It Just Jumps Out at You

by john harrison

My father always used to call it “trombone vision”, I.e., that some things seem to jump out at you, while others, equally visible to the naked eye, literally you do not see. It works both with things that you agree with, and those that you disagree with as well. It is why two people reading the news about a shooting will have a completely different take on the tragedy. The first will focus on the number of people that the shooter killed, and the second will focus on the fact that the attack was stopped, and the shooter was killed, by a legally armed, concealed carrying, bystander, not by the police. They both will have utter certainty when they use the same incident later to support their completely opposite positions on gun control laws.

It is more than just ideological bias at work though. The real problem with this factual blindness is that it prevents any sort of real analysis which might help us solve some very real problems in our society. For example, Democratic politicians, and their followers, are unanimous in their condemnation of former President Trump’s repeated claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and therefore also stolen from the American people. 

However, at least three things are clear about that election, first, like probably every American election there was some electoral fraud, second, but the fraud was not of sufficient magnitude to effect even in the remotest way the result of the 2020 election, and third, that former President Trump lost the election fair and square. 

In their arguments, both sides have taken essentially indefensible positions as this argument unfortunately continues. In defending the clear electoral result, many have gone beyond the statement that it was, if it was not the fairest election in American history certainly it was one of the fairest, to say that there was no fraud at all in this election. Former President Trump’s often repeated statements, both before and after the 2020 election, particularly about Georgia, which was overseen in the main by Republican office holders, are at best ludicrous, but nonetheless are accepted by many as factual; worse, if you even acknowledge the possibility of some fraud, or assert that overall the election was fair and the result is clear, then you are likely to be immediately condemned as a partizan hack by the other side of the debate.

Perhaps another example will help. Recently, many have pointed to Candidate for Governor Glenn Youngkin’s statements in support of “election integrity” as a nod to Former President Trump’s repeated allegations that an alleged lack of such integrity cost him the office of the presidency in 2020. On the other hand though, they do not see any thing wrong, or any similarity, in the claim on the front page of today’s (10/14/2021) Washington Post that the 2020 census already shows signs of a massive “Undercount of Black Americans”. 

That is, a government report which has not yet been released and therefore cannot logically be defended as yet, has already been attacked as both wrong, and unfair. Taking only former President Trump’s statements prior to the 20202 election, those that do not see the similarity between Trump’s attacks on an election not yet held and these attacks on a report not yet issued, ignore that the statements of former President Trump before the election attacking the probity of an election not yet held, and that these attacks on a crucial government report not yet released in its final form are essentially the same disingenuous tactic. If you are outraged about one because of its inherent unfairness, then an honest appraisal of facts would inevitably lead you to be outraged about the other as well. Did it?

The phrase “eye of the beholder” became a cliche because of its constant use. On the other hand, it was used constantly because of its inherent truth as a statement about the human condition.  Facts become subjective not just because of those we emphasize, but also because of those we choose to ignore and in both we are clearly influenced by the “eye of the beholder”.


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My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Pandora’s Box Swedish Style

Pandora’s Box Swedish Style

By john harrison

As we often do, we were having drinks on the porch with some very good friends the other evening. Also, as it often does, the discussion turned from one topic to another without seeming rhyme, nor reason. Probably as a result of the recent influx of Afghanis due to the massive changes ongoing there, it progressed to the problems Sweden had, and is still is having, integrating a similar number of refugees mainly from the Middle East into its Nordic society. One pointed out that Sweden has the highest rate of rape in Europe, another immediately pulled out a smart phone and found that Sweden had recently expanded its definition of rape and that had led to a dramatic increase in reports. The discussion then continued on to other topics.

One of the things I most enjoyed about being a lawyer was digging onto the facts of a case. Over time my enjoyment became a passion that others noticed and began to use. Late in my career a considerable part of my practice involved taking apart the opposition’s expert and salvaging our own experts during trial. To do this well I had to become an expert, and that was the part I liked.

Most witnesses do not really realize how much the rules in court are rigged in favor of cross examination. They also do not realize that the legal issues can be far different from the scientific issues in a case. Since I always took care to learn both, the cross examinations often became almost unfair. In defense of the legal system I must note that it is impossible to destructively cross examine any witness, and particularly an expert, who remains objective, listens to the question and answers honestly only the question asked. Lucky for my practice, few experts could adhere to this rule for long.

Since I enjoy looking things up, and since our discussion had piqued my interest in the problems Sweden is having with rape; I did some research. Like most issues, a fair study reveals nuances not immediately apparent.

About 58% of men convicted in Sweden of rape and attempted rape 2013-2018 were born abroad, according to recent data from Swedish national television. Sweden had literally thousands more reported rapes but, unfortunately there is no ethnic breakdown for those cases.

In 2018, Swedish Television investigative journalism show Uppdrag Granskning analyzed the total of 843 district court cases from the five preceding years and found that 58% of all convicted of rape and attempted rape had a foreign background (Southern Africans, Northern Africans, Arabs, Middle Easterns, and Afghans) and 40% were immigrants born in the Middle East and Africa, with the young men from Afghanistan numbering 45 standing out as being the next most common country of birth after Sweden.

Rape in Sweden is not a new problem solely related to refugees though. Back in 2009 before the influx of refugees, Amnesty International published a report on rape in the Nordic countries, criticizing the low conviction rates in Sweden, citing previously published estimates from Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) of around 30,000 incidents of rape, with less than 13 percent of the 3,535 rape crimes reported resulting in a decision to start legal proceedings and only 216 persons convicted in 2007, with Amnesty International using the word “impunity” to describe the situation in Sweden.

