Saturday, May 02, 2015

IRS Steals $107,000 From Convenience Store Owner, Violating Its Own 'Structuring' Policy

The deposits were too small, so the government cleaned out his bank account.

Last October, in response to the outrage provoked by "structuring" cases in which the government took people's money because their bank deposits were too small, the IRS said it would no longer do that unless there was evidence that the money came from an illegal source. In March the Justice Departmentannounced a similar policy for seizures based on structuring, which entails making deposits of less than $10,000 with the intent of evading bank reporting requirements. Yet both the IRS and the DOJ arecontinuing to pursue the forfeiture of $107,000 that belongs to Lyndon McLellan, the owner of a convenience store in rural North Carolina, based on nothing but suspicion of structuring.
As in other structuring cases, McLellan lost his money because of well-intentioned but bad advice from a bank teller. The teller told McLellan's niece, who usually handled L&M Convenience Mart's deposits, she could save the bank burdensome paperwork by keeping the deposits below $10,000, the reporting threshold. Based on the resulting pattern of deposits, the IRS cleaned out McLellan's bank account a year ago, even though there was no evidence that the money came from anything other than his perfectly legal business, which combines a store with a gas station and restaurant. The Institute for Justice, which is suing the IRS and the DOJ on McLellan's behalf, notes that "the government filed its forfeiture complaint in December 2014, two months after the IRS announced it would not forfeit money in cases like this one." 
This is not the first time the IRS has seemed to violate its new policy, and the contradiction did not go unnoticed. On February 5, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before the oversight subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. Prior to the hearing, I.J. provided legislators with copies of the seizure affidavit and forfeiture complaint in McLellan's case. Without naming McLellan, Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.), a former U.S. attorney, asked Koskinen about the seizure:
Holding: Are you saying that under the new policy, you have to aver that we have probable cause to believe an illegal act is taking place other than the act of structuring?
Koskinen: Yes.
Holding: You sure about that?
Koskinen: That's what I'm advised by the people who run the Criminal Investigation Division.
Holding: The staff pulled for me a case from North Carolina, from my former prosecutorial district, after your policy change. And I've read through the affidavit and the associated documents. There's no allegation of illegal activity, other than the act of structuring...
Koskiken: If that case exists, it's not following the policy. 
Once Koskinen's position came to the attention of Steve West, the federal prosecutor handling the case, the government apologized and gave McLellan his money back. Just kidding. Actually, West was pissed off that someone had dared to share documents from the case with members of Congress. After McLellan and his accountant emailed West video of Holding's exchange with Koskinen, the prosecutor responded with a rebuke:
I'm a bit concerned. At your request, I provided you a copy of the application for seizure warrant, which remains under seal with the Court, and now it appears it has been made available to a congressional committee? I do not know who did that, and I am accusing no one, but it was not from our office and could only have come from your clients. That was certainly not my intent in making this available. Whoever made [the document] public may serve their own interest but will not help this particular case.
Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it. But publicity about it doesn't help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.
My offer is to return 50% of the money. The offer is good until March 30th COB.
I.J. notes that the rationale for filing seizure documents under seal is to avoid tipping off the owner, lest he take his money and run. But in this case, the seizure had already happened, and the government had provided the documents to McLellan. "Sealed filings are intended to promote legitimate law enforcement interests," I.J. says, "not to allow prosecutors to evade public scrutiny." And it's more than a little unseemly for a prosecutor to imply that the bad feelings caused by such scrutiny might affect the outcome of a case.
Innocent property owners, deprived of the funds they need to run their businesses and pay their lawyers, often end up accepting deals like the one McLellan was offered, figuring half a loaf is better than none. But McLellan, with pro bono help from I.J., is determined to fight. "It took me 13 years to save that much money," he says, "and it took fewer than 13 seconds for the government to take it away."
Here is I.J.'s video on the case:

Rules Change on I.R.S. Seizures, Too Late for Some -

The Appalling Mr. Zarif

Iran’s revolting foreign minister speaks at New York University

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks at New York University on Wednesday.

