Buchanan nails it

Ordinarily, I detest Pat Buchanan. Ordinarily, I refuse to read anything published by World Net Daily. But Buchanan nails this so much:

If the first version is true, Wilson is guilty. If the second is true, Brown committed two felonies before being shot, and Darren Wilson fired his weapon in defense of his life.

If there is any public official who should recuse himself from any role in this investigation, it is not Robert McCulloch but Eric Holder.

Of heat and hurricane recurves

Earlier, I posted an update showing the latest model guidance projecting a developing tropical storm to stay away from the U.S. mainland.

One of the primary reasons? Actually, it’s the same reason why it now looks like our very hot temperatures for much of next week won’t pan out.

The culprit for both is a potential upper level trough developing over the eastern U.S. This trough will do two things. The first thing it’ll do is break down the heat ridge that is currently establishing itself over the South. That will result in milder temps for the second half of next week. The second thing it’ll do is influence the larger atmospheric steering patterns, pushing the tropical storm back to sea before it can impact the U.S. mainland . . . and certainly before it can enter the Gulf of Mexico.

There’s no point in linking back to the earlier posts about the potential heat next week. You can find several updates by scrolling through the posts. In a nutshell, it appeared that record-breaking temps might be on the way for the middle of next week. Instead, the GFS computer model is now locking in on somewhat milder temperatures. The 18z run of the GFS this evening, in fact, showed the highest temperature here on the northern Cumberland Plateau through late next week as 91 degrees . . . a far cry from the 97 degree high that was depicted just a couple of days ago.

It doesn’t look like the reprieve from the heat will last, but it will last long enough to deliver a Labor Day weekend that is perhaps not too miserable as we say goodbye to summer, and also long enough to perhaps steer this developing tropical storm away from the GOMEX.

Let’s take a closer look at today’s model data.

The 18z GFS shows the high temperature getting to 91 tomorrow and Saturday, then generally beginning to cool somewhat. The raw data from the 18z GFS depicts the high Sunday as being 89, then the high on Monday getting to only 82, with a high of 87 on Tuesday, 82 on Wednesday, 87 on Thursday, 81 on Friday, 83 on Saturday and 91 on Sunday, with a high of 93 on Labor Day.

The considerably cooler temperatures on Monday and Friday are due to a good amount of shower activity being depicted across East Tennessee as part of this trough that’s now projected to develop.

That’s generally the same as what the more reliable 12z run of the GFS earlier today was showing. It has highs only in the mid 80s all the way through next week, with 90s returning by Labor Day weekend. It actually pushes the temps to 95 on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, but after the way the models originally depicted this upcoming week’s heat wave and then backed off, it’s probably best to take that with a grain of salt at the moment.

All this does come with a caveat: If the models are misinterpreting how this upper trough will develop over the eastern U.S., it’s possible that the developing tropical storm in the western Atlantic winds up coming further west.

More thoughts on Holder politicizing Ferguson

It should go without saying that the oversight of the federal government is sometimes needed to keep local jurisdictions in check. Look no further than the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi (the murders that inspired the Gene Hackman film, “Mississippi Burning”) for example. If not for the FBI’s persistence, the local government of Neshoba County would have covered up the murders and the law enforcement agents there who helped perpetrate those crimes would have gone unpunished.

There is, however, a big difference between the feds riding in when it becomes obvious that there’s a miscarriage of justice. Generally, the Justice Department gives local jurisdictions a wide berth when it comes to matters that do not involve federal statutes. In 1964 Mississippi, the feds already knew they couldn’t trust local police jurisdictions — one of the reasons why the FBI already had boots on the ground. And for obvious reasons (here’s the history of Mississippi Burning), there was a foul stench around the situation in Neshoba County, which made it easy for President Lyndon B. Johnson to make it a priority for the Justice Department.

In 2014 Ferguson, Missouri, it wasn’t immediately clear that there were issues surrounding local law enforcement’s handling of the matter. Even now, it isn’t an issue that cannot be handled at the state level — which is where it should be handled. And if prosecutors’ rush to present their evidence to a grand jury just 12 days later is any indication, the local and state authorities are doing a fine job handling this on their own.