The TV Investigation program made it very clear that it is a very small percentage of the people coming from abroad who are convicted of rape, but still the percentage of convictions is high for the foreign born. Whether this results from latent prejudice, or the inclination of foreigners to rape cannot be reliably determined from the statistics available.

When Sweden took in its highest number of asylum seekers in 2015, the number of reported rapes actually declined by 12%. At the height of the refugee crisis, some 160,000 migrants arrived in Sweden—more per capita than any other EU country. Since then Sweden has tightened its borders, but those already in, mostly remain.

In May, 2018, Sweden changed its laws to make almost any sex without actual consent rape. Until then prosecutors had to prove that violence had been used or the victim had been exploited in a vulnerable condition. This led to a rise in convictions of 75% to 333 for that year. Still only the tip of the iceberg, but a bigger part of the tip.

In the mid-2010s, there were between 5000 and 7000 reported rape cases per year in Sweden, far higher than any other European country largely because of the way rape was more broadly defined in Swedish law even then prior to the recent change in definition, but with only about 165 rape convictions per year for that decade.

According to Brå in 2013, it is likely that as many as 80 per cent of all rapes in Sweden are not reported. This was confirmed in a 2014 study of the extent of violence against women, funded by the Government of Sweden. This can be compared to a 2007 British Government report, estimating that between 75 and 95 percent of rapes are not reported in the United Kingdom.

Ever since the collation of crime statistics was initiated by the Council of Europe, Sweden has had the highest number of registered rape offenses in Europe by a considerable margin. In 1996 for example, Sweden registered almost three times the average number of rape offenses registered in 35 European countries. However, this does not necessarily mean rape is three times as likely to occur as in the rest of Europe, since cross-national comparisons of crime levels based on official crime statistics are problematic, due to a number of factors. However, when it is considered that Sweden also ranks highest in gender equality in Europe, there seems to be a long standing remarkable disconnect somewhere.

In 2014, there were 6,697 rapes reported to the Swedish police, or 69 cases per 100,000 population, according to the BRÅ, which is an 11% increase from the previous year. In 2015, the number of reported rapes declined 12%, to 5918. On the other hand, Swedish Crime Survey in 2015 showed that 1.7% of the total population or 129,000 people between 16–79 years old have been exposed to some extension of sexual offenses including rape previously in their lives; it increased from 1% in 2014. In 2016, the number of reported rapes increased again to 6,715. The number of rapes reported to the authorities in Sweden significantly increased by 10% in 2017, according to latest preliminary figures from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention. The number of reported rape cases was 73 per 100,000 citizens in 2017, up 24% in the past decade. In 2018, official numbers showed that the incidence of sexual offenses was on the rise; the Swedish Government declared that young women are facing the greatest risks and that most of the cases still go unreported. The chart below tells a sad, and totally unacceptable story.

It is clear that Sweden had a significant problem with rape long before the refugee influx and that it has gotten much worse since that influx. It is also clear that the criminal justice system has not yet responded effectively to the problem and that it is getting exponentially worse, particularly for women, but also for men as well. It must be passing strange and small comfort to women in Sweden to live in the European country with the highest gender equality, the highest rate of rape and a conviction rate so low that Amnesty International says that rapist can operate with impunity. Is anybody minding the store?


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My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Lt. Harrison And The Big Blow

Lt. Harrison And The Big Blow

By Jerry Berry

Can you envision what would happen to $40,000 worth of $1, $5, and $10 MPCs spread out on an Army blanket somewhere in the “boonies” in South Vietnam if a sudden gust of wind were to blow up? That would be over $400,000 today.  Take the same scenario, but substitute the gust of wind with the whirlwind caused by a 1290 horsepower UH-1D Huey utility helicopter as it landed close by.  Well, I recall just such a scenario that actually happened to none other than our own 1Lt. John Harrison, Alpha Company XO and former platoon leader of 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company (1967/68).  It was a hot, clear, sunny day in May or June l968, and. . .  Let’s just have Lt. Harrison tell the story in his own words.

“As XO, I paid the troops.  This was truly a crummy job.  I had to get up very early and fly to Phan Rang.  Once there, they took me to the pay area, which was a large, windowless building.  It’s only saving grace was that it was an air-conditioned building.  While inside this building, I was given a great deal of cash.  My recollection was that it was well over $40,000, which really doesn’t sound like much, but if you stop to consider that the largest MPC bill was $10, the number of actual bills was at least 4,000.  Usually, the number of bills was much more than that, but was always the exact number of each kind of bill down to the lowest denomination that you needed to pay the troops.  The Headquarters Company payroll was even worse; it was double this amount, but I thankfully never had to do that one.”

The procedure for dispersing the payroll went something like this, says John. “When you received the payroll, they counted it out to you.  Then, you counted it back to them.  You counted it once again before you left the room.  After returning to base camp, you counted it yet again into the individual troopers’ pay slips.  You then folded the slip around the money (MPCs).  If you filled up all the pay slips and didn’t have any money left over or came up short, you could be pretty sure that you had done everything right.  If you made a mistake, you could just start counting all over again—no harm done.  At this point, you went to the field and counted it out yet again to each individual trooper from his folded pay slip.  This last counting of the money was usually done on a green Army blanket.

This particular time, John and I arrived back from Phan Rang and Lt. Harrison with the payroll just as a chopper was leaving LZ Betty to resupply Company A in the field.  “I knew that it would be at least three to five days before Company A would be resupplied again, proclaimed LT.  “Since I had to keep the money with me, actually on my person at all times, until I turned any remainder back it, I wanted to pay the troops and get it over with as soon as possible.  The wad of money was heavy and inconvenient, but if you screwed up the count, it came out of your own pocket.  Unless you really loved danger without any hope of reward, you always tried to count out that money into the individual pay slips BEFORE you paid the troops.  That was the only way to know if you really did have all of the money you were supposed to have.  Otherwise, you would be paying off the stack—only one count and the money would be gone.  This was a very dangerous way to pay the troops, since the officer in charge was personally responsible for all of the money signed out to him.”