Not since Baryshnikov has a foreigner so captivated a New York audience.  “A Conversation with H.E. DR. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran” played the other day at NYU. The show ran for just 90 minutes, but reviews were spectacular. Give this man a Tony: Zarif slayed ’em.
“Demonstrating suave fluency in English and a familiarity with American history and law,” wrote the New York Times, “Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the United States would risk global ostracism if it were to scrap a signed international pact that resolves the Iranian nuclear dispute.” Zarif, the Times went on, “was easygoing and smiling, living up to his image as a diplomatic charmer to an audience that was polite and respectful.” Not to mention sycophantic.
Zarif, adds Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker, “comes off as practically American.” Why? Well, “He went to college in the United States, at San Francisco State University, and to graduate school at the University of Denver. As Ambassador to the United Nations, he lived in New York for five years. His English is perfect.”
Perfect English? Is that all it takes to have reporters and diplomats praise your suavity and charisma, chuckle at your jokes, cavil to your every demand? Bibi Netanyahu’s English is perfect too—but Hell will freeze before he sees Zarif’s press.
I don’t find the Iranian foreign minister a “diplomatic charmer” at all. His demeanor at NYU was arrogant, insulting, bullying, unrepentant. David Ignatius of the Washington Post sat there like a semi-conscious mummy as Zarif ordered Congress around, declared that all sanctions will be lifted immediately upon the conclusion of any deal, warned that “people” should be “worrying about the U.S. violating its obligations and us snapping back,” refused to accept culpability for spreading disorder in the Middle East, wouldn’t say if U.N. inspectors will have access to Iranian military sites, said Iran has no intention of speaking to the Jewish State, accused the Washington Post (Ignatius’ paper) of running a “publicity campaign” on behalf of one of its reporters held prisoner in Iran, and took every opportunity to fling sarcasm and insult and enmity toward Netanyahu, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and America in general. No wonder John Kerry’s a fan.
What made Zarif’s appearance all the more nauseating was his pretense of moral standing. He has none. His lecture to the United States took place as his regime held a container ship it had seized in international waters, and as evidence emerged of Iranian violations of U.N. sanctions. It is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies such as Hezbollah and the Houthis and other Shiite militias that are fomenting and exploiting sectarian conflict in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Iran’s human rights record is abysmal. Since Zarif returned to government in the administration of Hassan Rouhani, there has been a “surge” in executions in Iran. “The authorities restricted freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting in unfair trials minority and women’s rights activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and others who voiced dissent” say the right-wing extremists at Amnesty International, whose most recent report catalogues the torture and cruel and unusual punishments of the Iranian regime.
In addition to David Ignatius’ colleague Jason Rezaian, the Iranian authorities hold captive American citizens Saeed Abedini, a pastor, and Amir Hekmati, a Marine. General David Petraeus says Iranian-backed militias are “the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability.” Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska explains how Iran supplies Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFPs) to these militias, which have mutilated and killed U.S. soldiers. Last year Zarif’s true boss, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei,posted on Twitter his 9-point plan to eliminate Israel.
