until 30 seconds after Zimmerman shut his car door the wind noise ends completely.

Thirty seconds of brisk walking from his truck would cover about 200 feet which would put Zimmerman somewhere near the top of the “T” where another walkway proceeds south from the cut-through, down through several back yards including, about 150 yards down, the back yard of the house where Martin was staying.

Zimmerman says he next walked all the way across the cut-through to try to find a street sign so he could tell the police where he was, then came back to the area of the T, and that is where he says Martin jumped out and attacked him.

It is possible that Zimmerman is lying and that he actually did walk down behind Martin’s house (though there is no evidence that he lied about anything), but as the alternate juror noted, that would still mean that Martin followed him back up to the T, still indicating that it was Martin who at the end closed the distance and initiated the confrontation. 

Addendum 3: My semi-complete survey of errant media summaries of the facts

AP wrongly claims that Martin was headed home from the store when the fatal confrontation occurred, and claims with no evidence that it was Zimmerman who approached Martin:
The February 2012 confrontation began after Zimmerman observed Martin while driving in his neighborhood. Zimmerman called police and got out of his car and approached Martin, who was returning from a store while visiting his father and his father's fiancee at the same townhome complex where Zimmerman lived. Zimmerman did not testify at his trial, but he told investigators that he feared for his life as Martin straddled him and punched him during the fight.

WAPO doesn’t say that Martin was on his way home, but their one line summary of the incident at the beginning of their 21 paragraph story does show a glaring omission:
 Zimmerman fatally shot Martin while the unarmed African American 17-year-old was walking in Sanford, Fla.
Martin was not “walking” when he was shot, he was sitting on top of Zimmerman smashing his head into the concrete. Only “below the fold,” more than halfway through the article, does the Post get around to mentioning that:
Zimmerman, a former volunteer neighborhood watchman who identifies as Hispanic, told police he was fighting for his life and fired at Martin in self-defense.

Civil rights leaders, as well as Martin’s relatives, took to the streets contending that the teen — who’d gone out to get a drink and Skittles from a Sanford, Florida, convenience store only to run into Zimmerman on his way back — might still be alive today if not for the color of his skin.
Martin and Zimmerman saw each other when Martin was on his way back home, but the evidence says they did not “run into each other” (have a physical confrontation) until Martin, after reaching home, went back out in search of Zimmerman. 

This was the most decisive piece of evidence to come out of the trial and the one or two line summaries from the great majority of news outlets manage to directly contradict it.

Al Jazeera 
The Islamofascists take the NYT line, using the false claim that Zimmerman went against the advice of the 911 dispatcher to claim that he initiated the confrontation:
The fateful night began when Zimmerman called the police after he claimed Martin was acting suspiciously by walking in a neighborhood where he was not recognized. Against the wishes of the police dispatcher, Zimmerman approached Martin, who was in town visiting his father’s fiancee in the gated community Zimmerman was patrolling. In the ensuing confrontation, Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, claiming self-defense after the teenager allegedly punched him. 
Washington Examiner

Even the Washington Examiner’s conservative-leaning reporter Becket Adams got in on the disinformation, implying but not quite directly asserting the NYT line that Zimmerman ignored police advice to stop following Martin and barged ahead to initiate the fatal confrontation:
During a 911 call, Zimmerman described his suspicions of Martin, but a dispatcher suggested he not follow the teenager. Moments later the two came to blows. Physical evidence and the defendant's testimony indicate Martin was winning the fight when Zimmerman shot and killed him.
By saying that the struggle came “moments” after the dispatcher suggested that Zimmerman not follow Martin, Adams creates the imputation that Zimmerman did not heed the dispatcher’s advice, that he did continue after Martin and likely was the one who initiated the confrontation. 
But the confrontation was not “moments” later, it was minutes later, during which interval the only available evidence says that Martin reached his house and then went back out to confront Zimmerman.

That Adams seems not to know this shows just how pervasive the media disinformation is. Reporters get as much disinformation from their colleagues as the rest of us do, making it difficult not to get swept along with the tide. Becket trusted other news outlets to tell him the truth, but as the majority of Americans already know, you can’t do that!

Honor roll

No press outlet mentioned the testimony that Martin had already been home before the fatal confrontation occurred but credit is due to Fox and NBC (!) for not positively contradicting this and other evidence. 

Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense when he shot the 17-year-old Martin during a confrontation inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida, just outside Orlando. Martin, who was black, was unarmed when he was killed.

Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges. He was charged with second-degree murder, and jurors also had the option of convicting him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. He said that he was acting in self-defense when he killed Martin, 17, during an altercation in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2012.
These are the only two examples I was able to find of summary statements that do not make crucial assertions that directly contradict key evidence.

Addendum 4: post-trial revelations from Rachel Jeanteal

In post-trial interviews Rachel Jeantel opined that Martin threw the first punch but said Zimmerman didn’t need to shoot him because Martin was only giving him a “whoop ass,” not trying to kill him. Why did Martin want to "whoop ass" Zimmerman, if not kill him? The likely motive can be seen in Martin calling Zimmerman a “cracka”: 
RACHEL JEANTEL: Yes, and that's a person who act like they are police.
It seems that Martin did not like to have someone monitoring his activity for possible criminal intent, which is not surprising for someone who’s Twitter handle was “no-limits-nigga.” Zimmerman was trying to put limits on him, trying to make sure he couldn’t get away with any crimes. That's not going to work for someone whose texts with friends indicate that drug use, fighting and stealing were all on his “no limits” agenda. 

In the months before his death Trayvon had been suspended from school three times for drug use, graffiti, and burglary. There is also video of him orchestrating an arranged MMA-type fight, so what else was he going to do when a some “creepy ass cracker” tried to put limits on him? Jeantel tried to put it in street terms for Morgan.

