Timothy and Me

My name is Doug. I live in an apartment on the east side of town. I also live in fear sometimes, which is why I have Timothy in my life.

During times of anxiety, like when I had to negotiate a late payment dispute with the utility company, or when the store wouldn’t allow me a replacement credit for returning a phone charger I discovered I couldn’t use, Timothy has been there to fight for me. When I would have otherwise capitulated in these minor yet necessary episodes to live in my urban life, it’s been Timothy who provides the strength that I have lacked.

That’s not to say our relationship has difficulties. One night I went to sleep agonizing over whether to sign up for a loan. I awoke to discover that the loan agreement had been signed and put in the mail. And there’s the smoking: Timothy can’t stop leaving his cigarette butts on the coffee table, on the counter, anywhere but in the trash can.

But those obstacles to an ideal relationship are far outweighed by the good things Timothy does for me. He always has my best interests at heart, even if he sometimes reads them wrong or gets too aggressive. We have a symbiotic relationship, one that should be consecrated in public. However, the law currently has no such place for Timothy and me.

And that’s sad, because Timothy is my partner, my protector, and my mentor. He’s also my alter.

Members of the intracorporeal-American community, more commonly described as individuals “suffering” from dissociative identity disorder, have been unfairly stigmatized for too long. This mischaracterization denies Timothy the dignity of his existence. It stereotypes our relationship as one where one alter does violence, maybe even crime, to protect the other, when the reality is much less dramatic. Timothy has certain traits that I do not, and vice versa. These traits should be welcomed and celebrated, not condemned as a problem, medical or otherwise.

Having a dissociative identity is not a disorder! Some tangible changes should follow that change in worldview. First, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Specifically speaking, my relationship is listed in Section 300.14 of the fifth edition of the DSM, and the discussion within it makes it hard to decide which is more depressing. Is it the monstrous attitude that our relationship is real but a malady to treated, or the dismissive notion that my relationship doesn’t exist at all? I think it’s Section 300.14 that should not exist at all. It should disappear, just as the diagnosis of homosexual disorder disappeared in the third edition of the DSM. It’s time to recognize the dignity of Timothy and me, and to end this barbaric quest for annihilation under the mask of “integrated functioning“.

Our relationship should also have the opportunity to be recognized under the law. Dignity not only requires removing the shame of a medical misdiagnosis; it requires the opportunity for us, and for other like-minded individuals the rights and obligations of marriage. It’s true that biologically speaking, we cannot conceive a child, and we may not even be able to consummate our relationship. But what if sexual intercourse isn’t what we want in a marriage? Many marriages do not involve a sexual aspect, and if one were to ask a couple whether or how often they intended to have sex as a prerequisite for nuptial bliss, it would be considered inappropriate, to say the least. Marriage equality should extend to intracorporeal-Americans such as us. If the rights of marriage are extended to individuals regardless of their biological status, why not to us? If marriage equality activists are advocating for marriages of relationships greater than two in number, why not advocate the same for relationships of less than two?

There are many places to sit at the table of Social Justice. It’s time that members of our community be given a place, so that equality for all can be given its true meaning.

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In Defense of Written Composition

At the Daily Beast, John McWhorter has an article that has as its primary subjects a) TV personality Kim Kardashian, b) Harvard professor Cornel West, and c) the future of the written word. Quite the variety, to say the least. But the article raises some important issues on how enthusiastically written and edited English should be taught in education.

I’ll betray some spoilers: Ms. Kardashian tweeted a punctuationally curious but innocuous message commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the genocide by the Turks against the Armenians. (“Today marks the 100 year anniversary of Armenian Genocide!”) The Internet reacted predictably. Cornel West appears in the article as an academic rock star in the broadcast media reacting to criticism that despite his fame, it has been a long time since he has actually produced any written academic work:

The takeaway point in Michael Eric Dyson’s notorious takedown of West is not Dyson’s almost curiously comprehensive filleting of West’s person and accomplishments. Rather, Dyson lays down that Cornel West is a revered public intellectual who has not written academic books in a quarter-century now, does not write published refereed academic articles, and overall does not like writing and does as little of it as possible. His foundational trade book Race Matters is now over 20 years old. During West’s famous clash with then-Harvard president Lawrence Summers when the latter questioned West’s academic achievements of late, West responded that he was in fact at work on three academic books. Fifteen years later, those books do not exist, and it’s fair to say that they are not forthcoming. Writing is not what West does.

Well, then, how do smart people communicate their smart ideas to the world beyond their contemporaries? Audibly, apparently:

I have what I will title a modest proposal, although many will consider it less modest than insane coming from an academic and writer. Let’s stop pretending that the way Kim Kardashian tweets and the way so many people write is a problem that can be fixed. Who among us imagines that public schools will really go back to teaching sentence structure and prose style as strictly as in the old days? After all, today’s crop of teachers below a certain age never even knew the America where language arts were taught that way. The horse is out of the barn. Let’s consider that we are seeing a natural movement towards a society in which language is more oral—or in the case of texting, oral-style—where written prose occupies a much smaller space than it used to.

As such—might we stop pretending that ordinary people need to be able to write on a level higher than functional?

This is where I politely object. Communicating audibly, or its social media equivalents, has its virtue in immediacy, the linguistic equivalent to a viral video. But when the complicated matters of life are at issue, more work is needed to communicate those thoughts. This task isn’t just for the professional writer or academic. Ordinary people lead lives that can get difficult for whatever reason: the disintegration of a first marriage, the loss of a loved one, communicating to a son or daughter their emotions when they leave home. There are situations in life that require more thought than what’s off the top of your head at a particular moment. Writing long form can also be a cathartic exercise, a way to externalize and work through difficult emotions. Instead of inchoate feelings and incomplete skits to rehearse as revenge for some wrong done to you, expressing the events and feelings in the written word, with adherence to rules that allow for complex thoughts to be expressed outside the mind, will make it real and, more importantly, something to be examined externally. For instance, after re-reading the last few sentences, I found that all of my defenses of the written word are therapeutic rather than functional. Yes, one can probably fill out the right forms and applications in life without high skills in writing. But I still think this skill is essential in the education of a mentally and emotionally healthy human being. At least give them the idea and instruction on how to keep a good diary.