Khamenei and Zarif are diplomatic trolls, online troublemakers using social media to antagonize their enemies. The ayatollah has been tweeting so often about race relations in the United States, about Ferguson and Staten Island and Baltimore, that it’s become hard to distinguish his feed fromSalon’s. Within hours of the State Department releasing a fact sheet on the preliminary nuclear agreement reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, last month, Zarif tweeted that it was a bunch of lies. When Cotton challenged Zarif to debate the nuclear deal, Zarif replied with congratulations on the birth this week of Cotton’s son—Zarif no doubt aware that when the spokesman for a rogue regime and sponsor of terror mentions your first born, it’s not a salutation but a threat.
At NYU Zarif said America will have to lift sanctions on Iran “whether Senator Cotton likes it or not.” The “polite” and “respectful” audience broke into laughter—at Cotton. “I couldn’t resist,” Zarif said. No troll could.
“I am tempted to say you will pay for that,” Ignatius said. “But you already know that.” Actually, Zarif doesn’t know that he will “pay for that” because he and his Islamic fundamentalist superiors haven’t paid for a goddam thing for years. On the contrary: We’re paying them. They crushed a student movement and nothing happened. They’ve killed our soldiers and assisted in crimes against humanity in Syria and no one’s lifted a finger. They lie about their nuclear program and President Obama doesn’t retaliate. They scream at Kerry and he takes it. They say lift the sanctions and we say sure. We might even give them a signing bonus.
No reason to expect Zarif or his government to change their behavior when it’s been such a success.  You can’t really blame the Iranians—they have goals such as nuclear power and weapons, economic relief, greater influence, perpetuation of the regime—and conceding nothing while demanding everything is helping them achieve those goals. What bothers me is the wooly-headedness of liberals in government and the media who, in their search for peace and harmony, ignore or repress the knowledge of Iranian malfeasance and ill will. Zarif’s remarks on implementation of and compliance with the nuclear deal are almost exactly the opposite of what President Obama has been telling Congress and the American people, yet this contradiction won’t slow the president’s quest for dĂ©tente with Iran one bit.
I wonder what it is about liberals, why it is they’re so willing to filter out evidence of bad intentions and awful behavior. Maybe a sense of historical guilt, a condescending assumption that the victims of past wrongs can’t be expected to live up to present standards; maybe a deeply held belief in the universal humanity and goodness of man, that badness is a function of environment so if you want to change a person change his surroundings; maybe pacifism; maybe gullibility; maybe on some level they agree with the criticisms America’s adversaries level against us, feel that America’s standing has been severely compromised, ask why we lecture others when we’re not so good ourselves.
Apparatchiks like Zarif exploit such ideas and sentiments in pursuit of a more dangerous and less liberal world. Our ability to make moral distinctions, to identify friend and foe, has become so attenuated that not only do liberals fail to recognize Zarif for what he is—a theocratic tool—they laugh at his jokes, identify with him, want to be his friend, applaud him. Like spectators on Broadway, they’ve willfully fallen for a con; an act; a put-up job. Difference is, the cast of An American In Paris doesn’t want to nuke Tel Aviv. The world won’t be safe until the tomatoes and catcalls fly—until Javad Zarif is afraid to take the stage.

