The agitated Mr. Skripal: Connecting more dots in the Skripal case

In Part 1 of this series, I stated why I believe the official narrative on the Skripal case does not appear to hold water. Firstly, the nerve agent A-234 (Novichok) can and has been produced outside Russia, in a number of places, thus disproving the claim that it must have come from Russia. Secondly, the fact that the effects experienced by the Skripals – four hours of moving freely around Salisbury, followed by no irreparable damage – do not remotely fit what the scientific literature says about that substance – almost instantaneous death or a short life with irreparable damage to the central nervous system -, makes it highly unlikely that they were indeed poisoned by it. Indeed, the burden of proof is on those making the claims to show how and why the scientific literature was wrong. Then in Part 2, I mentioned four aspects of the case, which are undoubtedly significant, but which seem to have been ignored or forgotten. I ended that piece by saying that I hoped to discuss what I consider to be an even bigger aspect of the case; something that may well begin to join some dots together. And this is what I intend to do in this piece. However, before I do, I should start by saying that what I am about to say is speculative. That is not to say that it is not based on facts. It is. It is based on witness testimony that appeared very early on in the case – three days after the poisoning – and which I deem to be credible since it appeared before the case became completely politicised, which is sadly what subsequently happened. I am then using that testimony to construct what I consider to be the best explanation for what the witness described. And so it is very much a theory. One based on facts, but a theory nevertheless. As such it is of course open to challenge.

Read more from Signs of the Times…

Yes, there really is a tax break for upper-income graduate students and Congress won’t let it expire – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

In an earlier Evidence Speaks post this year, Susan Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton summarized important research showing that federal tax benefits for college tuition have had no measurable impact on increasing college-going behavior.[1] Moreover, they note that the benefits are numerous, overlapping and complicated. Yet for all their flaws, these tax breaks enjoy such strong support from lawmakers that even the oddest one, which quietly expires each year, is always revived in a last-minute bill just in time for the tax filing season. The tuition and fees deduction (“the deduction”) was recently extended for a seventh time in an omnibus budget bill in February.[2] Out of all the tuition tax benefits the government offers, this one should be relatively easy to let go because of whom it unintentionally targets.

@brybree via Twenty20

Here is how the deduction works. Tax filers can deduct up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid for higher education in the tax year. It is an “above-the-line” deduction, meaning filers can claim it without having to itemize deductions. As a deduction, filers earn a benefit equal to their marginal tax rate. The maximum benefit any filer could extract from the deduction is $880, the top marginal tax rate of those who are eligible (22 percent) times $4,000. There is no limit to the number of times a filer can claim the deduction, so long as he has incurred tuition expenses, and it does not matter what type of credential he pursues. There is, however, an income limit. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers) cannot claim it.

There is nothing odd about those terms per se, but they interact with other tax benefits the government offers for tuition such that only upper-income graduate students benefit from the deduction. First, undergraduates, while eligible for the deduction, don’t claim it because a different tax credit only for undergraduates is more beneficial: the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is worth up to $2,500 in tax relief for filers earning up to $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers).[3] Tax filers can claim only one tuition tax benefit although they usually qualify for more than one. Second, graduate students with lower and middle incomes are also eligible for the deduction, but they can claim the $2,000 Lifetime Learning Credit, which almost always delivers a bigger tax break than the tuition and fees deduction.[4] But the Lifetime Learning credit has a lower income cut-off than the deduction. Those earning over $66,000 ($132,000 for joint filers) in 2017 cannot claim it.[5]

That’s how the deduction ends up targeting upper-income graduate students. While graduate students would always obtain a larger benefit from the Lifetime Learning Credit, they cannot claim it if they earn more than $66,000 ($132,000 for joint filers). They can, however, claim the deduction until their earnings exceed $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers). Thus a narrow band of graduate students, those earning between the income limits for the two benefits, are the only students who would claim the deduction. At those levels, their incomes are higher than the incomes of about 80 percent of U.S. households.[6] Of course, tax filers can unintentionally claim a less generous benefit if they are eligible for more than one, such as an undergraduate claiming the deduction when she was eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which does happen.[7]

