Radley Balko has reported on criminal justice for over a decade, and I would argue he's the most-informed journalist on the subject in the United States. I therefore trust his analysis of Breanna Taylor's death more than most. In today's Washington Post, he lays out the facts about Kentucky law and about the case as far as he knows, and corrects some misinformation currently swirling around social media:
Wednesday’s announcement from Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron about criminal charges in the Breonna Taylor case set off a frenzy of misinformation on social media. Based on what we do know — which I’ve culled from my own reporting, reporting from the New York Times and the Louisville Courier-Journal, as well as from conversations with the lawyers for Taylor’s family — the decision to charge Detective Brett Hankison with wanton endangerment was probably correct, as was the decision not to charge the other officers involved in the shooting. If ballistics had conclusively shown that one of the bullets from Hankison’s gun killed Taylor, he could be charged with reckless homicide, but according to Cameron, the bullets that struck Taylor could not be matched to Hankison’s gun. There’s the problem that the police who conducted the raid were relying on a warrant procured by another officer, which was then signed by a judge. There were many flaws and abrogations in that process, but it would be unfair and not legal to hold them accountable for any of that.
But “not illegal” should not mean “immune from criticism.” Part of the problem was Cameron himself, who was selective in what information he released to the point of misleading the public about key facts in the case. (This raises real questions about whether the grand jury was also misled. That’s why an attorney for Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who fired at the police during the raid, is demanding that Cameron release the evidence that was presented to the grand jury.)
Furthermore, Taylor’s death was not, as Cameron suggested, simply a tragedy for which no one is to blame. The police work in this case was sloppy, and the warrant service was reckless. Taylor is dead because of a cascade of errors, bad judgment and dereliction of duty.
To simply blow this off as a tragedy for which no one is to blame is an insult to the life and legacy of Taylor, but also to the dozens of innocent people who have been gunned down in their own homes before her. And the effort by Cameron and others to make all of this go away by feeding the public half-truths that blame the victims in this story — Taylor and Walker — for Taylor’s death is inexcusable.
We could prevent the next Breonna Taylor. We could ban forced entry raids to serve drug warrants. We could hold judges accountable for signing warrants that don’t pass constitutional muster. We could demand that police officers wear body cameras during these raids to hold them accountable, and that they be adequately punished when they fail to activate them. We could do a lot to make sure there are no more Breonna Taylors. The question is whether we want to.
Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop is on my to-be-read shelf.
As of yesterday, I've hit my daily step goal 250 times in a row. My previous record streak, which ended 7 November 2019, was 207 days. I'm pretty sure I'll make it another 115 or more days, barring injury or impenetrable snowfall.
And because this current streak began on the last day I traveled outside of Illinois, that means it's also been 250 days since I last flew anywhere. The previous streak of 221 days ended when I flew to London on 31 August 2018.
So, every day I'm prevented from traveling by fears of an entirely predictable (and predicted) disease, the response to which dozens of governments predictably botched, I'm setting a new record.
In an interview yesterday, the president refused to say that he would allow a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election. Understandably, people are upset that a sitting president would hint at doing anything else. But as Josh Marshall points out, this guy lies more easily than most people breathe, so maybe we don't need to freak out as much as we are:
No one needs to tell us these threats and bogus claims are wrong. But it is still necessary to step back and realize that there’s no chaos. We are on the cusp of what should be an entirely orderly election process. There’s zero evidence there has been or will be any election fraud of any sort. Not only is there no evidence any of this is happening we have abundant, really incontrovertible evidence that organized election fraud is all but unknown in modern American electoral history. It simply doesn’t happen. Period. There’s zero reason to believe the Supreme Court or any Court will be required to decide the outcome of the election or make decisions which significantly affect the outcome.
That doesn’t mean everything is fine. This false drama and lying is all meant to set the stage for things that are very real. Certainly not to justify – but even for those of us who are gripping on to the sinews of our democracy with every strength, it creates a sense of forward motion, inevitability, disorder. But the reality check is still helpful, critical, necessary. Because none of it is really. It’s a storm of drama, completely fictive, to set the stage for an unpopular President to reject the results of an election that ends his presidency.
Even Mitch McConnell knows the president is more full of shit than a trainload of fertilizer. If the president or the GOP really had the power to steal this election, they wouldn't have to talk about it so much.
So, my fellow members of the Democratic Party, can we please just stop hyperventilating and get on with kicking this guy out of office through good old-fashioned voting? Everyone knows he's losing, including him and all of his cronies. That's why they're grabbing every bit of power they can with both hands while they still have time. That's why they're trying to jam through a nominee to the Supreme Court in an unprecedented time and manner.
Holy shit, folks. Let's start acting like the winners we are and get the Republican Party out of power until they can behave like grown-ups.
More than 200,000 people have died of Covid-19 since we started paying attention six months ago. Let me put that into perspective:
The columns represent the total number of deaths for each event (blue) or per year (gray). The line represents those deaths on an annualized basis. At 400,000 deaths per year, Covid-19 now ranks as the third leading cause of death in the US for 2020 after cancer and heart disease. We're on course to have 133 9/11s or 12 times our usual number of car crash deaths just this year.
