Tuesday, November 25, 2014

MSNBC Forgets Key Fact: Wilson's Gun Malfunctioned

Pictured above, a Sig Sauer,
a P229 .40 caliber gun,
the sort of firearm used
by Officer Darren Wilson.

The folks at MSNBC seem to think that Wilson was in an unfair fight with Micheal Brown simply because Brown was unarmed. Of course, officer Wilson could not assume Brown was unarmed. Even worse, it turns out that Wilson's gun was unreliable. This is a little known fact that crops up when you read the transcript of Wilson's testimony.

As I read through the transcript of Officer Wilson's statement to the Ferguson Grand Jury, I was shocked to learn that his gun malfunctioned at least (3) three times while he was still trapped in his vehicle by Michael Brown. I feel like such an amateur, but I was sincerely startled that a police officer would have that much trouble with a gun. I have fired my father's semi-automatic pistol and it worked flawlessly. I sort of assumed guns only misfired in movies like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven.

It turns out that Wikipedia has an article that lists a sobering number things that can happen to make a gun malfunction. It looks to me like the key to reliable use is keeping the gun clean. According to John A. Dreyer: "A dirty gun is the cause of possibly 90% of mechanical function problems." As friend on Twitter pointed out: "Lots of cops don't take care of their guns - being a cop doesn't make you a gun guy." Firing rounds causes gunk to build up in the weapon and that can take a toll on performance. You can also have problems with your ammunition. 

I would be curious to learn more about what went wrong when Wilson first sought to fire his weapon to scare Brown away from his vehicle. The story, from Wilson's perspective, sounds pretty alarming. According to Wilson's testimony, he says:

Like I said, I was just so focused on getting the gun out of me. When I did get it up to this point, he is still holding on to it and I pulled the trigger and nothing happens, it just clicked. I pull it again, it just clicked again.
At this point I’m like: why isn’t this working, this guy is trying to kill me if he gets a hold of his gun. I pulled a third time, it goes off. When it went off, it shot through my door and my window was down and glass flew out of my door panel. I think that kind of startled him and me at the same time. When I see the glass come up, it comes, a chunk about that big comes across my right hand and then I notice I have blood on the back on my hand.
After seeing the blood on my hand, I looked at him and he was, this is my car door, he was here and he kind of stepped back and went like this. And then after he did that, he looked up at the and had the most intense aggressive face.
The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon. That’s how angry he looked.
He comes back towards me again with his hands up. At this point I just went like this, I tried to pull the trigger again, click, nothing happened.
To me, this information is significant. I have not noticed anyone in the news or anywhere else talking about how officer Wilson's gun malfunctioned. To me, the unreliability of his weapon might help explain the officer's alarm, the number of shots he fired to stop Wilson, and why he thought he was perfectly right to use deadly force to stop Brown's menacing advance. As a police officer protecting the public, Wilson was not a character in a movie. He was a real life person working in an imperfect world, a world where he could have little confidence in his ability to protect himself. I think the more people learn about the failure of Wilson's gun, the more sympathy they will have for the decisions he made under those tense circumstances.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's the Popularity Stupid: My Common Sense Take on Republican Victories in 2014

As a political scientist, I think the reasons for Obama's unpopularity are straightforward. He messed up his Obamacare website, screwed up with ISIS/Ebola, and left us with an economy with stagnant wage growth and low workforce participation. Things suck right now and the voters were right to blame Obama.

Basically, he is an incompetent, affirmative action president, incapable of doing the daily tasks necessary to succeed as president. He should have moderated his policies, parked his ideology, met regularly with congressional leaders, and spent less time on the golf course.

This was all quite predictable. He had no relevant job experience as a manager or as a leader of a large organization, much less an executive position in the federal bureaucracy. My take is that he surrounded himself with sycophants who played in to his enormous ego and allowed him to be lazy about the jobs of learning how to be president.

I met Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College and it never occurred to me that he had what it took to be president, much less be a successful president. He was lazy, into parties, intellectually frail, and a somewhat passive observer of life. He seemed like an average white guy to me. I'm not surprised to see that he has lost more congressional seats than any recent president, a casual review of his resume would lead any objective observer to think his time in office would be a train wreck.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Imagine That: It's the Politics of Photoshop

I am always amazed at the people who manage to think up these sort of slogans. In a world of hyperactive communications, it seems to me that a pithy statement ends up carrying a lot more influence than one would normally expect. The photo below appears to be the result of a Photoshop exercise that turned a "Hands Up - Don't Shoot" display into something entirely different. (Notice the extra space between Don't and Loot as well as the lack of foreshortening in the P and T in pants.)

