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When TV Determines Guilt or Innocence
Random thoughts on the passing scene

Police deploy on Florissant Avenue, August 16, 2014. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Thomas Sowell

I don’t know why we are spending our hard-earned money paying taxes to support a criminal-justice system, when issues of guilt and innocence are being determined on television — and even punishment is being meted out by CNN’s showing the home and address of the policeman accused in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting.

One of the big differences between Democrats and Republicans is that we at least know what the Democrats stand for, whether we agree with it or not. But, for Republicans, we have to guess.

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It is amazing how many otherwise sane people want Israel to become the first nation in history to respond to military attacks by restricting what they do, so that it is “proportionate” to the damage inflicted by the attacks.

Amid all the things being said on all sides about the massive, illegal influx of children from countries in Central America, we have yet to hear some American parent saying, “I don’t owe it to anybody to have my child exposed to diseases brought into this country, no matter what problems exist in other countries!”

Two headlines in the August 10th New York Times speak volumes about Barack Obama. The top headline reads: “Iraq Strikes May Last Months, Obama Says.” A secondary headline reads: “No Ground Force Will Be Sent, He Repeats.” Time was when enemy spies had to risk their lives to acquire such information. Now all they have to do is read the headlines.

It is amazing how many people think they are doing blacks a favor by exempting them from standards that others are expected to meet.

If you want to know who was the greatest baseball player of all time, please check out the pitcher who led the American League with the lowest earned run average in 1916. He was the only ballplayer who could do it all, including stealing home.

British prime minister Neville Chamberlain was a hawk compared with Barack Obama. At least Chamberlain was building up his country’s military forces while trying to appease Hitler. Obama is cutting back on our military forces while our enemies around the world are expanding theirs.

Medical authorities who are trying to reassure us that safeguards will prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States may be unconvincing to those of us who remember how they lied about whether AIDS could be transmitted by blood transfusions. They might be telling the truth this time, but credibility is one of those things that are far easier to maintain than to repair.

Too many people in Washington are full of themselves, among other things that they are full of.

However common it may be in politics to “split the difference” when making decisions, it is unconscionable to send American troops into a war zone in numbers too small to defend themselves. The smug and smirking contempt of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, when he began testifying before a congressional committee in the IRS scandal investigation, told us all we needed to know, even if we never get the information that was supposedly “lost” when Lois Lerner’s computer supposedly crashed.

Ted Williams’s great career was interrupted twice by military service — once during World War II and again when he returned to the Marine Corps during the Korean war. What sports star today would voluntarily interrupt a Hall of Fame career to go fight for America, after having already served in the military?

Despite TV pundits who say that public-opinion polls show Barack Obama is in trouble, the president is not in the slightest trouble. He is doing whatever he feels like doing, regardless of the Constitution and regardless of how many people don’t like it, because he is virtually impeachment-proof. The country is in huge trouble and real danger because of his policies, but he is not.

One of the most frustrating aspects of watching television news programs that feature debates is the guests who sidestep any question that gets to the heart of the issue at hand, and just go off on a tangent, repeating their standard talking points. That’s usually a good time to change the channel or turn off the TV.

If politics were like sports, we could ask Israel to trade us Benjamin Netanyahu for Barack Obama. Of course, we would have to throw in trillions of dollars to get Israel to agree to the deal, but it would be money well spent.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.