Whatever you might think about the policy distinctions between our two political parties, surely the Republicans' callous disregard for human life in this pandemic matters, right?
Tropical Storm Zeta formed in the Atlantic on 30 December 2005 and almost became a hurricane on 2 January 2006. When Zeta finally dissipated on January 6th, it ended the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, and also one of the most destructive: category-5 hurricanes Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma caused incredible damage and loss of life throughout the US. The season also included three unnamed tropical depressions and an unnamed tropical storm.
That season, Tropical Storm Alpha formed on October 22nd, and Hurricane Beta formed on October 26th.
Flash forward 15 years, and it looks like we're going to break a few of 2005's records. This year, storms Alpha and Beta both formed on September 18th. So far only Hurricanes Laura and Teddy—the latter now about to pound Nova Scotia and Newfoundland—got up to category 4, and we haven't yet had any category 5 storms. But the season shows no sign of winding down.
We have known for decades that climate change would cause more frequent tropical storm activity. Welcome to the future.
Welcome to stop #36 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Alter Brewing Co, 2300 Wisconsin Ave., Downers Grove
Train line: BNSF, Belmont
Time from Chicago: 48 minutes (Zone E)
Distance from station: 800 m
Ah, the suburbs. Sometimes you can find a brewery down a stroad and along another stroad in a light-industrial park on the outskirts of an outskirts town. Alter Brewing Company's Downers Grove taproom will never appear on the National Register of Historic Places. But it appears on the Brews and Choos list because it fits all the criteria for inclusion.
I tried four of their beers, none of which curled my toes or my stomach. The Alterior Motive IPA (7%) was a perfectly competent light, clean, IPA with grapefruit and orange notes from the Citra hops. The FU Covid double dry-hopped IPA (7.2%) was a perfectly competent hoppy IPA with some vanilla, honey, and toffee notes I found interesting in an IPA, and enough complexity that I'd drink it again. The Hopular Kid extra-pale ale (6.5%) had a ton of juicy flavors with more malt than I expected, and a long, sweet finish that many people would enjoy but didn't work with my more savory and bitter preferences.
But wow, the Alto Porter (6.8%) surprised me. It had chocolate on the nose with coffee and toffee in the body. It was delicious: not too malty, not too bitter, well-balanced. I would get a 6-pack to share with friends.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Yes
Serves food? No; BYOF
Would hang out with a book? Maybe
Would hang out with friends? Maybe
Would go back? Maybe
The cartoonist and author behind Hyperbole and a Half has returned with a new book, which I should receive tomorrow. This news offsets pretty much all the other news from today:
I'm sure there's more, but I'm done for the day.
The GOP panic to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat makes three things absolutely clear: first, they expect to lose bigly in six weeks; second, they realize they're against public opinion; and third, they realize that public opinion is continuing to turn against them. In short, this is quite literally their last chance to get a SCOTUS seat for a generation.
You know what? Everyone else is sick of their bullshit.
We're going to win both houses and the presidency, and then we're going to cement that win by expanding the court, and then by granting statehood to DC and PR. Too many in our party are tired of playing nice against a bunch of thugs.
The Republicans have the power to do exactly what they're doing. And in four months, we'll have the power to undo all of it. They say they're just playing by the rules, and they're not wrong. So we need to play by the rules as well. All of them.
Or as I learned many years ago playing AD&D: lawful good does not mean lawful stupid.
Choral board meeting followed by chorus rehearsal: all on Zoom, and as president and generally techy guy, I'm hosting. After a full day of work and a 5 km walk. Whew.
So what's new?
Finally, if you want to be a Cook County Judge of Election, you can still sign up—and earn $230.
Welcome to stop #35 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway, Aurora
Train line: BNSF, Aurora
Time from Chicago: 81 minutes (Zone H)
Distance from station: At the station
In 1856, the nascent Chicago & Aurora Railroad built the first roundhouse in Illinois in the small city of Aurora. It served as a locomotive shop and storage facility until 1974, then abandoned, even as it won a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Flash forward to 2011 when local brewery Two Brothers Brewing opened a restaurant and small brewing facility on the site.
On Saturday, with crisp, clear skies above me, I trekked all the way out there to have lunch and try the beers. Lunch was perfectly fine, as were the beers.
My server brought the flight out with the beers in alphabetical order, which also turned out to be the right tasting order. I started with the Atom Smasher Oktoberfest (7%), a malty, well-balanced, good Oktoberfest-style lager, well-made but sweeter than my palate prefers. The Citra United IPA (7%) hit me with hops on the nose and tongue, finished cleanly, and have me less citrus and bitter notes than I expected. (I wound up ordering a full pint after lunch.) The Wizard Staff IPA (5%) had a bright, light, maltiness to it, with a clean finish and light orange notes. The Wobble IPA (6.3%) had a slight astringent note with high hops and less depth than the others.
I also got a sip of their bourbon whiskey, distilled on site. It had a sweet nose with nice oak notes, and I found it a solid whisky if a bit young. The 75/25 corn/rye mash bill gave it some pepper that would work in a Manhattan well.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? No
Televisions? One inside, none outside
Serves food? Yes, full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes