Friday, July 26, 2019

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Mother Teresa's Former Assistant Killed In A Bar Brawl In Wales" - Newsweek

Un Verdadero Sobrino Vivo de su Tío Sam

The nationality always says "Mexican" on a Border Crossing Card;

As you know by now, if you have any interest at all in the saga of the born-in-Dallas teenager who was held by the Border Patrol and ICE for three weeks while they figured out whose citizen he is really, he was released yesterday although may still be pending some charges.

Here's a typical story, Francisco Erwin Galicia showed officers his Texas ID, but they believed it was fake, in which we learn:
“When he was a child, Galicia's mother, who is not living in the US legally, took out a tourist visa for her son, listing his birthplace as Mexico, so he could cross the border and visit relatives, the AP reported. She was unable to get a US passport for the boy because her name didn't match how she had identified herself on his birth certificate, [his lawyer] Galan said.”

The quote is from Buzzfeed but that story, in pretty much exactly those words, has been in every account I’ve seen of this incident.

The funny thing is that story makes no sense on any level. You can’t ‘take out’ a visa for someone else. Galicia’s mother had to misrepresent facts and commit fraud in order to get her minor child a Border Crossing Card, something the USG issues only to citizens of and residents in Mexico. Moreover, she had to do it with enough expertise to fool a U.S. Consular Officer when she brought her son in for an interview and review of his - fraudulent? - documents proving he was a Mexican citizen and resident.

And there was no reason for her to get a BCC for her son in the first place. The phony name she used on his Texas birth certificate would not have prevented Galicia from getting a U.S. passport, after which he could freely go back and forth across the Mexican border all he liked. A U.S. citizen has no need for a BCC.

So the story as it's been pried loose by ICE is not likely to be the whole truth or the final word. But the one thing that’s absolutely, perfectly, crystal clear in this story is that Galicia’s mother has a piss-poor regard for U.S. law. CBP ought to let the kid go and arrest her.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Peace is Back, and This Time it's a Government Agency

So long as Marianne Williamson lasts in the Democratic primaries, we will have Peace, Love, and Understanding, just like in The Summer of Love back in the 60s. The early part anyway, like from Woodstock up to but not including Altamont. After that it got less lovely.

For now, at least, Marianne invites you to Join us to build a U.S. Department of Peace, which apparently will be located within the Department of State:
Our current administration actively cuts peace-building programs that are statistically proven to increase the incidence of peace and reduce conflict, despite their efficacy.

Our country's priorities are clearly reflected in our budget. The Defense Department has a military budget of $718 billion – almost larger than that of all other nations combined – while our State Department budget – including all peace-creation agencies – is $40 billion. The independent U.S. Institute of Peace has a budget of only $36.8 million.

This ties in to her position on National Security Peace-Building:
Internationally, I will appoint a world class humanitarian and diplomat as Secretary of State. I will increase the budget of the State Department's peace-building agencies, that these four factors — known to statistically increase the incidence of and decrease violent conflict — might become the pillars of our peace creation agenda: expanding economic opportunities for women, expanding educational opportunities for children, decreasing violence against women, and ameliorating unnecessary human suffering wherever possible.

In addition, I will increase support for the USAID, which provides international humanitarian assistance. Desperate people are more vulnerable to ideological capture by genuinely psychotic forces, and under a Williamson administration the United States will once again be seen as a beacon of hope and possibility to the world’s most desperate people.

I'm curious about those four factors that are "known to statistically increase the incidence of [sic] and decrease violent conflict." Marianne doesn't say where we can find those statistics.

But then, she doesn't get bogged down in that kind of detail because, you see, The Issues Aren’t Always the Issue:
Life is made up of two dimensions: things on the outside and things on the inside. As people, we not only think, we also feel: we care not only about what is happening to our bodies but also what is happening to our souls.

America is not just having problems with what is happening to our economy, our environment, our educational system and so forth. We have a problem with the psychological fabric of our country, as a low level emotional civil war has begun in too many ways to rip us apart.

In order to deal with that, we must address it on the level of our internal being. We don’t normally associate politics with a deep level of our internal existence, but this is the 21st Century now and all of that needs to change.

