Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Protests

The left is trying to build on the momentum it gained with the Ferguson Riots with Black Friday protests against targeted merchants.

The game is simple: The left targets a few select enemies to gain power over their enemies and to cow other merchants into submission.

Notice how very few merchants or business owners come out to speak their minds on local political issues?

The protests are about gaining power. There often is little rhyme nor reason to the chosen targets. The stores can be big or small like the Ferguson Market displayed after the Ferguson riots.

As for my Black Friday activity. For the last couple years I spent hundreds of hours infusing my sites with coupons with the hopes of raising enough funds to engage in some quality reporting. It hasn't worked. This year I just didn't have the heart to post the coupons. My coupon site is called You will see it is short on new coupons.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"People With Guns Kill!" Huh?

Mike Brown was a shoplifter who used his size to intimidate people.

When faced with arrest, Mike Brown started using his size to intimidate the officer.

The officer pulled out his gun to equalize the situation.

Mike Brown tried to take the gun from the officer.

The narrative of the prosecutor is: If Mike Brown took the gun, he would have immediately turned around and killed Officer Wilson.

The major premise of this narrative is: "People with guns kill."

Mike Brown had size on the officer. If he successfully took the gun, he would have humiliated the officer. Why would he shoot the person he just humiliated?

If you remove the premise "People with guns kill;" then you are left with the view that the officer's pride was a stake.

The premise behind the conservative narrative leaps out at me because I live in an area where one is not allowed to utter in any form the sentiment "People with guns kill" without being vilified.

I am not even allowed to say that people with guns shouldn't shoot across public roads and trails without attracting the venom of the right.

Yet this is the central argument in the conservative argument that Mike Brown deserved to be shot down.

If you are a member of the NRA; Please, answer this question: Does the possession of a gun warrant your being gunned down?

If Mike Brown successfully took Officer Wilson's gun; he would have humiliated the officer and established a local legend for himself. He had size on the officer. Why would he kill the disarmed officer?

Fortunately, the disarming did not happen. Officer Wilson shot Mike Brown in the hand and Mike Brown fled.

This first shooting was clearly justified. Officer Wilson was right to protect himself and to keep control of the weapon.

After this first justified action, Officer Wilson chose to pursue, on his own, a suspect who made it clear that he would resist arrest. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a person he could not restrain without lethal force.

This leads back to the argument in the last post. Officer Wilson is a professional hired by the public. A professional should be able to foresee the likely outcome of his actions.

Pursuing the suspect on his own would lead to a second shooting. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a course of action that would inevitably lead to shooting.

Officer Wilson was not the primary detective involved in the shoplifting case. There were other police resources near by. There was no compelling reason to continue the pursuit. There was simply high risk with low reward. Prudence would demand waiting for back up ... which was near by.

The decision to continue the pursuit, with pride on the table, led to a petty thief being gunned down over a handful of Cigarillos.

While the idea of indicting Officer Wilson is absurd, his decision to continue the confrontation shows lack of the sound professional judgment.

Officer Wilson is a public servant hired by the people. He is not entitled to his job any more than I am entitled to a job. I lost a job because a client didn't like the colors used in a graph. It is completely appropriate to dismiss Officer Wilson.

The conservatives who are jumping up and down yelling schreeching that the Ferguson shooting was a just kill and we should be slapping medals on the brave hero who shot the vicious shoplifter in Ferguson are a bit off base.

NOTE: If Officer Wilson were fired, he could always go into journalism and would be immediately welcomed as a paid news contributor on Fox News. Fox News is an outfit that rejects the premise: "People with guns kill" when it suits their political desires, but waves the premise when it fits their desired narrative.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Fatal Decision

We should learn to judge actions and not people. It is easy to change policies and actions but difficult to change people.

The Ferguson shooting shows how the impulse to judge one's neighbors leads to ruin.

Activists on the Left decided that the shooting of Mike Brown was a wrong. So they played the narrative that the shooting resulted from racism. They heaped accusations of racism on the officer involved in the shooting. Agitators worked people into such a frenzy that they set Ferguson on fire in their riots.

