Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

Frame-up Fails: Walker Walks

Walker from his arrest mugshot.

Walker from his arrest mugshot. For him, the nightmare is over.

In Maryland, New Jersey detective Joseph Walker was attacked by a fat, angry thug named Joseph Harvey Jr. Harvey and his friend Adam Pidel charged Walker, despite being warned that Walker was a police officer and would shoot them. They continued, and Walker shot Harvey. Pidel then stopped, but Harvey resumed his charged (and Walker resumed shooting him, scoring two more hits). In all, Walker fired three shots and scored three boiler room hits. Harvey has gone to the place where he can no longer menace any motorists.

And the might of the State of Maryland landed hard on Walker. Police and politicians are hostile to out-of-state cops carrying in the gun-free zone (and murder hot spot) of Baltimore and elsewhere in Maryland. They can’t stop it, because a national law pre-empts them, but they can pull out all the stops to make an example of anyone who takes advantage of the Federal law to cull the native criminal class — as Walker did. And so an ambitious prosecutor mustered an at-all-costs attempt to imprison Walker on first degree murder charges, or anything else that might do the job. That attempt failed before noon today as the jury acquitted Walker on all charges.

Bringin' the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

Bringin’ the hate: Anne Leitess, would-be frame artist.

District Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who led the attempt to frame Walker, was bitter and angry after the jury rejected her office’s entire case, including multiple fallback arguments and lesser-included offenses her underlings dangled before them to bait a conviction on something, anything. But the jury didn’t bite, and Joe Walker is headed home to his family, while Leitess’s client, Harvey, is still dead. You could argue that that’s the best outcome for society — in both cases.

Race was a factor in Harvey and Pidel’s attack on the Walker family (the two Maryland brutes are white, the Jersey cop and his family black) and seems to have been a factor in Leitess’s relentless pursuit of Walker: even after the trial, she condemned him: “I am concerned that Mr. Walker, as a law enforcement officer, is a very aggressive person,” she told the press in an angry interview, nostrils flaring and lips curling in a contemptuous sneer. She further accused him of “aggressive, threatening behavior” and “hiding behind his badge.” Unlike Harvey and Pidel, Leitess didn’t refer to the Walkers as “niggers,” at least, not in front of the cameras.

Note the message on Harvey's t-shirt. Nuff said.

Note the message on Harvey’s t-shirt. Nuff said.

For example, according to testimony as reported in the media, two bellowed statements from Harvey were, “What’s your fucking problem, nigger?” and, “I’ll fucking kill you, nigger!” The jury may have taken Harvey’s expressed intent into account when asked to judge Walker’s defense of self and family.

Leitess has declined to prosecute Pidel. 

 

A police defense nonprofit complained about Leitess’s and her underlings’ misconduct during the case. Of course, complaining is what nonprofits do, especially when they want to raise money. It’s unlikely that there will be any finding that Leitess’s conduct strayed outside the very broad bonds of what is normal prosecutorial discretion. It’s just tough luck for Joe Walker that he was the ham sandwich du jour.  The Capital Gazette:

[National Police Defense Foundation executive director Joseph] Occhipinti said that in order to get an indictment, [Assistant State's Attorney Michael] Dunty misrepresented what happened on the night of the shooting.

A prosecutor held responsible for misrepresentation? Occhipinti can ask, but it ain’t gonna happen.

The Baltimore-Washington media were about as angry as Harvey had been, with TV reporters (such as the one that autoplays after an obnoxious ad for the third-rate insurer Hartford, on the Baltimore Sun site) expressing shock and anger that Walker could “just shoot a guy.”(If it wasn’t for The Hartford, we’d include the video, because the guy’s mystified outrage needs to be heard to be believed).  Of course, TV reporters could scarcely be blamed for being ignorant about the case and about self-defense in general: they’re typical of the low-information news consumers who get their news in predigested, inaccurate chunks from their own stations. And the reporters didn’t use the n-word; you gotta give them that.

A CBS Local story is typical, retelling the story in tones that make Walker look like a guilty man who beat a solid rap:

It was June 8, 2013, when Walker, his wife and kids in their minivan were cut off by a car driven by Anne Arundel County native Joe Harvey and one of his friends. A racial slur-filled road rage episode followed for more than a mile. When it was over, Harvey lay dead on the side of the highway, shot three times.

