Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fathers' Day Contemplation

Since tomorrow is Fathers' Day here in America let's talk about a couple of fathers. First is the father in Shiner, Texas who beat a man to death when he discovered the victim sexually molesting his four year-old daughter. The story received a lot of publicity, and watercooler talk all across the country focused on whether the man should be prosecuted for homicide.

Then, just as that case began to fade from the news reports, we found ourselves confronted with yet another variation on the theme. The LA Times reports the story:
Barry Laprell Gilton and Lupe Mercado watched, dismayed and helpless, as their 17-year-old daughter was lured away from home by a known Compton gang member, who wound up as her pimp.

The couple tried to persuade the teenager to break ties with 22-year-old Calvin Sneed. They sought help from law enforcement — to no avail — and later added the girl to several missing and exploited children registries, according to their lawyers.
According to prosecutors Gilton went looking for Sneed and shot and killed him. His defense attorneys deny it.
Sneed, officials said, was gunned down in his car on June 4 at 2 a.m. by Gilton, who allegedly fired a .40-caliber weapon from a silver Mercedes-Benz SUV.

District Attorney George Gascon said that as a father, he understood "the frustration that the parents must have felt.... But taking the law into your own hands is not an acceptable solution."

Gilton, 38, and Mercado, 37 — who began dating in middle school and have three younger boys — were deeply concerned for their daughter, who left home about a year ago, Safire said. They had discovered that she was appearing in escort ads, and that she seemed to be working for Sneed.

"They … had come to learn that she was being unduly influenced by this fellow," Safire said. "They encouraged her to stay away, and tried to get help to encourage him to stay away."

The 17-year-old returned with Sneed to the Bay Area on the weekend of June 2 to visit an ailing relative, Safire said. She argued with her parents, who tried unsuccessfully to get Sneed to leave.
Remember that according to reports Gilton had gone to the police and other agencies to plead for help, but no one would, or could, help them, so Gilton apparently felt he had no recourse if he was going to save his daughter than to take matters into his own hands.
Dean Maye said he had known Gilton since he was a guard on the Mission High School basketball team. Maye later coached him in the San Francisco Bay Area Pro-Am Summer Basketball League. Gilton since has volunteered countless hours to the league, helping Maye scout prospects and working with local college players, while also coaching at the nearby Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco.

"He's a dedicated father, a great father," Maye said. "We're shocked about this. I know the whole family. I can't picture it. I don't believe it."
Okay. Let's stipulate that the LA Times has the essential facts correct. Let's also stipulate that the parents really were the shooters and that Sneed wasn't the victim of some random act of violence as Gilton's defense attorney is alleging. What should happen to the girl's parents? What is justice for the fathers, in both Shiner and Los Angeles, of these two daughters? Do the two cases differ in any significant respect? What would you do if you were the father of either of these two girls?

Happy Fathers' Day


Polls indicate that only about 50 percent of likely voters have either “very closely” or “somewhat closely” followed the Fast and Furious scandal as it has unfolded so a lot of people are probably wondering why the Republicans are so upset over a movie and why they're so mad at that nice man, Mr. Holder.

Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, is facing contempt of Congress charges (I'll bet you're surprised that it's a crime to hold Congress in contempt) for refusing to comply with demands for documents related to the Department of Justice's Fast and Furious debacle.

What happened, for those who may have been trying to make a living the last year or so and don't have time to follow the news, is the DOJ, or more specifically its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, set up a secret operation wherein they colluded with gun dealers to sell guns illegally to people who had no business buying them because ATF knew that the buyers were drug cartel thugs and that they would smuggle the guns into Mexico to be used in violent crimes.

The ostensible purpose of this bizarre ploy was to somehow track these guns to the criminals who used them and thus, and here it gets murky, to somehow more easily apprehend them and their bosses. At least that's the official rationale. Many people suspect, and there's some evidence to support the suspicion, that the guns were allowed to "walk" into Mexico because the Obama administration wanted them to turn up at crime scenes so Mr. Obama would have justification for arguing for more stringent gun control laws. That seems awfully cynical, but ....

Anyway, the whole operation blew up in the DOJ's collective face when several of the weapons were found at the scene of the murder of an American Border Patrol agent, not to mention having been used in dozens, if not hundreds, of crimes in Mexico.

Congress started holding hearings to try to find out who approved this ridiculous operation and what the motivation was behind it. To that end they have subpoenaed tens of thousands of documents from the DOJ, but Attorney General Holder has refused to turn them over. Moreover, the DOJ has sought to punish those whistleblower employees who have provided information to Congress.

Consequently, the House of Representatives is going to declare Mr. Holder in contempt next week which, unless Mr. Holder has a change of heart and produces the materials, will probably end his career - a denouement devoutly wished for by a large segment of the population. Indeed, polling data shows that 40 percent of likely voters want Mr. Holder to resign, whereas only 27 percent think he should stay. The rest are, for one reason or another, undecided.

You can read more about some of the latest developments in this case here.

It all got me thinking that June could potentially be an absolutely devastating month for Mr. Obama's reelection prospects. In addition to the possible contempt vote on his AG next week, the Supreme Court is also scheduled to hand down its decision on both the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the DOJ's lawsuit against Arizona for enforcing federal immigration law that Mr. Obama won't enforce. If those decisions go badly, and if the jobless numbers still hover around 8.3% or worse, and if the Eurozone looks like it's going to break up, Mr. Obama might find himself begging somebody else to take over the job so that he can just play golf and go on vacations.