Hey, we made it to Friday! Join Jim and Greg as they applaud cities and states for gearing up for the worst of coronavirus before it hits. They also cringe as Washington, D.C., officials claim the COVID-19 peak may not come there until late June or early July. And they call for a common sense review as sheriff’s officials in southern California arrest a man for defying state orders by paddle boarding in the ocean by himself.
Good news is a bit scarce today but the Three Martini Lunch is discussing three big stories. Join Jim and Greg as they document the latest evidence that China covered up the COVID-19 outbreak and refused to admit person-to-person transmission until late January. They also bang their heads on their desks as Philadelphia police make it known they are not going to arrest people for a wide variety of crimes while New York City and other major metropolitan areas look to empty their jails to reduce the risk of the virus spreading. And they wonder why Bernie Sanders continues his presidential when he’s hopelessly behind in the delegate count after another major shellacking on Tuesday.
This episode is sponsored by Acre Gold. Go to getacregold.com/martini. Acre is giving away a gold bar for the month of March. Tweet why you should win and mention @get_acre for a chance to win the free gold.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are grateful to see Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson rebuke Jussie Smollett for perpetrating a hate crime hoax and damaging the reputation of the city. Johnson also blasted the media for ignoring serious issues while providing wall to wall coverage of Smollett. They’re also horrified by reports of a active duty military officer who plotted to kill many people with bombings, shootings, and outbreaks of disease. And they correct MSNBC hosts Katy Tur and Ari Melber for claiming that George Washington was a “native son of New York”.
Listen to “Warnings Abounded in Annapolis, Heroes Amidst Horror, Gillibrand’s Grand Delusions” on Spreaker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America mourn the murders of five people in an Annapolis mass shooting and are frustrated by the litany of ignored warning signs and the knee-jerk online condemnation of President Trump for the killings because of his criticisms of the media. They also applaud the police for arriving on scene in just 60 seconds and saving many lives… and the staff of the Gazette for it’s commitment to publishing a paper today. And they try to make sense of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand suddenly supporting the abolition of ICE and wrongly insisting that no Democrats voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
As the media focus on the thousands of students walking out of school Wednesday to protest gun violence and demand gun control legislation, a longtime officer and police academy director says a critical element of stopping or limiting mass shootings is finding the right people to become police officers and training them well.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School did have armed security when a former student killed 17 people on Feb. 14, but resource officer Scot Peterson did not enter the school when he determined shots were being fired inside.
Many critics branded Peterson a coward for his inaction, but 21-year Illinois police officer Randy Petersen (no relation) says it’s more complicated than that.
“Maybe it’s not a cowardly person but someone who is unsure of themselves, unskilled, haven’t been trained up properly. Anytime you have something like that, we can have this situation where we shoot people that we don’t want shot or we don’t shoot people that need to be shot,” said Petersen, who also directed one of the largest police academies in Texas and is a senior researcher at Right on Crime.
“To go to the point where we have a police officer that is either incompetent in their physical skills, their defensive tactics skills, their shooting, they’re not going to have confidence and a lack of confidence can get you to a point where an officer either fails to act or overreacts,” said Petersen.
Petersen says a special type of demeanor is needed to be an effective police officer.
“We want a blend of these two qualities where a person is not overly excitable, not easily offended, but at the same time very competent and very capable,” said Petersen.
He says finding those qualities ought to be a high priority in the hiring process.
“We can train people to fight. We can train them to be good at sports. We can train them for an event, but we don’t know how they’re going to perform before they actually do it. What we can do is, during hiring and testing, we can have an idea of what we’re looking for an officer to be able to do,” said Petersen.
However, Petersen admits the vast majority of police officers never fire their weapons during their careers, so how can there be any certainty how they’ll perform under pressure?
He says training drills can be very effective.
“You’d be surprised at how realistic your role players, if you have good ones. Some of the technologies we have can really re-create the situations you can get in the training academy or in inservice training. You can get a real picture for how someone’s going to respond,” said Petersen.
“You can put them under pressure where the stress levels will give them that adrenaline dump, make them scared, make them nervous, make them physically exhausted, right up to the point to where the real situation is going to be just a little bit different,” said Petersen.
He says the key question is what police departments are wiling to do about the officers who can’t do the job well.
“The problem becomes whether or not we’re willing to weed out people who can’t. In a lot of situations I think that we don’t. We don’t weed out the people that we recognize and say, ‘I think this person’s not going to be able to do this,'” said Petersen.
Petersen says the problem is often not with the police departments but with the powerful allies of the officers not measuring up to the job.
“The union can make it difficult in a lot of states to terminate an officer that either has a lot of complaints filed against them or is basically incompetent. A lot of times they can end up getting their jobs back.
“It’s not that police agencies themselves are hesitant to get rid of them. Sometimes they fire them and they come right back on the job,” said Petersen.