Well, the resupply chopper arrived at Alpha Company’s location; Lt. Harrison located himself a spot to spread a poncho liner (no green Army blanket), unpacked his stacks of MPCs and began calling names of troopers to be paid!  “There I was in the field paying off the stack, with all of the money in front of me on a poncho liner.  Then Battalion Commander, LTC Robert Elton (Spider), flies in for a visit with the company commander!  I quickly dropped down over the money to try and hold it down, but the chopper blew the MPCs everywhere.  They were flying in every direction imaginable; however, the troops quickly collected up the bills and gave them back to me.  Since I was paying off the stack, there was no way that I could tell whether any money was missing until I got back to the finance center.  Not a dime was missing!  The troops found all of the MPCs.  I think that was the only time that I ever paid the troops and did not lose at least a few dollars on the count.”  

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My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

CDC On Gun Violence 2013

Results 

The systematic review development team identified 51 studies that evaluated the effects of selected firearms laws on violence and met the inclusion criteria for this review. No study was excluded because of limitations in design or execution. Information on violent outcomes was available in 48 studies, and the remaining three studies, which provided information on counts or proportions of regulated firearms used in crime, were used as supplementary evidence. Several studies examined more than one type of firearm law. 

Several separate studies evaluated effects of the same law in the same populations during overlapping time periods. Such studies were considered nonindependent, and effect estimates from the best study in the group (as determined by the quality of design and execution and the length of the follow-up period) were chosen to represent the effects of the intervention. The total number of studies for each intervention, and the number of studies that actually contributed effect estimates to the body of evidence, are listed. More extensive evidence tables will be available at when the full evidence review is published. 

Evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of any of these laws for the following reasons. 