Nevertheless, I was inspired when I stumbled over this photo while reviewing my @augustine25 twitter account. This seems like a particularly important message given the news that forensic studies are confirming the version of events recounted by police officer Darren Wilson. Apparently, there was residue from gun powder on Michael Brown's hand, a result that verifies Wilson's story that Brown had tried to grab his gun from him. 

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Second Look: Dr. Drew's CA Voter's Guide for Constitutional Conservative - Tea Party Activists

Dr. Drew's painting of the
Finangler - 2014.

I am getting ready to vote myself and I thought I'd take a second look at the candidates and propositions so that I could offer my recommendations for the November election from the point of view of a Tea Party activist. I reviewed a number of other voter guides and picked up some fresh ideas. If you are depending on my recommendations, then please use this most recent blog post. 

If you feel I've made any mistakes, please leave me a comment below and I'll look into the issue further. Most of these recommendations are based on the offices that are most important to Tea Party activists living in Orange County, CA. I've borrowed liberally from the folks at the Orange County Tea Party Blog and the great work done by Kelly Hubbard. I have also reviewed the work done by Roblyn Nordell's Conservative California Election Website, and the truly excellent work done by Kathy Dittner's Kathy's Picks websiteKathy was the founder and director of "Salt & Light," a pro-family, moral issues ministry which operated at Saddleback Church for almost 20 years. She is the past Vice-President of the Saddleback Republican Assembly and is a former Orange County Republican Central Committee member. She strikes me as a courageous lady who deserves our encouragement.

In some cases, my recommendations are based on my long-standing dislike of crony capitalism and preference for defending the interests of residents rather than developers.
As you will see in the comments below, many of the candidates from both parties are not really worth voting for right now. In addition to my recommendations, I am indicating N.R. where there is no reasonable recommendation possible.

State of California Offices:

Governor: Democrat Jerry Brown vs. liberal Republican Neel Kashkari – N.R. (Kashkari is a former Obama voter and a ridiculous choice for our Republican nominee.)
Lieutenant Governor: Dem. Gavin Newsom vs. Rep. Ron Nehring – N.R.
Secretary of State: Pete Peterson
State Controller: Dem. Betty Yee vs. Rep. Ashley Swearengen (supports high speed rail) – N.R.
State Treasurer: Greg Conlon
State Supt. of Public Instruction: Torlakson and Tuck are Dems. Write in Lydia Guiterrez*
Attorney General: Dem. Kamala Harris vs. Rep. Ronald Gold (not a conservative). N.R.
Insurance Commissioner: Ted Gaines
Board of Equalization, 4th Dist.: Dem. Nader Shahatit vs. Rep. Diane Harkey (She lives in my area and I never warmed up to her. She seems hostile to men. No matter what, it looks like she and her husband have questionable ethics in business. I don't think she merits your vote.) N.R.
U.S. Rep., 45th Cong. Dist.; Dem. Drew Leavens vs. Rep. Mimi Walters (Walters is another disappointment to me. She broke anti-tax promise, and lied about where she lived as a State Senator. I think we can do better.) 
N.R.California State Senate, 36th Dist.: Dem. Gary Kephart vs. Rep. Pat Bates – N.R.
California Assembly, 73rd Dist.: Dem. Wendy Gabriella vs. Rep. Bill Brough – N.R.

California Supreme Court

Justices have more power than most voters realize. It is incredibly important to do a good job on picking out these folks. Regarding the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court there are 13 offices (listed left to right in ballot order), vote yes or no:

Goodwin Liu – NO 
Mariano-Florentino Cuellar – NO
Kathryn Mickle Werdegar – NO 
Terry B. O’Rourke – YES
Gilbert Nares – YES 
Alex C. McDonald – YES
James A. McIntyre – YES 
Thomas E. Hollenhorst – YES
Kathleen E. O’Leary – NO 
William F. Rylaarsdam – YES
Richard M. Aronson – YES 
David A. Thompson – YES
Richard D. Fybel – NO

Orange County

Judge of Superior, Office No. 14 – Kevin Haskins
South Orange County Community College District Board Member, Trustee Area 4 – Nancy Padberg
Or. Co. Board of Supv., 5th District – I used to like Robert Ming but he approved high density housing at a key choke point for Laguna Niguel, built a dream City Hall, and then left for higher office. His opponent is endorsed by Rep. Darrell Issa who I really like, but she appears to be too liberal for me and my neighbors. - N.R.
Or, Co. Assessor: Claude Parrish
Or. Co. Measure G – NO. I changed my mind on this one. I read all the ballot arguments and the measure itself. It looks to me like a thinly veiled attempt to harm potential Board of Supervisor candidates like Deborah Pauley. The ballot argument for the measure demeans those who run for office and come in second place as candidates who have been "rejected" by the voters. All in all, it looks like the current system is working just fine and that any changes would only appeal to the incumbents who may not have our best interests at heart. 
Or. Co. Measure E – NO. I am still happy with my "No" recommendation on this even though now I oppose this measure for a different reason. At first, I thought it was a power grab by the folks in state government. Now it looks more like a proposal to bypass stricter local controls on elections finance laws. Sadly, it skirts the real need to establish a county ethics commission.