I also wouldn’t rely on non-written technologies to put preserve ideas for posterity. One example is the cult of Mithra. Mithra was an ancient Persian deity who gained his own cult in Roman society around the time of Christ. With it being a mystery cult, promising secret knowledge, they didn’t bother with written texts giving it all away:

The Roman cult of Mithras is known as a “mystery” cult, which is to say that its members kept the the liturgy and activities of the cult secret, and more importantly, that they had to participate in an initiation ceremony to become members of the cult. As a result, there is no surviving central text of Mithraism analogous to the Christian Bible, and there is no intelligible text which describes the liturgy. Whether such texts ever existed is unknown, but doubtful. Worship took place in a temple, called a mithraeum, which was made to resemble a natural cave. Sometimes temples were built specifically for the purpose, but often they were single rooms in larger buildings which usually had another purpose (for example, a bath house, or a private home). . . .

We surmise from the structure of mithraea and from paintings which are preserved in certain mithraea that mithraists gathered for a common meal, initiation of members, and other ceremonies. The details of the liturgy are uncertain, but it is worth noting that most mithraea have room for only thirty to forty members, and only a few are so large that a bull could actually be sacrificed inside.

The point being, depending on how the rubble bounces when it all ends, the later life work of Cornel West may depend on digital archaeologists with Masters in Lipreading.

Language, especially a melting pot like the English language, is an excellent tool in transcribing the soul and communicating complex ideas. Yes, to develop a writing skill is akin to a woodworker using hands-on tools to develop her craft. But why neglect this as a basic exercise in education? Do we really want the autofill function of a text message provider to be the driving function of thought in normal communication?

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Some people are stupid white

So I’ve been seeing these commercials for a wireless company a lot while watching the NBA playoffs.  One of them depicts a group of three, dressed in Beverly Hills caricature attire, exiting one jet and entering another, discussing why they didn’t care that their phone bill had been cut in half.  “We have all the things we want.  We’re rich!”  The other depicts a mother and daughter at an auction, outbidding each other indiscriminately while explaining, in caricatured southern accents, why they don’t need to save money.  “Like Daddy always said, ‘Money don’t spend itself!'”

Tag line for both ads:  “Some people are stupid rich.”

As the saying goes, once is an anomaly, twice is a trend.  It leads me to wonder if Sprint has in its inventory of ads a similarly caricatured minority, and if not, wonder why the different standards.

There’s more than one angle to look at this, though.  Is the lack of ads featuring “stupid rich” minorities because they can’t get away with depicting them as “stupid” 0r depicting them as “rich”?  In fact, wouldn’t the lack of comparable minority characters be a microagression, a subtle insinuation saying “depicting you as rich is just too implausible”?  Or would it be an affirmation of the economic inequality that is keeping minorities down?

Oh the utility of grievance politics!

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A Society of Grandpa Simpsons

“Dear Mr. President: there are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.”

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) recently published an article interviewing two philosophers (Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse) engaging in what could be considered little more than an academic exercise. The question: what role does the family have in promoting economic inequality? No, not the effects of a dysfunctional family. Quite the opposite:

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

So far nothing specific has been proposed to implement such a remedy, but that’s not to say the discussion was meant to be frivolous. After introducing the concept of a social commodity called “familial relationship goods”, the philosophers discuss what policies could be upheld and prohibited when weighed against the problem of inequality. Private schools fail, for example, and parents reading to their children at night is grudgingly held to be permissible:

‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

The premise behind this discussion is so ridiculous, and the strategy so blatant, that it reveals how much of the push by the Social Justice Warriors™ is less about discovering perceived injustices as it is a technique to create an illusionary dragon to slay. I figured it might be useful to use this and other recent movements for social change to demonstrate how mechanical it is, and to find the weak spots to exploit it.

1. Invent a problem – your quest has begun. As you can see from this article, the “problem” can be the most trivial of matters. But if you want to declare that mankind is causing global warming climate change, that American cities have a problem with white police officers are oppressing young black men just for the hell of it, or that the college campus has a “rape culture”, you won’t have to look hard for institutions and activist groups to which you can ally. If you admire creativity in discovering an oppression, you can complain that the colonies of the future on Mars are in danger of too much sexism. That’s right – Mars needs women.

The primary tools to advertise the problem are two: stats and stories. Statistics give you the veneer of scientific truth, even though these “soft sciences” don’t carry the absolutism of, say, biology and chemistry. No matter: if your cause is favorable to the information outlets that matter most, the criticism over the statistics will glaze over the eyes of the non-expert audience. Nerdfights over the data are rarely obstacles to advancing a message.

Anecdotal evidence is a more risky tool, because the stories are intended to appeal to the emotions that any human being can feel. One will defer to the expertise of So-and-So, Ph.D, on details not understood, but everybody’s knows what it feels like to be lied to at one time in their life. But even if caught in a misrepresentation, an earnest enough appeal that the problem is just too severe to let one fabrication be an obstacle to “discussing the issue”.

For example, two years ago, Oberlin College was the target of a series of anti-semitic, homophobic, and racist graffiti incidents on campus. Or so it was thought. After months of navelgazing on campus and in the public of the implications as if these incidents were true bigotry, an investigative reporter from the Daily Caller learned that the vandalism was a hoax, done by an “anti-racist” student activist doing it to prompt such a reaction that followed. What’s more, it was discovered that shortly after the incidents began, the Oberlin administrative officials knew it was a hoax, and had refused to disclose it. Such nondisclosure allowed students to push for more aggressive campus anti-discrimination measures. And what to make of the fact that none of the alleged bigotry was true? The truth is for suckers, I guess.

For a group of people who largely identify as post-religious, the language urging action is infused with a lot of apocalyptic fervor. Earlier this year, the National Association of Scholars published a paper on the “Sustainability” environmental movement on campus, and how this movement has been implemented into nearly every crevice of campus life, even down to removing trays in the cafeteria to discourage people from taking too much food. (A shorter article from NAS on this topic can be found here.) This strategy has a specific ancestry, borne from the progressive tactic of recreating a national unity to fight in World War I. Jonah Goldberg discusses this “moral equivalent of war”, and its goal to have citizens submit some individual rights in favor of the group fight, in Chapter 2 of The Tyranny of Clichés.

Whether the language is the activists’ way of pitching their cause to people looking for a meaning, or whether they share the pre-millennial fervor, the message is the same: “We are heroes on our own epic journey.”

2. Identify the villains in your quest. Now that a goal has been established but not yet accomplished, there must be a reason for that, and that reason is your villain. “The Patriarchy”, “White Privilege”, “Rape Culture”, these villains aren’t individuals, but rather abstractions, which contributes to the self-perpetuating nature of this exercise. These abstractions become a linchpin to broaden the group who can be criticized – from a university president not sufficiently protecting females on campus to a lowly student who may question dubious sexual assault statistics, they can both be targeted as part of the “rape culture” on campus.

The degree of perceived injustice can be as small as you can imagine, down to the “microaggression“, something these crusaders came up with to equate serious civil rights abuses with things like insensitive remarks, and, remarkably, entering a room full of white people.