After getting the date right, that’s pretty much the limit of accuracy in this post. Actually, Harvey flipped out because he thought Walker’s minivan cut him off — testimony in the court case agreed on that. The racial slurs all came from Harvey and Pidel (one of them also seems likely to have thrown a bottle at the van). And Harvey and Pidel attacked the Walkers after Walker stopped. “A road rage episode followed.” Subject, verb, but they don’t teach that in J-School these days.

Walker’s conduct is certainly subject to criticism, if for no other reason than that it put him at the mercy of an Ahab of a prosecutor and a Maryland jury — that’s not a position any rational man would reason himself into. In a road rage case, it’s better to let some guy blow off steam in his car and remove yourself from the scene than it is to confront him. And if you’re legally carrying a gun (with or without a badge), you should feel the weight of that firearm as a pull towards the side of restraint and moderation. Had things gone that way, Joe Walker would not have had the scare of his life and a months-long ordeal in the courts. Of course, improving the gene pool by whacking Harvey would have been left to someone else, but this is the classic case where it does not pay you to be the volunteer.

For the best coverage of the case (if spotty because of the lack of public streaming or transcripts) we recommend, as always in self-defense cases, Andrew Branca of the Law of Self-Defense book and blog. He covered this case at Legal Insurrection, where’s he’s part of a crack legal blog team.

UPDATE

This post has been corrected, to eliminate a bonehead error in the first line that made Walker a “Maryland” cop. He is a Jersey cop who came close to being a Maryland <i>con</I> but is now home with his family. Thanks to Joshua in the comments for the correction! -Eds.

Drunk pulls (toy) gun on police, lives to have legal problems

Daniel E Sears mugshotThere are things everyone ought to know not to do. Like, pull a gun on the cops. Doing that is generally an indicator you’re committing Suicide By Cop, or otherwise are tired of living. No help if it’s a toy gun: by the time the PC Plod figures it out, numerous new orifices in your epidermis will be letting air in, and blood out.

But this guy — the picture looks like a selfie, but it’s actually his mugshot — managed to run into a couple of York, Maine cops who were flying high on the spirit of Christian forbearance.

He, on the other hand, seems to have been flying high on other spirits entirely. Now, a splitting hangover is far from his only problem.

After York police on Saturday asked a Canadian man staying at a local hotel for his identification, he returned with a gun by his side, according to police.

Police didn’t immediately know it was a toy gun, according to Sgt. Steve Spofford.

Daniel E. Sears, 42, 2931 Park Lane SW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is charged on a felony count of criminal threatening with a weapon, according to the police report.

Wait, what? Canadian? Aren’t they the ones who shake their head sadly at Yanks With Guns? Well, it takes all kinds to make a country.

The incident happened at the Atlantic House Inn in York Beach around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the report.

Police went to the hotel because some women who were also staying there complained Sears was harassing them, according to police.

“The officers responded to disorderly conduct at the Atlantic House,” Spofford said.

This is one of the first hints that Sears had been hitting the Judgment Juice™. One thing that magical chemical elixir does, when it’s not turning run-of-the-mill Canadians into Mr Hyde, is make that same Mr Hyde cocksure that all the women within his bursting radius love him. Why, he can tell by the way they try to ignore him!

At first Sears appeared cooperative, he said. When the officers asked him for identification, he said he would get it.

“He returned with a gun, held at his side,” Spofford said.

via Intoxicated man with toy gun arrested in York, police say | SeacoastOnline.com.

This is the part where the cops had every right in the world to blast Sears to Kingdom Come, but instead they backed off, de-escalated, called for backup (you know, that one of the Rule for Gunfights that says, “bring friends with guns”?), and then asked him to come out, please, without the gun.

He did, and was taken into custody without further ado. The cops found two kids in the room, apparently Sears’s kids; family members are coming to take charge of them. Sears is in York County Jail for the time being.

We’d offer a thumbs down for Sears’s conduct, but we think he’s probably getting that from enough points of the compass already. We would like to note the professional, responsible (and, it turned out, correct) approach the York PD took to what turned out to be not all that routine a call. Sometimes the hardest correct call is not to shoot.