The right was equally ugly. The right responded by heaping derision on Mike Brown. They loudly proclaimed the shooting a just kill and that Mike Brown's shop lifting Cigarellos was such a heinous crime that he deserved to be gunned down in the street like a rabid dog.

Now that the inquest is through, we have the sequence of events.

The confrontation started when Officer Brown responded to a call about a robbery. He saw Mike Brown and friend walking cockedly down the middle of the street with the loot in hand.

He stops the suspects. The 6'4" Mike Brown assaulted the officer in his vehicle. It is likely that Mike Brown was trying to take the officer's gun away. Officer Wilson shot Mike Brown in the hand. This first shooting is evidenced by blood spatter in the vehicle.

Mike Brown fled the scene.

Officer Wilson called in for back up then made the decision to pursue Mike Brown.

In the second confrontation, Mike Brown charged Officer Wilson. The officer fatally shot Mike Brown in self defense.

The deliberate actions in this event were the shoplifting and Officer Wilson's decision to pursue Mike Brown before back up arrived.

Both decisions were wrong.

Officer Wilson's decision was wrong because he chose to pursue a suspect when he had inadequate resources to detain the suspect peacefully.

Both actors engaged in flawed actions. There is one big difference:

Mike Brown was an amateur crook. Officer Wilson is a professional law enforcement officer. One should expect more from trained professionals employed by the state than from amateur crooks out for personal gain.

A professional should be able to foresee the outcome of his actions. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a suspect who he could not contain. This is evidenced by the fact that he had to shoot Mike Brown.

Officer Wilson claimed that he was doing as he was trained. If so, then the training was at fault.

We live in a day when there is so much surveillance going on and identification procedures are so strong that it would have been easy to track Mike Brown after the first confrontation. Mike Brown had a shot up hand and could easily be identified by the blood spatter in the squad car. The video at the store clearly showed Mike Brown as the shoplifter.

The risk that the pursuit would result in a fatal shooting was very high. Mike Brown had already tried taking the officer's gun. A pursuit by a lone officer was all but guaranteed to result in the fatality of either the officer or suspect.

We can see the question of risk and reward in a closely related subject of high speed pursuits.

For decades the thinking was that the police needed to pursue perpetrators in high speed car chases until the inevitable spectacular high speed crash.

This idea led to a great deal of property damage and loss of life including many innocent lives.

People later realized that if you can get a proper description of the car and a good picture of the driver; the police are likely to catch the perpetrator without the high risk of the pursuit.

I just watched a video for the StarChase Pursuit Management which tracks vehicles allowing officers to back off from a fleeing suspect and reduce the risks associated with a chase.

Professional Law Enforcement is a matter of risk management. Risk Management plays a central role in most professions.

Risk Management is central to investing. Investor should fire and sue financial advisors who take an undue risks and lose their money.

Office Wilson claimed that he was trained to pursue the perpetrator after the initial confrontation. If the training is not teaching proper risk assessment; then the training needs to be reviewed and revamped.

Personally, I was upset that the official report on the incident casually glanced over the officer's decision to engage in a high risk pursuit and concentrated on Mike Brown's behavior instead. Mike Brown was a small time amateur crook. Vilifying an amateur for being amateur is redundant.

Officer Wilson is a professional police officer. We should have higher expectations of professional police officers than for amateur crooks.

That said. Police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect the public. The idea of issuing a criminal indictment against an officer for doing this job is absurd.

The decision to risk the loss of life by pursuing the suspect before back up arrived was a poor professional decision.

Just as you would be correct for firing a portfolio manager who invested your money with Berny Madoff, the people are in their rights for dismissing an officer who made a bad professional decision that led to a the shooting of a teenage shoplifter.

By rationally analyzing the events that led to the shooting, we find a bad risk management decision. Figuring out how to avoid pursuits with a high likelihood of a fatal shooting should be a priority of the police.

Regardless, the game of vilifying the actors in a tragedy leads to bad ends.

Rather than vilifying the police officer in the Ferguson shooting, as was done on the left, or attacking the victim as was done on the right, our attention should look at the actions that led to the shooting and find out ways to reduce that problem.