One item to note is that because this strategy calls for identification of abstract enemies, these groups identify themselves by similar abstractions. Heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, which are classifications of behavior, become classifications of people, even though human sexual behavior is far less static for this classification to match reality. No matter: it makes for a more compelling victim hood narrative to identify one self as a “gay American” than to identify as an individual American who engages in homosexual activities. Or to identify oneself as a “fructose American” in response to a soda ban. No difference.

Even more sinister is the idea that these groups of people have uniform traits. For African-American activists and feminists, for example, members of these groups must share a liberal ideology, because that is (to them) what it means to be an African-American or a woman. To these people, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas can’t exist, at least not exist in terms of speaking as a Black Man. Sarah Palin can’t “exist” as a voice for Women. To be conservative and a member of these groups disrupts the “narrative” that they, as a group, have been set back by a system that oppresses them. Individual accountability and achievement are things to explain away rather than celebrate in this arena of ideas.

3. Propose a solution that will advance their cause, no matter the price. Let’s go back to the situation described in the ABC article: some children were advantaged over others because, among other things, one group had parents who read to them at night, while the other group didn’t.

Their proposed solution was to remove the advantage (parents reading to children). These two philosophers valued the principle of “equality” more than the (now) two disadvantaged groups of individual children.

While this example can be dismissed (at least for now), it is only one of many more serious distortions. Viewing the world not as a republic of individuals accountable for their own actions, but as a blurry collage of competing interest groups, can have dangerous consequences. For example, in the early days of the Soviet revolution, Vladimir Lenin’s enforcement squad, the Cheka, carried out executions by the bulk, based on their class or occupation. As Paul Johnson cited in Modern Times: The World From The Twenties to the Eighties (p. 70):

First came condemned categories: ‘prostitutes’, ‘work-shirkers’, ‘bagmen’, ‘speculators’, ‘hoarders’, all of whom might vaguely be described as criminal. Following quickly, however, came entire occupational groups. The watershed was Lenin’s decree of January 1918 calling on the agencies of the state to ‘purge the Russian land of all kinds of harmful insects’. This was not a judicial act: it was an invitation to murder.

But one doesn’t have to be engaged in revolutionary bloodletting to fall prey to this fallacy. There are movements to require white people to “check their privilege”, as if membership by ethnicity in America is no different than membership to the country club. A similar movement has been proposed for “male privilege” that is supposed to be a systematic oppression against women. It’s the holy grail of grievance politics: racism without racists, sexism without sexists, it removes the burden of having to provide details of oppression, and insulates them from the risk of when facts of the “scandalous” story go sideways, like when a police shooting in Missouri wasn’t in the black man’s back, but was in self-defense when the black man tried to shoot the officer with his own gun and who, after repeated warnings, charged at the officer. Or when a feature story about a gang rape at a state university collapsed in the face of even a minimal query of the allegations.

But this is the secret that the activists don’t want you to know: victims are more valuable as victims. The solutions that would help them as individuals are secondary to the cause. The high-profile police incidents in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other places have (the truth of the narrative being irrelevant) provided fodder for a movement to nationalize the police force. Activists touting a college campus “rape culture” are calling for more funding in response to the “crisis” of more reports of campus assaults. But as the article states: “Of course, they don’t acknowledge that more reports doesn’t necessarily equal more assaults.” Wouldn’t it be easier to allow citizens to better help themselves to fight crime, like, say allow them to carry guns? Nah, not so much. In the case of campus sexual assault, to say that guns are the solution exposes the ruse that in most cases, “sexual assault” on campus doesn’t mean what you think it means:

The women on a campus most likely to need to defend themselves from sexual assault, it appears, are not those attacked by a stranger while walking about the campus, but those drunkenly trying to fend off a formerly trusted male friend in his or her bedroom. It is not a situation in which they would be likely to have a pistol within easy reach or to summon much will or capacity to use one.

To reveal to citizens that they have the power to solve problems threatens the monopoly sought out by these activists. You will always be a victim, nothing more. The only hero in this epic journey will be us, the only available weapon being the exercise of government power.

There’s more to be said about the premises behind this line of thinking, such as the competing visions of the government as either a confiscator and distributor of “liberty” to distribute to the aggrieved classes of people to correct injustices of the past, or as humble facilitator of institutions to allow individual citizens to enjoy the liberties without unjust interference. But I think this can help explain the mindset behind much of the social justice movement that’s currently polluting the political atmosphere.

[ Edited to use blockquote function.]

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Denial, Then and Now

I caught an old TV episode of Law and Order that was so revealing, the next time I saw it in my listings, I DVR’d it and put it under the microscope.

The episode, simply titled “Denial” (Season 8, Episode 2, cast details here.), concerns a teen couple and the death of their newborn infant. It follows the one-half investigation, one-half trial that’s familiar to L&O fans, but this time with an added emphasis on the muscular tactic throughout by the defendants, parents, and attorneys to concede nothing they don’t have to.

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The episode opens with the discovery of blood in a hotel room, enough blood that indicates “more than a nosebleed”. As the crime scene analyst put it to Detectives Briscoe and Curtis, “somebody got hurt”. But importantly, while there’s evidence of bleeding, there’s no clue as to who was the bleeder. Two leads from the hotel – a stolen credit card and a sketch of a young man – result in the detectives meeting (separately) Christina Talbert, whose father owned the credit card that was stolen, and Tommy Horton. These two are college students (Christina is a 17-year old on scholarship and still lives with her parents.) First Christina:

Briscoe: Right now, your father’s credit card is our only connection to a crime.

Christina: Well, it’s Dad’s card. I never use it.

Curtis: How about you write down the names of your friends at Hudson University.

Christina: I don’t want you bothering my friends. Are we done here?

Curtis: Look, if we start asking around, we’ll get your class schedule, clubs you belong to, everything you do there.

Briscoe: By this time tomorrow, we’ll have a list of all your friends.

The detectives then begin carrying out that threat, and someone at Christina’s student newspaper recognizes the man in the police sketch as her boyfriend, Tommy Horton. But before they can question him at his dorm, the detectives are met with defense attorney Charles Garnett, who says he has advised him not to speak with the police until he got with him. Here’s the dialogue of the interview inside Tommy’s dorm room:

Garnett: So the sketch vaguely resembles him. He’s young, he’s blonde, so what?

Briscoe: If this is a case of mistaken identity, let’s get him in a lineup.

Garnett: What’s the charge, soiling linens?

Briscoe: Why didn’t Christina tell us you were her boyfriend?

Garnett: Why don’t you ask her?