Personally, I think politics belongs strictly on the outside, and has no business inside my mind, body, or soul, which are no one's business but my own. Nowhere does the Constitution create an office of Therapist-in-Chief.

But hey, it's the 21st Century now, so all that Founding Fathers stuff needs to go.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

"Motorist, 22, charged after case of beer used as car seat for toddler" - CP24 News, Toronto

At about 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] says an officer pulled over a sedan in Atwood, Ont., northwest of Waterloo, Ont. ... “While speaking with the driver, officers observed a small child seated on a 30-can case of beer,” the OPP said in a news release issued Wednesday ... They allege the driver had put the case on the seat of his car and strapped the small child to it ... The OPP says the driver was charged with failure to ensure toddler properly secured, a Highway Traffic Act Offence.

Labatt Blue, from the looks of it

I have a few thoughts after reading that story: First off, I'm impressed by the OPP's precise observational skills in reporting that it was a 30-can case of beer. However, a booster seat is still a booster seat even if it's made of beer, isn't it? So the traffic charge may be groundless. Although, assuming the beer was nice and cold, maybe the father could have been charged with child neglect. [The story only calls him "the driver," so it could have been the mother, but you know it was the father.] But then, if the beer was ice cold, wouldn't the kid have warmed it up before they got home or wherever else it was they were going at 2:30 AM, so, what was the father thinking, eh?

This bit of news is ultimately very reassuring to me, as a fan of the great Bob and Doug Mckenzie. Clearly, their cultural legacy lives on among our fine neighbors to the north.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Peter Yarrow, '60s Folk Icon and Washington DC Child Sex Offender, Loses a Gig

A one-to-three year sentence, that's what you get for lovin' the wrong me. So ruled Chief Judge Edward M. Curran of the Washington DC Circuit Court on March 27, 1970.

Peter Yarrow is the one on the right, I think. The fact is I never could tell Peter from Paul - both of them ectomorphs with goatees and skinny ties - and I used to see and hear them a lot back in the day when I had a grade school teacher who would play their records again and again in class.

Well, Peter Yarrow at age 81 is again paying a price for what the NYT delicately calls "an episode involving two teenage girls." Judge Curran called it indecent liberties with a 14-year old.

Why has Yarrow paid little or no professional price for those indecent liberties until now? Probably because back in 1970 the news media were too squeamish to describe the details of what exactly those indecent liberties consisted of, and today's press is reluctant to look at what a '60s 'folk legend' whom they see all the time on PBS fundraisers actually did. [Spoiler alert - he did more than just open his hotel room door while naked.]

The New York Times carried this story in front of its paywall, which I guess means they really want you to see it. A #MeToo Episode From 1969 Casts a Long Shadow for a Folk Legend:

In the era of the #MeToo movement, offenses that had been actively hidden away or, in some cases, faded from memory after decades have burst forward and ignited fresh outrage. Performances have been canceled. People have been “canceled.” And this week, Mr. Yarrow, 81, emerged as the latest case.

-- snip --

The furor was over an episode involving two teenage sisters, one 14 and the other 17, visiting his hotel room in 1969 to seek an autograph. Mr. Yarrow answered the door naked.

Mr. Yarrow was charged with taking indecent liberties with a minor, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in jail. President Jimmy Carter pardoned him in 1981.

He was sentenced to one-to-three years, but served only three months in a DC jail. When I saw the stories about Yarrow, my first thought was to wonder whether he ever wrote about his time in jail. That would be interesting because, given his privileged upbringing, I’m sure it would have been his only personal contact with actual proletarians (on both sides of the bars), and I’d be curious about how his career of guitar-strummin’ activism squared with the real experience of life among blue-collar-at-best types. But alas, no.

Why not? Couldn't he write even one lousy folk song about sleeping in jail cells, eating baloney sandwich and Kool-Aid lunches, and living at close quarters with people who don't have even one college degree between them and don't care about yours? That's great material. .