While Right on Crime does not endorse any particular legislation to address mass shootings, Petersen says armed school security officers can be a good thing, but only if proven to be capable of handling a crisis of that magnitude.
He also says those officers can be limited in their effectiveness on a large piece of property.
“A police officer that’s on a sprawling campus still may have to run all the way across the campus to get to it, which may only take a matter of a minute or two but that’s a minute or two that we have active shooting going on. By the time the officer gets there, they may be winded. That changes the dynamics of being able to shoot and fight skillfully,” said Petersen.
On the issue allowing teachers to carry guns if they want to, Petersen says it may make a big difference when seconds count.
“Having administrators and/or teachers that are armed would be keeping in line with the doctrine of active shooter training because you’re going to have people with guns on scene faster to intercept that person,” said Peterson.
The explosion of sexual abuse revelations in recent months reveals a much bigger problem than many imagined, and Americans are now far more aware of the sexual abuse of children from cases ranging from Hollywood to disgraced USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar.
And a career sex crimes prosecutor says parents can play a vital role in preparing kids to recognize lewd behavior and in helping them come forward if abuse has occured.
Stacey Honowitz serves as an assistant state attorney in Florida, specializing in cases of sexual abuse. She is also the author of “My Privates are My Privates,” a book designed to teach young kids about where people should not be touching them.
Honowitz says the litany of allegations of abuse remind us all that sexual predators are not creepy looking guys in trench coats.
“I’ve seen in my 30 years experience that it’s not that stranger. It’s normally somebody that you know. It could be someone in the family. It could be a coach. It could be a rabbi. It could be a priest. Sex crimes really know no boundaries. Anybody can be a predator and anybody can be a victim,” said Honowitz.
In short, it’s often people that we instinctively trust who may feel the most emboldened to act in an illicit way.
“What we find is people who were so trusted are usually master manipulators, because they know that the kids trust them. They know the kids aren’t going to report them. They know the kids have this bond with them. They feel they can manipulate the child so if they do something wrong then that child is never going to come forward,” said Honowitz.
“And that’s what we saw in Nassar. These girls never thought that this elite doctor who was training the Olympic athletes would ever do something and cross the line. So they didn’t know to report it and they didn’t know if something was wrong,” said Honowitz.
That why she says parents must communicate with their kids that any improper touching from anyone is wrong.
“You want tell your kid, ‘Even if you love [the suspected predator], even if you trust them, they can always do something to betray that trust. And you can never feel funny about telling mom or dad or somebody that you feel uncomfortable,’ even if you think to yourself this could never be happening,” said Honowitz.
With an endless array of after-school and weekend extracurricular activities, Honowitz says it is vital for parents to keep an eye out for some telltale signs of trouble, starting with someone who is spending more time than necessary with your kids.
“A lot of parents feel that if someone is taking such an interest in their child that it’s wonderful. And I’m not here to tell you that every coach in the world or every person that’s nice to your kid is a sexual predator because that’s not the case.
“But if you see conversations, text messages, the person wants to take your kid when you’re not around, tells you they’re going to babysit or take them to the movies. If it doesn’t pass the smell test or the relationship is just reeking of something that’s not kosher, you need to ask your kid.
“‘What’s going on? Why are you spending so much time? Why is he giving you presents? Why is he taking you there? Why is he asking if you want him to babysit? Why is he taking you to a practice when you don’t have a practice?'” said Honowitz.
She says seeing the warning signs is not as complicated as some think it is.
“You really just kind of need to be smart. Use your common sense. We all think this is such a major thing and that it’s rocket science. It’s not. It’s common sense to see that someone wants to spend a lot of time with your kid and you’re trying to figure out why,” said Honowitz.
If concerns do arise, Honowitz encourages a clear, unscripted conversation.
“You don’t ever want to say, ‘Step one, tell me what happened. Step two, did he talk to you?’ You don’t want to do it that way. That’s why the conversation needs to start early and very casual,” said Honowitz.
How early should the conversation start? Probably earlier than you’d like it to and earlier than you think it should.
“You have to teach the kids, ‘My Privates are My Privates,’ just like I said in the book and no one is allowed to touch them, even if the person tells you, ‘It’s OK. I need to do it for my job,'” said Honowitz.
And she says teaching kids proper anatomy is also crucial.
“You have to be able to tell them, ‘That’s your private,’ and you have to say it in the terms that are proper. So you don’t want to make up a name for vagina. You don’t want to make up a name for penis. Because you want them to know that this is part of their anatomy and no one can touch them there,” said Honowitz
She urges parents to teach kids those proper names the same time they’re learning where their eyes, nose, hand and feet are. Honowitz also says another good way for parents of young kids to communicate is to tell kids no one may touch them in areas that are covered by their underpants or bathing suit.