Briscoe: You mind if he answers a question every now and then?

Tommy says he went to a fraternity party with Christina and that they turned in early (9:00). He says she went to the library, he went home. When the police ask whether he may have gone to the hotel with someone else, the lawyer terminates the interview.

As it turns out, the suggestion that Tom may have been with anyone else is doubted by one of his fraternity brothers. “He’s nuts about Christina.” When he mentions that Christina’s appearance was “on the chunky side” (in which the viewers have already seen in her interview that at the time of her interview, she’s not). She wore baggy clothes, and the frat brother opines that she’d be pretty sweet if she “offloaded a few pounds”. At this, the detectives figure out that the victim in the hotel room could be Christine’s child from a pregnancy.

This leads to the second interview with Christina, and instead of in her home, she (accompanied by her mother) is asked the questions in the interrogation room:

Lieutenant Anita Van Buren: The final report came in an hour ago. Forensics found amniotic fluid in the mattress. Do you know what that is?

Christina: Yes. It didn’t come from me.

Briscoe: And the Type O blood in the room – that didn’t come from you?

Christina: No. It’s not mine.

Briscoe: What was your boyfriend doing there?

Christina: He wasn’t there. He was with me.

Van Buren: Christina, lying’s only going to make things worse for you and Tommy. If there was a baby involved, we need to know what happened – now.

The acting in this exchange leads the viewer to believe that Christina’s mother could be a moral checkpoint to this episode. When the “Type O Blood” fact is revealed, Mrs. Talbert is genuinely shocked, and when Christina doesn’t have an answer to the last question, she begs her to answer. Her appeal to Christina is interrupted by the appearance of her father and her attorney, Mr. Garnett. Garnett asks to speak with Christina alone. After this, she has a story to tell, but with her mother out of the interrogation room: she and Tommy had sex, she started to bleed, and “tissue started coming out”. A miscarriage. She says she didn’t know she was pregnant, and that she was maybe only two or three months along. She says she flushed the fetus down the toilet. And she says all of this tearfully.

All of this is immediately repudiated by the medical examiner’s report delivered to the detectives, which said that the fetus was probably seven or eight months along. “So we’re still being lied to,” Detective Briscoe says. The detectives have the District Attorney get an order for a medical exam. In the judge’s chambers with Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross and Garnett:

Garnett: A viable baby? That’s ridiculous…So she bled a lot; that’s why you want an order for the doctor to look up her dress? She’s been traumatized enough.

Ross: She’s consistently lied to the police.

Garnett: She didn’t want her mother to know she was having sex with her boyfriend.

Judge (to Ross): Come back when you have evidence before you ask to invade this girl’s privacy.

The action turns back to the detectives, and they interview another fraternity brother who puts them at the dance at 11:00, well past their 9:00 exit story. Not only that, they were seen dancing together to their song. A search for the baby ensues, with no success. With no cooperation from the parents or the boyfriend, the next move is to try to find evidence on the basis of the credit card “theft”. Even though Mr. Talbert had considered the matter with the credit card settled, the credit card company still considered it stolen, which was the basis for the search warrant. The detectives find some evidence of various kinds, which will become relevant in the inevitable legal challenge to admission. I’ll get to the specific evidence in a bit, but based on this evidence, the detectives have figured out that this was no miscarriage. The birth was intentionally induced, and the child was killed outside the womb. Tommy and Christina are arrested.

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However, because there’s still no body to be the object of the murder charge, the Ross and Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy are moved to offer a plea deal. “How quickly can I say no?” Garnett responds. Then the war over the evidence begins:

McCoy: I’m putting aside that your clients premeditated this killing.

Garnett: Says you – you wouldn’t have asked us here if your case had a snowball’s chance.

McCoy: You wouldn’t be here if your clients were innocent.

Garnett: The fetus, however old it was, was stillborn. There’s no crime.

McCoy: You’re taking the position that a dead baby excreted meconium.

Garnett: No. I’m taking the position that you didn’t find any meconium. Motion to suppress; the search was conducted under false pretenses.

“You didn’t find any meconium” (baby feces, for those not familiar with the term). The finding of meconium was the proof that this child spent some time outside the womb alive, and therefore its death would make it a criminal offense. It’s telling here is that Garnett‘s assertion of “no crime” rests on a hearing on whether the meconium can “exist” in this trial. I know there’s a litigator’s cliché that if you can’t document it, it didn’t happen. Which makes sense as a shield against allegations, but in this case, Garnett was using the possibility of the exclusion of the evidence as a sword, to tell a completely different story about what happened. The constitutional protections that were designed to protect the individual against the government not only used to exclude evidence in defense; the absence of said evidence clears the way for a completely different version of what happened to the child. A “narrative” – the new name for a lie.

This brings us back to the search warrant that was based on the “stolen” credit card. The detectives found bloody and soiled clothing in the closet and a pad of blank prescription forms from an ob/gyn in the dresser. As an afterthought, they found the books that had been purchased with her father’s credit card.

Although they couldn’t get any information from the ob/gyn on whether Christina was ever pregnant, she did admit that that was her pad of prescription forms that Christina had lifted. At the next door pharmacy, they learned that she had purchased something to induce labor, which along with meconium (baby feces) led them to conclude that the fetus was outside the womb when it was killed.

Garnett challenges all of this evidence was outside the scope of the search warrant. In fact, the books that were the subject of the search warrant were located on a shelf next to the entrance, on the other side of the room from where they found the other evidence.

McCoy: It said “books”. They found books. They seized them.

Garnett: As an afterthought. The books were on a bookshelf in plain sight the whole time they were there. … They were halfway out the door when they remembered to take the books.

Ross: So they seized the books last instead of first. Was there some recipe they were supposed to follow?

Garnett: The warrant was a pretext. That’s per se abuse.

McCoy: They went to Ms. Talbert’s room for evidence of one crime. They found evidence of another. That’s called luck.

Garnett: That’s called a scam. The detectives knew the credit card wasn‘t, in fact, stolen.

McCoy: They were acting on a complaint from the credit card company.

The judge, as is common in these episodes, splits the difference like an answer to an excessively clever law exam question: the meconium is allowed, but the prescription pad is excluded. This leaves evidence of a live birth, but without the prescription pad, they can’t prove intent that Christina and Tommy intentionally induced birth. Another deal is offered, but this time for only Tommy.

This brings up the conflict of interest issue with Garnett representing both of them. After a perfunctory offer and perfunctory decline, the district attorneys give notice of a motion to remove Garnett as Tommy’s attorney.

More lawfare in front of the judge at the hearing:

Garnett: There is no conflict, your honor. There is only one defense position.