She didn’t think the jury was racist, she just thought the problem with having so many whites on the jury was that they didn’t understand, as a black person would that, that Martin was not actually gong to kill Zimmerman, but just “whoop ass” beating, not even as bad as a more serious “bashing”: 
MORGAN: Because of the make-up of the jury? Do you think it was just wrong that you had no black people on the jury at all? 
JEANTEL: No, not that. They don't understand, they understand -- he was just bashed or he was killed. When somebody bashes like blood people, trust me, the area I live, that's not bashing. That's just called whoop ass.
In another interview with Marc Lamont Hill Jeantel said she thinks it was Martin who threw the first punch:
At some point a fight breaks out, who swings–who hits who first in your mind?” Jeantel replies “In my mind, I believe Trayvon. It was Trayvon…
She also repeated her view that Zimmerman didn’t have to shoot Martin because Martin wasn’t actually going to kill him: 
Hill pointed out “George Zimmerman’s defenders would say well, if he didn’t pull out a gun, if Trayvon was whoopin’ his ass he could have killed George Zimmerman.” Jeantel replies “No. Trust me. That’s not killing. You have a big bruise, you don’t see inside your skin. You might have a little stitches.” Jeantel adds “He [Trayvon] would have fight him and run.”
Jeantel’s sense of Martin’s actions dovetails closely with what Zimmerman says happened, with the exception that Zimmerman says Martin told him that he was going to kill him.

The interview part of Jeantel’s story did not come out in the trial but it was all widely reported and it is all pointed to by what did come out in the trial: that Martin had been back by his father’s fiancée’s house before the fatal confrontation.

If he went back out in search of Zimmerman, Jeantel is telling us that the reason was to give Zimmerman at least a “whoop ass.” None of which keeps our agenda-driven media from writing as if no evidence ever came out and the verdict is a mystery. They are even still using the original misleading pictures of Trayvon Martin looking like an innocent child.

Addendum 5: the media still refuses to show Martin as he saw himself

Seventeen year old Trayvon Martin’s own chosen public image was aggressively thuggish. Here is his “no-limits-nigga” Twitter avatar, trying to look like a rap-gangster, showing off his removable gold-colored “grill”:

Here is Martin’s  “T33ZY TAUGHT M3” Twitter avatar, where he tweeted, “Plzz shoot da #mf dat lied 2 u!”:

But the press still refuses to show Martin as he saw himself, instead using the same wholesome looking picture they used from the beginning to depict Trayvon as an innocent child murdered by a racist “white Hispanic.” Here is the still video frame that ABC selected to head their coverage of the DOJ announcement:

Here is how the 17 year old five-eleven, 158 pound Martin actually looked on the night of his death, approaching the counter at the 7-11 a half mile from the gated community where he was staying. This is no little boy:

Showing Martin’s imposing figure and his ugly self-image would help to de-mystify the jury verdict that upheld Zimmerman’s self-defense claim but our Democrat-dominated press obviously does not want this verdict de-mystified. Instead of explaining it they would rather un-explain it, creating a false narrative of black racial victimization that they believe works in their political favor.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Supreme Court's gay marriage decision destroys the concept of tolerance, conflating it with approval, which is a near opposite

It's a huge error, and one that just lost us the battle for Islamic hearts and minds. The appeal for tolerance is moral and right. A demand that society approve of homosexual relationships is morally insane, and will destroy whatever moral standing we had to appeal on the world stage for tolerance of homosexuality.

Homosexuals have a right to be tolerated but no one has a right to approval and marriage is society's stamp of approval, thus the only legitimate path to gay marriage is through majority support, a path that SCOTUS has now cut off with their Obergefell v. Hodges decision. To do it they annihilated the distinction between tolerance and approval, which is the foundation of all of our liberty. Five half-educated lawyers who don't even grasp the distinction between tolerance and approval are completely oblivious to the magnitude of the pillar that they just removed from our system of liberty.

It's like knocking out a bottom corner of the Empire State building to make room for some extra parking. They have absolutely no idea what they have done, and homosexuals, who will always be a very small minority, utterly dependent on the tolerance of society, will suffer as much as anyone by the Court's destruction of the principle of tolerance. Do homosexuals think that their need for tolerance is past? Have they looked at the world recently?

Tolerance is in for the fight of its life and yet our system of law, at the very highest level, has suddenly wadded it together with approval, which is a near opposite. It is not tolerance to abide what you approve. Tolerance is abiding what you don't approve, and that is the one thing necessary for pluralism to exist. So we have this stab at the heart of pluralism, just as the totalitarian communists, feminists, and other groupists in the U.S., and the totalitarian Islamofascists everywhere, are ascendant in their power.

Tolerance has taken a huge hit, with implications far beyond this one issue. We now no longer have a coherent legal concept of tolerance to defend. How are we going to sell tolerance to the Islamic world when we have just declared that it means approval, that to be civilized according to our understanding of natural right Muslims don’t just have to stop throwing homosexuals off of rooftops but that they have to give their blessing to homosexuality and consecrate homosexual relations with their rites of social and religious commitment?

Sorry, but that declaration is wrong, and the Court’s assertion that it is right just lost us the battle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. If the Court was right then losing Muslims would be okay. If we have to have WWIII with these people then we have to have WWIII. Follow right and let the chips fall where they may, but we followed wrong. Natural right demands tolerance, not approval, and nothing could be more basic. The violation of our own fundamental principles here is immense and will be debilitating.

Scott Walker's facebook post on the Supreme Court's sudden invention of a right to gay marriage

My remarks above were composed as a comment on Walker's post, which I think is very good. Here is Governor Walker's opening paragraph:
I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges ‘has been with us for millennia.’ In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas. As a result of this decision, the only alternative left for the American people is to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reaffirm the ability of the states to continue to define marriage.
Yes, the issue must be left to majority rule. As Governor of Wisconsin it is fully appropriate for Walker to assert the primacy of state majorities. National majority-rule could also be legitimate, and given our Constitutions's "full faith and credit" clause (that "Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state), a national majority decision may be required, but when decisions can be lived with locally then the more local majority rule affords more liberty and is preferable on that basis.

Walker also correctly identifies one of the key legal points: that what the Supreme Court has done is change the definition of marriage. This fact vitiates the Court's equal protection argument. Homosexuals have always had an equal legal opportunity to marry someone of the opposite sex (the millennia-old definition of marriage), but what they wanted was something else entirely new, something that no one else had ever had before: legal sanction for marrying someone of the same sex (a new definition of marriage). But the equal protection clause cannot redefine marriage. It can only require equal treatment for the same activity engaged by different persons, not between different activities engaged by different persons.