Mission Viejo

Mission Viejo City Council – key race for three seats – conservatives vs. two progressives and a lobbyist.
Ed Sachs – strong financial and business management background. Retired CEO at Pioneer Electronics. (Great guy!)
Greg Raths – retired Marine Corps colonel who is running as a fiscal conservative.
Desi Kiss – reliable conservative with backbone. Engineer and business owner.
(Do NOT vote for pro-developer Leckness or Reardon. Bucknum is a lobbyist for the housing industry.)

Laguna Niguel - two seats are open. 

After reviewing the ballot statements of the candidates and the various recommendations by the different voter guides, I am okay with voting for both John Mark Jennings and Elaine Gennawey. I know Jenning's church - Mission Lutheran Church - and it is a kind, well-run institution. Gennawey is endorsed by the local CRA as is Jennings.

Water Districts

No recommendations.

FYI: The water districts, in my view, are primarily responsible for all the pinhole leaks in our copper plumbing. The costs they imposed on us could have been prevented by making changes to our water chemistry. My general policy here is to simply vote for the non-incumbents hoping that they will care about the end users of the water supply.

California Propositions

Prop 1, NO: Water quality, supply and infrastructure – $7.12-billion bond, contains a lot of pork.
Prop 2, NO: Increases “rainy day” fund. Note Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc. says YES on this one.
Prop 45, NO: Requires Insurance Commissioner’s approval of health ins. rate changes.
Prop 46, YES: Drug testing of doctors. (Doctors can be drunks and drug users...they shouldn't be able to hide this from their patients. I also have some experience in studying the problem of people gaming the system in search of pain-killing medications. I don't see how you fix that problem without some sort of state-wide data-base.)
Prop 47, NO: Reduces penalty for most nonviolent crimes and requires the release of convicted felons.
Prop 48, NO: Tribal state gaming compact, mainly would allow casinos outside reservation land.

*Do not write in a name except for nonpartisan races with a blank line and box. OK for Guiterrez.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Obituary for Kenneth A. Korbut Beloved Brother, Cousin and Uncle

In the photo above, from left to right, we 
see Ken's childhood friends Donnie and 
Mike Carroll, Chester Korbut - Ken's father, 
and Ken himself. 
Kenneth A. Korbut, 60, of Milford, MI died July 13, 2014, at the home of his cousin Kevin Lawrence also of Milford, MI. Kenneth was born December 26, 1953, in Detroit, Michigan. His parents were Chester and Eleanor Korbut. He was married to, and later divorced from, Henrietta Anaya. Kenneth worked as a journeyman carpenter in the construction business. Over the course of his life, he lived in various locations in both CA and MI. He enjoyed surfing, camping and spending time with his friends.

Kenneth is survived by his sister Patricia M. Drew of Laguna Niguel, CA; by his niece Michele Smith and her two children Alyssa and Dylan Smith of Huntington Beach, CA; by his cousin Kevin Lawrence and his two children Alexis Lawrence and Kelly LoGiudice, and by his cousin Michael Faivor of Austin, TX. Kenneth is also survived by his friend Ronald McNally. Kenneth was predeceased by his brother, Jim Korbut, 62, of Seal Beach, California on April 20, 2013.

Kenneth graduated from Warner Middle School in Midway, CA in 1968. While he was a student at Warner, he was elected the Christmas Snowball King which recognized him as being the school’s most popular male student. Kenneth played varsity football during his junior and senior years at Fountain Valley High School from which he graduated in 1972.

There will be a memorial service for Kenneth on Sunday July 27, 2014, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Highland Adult Activity Center on 209 N. John Street in Highland, MI. For more information on the memorial service, please telephone Kenneth’s cousin, Kevin Lawrence, at (248) 755-1195.Consistent with the wishes of his sister, Kenneth’s cremains will be returned to CA and – at a later ceremony -- scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

The family is requesting that memorial donations be made to support the college education of his niece’s daughter, Alyssa Smith. Please make all donations payable to Alyssa Smith and send them to the following address: Alyssa Smith, 5772 Venturi Drive, Huntington Beach, CA  92649. All memorial contributions to Alyssa’s college education will be gratefully acknowledged and wisely spent.

The official obituary for Kenneth A. Korbut was published in the Observer & Eccentric and Hometown Weeklies in Michigan on July 24, 2014.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist. He applies his skills as a grant writing consultant in the Southern Calfornia area. His website is at the following link: http://drdrewguaranteedgrants.com/about-us/