The Justice Department rushing in before all the facts of the case are known does no one any good. If there’s true reason for the Justice Department to be involved, fine. There’s a time and place for that — once the facts are sorted out and it becomes apparent that the local and state jurisdictions can’t move forward on a level that is satisfactory for all.

For example: In Scott County, Tennessee, when the sheriff’s son (Marty Carson) shot and killed his partner (John John Yancey) in 2003, allegedly because Yancey was planning to run against Carson’s father in the next year’s election, and allegedly because Yancey had uncovered evidence that Carson was involved in illegal drug trafficking, the FBI did not immediately rush in. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation initially handled the investigation, as is customary, and presented evidence to the District Attorney General, who determined that the shooting was an accident and that criminal charges weren’t warranted. Later, when attorneys for the Yancey family presented new witnesses at a civil trial that cast a new light on the allegations, the FBI stepped in and took over the investigation.

That isn’t to say that the Justice Department should wait two years before intervening in Ferguson, as was the case in Scott County (where the FBI also declined to bring charges against Carson). Every situation is different.

But one thing is for sure: Rushing in before all the facts are clear and wresting control away from local authorities, in an effort to score political points, does nothing except fan the flames of distrust between the minority community and the local police.

Which, on second though, might be exactly what Holder wants. Holder’s Justice Department has targeted local law enforcement agencies at a record pace since 2009 — in many cases forcing reform on the agencies against the threat of federal lawsuits.

And maybe that’s a noble cause. Or maybe Holder is targeting local law enforcement agencies for all the wrong reasons. Without knowing the specifics of each case, there’s no way to know. We do know that folks within the Obama administration have commented on the fact that too many black Americans wind up in prison — an indisputable reality — while framing those comments in a context that seems to imply that the fault is the justice system’s rather than socioeconomic and community faults and factors.

Those veiled comments, though, are certainly no indictment of Holder’s intent when it comes to the Justice Department’s pursuit of alleged police misconduct. Not in and of themselves, at least.

But when you see Holder rushing into Ferguson, making ridiculous statements, that does cast doubt on his intent. Holder called it “troubling” that Ferguson police released information regarding the strong-armed robbery of a convenience store in which Michael Brown was a suspect — calling it a “selective” release of “sensitive” information.

Are we to believe that even though Darren Wilson — the police officer who gunned down Brown — had no knowledge that Brown was a suspect in that case, therefore making the two incidents unrelated, that the fact Brown might have stole cigars from a convenience store a short time before confronting a police officer isn’t applicable? Are we to believe that if it had been a white suspect who the police officer gunned down, that information wouldn’t have been released?

That’s quite a leap of supposition. Wilson’s encounter with Brown may have been unrelated to the convenience store theft. But if Brown might have robbed a convenience store just a short time before, might that also help explain why there was a confrontation with Wilson? Remember, the argument that Ferguson police are making is that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown because Brown assaulted Wilson and wrestled him for control of his gun.

If Brown disregarded the law by robbing a convenience store, doesn’t it stand to reason that he would also disregard law enforcement? (To assume otherwise is to assume a huge coincidence. Brown being unfortunate enough to be involved in a theft and in a violent encounter with law enforcement all in one night in a city the size of Ferguson, and it be simply by chance, would be quite a coincidence indeed.) As Dan from Squirrel Hill says, “Since Brown was willing to assault an innocent store employee, why would he not also be willing to assault an innocent police officer?”

If Brown thought he was being targeted by Wilson because he was suspected of stealing $50 worth of cigars a while earlier, mightn’t that explain why he allegedly assaulted Wilson? If Brown’s alleged involvement with the convenience store theft truly had absolutely nothing to do with what happened during his confrontation with Wilson, we must assume that investigators at the state and federal levels who probed the incident would not have even looked at the information from the convenience store theft. Does anyone want to make that assumption?

