When a boomer starts a sentence with, “Well, when I was kid…” you know they are about to spout utter bullshit

I was riding in a car today with a fellow boomer and we happened to pass, within a few minutes of one another, two yards with trampolines with those giant 12-foot safety nets around the perimeter.

“When I was a kid, we played on trampolines without nets and nobody ever got hurt,” my friend observed knowingly.

I gave him an incredulous look. “Do you not remember that we spent three years of high school learning beside a quadriplegic former jock moving himself around the hallways with a mouth-operated joystick on his wheelchair? And he was the second person in our class to be seriously injured in a trampoline accident?”

“Oh, yeah,” my friend said. “I forgot about them.”

This kind of thinking is rampant among baby boomers who tend to have an idealized version of their own childhoods. You hear this total bullshit come out of their mouths all the time.

“My mother smoked and drank when she was pregnant with me, and I turned out fine,” usually comes from someone like a woman in her 60s who has zero contact with her three adult children she screwed up emotionally for life.

“My parents beat us kids all the time and we survived,” usually comes from someone like an elderly alcoholic biker whose life has been a series of dead-end jobs because he never outgrew his inability to control his anger and resentment when someone disagrees with him about small things or tells him what to do at work.

But this bit of stupidity is always my favorite: “We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. Nobody had to know where we were every minute of the day.”

I have first-hand experience with this because my two best friends, Jake Surber and Jon Simpson, disappeared on Aug. 30, 1975, during a trip to the state fair. I was supposed to go with them, but my mother refused to let me go because she didn’t have the money.

Jake and Jon didn’t return home that night. Their bodies were found later in two different locations, both sexually assaulted and brutally stabbed. They thought at one time that the killer was found and prosecuted, but it turned out maybe they got the wrong guy.

So I’ve been especially attuned to crimes against children my entire life. There were a lot of child rapes and murders, and horrific parental child abuses, even during the so-called golden years about which baby boomers wax nostalgic. Those crimes simply did not receive the same media coverage they do now.

Children are definitely safer now than they’ve ever been, precisely because products are required to be (somewhat) safer, cars have three-point seatbelts and rear-facing child seats, head protection is more common when kids are taking part in risky activities, and parents can keep better tabs on them through cell phones and the internet.

The golden age of childhood that my contemporaries romanticize is a figment of older imaginations who have shitty memories. The only thing that often surprises me is how unaware they are when they do it until you point out to them the wide gap between what they believe and what actually happened.

It’s guns from outside of Chicago that are killing and terrorizing law-abiding Chicagoans

In Chicago right now, taxpayers are more likely to be the victims of crime than criminals are to be punished for it. So, the question is, “Why would anyone in Chicago pay taxes?” You’d have to be a masochist to do that, and pretty soon only the masochists will be. 

Fox News infotainment host Tucker Carlson, who failed to mention on his Sept. 13 show that all of the guns that allow “the worst people” in Chicago to target everyday citizens don’t originate in Chicago, but rather come from just across the border in gun-permissive states such as Indiana and Wisconsin — along with Iowa and Michigan.

QAnon-believing father kills wife, family dog; shoots and wounds daughter

Another murder tied to QAnon beliefs.

Police in Michigan say a man opened fire on his family, killing his wife and injuring one of his daughters. His other daughter says he was spiraling out of control before the shootings, blaming it on QAnon.

Rebecca Lanis, 21, says her grandmother called her Sunday morning, asking if she was at the hospital. At a friend’s sleepover and unaware of the tragedy that had just unfolded at her home, she found that a strange question.

But she soon learned that early that morning, her father, 52-year-old Igor Lanis, had shot and killed her 56-year-old mother and critically injured her 25-year-old sister, Rachel Lanis.

The sheriff’s department says Igor Lanis also killed the family dog.

“It was like I was in a movie or nightmare or something. How could this happen to me?” Rebecca Lanis said. “I had a really close bond with my mom, and I just can’t believe that she’s not here.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says when officers responded to the family’s home in Walled Lake, Igor Lanis opened fire on them. A Walled Lake police officer and an Oakland County deputy returned fire, killing the man.