I'm surprised to find myself agreeing with Huckabee about anything, but he also nails this one:
This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition.
This is the difference between gay marriage and the old laws against interracial marriage, which the Court rightly struck down in Loving v. Virginia. In Loving interracial couples were being denied the ability to marry a chosen mate of the opposite sex. They were not seeking to redefine marriage, only seeking equal access to marriage as it had always been defined. Redefining marriage is something altogether different which goes beyond the scope of the simple concept of equal protection.

Loving does deserve some of the blame for the current debacle, but only because the Supremes were not prescient in that case about how liberty rights to engage in intimate relationships were about to become dis-entangled from the institution of marriage.  I come back to this history in the last section of this post.

The distinction between tolerance and approval derives from John Stuart Mill's distinction between "direct" and "indirect" interests

My 2009 essay, "Gay marriage is not a right," explains how the principle of maximum equal liberty (arguably implied by the "inalienable rights" of the Declaration of Independence) give rise to John Stuart Mill's famous principle of liberty, where "direct interests" (interests that impinge physically on a person's liberty or security) must take complete priority (what modern moral philosophers might call "lexical priority") over indirect interests (vicarious interests in what other people are doing or in what others think about what you are doing).

This distinction between direct and indirect interests gives rise in turn to the distinction between tolerance and approval, so the lexical priority of direct over indirect interests (necessary for the securing of maximum equal liberty) becomes in turn a lexical priority for tolerance over approval.

Approval interests (such as the homosexual interest in gay marriage) are to be given zero weight against the need for tolerance (or direct liberty interests). Thus for instance, even if homosexual marriage were to be granted social approval via legitimate means (by majority decision), it still could never justify punishment for those who refuse to participate (by baking cakes, conducting ceremonies, etcetera). Toleration of that personal preference must take absolute precedence over anyone demands for approval.

The connection to Mill's distinction between direct and indirect interests is well worth going into (the link above) if you are interested. Legal analysis does not get to these moral-philosophical fundamentals, thus is no surprise that five Supreme Court justices, who know nothing but legal analysis, and clearly do not care very much about even its principles and warnings, would turn out to be so incompetent when they start trying to identify unenumerated rights. They need to know a lot more than they do and have a lot more circumspection, but the relevant moral philosophy is clear, and shows the right answer, if we follow it.

Ideally we should seek to articulate the maximum equal liberty implied by the inalienable rights of the Declaration, but if it is adopted as a legal protection it should be adopted by amendment.  In very limited fashion and only when necessary it might be legitimate to use the inalienable rights of the declaration to help discern the unenumerated rights of the Ninth Amendment. What the courts should obviously never do is proclaim unenumerated rights that go directly against the maximum equal liberty implied by the Declaration, as the Supreme Court has done by conflating tolerance and approval (direct and indirect interests) in its Obergefell decision.

Indications are that the Court, after wadding tolerance and approval together, will next get the priority between tolerance and approval backwards

It isn't just that gay marriage, not even considered legitimate by any but a tiny fraction of politicians just five years ago, is now asserted to be required, it is that everyone whose religious beliefs bar them from participating in such marriages are now under threat of compulsory participation.

This is the subject of the Walker's last facebook paragraph, and the powerful statement from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Both promise to vigorously enforce all existing state legal protections for religious freedom so that constituents will not face legal liability for refusing to be personally involved with gay marriage, a concern that has been raised by a wave of suits under state-level pro-gay-marriage laws, and a concern which SCOTUS pointedly failed to allay. As noted by Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
Kennedy, who brought up the topic, could have written explicitly that houses of worship and individuals have a First Amendment right not to participate in these ceremonies. That issue has been raised on a number of occasions in the courts. The absence of any such language sends a very disturbing message on religious freedom, in this and many other contexts.
Without understanding the lexical priority of direct over indirect interests, and the lexical priority of tolerance over approval that derives from it, the Court going forward will have no basis for getting this priority right, or even recognizing that a distinction between tolerance and approval needs to be made. Indeed, given all they have gotten wrong, we can be pretty sure that the follow-on questions are going to be decided just as egregiously.

And so here we are, where support for the tiny minority of homosexuals, who are utterly dependent on the tolerance of society, has been transformed into a political-legal war of extreme intolerance for those who do not approve of their relationships. It is a complete inversion of the necessary priority of tolerance over approval, led now by the Supreme Court of the United States, and if it is not reversed it is going to destroy this country, which had until now been the leading light of liberty in the world. Suddenly we are looking more and more like just another fount of unprincipled illiberalism.

As so often happens, Justice Thomas is the only one who gets the basic issue right

Thomas's Obergefell dissent does not make the distinction between tolerance and approval but he does makes a closely related distinction, noting that protected liberties have never been taken to include rights to government provided entitlements, as the particular emoluments of legal marriage status (and the government provided stamp-of-approval), can properly be classed.

Tolerance (liberty) takes absolute priority over all other concerns, be they claims of entitlement or demands for approval.

Statement by Grant Starrett on the Obergefell v. Hodges decision

Grant Starrett, now running for Congress in Tennessee, also has a nice statement on the Supreme Court's terrible decision:
If we desire to live in a constitutional republic, we ought to start recognizing its boundaries. The Constitution has power because the sovereign American people affirmed a particular interpretation at the time that its language was passed. I challenge the notion that any drafter of the 14th Amendment, much less the Framers of the Constitution, possibly imagined, in their wildest dreams, that what they were writing would require that every state give marriage licenses to same sex couples. Unfortunately, five unelected lawyers have overridden the will of the 80% of Tennessee voters who approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing traditional marriage. I fear the vast implications of activist judges, unmoored from the original meaning of our Constitution, imposing their agenda through reinterpretations of our founding documents.
Exactly right, and together with the Obamacare decision (Burwell v. King) where the Court now asserts the power to rewrite any law so as to better suit the law's stated objectives (the very core of legislative activity), the Court has deligitimized itself in a way we have never seen before.

Justice Scalia says of the Obamacare decision (which interpreted-away the fully intentional limitation of subsidies to state's that created their own Obamacare exchanges):
This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government.