And, in fact, we now know that Ferguson police released the convenience store theft surveillance video in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. So why is Holder stirring the pot by suggesting that Ferguson police officials arbitrarily released the “selective” and “sensitive” information? Holder can’t claim ignorance to that fact, because we also know that Holder’s Justice Department attempted to block Ferguson police’s response to the FOIA requests from the media.

(Side note: All the claims from the police-condemning commentators that the Ferguson police are taking a page from George Zimmerman’s playbook by committing character assassination against the “victim” are nonsense. The two incidents are nothing alike. Trayvon Martin did nothing wrong. Efforts to portray him as a troubled student who abused drugs were nothing short of character assassination. Brown, on the other hand, apparently did do wrong — his companion from the night he died reportedly told FBI agents that the two did commit the convenience store theft, and there’s medical evidence that he assaulted Wilson. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I swiftly condemned Zimmerman and never bought his story of self-defense. But there’s no comparison to this case in Ferguson.)

These facts make Holder’s trip to Ferguson troublesome. Perhaps his intentions are honest. But this appears to be little more than political grandstanding. And, as noted above, his entire involvement certainly serves to fan the flames of mistrust between the community and law enforcement. If Holder were truly interested in justice, why not simply investigate the case? Why is he telling stories about how he was twice pulled over in New Jersey and humiliatingly had his vehicle searched by cops although he had done nothing wrong? Comments like that indicate that Holder has his mind made up. And they serve to continue eroding the already unstable bridge of confidence between law enforcement and the public.

Does racism exist? Are minorities mistreated by bigoted law enforcement officers who hide behind their badges? Yes and yes. Is it possible that the integrity of an entire law enforcement agency has been compromised because of this racism and heavy-handed approach? Absolutely.

When Holder tells his story of being pulled over by New Jersey authorities and having his vehicle searched, I’m reminded of my own law enforcement abuse story. Several years ago, while traveling through the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, I was pulled over by an overzealous park ranger, who claimed I was “acting suspiciously.” I had done nothing wrong. I pulled onto a dead-end road because I saw a deer and wanted a closer look at it. He claimed I had darted onto the side street because I was attempting to avoid him. So he called in backup, forced me to wait until they arrived, then proceeded to search my vehicle.

My point? I don’t really have one, except maybe this: Miscarriages of justice happen within the world of law enforcement. That doesn’t necessarily mean they involve entire departments, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an underlying intent of racism. Those are questions that can be asked, questions that can be investigated, in their appropriate times. Allowing politics to interfere with the process, however, serves the best interests of no one . . . except maybe the politicians themselves.

Another 96L update

A Gulf of Mexico threat from the tropical disturbance currently bearing down on the island nations now appears to be out of the question, and models are beginning to lock in on the idea of a “fish storm” where the U.S. mainland is concerned — that is, a storm that is only seen by the fish. Obviously that isn’t entirely true since the Bahamas and others in the western Atlantic will be impacted by this storm, but still… Here’s a look at the current model projections from Weather Underground:

At201496 model

The National Hurricane Center did send hurricane hunters into the area of low pressure today, and didn’t find anything remarkable. In fact, shower activity has decreased since this morning. However, conditions are favorable for development, so the NHC is still giving this a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone within 48 hours, and a 70 percent chance of becoming a cyclone within five days. But as far as its impact to the U.S. mainland, that now appears very slim — and pretty much an open-and-closed discussion for the GOMEX.

No. 10 UT player: Casey Clausen

You want to see grief? Watch me put former Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen at No. 10 on the list of all-time UT greats and see Vols fans give me grief.

Maybe it was Clausen’s surfer boy looks — East Tennesseans, after all, don’t cotton West Coast-ians too much. Maybe it was because his style of play on the field was as un-flashy as his hair style was under his helmet was flashy.

For whatever reason, Tennessee fans never really appreciated Clausen. In fact, more than a few message board types despised him throughout his UT career. As such, he left Knoxville as one of the most undervalued and under appreciated players in the history of the UT football program.

He may not have had Peyton Manning’s smarts, Heath Shuler’s mobility or Tony Robinson’s arm, but Casey Clausen had mojo. Lots and lots of mojo. All he did was win.