She says her father started getting more agitated at normal things and often found a way to bring up conspiracy theories about vaccines, 5G and electromagnetic fields. He turned to extremism – like QAnon, a political conspiracy theory centered around baseless claims that Trump was fighting enemies within a so-called “deep state” and a sex-trafficking ring run by Satanic cannibals.

Rebecca Lanis says her family’s tragedy is a warning for people to pay attention to their loved ones who may need help.

“I think that people need to focus more on radicalization, QAnon. If they have relatives with guns who are like this, you need to get them help, and they need to get checked into a mental institution, even if you think they’re not dangerous,” she said.

These are the people Fox News and Tucker Carlson are radicalizing.

Trump keeps playing right into the hands of the Department of Justice

It’s a question that untold numbers of us have asked ourselves: How has Donald Trump gotten away with being so crooked for so long?

That question has been batted about ad infinitum.

But those days seem to have come to an end, with federal law enforcement finally using Trump well-known stupidity and lazy habits against him, as David A. Graham at The Atlantic recounts in this interesting article:

As the great American philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Omar Little each expressed in their own ways, if you go after the king, you can’t make a mistake.

The Department of Justice now finds itself in just such a can’t-miss scenario in its legal battle with Donald Trump over documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago. Given the delicate political calculation, any error could strengthen the former president, weaken the rule of law, and imperil the Constitution. But so far, the federal government has been a step ahead of Trump at every turn.

The latest demonstration came in a filing late last night, in which prosecutors dramatically swept away the most recent excuses from Trump and his allies, who have insisted that the former president cooperated with the government and acted in good faith. The filing provides evidence that Trump and his team not only didn’t hand over all classified materials, but actively sought to conceal them by misleading the FBI. And a striking photograph, showing cover sheets with bold red block letters reading top secret // sci, preempts any claim that Trump might simply not have realized the documents were classified.

This has been the pattern of the story of Trump’s mishandling of presidential records from the start. In January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago. By February, NARA had already told DOJ about classified documents, according to a letter from the agency’s head to Representative Carolyn Maloney. Although a lawyer for Trump requested that NARA not disclose the contents of the boxes to the FBI, government lawyers were already a step ahead, pointing out that “there are important national security interests in the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community getting access to these materials … Some include the highest levels of classification, including Special Access Program (SAP) materials.”

Trump is a moron, and he’s mostly now only able to hire lawyers who are also morons or near-morons. The days of him being able to sleaze and bluster his way out of legal messes is (hopefully) drawing to a close.

One of several in a rotating list of Trumpland excuses for having top secret documents is that he didn’t know they were top secret. So the DOJ shared photos of what they found during the raid of Mar-A-Lago so that everyone could see that nobody could miss that these were restricted documents, since they were clearly and ostentatiously labeled as such.

There’s an epidemic of prison suicides. Should we care?

There is an epidemic of suicides among incarcerated people in this country, as the good folks at the Brennan Center note in a current article:

Why are people in jail taking their lives so often? A 2020 Reuters invest­ig­a­tion corrob­or­ates the Justice Depart­ment’s find­ing that suicides are a top cause of jail deaths and suggests three primary drivers.

First, a signi­fic­ant propor­tion of people who land in jail are from margin­al­ized communit­ies and grapple with symp­toms of poverty, primar­ily substance abuse and mental illness, as well as unem­ploy­ment and home­less­ness. Accord­ing to the latest Justice Depart­ment data, 63 percent of people in jail exper­i­enced drug depend­ence or abuse, and 44 percent of people in jail repor­ted having had symp­toms of a mental health disorder in the prior year.

Second, the preval­ence of detained people with seri­ous mental health needs is at odds with the goals, design, oper­a­tion, and resources in most jails. The near absence of mental health treat­ment or other types of beha­vi­oral health services is exacer­bated by jail staff who are often not trained or equipped to prevent, detect, or respond to beha­vi­oral health crises. For example, only about one-quarter of New York City correc­tions staff repor­ted complet­ing suicide preven­tion train­ing despite a surge in self-harm and suicides at Rikers. A recent invest­ig­a­tion of Indi­ana jails, citing staff short­ages with train­ing or expert­ise, simil­arly found that many suicide attempts occur openly, includ­ing among people on suicide watch or those being monitored by video.