Loving v. Virginia and the untangling of liberty rights from marriage over the last 50+ years

If there is no right to approval, or to receive society’s stamp of approval via state sanctioned marriage, why did the Court in Loving declare that:
Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. 
The California Supremes made a similar declaration in 1949, eighteen years before Loving, when they struck down California's ban on interracial marriage:
Marriage is thus something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men.
These declarations were not unreasonable in their time. In 1949 access to the institution of marriage was very much a liberty interest of couples because sex outside of marriage was illegal in pretty much every state of the union. That is, the law did not tolerate those sexual relationships that the state did not approve via the institution of state sanctioned marriage, and things were not much different legally in 1967.

Those were the bad old days, before the nation made so much progress in enforcing toleration for non-approved relationships, but with the Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down the criminalization of homosexual sex by the State of Texas, there has no longer been any criminalization of adult sexual relations outside of marriage anywhere in the United States. That removes most of the individual liberty-rights aspect from marriage, leaving mostly the approval aspect.

Established liberty of contract eliminates most of the other liberty issues surrounding marriage. Unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples (or groups) can agree by contract to pretty much any sharing of income and property that they want, including terms for dissolution. Such contracts may have been off the table when the relationships themselves were illegal, but now that they are legal, these contracts can be entered.

There are some weighty other complements to marriage, like the ability to adopt, but there are good reasons why society might not want to allow homosexual couples to adopt. Adoption is certainly a strong interest, but it involves third parties that keep the issue from being a matter of right for couples who may want to adopt. Thus relational liberty rights are pretty much all protected outside of marriage now, leaving not much exclusively to marriage except for society’s stamp of approval.

It was never technically correct for the courts to say that there was a right to marriage. There was a right to the liberty interests that were once bound up with the institution of marriage, liberty interests that have since been separated from the institution and protected independently of marriage. One can understand the earlier courts' conflation of marriage with liberty rights, given that marriage and liberty rights were in fact tied together within the marriage laws and within the whole society's understanding of marriage at that time, but that conflation belongs to the past. The liberty-rights aspect of marriage—the ability to live together and be intimate and make a life together—has already been secured without couples having to be married, leaving mainly the social approval aspect of marriage as the exclusive domain of the married.

This situation is recognized in Justice Scalia's argument that marriage is not a freedom at all but a restraint on freedom (his argument #7 here). This is in fact the situation today. There was a time when the liberty to have sexual relations and to live together as a couple was tied to marriage, but now marriage confers no liberties that are not available to the unmarried, only obligations and restrictions.

History thus proves that marriage and liberty rights are not necessarily tied together, and that to be accurate they should have been separated by the Loving and California courts. Marriage itself was never a right. The only rights at stake in these cases were the liberty rights that were at that time bound up with marriage, but have since been separated from marriage.

The second problem with the earlier cases, especially Loving, is that their invocations of marriage as a “basic” and “fundamental” right do not actually do any work. Loving was fully decided by the simple principle of equal protection, which applies the same whether the law in question restricts a right or grants a privilege. It didn’t actually matter in Loving whether anyone has a right to marry. Once the state allows some male-female couples to marry it must allow any adult male-female couple to marry, absent some compelling state interest, such as the avoidance of genetically transmitted disease. The invocations of a right to marriage were completely unnecessary in these cases and hence moot. They are dicta masquerading as acta.

Thirdly, marriage was certainly not recognized as a basic individual right until very recently. For most of recorded history, including Western history, an offspring’s freedom to marry was very much subject to parental authority, at least until the offspring had gotten beyond the normal marrying age, and religious authority was also in play. If a given marriage violated church principles then it would not be performed. These may have been matters of private choice, outside of government control, but that does not mean they were matters of individual right.

So Loving and California were not just putting forth flowery dicta masquerading as acta, they were putting out historically inaccurate dicta. The individual liberties that they were proclaiming as historic and fundamental were in actuality liberties that were receiving legal protection for the first time, under the handy excuse of the need to equally protect these supposedly longstanding liberties.

It was a nice trick, and was part of the advance of individual liberty in intimate affairs, which was a wholly legitimate objective, and with the decision in Lawrence v. Texas was fully achieved. But to take the next step, as the Court just did in Obergefell v. Hodges, and demand approval for what is finally being tolerated, is to turn this whole advance of liberty on its head.

We are now back to the bad old says where only what is approved is tolerated, except now approval is not determined by majority rule but by a small minority, the keening demands of 4% of the population, backed by five unaccountable loose-cannon ideologues in robes. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Doesn't UBER know that criminals seek out "gun free zones"?

My letter in response to UBER's new prohibition against drivers or customers travelling armed (sent to the entire list of UBER's city by city "partners")

Can whoever receives this message please pass it along to UBER leadership, because if this new firearms prohibition is not reversed ASAP your company is absolutely going belly up.

 “[t]o ensure that everyone using the Uber digital platform—both driver-partners and riders—feels safe and comfortable using the service… Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit possessing firearms of any kind in a vehicle.”


Only an absolute freaking moron feels safe in a “gun free zone.” Out of all the mass shootings since 1950 all but two occurred in “gun free” zones, the most recent being in Charleston last week. Mass shooters actively seek out defenseless victims and COMMON CRIMINALS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME!

With this gun prohibition announcement the rate of violent robberies targeting Uber vehicles is about to shoot up, which does not make any rational customer or driver feel safe.

In New York and California and a few other states it doesn’t make much difference because the criminals know that EVERYONE is disarmed. They won’t need to target Uber drivers to find undefended targets, but in the majority of the country, where gun rights are protected and undefended targets are hard to identify, UBER is putting a neon target on the back of every UBER driver and every UBER customer: “rare guaranteed-defenseless victim here!”

You are flushing your company down the toilet. Why? Because you hate the United States Constitution? What the HELL is the matter with you?

Not only are you making your employees and customers targets of violent crime but you are also alienating half of your customers. What kind of business decision is that? You are sacrificing the viability of your business to radical left-wing politics.

Does this reflect the real wishes of the leaders of your company, or was this idiocy somehow foisted on you by some political mole out to subvert your company for his own purposes?

Whatever the case, if you want to save your company you had better get this turned around FAST. I’d hate to see you all go out of business because some moral imbecile decided that his liberty-hating politics matter more than your company’s success.

And to all the “Partners” I am ccing here, it will be up to YOU to report to upper management how much your business is dropping now that it is company policy not to let your concealed-carry customers ride anymore. You’ll know the facts of the matter before the national management does, and if you wait until they figure it out via collapsing business and profits it will be too late.