  • Bans on specified firearms or ammunition. Results of studies of firearms and ammunition bans were inconsistent: certain studies indicated decreases in violence associated with bans, and others indicated increases. Several studies found that the number of banned guns retrieved after a crime declined when bans were enacted, but these studies did not assess violent consequences. Studies of the 1976 Washington, D.C. handgun ban yielded inconsistent results. Bans often include “grandfather” provisions, allowing ownership of an item if it is acquired before the ban, complicating an assessment of causality. Finally, evidence indicated that sales of firearms to be banned might increase in the period before implementation of the bans (e.g., the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994). 
  • Restrictions on firearm acquisition. The federal government and individual states restrict the acquisition and use of firearms by individuals on the basis of their personal history. Reasons for restriction can include prior felony conviction, conviction of misdemeanor intimate partner violence, drug abuse, adjudication as “mentally defective,” and other characteristics (e.g., specified young age). The Brady Law established national restrictions on acquisition of firearms and ammunition from federal firearms licensees. The interim Brady Law (1994–1998) mandated a 5-day waiting period to allow background checks. The permanent Brady Law, enacted in 1998, eliminated the required waiting period. It normally allows 3 days for a background check, after which, if no evidence of a prohibited characteristic is found, the purchase may proceed. Certain states have established additional restrictions, and some require background checks of all firearms transactions, not only those conducted by federal firearms licensees.
    The permanent Brady Law depends on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, NICS lacks much of the required background information, particularly on certain restriction categories. Efforts to improve the availability of background information have been supported by the National Criminal History Improvement Program . Approximately 689,000 applications to acquire a firearm (2.3% of 30 million applications) were denied under the Brady Law from its first implementation in 1994 through 2000; the majority of denials were based on the applicant’s criminal history. However, denial of an application does not always stop applicants from acquiring firearms through other means.
    Overall, evaluations of the effects of acquisition restrictions on violent outcomes have produced inconsistent findings: some studies indicated decreases in violence associated with restrictions, and others indicated increases. One study indicated a statistically significant reduction in the rate of suicide by firearms among persons aged >55 years; however, the reduction in suicide by all methods was not statistically significant. Furthermore, this benefit appears to have been a consequence of the waiting period imposed by the interim Brady Law (which has since been dropped in the permanent law) rather than of the law’s restrictions on the basis of the purchaser’s characteristics. 
  • Waiting periods for firearm acquisition. Waiting periods for firearm acquisition require a specified delay between application for and acquisition of a firearm. Waiting periods have been established by the federal government and by states to allow time to check the applicant’s background or to provide a “cooling-off” period for persons at risk of committing suicide or impulsive acts against others. Studies of the effects of waiting periods on violent outcomes yielded inconsistent results: some indicated a decrease in violent outcome associated with the delay and others indicated an increase. As noted previously, one study of the interim Brady Law indicated a statistically significant reduction in firearms suicide among persons aged >55 years associated with the waiting period requirement of the interim law. Several studies suggested a partial “substitution effect” for suicide (i.e., decreases in firearms suicide are accompanied by smaller increases in suicide by other means). 
  • Firearm registration and licensing of owners. Registration requires that a record of the owner of specified firearms be created and retained. At the national level, the Firearm Ownership Protection Act of 1986 specifically precludes the federal government from establishing and maintaining a registry of firearms and their owners. Licensing requires an individual to obtain a license or other form of authorization or certification to purchase or possess a firearm. Licensing and registration requirements are often combined with other firearms regulations, such as safety training or safe storage requirements. Only four studies examined the effects of registration and licensing on violent outcomes; the findings were inconsistent. 
  • “Shall issue” concealed weapon carry laws. Shall issue concealed weapon carry laws (shall issue laws) require the issuing of a concealed weapon carry permit to all applicants not disqualified by specified criteria. Shall issue laws are usually implemented in place of “may issue” laws, in which the issuing of a concealed weapon carry permit is discretionary (based on criteria such as the perceived need or moral character of the applicant). A third alternative, total prohibition of the carrying of concealed weapons, was in effect in six states in 2001.
    The substantial number of studies of shall issue laws largely derives from and responds to one landmark study (28). Many of these studies were considered to be nonindependent because they assessed the same intervention in the same population during similar time periods. A review of the data revealed critical problems, including misclassification of laws, unreliable county-level crime data, and failure to use appropriate denominators for the available numerator crime data (29). Methodological problems, such as failure to adjust for autocorrelation in time series data, were also evident. Results across studies were inconsistent or conceptually implausible. Therefore, evidence was insufficient to determine the effect of shall issue laws on violent outcomes. 
  • Child access prevention laws. Child access prevention (CAP) laws are designed to limit children’s access to and use of firearms in homes. The laws require firearms owners to store their firearms locked, unloaded, or both, and make the firearm owners liable when children use a household firearm to threaten or harm themselves or others. In three states with CAP laws (Florida, Connecticut, California), this crime is a felony; in several others it is a misdemeanor.
    Only three studies examined the effects of CAP laws on violent outcomes, and only one outcome, unintentional firearms deaths, was assessed by all three. Of these, two studies assessed the same states over the same time periods and were therefore nonindependent. The most recent study, which included the most recent states to pass CAP laws and had the longest follow-up time, indicated that the apparent reduction in unintentional firearm deaths associated with CAP laws that carry felony sanctions was statistically significant only in Florida and not in California or Connecticut. Overall, too few studies of CAP law effects have been done, and the findings of existing studies were inconsistent. In addition, although CAP laws address juveniles as perpetrators of firearms violence, available studies assessed only juvenile victims of firearms violence.
  • Zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools. The Gun-Free Schools Act stipulates that each state receiving federal funds must have a state law requiring local educational agencies to expel a student from school for at least 1 year if a firearm is found in the student’s possession at school. Expulsion may lead to alternative school placement or to “street” placement (full expulsion, with no linkage to formal education). In contrast to the 3,523 firearms reported confiscated under the Gun-Free Schools Act in the 1998–99 school year, school surveys indicate that an estimated 3% of the 12th grade student population in 1996 (i.e., 85,350 students) reported carrying firearms on school property one or more times in the previous 30 days. Thus, even if only 12th grade students carry firearms, fewer than 4.3% of firearms are being detected in association with the Gun-Free Schools Act.
    No study reviewed attempted to evaluate the effects of zero tolerance laws on violence in schools, nor did any measure the effect of the Gun-Free Schools Act on carrying of firearms in schools. One cross-sectional study, however, assessed the effectiveness of metal detector programs in reducing the carrying of firearms in schools. Although firearms detection is not explicitly required in the Gun-Free Schools Act, the effectiveness of the law may depend on the ability to detect firearms by various means. The study reported that schools with and without metal detectors did not differ in rates of threatening, fights, or carrying of firearms outside of school, but the rate of carrying firearms to, from, or in schools with detection programs was half that of schools without such programs. The effectiveness of zero tolerance laws in preventing violence cannot be assessed because appropriate evidence was not available. A further concern is that “street” expulsion might result in increased violence and other problems among expelled students. 
  • Combinations of firearms laws. Governmental jurisdictions (e.g., states or nations) can be characterized by the degree to which they regulate firearm possession and use. Whether a greater degree of firearms regulation in a jurisdiction results in a reduction of the amount of violence in that jurisdiction still needs to be determined. Three kinds of evidence were reviewed for this study: 1) studies of the effects of comprehensive national laws within nations; 2) international comparisons of comprehensive laws; and 3) studies in which law types within jurisdictions (i.e., regulation of specific, defined aspects of firearm acquisition and use) were categorized and counted, and counts compared with rates of specific forms of violence within the same jurisdictions. The latter type are referred to here as index studies because they developed indices of the degree of regulation. In drawing conclusions about law combinations, findings from the three approaches were considered.
    On the basis of national law assessments (the Gun Control Act of 1968 in the United States and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1977 in Canada), international comparisons (between the United States and Canada), and index studies (all conducted within the United States), available evidence was insufficient to determine whether the degree of firearms regulation was associated with decreased (or increased) violence. The findings were inconsistent and most studies were methodologically inadequate to allow conclusions about causal effects. Moreover, as conducted, index studies, even if consistent, would not allow specification of which laws to implement. 

In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.

Phylicia Rashad was correct,

by john harrison

Phylicia Rashad was correct when she tweeted: “”FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted – a miscarriage of justice is corrected!,” Why?

Rights are no good if they are only there when the majority agrees. That would be a pure democracy, or more accurately, “mob rule” according to some people. Simply stated, Bill Cosby did not receive a fair trial. He was hung out to dry by the trial court and the appeals court properly reversed. The reason Cosby cannot be retried is the appeals court determined that the conduct of the trial court and prosecutors was so egregious that the only just thing to do was to let Cosby go. They had screwed it up so badly, that it would be impossible for Cosby to get a fair trial. If you are angry at the result, be angry at the judge who overreached and the prosecutors who helped him.

What did the trial court do wrong? It allowed into the trial evidence that clearly should have been excluded. A prior prosecutor had made a deal with Cosby that if he waived his 5th Amendment rights and stood for a deposition in a civil case that he would not be prosecuted. Prosecutors make this sort of deal all the time in order to obtain testimony they could not get any other way. Waiving 5th Amendment rights is a big deal. If Cosby had testified untruthfully after waiving his 5th Amendment rights he could and probably would have been charged with perjury. At a minimum the deal would have been revoked and the prosecutor could have used all of the testimony in a subsequent criminal trial.