McCoy: That’s because there’s only one defense attorney.

Garnett: My clients only want one defense attorney. It’s their decision to make.

McCoy: Who’s to tell them any different? You honor, I made a very fair offer to Mr. Horton to testify against Ms. Talbert. How can he give objective advice regarding this offer?

Garnett: So fair, that it could only be made to get me yanked as Mr. Horton’s counsel.

The judge agrees to have Garnett removed, but the offer to Tommy has to remain. This doesn’t matter, because over the objection of his new counsel to take the deal, Tommy now says the baby was alive when they left the room, and that they didn’t do anything wrong.

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The trial proceeds against both of them, and without a body, this allows Garnett to argue that it’s possible that the baby is not dead, and that there’s no crime, taking up the same story Tommy is now giving, only now we have some additional details:

Tommy: After he was born, Christina held him for a little while. She really loved him*. …We wrapped him in a blanket, left him on a bed, where a maid would find him. We did the hardest thing we’ve ever done. We walked out of the room. Then we went back to the fraternity. Christina, she felt sick and she started to bleed. She went to the bathroom and began to pass the afterbirth. Then she wanted me to take her home.

*There’s no real pro-life or pro-abortion political message in this episode, but I just wanted to point out that in all of the other scenes, the object of this crime has been described as a “fetus” or “child” or “it”. To this point, we don’t even know the gender of the child. This is the only revelation that the baby was a “he”.

He further testified that the next morning, they tried to return to the hotel, but the police were already there, and that they had found the baby.

On cross examination, McCoy walks him through the things he failed to do on behalf of the baby boy:

McCoy: Just so we understand you, you felt so upset that you went back to a party at your fraternity house?

Tommy: Yes. Didn’t really know where else to go.

McCoy: You requested a song – “Endless Love” – isn’t that right?

Tommy: It was a special song for us.

McCoy: And you danced?

Tommy: We were just holding each other.

McCoy: On the dance floor. Isn’t that called “dancing”?

Tommy: Yeah, I guess. We both felt really bad.

McCoy: So you punished yourself for murder by having a little dance?

Tommy’s counsel: Objection.

Judge: Sustained

McCoy: Didn’t it occur to you to call 9-1-1 to tell the police about your child?

Tommy: Yes. But Christina felt sick, and I had to get her home.

McCoy: They don’t have a phone at her house?

Tommy: I didn’t want to wake up her parents.

McCoy: How about on the way back to your dorm?

Tommy: I..I don’t know. I was just worried about Christina.

McCoy: Can you tell us about anything you did? To suggest that you had a single thought about that child after it was born?

After a series of objections, McCoy plows into the summary point that “the truth is that you didn’t give a damn about that child. You had decided to kill that baby when you reserved that hotel room.”

After this cross-examination (Christina does not testify), the plot turns. At a construction backfill site, the body of a newborn is found, wrapped in a towel from the hotel. Born alive and healthy, and we get a new detail: death was by strangulation. The larynx was crushed. Moreover, there’s evidence that the body may have been covered with backfill to hide it at the request of Christina’s father (an architect with access to the site).

When confronted, Mr. Talbert (with Mrs. Talbert at his side) gives another story of dubious value:

Mr. Talbert: You [Mrs. Talbert] were asleep when they came home. Christina didn’t look well. I knew something was wrong. I made them tell me what happened. They said they left the baby in the hotel — alive. They wanted to go back. I told them it was too dangerous. I told Tommy to go home. I sent Christina to bed. I drove to the hotel room and when I got there [dramatic inhale] it was on the bed there wrapped in a blanket. It was wheezing, it was in trouble. I brought it to my car, but before I could get it to a hospital, it was dead.

Like his daughter, he says all of this tearfully. Mr. Talbert completes the story by saying that he took it to the construction site to bury it.

McCoy, now filled with exasperation, tells him about the rebuttal evidence to this story:

McCoy: Our medical examiner has determined that it was strangled. Someone choked it with her bare hands.

Mr. Talbert: No–no. It died of natural causes.

McCoy: Please don’t insult our intelligence. The baby was dead when you found it, wasn’t it?

At this, Mr. Talbert lawyers up, and in the next scene he offers (through a third defense counsel) to testify against Tommy, but only if all charges are dropped against his daughter Christina. When the attorneys have heard what Mr. Talbert has to say, another layer of hideousness is revealed: the baby had been left in the trash can, wrapped in a towel, with newspaper on top of it to hide it. At long last, the truth. But it comes at too high a price. The District Attorneys decline the offer and go further:

McCoy: I can’t accept your terms. I’ll subpoena him. He’ll testify with no preconditions.

Attorney: Absolutely not. He’ll take the Fifth.

McCoy: I’m conferring immunity right now. You’re taking the stand tomorrow morning.

Attorney: He won’t testify.

McCoy: Are you sure about that, Mr. Talbert?

Mr. Talbert: I am not sending my daughter to jail.

The meeting ends with McCoy having Mr. Talbert arrested for contempt. The signature quote from McCoy is telling: “I’ve had enough of him, his daughter, and her boyfriend. If I could indict him as a co-conspirator, I would. This baby is dead. I hope they all go to jail for it.”

When the trial resumes, more lawfare is at play. After highlighting Mr. Talbert’s connection to the site where the body is found, defense calls Mrs. Talbert in an attempt to have her repeat Mr. Talbert’s story (the one where he says he found the baby still alive, but in trouble). Counsel approach the bench:

McCoy: It’s the people’s position that Mr. Talbert lied to protect his daughter.

Garnett: That’s his position, not mine. Mr. Talbert’s credibility is for the jury.

McCoy: Then the person who should be testifying here is Mr. Talbert.

Garnett: Why he isn’t is because Mr. McCoy has him in jail for contempt.

McCoy: He advised counsel that if he called, he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right. I immunized him. He still refused to testify. He’ll stay in jail until he changes his mind.

Garnett: Your honor, I don’t represent Mr. Talbert. I don’t have any control over him. To penalize my client and Mr. Horton for Mr. Talbert’s actions would amount to … reversible error.

After hearing that Mr. Talbert had been locked up for 36 hours, the judge concludes that he isn’t going to change his mind, and that Mrs. Talbert could testify to what he said. So when Garnett brings up the evidence of strangulation, he badgers her into not being able to say who did that. (“Your husband or your daughter!”) But knowing that Mr. Talbert isn’t a serious suspect, all of this was to create doubt for the culpability of the two people that are on trial, and to make Mr. Talbert’s unheard testimony be self-incriminating, rather than incriminating against Christina and Tommy.

The avalanche of denials works: the jury return a verdict of not guilty.