Hey Haters: Boxing Still Packs a Punch

Even its fans have written boxing’s obit for decades, but the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight has the biggest purse in the sport’s history. Maybe boxing has a pulse after all.
By Allen Barra
May 2, 2015
In the spring of 1982, new to Manhattan and eager to write my first big sports piece for the Village Voice, I asked the late, great editor of The Ring, Bert Randolph Sugar, whether the upcoming Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney match qualified as a “Super Fight.”
“Definitely,” he replied. “Boxing’s always had big fights. But the ‘Super Fight’ began with all the politics and hoopla of the Ali era. Big fights used to be written up by sportswriters—Paul Gallico, Red Smith, W.C. Heinz. ‘Super fights’ are written up by sociologists, moralists, novelists. And their main theme is usually ‘Is Boxing Dead?’”
The greatest American sportswriter and boxing writer, W.C. Heinz, thought , sometime around 1950, that boxing would be killed by war. “You can’t send hundreds of thousands of kids to Normandy and Iwo Jima and Korea to see death on a mass level and still expect them to be interested in simulated violence when they come home.”
But boxing survived war, at least until a few years later, when The New Yorker’s A.J. Liebling thought television would kill boxing. “You can’t sell what you’re giving away for free.” In the mid-’70s, Garry Wills, writing for The New York Review of Books, thought that boxing should go ahead and “pack it up” after Muhammad Ali left the game.
And so, here we are, in May 2015, and boxing is once again supposed to be either dying or dead as we wait to count the box office and pay-per-view receipts for the world’s two greatest welterweights and probably the best pound-for-pound fighters at any weight, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, to fight for the biggest purse before the biggest audience in boxing history.
The moralists are out in force.
There is much outrage, all of it justifiable, that Mayweather, who has been convicted five times for assaults on women, has served only two months in prison. On ESPN, Keith Olbermann asked viewers if they are going to pay to see “this poor excuse for a man?” (See Keith go after Floyd here.)
In USA Today, Christine Brennan wrote, “Why have we as a society reacted with such anger and disgust at the elevator video of [Ray] Rice hitting his then-fiancĂ©, to the point that Rice still has no job in the NFL, yet completely ignored the despicable and lengthy history of domestic violence by Mayweather?”
The answer to her question is obvious: unlike pro football, there’s no commissioner of boxing to rule that Mayweather can’t ply his trade. There are just enough people around who will fork over $100 for the pay-per-view to put at least $150 million in Mayweather’s bank account.
God forgive me, but I am one of them, and I make no complicated excuse for my weakness: I have waited too long to see Mayweather get his ass whipped to quit now, just as he’s about to fight the only man who might be able to do it, Manny Pacquiao. (Though both men may well be past their physical peak—Mayweather is 38, Pacquiao 36—I think Manny’s hand speed and stamina will be too much for Junior. When Mayweather does his familiar thing of retreating to the ropes and pulling his chin back, I expect to see Pacquiao throwing combinations to the body and then the head faster than the CompuBox scorers can count them.)
I don’t think that I’m ever going to stop watching fights, but I’m very tempted to stop reading about them. In particular, an piece by Brando Simeo Starkey titled “Life after Death” sums up everything I find glib and pretentious about modern sportswriting.
There are meaningless quotations, such as one from Thomas Hearns, the first boxer to win titles in four divisions: “People are afraid of boxing because boxing is not a game. You can play any other sport you want to play. But you cannot ‘play’ boxing.” Starkey must have caught Tommy on a day when he had just read Joyce Carol Oates, who said the same thing in her book On Boxing nearly 25 years ago.