What the data say about eligible students

Using a representative sample of graduate students in 2011-12, Kim Dancy of New America and I estimated that just 8 percent of graduate students would benefit from the deduction. Meanwhile, 64 percent of graduate students would benefit most from the Lifetime Learning Credit. The rest of graduate students (28 percent) were ineligible for any tax benefit because they have no taxable income, their tuition was fully covered by grants and scholarships, or their earnings were too high.[8] The analysis assumes that tax filers claim the benefit that provides them with the largest tax reduction if they qualify for more than one. These numbers have likely shifted in recent years, with even fewer students benefiting from the deduction, because Congress has increased the earnings cap for the Lifetime Learning Credit to account for inflation but left the limits for the deduction unchanged.

We also estimated the average benefit graduate students would claim through the deduction for the 2011-12 academic year. At $621, it was smaller than the $859 average benefit that filers eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit could claim.[9] Due to small sample sizes, however, we were unable to reliably assess important characteristics of filers eligible for the deduction, such as field of study.

The deduction didn’t start out as a graduate school tax break

As is often the case in public policy, lawmakers did not set out explicitly to provide a tax break to upper-income graduate students. In fact, graduate students were never the target group for the tuition tax breaks; undergraduates were always the focus. Although graduate students have been eligible for the tax benefits since their inception, changes to the policies over the years have left the deduction benefiting upper-income graduate students alone.

Prior to mid-1990s, the federal government did not offer widely-available tax breaks for college tuition. The idea first gained prominence when President Clinton proposed a $10,000 deduction for college tuition as part of his “Middle-Class Bill of Rights” reelection platform.[10] After critics noted that a deduction would provide more help to families in higher tax brackets, Clinton added a separate tax credit for the first two years of college to his proposal to provide more even benefits.[11] Congress adopted the president’s idea for the credit in 1997, naming it the Hope Tax Credit, but rejected the additional proposal for a $10,000 deduction. They instead replaced that proposal with a separate credit for “lifelong learning” (i.e., the Lifetime Learning Credit) that families could claim for education after the first two years of college, including graduate school.[12]

Thus, President Clinton’s original idea for a deduction and a credit was replaced with two credits, the Hope Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit. In keeping with their original purpose to provide middle-class tax relief, Congress capped income eligibility for both benefits at $55,000 ($100,000 for joint filers) in 1997.[13]

With these two tax credits on the books, the idea of a deduction for tuition would be unnecessary and redundant, yet Congress later decided to add one anyway. Seemingly out of nowhere, lawmakers included a $4,000 deduction for tuition and fees in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the sweeping bill that included President Bush’s campaign proposal to cut marginal tax rates.[14]

The deduction differed from the two initial tax credits in a key way, which partially explains why lawmakers added it. Families earning up to $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers) would be eligible as of 2004. That was significantly higher than the income cutoff for the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits at the time and would therefore offer tax benefits to families with incomes arguably well above middle class. But why not just raise the income limits on the existing credits then? Because creating the new deduction was a way to restrict costs relative to expanding the existing Lifetime Learning Credit in terms of forgone revenue to the government. Recall that the value of the deduction is worth the amount deducted times the marginal tax rate, which at the time it was created would have been $1,120 at the most.[15] That is about half the maximum value of the Lifetime Learning credit.[16]

In other words, the deduction was a way to let upper-income families into the college tax benefit club on the cheap. It also ensured their benefits would be smaller than those of the middle-class families, who were eligible for the credits.

At the time it was created, the deduction was as much an undergraduate benefit as a graduate one. Upper-income families would claim it for tuition paid in pursuit of either degree. According to my analysis referenced earlier, about the same share of graduate students as undergraduates qualified for it prior to 2009.[17] But in 2009, Congress would make it pointless for almost any undergraduate to claim the deduction. That year, lawmakers replaced the Hope Credit with the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provided larger benefits than the deduction with an income cutoff even higher than the deduction. With upper-income undergraduates now qualifying for American Opportunity Tax Credit, graduate students became the only group left who could benefit from the original tuition and fees deduction.