Alec Rawls
Palo Alto

If you want to send your own feedback, here is the list of “partners” email addresses. I broke it down into four sub-lists. I would have used the national UBER web-sites' contact contact email or contact form, but I couldn't find one, so this is what they get:





Monday, June 15, 2015

De Blasio brings in NRA's Operation Exile to offset the massive damage he has done to NYC law enforcement

CBS New York headline:

"ATF To Join NYPD In Fighting New York City Gun Crimes"

Getting Democratic presidents to enforce existing federal gun laws has always been near impossible. Bill Clinton fiercely resisted the NRA-promoted "Operation Exile," which calls for systematic enforcement of the federal mandatory-minimum 5-year sentence for felons who are caught in possession of firearms, or use firearms in the commission of other crimes.

Everywhere Operation Exile was employed it led to immediate and drastic reductions in violent crime, which is precisely why Democrats refused to enforce it. Operation Exile proved that the way to stop crime is to disarm the criminals, not the law abiding citizens, exposing the Democrats' wish-list of gun-control policies, all of which focus on disarming law abiding citizens, as both unnecessary and wrong.

So what changed in NYC? Mayor de Blasio has so undermined his own police department that crime is skyrocketing. To limit the political damage he has prevailed upon the feds to bring in the one enforcement strategy that everyone has known for 25 years will radically reduce crime almost overnight.

So there is a small silver lining to de Blasio's monstrous immorality. He has done so much damage to NY that he is forced to resort to at least one rational policy to keep himself from being impeached. Still not right as often as a broken clock, but at least it's something.

He isn't calling it Operation Exile. That would give too much credit to the NRA, but de Blasio's turn to the NRA's longstanding call to enforce existing federal laws shows that the left has known all along that the way to reduce crime is to go after convicts who possess guns and crimes committed with guns, which proves that their longstanding opposition to the enforcement of these laws is because they need dead bodies that they can use to try to demagogue citizens into turning against their own gun rights.

Fast and Furious was also about creating gun crimes that Democrats could use to demagogue against gun rights

I wrote about Fast and Furious a couple of years ago, and yes there is proof that the plan was to use the crimes committed my Mexican criminals using Fast and Furious guns to attack the gun shops that the ATF had enlisted to make the otherwise-illegal gun sales. The proof is that, before the Fast and Furious lid was blown off by the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, the ATF had already used their information about crimes committed with Fast and Furious guns to attack a number of the ATF-allied gun shops.

ATF leaked the data to the Washington Post, which then ran a long piece blaming Mexico's high level of gun crime on the supposed easy availability of guns in the United States (as if Mexican drug gangs are really buying their guns over the counter from highly regulated and very expensive U.S. gun shops when they can buy them wholesale from the Eastern European black market gun runners they are are already connected to via the drug trade).

In sum  Obama ordered the systematic violation of American gun laws in order to create a body count in Mexico that he could use to attack the constitutionally protected gun rights of his fellow citizens here at home. Richard Nixon's crimes were minuscule in comparison.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What would Thucydides do? How to create negative atmospheric pressure in the Ebola hot-zone