There are big, puffed up, unsupportable statements. The financial bonanza of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is “life after American cultural death.” Since no one knows what Starkey could possibly mean by “American cultural death,” how can you argue with his conclusion?
What killed boxing? For one thing, “When its gravitas faded, when Ali’s feet and mouth slowed, when poor black boys figured out football and basketball offered quicker, safer routes out of the ghetto and toward fame in the mainstream, boxing slid off the New York Times front page, off the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and out of the teleprompters of Dan Rather, Tom Brokow, and Peter Jennings.”
Really? If Starkey had thought his argument through, he’d have seen that nearly all of the great black fighters of the post-Ali era—Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whittaker, Roy Jones, and now Floyd Mayweather Jr., to name just a handful—chose boxing precisely because there was no market for short, 160-poundish football and basketball players.
Further, “Mayweather is the richest individual earner in sports despite making zero dollars from advertisers. When a sport’s best athlete can’t sell fast food or sodas, it and he are flirting with cultural irrelevance.” I think  you are flirting with logical irrelevance when you define culture as fast food and sodas.
Then we’re offered the old war horse of an argument that today’s fighters just can’t measure up to the greats of yore: “You put Mayweather in with Tommy Hearns, Ray Leonard, or Roberto Duran in that weight class, he doesn’t stand a chance with them. Sugar Ray Leonard would eat him up. Tommy Hearns would eat him up.”
Whose opinion has Starkey sought? That great analyst and boxing historian Gerry Cooney, whose head apparently hasn’t cleared from that ass kicking administered to him by George Foreman in his last bout. Cooney is surely old enough to remember that when Sugar Ray Leonard was on top, old timers were saying that he wouldn’t have stood a chance with Sugar Ray Robinson. And the same was said about Robinson when the previous generation envisioned him in the ring with “Homicide Hank,” Henry Armstrong.
Starkey’s main argument, at least as I understand it, is that boxing was “a sport that derived nearly all of its cultural relevance from barbarically arguing America’s black-white racial dilemma.” I’m inclined to ask why, then, the Golden Age of Boxing represented in live gates which brought in a staggering million dollars-plus was during the ’20s when whites were fighting whites for championships.
But let that pass. The factor that seems to be largely invisible to Starkey and to other ESPN writers and commentators like Jason Whitlock and Max Kellerman is that American blacks, both as an audience for boxing and a pipeline for boxing talent, have long been surpassed by Hispanics. And I don’t hear arguments that the NBA and NFL are clamoring for Latin talent.
Beginning with the Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad bout in 1999, it was obvious that that not just the future of boxing in this country was Latin, but the present as well. Here’s an irony: Mayweather-Pacquiao may well be the last Super Fight which doesn’t feature Latin fighters. (I can’t wait to see how the flood of talent that will soon be coming out of Cuba will not only enrich Major League Baseball but boxing as well.)
Perhaps Starkey may be correct when he says that boxing’s “cultural relevance will never be resuscitated in America.” (He uses “cultural relevance” the way Bill O’Reilly uses “cultural warrior.”) But I have a feeling that the next generation will be writing their “Boxing is Dead” stories in Spanish.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Progressives Miss the Point of Baltimore