Sure, there was that game against Florida in 2002 when Clausen fumbled approximately 45 times in a persistent downpour against the Gators. Hapless Florida coach Ron Zook walked away from Neyland Stadium that soggy afternoon with his only win over the Vols.

But, hey, bad games happen . . . right? Peyton Manning lost to Memphis — Memphis! Remember that one? A loss so monumental that the school cut their goalposts into pieces and sold them to jubilant alumni? Heath Shuler allowed himself to be outshone by pony-tailed Steve Tanneyhill in a loss to Sparky Woods’ no-good, terrible Gamecocks in 1992. Tee Martin . . . well, Martin didn’t really lose any he shouldn’t have, but he certainly didn’t help matters at times. Remember the ’98 Arkansas game, before Billy Ratliffe and Travis Henry took over? Martin bounced more balls off the turf than he put within reach of his receivers.

So if we can excuse that ’02 Florida debacle for a minute, let’s look at The Iceman’s accomplishments.

As a true freshman in 2000, an injury prevented Clausen from making an appearance until the third game of the season, when his very first play went for a touchdown to David Martin against Louisiana-Monroe.

Clausen’s first start came later that season against Alabama. Earning your first start against the despised Tide is a tough task for a Tennessee quarterback, but Clausen was up to the challenge. He completed 17 of 24 passes, had two touchdowns, and Tennessee won the game.

A week later, he led UT’s winning touchdown drive against South Carolina, completing six of seven passes on the final possession as the Vols snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

The game after that, he led UT from behind for a win over Memphis with a last-minute field goal.

Against Arkansas, Clausen tied a Tennessee record (held by Manning, Shuler and Andy Kelly) with five touchdown passes. Three of those came in the first quarter as the Vols exploded to a 35-0 lead.

By the end of the season, Clausen had completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,473 yards and 15 touchdowns — and only six interceptions. Oh, and he was undefeated as a starter.

In 2001, one of the best seasons in UT’s history, Clausen again shone. He started all 13 games and finished the season with 2,969 yards — the third most single-season passing yards in program history. His 64.1 percent completion mark in 2001 was just short of Manning’s school record 64.2 percent. Against Memphis, he again threw five touchdown passes, again tying the school record. He led UT to another win over Alabama, earning SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors after completing 21 of 28 passes for 293 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He became known as the Ice Man after rallying the Vols to four fourth quarter comebacks. Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky and Florida.

It was that Florida game at the end of the season that was the greatest. Delayed from its usual September date due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Vols and Gators met in Gainesville in the final game of the regular season. Tennessee hadn’t won in The Swamp since the Nixon administration, but they did that day — despite being overwhelming underdogs. The odds-layers had predicted the Vols to lose by three scores. The win lofted Tennessee into the driver’s seat for a return trip to the national championship game. Unfortunately, the Vols choked away that opportunity to LSU and a 9th string (approximately) quarterback the following week in Atlanta. But Clausen ended the season nicely with a satisfying spanking of Michigan on New Year’s Day.

Clausen started 10 games in 2003, missing the Georgia game, the Mississippi State game, and part of a loss to Miami with an ankle injury. But he finished the season with 2,055 yards and moved into second place on UT’s career pass completions list. He engineered Tennessee’s marathon win over Arkansas, a six-overtime affair.

As a senior in 2003, Clausen again started all 13 games, finishing the season with 9,707 — second on UT’s career passing list. He went to Gainesville and Tuscaloosa that season to earn wins, cementing his status as the best away-from-home quarterback in UT history. Over the course of his 4-year career, Clausen was 14-1 as a starting quarterback in road games. His only loss away from Neyland Stadium was at Miami in 2002 against the Hurricanes’ Team of the Century.

Clausen completed a 90-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jones against No. 8 Georgia, the longest pass in school history. Against Mississippi State, he threw for five touchdown passes for the third time in his UT career. He finished his final home game against Vanderbilt with 143 passes without an interception, a Tennessee record. The win at Kentucky the following week was the 14th road victory for Clausen, the most for any Tennessee starting quarterback. And he became only the second player in school history to amass more than 9,000 yards of offense.