The Fix is In on “Dishonest John” Walsh

vote for felonsAccording to the Billings, Montana, Gazettepolitical appointees at the Department of Defense have taken control of the investigation in the War College paper of appointed Senator John Walsh. The bulk of the thesis, including all of its conclusions, previously appeared in other publications under other bylines; not to put too fine a point on it, “Dishonest John” Walsh’s submission, for which he was granted a Master of Science in Strategic Studies degree, was fundamentally not his work. But Dishonest John is an important political ally for the Administration and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. So Hagel has stepped in and seized control of the investigation, apparently intending to prevent any consequences for Dishonest John. From here on out, the “investigation” will be stage-managed by DOD political appointees.

A U.S. Army War College official says the Department of Defense has taken the unusual step of overseeing a plagiarism investigation against Sen. John Walsh of Montana. The Carlisle, Pennsylvania, college began the investigation after a New York Times story showed Walsh used others’ work without attribution in a 2007 research paper required for a master’s degree.

Knowing that this has been taken away from biased, shifty military officers and given to selfless public servants whose mortgage payments and kids’ tuitions depend on staying in the good graces of the politician under investigation and his cronies certainly ought to boost your confidence in the integrity of the investigation. The War College has, in recent years, revoked six degrees for plagiarism. The DOD never stepped in to protect a plagiarist before. Gee, what’s different about Dishonest John? Hat tip, the Chronicle of Higher Education (of all things).

The Klan? That’s still a thing?

burning AND crossFlorida has different demographics depending on where in the state you are. The East Coast is pushy, abrasive New Yorker boomers. The West Coast, the same. The Southern tip is occupied by whatever Latin American caudillos survived their ouster, and their former retainers. The Panhandle is Where Alabama Meets the Sea®. And the dank, gator-rich and citrus-producing center of the peninsula? It’s Alabama, too, but circa 1960.

So you get headlines like, “KKK membership sinks 2 Florida cops.”

The 49-year-old [Deputy Chief] Borst, a department veteran of more than 20 years, was also fire chief for the Lake County city of 5,000, about 40 miles northwest of Orlando. He resigned both posts Thursday after being confronted with the FBI report.

Officer George Hunnewell, who was demoted last year over performance and attitude complaints, was fired Friday by Chief Terry Isaacs.

via KKK membership sinks 2 Florida cops.

klan rally wrongNo word on whether either one was a “white Hispanic,” but given the Klan’s less-than-inclusive membership traditions, we kind of think not. Just goes to show that Trayvon wasn’t the only Floridian to get into trouble in a hoodie.

It’s a free country, and you can join the Klan if you want. (And we can laugh at you, if you do). But people are going to look askance at a policeman whose other uniform is a pointy-headed burkha with a faint whiff of burning cross to it.

The Shriners may dress funny for parades, but they never terrorized anybody, and they actually have built a lot of hospitals. “Burn center” has a completely different meaning to the brain-deads in KKK Nation.

In 2014 this should not take a lot of figuring out, but then again, on a figuring-out scale of 1 to 10, where would a guy who signs up for the Ku Klux Klan score?

Judges behaving badly

Law-ScaleAndHammerTwo crooked Philadelphia judges were acquitted of all charges, and four even more crooked judges were acquitted of some charges, on Wednesday.

A federal jury in Philadelphia this morning cleared six former judges in the Philadelphia Traffic Court of most charges in the long-running ticket fixing case (see previous story).
The verdicts were mostly “not guilty,” although four of the judges were convicted of lesser charges in what amounted to a wholesale rejection of the prosecution’s case.
Former judges Michael Sullivan, Mark Bruno, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Thomasine Tynes, and Willie Singletary were cleared of conspiracy and ticket-fixing.
However, four of the judges — Lowry, Mulgrew, Tynes, and Singletary — were convicted of lying to authorities about the administration of so-called “consideration” for certain connected VIPs in traffic cases (see related story).

Now, how can we call them crooked judges, if two of them walked and four more beat most of the rap? Well, because the defense used a pretty good defense for a Philadelphia or other urban jury: the old,” sure they’re crooks, but that’s just how things are done here, not crime-crime.”