Sorry, folks: There are a lot of reasons Baltimore is in such dire straits, and making excuses for the riots and looting helps no one.
By John McWhorter
May 1, 2015
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 27:  Demonstrators climb on a destroyed Baltimore Police car in the street near the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues during violent protests following the funeral of Freddie Gray April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, who was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
The Baltimore riots could be the beginning of a new black history in urban America. Too bad all so many people can see is “thugs.”
The supposedly sophisticated twitterati take on what has happened after Freddie Gray’s funeral is to essentially rationalize the riots by explaining that the looting we’ve seen on our TV screens was just collateral damage for institutional racism.
Put aside for the moment that many of the businesses and cars destroyed in the attacks were black owned. Put aside also that Baltimore’s mayor and police chief are black. Nevertheless, there are indeed structural issues that have combined to create this moment—but they don’t fit the narrative being proposed as higher wisdom.
For example, several studies have shown that it’s an op-ed page street myth that mass unemployment is inevitable when factory jobs move away from a city as they did in Baltimore (sources here). No people who had accomplished the Great Migration went to pieces just because a factory moved to the suburbs, or even China.
Three key dynamics since the Civil Rights era 50 years ago created the inner city misery we are now seeing urgently rise to the foreground today.
First, the Black Power ideology that proliferated in the 1960s and 70s discouraged black communities from maintaining the old-time mantra that adversity meant that blacks have to try twice as hard. The wise insight was that after centuries in the United States, the persistent double standard was demeaning, and while that made basic sense, it changed black America’s orientation towards individual initiative. That helps explain, for example, why only in the sixties did it become common for poor blacks to burn their own neighborhoods in protest. Even amidst Jim Crow, black people did not do this.
Second, in the late sixties, partly in response to the riots of the Long Hot Summers, welfare was transformed from a time-limited program intended for widows to an open-ended program that didn’t care whether recipients ever got jobs. This had the unintended consequence of discouraging marriage, and made it easier for women to raise kids without the father around. This, a story too little told (read it here), decisively impacted the black experience nationwide.
Finally, the War on Drugs created a black market alternative to legal work for poor black men underserved by bad schools. Frankly, The Wire explained this dynamic better than any academic analysis.
Racism is too simplistic an explanation for all of this, as is an idea that “it’s complicated” where what’s really meant is “complicated racism.” Welfare was opened up by liberals who thought they were doing black people a favor, often at the behest of black protesters. The Rockefeller drug laws that ended up penalizing crack over powdered cocaine were supported by black Congress members.
History is messy. But we live in the present and what poor black Baltimoreans see is abuse. The War on Drugs assigns cops to black neighborhoods where, inevitably, encounters tend to be surly and often violent. A vicious cycle starts. What a poor black Baltimorean knows in 2015, what we all know in 2015, is that something needs to change.
Now, to be sure, the rioters’ actions are inherently inarticulate. Certainly some of them are simply opportunists—its no accident that most of the looters are young men; pure political protest is often more diverse. The people marching in Selma included women, older people, etc. And of course the riots and looting could also end up compounding many of white Americans ugliest stereotypes of black communities and violence. To wonder why, oh why whites see blacks as violent rings a little hollow at times like these.
But the reflexive liberal rush to moral relativism on the subject misses the mark as well. A certain contingent will not be disabused of the idea that inner city Baltimore is the product of racism alone, as opposed to a complex cocktail of racism in the past, misapplied benevolence afterwards, and a cyclic process of dissonance now. Their take on all of this is better at assuaging white guilt than telling us where to go from here in a real world.
That is, neither the players nor their fellow-travelling spectators are in a position to see the whole picture. Yet something positive can still come of all this.
Today, regardless of the complexities of how we got here, the main thing that keeps black America feeling alienated in its own land is the police. It’s what animated the Black Panthers. It’s what drove an entire genre of rap, celebrated by intellectuals as poetic prophecy. It’s what a black person brings up if asked why they think racism is important. It’s what has driven the arc of black history since last summer.
In that light, there is a genuine conversation about the cops and black people going on these days in America, and that wouldn’t be true if there hadn’t been riots in Ferguson.
Even if the participants’ and observers’ take on that episode was distorted—the entire “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative was ultimately proven false by the Justice Department—the overall result may have started something positive. To the extent that rioting can make any kind of sense, it would have been more appropriate in the wake of Eric Garner’s or John Crawford’s or Tamir Rice’s murders.
But history is messy. What we have is the present. And in that present, one simple thing is imperative: America must de-escalate the persistent tensions between cops and young black men. The easiest and most sensible way to do that is to interrupt the foolish War on Drugs. The gradual easing of laws against marijuana sale and purchase are a start. The tenor of black America’s response to cops murdering black men should be a spur to going further.
If one generation of black men grew up without thinking of the cops as the enemy, black America would be a new place making the best of a bad hand, and we would finally start getting past the current tiresome and troubling situation.
Yet with the camera pulled back further, so to speak, I suspect that something constructive could still come of this mess. This is how things happen—history is always messy.