When it comes to encouraging kids to tell you if they are being abused, Honowitz says stressing that open line of communication takes a lot of power away form an abuser.
“So many times the perpetrator will say, ‘Listen, if you tell somebody I’m going to do this to you. I’m going to hurt your family. I’m going to hurt you. You’re going to be in trouble.’
“You’ve got to tell the kids, ‘If you feel comfortable enough to tell me, you don’t have to worry. You’ll never be in that position. He’s never going to hurt me. He’s never going to hurt my family. But if you don’t tell me what’s going on, you will be a perpetual victim,'” said Honowitz.
Often times victims and their parents feel powerless if the predator is someone powerful or has a sterling reputation. Honowitz says you’d be surprised what happens once someone comes forward.
“Just like in the gymnastics case, there is strength in numbers. Many times when you feel that your child is going to be the only one it doesn’t work out that way. If your child comes forward, lots of times other people will come forward because someone else has taken that step,” said Honowitz.
If a parent doesn’t know what to believe or has a child who often fails to tell the truth, Honowitz says to always bring the matter to authorities. She says investigators are skilled at determining whether allegations are likely to be true or if a child is being coached by one parent to lie about another in a divorce case or some other scheme is afoot.
However, Honowitz strongly encourages parents to believe your child and let the authorities worry about the investigation. She says dismissing a child’s allegations can do great damage to them.
“If you tell your child you don’t believe them, if that child is being sexually abused you cannot imagine what kind of secrets they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
“We saw it happen in Nassar. We saw one of the fathers didn’t believe his daughter. When everybody started coming forward, he ended up committing suicide because he couldn’t live with the guilt,” said Honowitz.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to a new Fox News report showing another link between the Justice Department and Fusion GPS, the firm that compiled the campaign dossier on Donald Trump. They also react to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand insisting President Trump resign, Trump blasting Gillibrand on Twitter, and many on the left accusing Trump’s tweet of being sexual harassment. Jim says the whole spectacle shows that Trump and Gillibrand deserve each other. And they have little sympathy for the family of the Port Authority bomber, as they gripe about the aggressiveness of the investigation into the attempted terrorist attack.
On Sunday, a large group of Antifa activists descended upon a small number of people the group surmised were supporters of President Trump and assaulted them viciously while Berkeley, California, police largely stood by, and policing expert Heather Mac Donald says the passivity from the cops is a result of withering demonization from politicians and the media.
The Washington Post headline described the violence as an Antifa “attack” against “peaceful right-wing protesters.” This is not the first time Berkeley police have let the violence play out. Earlier this year, extensive property damage ensued from riots connected with a scheduled University of California speech by Milo Yiannopoulos.
Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of the best-selling “The War Against Cops: How the New attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe.” She says the seeds for police reticence to intervene were planted in yet another episode of Berkeley unrest in December 2014, as part of a four-day protest against the police by Black Lives Matter.
“The first day of the anti-police, Black Lives Matter riot, the police actually used conventional riot tactics of skirmish lines, of not allowing protesters to get dangerously close,” said Mac Donald.
“The left-wing Berkeley council and mayor, the next day, blamed the police for the violence, rather than the people who were using Molotov cocktails and attacking businesses and police officers and other people,” added Mac Donald.
She says the police could draw only one logical conclusion from that political response.
“The Berkeley police learned their lesson and said, ‘OK, our policy is going to be to allow certainly the destruction of property and if there’s collateral damage to people, so be it. We are not going to risk again the claim that we are an occupying, fascist force,'” said Mac Donald.
“They’re so worried about a lawful act of force being captured on video and the inevitable press reaction that it was the police’s fault, that they have simply moved into a hunkered down, passive position that, given our current levels of civil hatred in this country, I think is extremely dangerous,” said Mac Donald.
She says despite the political slings and arrows, the police still have a responsibility to their communities.
“I hope…they will realize that they really owe it to the law-abiding people of this country to maintain order,” said Mac Donald. “Police use of force is never a pretty sight, but there are times – whether you are subduing a resisting suspect or trying to keep order in a public anarchy situation like we had again this weekend – where it is necessary.”
She says the tone and extent of police intervention in these situations will ultimately be up to the voters in each community.
“It’s really up to the public to decide how much policing it wants. If the public decides we would rather have crime, we’d rather have anarchy than have the police use their lawful authority, well that’s their decision to make,” said Mac Donald.
If the police continue to hold back, what will we see?
“I fear real civil violence, whether it’s race war of left-right war. Both sides at the extremes are becoming more emboldened,” said Mac Donald.
Mac Donald makes clear that the most heinous act we’ve seen to date in this escalating violence is the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville earlier this month. She says that carnage is squarely on the hands of the white supremacists.