Conclusion

While Congress never decided to directly create a special tax break for upper-income graduate students alone, opting to extend the deduction year after year is effectively the same thing. The latest one-year extension, which made the deduction available for the 2017 tax year, cost the government over $200 million in forgone revenue.[18]

At a time when an undergraduate education feels financially out of reach for so many families, it’s fair to ask why Congress continues to spend these resources on students who have already earned an undergraduate degree. Moreover, these students earn a median household income of $102,000, according to my analysis.[19] There does not appear to be a good answer to that question other than inertia. Lawmakers have always extended the benefit so they continue to extend it. They may not realize, however, that it no longer benefits undergraduate students.

All of the tax benefits may be a policy failure for not increasing enrollment or being overly complex, but at least those for undergraduates put more money in the pockets of low- and middle-income families working toward their first degree. Today, the deduction does neither. It helps those who already have an undergraduate degree and earn high incomes to boot. While its cost in terms of forgone revenue are relatively modest, those resources would be better spent on aid that encourages students to enroll in and complete an undergraduate degree.

Footnotes

[1] Sue Dynarski and Judith Scott-Clayton, “The Tax Benefits for Education Don’t Increase Education,” Brookings Institution, April 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-tax-benefits-for-education-dont-increase-education/.
[2] Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Public Law 115–123, § 40203 (2018).
[3] Internal Revenue Service, “Instructions for Form 8863, Education Credits (American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits) (2017),” https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i8863.pdf.
[4] There are some circumstances when the deduction might produce a larger benefit than the Lifetime Learning Credit if a filer paid tuition and fees below $4,000 and he is in the highest tax bracket of those eligible for the deduction. For example, a filer in the 22% tax bracket who deducts $3,000 in expenses receives a $660 tax reduction; under the Lifetime Learning credit his benefit would be $600.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Author’s calculation using the American Community Survey, 2016.
[7] Government Accountability Office, “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College,” May 2012, https://www.gao.gov/assets/600/590970.pdf
[8] Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015, 6–7, https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/graduate-students-and-tuition-tax-benefits.pdf.
[9] Author’s calculation using the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 2011–12. See also Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015.
[10] William J. Clinton, “Address to the Nation on the Middle Class Bill of Rights,” December 15, 1997, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=49591.
[11] Douglas Lederman, “The Politicking and Policy Making Behind a $40-Billion Windfall: How Clinton, Congress, and Colleges Battled to Shape Hope Scholarships,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 28, 1997.
[12] Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Public Law 105–34 § 201 (1997).
[13] Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Public Law 105–34 § 101 (1997).
[14] Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, Public Law 107–16 § 431 (2001).
[15] The top marginal tax rate for filers eligible for the deduction was 28 percent in the mid 2000s.
[16] See endnote 4. for an explanation of how sometimes when tuition and fees are below $4,000, tax filers can qualify for a larger tax reduction through the deduction than if the Lifetime Learning Credit.
[17] Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “A New Look at Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, November 2015, https://static.newamerica.org/attachments/10416-a-new-look-at-tuition-tax-benefits/TaxCredits11.2.277d3f7daa014d5a8632090f97641cee.pdf; and Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015, 6–7, https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/graduate-students-and-tuition-tax-benefits.pdf.
[18] Joint Committee on Taxation, “Federal Tax Provisions Expired in 2017” (JCX-5-18), March 9, 2018.
[19] Author’s calculation using the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study 2011–12. See also Jason Delisle and Kim Dancy, “Graduate Students and Tuition Tax Benefits,” New America, December 2015.

Read more from American Enterprise Institute…

Leftism = Egalitarianism

As we enter the age where Leftism, having gained supremacy fifty years ago and failed in all of its promises, prepares to pass on into the dust-bin of history, it makes sense to understand what Leftism is.

On this site, we treat politics as a series of philosophies. Philosophies are explanation for how the world works and what we should do about it. At the core, each philosophy possesses a basic statement which summarizes its approach, and this is why they are distinctive.

It has become common — and that word never means anything good — for people to bloviate on about how they are “neither Left or Right,” which forgets that these two things are distinct philosophies, and like many things at a basic level, indicate a necessary fork in the road of human thinking.