After going undrafted in the 2004 NFL Draft, Clausen was signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs but never played in the NFL. He did play some in NFL Europe. He is currently the head coach of a California high school football team and sells insurance.

And if any Tennessee fan tells you they wouldn’t take him back in a heartbeat right now, they’re lying through their teeth.

For your viewing pleasure, Clausen’s hail mary touchdown to James Banks in The Swamp in 2003:

10 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

Some wx updates

Today’s runs of the GFS computer model are quite a bit different than previous days’ runs on a couple of potential upcoming weather events that were discussed in previous blog posts: the looming heat wave, and the possibility of a tropical storm impact around Labor Day weekend.

We’ll start with the heat. Today’s 12z run of the GFS cooled down somewhat with next week’s heat. It topped temperatures out at 94 degrees on Monday, with temperatures struggling to get into the 90s on Tuesday and going even “cooler” later in the week. 

Today’s 18z run of the GFS was cooler still. It tops temperatures through next Wednesday out at 90 degrees on Friday, then doesn’t take us back into the 90s again through the middle of next week, with highs in the upper 80s through Monday, and slightly cooler thereafter. It does show temperatures rebounding into the 90s by Labor Day weekend, however.

We’ll watch and see what the 0z run tonight and the 12z run tomorrow show, but it could be that this heat ridge won’t hold the Southeast in its grip all of next week as originally feared, though the idea of the hottest weather of summer being here to stay for a while still seems to be a generally safe idea. In fact, the coolest temperature depicted by the 12z GFS through Labor Day weekend is 56. (And that’s on the morning of Aug. 29; through Thursday, Aug. 28, the coolest temperature is 64. Nighttime temps in the 50s have been more common this summer than nighttime temps in the 60s.)

Remember, these temperatures are for the northern Cumberland Plateau. Surrounding valley and basin areas will be hotter.

On to the tropical system approaching the Lesser Antilles that looks like it could eventually threaten the U.S. mainland.

This system, continuing to push east between the Windward Islands and the Lesser Antilles, is currently being given a 50 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone over the next 48 hours, according to National Hurricane Center meteorologists. And it’s likely to develop into a tropical cyclone within the next five days. But what happens with it when it gets into the Caribbean is very much in doubt. 

IN fact, it now appears that this system may not get far into the Caribbean at all. The model consensus today keeps the storm west of the Gulf of Mexico. The GFS model, which yesterday was showing this storm eventually making landfall as a hurricane right on top of New Orleans, is today in the middle of the road of the model consensus, and shows it riding up Florida’s Atlantic coast. Only one major model currently shows this storm entering the Gulf of Mexico. If this latest depiction pans out, this storm will have little impact on East Tennessee.

No. 11 UT player: Eric Berry

Two things I can tell you about Sept. 15, 2007: It was hot — very hot. And Eric Berry housed an errant pass from Tim Tebow.

I was in a tree stand on the side of a hill at Prentice Cooper Wildlife Management Area outside Chattanooga, participating in an early season whitetail deer archery draw hunt. Tennessee’s football team was in The Swamp. And getting beat.

I was attempting to listen for deer movement with one ear while listening to Bob Kesling and Tim Pries on the Vol Network with my other ear . . . and failing at it pretty miserably, I might add.

Not that it mattered; Florida was dominating the day, anyway. Almost halfway through the third quarter, the Gators were leading 28-13 and driving into the Tennessee red zone. A touchdown would make it 35-13, and that would be lights out.

And then Berry — as CBS broadcaster Verne Lundquist put it — took the cape off Tim Tebow. Defending Florida’s Riley Cooper in one-on-one coverage, Berry stepped in front of Cooper, picked off Tebow’s pass and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. He was so fast that only Tebow had a shot to tackle him . . . but the slow white guy had no chance against the 18-year-old who had won state championships as a track athlete in Fairburn, Ga.

Berry’s name was a familiar one to Tennessee fans by that scorching September afternoon. He was considered the top cornerback prospect in the nation coming out of Creekside High School, and had been a big “steal” for UT coach Phillip Fulmer — though it really wasn’t much of a steal, since Berry’s father had played for Tennessee.