I included long passages of dialogue to highlight the nature of this denial that goes to the most minute details. And while the pretext of the police search warrant was arguably of the same degree of falsehood, the moral tone is negative against this lying. I knew this episode was from the 1990s, and this impulsive type of lying appears so much more ubiquitously, especially in public life. The air date of the episode was October 8, 1997.

Three months later, Monica Lewinsky would file an affidavit in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, in which she denied having sexual relations with the president. A week after that, Clinton himself would give a deposition denying he had any sexual relations with her. When news broke of the allegations of the sexual relationship between Lewinsky, a former intern at the White House, and the president, Clinton would tell the world these words: “I did not have sexual relations with this woman – Ms. Lewinsky.” Ken Starr, the Independent Counsel already assigned to investigate a separate Clinton corruption allegation, gets permission from Attorney General Janet Reno to expand the investigation to whether the affidavit was false. So began perhaps the most egregious denial campaign in American history.

The full scope of this scandal is too broad to discuss here, but what’s pertinent here is that at the end, after the mainstream media and non-Fox News punditry took the president at his word that there was no affair, after “genetic material” on a blue dress repudiated his denial, Clinton was left to the defense that when he gave his affidavit and said to the public that he didn’t have sexual relations with Lewinsky, he was really saying that he didn’t have “sexual relations” with her, as more narrowly defined in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. “You didn’t find meconium” was the foundation for a set of false facts. “I did not have sexual relations” was also the foundation for a set of false facts to the American public. In the sexual harassment lawsuit, it was also possibly a criminal offense and, if the office of the presidency was used to obstruct the lawsuit, possibly an impeachable offense.

In August, the Independent Counsel required Clinton to testify before a grand jury to explain himself. On the question of whether he knew he gave a false statement in his affidavit regarding the affair, they thought they had him pinned to a false statement. Here is how it went down:


Q Mr. President, I want to, before I go into a new subject area, briefly go over something you were talking about with Mr. Bittman.

The statement of your attorney, Mr. Bennett, at the Paula Jones deposition, “Counsel is fully aware” — it’s page 54, line 5 – “Counsel is fully aware that Ms. Lewinsky has filed, has an affidavit which they are in possession of saying that there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton..

That statement is made by your attorney in front of Judge Susan Webber Wright, correct?

A That’s correct.

Q That statement is a completely false statement. Whether or not Mr. Bennett knew of your relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, the statement that there was “no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton,” was an utterly false statement. Is that correct?

A It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. If the –if he – if “is” means is and never has been, that is not— that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.

One could write a liar’s playbook based on this entire testimony, but in this snippet, it appears that Clinton attempted to say that if it something isn’t happening now, it can be denied that it ever happened. Given Clinton’s corrupted past, this disassociation from the past would be a viable tactic to attempt if he was in a pinch.

It worked. Starr would produce a report in September that produced the list of offenses that the House of Representatives would vote to impeach Clinton, but the Senate voted not to convict. As the votes were cast, cable news channels carried a split screen with the votes and with conveniently-timed air attacks on Iraq.

This post may sound like a useless re-litigation of the past, but the public use of the false narrative, without appropriate consequences, has only grown in frequency:

In order for the Obama administration/campaign to sustain a narrative that a terrorist group is on the decline, a subsequent attack in 2012 on a U.S. compound in Libya is blamed on a producer of an online movie that practically no one, let alone the attackers, knew even existed. Then they manipulated the CIA talking points on the attack and one official appeared on five Sunday news shows to advance the lie.

After absorbing repeated punches to his head from 17-year old black youth, a man defends himself by shooting him.The black youth dies, and the black community calls it a racial shooting. A national media news outlet distorts a 911 call, and another classified the shooter as a “white Hispanic”, to force in the racial angle. When the man is acquitted, violence breaks out.

A young and large black man in Florida steals cigars from a convenience store and starts walking down the middle of the road. When he asks him to move to the side of the road, the young man tries to steal the officer’s weapon and, after getting shot once, charges after the officer. The officer shoots and kills the young black man. In the investigation, witnesses give exculpatory testimony that contradicts the physical evidence. When the grand jury finds that the officer committed any crime, violence breaks out.

A large black man in New York City is caught selling loose cigarettes on the street. Police attempt to accost him, but in so doing, the man dies of a heart attack. One officer attempts to bring his arm around the man’s head, but it was a submission hold, not a choke hold. The man was alive when he entered the ambulance. When the grand jury finds that no crime was committed, violence breaks out, and not long thereafter two NYPD officers are fatally shot, apparently in revenge for the lack of indictment.

A major magazine publishes a story depicting a gang rape at a fraternity party at a major state university. The information used to publish the story came almost exclusively from one source, the victim, and when some important details contradict the story – such as the lack of any party at that fraternity on the night in question – the magazine retracts the story. The reporter apologized to the magazine’s readers, editors and colleagues, and to victims of sexual assault who may be fearful. She does not apologize to the fraternity.

I didn’t even have to scour the corners of the Internet to find these stories. These have been leading many nights in the national news outlets recently. I left out the names because using them carries with it so much baggage.

Before this year is half done, the Court could impose the cultural fiction that marriage can mean a union of two members of the same sex, and could interpret a law to allow the federal government provide a health insurance subsidy when the letter of the law explicitly excludes it from doing so. This is a long way from the principles of the rule of law and truth in facts. As the Law and Order episode showed, such disregard used to be unusual.

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Treebranch 0417

He was walking on the yellow line in the middle of the road.  Something had to be done.  Henry pulled up his SUV next to the gentleman:

“Hey there.  How’s it going?”

JuWon stared back at him with suspicion.  “Fine, officer.”

“I couldn’t help but notice you’re out here in the middle of the road.  That could cause some problems with traffic.  Could you move over to the sidewalk?”

“I’m just going to the store at the end of the street,” JuWon said.  “I’ll move to the sidewalk when I get there.”

Henry took another look down the street. There was no traffic now, but still.

“I’m going to have to ask you to move to the sidewalk,” Henry said.

“I’m going to have to ask you to fuck off!

Henry tried to open the door, but with JuWon’s 300-plus pound body shoving against the SUV, Henry was making no progress in securing the situation. Then JuWon swung his fists inside the window. Henry pulled out his service weapon to shoot, but JuWon’s hand gripped the muzzle so tightly that it only produced the click-click as it jammed. While he was attempting to turn the point of the gun back toward Henry, JuWon said:

“You’re too much of a puppy to shoot.”

The classroom erupted in laughter.

Sergeant Fielder let out a sigh. “’Pussy’,” he said. “Mr. Henderson, the line is ‘You’re too much of a pussy to shoot.’”