It is perhaps unsur­pris­ing then that accord­ing to the latest avail­able data, the major­ity of people in jail with mental illness — 62 percent — were not receiv­ing mental health care. Yet jails are often described as “de facto mental hospit­als” because they have filled the vacuum created by a pervas­ive lack of adequate beha­vi­oral health services in the community and because beha­vi­oral health issues under­lie many of the circum­stances that land someone in jail.

Third, the condi­tions inside most jails are terrible and the treat­ment often abus­ive, making them unlikely to offer any respite for people exper­i­en­cing crises or mental illness. Jails are typic­ally char­ac­ter­ized by loud and unpre­dict­able noise, bright lights, unsan­it­ary condi­tions, and in many places, an atmo­sphere of threat and viol­ence.

Confront­ing an intrins­ic­ally isol­at­ing exper­i­ence in an insti­tu­tion whose aim is to punish rather than treat or rehab­il­it­ate can also be trau­maticHuff­ing­ton Post invest­ig­a­tion follow­ing Sandra Bland’s in-custody death quoted correc­tions expert Steve J. Martin, who described jail as “a total and abso­lute loss — imme­di­ate loss — of control over your being, over your phys­ical being.”

Put together, it is under­stand­able that jail may in fact exacer­bate a person’s mental illness, and quickly. Indeed, accord­ing to the Justice Depart­ment, most jail suicides happen soon after admis­sion, with nearly half of suicides occur­ring within seven days of arrival. A signi­fic­ant propor­tion of jail suicides — 77 percent — occur by detained people who are charged but not convicted of any crime and are there­fore legally presumed inno­cent.

It’s probably safe to say that if you asked average Americans whether jails and prisons should be more about rehabilitation or punishment, most of them would say punishment. After all, if we make jails and prisons as legally unbearable as is possible – which is basically what we have now – criminals would be more likely when they get out of prison to lead lives that will not lead them back to incarceration.

But that is not what is happening. People who go into prison as the damaged human beings many of them are, are subjected to conditions in most prisons and jails which guarantee that they will come out more damaged than when they went in. Often profoundly more damaged.

Socially and physically damaged inmates, especially the ones with mental health issues, do not come out of the experience ready to start lives as earnest, tax-paying citizens.

Many of them come out with even greater mental health challenges that virtually ensure they will be so broken that getting their lives in order is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible.

Assuming they live long enough to make it out of incarceration in the first place.

This is not soft-headed liberal whining. It’s plain fact there for anyone willing to look honestly at recidivism rates.

A genuine interest in lessening crime has to be accompanied by the conviction that the money we spend now on providing meaningful mental health treatments, along with job training and socialization programs, will save us even greater costs later on repeat incarceration, and increased crimes against persons and property stemming from the prison-to-prison pipeline we now have.

Army soldiers more likely to be locked up for minor drug offenses than for sexual assault

ProPublica and the Texas Tribune discovered some startling — although not totally unexpected — things about sexual assault in the Army:

U.S. Army soldiers accused of sexual assault are less than half as likely to be detained ahead of trial than those accused of offenses like drug use and distribution, disobeying an officer or burglary, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

The news organizations obtained data from the Army on nearly 8,400 courts-martial cases over the past decade under the Freedom of Information Act and analyzed a process known as pretrial confinement. The resulting investigation of the nation’s largest military branch revealed a system that treats soldiers unevenly and draws little outside scrutiny.

When service members are accused of crimes, their commanders, who aren’t required to be trained lawyers, get to decide whether they are detained before they go to trial.

Soldiers accused of sexual assault are placed in pretrial confinement at lower rates than those charged with some more minor offenses.

On average, soldiers had to face at least eight counts of sexual offenses before they were placed in pretrial confinement as often as those who were charged with drug or burglary crimes, the news organizations found.

That disparity has grown in the past five years. The rate of pretrial confinement more than doubled in cases involving drug offenses, larceny and disobeying a superior commissioned officer, but it remained roughly the same for sexual assault, according to the analysis.