Contrary to what Sean Hannity says, Mike Brown did not deserve to be gunned down for shoplifting. The bold declaration that Ferguson shooting was a just kill is also absurd.

Bad decision making led to a horrible result. We should use this horrible event to find ways to improve decision making.

Officer Wilson was not the only police officer in Ferguson on August 9, 2014. Officer Wilson, himself, was back up for the primary officers in the shoplifting case. Officer Wilson's decision to pursue a suspect that he could not restrain was imprudent. The decision to a confrontation that was likely to lead to a fatality. In this day of networked system, pursuing felons should not be seen as the act of an individual officer but as a professionally managed activity of a professional police force. On seeing a perpetrator shot for shoplifting, the Ferguson Community is right to be outraged and to demand dismissal of the officer for what was clearly a bad decision.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Just Kill

The American Legal system is premised on the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

This idea applies to all Americans including police officers.

The idea of presumed innocence includes officers involved in shootings.

Giving the officer the benefit of doubt has one important ramification:

Because we gave the officer the benefit of doubt; the decision not to indict the officer does not mean the shooting was just.

The decision not to indict Officer Wilson does not mean that shooting Mike Brown was a just kill.

The decision not to indict Officer Wilson simply means that a jury found no reason to believe the actual shooting was more than self defense.

Police are hired by the public to stand in harm's way and defend the public. Officers step into harm's way on our behalf. The nature of their jobs puts police officers in intense situations where shootings might occur. Because they are working on our behalf; It should be rare that we indict officers involved in shooting while doing their job.

However, the fallout after a shooting should not stop with a decision not to indictment. Since officers are employed by the state, officer involved shootings bring up a second important issue: Should we retain the officer after a shooting?

Police officers do not have a right to their job. It is perfectly legitimate for a community to decide to dismiss an officer who was involved in a shooting.

Most communities do not want gun happy police. It is perfectly legitimate for a community to ask for an officer involved in a shooting to step down.

The decision to retain or dismiss an officer after a shooting is a purely political decision.

I need to repeat the logic here: Police officers are public servants. The police are not entitled to their job. If the public feels uncomfortable with an officer then it is legitimate for the community dismiss the officer.

The tradition that police serve the people is witnessed by the periodic elections for county sheriff. The people should have say in who protects them.

The caveat is that since dismissal is political decision, it should be understood as political.

Politics is neither rational nor just. Politics weighs innuendo over fact. Politics factors in opinion makers and emotion.

I'd love to live in a world with no politics, but politics is inherent in a democracy. The question is not how to eliminate politics but how to treat politics so that it minimizes the impact on the courts. The best system has a combination of court decisions that focus on facts and political decisions where emotions rule.

IMHO, the public show about the Ferguson shooting should have been about the political decision: Should we retain or dismiss the officer. This could have helped shield the court decision about indicting the officer from politics. The indictment after all is a case to decide if the officer should be sent to prison. It is not a judgment on whether or not the shooting was just.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ecclesiastical References for Health Care

My last post touched on the Ecclesiastical References used at BYU.

BYU is a university system with some 30,000 students and several thousand employees. Students are required to obtain and sustain their ecclesiastical references throughout their course of studies. If a student sours on the LDS Church, the student is summarily expelled.

I was summarily expelled from the education department of the University of Utah for supporting school choice. My sympathies fall to students who are expelled for well reasoned beliefs. Being flunked out of school for regressive ideological reasons is devastating.

Anyway, BYU has some 30,000 students. Maintaining ecclesiastical references for this many students implies that there is a system for ecclesiastical references.

The ecclesiastical reference system is a stasi-like system that sits on the peripheral of the public education system here in Utah that tracks the activities of members of the community.

The ecclesiastical reference system is also handy for things like employee references. The LDS Church has a well established employment system to help local businesses be assured that their new hires are members of the church in good standing.

I also encountered this system while working for a local insurance company.

A policyholder would file a claim with the company. The claims adjuster would call telephone numbers owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The conversation would not be recorded but appeared weigh heavily in the decision to approve or deny claims.