JuWon let go of the mock pistol in Henry’s hand and picked up his script. After finding the right line, he said “Oh. Sorry.”

“’Oh sorry’? That’s all you have to say? Part of police work is paperwork, which means paying attention to detail, which means getting it right. ‘Oh sorry’ isn’t going to cut it when the Coalition shows up in the streets to say your shoot was bad. If that awful day ever comes, you’ll want to have documented where and when you did everything that day, all the way down to your piss breaks. ‘Oh sorry’ could cost you your job and your pension”

Sergeant Fielder approached Henry, still sitting in the would-be driver’s side seat (a straight-back chair borrowed from the adjoining classroom), and he motioned for JuWon to come back. “We’ll just walk through the rest of this Q&A style. Now, the subject has made aggressive moves toward the officer, and the officer has engaged with his weapon. It’s not the best move by the officer – he’s doing so from a close range and not in the best position. Can anyone think of alternative actions for the officer to take? Mr. Peters?”

Albert, who had raised his hand, said, “Urinate himself to make himself less attractive to the subject?”

Sergeant Fielder stopped for a moment to just look at him. In incredulity, he asked, “Mr. Peters, where did you get that idea from?”

“Sergeant Caldwell’s class on community outreach. It’s one of the defense moves sexual assault victims can do to stop the attack.”

“Well Sergeant Caldwell can keep that option. No officer trained by me will undermine the uniform by urinating himself or herself when engaging a hostile subject!”

He continued. “The next event is that the officer gets a shot off from his weapon. It hits the subject, but not directly enough to secure the situation. The subject,“ he turned JuWon around and walked him to where he was more than ten feet away from Henry, “flees the scene. Does the officer pursue?”

As soon as the question left his lips, the class members abandoned any semblance of comity and began debating furiously among each other:

“He just committed battery on a police officer and tried to kill him. Of course he has to pursue.”

“Won’t that just escalate the situation? After all, it was the officer who started the encounter.”

“If criminals think they can get away with abusing the police without punishment, they’ll only be empowered to commit more crime.”

“Police officers should be held to a higher standard than the public. They’re the ones with the guns, after all.”

“That’s the kind of thing a Coalition plant in the academy would say!”

Sergeant Fielder let the debate continue for a minute, then whistled through his teeth to pierce through the clamor. “Ladies and gentlemen, I understand that some of you still have some raw feelings about the vote of the rules committee, but what’s done is done: official procedure is that if a subject makes physically aggressive moves toward an officer…” He had to pick up a crib sheet from his desk to read the rest. “…whether or not the subject is suspected of committing the crime for which the officer has been dispatched, the officer may pursue the subject.”

He motioned for Henry to stand up. “The officer leaves the vehicle to pursue, and the subject stops and turns around.”

JuWon turned around. Henry pointed the gun at him.

“The officer calls for him to get on the ground. The subject does not comply. The subject begins walking toward the officer as if to charge him, and is twelve feet away from physical contact with the officer. Does the officer have the authority to use his weapon to secure the situation?”

“No,” they all said in unison, some with enthusiasm, some with reticence. After all, it was the “pursue/no pursue” fight that opponents had staked their claim. Everything after that was a foregone conclusion.

“The officer again calls for the subject to get on the ground. The subject does not comply. The subject resumes pursuit toward the officer, and is ten feet away from physical contact with the officer.”

JuWon took a few steps forward. Henry continued pointing the gun at him.

“Does the officer have the authority to use his weapon?”


“The officer calls one more time for the subject to get on the ground. The subject does not comply. The subject continues pursuit toward the officer, accelerating as if to charge him, and is seven feet away from physical contact with the officer.

“Does the officer have the authority to use his weapon?”

“Yes,” the class again said in unison. Henry jerked the gun forward to mimick shots fired. JuWon fell to the ground.

Lieutenant Garvey, who until now had sat in the back of the class observing with barely minimal attention, perked up after that last response from the class. As Sergeant Fielder explained to the class the details of filling out the Police Incident Report, the lieutenant peered closely at JuWon for an extended moment, and then approached the sergeant.

“Can I have a word with you?”

“What’s wrong?”

“Bring me the swatch.”

The Social Justice Swatch, a mandatory accessory now carried by members of the law enforcement community, was designed to filter out the good encounters from the bad ones. A 2×6 piece of cardboard supplied by GreenEven Painting Company, it provided a color of measurement. Darker skin than the swatch: Social Justice Rules applied. Lighter skin than the swatch: normal rules applied. Some on the force complained how the hell they were supposed to make that difference. That’s what the mandatory seminars on color differentiation – “Is this black man darker than the swatch?” – were designed to educate.

Sergeant Fielder retrieved the swatch from his desk drawer. “Here it is.” Sergeant Fielder held it up next to JuWon’s face. Then he read the back of the swatch.

“This is the one for last month,” the lieutenant said. “I need the swatch for this month.”

When the swatch was first proposed, there was a debate over how light of a skin would be entitled to the Social Justice Rules. Some among the Coalition said, “Even if he or she has a drop of Negro blood!” But when some in the police department pointed out the obvious difficulties with this, a compromise was reached: the color would change every month, depending on the “temperature of the community” (quotes curtsey of Coalition leader Wayne Carmichel).   As a result, the color of the skin entitled to the Social Justice Rules would change depending from month to month.

Sergeant Fielder motioned for one of the class members to go to the mailroom to retrieve the new swatch. It was delivered to Lieutenant Garvey, who shut one eye to get the best comparison of JuWon.

“The swatch is GreenEver’s Treebranch 0417. Mr. Henderson is more dark-skinned than that, so the Social Justice Rules apply: four charges, five feet, whichever comes first. Something different from the theatre I just witnessed.”

The lieutenant brought Sergeant Fielder over to a corner.  “We need to re-enact this.  I can’t have rumors floating to the Coalition that we’re conducting racist training sessions.”  He pointed to Albert Peters.  “Let’s use Mr. Peters in place of JuWon, and take it from the top.”

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The Kansas City Royals, Its History of Incompetence, and a Call at Third Base

Let me start with some throat-clearing: I don’t plan to write many sports posts.  I don’t consider myself an expert, so my contributions to the day-to-day analysis aren’t worth your time, though I do like to watch the teams I grew up with.  But yesterday, the Kansas City Royals completed a game that, depending on what lessons are learned, could become a landmark for how the franchise proceeds, for good or for ill.

First, a little background: from its first year in 1969, the franchise experienced a quicker than normal learning curve.  By 1976, they had won the American League West, which began a 10-year span where the Royals won seven division titles (well, six and a half, anyway, due to the strike-divided season of 1981), two league titles, and a World Series title in 1985.