However, she also points out that many of the instances of non-lethal are instigated by the likes of Antifa.
“The left certainly has the bit in its teeth at this point. I hope that Trump still has the moral authority to say this is simply not acceptable. He ran rightly as a law and order president. He alone among the candidates saw what was going on with the demonization of the police, with the rising crime levels, with the resistance to cops, with the 53 percent increase in gun murders of officers last year,” said Mac Donald.
So how do we get to what most Americans expect in terms of law and order? Mac Donald says it is going to be tough so long as the media casts such a negative eye on police.
“The media has just been soaked, it’s been saturated in anti-cop hostility for the last 20 years but it has certainly gotten much worse with the Black Lives Matter surge that began in August of 2014,” said Mac Donald.
She says the tragic irony is that the media are hypocrites when it comes to caring about minority deaths.
“The overwhelming victims in the rising crime increase are black. Nine hundred more black males were killed in 2015, thanks to the Black Lives Matter de-policing, than the previous year. Even though the media think of itself as so Social Justice Warrior-like, it actually doesn’t give a damn about black lives unless they’re taken by a cop,” said Mac Donald.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America close the week with three crazy martinis. They unload on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jim Sciutto for speculating on air that the radical Muslim terrorist in Barcelona got the idea for a van attack from watching the events in Charlottesville. They also hammer Antifa’s argument that it engages in violence to protect nonviolence and only against white supremacists, pointing out that Antifa viciously attacks anyone it doesn’t agree with and that it is the job of police to protect nonviolence. And they sigh as liberals start calling for the removal of statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, just as their critics predicted earlier in the week.
While the debate rages on about the violence and ideology on display in Charlottesville on Saturday, a prominent black conservative is fuming over the lack of an appropriate police presence to prevent the clashes and says whether or not we see a replay in other American cities probably depends upon the politics of the political leaders there.
The Charlottesville police admit they should have done more to separate the different protesters, but that’s not good enough for former constitutional law professor Horace Cooper. Cooper is now co-chair of the Project 21 National National Advisory Board. Project 21 is a leadership network of black conservatives. He says law enforcement has an obligation to plan for the worse.
“In the event that we are apprehensive that a particular public expression could lead to heightened tensions between communities, you don’t send your officers home for the weekend. You, in fact, call some of those who are taking off and say, ‘I want you on standby,'” said Cooper.
And he Cooper is dumbfounded that police were not at least ready to intervene as the likelihood of violence increased.
“The second that you get concerned that something is happening that’s going to be very aggressive and dangerous, you bring those people in. Our Constitution allows for peaceable expression. Freedom of expression does not include burglary, does not include theft, does not include rape, does not include mayhem,” said Cooper.
But while Cooper says the police could have prevented at least one death and many injuries by keeping order more aggressively, he says this is just the latest incident where he believes politics trumped public safety.
“We’ve seen it in Ferguson. We’ve seen it in Baltimore. We’ve seen it in Berkeley. In all too many instances, the voices of condemnation call off the responsible authorities to see to it that all parties stay in their lanes, and instead allow private mayhem to occur,” said Cooper.
“It looks like it’s precisely to let the private mayhem have its way over the so-called injustice that the media and the political leaders that are doing this have identified,” said Cooper.
So will the revolting images we witnessed from Charlottesville play out in other American cities? Cooper says that largely depends upon who is in charge in those places.
“If these things happen in jurisdictions where people are willing to allow the space for mayhem to occur, it will occur and it will not be good. If they happen in jurisdictions where leaders are willing to hold individuals accountable, we can stop this. I am hopeful that the latter is true,” said Cooper.
He says leaders can set a proper tone long before tensions and passions rise, noting stark differences in how protesters responded to the George Zimmerman verdict in Florida verus the rioters in Ferguson, Missouri.
“[Florida Gov. Rick Scott] insisted that they were going to hold all people who rioted and committed mayhem criminally liable and it killed off almost all aspects of the over-the-top rhetoric. The governor of Missouri (Jay Nixon) did exactly the opposite and we saw nights and nights of criminal activity,” said Cooper.
As for his personal thoughts on Charlottesville, Cooper says he urges everyone to always wait for the facts before leaping into outrage mode. He says an online mob mentality almost devoured the wrong person for the deadly vehicle attack.
“The prior owner of the 2010 Dodge Challenger had been identified all across social media and threats were being made to his family and his household even though this was a car he had already sold years ago,” said Cooper.
Cooper clearly finds the views of the white supremacists “repugnant” but takes solace in the fact that their views are representative of just a tiny fraction of the American people.
“That is not a significant number of the American polity. It is not a major influence in our country today, and when the attention is given to them, it is my hope that the little attention that they get helps to remind people this isn’t your next door neighbor. This isn’t the person you work with. These are very, very marginal individuals,” said Cooper.