Management claimed that calling people with local knowledge of claimants was a good fraud prevention technique. I argued if that if ever a lawyer subpenaed the insurance company's phone records that the insurance company would be sued into submission.

(Yes, I tend to have rocky relationships with employers. Personally, I think I did the company a favor by telling them to stop making the calls on the company's phone records.)

Now, fraud is a big problem in insurance. Local knowledge is a great way to cut down on fraud.

As for the charitable aspects of health care, I have no objection to the church or politicians weighing in on who should receive charity or how much they receive.

If a person decides to leave the church and become an apostate, then that person has no claim on charity from the church.

Problems arise because insurance confuses the charitable and basic aspects of health care.

In our confused insurance company, people pay into crazy insurance pool.  If they are denied basic care because of the same system that would deny charitable care, then we are doing the people a disservice.

I don't care if a person is Mormon, Gentile or Jack-Mormon. (In Utah, the term "gentile" refers to anyone outside the LDS Faith. So, if you are say Jewish; you are a gentile). I want a health care system that first secures basic care for people, then starts providing advanced and charitable care for people.

Utahans are a regressive lot. I suspect that few members of the LDS Church have a problem with denying apostates and gentiles the basic care they paid for. But, to me a system where people are denied care because of a covert stasi-like monitoring system is a broken system.

But this might make for a interesting debate: Should the same system used to deny students education at BYU  be used to deny health care?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ecclesiastical Endorsement and Expelled Students

This is telling. Students at BYU must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from their local bishop each year. Apparently, if a student loses their ecclesiastical endorsement they are summarily expelled. Here is the stated policy.

Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement Students are required to be in good Honor Code standing to be admitted to, continue enrollment at, and graduate from BYU. In conjunction with this requirement, all enrolled continuing undergraduate, graduate, intern, and Study Abroad students are required to obtain a Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement for each new academic year. Students begin the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement process online at
I've been reading stories claiming that BYU students who are caught associating with apostates (ex-Mormons), researching Mormonism from non-official sources or who question the veracity of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith are getting expelled. Such students lose their housing, lose their jobs and are simply put out.

A group called "FreeBYU" advocates ending the policy of excommunicating students who engage in open inquiry. The mainstream Utah view seems to be that these students are apostates who should be expelled from school and forced to live as second class citizens.

The fact that BYU expels students who talk with people outside of their religion helps explain why I've been unable to find people in Utah willing to talk about Free Market Health Care Reform. People who are banned from engaging in open inquiry in College are loath to engage in open inquiry outside college.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Racism Place in a Reflexive Paradox

Raymond Davies of Payson, Utah provides an interesting example of the reflexive paradox in this tweet:

"@yintercept Any reference to a person's race is racist. Your noting the officer's and the person shot in this incident is blatant racism."

Racism is considered a negative.

Mr. Davies applies an absolute to a premise to create a self-reference to cast a negative.

In this logic one cannot ask if an incident, such as the shooting of Darrien Hunt, involved racism without being labeled a racist.

His statement is absurd. Racism refers to systematic judgments based on race and not on the existence of race. Aristotelian rejected all of the conclusions one draws from the reflexive paradox. Hegelian dialectics relishes in the reflexive paradox. You can inject the reflexive paradox in most arguments. Skillful dialecticians are able to use the paradox obfuscate and deflect arguments.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Scrutinizing the Lack of Scrutiny

Back in September a Saratoga Springs police officer was involved in a questionable shooting. The officer shot a young black man who was wearing a Samurai costume six times in the back because the costume included a replica samurai sword.

Officer Mark Schauerhamer wrote an article in Crossroads Journal advocating that we judge people on image. The article said that if you see a person listening to country music wearing a cowboy hat that the person is likely righteous, but if you see a person in Rastafarian colors that the person is likely a drug crazed menace to society.

Utah is an open carry state. In Schauerhamer's logic, if a police sees a person with a cowboy hat, listening to George Strait and carrying an AR 15; that guy is probably righteous and shouldn't be hassled. A black guy dressed as a Samurai with a bright shirt needs to be confronted.