Very few realize that the Right is our continuation of what was there before Leftism, and that while it has been misinterpreted and linguistically slaughtered like everything else in our declining society, its basic philosophy still stands: conserve the best of the past while aiming for inner excellence.

Even fewer understand Leftism. What is Leftism? An encylopedia provides us the roots of Leftist philosophy:

Left: In politics, the portion of the political spectrum associated in general with egalitarianism and popular or state control of the major institutions of political and economic life.

Now we can see the basics of the philosophy: it is egalitarianism plus the idea that the State should enforce it. Continuing our exploration, we ask, “What is Egalitarianism?” Fortunately a specialized encyclopedia of philosophy provides an explanation of egalitarianism:

Egalitarians think, firstly, that unfair life prospects should be equalized. Secondly, that equality is the most or one of the most important irreducible intrinsic or constitutive worth(s) of justice. Thirdly, that welfare should be increased. Fourthly, that justice is comparative. Fifthly, that inequalities are just when otherwise advantages are destroyed in the name of justice. Lastly, that there are certain absolute humanitarian principles like autonomy, freedom or human dignity.

The suffix “ism” tends to mean a philosophy that advocates using its root term as a means of solving problems and leading the best possible life. For that reason, elitism means those who advocate choosing the elite or quality over quantity; socialism denotes using socialized means of production; egalitarianism indicates those who want to use equality as a universal tool for fixing and enhancing society.

In that definition, we have every aspect of modern Leftism. They want to create a Utopia through progress toward equality. They think this should be done by taking from the successful and giving to the unsuccessful. They believe in using the State to do this through Civil Rights programs.

Through that understanding, we can see that Leftists — liberals, communists, marxists, socialists, anarchists, libertarians — are all degrees of the same thing, namely the idea of equality being both a goal and a method of achieving the best possible civilization and lives, although uniquely they see a “perfect” Utopia as possible.

Let us then revisit the historical portion of the definition of Leftism from above:

The term dates from the 1790s, when in the French revolutionary parliament the socialist representatives sat to the presiding officer’s left. Leftists tend to be hostile to the interests of traditional elites, including the wealthy and members of the aristocracy, and to favour the interests of the working class (see proletariat). They tend to regard social welfare as the most important goal of government. Socialism is the standard leftist ideology in most countries of the world; communism is a more radical leftist ideology.

In this we see how egalitarianism translates into reality: since we cannot make the unsuccessful more competent, we must penalize the successful, and have a strong gangster-style government to take their wealth and give it to the less competent. This creates a Darwinian death spiral but transfers power to the Leftist Regime.

Leftism consists of several sub-philosophies, all of which share a common goal of Utopia through progress of equality, which means that all Leftist philosophies are essentially the same, differing only in degree. On the mild side of Leftism, liberalism, libertarianism, and classical liberalism hide their real goal:

Liberalism, political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.

…Liberalism is derived from two related features of Western culture. The first is the West’s preoccupation with individuality, as compared to the emphasis in other civilizations on status, caste, and tradition. Throughout much of history, the individual has been submerged in and subordinate to his clan, tribe, ethnic group, or kingdom. Liberalism is the culmination of developments in Western society that produced a sense of the importance of human individuality, a liberation of the individual from complete subservience to the group, and a relaxation of the tight hold of custom, law, and authority. In this respect, liberalism stands for the emancipation of the individual. See also individualism.

Liberalism also derives from the practice of adversariality in European political and economic life, a process in which institutionalized competition—such as the competition between different political parties in electoral contests, between prosecution and defense in adversary procedure, or between different producers in a market economy (see monopoly and competition)—generates a dynamic social order. Adversarial systems have always been precarious, however, and it took a long time for the belief in adversariality to emerge from the more traditional view, traceable at least to Plato, that the state should be an organic structure, like a beehive, in which the different social classes cooperate by performing distinct yet complementary roles.

Individualism creates egalitarianism because no individual wants to be left behind or restricted in what they can do. As a result, they demand a utilitarian solution: everyone does whatever they want — small exceptions are made for crimes and blatant antisocial behavior — and decisions are made by choosing whatever is most popular.