The Awareness Center has a good collection of stories about the Yarrow case, and it makes a great point - "If Yarrow would have sexually assaulted this young teen today and he did not have his political connections, his name would be appearing on the National Sex Offender's Registry."

Indeed it would. And he'd probably be prohibited from school campuses, too. But, he did his crime before those sanctions were created.

When Yarrow was interviewed by the Baltimore Jewish Times in April, 2006, he had this to say about his conviction:

Mr. Yarrow sounds a little sad, but clearly unsurprised, when the subject comes up. "It was 35 [actually, 36] years ago. You know, you make mistakes," he says. "You feel terrible about it, make your amends. In that time, it was common practice, unfortunately–– the whole groupie thing.

"Was it reprehensible on my part? Yes. Was it common practice? Yes. Does that imply justification? No."

Still, he can't resist a little defensiveness. "In Washington, it was considered a felony. In New York, it would have been a class B misdemeanor."

You know, you make mistakes. Really? A mistake is unintentional. Taking off your clothes before inviting two teenage girls into your hotel room seems deliberate.

And, of course, the excuses. In that time, it was common practice, unfortunately–– the whole groupie thing. Was it reprehensible on my part? Yes. Was it common practice? Yes. Does that imply justification? No.

Loosely translated, Yarrow is saying 'Oh, I know I was wrong. The whole unfortunate incident was so reprehensible on my part. It was a different time, you understand. Back in ’69 even a dorky folk singer like me had young groupie-girls beating down the doors of our hotel rooms. I hated that time. Nixon and the damn war had us all so morally confused, and you know the Rolling Stones never asked to see an ID when a young girl knocked, that’s for sure. If you think that implies justification, well, I guess I won’t argue.'

And his minimizing of the seriousness of the charge. In Washington, it was considered a felony. In New York, it would have been a class B misdemeanor. So, he's still not implying justification, certainly not, but when he looks at the crazy disparities in sentencing state-by-state for the act of manual copulation by a minor, he wonders whether making him serve three months in jail was truly justice.

What exactly did Yarrow do? A Washington Examiner crime reporter posted something on that a few years ago, Famous D.C. child sex offender profiting on book for new generation of kids:
At his plea hearing, Yarrow, admitted to being nude as he let two sisters, ages 17 and 14, into his room at the Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park. He was 31 at the time.

“Put your books on the shelf,” he told his guests, documents said.

Yarrow then made sexual advances on the younger teen, which she at first resisted, court records said. Yarrow kept persisting until the 14-year-old masturbated him while her sister looked on.

Yarrow, who married a niece of then-Sen. Eugene McCarthy, (D-Minn.), in the year between his arrest and conviction, was sentenced to three years in prison, of which he served three months at the D.C. jail.

-- snip --

After his arrest, the Washington family filed a lawsuit against Yarrow, accusing the singer of “seduction, assault and battery, and enticing and harboring” the girls over a three year period, from 1966 to 1969. The suit alleges that Yarrow had been with the older girl, the president of his fan club, several times, and with the 14-year-old once before. The results of the decades old lawsuit were immediately unclear.

The report on the lawsuit was substantiated by other media, such as the Toronto Daily Star, May 2, 1970, page 40:
(Mother's name withheld to protect identity of victims) yesterday filed a $1.25 million damage suit against folk singer Peter Yarrow after claiming he seduced her two teenage daughters and tried to get a third daughter to live with him. Yarrow, leader of the Peter, Paul and Mary singing group, pleaded guilty March 26 to taking indecent liberties with the Washington mother's 14-year-old daughter during a three-year period.

That lawsuit brings up all kinds of questions. Was it dismissed, or was it settled out of court? Assuming the mother signed a non-disclosure agreement as part of a settlement, does that also bind the two girls, who were minors at the time? They are now ages 64 and 67, will they come forward? Who called the police, and why so long after the incident? Were there other incidents?

The 14-year-old victim wrote a statement, which Judge Curran read in court. That statement might very well be in the public record, and the records of the DC Circuit Court from 1970 are in the National Archives. If I wasn't currently distracted by work and travel, I might very well dig into the archives to see if the statement is there. Hey, a project to keep me busy during the summer doldrums!