“Justice that’s arbitrary is not justice,” said Col. Don Christensen, a former chief prosecutor for the Air Force. “It shouldn’t come down to the whims of a particular commander.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland is turning out to head a Justice Dept. finally willing to go after Wall Street criminals

One of my favorite chroniclers of the dangerous political times in which we find ourselves is David Dayen at the The American Prospect (TAP). I find his insights to be helpful in understanding the mess we are in, but he is very often hopeful, too.

Such is the case with one of his current articles in TAP. He notes in it that the U.S. Justice Department is finally showing some muscle in prosecuting wrongdoing at the highest echelons of Wall Street — something he starts out by noting has long been absent even in Democratic administrations.

In a country with such a yawning gap between the wealth and influence of elites and the comparatively piddling power of everyone else, to catch what’s really happening at the highest levels of power you must consult news sources like the Vineyard Gazette, a paper covering goings-on in Martha’s Vineyard. A recent chronicle of a book event for former Attorney General Eric Holder offered just such a window.

Holder was asked whether, if he were still running the Justice Department, he would charge Donald Trump, specifically for inciting the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. Holder called out to Lanny Breuer, his head of the Criminal Division while at DOJ, who happened to be in the audience.

“So Lanny, would we bring this case?” asked Holder. “We would bring it in a minute,” replied Breuer, to thunderous applause.

If ever there was a moment of elite historical amnesia, it was this. Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are jointly responsible as the greatest enablers of criminal impunity in American history. They indicted literally nobody of consequence for the destruction of the U.S. economy in the global financial crisis of 2008, and the mountain of demonstrable fraud that triggered it. In fact, Holder literally had a corner office held for him at Covington & Burling, the corporate defense firm that represented many of the top banks whose executives Holder declined to prosecute, while he served as attorney general.

Why anyone would listen to the views of Holder and Breuer on the subject of holding criminal actors responsible is beyond comprehension. These are two charter members of the chickenshit club.

He then goes on to describe a recent case in which the Justice Dept. sought and won convictions in an important case of Wall Street lying and cheating, something so common it’s shocking it hasn’t happened more often.

But the most hopeful elite accountability moment this week, the one that suggests that maybe the rule of law has a pulse, wasn’t actually conducted with a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. It was a Justice Department victory in a different case that actually holds top officials of one of the nation’s biggest corporate recidivists accountable.

On Wednesday, a jury in Chicago convicted two traders from JPMorgan Chase, including managing director Michael Nowak, who was the head of the bank’s gold trading desk, for financial fraud in gold markets. The traders were engaging in “spoofing,” a practice of entering fake trades to spur activity and boost the commodity price.

Financial-reform observers believe this case involves the most senior bank officers ever charged in recent history, let alone convicted. The Justice Department actually went for a racketeering charge, depicting the precious metals trading desk as a criminal enterprise within the bank. This is incredibly new stuff for a Justice Department that has long been moribund on corporate crime. “RICO is now clearly a valid charge in white-collar criminal cases like this, and that’s a very, very powerful weapon,” said Dennis Kelleher of the financial reform group Better Markets.

You can read the rest of the article at this link.

You can read the Justice Dept. press release about the spoofing case at this link.

Unsanctioned and deadly horse racing is flourishing in parts of the U.S., often with cartel drug money

This article by Gus Garcia-Roberts is a horror show, detailing illegal horse racing in Georgia and elsewhere, with horses dying from drugs, shock devices and being pushed past their physical limits. One of these “bush tracks,” Rancho El Centenario, operates mostly with impunity:

For years, there have been hints that the horsemen of Rancho El Centenario are utilizing practices that would incur serious discipline at a regulated track. For instance: After deputies pulled over a horseman on his way to the track in 2019, a police report shows, they discovered boxes of amphetamine and anabolic steroids in the back of his Mazda.

Other times it’s more than a hint. On a visit to the races last month, during which journalists for The Post witnessed horses being injected before races, they also observed the day’s winningest jockey wearing a shock device of the sort banned in mainstream racing.

And though betting on horses is illegal in Georgia, apparent bookies ambled along the track, calling out bets before races and distributing the winnings from stacks of cash afterward.