This comes from the notion of the moral worth of the individual in individualism:

Individualism, political and social philosophy that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual.

If the individual has moral worth, then all individuals must be included and their choices supported, which naturally prohibits the type of cooperation necessary to create civilization. Individualism expresses itself through “rights” by which an individual can reject the need to uphold social standards, customs, and principles.

Although it was called by different terms, individualism arose from the Renaissance, in which “man is the measure of all things” became a replacement for classical ideas of social order. Instead of designing civilization as a structure, it was conceived as a container for individuals which sought to facilitate their desires.

The French Revolutionaries stated as much when they placed the individual at the center of their society, and made it the goal of that society to serve all individuals.

This inverts social order. Instead of having standards and rewarding those who meet them, we make people the standard, and assume that they can be motivated with external carrot/stick combinations like money and the threat of not having money. Over time this breaks down, and so societies turn toward socialism in order to keep their ideology intact.

We fight a war of ideas. The West adopted individualism, then egalitarianism, and implemented them in Leftism because as the most successful society on Earth, it had the wealth and power to take on a crazy notion and not have it fail immediately. Over the past centuries and especially past fifty years however, we have seen that it fails anyway.

For us to displace Leftism from the West, and nothing else will save us, we must get to the root of this dysfunction and remove the moldy old Renaissance™ and Enlightenment™ notions of equality from our thinking. This requires that we get over ourselves, but we have surmounted greater challenges in the past.

Read more from Amerika…

Suspected serial killer wants an apology from police

Arthur Nelson Ream acknowledges that he raped a teenage hitchhiker in the 1970s, had sex with underage girls and buried 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki in an unmarked grave.

But he denies killing Zarzycki or anyone else, and he says he deserves an apology from Warren police who have called him a suspected serial killer.

Police say Ream could be responsible for four to six murders and they spent several days earlier this month digging unsuccessfully for bones on property near the intersection of 23 Mile and North Avenue in Macomb Township. The missing girls range in age from 12 to 17 and disappeared between 1970 and 1982.

“I’ve never had anything to do with any of them,” Ream told the Free Press on Thursday in an hour-long telephone interview from prison. “There’s absolutely no connection between me and them at all.”

Ream said police should apologize to taxpayers for the money spent on the search and to the families of the missing girls.

“He owes them a big apology for getting their hopes up in this case,” he said. “He owes Cindy Zarzycki’s family a big apology for bringing up bad memories. And he owes me an apology for just getting me dragged into this..”

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said “there is no apology forthcoming.”

“If anybody owes an apology, it’s him and that’s why he’s in prison for life for murder and rape,” Dwyer said. “Why would law enforcement — the Warren Police Department, the FBI, the Michigan State Police — apologize to him? This was a task force. We all believe we have the probable cause. I said our suspect. I always used the word suspect. I never used his name.”

Dwyer said investigators make every effort to keep down costs, which he described as “minimal” but he couldn’t say how much has been spent thus far.

“We don’t go by cost when you’re trying to bring closure to the family of victims,” Dwyer said. “How can you put a cost on bringing closure to families that have suffered for 35 years for an investigation that is really our responsibility and our obligation to do?”

Ream, 69, was transferred last week from a prison in Muskegon Heights to the Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia.

“Due to the amount of media attention his case has received, we felt it was best for his safety and the safety of others, that he be moved,” said prison spokesman Chris Gautz.

Word of the dig in Macomb Township reached Ream in prison.

“To be honest with ya, on one hand I was laughing my ass off and on the other hand, I was pissed off,” Ream said. “So, you take it for what it is. There’s no bodies there that I know of.”

Mind games

Police said they began the search in Macomb Township after talking to Ream’s fellow inmates, reviewing his FBI profile and watching him fail a polygraph test.

What’s more, Ream had a history with that property. It was there that he buried 13-year-old Cindy Zarzycki in 1986. Twenty-two years later, he was convicted of murdering her and he led investigators there to recover her remains.

But Ream also has a history of mind games, toying with investigators in a game of cat and mouse.

In the Zarzycki case, Ream offered to lead investigators to her grave if they reduced his first-degree murder charge to second-degree, which would allow him a shot at parole after 20 years.

Ream said he backed out of his offer, figuring he’d never qualify for parole because of two rape convictions.

Prosecutor Eric Smith said Ream’s offer was rejected. He said when Ream offered to show them where Zarzycki’s body was for a plea agreement “this man was the lowest form of human life that he would bargain with a dead 13-year-old’s body.” Smith said he wasn’t going to take it or “cut him any breaks at all.”

The jury convicted Ream of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Before sentencing, he finally led investigators to the Macomb property.

Asked last week about his reputation for mind games, Ream admitted it.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, why not? You know, I mean, I don’t hurt anybody with it. I don’t get carried away,” Ream said.

Phony maps

Ream said that when he learned police suspected him of killing multiple girls, he toyed with the idea of drawing phony maps to send them on a wild goose chase.

“With Cindy, I drew a map, telling them where she was,” Ream said. “I was so mad at this detective, I drew some maps up and I was going to give them to him. I was just going to have him go dig, willy-nilly, someplace that I knew.”

Ream said he decided against providing the bogus maps because he thought he’d get in deeper trouble for doing it. But he suspects the idea of the maps could be the reason that he failed the polygraph test.

Ream said that when the detective gave him the polygraph test, he asked whether Ream was going to be truthful about three other missing girls.

“I says, ‘yes,’ and, in reality, I wasn’t going to be because I was going to give the detective the maps,” Ream said. “So, that’s probably why I failed it. Now it might not be why, but that’s the only reason I can think.”

Dwyer said investigators are well-versed in Ream’s history.

“We know the history and how he’s played people,” Dwyer said, adding it was part of Ream’s profile. “We understood that. He has that reputation. We knew that going in.”

Dwyer said he remains confident in the investigation.

“Our position is that we still believe that we are on the right track as far as our investigation,” Dwyer said. “As far as him playin’ anybody, I’m not gonna comment on that.”

‘Rough time with women’

Ream grew up in Warren in the 1950s when much of it was still undeveloped. He said he quit school in seventh grade and left home at 13 because his father beat him. He denies being sexually abused.

He learned to install carpet and eventually opened his own flooring business. But his personal life featured constant chaos and an eye for underage girls.

“I’ve had a rough time with women,” Ream told the Free Press.

The first of his four marriages came in 1969 when he was 20. It ended in 1978 after he was convicted of raping a 15-year-old hitchhiker in Shelby Township.

Court records show Ream and his brother-in-law abducted the girl in July 1974. Ream was 26 at the time and his brother-in-law was 15.

The brother-in-law later testified that Ream pulled a switchblade on the girl and told the brother-in-law to use duct tape to blindfold the girl before raping her. Ream ignored the girl’s pleas to stop.

The next day, a detective called Ream about the attack.

“The comment he made was if ‘I ever do this again, I’ll kill the next victim,’ ” the brother-in-law testified in a later case.

Under 1970s laws, Ream was charged with statutory rape, a life offense. The charge was later reduced to indecent liberties with a minor female child, a 10-year felony.

“We picked up a hitchhiker and molested her. I don’t know how more to say about it,” Ream said. “He said, ‘let’s do it,’ I did it. Stupidity. That, in my life, was the worst screw-up so far in my lifetime.”

Ream was convicted and sentenced to five to 10 years in prison, which he began serving in August 1975. Two months later, he wrote to Judge George Deneweth asking for a reduced sentence.

“I have done a lot of thinking here in prison,” Ream wrote. “I want to tell the truth and have a second chance to prove that I will never be in trouble with the law again. I value my family too much to ever risk losing them again.”

Familiar pattern

While he was in prison, Ream’s wife filed for divorce. He tried to salvage the marriage, but she wanted out, claiming he’d beaten her repeatedly in front of their children and carried on affairs, including one with their 15-year-old babysitter.

“This apparently went on for two years while Mrs. Ream was at work,” his wife’s lawyer wrote in a letter to the judge.