But on that day — the only time I’ve ever jumped up and done a fist-pump while hanging on the side of an oak tree 25 ft. off the ground — the true freshman found his way into the hearts of most Vols fans.

The 95-yard return was the fourth-longest interception return in school history. And, yeah, Florida went on to continue dominating the afternoon, eventually winning 59-20. But that didn’t make the INT any less exciting. By the end of that freshman season, despite having only five interceptions, Berry had accumulated 222 return yards, a new school record. He was named a freshman All-American and was Sporting News’ national defensive freshman of the year.

As a sophomore in 2008, Berry was named a team captain — one of the very few sophomores in UT history to obtain that status. With seven interceptions, he broke his INT return yards record from the previous season, totaling 265 yards and two touchdowns.

With a total of 487 INT return yards, Berry had already set the SEC record for interception return yards despite only being a sophomore. And he wasn’t finished.

Berry entered his junior season in 2009 needing only 14 yards to break the NCAA record for interception returns. But something predictable happened that season: teams stopped throwing at him. He finished with just seven return yards on two interceptions. After being named a consensus All-American for a second straight season, and winning the Jim Thorpe Award, he opted to forego his senior season of eligibility and entered the NFL Draft.

Berry was selected by Kansas City as the fifth overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. He was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. In three seasons with the Chiefs — he missed all the 2011 season due to a torn ACL — Berry has 8 interceptions, 236 return yards and 3 touchdowns. He wears No. 29, in honor of former Vol Inky Johnson, who suffered a career-ending and life-threatening injury on the field.

For your viewing pleasure, Eric Berry de-caping Tim Tebow:

11 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!

Ferguson is a mess for all the wrong reasons

I have purposely avoided commenting on the Ferguson situation because, frankly, there’s no winning ground. There’s my opinion, your opinion, and no middle ground. For reasons maybe I’ll only understand when I’m old and gray and have nothing better to do but sit on the porch watching the corn grow in the garden and pondering matters like this, we seem to trip over ourselves to throw rationale and common sense out the window when racial politics are involved. On the one hand, you have those who believe that the Po-Lice are out to destroy minorities. On the other hand, you have those who believe that if you’re a minority in a predominately black (or hispanic, etc.) neighborhood, you’re automatically up to no good. There are very few of us in the middle…kinda like being stuck between rioting protestors and a police squad’s tear gas.

But here’s the truth about what’s happening in Ferguson: it’s a mess for all the wrong reasons. At the center of this is a dead man and a police officer. Both of them — not one of them; both of them — deserve justice.

Here’s what I think is going to happen in Ferguson: I think Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, is going to go to prison. He’s going to go to prison to satisfy a bunch of people with political axes to grind — not necessarily because justice demands it. 

And maybe Darren Wilson needs to go to prison. If he shot an unarmed man out of spite, justice cannot allow him to walk away unscathed — even though the unarmed man was a criminal who had just robbed a convenience store. In America, we don’t give up our civil rights because we allegedly committed a misdemeanor. 

But whether Darren Wilson acted rightly or wrongly is a fact we’ll never know. Not now. Because the politicians have decided to jump in and muddy the waters.

Politicians like the President of the United States, who has time and again over the past six years interjected himself into local matters in which he has no damn business. With his attitude that he and his federal administration know better than local jurisdictions or the states what is best for us, the people, the president has rushed to tell us when police officers are acting stupidly, and stepping in his own mess hasn’t stopped him from doing it over and over again. Obama needs to butt out. Should the feds be involved in Ferguson? Clearly. But within the Justice Department, that’s a job for the law enforcement agents and attorneys who are hired to handle these matters, not a photo op for their boss — Eric Holder — and certainly not an opportunity for Holder’s boss to lecture all of us on race relations before the sound of the gunshots has even echoed away, let alone the facts emerged. 