How Rick Perry befriended the real ‘Lone Survivor’ Navy SEAL

 April 30

Former Texas governor Rick Perry and former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell standing for the Pledge of Allegiance at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (Ben Price/courtesy Rick PAC)

 Before he became immortalized as the “Lone Survivor,” a Navy SEAL­ who escaped a 2005 Taliban ambush on a mountain slope in Afghanistan, Marcus Luttrell was a broken man in search of a haven.
He found it one day in spring 2007 when, struggling to recover his body and mind and with the horrors of war still raw, he showed up unannounced at the Texas governor’s mansion and asked to see Rick Perry.

Over the ensuing months, a virtual father-son relationship blossomed, the two men said. The governor and his wife, Anita, helped bring Luttrell back to health. Perry used the power of his office to find Luttrell a spine surgeon to fix his back. The Perrys gave him a spare bedroom — “I was the creepy guy in the attic,” Luttrell recalled. The governor took him bass fishing, the first lady counseled him about his love life and, as Luttrell became ­famous — first with a best-selling memoir, “Lone Survivor” and ­later in the movie adaptation — they were his rock.
“When I came into the Perry family, it was one of those deals where it was the only family I had,” said Luttrell, who was born in Houston and grew up in Texas near the Oklahoma border. “I didn’t have that father figure growing up like that, somebody who genuinely cared about me. . . .Governor Perry taught me how to be a good man.”
Perry and Luttrell shared their story in an extensive interview with The Washington Post and in an appearance here Monday night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. They are drawing attention to their unusual relationship as the now-former governor prepares to launch his second presidential campaign.
Perry considers his own military career as an Air Force pilot a trump card in a Republican presidential race in which he is being crowded out of the top tier by formidable contenders. Perry is one of only two prospective candidates with a military background; the other is Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.).
“I went from being the second lieutenant going through pilot training to getting my wings to ending up as a tac airlifter to being an aircraft commander — and all those experiences paint my worldview,” Perry said in the interview.
So, too, he said, did his 14 years commanding the Texas National Guard as governor. “All of that gives me a unique perspective about what these young people go through and the impacts on themselves and, just as importantly, their families,” he said.
Highlighting his service flying C-130 cargo planes has long been a staple of Perry’s campaigns, said David Carney, a former strategist for his gubernatorial races. “It shows you’re not just a politician, but you have real-life experiences,” he said. “Texas has a huge military presence, and it really helped him relate to folks.”
Since his humiliating withdrawal from the 2012 race, Perry has been preparing for redemption in 2016 — holding lengthy tutorials with conservative scholars and logging thousands of miles in early caucus and primary states. But his work has not paid off in early polls. In an April Washington Post-ABC News survey, Perry ranked ninth — with support from just 2 percent of Republican or Republican-
leaning voters nationally.
Perry’s advisers say they think that focusing on his military background can help him break through. Foreign policy is emerging as a dominant issue as Republicans attack what they consider President Obama’s foibles and, by extension, the record of his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is the ­Democratic front-runner.
Perry, an adherent of muscular intervention, has sharply criticized Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran and accused his administration of sparking chaos around the world and weakening the U.S. armed forces. Perry is likely to campaign with Luttrell and hopes the war hero’s testimonials can add a personal dimension to Perry’s national security agenda.
Luttrell, 39, deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 with Navy SEAL Team 10. As dramatized in the 2013 “Lone Survivor” movie, Luttrell was part of Operation Red Wings, a four-man mission to find and kill Ahmad Shah, a top Taliban leader in eastern Afghanistan.
A group of goat herders stumbled upon Luttrell and his team on a mountain slope. After the SEALs released them, local Taliban forces returned and ambushed the Americans. Luttrell was the only survivor. Badly wounded, he managed to evade capture, and an Afghan tribe sheltered him before he was rescued by U.S. forces.
The next year, while undergoing physical therapy at Naval Base Coronado near San Diego, ­Luttrell met Rick and Anita Perry. The Perrys, who have two grown children, were vacationing at the Hotel del ­Coronado, and Luttrell was assigned to give them what he called a “dog and pony” tour of the naval facilities.
Perry kept in touch, sending Luttrell e-mails, including throughout Luttrell’s 2006 deployment to Iraq, and extended an open invitation to visit him in Austin. Luttrell took him up on it, showing up at the security guard post outside the governor’s mansion one day. “It was a safe haven,” Perry said.
Later that year, when the Perrys moved into a temporary residence for the mansion’s renovation, they turned a third-floor space into a bedroom for Luttrell. Anita Perry (Luttrell calls her “Lady Perry”) gave him an air mattress and a television, which he liked to leave on while he slept.
“I’m not sure I can put into words how my wife and I were attracted to him or he was attracted to us,” Perry said. “I kind of put that in the ‘grace of God’ category.”
Back then, Luttrell was addicted to painkillers and had many ailments, both physical and mental. As Perry tells it, Luttrell was lost in a bureaucratic maze at the Pentagon and at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “He needed stuff done,” he said, “and all he was getting was a sack full of pills.” So Perry stepped in and called Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who made Luttrell eligible for Tricare.
“There are 1,000-plus just like him,” Perry said. “They just didn’t have a governor to intervene. And that pisses me off.”
Luttrell, who had a poor relationship with his father, said he effectively adopted the Perrys as parents. He met Melanie, who would become his wife, in 2010, and when he introduced her to the Perrys, he recalled telling her, “That’s my family.”
The Luttrells now have two children. Their godfather is Rick Perry.
Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Lawbreakers of Baltimore—and Ferguson

The racial diversity of local government doesn’t matter when people want to seize on an excuse to commit crimes.