But the jury apparently found that the alleged ticket-fixing was not a federal crime.   That was part of the argument made by defense attorneys, who conceded that mistakes were made by the judges and there may have been ethical lapses, but there was no federal crime.

via Six Phila. Traffic Court Judges Acquitted of Most Serious Charges « CBS Philly.

Crooked, crooked, crooked judges. Give government power, and people in government will be corrupt with it. Every. Single. Time.

But hey, that’s just “How we do it here in Philadelphia.”

A Sick Puppy Story from DC

Gerard Darvell Williams mugshotLife in certain suburbs of DC: Gerard Darvell Williams was upset because his woman was leaving. So he killed one of her dogs and one of the dog’s puppies, and tried to kill another. That’ll show her, right, Gerry?

Gerard Darvell Williams, 32, has been charged with animal cruelty, domestic assault and battery, and destruction of property.

Police say Williams and a 29-year-old woman were involved in a dispute Monday that escalated to the point that she tried to gather her belongings and leave.

The woman told police that Williams then stabbed her pit bull, which police found dead with a stab wound to its back.

Police say they also found a dead 2-week-old puppy, and another one that appeared to have been injured by blunt force.

via Police: Virginia Man Stabbed, Killed Pit Bull | NBC4 Washington.

We’ve been pretty critical of police in cases where they’ve injured dogs, but the cops have usually had at least a colorable argument for lighting up Fido. “I was afraid for my life,” as the PBA lawyers drill them to say, anytime there’s a need to duck responsibility for their misconduct.

(Case in point: the police union is fighting the firing and demotion of the bad cops in the rare accountability story we told you about last week. Because a cop job is an entitlement, no matter how much a guy is a throwback to Neanderthal Man, or how dishonest he is, or how his credibility is so shot he can’t even be put on the stand anywhere in the state, like a convicted perjurer in some states).

But for every case of cop cruelty to animals, and you could have a blog item a day on that subject if someone wanted to make a hobby of it, there’s 1,000 cases of Criminal Man (Homo Sapiens EBTcardicus) cruelty to animals, like this crumb Williams did.

Another local story has a little more detail from the police statement:

After the parties had separated, the victim attempted to gather her belongings and leave the home. At that point, the victim stated she witnessed the accused use a kitchen knife to stab her dog.

The story continues:

Officers found the dog, an adult male pit bull, dead with a stab wound in its back. A second dog, a 2-week-old puppy was also deceased and a second puppy was critically injured — both apparently due to blunt force trauma….

Three other puppies and an adult female pit bull were also located in the home and appeared to be unharmed.

Michael Vick, the quarterback whose unpleasant character exposed itself in much the same way as Williams’s has done, got both Federal and State felony convictions and did 18 months in the Big House. Unfortunately, Williams is not a celebrity and no prosecutor will be looking to make him a springboard to a wider career.  He’s just one more routine defendant.

Note also the weapon he used. In many ways, a dog is tougher than a human, but as it has frequently been to humans, a kitchen knife was sufficient to kill the dog here.

This is what Accountability looks like

What would you do if you were police chief, and video surfaced of your officers… doing this?

In most places, the answer comes down to “obfuscate and run out the clock.” It even shows in what people call this: defense lawyers and, God help us, “community activists,” call it “police brutality.” Even the most censorious and judgmental cops call it “excessive force,” recognizing that in police work, especially with intoxicated, noncompliant suspects, sometimes force is necessary, but a good man keeps a lid on it. These guys recognized no lid.

So, you’re the Chief, what do you do? Remember, too, you have to lead this department and every officer will want to know whether your actions show intolerance of bad behavior, or just a white shirt who doesn’t have any of his blue shirt’s backs. What do you do?

Here’s what Lee Bitomski, the Chief (he was #2 at time of the incident, but the then-Chief retired before it came to light) in the small, decidedly blue-collar beach town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, did, according to Seacoast Online:

The town fired two of its police officers and reprimanded two others Wednesday for their involvement in or failure to report an alleged police brutality incident that occurred inside the station.

Police Chief Lee Bitomske has previously described the assault of then-19-year-old Michael Bergeron Jr. as a “dark cloud” that was hanging over the department since station surveillance video of the incident went viral in January..

He and other officials said Wednesday, though, that the termination of officers Mark Richardson and Adam Laurent, the two-day suspension of Officer Keith Dietenhofer and the demotion of Lt. John Wasson, the three officers’ supervisor, may have “lifted” that cloud.

via Seabrook fires two police officers accused of brutality | SeacoastOnline.com.

The two guys who were fired are Richardson, the big gorilla who slams the stoned kid’s face into the wall, and Laurent, the guy who pepper-sprays him after his second bounce off the wall and down. Dietenhofer and Wasson were complicit more in the non-reporting and cover-up of the incident, and Wasson, who before the incident was exposed was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant wasn’t just “demoted,” he rocketed all the way back down to Patrolman for his failure of ethical leadership in this case.

Dietenhofer was not fired, because his report was more a lie of omission than commission, but the report was critical enough of his integrity that he will have considerable difficulty testifying in cases contested by capable criminal defense attorneys.

Laurent’s stated reason for spraying Bergeron was interesting: he had observed that a person can’t spit after being sprayed, and Bergeron had been trying to spit on the cops. He didn’t do that any more after he got a face full of wall followed by pepper spray. But other facets of Laurent’s report and testimony are contradicted by the video, calling his credibility into question.

Richardson also faces criminal charges for assault while a police officer, which is a specific crime in New Hampshire. (Everybody holds cops to a higher standard, but the Granite State writes it into the law books).

Is that a perfect outcome? We don’t know. We have read the independent report (a very good technique for a small PD that’s too little and too tight to do its own internal investigation, by the way) and we’ll let you read it yourself and draw your own conclusions. The report does make it clear that Bergeron (the kid who dents the concrete-block wall with his face) was a problem suspect, alternatively cooperative and belligerent, but it also makes it clear that the officers were wrong, did wrong, and knew they did wrong. Here it is:

Seabrook-Police-Department-Internal-Review-Report-July-2014.pdf

So is the outcome (one charge, two firings, one big demotion, one small suspension) perfect? Probably not. But we do think it’s about as good as you can expect from a government agency. Compare, for example:

  • Who’s been demoted and fired in the VA’s policies that scammed the taxpayers out of millions in undeserved bonuses, and led to the deaths of scores if not hundreds of deaths? Nobody and no one.
  • Who’s been fired in the ATF’s gunwalking operations, still not fully exposed, which provided thousands of powerful weapons to ATF pals in Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations, guns that have gone on to be used in the murders of at least two US Federal Agents and literally hundreds of Mexicans? Nobody and no one.
  • And who’s been fired in the egregious case where an untrained cop on an untrained SWAT team threw a flash-bang grenade in a 19-month-old baby’s crib? Nobody. No one. (Aside: in that case, the baby’s come home, having relearned to walk after suffering from burns, a coma, and possibly some degree of permanent brain damage — something you’ll only learn in the English press as our guys are too busy pitching in on Hillary!’s book tour).

The key failure, and the key problem, of representative government and particularly of law enforcement in the 21st Century is Accountability. 

Bergeron, the suspect, asked to play this video at his trial. The judge said no, so after the trial was over he put it on YouTube, where it went viral — and ultimately unleashed this investigation, and these consequences. Truth wants a way out. And everybody knew the truth of it.

Officer Dietenhofer said as he recalled his thoughts about the incident that he was concerned
about Bergeron after he was sprayed with OC, also thinking “oh, shit, that must have hurt”
referring to the slam against the wall.

 

A wall, by the way, has a lot of utility as a weapon. You just have to use it when your use of force is justified. Officer Richardson, the 6’6″ 270-lb cop who applied the wall to the face of the 6’2″ 145-pound Bergeron, gets to make that argument to a jury of his peers soon. We would not exchange places with him.

We recognize it’s hard to make hairsplitting decisions about use of force when some mouthy kid is trying to spit on you, and full of beer (or drug) muscles and the associated belligerence. But that’s just when you have to do it. It’s not fair at all, but there it is.

Now, you might wonder what happened to Michael Bergeron, the belligerent teenage suspect who got his belligerence knocked out of him that night in 2009, and went on to post the video that started a couple of misfit cops on their way to a more suitable career. We wish we could report he went to MIT and is a research chemist, but you probably know that’s not coming — any research chemistry he ever did was of the recreational pharmaceutical variety.