In light of Mark Schauerhamer's public comments and the shooting of Darrien Hunt, I believe that Schauerhamer's career should be highly scrutinized.

On October 26th, a family reported that they believed that Schauerhamer used excessive force when he and fellow officers broke up a teenage party back in February.

If not for the shooting, breaking up a party would be non-news.

What is interesting about this story are the comments by Utahans in reaction to the party story. The self-righteous of Utah immediately turn and begin attacking the teens and their parents. These comments are from the Deseret News:

skibird from Spanish Fork said: "From what it sounds to me a bunch of high school kids got caught smoking dope and drinking and are playing 'the mean cops scared me' card to try to get out of trouble from their parents."

The article is scrutinizing the record of an officer involved in a shooting. Skibird reacts by attacking the motive of the family involved in the party.

Kora of Cedar Hills deflects scrutiny of the officers by attacking the parents: "I don't see misconduct here. What I see is parents who have quit disciplining their children because they want them to like them. Your job as a parent is not to make your kids like you, but teach them to be responsible adults."

The context of the article is the shooting. The party took place in February. We don't know how or if the parent's disciplined their kids. BTW, the party took place at a house of a Utah County police officer.

Hey It's Me of Salt Lake City has some twisted logic saying: "if a policeman tell you to move you better do it and if not you get taken to the floor with handcuffs and dragged to a room. You wouldn't have been in that situation at all if you weren't doing something wrong."

We have a better police force in the United States specifically because we scrutinize what they do.

DN Subscriber of Cottonwood Heights attacks the teens parents in a condescending manner: "Lots of teenagers are not the well behave angels their parents think they are. Sorry, parents, your judgment is badly skewed by the involvement of your sweet innocent children who were doing nothing wrong, or so you think. Did you know or care about what your kids were doing before the cops arrived to use 'excessive force?'"

The article is not about the party in February. It is an effort to scrutinize an officer involved in an actual killing.

Say No to BO of Mapleton demonstrates an advanced degree of cluelessness by saying: "This was news back in February. Now it's just jury coaching. S[h]ame [sp] on the Deseret News for participating in this defense strategy. Lawyers for the Hunt family must have a great deal of influence.."

I should repeat here: There was an officer involved shooting. KSL and Deseret News were investigating the officer involved in the shooting. These news sources have an obligation to investigate such news. Breaking up a party wasn't even news back in February. It is news only because it might show a pattern. Say No to BO claims the article was created by Hunt's attorney. Nkoyo Iyamba of the Deseret News said: "The Deseret News reached out to Schauerhamer's attorney for response and was told he was unavailable."

Say No to BO claims the article must be part of a "defense strategy" on part of the Hunts. That statement makes absolutely no sense because there is not a case being made against the Hunt family.

This next statement has to be read in light of the article. The Deseret News Article reads: "Kent [one of the parents] noted that despite this experience, he and other parents continue to teach their kids to respect authority."

Legal? of Saint George launched in saying: "One parent states that they teach their children to respect authority. Authority should also include the laws. These young people were smoking marijuana and some were drinking. They were underage at a home where there was no adult supervision. They (and their parents) need to go back to authority class. :)"

Legal needs to go back to elementary school to learn to read. The person in the article essentially said that even though you feel abused by authority, you should still respect authority. The commenter from Saint George attacks Kent for something Kent did not say.

In this article, which is about an officer who shot and killed a young black man, hockeymom of Highland says: "Sounds like police officers doing their job. Thank You Saratoga Springs PD."

Personally, I would like to thank the families who came out and reported what they believed to be excessive force used to break up a party. When you live in a society that is as mean and judgmental as Utah, coming out and standing up for others takes great courage.

The US Founders fought against the police state that was being imposed on them by Britain. To preserve our liberty, we must scrutinize apparent excesses of governing authorities like the local police.

I am appalled that the Utah County Attorney chose to release the official report of the shooting during election week so that the news would be overshadowed by the election. I am dismayed to see Utahans lining up to attack those who are investigating the shooting of Darrien Hunt. To maintain a free society, it is critical that the public scrutinize events like this shooting.