By Jason L. Riley
April 28, 2015

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake tours the city after rioting broke out Monday. (Matt Rourke, AP)

The racial makeup of city leaders, the police department and other municipal workers in Ferguson, Mo., played a central role in the media coverage and analysis of Michael Brown’s death, which is worth remembering as history repeats itself in Baltimore.
The Justice Department’s Ferguson report noted that although the city’s population was 67% black, just four of its 54 police officers fit that description. Moreover, “the Municipal Judge, Court Clerk, Prosecuting Attorney, and all assistant court clerks are white,” said the report. “While a diverse police department does not guarantee a constitutional one, it is nonetheless critically important for law enforcement agencies, and the Ferguson Police Department in particular, to strive for broad diversity among officers and civilian staff.”
Broad diversity is not a problem in Baltimore, where 63% of residents and 40% of police officers are black. The current police commissioner is also black, and he isn’t the first one. The mayor is black, as was her predecessor and as is a majority of the city council. Yet none of this “critically important” diversity seems to have mattered after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died earlier this month in police custody under circumstances that are still being investigated.
Some black Baltimoreans have responded by hitting the streets, robbing drugstores, minimarts and check-cashing establishments and setting fires. If you don’t see the connection, it’s because there isn’t one. Like Brown’s death, Gray’s is being used as a convenient excuse for lawbreaking. If the Ferguson protesters were responding to a majority-black town being oppressively run by a white minority—which is the implicit argument of the Justice Department and the explicit argument of the liberal commentariat—what explains Baltimore?
Tensions between the police and low-income black communities stem from high crime rates in those areas. The sharp rise in violent crime in our inner cities, which dates to the 1970s and 1980s, happened to coincide with an increase in the number of black leaders in many of those very same cities. What can be said of Baltimore is also true of Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., where black mayors and police chiefs and aldermen and school superintendents have held sway for decades.
Chicago’s population is 32% black, along with 26% of its police force, but it remains one of the most violent big cities in the country. There were more than 400 homicides in the Second City last year and some 300 of the victims were black, the Chicago Tribune reports. That’s more than double the number of black deaths at the hands of police in the entire country in a given year, according to FBI data.
Might the bigger problem be racial disparities in antisocial behavior, not the composition of law-enforcement agencies?
It was encouraging to hear a few Baltimore officials say as much Monday night as they watched their city burn. “I’m a lifelong resident of Baltimore, and too many people have spent generations building up this city for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
City Council President Jack Young pointedly recalled the Baltimore riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. “We cannot go back to 1968 where we burned down our own infrastructure and our own neighborhoods,” he said. “We still have scars from 1968 where we had some burnt out buildings and businesses did not want to come back to the city of Baltimore. We have to stop the burning down and the breaking in of these stores because in the end it hurts us as a people.”
Sadly, Mr. Young could have been describing any number of cities that experienced black rioting in the mid-1960s and took decades to recover, if they ever did. The riot that began in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1965 resulted in 34 deaths, 4,000 arrests and 1,000 looted or destroyed businesses. The Detroit riots two years later caused 43 deaths and destroyed 2,500 businesses. Before the riots, both cities had sizable and growing black middle-class populations, where homeownership and employment exceeded the black national average. After the riots, those populations fled, and economic deprivation set in. Some 50 years later, Watts is still showing “scars” and Detroit remains in the hospital.
The violent-crime rate in Baltimore is more than triple the national average, and the murder rate is more than six times higher. As of April, city murders are 20% ahead of the number killed through the first three months of last year. But neither Mayor Rawlings-Blake nor Mr. Young needs any lectures from the media on Baltimore crime. The mayor lost a 20-year-old cousin to gun violence two years ago. And earlier this month Mr. Young’s 37-year-old nephew died from a gunshot wound to his head. Even the families of black elites in a city run by black elites can’t escape this pathology.
Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).