Clashes in Ferguson
TUESDAY, AUGUST 19: The daily protest gatherings appeared to heed calls for calm on Tuesday evening, only to see a return to violence aimed at police forces and a resulting crackdown that once agin filled the air with lights, sirens, and tear gas.
As with previous days, the gatherings and marches during daylight hours were largely peaceful affairs, punctuated by heated rhetoric directed at law enforcement, as authorities strove to keep demonstrators moving through the usual location.
Some arrests were made during the daytime demonstrations.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson again walked among the crowd to call for an end to the violence.
Law enforcement and Ferguson community leaders appealed for a night of calm to help ease tensions. A noticeably smaller crowd remained after dark, changing the mantra “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” that has become the protesters rallying cry throughout the unrest.
A young demonstrators waves a sign that reads “Justice!”
After clashes broke out with police, some in the crowd stove to prevent further escalations, locking arms and confronting those in the crowd bent on violence.
A man stands between police and protesters to appeal for calm.
An older man appeals for calm from a group of younger men wearing masks and face coverings.
Some demonstrators and onlookers took shelter inside a nearby business.
A business owner tussles with a young demonstrator, forcing him outside.
Verbal confrontations escalated later in the evening after bottles were thrown at police.
A policeman speaks with demonstrators as tensions escalate.
Authorities reported that some protesters had thrown urine at police, and additional threats were made from a passing vehicle. In all police made 47 arrests on Tuesday evening.
MONDAY, AUGUST 18: More clashes shook the streets of Ferguson on Monday as the arrival of the Missouri National Guard and the cancellation of the midnight curfew failed to quell the growing crowd of protesters and the growing anger surrounding the investigation of the death of Michael Brown more than a week ago.
Authorities report at least 31 persons were arrested in renewed clashes, which saw the air along Florissant Avenue once again filled with smoke and tear gas as police and demonstrators vied for control.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson told reporters that there was information that some of the more disruptive participants had travelled to Ferguson from as far away as New York and California. Pictured, protesters tip over a porta-potty onto Florissant Avenue.
Johnson had been sent to Ferguson to try and reduce tensions between police and local residents, but that mission appears to have failed as clashes have only increased in intensity since the weekend.
As on previous days, earlier demonstrations were largely peaceful, though arrests did take place as police tried to keep people moving along Florissant, where most of the unrest has taken place.
Rapper Nelly arrived on Monday to join the protests.
Among the large group of demonstrators, a man with a megaphone speaks to the crowd.
Anger rises among the demonstrators.
A melee ensues as police move to arrest a demonstrator.
Heavily-armed special police units were once again out in force.
Police units form a line to prevent demonstrators from moving further.
Riot police advance on the crowd.
Police wear gas masks as they deploy tear gas in the crowd of demonstrators.
A man reacts to the effects of tear gas.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 17: After the curfew on Saturday evening broke down into more clashes and arrests, police increased their presence on the streets on Sunday. But as night fell the situation again turned violent, with demonstrators taunting police and drawing a firm response from police.
After another day of violent clashes and flaunting of the town's midnight curfew, Missouri governor announced late Sunday evening that he is deploying the Missouri National Guard to restore order.
Said Nixon: "Given these deliberate, coordinated and intensifying violent attacks on lives and property in Ferguson, I am directing the highly capable men and women of the Missouri National Guard ... in restoring peace and order to this community,"
Police with riot gear assemble earlier in the evening to deal with the gathered crowd.
Special units prepare to head out as a tear-gas shell streams from behind an armored vehicle.
Police respond to reports of looting at an area business.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16: By Saturday, Missouri governor Jay Nixon announced a midnight curfew in an attempt to gain control over the streets of Ferguson in the wake of Friday's continued unrest and growing anger over emerging details of the investigation. Pictured, police maintain order during daylight.
Local business owner Mustafa Alshalabi cleans up his store, Sam’s Meat Market, the morning after looters ransacked it.
Local shopowners brandish firearms to protect their property from further looting.
Two groups of demonstrators march down Florissant Avenue.
Demonstrators pass a line of police.
Captain Ronald Johnson talks with demonstrators earlier in the evening in attempt to head off more clashes with police.
Police stand guard at the 911 Hair Salon.
Police stand guard at area businesses.
Police stand guard at area businesses.
The energy level of demonstrators remain high.
Demonstrators hold up homemade signs.
Police shoot smoke cannisters into the gathered crowd.
Demonstrators run to grab smoke cannisters and hurl them back at police.
Demonstrators and journalists run as police fire tear gas into the crowd.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 15: By week's end, the stronger police presence had returned after several businesses suffered damage and crowds of demonstrators continued to challenge law enforcement.
A demonstrators wears one of many tee-shirts with the image of Michael Brown.
A demonstrator wears a bandana as a mask to conceal her identity. Some have also used masks to cope with smoke and tear gas fired by police.
Fellow Ferguson residents try to restrain energized demonstrators.
Demonstrators stand and kneel in front of law enforcement officials.
Demonstrators climb vehicles travelling Florissant Avenue.
Cars crowd Florissant Avenue as rain begins to fall.
Capt. Ron Johnson, joined by Missouri Congressman Lacy Clay (at left) uses a bullhorn to appeal for calm.
Looters among the demonstrators raid an area liquor store.
Looters emerge from a local business.
Looters flee the scene.
Law enforcement prepare to move against the demonstrators.
A police officer chases a demonstrator.
Particles from a concussion grenade explode into the air.
A demonstrators walks amid gas cannisters fired by police.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 14: Protesters walk down Florissant Avenue as demonstrations continued.
Demonstrators show the "Don't Shoot" hands-up gesture to gathered media.
Demonstrators gather near the location where Michael Brown was gunned down by a Ferguson police officer on August 9.
Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson walks among demostrators as night falls. Johnson, a Ferguson native, was brought in to take over security from local police in an attempt to quiet tensions.
A child's train joins the demonstrations on Florissant Avenue.
Tear gas spreads through the crowd.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13: Some 500 demonstrators gathered Wednesday to continue protests against the shooting and delays in identified the police officers involved. Protesters vented their anger and in some cases taunted police.
Local police and other law-enforcement personnel have stepped up their presence on city streets over the past several days. But some observers wonder if the show of force, including military-style weapons and tactics, is only exacerbating tensions.
Though confrontations have been loud and vocal thorugh the week, there has as yet not been a repeat of the looting and arson the broke out on August 10, when some two dozen local businesses were damaged and a convenience store was gutted by flames. Nine persons have been charged in those incidents.
Throughout the night, as they have done since the demonstrations began last weekend, many protesters advanced on police lines with arms held high in the air in a gesture of surrender, exclaiming “Don’t Shoot! Don’t Shoot.”
After repeated calls to disperse were ignored, police cracked down with riot gear and tear gas.
Police line up to push the protesters back.
Some demonstrators responded by throwing the tear gas canisters back at police, while others attempted to hurl homemade molotov cocktails.
An Al-Jazeera news crew flees the scene as teear gas strikes their camera location.
Police guarded area businesses to head off a repeat of Sunday's looting and arson.
Tear gas and smoke filled the night air as police moved against demonstrators.
A demonstator braves the smoke to grab a gas cannister and hurl it back at police.
Smoke from tear gas and gas cannisters drifted into nearby neighborhoods.
Police fan out to secure nearby neighborhoods and search for violent protesters.
Updated: Aug. 20, 2014

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