Presently, he’s doing 3 1/2 to 7 in state prison for burglary. One supposes you could argue that the cops beat him into criminality, but what are the odds? More likely, he’s living proof that sometimes a second chance is wasted on a guy.

UPDATE

This post has been updated from its original posting. We replaced the image-based .pdf of the Seabrook report with an OCR’d version that allows you to select and copy text. We haven’t checked the OCR, but it’s usually pretty good with the program we use. -Eds.

Update II — we added some links to Bergeron’s unrelated criminal cases. He appears to be a career burglar (or maybe more comprehensively, a career druggie who supports his habit with burglary).

TSA Mongs Reach Deeper in Your Pocket

tsa-security-theaterFor the billions wasted on the Transportation Security Theater Agency (the direct cost of the failed agency is approaching $10B a year), and the complete lack of performance of the agency (the number of terrorists caught and/or terror plots thwarted by TSA is holding at 0), the agency is doing what government agencies do: grabbing more money. Directly from travelers.

A security fee that the government charges airline passengers more than doubled on Monday, from $2.50 to $5.60.

Lawmakers last year approved an increase in the fee, which is tacked onto the cost of airplane tickets, as part of a budget agreement.

Additionally, passengers will be charged twice if they have a layover for a connecting flight….

“Due to new @TSA fee hike, travelers will pay a billion dollars more per year in added taxes/fees thanks to U.S. [government],” Airlines for American President Nick Calio tweeted recently.

via TSA fee on plane tickets more than doubles | TheHill.

There is no limit to the greed of these payroll patriots. And there’s no accountability for their failures. The director who built a multimillion-dollar Xanadu office? No consequences. The hundreds, if not thousands, of TSA agents who steal from travelers? No consequences (in the worst case, they are quietly fired with a neutral reference). The abuses of Behavioral Detection Officer quackery? No consequences. Mismanagement at every level? No consequences.

No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

Kyle Trial — a Lawyer’s View

Law-ScaleAndHammerSince American courts are not particularly about justice or law, but are places where Random Stuff Happens depending on the influence of personalities, the best clue to a legal outcome is usually an inside track to the judge’s character, beliefs and personality. About the next best thing to hearing from associates of the judge, is hearing from associates of the attorneys arguing one side or the other, especially when the fellows reporting are attorneys themselves.

Two of the attorneys at the group legal blog Power Line were or are associated with the firm handling Chris Kyle’s widow’s defense in Jesse Ventura’s defamation trial. While Scott Johnson has been out of the firm for 17 years, he knows some of the attorneys. It is obvious that he has not asked them for inside information in the case, and his judgment is based on a lawyer’s reading of the press and a visit to the courtroom during defense testimony and cross-examination, but his opinion carries weight. In a very cautiously worded piece – he actually says we should discount his opinions because of his closeness to the players – he concludes:

Ventura may come away with some measure of vindication. Nevertheless, as he pursues his case against the estate of Chris Kyle, I can’t help but think this is the most misguided defamation claim since Alger Hiss sued Whittaker Chamber in 1948 for saying on Meet the Press that Hiss had been a Communist (and might still be).

Do go Read The Whole Thing™. Hiss, of course, was a Communist, and was actually a code-named and tasked agent of Soviet espionage (a charge that Chambers did not make, but that was proven true by the release of KGB/MGB/MVD/NKVD archives).

Ventura’s certainly not a Communist, although what ideas actually nest under that broad forehead are any guess, given his wooly pronouncements over the years. But we don’t think there are many people of whom Chris Kyle would say, “I hate that guy.” And the PowerLine post describes when, and probably why, he said it about a fellow SEAL.*

 

*Yeah,we know, the guy was UDT. They’re all officially part of the frog brotherhood, right?

So, these are the Navy’s priorities

Screenshot 2014-07-19 22.13.16The Navy, like traitor, felon and jailbird Bradley Manning, has a thing called a Transition Plan, and it may be proceeding towards the same end. We’ll provide the document as a .pdf for you, but we thought we’d highlight a couple of the lowlights.

First, get a load of the cover of this thing! Decide whether they wanted to publish the annual report of some Silicon Valley high-tech, or a brochure for some overpriced college. So they split the difference. It has the college brochure One Cool Looking Brother, the obligatory Action Shots, and the Meaningless Slogan some marketing department MBAs agonized and argued over, in this case, “MOVING FORWARD… MOVING FORWARD…

Given that ships generally suck at backing up, that’s probably not a completely bad choice, but you have to wonder whether it was an attempt to suck up to the Administration’s E Ring suits, or hosts of sparsely-watched MSNBC shows, two practically interchangeable demographics.

The plan begins with a grinning picture (we’ll spare you) Ray Mabus, who’s getting antsy now that he’s only got two years left to name DDGs for Sacco and Vanzetti, an LHA USS Jane Fonda, and maybe an SSBN USS Benedict Arnold. And the plan is a very curious thing. Maybe it’s that we don’t have a Distinguished Naval Personage around the Manor, although we have thrown the dog in the fountain on a slow day, for comic relief. But the plan makes no sense to us… we can’t tell what they’re transitioning from or to, it’s almost as if in Ray Mabus World “transition” is an intransitive verb.

Anyway, the document includes an absolutely shocking set of goals. These are the Navy’s priorities:

  1. Take care of our people The DON is committed to attracting, developing and retaining a diverse total workforce trained and equipped to meet our strategic readiness objectives.
  2. Maximize warfighter readiness and avoid hollowness The DON will effectively size our force to meet strategic demands, maintain a credible, capable and combat ready military force.
  3. Lead the nation in sustainable energy The DON continues to support alternative energy efforts, realizing that energy independence is vital to our national security and the safety of our Sailors and Marines.
  4. Promote acquisition excellence and integrity

The DON is improving the execution of every program and increasing anti-fraud efforts, and leveraging strategic sourcing to take advantage of economies of scale.

5. Proliferate unmanned systems

The DON will integrate unmanned systems across the entire department ensuring that we can operate in any environment. Our global presence will be sustained and enhanced with our continued investment in unmanned systems.

6. Drive innovative enterprise transformation

The DON will continue to transform our business enterprise, ensuring that available resources are directed to our Sailors and Marines. 

Screenshot 2014-07-19 22.12.59Apologies for any brain-dead formatting. (WordPress ^$^&#^I#$!! But we digress). Apart from the fact that those are a politician’s anodyne and empty statements, worthy of a game of Buzzword Bingo except that everyone has a winning card, the priorities they reflect are remarkable. (Mabus is an anodyne and empty politician; a former one-term governor who was defeated for a second term, he got rich as a revolving-door crony capitalist, and has served in several political appointments). Indeed, those statements look so stupid we’re putting a screen-cap of the document here for those of you disinclined to download the whole anodyne and empty Buzzword Bingo thing.

Of course, Mabus’s lodestone, “diversity,” gets mentioned in Goal 1. And “sustainable energy” gets mentioned a couple further on. Those terms come up a few times in the document. But the mention of “combat ready military force” in Goal 2 is the only place the word “combat” appears in the whole thing. That’s not what this Secretary is transitioning this Navy towards, apparently. Some things a Navy might do don’t show up, either: “battle?” “Superiority?” “Dominance?” Those all get “No Results Found.” There is, however, a mention of the Navy’s element, the sea. Exactly one mention, on Page 11 (which is page 13 of the .pdf, thanks to the cover letter). Here’s the only context in which Ray Mabus’s Navy is concerned about the freakin’ sea:

Institutionalize environmental sustainability on land and sea

Well, we guess we can’t say that the Navy has no priorities. It has priorities, all right. But we think we can be forgiven for the thought that they are all the wrong priorities.

Here’s the document, if these samples haven’t already glazed your glazzies: Navy Transition Plan-Fy14-16-Final.pdf

You want sustainable energy, Ray Mabus? Go to the Naval Academy where, in a tomb reminiscent of Napoleon’s, John Paul Jones’s remains lie in honored repose, returned to the US after a century in a restless foreign interment. Wrap the old Admiral in a winding of varnish-insulated copper magnetic wire and call him an armature. Add a pair of magnets and brushes to take off the power , and zowie! Sustainable energy, as he spins.