No one has said that Cosby testified untruthfully in the civil deposition where he admitted to a laundry list of outrageous and probably criminal acts. 

As some perspective, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano is an American gangster who became underboss of the Gambino crime family. Gravano played a major role in helping the prosecution sentence John Gotti, the crime family’s boss, by agreeing to testify as a government witness against him and other mobsters in a deal in which Gravano confessed to involvement in 19 murders. However, Gravano has never been charged in any of those murders. On the other hand John Gotti, who had ordered, but not participated in most of the murders was convicted on all counts. It was Gravano’s testimony that put Gotti away.

So, it was not just to vindicate the importance of Cosby rights that the appeals court slammed the trial court and the prosecutors, it was also to protect a tool used by prosecutors around the country to put some really bad guys in prison. The Cosby case totally upended years of precedent upholding these prosecutorial agreements, and put any future ones at risk. Even the idea that a prosecutor could do this is incredible. It is at best similar to a 5 year old child’s argument to “have her cake, and eat it too.”

What else did the trial judge do? He allowed in evidence of five Cosby’s accusers with stories similar to that of Constand. Why is this wrong? You put people in prison for committing specific crimes, not for being bad people. If five people had made the same charge, and they were tried together, then such testimony of all five accusers would have been relevant. Also, if Cosby had testified and denied ever doing any such thing, then such testimony might have been relevant to rebut his testimony, but since neither of these occurred it was clearly improper for the trial judge to let the testimony in. This too violates years of precedent.

It is a simple rule, the prosecution must prove the crime charged. If they do not, the accused should walk. This “similar act” testimony was totally extraneous in time, in individuals involved and in  geography to the crime charged. It should never have been allowed in, and was only presented to prejudice the jury against Cosby.

So, that is why Phylicia Rashad was correct, and it is also why the trial judge and the prosecutors were slammed by the appeals court. Cosby did not get a fair trial.

_________________________________________________________________________

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

A clarion call of good sense.

A clarion call of good sense.

When I was in high school, on my Mother’s recommendation, I took Latin for two years. Then, I took two years of Spanish. The Latin, as my Mother promised, has been useful every year since then, the Spanish, on the other hand, was a total waste of time because of the way it was taught. It was what I call “academic Spanish”. You never learn to speak it; you never learn to write it; but oh my can you conjugate verbs that you don’t understand. Worthless.

Luckily I had some Spanish speaking friends over the years because I really wanted to learn a foreign language and Spanish was it. The way we were taught in high school deterred most of my friends from ever trying to learn a foreign language. It really was that bad. However, I had my friend Alfredo Luis Suarez in the Army and on and off we spoke our own brand of Spanglish all the time, often to the annoyance of those around us. He got better at English, and I got much better at Spanish. If you can understand Cuban Spanish, you can understand just about anybody’s Spanish. Alfredo was Cuban to the core.

Steve Leveen’s book,  America’s Bilingual Century, confirms much of what I have thought about the teaching of languages over the years. More than that, it is a brilliant compendium of both the awkward history of foreign language teaching in the United States and its so much better current status of today. If you really want to learn the many ways now available to acquire a second language—buy this book. If you want to convince your children of the value of a foreign language—buy this book. If you want to spend some time with a truly brilliant man speaking knowledgeably and with passion about a subject he loves and understands—buy this book.

Steve Leveen confirms over and over everything that I thought was wrong about the teaching of languages in America when I suffered through it. He demolishes the myths that have grown up about Americans and foreign languages. And, he does both with style and wit, mostly through the statements of others that he met criss-crossing the country in his quest to master his subject. If you thought that teaching a foreign language, or learning one, is boring, then you obviously have not read America’s Bilingual Century. 

The only thing I would add to what Steve Leveen has written so creatively is that you need to watch more than a few movies, made in the language you desire to master, because body language is often more important to understanding than the words themselves. It is no surprise that one of the hardest things to do in a foreign language is to speak and listen over a telephone. There are no visual cues to meaning and often the verbal cues are blunted by the poor transmission of sound when talking on a phone. As Steve Leveen suggests foreign movies are also a good way to expand your understanding of both your new language and its culture. It’s a great book about an important subject—America’s Bilingual Century, by Steve Leveen.

 _____________________________________________________________________________________

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

by john harrison

Speaker Pelosi has called for President Trump’s second impeachment because of his encouragement of mob violence against the Capitol. The protestors purpose apparently was to interrupt the Congress’s certification of the election of President Elect Joseph Biden. All of those on Capitol Hill that awful day were justifiably terrified of being in the epicenter of a truly violent riot. 

There is no excuse either for the rioters’ or for the President’s words and actions. How did we get here? And more important, where is here? That is where it gets difficult.

The Democrats profess that they are aghast at President Trump’s actions that day. They say that he in effect urged the crowd to insurrection. Clearly that is not what a man sworn to up hold the law of the land should do. As the nation’s Chief  Law Enforcement Officer, President Trump obviously should have acted differently, he should have up held the rule of law rather than sending his supporters to a place he knew they should not go. He did not. If you doubt me, then here is the passage from his speech that directed his followers to head toward Capitol Hill.

“And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” Trump told the crowd. “And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

And then he added a measure of defiance, unfortunately mixed with a call to action.

“We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved, Our country has had enough. We’re not going to take it anymore.” Trump said. 

The President also said:

 “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

And then, he added, with a bit of perhaps unintentional, irony:

 “Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.”

So, how did we get here, to this violent, lawless place with five Americans killed and over sixty police officers injured. President Trump’s rhetoric has often been combative, but what was the context? What were others saying and doing?

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” 

So said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat, at the Wilshire Federal Building, according to a video of the event made well before the tragic events at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

“We don’t know what damage has been done to these children. All that we know is they’re in cages. They’re in prisons. They’re in jails. I don’t care what they call it, that’s where they are and Mr. President, we will see you every day, every hour of the day, everywhere that we are to let you know you cannot get away with this,” Congresswoman Waters added.

Congresswoman Waters appeared on MSNBC later in the day to double down on her remarks, saying she has “no sympathy” for members of the Trump administration.

“The people are going to turn on them. They’re going to protest. They’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the President, ‘No, I can’t hang with you.’”

So, what did Speaker Pelosi have to say about respect for law and order?

During Pelosi’s remarks about immigration issues, she portrayed the parents of “Dreamers” as victims who have had to endure much “risk” to bring their families illegally into the country.

“I say to their parents: Thank you for bringing these Dreamers to America. We’re in your debt for the courage it took, for you to take the risk, physically, politically, in every way, to do so,” Speaker Pelosi said.

That is, she thanked them for breaking the very laws that in many cases she had helped pass, and much more important, that she has sworn repeatedly to uphold. How is she still the Speaker of the House?

As a lawyer with over 30 years experience I would say that both Congresswoman Waters’ and Speaker Pelosi’s comments are no better and no worse than President Trump’s, but that his led to much worse, much more immediate, and very much more tragic, consequences. While that does make the President more liable for his comments, it does not in any way remove their similar culpability for some very similar statements.

So, now we have outrage from Speaker Pelosi, and probably from Congresswoman Waters as well about President Trump’s lack of respect for the rule of law. They are correct, but they both do suffer from the Glass House Rule, that is the failure of their party to admonish them in any way for their similar behavior tends to make them look a lot more like hypocrites than righteous guardians of the Republic.

This does not in anyway excuse President Trump for his outrageous words and behavior, but sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander. Both the Speaker and the Congresswoman, and perhaps others on both sides of the aisle, should also be censored for the actions and words that have gotten us to this violent place.  

Fair play, is not fair at all if it only goes one way. Hate, whether justified or not, is not a substitute for evidence, nor is it a substitute for trustworthiness. You have to earn that. We will see if they do. Will the impeachment process be fair this time? Or, will be another badly managed partisan attack for little purpose and no possibility ever of success?

The last impeachment, President Trump’s first impeachment, the Democrats were the gang that could not shoot straight. The first time the Democrats impeached President Trump they put on a show of utter incompetence from beginning to end. If you disagree, think about relying on the Republican dominated Senate to call the witnesses that should have been called during the Houses’ investigation. The very idea boggles the mind, and it killed any possibility of success for their first impeachment of President Trump.

At least the Senate and Congress now have a much better idea of how the people of Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco must feel regularly when violence and lawlessness forces their shops and restaurants to close, and businesses and dreams to fail. Assuming that these cities returned to their lawful past tomorrow, it will still take years to repair the damage. Already, for example, many insurers have notified their policy holders in Portland that they will not insure businesses in central business area at any price. They are withdrawing from the market permanently. If you can’t get casualty insurance you can’t get business loans. If you can’t get business loans you can’t reopen. It is a simple if brutal relationship that kept much of Northeast Washington, D.C., a wasteland for decades after the 1968 riots provoked by the murder of Dr. King. Decades, in the Nation’s capitol. These same harsh economic rules are still there. In the absence of some creative government actions these cities, at least in their central portion, will die.

The Democratic leaders are practically begging Republicans to join them in cleaning the house that the Donald built, and some have already agreed. However, there is a lot more to do than just that. It is time they all got to work on the People’s business and not their own little political power games. Riots, like wars, are bad for all living things no matter how justified they may be. We need to clean up the mess, all of it.  

____________________________________________________

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. It is a Five Star book with lots of reviews, many by others that were there as well. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam war. I know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend, show it to your family. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir.Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968″

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

A Grunt’s Eye View of the Vietnam War.

A Grunt’s Eye View of the Vietnam War.

by john harrison

Echoes From Vietnam: Whispers from the disposable soldiers by Chris Adams.

Chris Adams returned from the Vietnam War over 50 years ago, but like most soldiers part of it never really left him. War often has that effect on the young men that fight it. Even more than most wars though, the Vietnam War has been fought and refought, again and again, in the pages of too many books to count during the past 50 years. The politics, the strategies, the tactics have all been explored, examined, and dissected, in minute detail. Thankfully, there is none of that in Chris’s excellent book.

Unlike almost all of the books about the Vietnam War, Echoes From Vietnam: Whispers from the disposable soldiers is about the soldiers that fought that war, that often bled in that war, and that too often died there as well. It tells their story, the human story of the bloodiest year of a long bloody war. Like Steven Ambrose famous World War II book, the Band of Brothers, this book is about the famous Currahees of the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Who they were, what they did, and what it cost them to fight a war not all of America supported.

It is not a pro war book, nor is it an anti war book, rather it is a book about the young American men that fought and won in the jungles and streets of Vietnam. Sometimes you will feel like you are right there next to Chris, in the thick of the action; he is that good as a writer. If you want to know what it is like to walk those mean, dangerous streets during Tet, ’68, or to push aside a branch and meet a VC face to face, read this book. If you want to explain to your child or grandchild what war is all about, then have them read this book. If you want your wife to finally understand why she often woke up sheets soaked with sweat, next to a very uncommunicative man, have her read this book. It tells all of those stories.

In the interest of full disclosure I should say that like Chris, I too served in Vietnam and wrote a book about it, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. In fact we both served in the same unit and I am mentioned a few times in his book as he is in mine. We both tried, in totally different ways, to tell the truth about what happened so long ago in that far off place. Chris tells you more of the full story. If you want to know what really happened in Vietnam, buy this book.


My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was in the infantry in Vietnam too. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making it an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.”
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Irony in Clothing

Irony in Clothing

by john harrison

I have said many times that I wish people knew more about their history. If they did perhaps they would make a fool of themselves less often. Kente Cloth originated in the Ashanti Empire. It was worn only by the rulers. The Ashanti Empire was a pre-colonial West African state that emerged in the 17th century in what is now Ghana. The Ashanti or Asante were an ethnic subgroup of the Akan-speaking people, and were originally composed of small chiefdoms that later morphed into a powerful empire.

“If the early Ashanti Empire economy depended on the gold trade in the 1700s, by the early 1800s it had become a major exporter of enslaved people. The slave trade was originally focused north with captives going to Mande and Hausa traders who exchanged them for goods from North Africa and indirectly from Europe. By 1800, the trade had shifted to the south as the Ashanti sought to meet the growing demand of the British, Dutch, and French for captives. In exchange, the Ashanti received luxury items and some manufactured goods including most importantly firearms.

“The consequence of this trade for the Ashanti and their neighbors was horrendous. From 1790 until 1896, the Ashanti Empire was in a perpetual state of war involving expansion or defense of its domain. Most of these wars afforded the opportunity to acquire more slaves for trade.” (https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/ashanti-empire-asante-kingdom-18th-late-19th-century/)

History can be brutal. Besides being a form of “blackface” as has been pointed out by many, (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/06/09/congresss-kente-cloth-spectacle-was-mess-contradictions/?fbclid=IwAR3bd0if49ebnZZOpwPU4fDrl0286XVDMO0Vev_xPoSINu4zIg6YbbscUHg) there are few historical symbols less appropriate for what the Democratic leadership was trying to say. The Ashanti Empire was a major player in the slave trade and Kente Cloth was originally worn only by the bosses of that trade.

In spite of contrary statements by those who should know better Robert E. Lee probably never personally purchased a slave. All of the slaves at Arlington were either owned by his wife, or were attached to the estate itself. On the other hand in the Ashanti Empire it was the slave trade that paid for the Kente Cloth.



My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was in the infantry in Vietnam too. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making it an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.”
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”

Random Thoughts on the Murder of George Floyd

Random Thoughts on the Murder of George Floyd
by john harrison

About 425,000 people live in Minneapolis, Mn. There are 800 sworn police officers and 300 civilians in the police department for an average of one police officer for every 531 people. This is in line with other American cities of similar size. For example there are 433,000 people living in Oakland, Ca., with 747 sworn police officers, and 323 civilians in their police department for an average of one police officer per 579 people. On the other side of the country there are 474,000 living in Raleigh, NC, with 802 sworn police officers, and 100 civilians in their police department for an average of one police officer per 591 people. So, the department is not understaffed, nor is the violent crime rate particularly high there when compared to other cities of similar size.

The mayor, a young liberal democrat, is responsible for the local police department. He and the Police Chief have been working to improve the department. They have admitted that there are specific problems within the department that they are working on. However, the budget is the real problem and partly because of that training is also a problem. This is Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s first term in office, but he seems to be trying.

A local newspaper said this about the politics of policing there last year:

 “The politics of policing is delicate in Minneapolis, made more so this year after the largest police-misconduct payout in Minnesota history. While downtown groups call for more officers to curb the latest spike in street violence, others say public safety must be addressed through a more holistic approach that incorporates better funding for programs like affordable housing, drug treatment and youth-violence intervention.

“Council President Lisa Bender said on Twitter the city couldn’t afford the cost per officer, nor the “settlements for police violence” that would follow. “I’m concerned that at this point both the mayor and the chief are approaching this from a highly political lens,” she said.

“Council Member Andrew Johnson wrote a blog post questioning whether the department could be more efficient by assigning solo officers rather than pairs to most calls. Council Member Cam Gordon wrote his own critical post, reviving the idea of changing the city charter to give the council more power over the police department.

“Since his campaign, Frey has identified policing as a priority, vowing to change the culture of the department while mending discord between officers and community members.”

Ultimately, according to the article, for the politicians the question is all about the allocation of tax money, public safety needs are clearly secondary. All this played out about a year before George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer.

In the meantime, the Minneapolis Police Department has failed to fully adopt changes recommended by federal officials to weed out bad cops. At least two of the officers involved in Floyd’s fatal encounter, including the officer who knelt on his neck, had numerous complaints filed against them in the past.

Some reforms were made though. The department narrowed the circumstances in which Minneapolis officers were authorized to kill. It changed its use of force policy with a focus on the “sanctity of life.” These new rules also required other officers to intervene when a fellow cop became abusive. These changes will become very important in the future cases against the four officers that were involved in the Floyd murder. The revised use-of-force policy explains why the department was able to fire all four arresting officers in Floyd’s case within 24 hours of his death, speed that has been all too rare in previous police-brutality cases.

Another distinguishing feature of this case is the support the protestors have received from both police chiefs, and rank and file police officers from across the nation. Incredibly for some, this support has continued even after violence marred some of the protests. The support itself is a very unusual break in the blue wall. As video footage of George Floyd’s last moments circulated over the internet, many, including police officers, watched in shock and revulsion as the 46-year old black man died, pleading for air, while a white Minneapolis police officer knelt, almost casually, on his neck.

Even so few could share the horrible familiarity the clip would evoke for Valerie Castile, who four years ago watched similar footage while her son, Philando, lay dying after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb. Her son’s killing added fuel to the national conversation about how police use force against people of color. It prompted the most sincere promises from politicians and civic leaders across all of Minnesota to reform policing there, but it still did not result in enough action to save George Floyd from murder by a known rogue cop.

So why, Valerie Castile asked, must she watch another video, of another a black man, in her city, dying at the hands of the police? Why indeed?

There is no question that the Minneapolis Police Department was on notice that it had a problem officer on its hands. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the department, had a dozen complaints from the public, none of which apparently had led to discipline. City records do not show the nature or severity of the complaints. Likewise, city coaching records aren’t public, so it’s unclear if Chauvin was sent to any of the policy training sessions as an alternative to discipline.

However, readily available past news stories show that Chauvin was involved in at least three cases in which a police officer shot a civilian during a six-year period. He was placed on paid leave in 2006 after being present, but not being the shooter, during a fatal confrontation with a man armed with a knife. In 2008, Chauvin shot a 21-year-old who was suspected of hitting a woman. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, police said the man in that incident tried to grab either Chauvin’s or his partner’s gun, prompting Chauvin to open fire. And in 2011, Chauvin was at the scene when a colleague shot a suspected gunman, who witnesses said had his hands up and was trying to surrender.

Tou Thao, another of the officers involved in Floyd’s murder, has had at least six complaints filed against him. Five resulted in no discipline and one is still under investigation. And in 2017, the city paid a $25,000 settlement to Lamar Ferguson, who said Thao knocked out his teeth during an arrest. The department still allows officers to use choke holds barred in other cities.

So, the reputation of the Minneapolis’ police department was clearly in question long before Floyd’s death. In July 2017, Officer Mohamed Noor fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a yoga teacher from Australia who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home. Officer Noor, a Somali-American, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting Damond, a white woman. The city of Minneapolis paid $20 million dollars to Damond’s family. Because Officer Noor did not record his encounter with Damond on his body camera, the police department changed at least one policy. It now requires police to activate their body cameras while traveling to a call.

In all the leaders of Minneapolis were repeatedly warned about problems with the police department. They knew they were in trouble. Even State Attorney General Keith Ellison said he is well aware the state has long-standing policing challenges. “The reforms thus far have been halting, inadequate, and just put it on the shelf until we get to the next tragedy,” he said. “Without tragedies to keep propelling it, it gets ignored after a while.”

It was ignored after Castile died. It was ignored after Damond was killed. Will it be ignored again after Floyd’s murder?

Why are the other three officers not yet charged?

The entry of the FBI into the case vastly complicates it. Neither the FBI nor the State can speak for the other As a practical matter what this means is that plea negotiations with the other three officers are infinitely complicated, but both sets of prosecutors want at least one of the officers to flip. Having an officer who was there testify that the actions of the other officers were wrong is very powerful stuff for a jury and in effect allows the jury to find the police defendants guilty. Even so no defense attorney will agree to a deal which does not include the signatures of both federal and state prosecutors. That is never easy to get.

On the other hand federal laws have strict time limitations between charging and trial. There are always jurisdiction issues in such joint cases. For example, a state trial would probably draw from jury pool with far more people of color. This may or may not be an advantage for either side. A federal charge may draw a longer sentence than a supportable state charge, or vice versa. Invariably though, a rush to charge almost always leads to problems later on.

So, wait for it. It will come.

What about the riots?

It seems that white people usually riot when over-paid sports teams, many predominantly composed of people of color, either win or fail to win championships. People of color riot lately when one of them is killed by the police for an otherwise minor infraction, often times in direct violation of police rules and regulations.

On the whole, the people of color have the better reason here.

The lock down frustration is part of the problem.

Some people are short of food for their families, some people could not buy summer clothes for their growing children. Some people, even if they have jobs, cannot go to work because the schools are closed, the play grounds are closed, their children are home and they cannot see an end to it.

If you look at the pictures of the riots, not everybody looting a store is a person of color, not everybody yelling at the police is either. Some of the politicians, both Democrat and Republican remind me of “Bull” Connor of Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s complaining of “outside agitators” taking advantage of the situation as though this is some sort of defense. It’s not. If your city blows up in flame, you failed.

Moreover, like the prior discussions about how to fix the police, it is still only another question of politics for far too many politicians, and the actual public safety be damned.

Lots of police have courageously crossed the line and stepped up to say that what happened to George Floyd is simply unacceptable on any level. It is time that the politicians followed their lead.


 

My book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive  is available on Amazon both as a paperback and on Kindle. Please give it a look. See; Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive 1968

Recent Reviews of Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive:

“John Harrison does an eloquent job writing what it was like being in the infantry during the Vietnam War. I know, because I was in the infantry in Vietnam too. There is a statistic which states that only 1 out of 10 who served in Vietnam were in the infantry. All of us have been asked what that was like at one point since our return. It is an impossible question for most of us to answer in part much less in full. John Harrison manages to do this in his book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive. So, if you are inclined and wonder what it was like, or you want to tell someone else what you went through, buy this book. Show it to your friend. It tells your story. To, “LT” John Harrison- thank you Sir. Salute.”

“John Harrison’s book, Steel Rain, the Tet Offensive, is a series of short stories, told mostly in the first person, that weaves together the humor and violence that only a talented writer can accomplish. The result is a compelling book that is hard to put down. John’s words flow easily on the pages, making it an easy read. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has been there and did that, or anyone wanting to know a personal record of one lucky Lieutenant in Vietnam and the people that made it possible for him to return home.”
Dan Hertlein, helicopter mechanic with the 192nd AHC at LZ Betty 1968

“John is the soldier speaking the truest story of Vietnam. I will confirm his action as I was in a different company same battalion, fighting the same battles.”