(Crossposted at Watts Up With That)
To keep pathogens from escaping, contagious disease laboratories and isolation rooms use negative atmospheric pressure (or negative relative air pressure) that pulls air in through all doors and cracks. Barriers are not enough. At the inevitable openings in the barriers, the movement of the pathogen must be inward, not outward. The same logic applies to the Ebola hot-zone countries of West Africa. Barriers in the form of travel restrictions and quarantines can help keep the contagion from spreading, but they cannot do the job by themselves. There has to be "negative air pressure," where it is safer for Ebola hot zone residents to stay put than to flee. 
That requires greatly reducing the rate of transmission within the hot zone, and the only way to achieve that is by using immune survivors to separate and treat the sick, a strategy developed by the Greeks 2400 years ago. The special challenge with ebola is how contagious it is to anyone who tries to provide care. By systematically hiring and developing a survivor-based treatment system that hurdle can be overcome. They can give aid without themselves becoming a vector of transmission, allowing the epidemic within the hot zone to be rolled back, reducing pressure to flee. 
 At present our national policies are working ever more powerfully in the opposite direction, creating strong incentives for infected and possibly infected people to flee to the United States from West Africa. An example of a policy that is creating an undesirable “positive atmospheric pressure” in the Ebola hot-zone (or equivalently, a negative relative pressure in the United States) is the promise that CDC Director Tom Frieden issued last week, telling the world that if anyone arrives at a major American airport with history or symptoms that indicate possible Ebola infection they will be whisked straight to the hospital, providing the strongest possible incentive for people who think they might be infected to come here for treatment.
At the same time, Frieden insists that travel from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to the United States should remain unrestricted, providing opportunity as well as incentive for hot-zone residents to flee here. From Frieden’s October 9thinterview on Fox News:
Staff from CDC and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customers & Border Protection will begin new layers of entry screening, first at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York this Saturday, and in the following week at four additional airports … [which] … receive almost 95 percent of the American-bound travelers from the Ebola-affected countries.
Travelers from those countries will be escorted to an area of the airport set aside for screening. There they will be observed for signs of illness, asked a series of health and exposure questions, and given information on Ebola and information on monitoring themselves for symptoms for 21 days. Their temperature will be checked, and if there’s any concern about their health, they’ll be referred to the local public health authority for further evaluation or monitoring.
This funneling of hot-zone travelers through screening here in the U.S. was just made mandatory, guaranteeing care to the possibly infected. The resulting outward pressure—motivating infected people to move to a previously uninfected continent—will spread the infection, not contain it. Set aside that the CDC is supposed to give priority to American lives and should first and foremost work to keep Ebola from coming here, intercontinental spread of Ebola is a disaster for the whole world. Each breach of containment endangers everyone everywhere. 
Broad screening by it self would be fine. We have always tried to stop contagion from entering our borders. But screening together with a refusal to apply travel restrictions is an invitation to disaster, creating an obvious and powerful negative pressure on our side of the Atlantic that will suck Ebola here in volume. 
Creating negative pressure in the hot zone is not so easy
So long as the contagion keeps expanding within the hot-zone itself the pressure on residents to flee will keep increasing. But fighting transmission inside the hot zone is a labor intensive enterprise. Health care workers have to first diagnose who is infected and who is not, then isolate and treat the sick, all of which presents a high risk of transmission to the people doing this work. 
Ebola is perhaps the most infectious pathogen ever encountered, transmissible by a single particle. The repeated assurances that Ebola is not highly contagious apply only while patients remain asymptomatic. Once they start explosively erupting at both ends, protection for anyone in attendance must be perfect, which is very difficult to achieve, a factor that the CDC and our news media has been slow to acknowledge.
Three weeks ago NPR ran a happy talk segment on how easy it is to stop the spread of Ebola that completely ignored the problem of transmission through health care workers:
So to stop the chain of transmission, all health workers in Texas have to do is get the people possibly infected by the sick man into isolation before these people show signs of Ebola.
Then R0 drops to zero. And Texas is free of Ebola.
Then we all found out how difficult it is to keep health workers from getting the disease. The transmission rate, R-naught, does not drop to zero. With enough training and equipment transmission might be lowered dramatically, but only at impossible cost. Here a hospital director reacts to the CDC’s prep call (via Brian Preston):
Ebola Preparation “will bankrupt my hospital!” “Treating one Ebola patient requires, full time, 20 medical staff. Mostly ICU (intensive care unit) people. So that would wipe out an ICU in an average-sized hospital.”
At extreme expense we might be able to protect medical workers from contamination in a very limited number of Ebola cases. In Africa, forget it. But immune survivors do not need to be protected from contamination and this is a resource that Africa has in rapidly growing numbers. 
Immune survivors can make it both safer and more remunerative for hot-zone residents to stay put
Survivors have full immunity only to the Ebola strain they were infected with, but if they provide care in their local area they should be okay. Dr. Bruce Ribner onPBS:
Ebola virus is a new infection on this continent, but our colleagues across the ocean have been dealing with it for 40 years now, and so there is strong epidemiologic evidence that, once an individual has resolved Ebola virus infection, they are immune to that strain, recognizing that there are five different strains of Ebola virus.
Designate local isolation compounds for triage and treatment, drop off people and supplies, and no one comes out without a clean bill of health, bleached clothes, and a nice chlorinated shower. The immunity (in most cases) of the survivors means they could provide care without transmitting the disease, allowing the contagion to be rolled back, and the income they receive (this is where aid money comes in) would prop up the local economy, all of which would work to keep hot-zone residents in place.
If coming to America is off the table then flight from the Ebola hot-zones is a very daunting proposition. Africa is not a thriving land of opportunity and travel is more of a way to catch disease than avoid it. Thus if transmission within the hot-zone can be drastically reduced, negative atmospheric pressure is readily attainable, and this is what the use of immune survivors allows. Not being vectors, they can intercede to stop transmission in the cases under their care.
Some of these survivor health-workers will get infected with different strains and despite some cross immunity some of these re-infected health workers will surely die, but the fact that they are largely immune will allow the work of isolation and treatment to continue, which is simply not possible otherwise on any major scale.
The immune-survivor treatment strategy was implemented by the Greeks 2400 years ago
When I started advocating the immune-survivor strategy six weeks ago, I sent my post to Stanford health economist Jay Bhattacharya and he said, hey that’s what the Greeks did, sending me the following citation from Thucydides:
But whatever instances there may have been of such devotion, more often the sick and the dying were tended by the pitying care of those who had recovered, because they knew the course of the disease and were themselves free from apprehension. For no one was ever attacked a second time, or not with a fatal result. All men congratulated them, and they themselves, in the excess of their joy at the moment, had an innocent fancy that they could not die of any other sickness.
According to a report published by the CDC (back when they knew stuff) the Athenian plague could well have been Ebola. 