Politicians like the Governor of Missouri, who has outrageously called for Wilson to be prosecuted. The governor, too, needs to butt out. The surest way to prevent justice is for people like the governor to stick their finger to their tongue, hold it to the political winds, then go wading in to throw their weight around in an effort to score political points. If witnesses at the scene can’t even agree on whether Wilson acted rightly or wrongly, how on earth can the governor, from his comfortable mansion hundreds of miles away, possibly know that the officer in question should be prosecuted? The obvious answer is that he can’t, but does that even matter? Or is Wilson a sacrificial lamb for a governor who sees one of his cities in the turmoil of racial divide and wants calm to prevail at any cost? 

We won’t know whether Darren Wilson acted rightly or wrongly because a minority of the people in Ferguson — and others from across the nation who have rushed to their aide — have decided to act like animals in the streets instead of civil-minded adults who can peacefully make their feelings known without resorting to violence. Does anyone think the members of the grand jury empaneled to determine Wilson’s fate will act under the blindfold of justice, determining only the facts of the incident? Or will they concern themselves with the violence that is certain to erupt in Ferguson and perhaps across the nation if they opt to not indict? 

We won’t know whether Wilson acted rightly or wrongly because the politicians and the news media have been fanning the flames. By and large, the so-called “mainstream” news media has handled the situation in Ferguson appropriately. But the fringe journalists, who have plenty of readers despite being on the fringe, have their own axes to grind, they buy their ink by the barrel, and they shout opinion more than investigate fact. They excuse vandalism by condemning law enforcement for using pepper spray and tear gas as enforcement and dispersement tools. One account even excused vandals for busting out the glass of a McDonald’s restaurant, saying that the protestors were simply trying to get milk to treat “victims” of tear gas. Where’s the condemnation of the actions within the crowd that even required tear gas to be used in the first place? They tweet photos of children — even infants — on the streets and condemn police for firing tear gas into those crowds. Where is the condemnation of “parents” — and, yes, I’m using that term very loosely — who would take their children into a scene like this in the middle of the night, knowing that violence might erupt? 

Did Michael Brown deserve to die? Probably not. But one thing we can be reasonably sure of, from all accounts, including Brown’s friend who accompanied him that night, is that he had been smoking marijuana, robbed a convenience store, then got into an argument with a police officer who was doing his job. If Brown wasn’t a threat, Wilson knew that, and shot him anyway, indict him. Prosecute him. Send him to prison. But if I have to give the benefit of the doubt to someone until the facts are known, I’ll give it to the police officer who had no prior record of wrongdoing, who was in fact a decorated officer, before I’ll give it to someone who was obviously just out to stir up trouble. 

But the benefit of the doubt is just that — affording someone the luxury of being innocent until proven guilty. That’s the way our system of justice in America is supposed to work, is it not? The key word there is supposed. Because once the situation has been muddled by politicians like the president and the governor, justice becomes a lost cause.

Speaking of the weather…

Another update on the looming heat wave in East Tennessee. Raw data from today’s 12z GFS model has temps topping out at 97 degrees in Oneida on Wednesday of next week — which would be a record. The current record is 94, set in 2007. The GFS raw data has the high temperature tying the record on Tuesday, at 96.

The 18z run of the model is a degree or two cooler, but has the heat ridge much more stubborn to break down, with temperatures well into the 90s here on the Cumberland Plateau all the way through next week, into the weekend, and on into the following week. It is a worst-case scenario for this time of year . . . and suggests we might be about to pay dearly for the tolerable summer we’ve enjoyed.

Daily highs from the 12zop’ GFS raw data. Keep in mind, these are for the northern plateau, which is typically a few degrees cooler than the surrounding valleys and basin areas.

Thursday, Aug. 21 – 90
Friday, Aug. 22 – 92
Saturday, Aug. 23 – 92
Sunday, Aug. 24 – 94
Monday, Aug. 25 – 93
Tuesday, Aug. 26 – 96
Wednesday, Aug. 27 – 97
Thursday, Aug. 28 – 87
Friday, Aug. 29 – 77
Saturday, Aug. 30 – 86
Sunday, Aug. 31 – 90
Monday, Sept. 1 – 90
Tuesday, Sept. 2 – 85
Wednesday, Sept. 3 – 90

(Keep in mind that the cooler temperatures on Aug. 28-30 depicted by the 12z GFS are the result of a tropical depression riding over East Tennessee as depicted by the same model.)

