It’s been a long, strange week chez VPO. Along with many other Vermonters, our power went out on the morning of Friday the 23rd. Unlike most other Vermonters, we didn’t get our power back until the evening of the 28th. (Our neighborhood suffered the downing of multiple power poles and the damaging of its substation.) Most low-key Christmas ever.
So that’s why no blogging in a week. In the meantime, things kept happening (on a reduced-quantity holiday schedule), so here I am to proclaim the return of POWERRR and to catch up on stuff I might have missed. Today’s bits include a surge in criminality that can’t possibly be the Progressives’ fault, a minimal sentence for a “savage beating,” how the F-35s put Burlington in Putin’s crosshairs, and a country-rock revenge fantasy from a very unsuccessful House candidate. En avant, mes amis!
Rutland Crime Wave Fails the Preferred Narrative. On December 27, VTDigger reported on Rutland’s dramatic rise in property crimes. Thefts from cars up 400% from the previous five-year average, and a more than threefold increase in stolen cars, thefts from buildings, and retail theft.
I don’t know how they’re going to pin this on Radical Socialist Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George or “defunding the police,” but I’m sure they’re looking for a way. After all, Rutland doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a crime-friendly center of rabid progressivism, and yet here they are suffering a crime wave. Some are blaming restrictions on bail, but the obvious cause is substance use. According to the Rutland PD, 75% of suspects in retail theft are known narcotic users, as are 64% of auto theft suspects and 100% of robbery suspects.
Yeah, I think we’ve pinned down the problem there. Opioid deaths continue to set new records. Opioid-related crime appears to be fueling any increase in lawlessness. Can we stop nattering about progressive criminal justice reform and address the real problems?
No, I guess that’s no fun, is it.
Okay, Here’s a Case Where I Might Be Inclined to Lock the Door and Throw Away the Key. A few days before Christmas, former St. Albans police officer Jason Lawton was sentenced to three months in prison. Wow, that’s pretty stiff for a cop, right?
Well… no. Lawton was convicted of what the judge called a “savage beating” of Amy Connelly, a female defendant in a holding cell at police HQ for which he had shown no remorse whatsoever.
Lawton punched, pushed and dragged then-35-year-old Amy Connelly while she was being detained. He then cited her for assault because he claimed that she kicked him in the shin.
Too bad for him, the area was covered by security cameras. His story fell apart in a hurry. From there, he was treated with kid gloves by prosecutors. The video showed multiple assaults that could have warranted felony charges, but Lawton faced only a single misdemeanor charge. The penalty was up to a year in prison, but he agreed to a plea deal that carried a maximum of six months. Prosecutors sought the full six; Connelly’s attorney asked for a year. Lawton’s lawyer asked for no prison time at all, citing the time-honored “he’s already suffered enough” defense.
The judge, in Solomonic fashion, split the baby, imposing a three-month sentence. Which, honestly, is peanuts for a violent assault that not only victimizes a defenseless person but further tarnishes the public image of law enforcement at a time when its reputation needs no further issues. Some prison time is better than nothing, and that’s about all I can say in the decision’s favor.
Nuclear Panic in the Queen City. Whenever there’s a shred of unfavorable publicity about the Air Force’s troubled F-35 program, I’m sure to find it in my inbox courtesy of patent lawyer and dedicated F-35 scold James Marc Leas. His latest is a breathless report that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has named Burlington a potential target in a nuclear assault on America. He cites the F-35s at Burlington International Airport and then immediately lets the cat out of the bag: FEMA had also listed Burlington as a target when all we had were janky old F-16s.
His blogpost includes a map of target zones by some guy purportedly using FEMA data, and you see dozens upon dozens of target zones across the country — usually several targets per state. Even at its theoretical mightiest, Russia would have to launch a hell of a lot of nukes to make it worth their while to wipe out Burlington. Leas notes that if the Queen City were not a specific target, the nearest nukes would fall a whole 150 miles away. Somehow I don’t think that would save the city from Armageddon.
Leas further tarnishes his case with some Putin-adjacent opinions about nuclear threats. He blames the continued targeting of Burlington on the use of eight — count ’em, eight — Vermont-based F-35s in a four-month period of “air policing” along Russia’s western borders. He then refers to our support for Ukraine as a “proxy war” meant to “weaken Russia.” I was already inclined to ignore Leas’ entreaties, but if he’s carrying water for Vladimir Putin then I’ve got no use for the guy.
I Shall Bring Down the Wrath of the Almighty God, Or At Least I Wish I Could. Republican House candidate Kathi Tarrant, last seen trying desperately to conceal her extreme views from the left-leaning electorate down Waterbury way, came up juuuuust a bit short in her bid to turn a blue seat red. In a race for two seats, she finished fourth — behind re-elected Dem incumbents Tom Stevens and Theresa Wood, and “Blank Votes.” Ouch.
Apparently this stuck in her bonnet like the proverbial bee, because she’s written and recorded a Christian worship song inspired by a particularly vengeful passage in the Hebrew Bible. The song itself is a cromulent piece of 21st Century Christian music extolling her “highly exalted” Lord who is “my strength and my soul.” But the song is based on Exodus 15, which is a load of extremely violent rhetoric aimed at the writer’s enemies.
The passage is the Israelites’ hymn of victory after the forces of the Pharaoh have drowned in the Red Sea, and it celebrates the massacre in gleeful tones:
“In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.
8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up. …
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
And wasn’t that just the coolest thing.
The writer than boasts of how the Lord will inspire anguish, trembling, terror and dread among the then-extant people of the Promised Land, soon to be savaged and scattered by the hand of God.
I can see how this line of thinking might appeal to a person who’d just been absolutely skunked by the heathen Democrats. Given the Dems’ dominance of Vermont poitics, divine deliverance must seem like the only way out — and a suitable punishment for those who would defy the Lord’s apparent desire to install Ms. Tarrant in the Statehouse.