I am not the only one to advocate the deployment of immune survivors today. The day after I published my post Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, wrote the following in The New York Times:
The United Nations … should also coordinate the recruitment and training around the world of medical and nursing staff, in particular by bringing in local residents who have survived Ebola, and are no longer at risk of infection.
We have one immune survivor here in the United States, Dr. Kent Brantly, and with luck and prayers he may soon be joined by Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, but West Africa has a few thousand, and with the infection rate expected to soon reach 10,000 per week, that will become another 3000 survivors a week. The resource is there, we just have to use it, but the rationalizations provided by CDC Director Frieden show that he is looking in the opposite direction.
Frieden wants non-immune aid workers to go to Africa
That’s what he keeps saying whenever he tries to explain why he is against travel restrictions, that restrictions will make it harder for aid workers to travel to Africa:
One strategy that won’t stop this epidemic is isolating affected countries or sealing borders. When countries are isolated, it is harder to get medical supplies and personnel deployed to stop the spread of Ebola.
As one of the authors of whatever restrictions would be imposed, Frieden would have a chance to attach whatever exceptions he deems necessary for getting aid workers in and out, but set that aside. His premise to begin with is that outsiders should be going in and providing treatment. Like the happy talkers at NPR (who were trying to explain why Frieden is so confident that Ebola will not spread in the United States), Frieden ignores the problem of health care workers as a disease vector. About people who are being tracked and monitored he says:
The moment if they have any symptoms, if they have fever, they will be isolated. That is how you break the chain of transmission.
Yeah, not really. For a very small number of Ebola patients, at huge expense,maybe, if levels of protection and training are vastly improved. For Africa? Send in supplies and a small number of organizers at most, but no one from the outside should be sent in to deal with possibly infected subjects. They will just become disease vectors, both within Africa, and if they return without first undergoing a full period of quarantine they will bring it back here. 
Certainly don't send our military, or theNational Guard, and unexposed natives should not be recruited either. Turn the job over to the immune survivors. That is the only way to stop the contagion, and this critical resource is not here in America. It only exists in Africa, so stop bringing Ebola patients here!
Frieden keeps insisting that efforts to contain Ebola geographically will cause it to spread geographically
It is a bizarre contention. All non-government commentators regard isolation and treatment as complimentary strategies but Frieden insists they are either/or:
Restricting travel or trade to and from a community makes it harder to control in the isolated area, eventually putting the rest of the country at even greater risk. Isolating communities also increases people’s distrust of government, making them less likely to co-operate to help stop the spread of Ebola.
He is equating isolation with abandonment, which is a non sequitur. Does a patient placed in an isolation room become harder to control? Does being cared for in isolation make him more distrustful, and make observers distrustful, or does it make every one thankful? Frieden’s strained efforts to support this weak narrative are illogical to the point of dishonesty:
When a wildfire breaks out we don’t fence it off. We go in to extinguish it before one of the random sparks sets off another outbreak somewhere else.
Really, the guy’s never heard of a firebreak? We actually set fires, sacrificing part of the tree population to save the rest. Not that we should do that in Africa, but c’mon dude. Don’t just lie about stuff!
Travel restrictions may indeed have some downsides, but they also have a most important upside: they stop sick people from traveling around the world spreading disease. The question, which Frieden never even attempts to address, is whether the downsides he puts forward outweigh the upside in terms of disease transmission. Indeed, it is perfectly clear that Frieden is not accounting the upside at all, since he implicitly assumes it would be outweighed by the flimsiest of hypothesized downsides.
In reality, it is hard to think of any downside to travel restrictions that could begin to compare to the importance of keeping the Ebola-infected from freely carrying the disease wherever they want. The first imperative is to stop Ebola from making its way around the world and as director of the CDC it is Frieden’s first responsibility to make sure it doesn’t travel here. If other countries are also self-protective that is good. It will limit the spread of Ebola which makes everyone safer.
Is Frieden (and/or Obama) trying to reduce outward pressure by holing the containment vessel?
As meteorologists know, relative atmospheric pressure can be a tricky concept. Because air pushes in different places, distinguishing cause and effect can take some care, and this applies to the disease transmission analogy as well.
To achieve negative pressure in the Ebola hot-zone containment is obviously not enough. Transmission within the hot zone must be greatly reduced or else pressure to flee will build and build until it inevitably explodes. Could Frieden be looking at this looming build-up of pressure and getting the causality backwards? Is he proceeding on the idea that, if we never have containment in the first place, then the pressure cannot build enough to have an explosion?
Actions suggest that he and others may actually be trying to reduce outward pressure by getting rid of containment up front and even encouraging people to flee. Witness the “Ebola Outbreak-related Immigration Relief Measures” issued by the U.S. immigration service in mid-August, which the CDC would surely have had input on.
Some of the measures are reasonable, allowing “Nationals of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone Currently in the United States” to stay here for now instead of forcing them to go back to the hot zone when their visas expire, but the measures gratuitously go much further, providing extreme incentive for residents of these countries to get themselves into the United States ASAP.
The really damaging relief measure (pressure relief measure?) is the first, which offers an opportunity for, “[c]hange or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even if the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired.”
A change of status means a change from non-immigrant to immigrant status, thus any West African who is here on a tourist visa is eligible to be immediately switched to permanent resident status, leading to citizenship, and here’s the kicker: as Doug Ross noticed, there is no cut-off date for who is eligible for this change of status.
Instead of applying only to West Africans who were already here in mid-August, any Ebola-zone citizens who can get themselves over here on a tourist visa are immediately eligible to switch to permanent resident status, providing huge incentive for immediate mass outflow from West Africa to the United States. Obama/Frieden are offering them a once-in-a-lifetime jump-to-the-head-of-the-line opportunity to become American citizens.
We know Obama’s motivation, but why is the CDC going along?
President Obama, being a politician, can of course have political motivations for incentivizing West Africans to come here for citizenship. His intentional collapse of our southern border suggests that one of the ways that he wants to “fundamentally transform America” is by importing a new electorate, more to his liking. (DHS let a huge contract for the internal transport of unaccompanied illegal alien minors months before the vast wave of “unaccompanied minors” arrived, proving that the entire crisis was engineered by Obama.)
But CDC Director Frieden is supposed to be non-partisan, guided only by the objective requirements for keeping his countrymen safe from disease. How can a medical doctor be supportive of a ramped-up influx of immigrants from West Africa that is highly incentivized to carry Ebola?
Friedan’s big career-making achievement was dramatic reductions of tuberculosis in New York City and India, accomplished by systematic tracking, isolation and treatment of the infected. His oft-repeated mantra on Ebola is the same. “We know how to stop Ebola,” he says, by tracking, isolating, and treating infected individuals. Could he be fixated on tracking as a means?
Frieden wants people who could be infected with Ebola to fly so that they won’t travel “over land”
Note the particular language Frieden uses to explain why he thinks travel restrictions will be counter-productive. He keeps saying he wants the possibly infected to travel by means that enable tracking. That points directly to a preference for airline travel:
FRIEDEN: Right now, we know who’s coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places, and we don’t know that they’re coming in, will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things. … Borders can be porous — may I finish? – especially in this part of the world. We won’t be able to check them for fever when they leave, we won’t be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won’t be able, as we do currently, to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed when they arrive.
When they arrive, we wouldn’t be able to impose (ph) quarantine as we now can if they have high-risk contact. We wouldn’t be able to obtain detailed locating information, which we do now, including not only name and date of birth, but e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, address, addresses of friends, so that we could identify and locate them.
We wouldn’t be able to provide all of that information, as we do now, to state and local health departments, so that they can monitor them under supervision. We wouldn’t be able to impose controlled release, conditional release on them, or active monitoring, if they’re exposed, or to, in other ways…
The whole point of tracking is to stop further transmission so that we don’t have to do more tracking. The fact that a mode of travel enables tracking isn’t a plus if it also multiplies the need to track, as around the world commercial jet travel obviously does. In Frieden’s accounting the smallest amount of un-tracked contagion is more dangerous than a wide open and highly incentivized avenue of tracked contagion, because this is what we are talking about here.
The “overland” spread of Ebola that is Frieden’s sole concern would be extremely difficult under a travel ban. Even if frightened people could make their way out of Liberia and Guinea and Sierra Leone by ground travel (very difficult, snce many neighboring countries have closed their borders) they would still need to fly to reach the United States, which requires a visa, which requires a passport, which would still identify them as coming from a hot-zone country. The other possibility is that they fly to Mexico or Canada and travel overland at this end, but a) these crossings are within in our power to control, and b) if we impose a travel ban then Mexico and Canada will surely follow suit.
Frieden focuses entirely on the relatively tiny number of cases where a few West Africans might still get in by these untracked routes (a number that might well be decreased, not increased, by travel restrictions), and he completely ignores ignores the vast majority of cases where travel restrictions would keep the possibly Ebola-infected out. This selective accounting is not legitimate. It is basic economics and basic epidemiology that all impacts have to be fully accounted. Only looking at untracked flow is like buying merchandise for $100 a pop, selling it for $1 a pop, and thinking you are making money because you are only counting the flow of $1 receipts.
NIAID head directly mis-states travel requirements
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, does not seem to be aware of how travel documentation works. On Sunday he claimed that:
“If you say, ‘Nobody comes in from Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea,’ there are so many other ways to get into the country. You can go to one of the other countries and then get back in [to the United States].”
Wrong. Escapees from the hot-zone would only be able to get here via “other countries” if those other countries start issuing them passports that hide their true origin. Frieden and Fauci are doctors, not travel agents, but the entire USCIS knows that their claim about border hoppers being able to fly to the United States is wrong.
Regardless of Fauci’s confusion, the underlying error is still the same. Even if travel restrictions did somehow lead to an increase in un-tracked travel across the Atlantic (highly dubious), this increased avenue for Ebola transmission would still be tiny compared to the vast wide-open “above ground” highway for Ebola transmission that a travel ban would close off.
These supposed experts are acting as if there is no danger so long as we can track transmission, ignoring what a desperate game it is try to smother every outracing tendril from each outbreak. It’s like trying to stamp out an intrusion of cockroaches before any can escape through a crack.
Learning the wrong lesson from Nigeria’s close call
With heroic effort Nigeria just pulled off the squash-all-the-cockroaches feat, dedicating thousands of man hours of urgent detective work to successfully run down and isolate each multiplying pathway of Ebola exposure before they could multiply out of reach and consume a city of 21 million.
It was a very near thing and Frieden and Fauci are clearly learning the wrong lesson from it. They view it as confirmation that tracking works and can “stop Ebola in its tracks,” but the real lesson of Nigeria is the tremendous danger that just one infected airline passenger can pose. Realizing how lucky they were, Nigeria learned its lesson and stopped its hot-zone flights.
Much better not to let possibly infected people enter in the first place. Once an Ebola-infected person arrives a country might be quick enough to stop the contagion by tracking, monitoring and isolating individuals, but if the contagion gets away from them they will have to stop it the old fashioned way, the Greek way, by making use of the immune survivors as they emerge one by one from the spreading catastrophe.
Every nation has to be prepared for those same three stages of Ebola prevention and response. First we try to keep it from entering. If that fails then we try to contain the outbreak with tracking, monitoring and isolation of exposed individuals, and if that fails and there is an epidemic, only immune survivors can roll it back. Frieden and Fauci are fixated only on the middle third of this puzzle, the tracking. They aren’t concerned with keeping Ebola from getting here and they aren’t looking at how to fight it if it breaks out. Neither are they merely absent from these other battlefields but their fixation on tracking has them aggressively bringing Ebola here when the only people who can safely treat the disease are in Africa.
A perfect storm of illogic
Put Frieden’s apparent belief that tracking is a panacea together with his apparent confusion about cause and effect and they support each other. This seems to be his actual thinking: that if we let the infected out of the hot zone (while carefully tracking) then there won’t be an explosion because the pressure won’t have a chance to build up.
Could it be that simple, that he just doesn’t understand atmospheric pressure, where the whole point of creating negative pressure is to stop the outflow of the pathogen, so if pressure is reduced by the outflow of the pathogen that means we failed? Is the guy just that stupid? Or does he have some horrific political agenda like President Obama? (Definitely possible, since untracked TB and other infectious diseases pouring over our unenforced southern border elicit no protest from him.)
Either way, Congress better provide some countervailing force and quickly because the CDC is working hard to bring the negative pressure to our side of the Atlantic, sucking Ebola in. It is clear what we should be doing: imposing travel restrictions and using hot-zone Ebola survivors to separate and treat the newly infected. Then the problem won’t just stay in West Africa, it will be solved there.
The alternative, if Obama and Frieden can’t be stopped, is that we suffer our own Ebola epidemic, where the only way to avoid decimation or worse will be to deploy our own rapidly growing army of immune survivors. It’s either Thucydides in Africa or Thucydides in America, our choice.