Unbeknown to English and his Mexican cowboy clientele, however, there has been since last year a third party to the culture clash: animal rights activists.

Over eight visits to Rancho El Centenario between June 2021 and April 2022, undercover investigators for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals collected hidden-camera footage of all of this conduct and more: gambling, injections, shock devices, repeated whipping and horses dying on the track.

The group’s investigators collected syringes following injections around the track and had them tested at the horse racing laboratory at University of California, Davis, another of the nine facilities accredited by Kentucky’s Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC). Some of them tested positive for cocaine, methamphetamine and methylphenidate, according to a letter that PETA’s lawyers sent this week, along with 17 pages of supporting materials, to the Lamar County Sheriff Sheriff’s Office and the local district attorney’s office.

In the letter, PETA general counsel Jared Goodman alleged “systemic and repeated animal abuse, including whipping, electric-shocking, and drugging horses to push them past their natural limits, leading several horses to break down and be killed on the track, as well as extensive commercial gambling on every race.” He called for a criminal investigation of the ranch’s activities and some of its horsemen.

Add to this the fact that horses are dying from fatal diseases that are endemic in Mexico and, subsequently, spreading to horses in America.

Angela Pelzel-McCluskey’s first encounter with the bush circuit came in the form of a bony 7-year-old quarter horse brought to a veterinarian in Ocala, Fla., in 2008.

Pelzel-McCluskey is an equine epidemiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture charged with keeping disease from spreading through the American horse industry. The horse in Ocala, lethargic and refusing to eat or drink, tested positive for piroplasmosis, an infectious blood disease rare in the U.S. but endemic in Mexico that typically dooms its carriers to euthanasia or lifelong isolation.

Investigators traced the infection and found a cluster of 20 other quarter horses with the disease — all of them participants in unsanctioned racing, according to a study Pelzel-McCluskey co-authored.

Piroplasmosis typically spreads via ticks. In this case, though, investigators found the disease’s vector was unlicensed handlers using contaminated needles and other equipment to inject or blood-dope the horses. A year later in Missouri, another dying horse brought to a veterinary hospital led to a similar story, with investigators discovering a cluster of eight quarter horses connected to the same trainer who raced them on unsanctioned tracks.

Those cases led Pelzel-McCluskey to become the USDA’s sole expert on unsanctioned racing. She has watched with alarm, she said, as the phenomenon has steadily grown — and as the diseases she tracks have spread.

It’s a heart-breaking, infuriating article.

As is the video below, provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

I know. PETA can be its own worst enemy with some of its leaders’ more extreme views. But most of its work is laudable, including this investigation trying to expose the barbaric practices of this sport.

Warning: the video below is hard to watch.

You can read the rest of the article here.

This is what happens when you heavily arm brain-damaged people

Good lort, gawd almighty, this is the craziest hicks-with-guns story I’ve read in a while.

It starts with the April 22, 2016, execution-style murders of the Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio.

Prosecutors say they know exactly who executed the eight family members, and they are gearing up to present their case to a jury when the first trial in Ohio’s most costly and complex criminal investigation starts in late August. The trial will give onlookers a front-row view into a corner of America known more through stereotypes than complex realities: a place where, often, family protects family at all costs and where love and loyalty trump all else.

“A lot of this, and I don’t mean this in any kind of derogatory way, is the code of the hills,” said Mike Allen, a Cincinnati-based criminal defense lawyer who has monitored the case from the start. “Family sticks together.”

More than six years and thousands of pieces of evidence later, prosecutors are expected to unfurl a diabolical scheme by four members of one family to kill eight members of another.

The alleged motive: to obtain sole custody of a shared daughter, who was a toddler at the time.

George Wagner IV, 30, faces 22 charges alleging that he was part of his family’s criminal enterprise in the planning, plotting, execution and coverup in the shooting deaths of Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Sr., 40; Chris Rhoden’s former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, and Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Jr., 16; Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Hazel Gilley, 20; Christopher Sr.’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and their cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.

So many twists and turns. So much bloodshed. All for nothing more than a custody fight among hillbillies with guns.

You can read the rest of the article by Chris Graves at this link.