Since then, nothing.  For a little perspective, consider that when the movie Major League hit the theatres in 1989, the Cleveland Indians, the lovable losers of the film, hadn’t been to the playoffs in 35 years.  The Royals have played 28 consecutive years, most of which in an expanded playoff format, without any post-season appearance, so we’re approaching that territory in the number of years in the wilderness.

In recent years, it hasn’t even been close.  The team didn’t have a 100-loss season until 2002, and then proceeded to break that barrier three more times in the next four years.

If there was any recurring characteristic in how they lost, the Royals had a habit of giving the fan base a glimmer of hope, and then quickly making you foolish for holding such hope:

  • In 1991, the Royals finished in 6th place out of 7 teams in the West; however, they had 82 wins and, with a new coach, some optimism for the next year.  The next year, they lost 19 of their first 22 games and never contended.
  • In 2000, they finished 77-85, but the lineup was full of young bats and promising starting pitching.  In 2001, they began 4-12 and from the beginning of May to the end of the season, they dropped from 10 games back of first to 26 games out.
  • In 2003, aided with some good fortune, the Royals contended and even led the division during some meaningful parts of the season.  They finished 83-79, and for the first time in a long time, they made some offseason acquisitions with a playoff mindset.  On May 8, 2004, the Royals lost to the Boston Red Sox 9-1, which included an inside-the-park home run when one of those high-profile acquisitions let the ball go through his legs in right field.  By that time, the Royals were 8-20 and well on their way to a 104-loss season.

All of this is to say that there’s a particular kind of disappointment following this kind of franchise, where five months of talk over the winter about winning the next year, following the spring training games, and having the local newspaper publish a special section about the possibilities of success, then only to have that optimism so crushed so quickly. It creates distrust when the team has success, because you don’t believe it can last.

Which brings me to this weekend.  The Royals entered Friday’s game one-half game out of first place, and beginning a three-game series at home against the division leaders, the Detroit Tigers.  With a little over a week left in the season, the local sports radio media were rightly calling this the most significant series in 29 years.  All three games were sold out.  Friday’s game, in a microcosm of past history of disappointment, resulted in a 10-1 loss where the Tigers scored all 10 of their runs in the first five innings.

Saturday’s game was more interesting.  Even if the sixth inning hadn’t happened the way it did, there was much to complain about.  In the Royals’ half of the first inning, with a runner on second base and nobody out, the batter bunts to move the runner to third.  In the third inning, with runners at first and second and nobody out, the batter – the same as in the first – does it again.  In both cases, the runners were left stranded, which was another conspicuous failure in the game.  This debate in philosophy over strategy is nothing new for Royals fans — for as long as current manager Ned Yost and general manager Dayton Moore have been with the team, many Royals fans have agonized over this outdated strategy of small-ball (sacrificing outs, relying on the stolen base instead of power), and nothing here will resolve this.  The only thing I’ll say is that even with reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the mound, playing in the early innings as if you have to give up outs for one run instead of zero shouldn’t be taking place unless that one run is needed in the late innings.  And, suffice to say, by the way the first game and a half of this series, the fan base was more than a little tense.

But that’s not the reason for this post.  The reason for the post is what happened in the bottom of the sixth inning, involving a bizarre play and some creative umpiring.  With the game tied 1-1 and with runners at second and third and one out (no sacrifice bunt this time), second baseman Omar Infante hit a line drive that was caught by the Tigers’ second baseman for the second out.  So far, so good: the runners jog back towards their bases.  Then, thinking that he could double off the runner at second, Tiger second baseman Ian Kinsler threw to shortstop Eugenio Suarez, who was moving toward the bag along with runner Eric Hosmer.  The ball is thrown wide of Suarez and into left field.  The runners advance, with Salvador Perez touching home from third base, and the game is tied.  The crowd, with all of the previous frustration at watching this team get in its own way just to score the one run to tie the game, erupts in joy.

Problem was, Perez did indeed touch home, but not from third base.  He had moved back toward third base, but when the ball went into left field, he immediately began running forward.  In order to advance on a line out, the runner has to tag the base after the ball is caught.  The replay showed that Perez’s foot was never less than a few inches away from third base.  One of the Tiger bench players saw this and notified manager Brad Ausmus, who called for his team to throw the ball to third, so that the third base umpire could call him out.  They threw the ball to third, but the umpires had not seen what Ausmus saw.  They gathered and called Perez safe.

This season was the first in which teams could appeal certain calls made by the umpire on the field.  It involves a call to New York, where a group of officials reviews the replay and either upholds or overturns the call on the field.  When the crew chief called New York, the only response he got was that they could not review that call.  Which was correct: the review of whether a runner tagged up after a catch of a ball in play could not be reviewed on replay.  So the umpires gathered together again and, after a few minutes of discussion, called Perez out.  After the game, crew chief Larry Vanover explained it this way:  “We took a consensus of the information.  Out of that crew consultation, we came up with the answer that he didn’t tag up.”  It didn’t hurt that while New York was telling Vanover that they were on their own, the the stadium was showing for all to see that Perez had not tagged up.  This lost run proved to be the difference, as the Royals fell to the Tigers 3-2.

Going into the next game, the Royals are two and half games back of Detroit for the Central Division lead, with nine games to go.  The Royals are far from a lost cause for the 2014 season, but even if the Royals don’t make the playoffs this year, I think there are some different possible reactions on the outcome of this game.  One way would be to lump this play at third with the genuine incompetence of this franchise’s last two decades-plus, and possibly associate a future curse based on that play if the team turns awful again.  That would be disappointing.  Salvador Perez was this year’s starting catcher for the All Star Game, and is signed with the Royals for several more years.  He’s part of the team’s future, which may be an optimistic one for once.  What may be a better take on this kind of gaffe is to advance on a learning curve on how to play meaningful games.  I doubt Perez forgets to tag up on that kind of play under normal circumstances.  Maybe in a future playoff game when an unexpected event occurs, that kind of gaffe doesn’t happen.  Heck, I doubt Kinsler even makes that throw to second base in a normal stakes game, which should be an indicator that maybe the other team (even three-time defending division champions) has some nerves, too.  I have no way of knowing, but it’s still better than the Royals fan base adopting the September 20 game as a negative milestone in franchise history.

As of right now, the Royals lead the third game 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth.  At least the offense has finally arrived in this series, and it looks like the team isn’t rattled from yesterday’s debacle.  Or this could be a setup for the Royals losing the trifecta: blowout, close game, and blown lead.  The optimism will remain cautious for now.

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