UPDATE: Spencer case shows that we do NOT want free travel for returning aid workers, and it shows how quickly the tracking-hope could disappear

Spencer had been working with ebola infected people in Africa, came  back to America, started feeling weak, and the next day used several subway lines to go on an across-the-city bowling trip. But this was still a best-case-scenario because when his symptoms started to get worse Spencer knew it was probably ebola, isolated himself, and let everyone know.

The Dallas case was a similar best-case-scenario. Duncan knew he had recent physical contact with a person who died of Ebola. That's why he initially went to the hospital when he only had a mild fever, and when the ambulance later came to get him at his apartment his daughter told the EMTs that he likely had Ebola, so everybody was on alert. They still made mistakes, but nothing compared to what would have happened if they had no idea what was the matter with him.

The nightmare scenario is what happens when some ignorant person comes down with Ebola and has no idea he has Ebola. Suppose an out-of-it druggie were to pick up Ebola from Dr. Spencer's long trek through the subway system--maybe Spencer coughed on somebody, who knows, the guy was full of Ebola at that point--so a week or two from now this hapless druggie spends a couple of days on the streets and in the subway while he is in the massive shedding stage of Ebola infection, bleeding, puking and crapping in public rest-rooms and alleys and tracking his mess through public places.

Then it's goodbye to any hope for tracing the pathways of possible exposure. If it gets on the seats, grab-rails and hand straps of a handful of subway cars it will pass hand to hand, doorknob to doorknob, far beyond the subway system in a matter of hours. A single germ is infective, the tiniest drop of blood contains millions of germs, and we'd have this disintegrating person slathering infectious fluids everywhere he goes. If this just goes on for one day there will be a rampant epidemic starting in NYC but not stopping there.

The danger is EXTREME, yet not only are Frieden and Obama still adamant against travel restrictions, but they are at the same time providing huge incentives for possibly Ebola-exposed people to make use of that allowance to come here, both in the form of promises of first-rate care and through a once-in-a-lifetime offer of U.S. citizenship for anyone who can himself here from the Ebola hot zone, creating massive positive pressure for Ebola to flow out of the hot zone and into the United States. These policies are horrific, and the consequences will be too.

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