Here are the daily highs from the 18z GFS raw data:

Thursday, Aug. 21 – 91
Friday, Aug. 22 – 91
Saturday, Aug. 23 – 90
Sunday, Aug. 24 – 95
Monday, Aug. 25 – 95
Tuesday, Aug. 26 – 94
Wednesday, Aug. 27 – 96
Thursday, Aug. 28 – 92
Friday, Aug. 29 – 91
Saturday, Aug. 30 – 88
Sunday, Aug. 31 – 91
Monday, Sept. 1 – 95
Tuesday, Sept. 2 – 95
Wednesday, Sept. 3 – 95

Can you say “ugh”??

Here are numbers for the next 7 days from the 12z GFS’s model output statistics, which are weighted somewhat for climatology:

Thursday, Aug. 21 – 91
Friday, Aug. 22 – 91
Saturday, Aug. 23 – 92
Sunday, Aug. 24 – 90
Monday, Aug. 25 – 90
Tuesday, Aug. 26 – 89

Notice that it’s in line with the raw data for the first few days, then gradually departs from the raw data further out. That’s because the further out it goes, the more it weights itself towards climatology. In essence, the model is saying, “Hey, let’s not get too extreme because that usually doesn’t happen this time of year.” But the raw data from the model has been very consistent with a potential record-breaking (or at least record-threatening) heat wave over at least the next 10 days.

Tropics heat up

Don’t look now, but there’s a chance of a tropical storm impacting East Tennessee just in time for Knoxville’s Boomsday, Huntsville’s SXS Roundup and Ridin’ Dirty, and of course, a little scrimmage at Neyland Stadium.

A very quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin is beginning to heat up a little bit, with two areas of interest in the eastern Atlantic that have a shot of eventually becoming tropical cyclones.

It’s the lead one, currently projected by the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center to have a 30% chance of cyclone formation within the next 48 hours, that some models are attempting to develop into a storm that could eventually impact East Tennessee.

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Currently located off the northwest coast of South America, this still disorganized cluster of thunderstorms should gradually develop as it moves into the Lesser Antilles and eventually into the Caribbean. NHC forecasters give it a 50/50 shot of becoming the third named storm of the hurricane season within the next five days (Cristobal will be its name, should that occur).

Where it goes from there remains to be seen, but today’s GFS computer model wants to bring it ashore right about New Orleans as a hurricane late next week.

Obviously, the impact to the Gulf of Mexico coastal areas is the biggest concern, but the remnant tropical depression after this projected storm washes inland could eventually impact East Tennessee, according to today’s GFS.

Today’s 12z GFS dumps nearly two inches of rain here on the northern Cumberland Plateau. Most of that would fall late Thursday and through the day on Friday, getting out of the way before the end of the Labor Day weekend. But if this storm comes to fruition, chances are good that it will come in slower than the model currently estimates. Of course, there is also a good chance that it won’t develop at all, or that it will take a different track than the GFS projected today, making this entire discussion moot. But it’s something to keep an eye on.

For visual reference, here’s the GFS for early Thursday next week, bringing the storm ashore directly over New Orleans:

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And here’s the GFS tracking the remnants of the cyclone directly over East Tennessee by late Friday:

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To show you how these things aren’t set in stone, here’s the 18z run of the GFS, which ran this evening, slowing the storm down and bringing it ashore further west, and a bit weaker. In this scenario, the remnants would track further north, over the Midwest, though it would still pull enough moisture ashore for a relatively wet Labor Day weekend in East Tennessee:

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It remains to be seen what will happen with this storm, if it does become a tropical cyclone. But it certainly has the attention of U.S. forecasters. Hurricane hunters are on standby to possibly fly into the low pressure system Thursday for investigation.

Dr. Roy Spencer is sounding the alarm on a possible landfall near New Orleans.