A Shameful Act on the Part of Utah County

On September 10th a 22 year-old black kid named Darrien Hunt was out playing alone in a Samurai costume with a replica sword. A calm 911 call informed the police that a person was dressed strangely. Officers confronted Mr. Hunt. The confrontation ended with officers Matt Schauerhamer and Nicholas Judson shooting Darrien Hunt six times in the back.

On Monday Afternoon, November 3rd, Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman released the official report claiming the shooting was justified.

Costume Play In Utah

Costume Play is common in Utah. The event happened days after a huge Comic Con Festival 50 miles to the north. "The World's Largest" scavenger hunt took place in the same week. The neighboring town just opened a thing called "Castle Park" to host the "Fairy Princess Festival" and other costume themed events.

There was a half dozen costume runs in the county between the shooting and official report. The only strange thing about Darrien Hunt's situation was the color of his skin.

The report claimed that officers were justified in the shooting because Mr. Hunt was openly carrying a weapon. This is in a state where open carry is legal and one routinely encounters people openly carrying guns (which are much more dangerous than replica swords).

Saratoga Springs spokesman Owen Jackson all but broke out in praise of the shooting claiming that the officers "performed their duties as police officers with fidelity and professionalism."

While it is impossible to know exactly what took place during the shooting. I believe can and should judge the administrators of Utah County for their conduct during the investigation.

The release of this report was timed to coincide with the fog of the national election. The release of this report took place a full two months after the shooting. The one and only reason that County administers would release the report on Election Day was to avoid scrutiny.

The shooting happened in the heat of a moment. The decision to release the report during the election was a collective deliberate act on the part of Utah County. The decision to release the report under the shadow of the election should receive sharp and severe criticism from all quarters.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Worst of the GOP Is Ascending to Power

The GOP spent the last six years engaged in base reaction to the Obama Administration. The unfortunate outcome of base reaction is that GOP has become significantly worse during these years.

The same thing happened during the Bush years. For the first six years of the Bush Administration, the Democratic political machine engaged in rank base reaction to Bush and by the time of the second midterm, the worst elements of the Democratic Party had ascended to power.

Unfortunately, this 2014 election appears to be a repeat of the 2006 election with the worst of the GOP rising with the best of the GOP being shoved to the side.

It is the nature of partisan politics that parties are at their best when in the minority and at their worst when they ascend to power.

I looked at the ballot. I do not see a single positive thing. All I see are partisans grubbing for power though the use of disinformation. How can one vote when there is not a single positive thing on the ballot? There is simply a choice between evils.

Which form of evil do I want to see destroy America? Do I want to see it destroyed by the zealot radicals of the left or the reactionary conservatives on the right?

I do not want to see America destroyed by either of the parties.

I am so discouraged by what I see in the GOP that I am secretly hoping that they fail to gain a majority in the Senate. If the GOP of 2014 rises to power, we will see 2 years of partisan discorded in Washington followed by a Democratic majority and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

If the GOP loses, Republicans might return to the drawing board and actually bring ideas to the table for the 2016 election.

As for my vote, I am simply staring at the polling place in abject horror. There is not a single positive thing on the ballot.

The lack of positive choices on the ballot is a direct result of the way that Conservatives engage in politics.

The Conservative Party, as you may recall, rose from the Tory Party in the 1830s. Tories, of course, were the people who leveled their muskets at the US Founders during the Revolutionary War.  The goal of conservatism from the 1830s onward has been to restore the class society of the monarchy.

Conservatism is a Machiavellian philosophy in which one uses free market rhetoric to gain power then push economic centralization and crony capitalism once in power.

Conservatism works at the political realm by presenting issues in the negative which is why conservatives systematically fail to present positive choices on the ballot.

The Left/Right paradigm gives us a choice each year of directly destroying our freedoms by voting for the Left or undermining our freedoms by voting for the right.

What type of choice is that?

To restore freedom we need to find a way of rejecting the Left/Right dichotomy altogether, but that issue is never on the ballot. There is only a choice between evils.