“My first wife, I screwed that up pretty bad,” Ream said “It was my fault.”

In the early 1970s, Ream also abused a teenage niece, plying her with alcohol and taking advantage of her, according to Macomb County prosecutors who sought to admit evidence of those crimes in a later case.

Ream’s first divorce was final in February 1978. By then, he’d been granted early parole and the following month, he married again in what he termed “an arranged marriage.” It lasted eight months and they divorced in January 1979.

In December 1979, Ream married for a third time. That marriage lasted until 1986, when his wife divorced him, accusing him of physically abusing her.

“My third marriage, I don’t even know how to explain that. That was crazy,” Ream said. “I shouldn’t have stayed with her as long as I did.”

During that time, prosecutors said, Ream abused two other young girls with whom he was close. One was a 12-year-old niece, the other was a 13-year-old family friend. Both girls were given alcohol and assaulted.

Ream displayed a “common scheme and plan to sexually assault young females: He gains their trust, isolates them, and then rapes them,” Macomb County prosecutors wrote in their request to introduce his history as part of a later case.

Ream married for a final time in 1992, when he said he “found my true love.”

That marriage lasted until 1998, when his wife accused him of physical abuse.

By then, he’d also been accused of raping a 15-year-old girl, for whom he served as legal guardian. Investigators said the pattern was familiar: The girl was given alcohol and raped.

Ream acknowledged pleading guilty but said the sex was consensual, which wouldn’t matter because she was only 15. Ream said he had custody of the girl because her mom was having trouble with her. Ream lived in Roseville at the time, but owned property in Gladwin, where the rape occurred.

“We just went up there for the weekend,” Ream said. “She ended up getting into some liquor that my nephew left in one of the cabins and we ended up having sex. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Ream pleaded guilty in that case, spent 10 years in prison and was preparing to be released when he was charged with Cindy Zarzycki’s murder.

Ream has an explanation for that case as well.

He said Cindy was dating his son Scott and they often hung out at a warehouse for Ream’s business.

“They were on some carpet, she fell, went backward down the elevator chute and died,” Ream said.

Ream said he was responsible for her death because he’d wired the gate to the freight elevate shaft in an open position, to avoid lifting it up and down constantly.

“If the gate was down where it was supposed to be, she would have never fallen,” Ream said. He claims his son called him and he panicked, because he didn’t have insurance, so he removed Cindy’s body and buried it in Macomb Township.

The jury didn’t buy the story and convicted him of first-degree murder, guaranteeing a life term.

Ream now lives in a single cell and passes his days playing cards and watching television. He likes “Big Bang Theory” and watches the new “Roseanne,” but considers the original series better.

One of his brothers visited him about five years ago, but he hasn’t had any visitors since.

Dwyer stands by the investigation, saying investigators have “worked diligently for decades to get to this point.”

Dwyer said no more digging is scheduled, but said the effort was worth doing in a “very, very difficult investigation.”

“We have a responsibility and with the information developed, we had cause to reason the bodies of several young girls were buried at 23 (Mile) and North,” Dwyer said.

Konnie Beyma, the sister of Kimberly King, one of the missing girls police hoped to find in Macomb, said she plans to write to Ream.

“I want him to hear from me directly, word for word,” she said. “I feel an obligation to my sister, Kimberly, to communicate with this man. If he is responsible, I owe it to her to do everything in my power to see if I can get him to share where her remains are located.”

“That’s all I want from him,” Beyma said of Ream. “I simply want Kimberly’s remains. That’s all I want.”

Beyma said that she thinks it’s obvious that Ream killed Zarzycki becayse he knew where her body was buried. She said if he failed a lie detector test on King’s whereabouts, “then he certainly knows something.”

She said even if law enforcement isn’t on the right track immediately in a case, the crime still has to be investigated.

“I don’t see why they’d have to owe anyone an apology for doing their job,” Beyma said.

Ream said that given his history, he knows the public is unlikely to trust him.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t a rapist because I did hurt that girl in the ’70s, so that made me a rapist,” Ream said. He claims his other encounters with young girls were consensual, though he acknowledged the girls were too young to legally consent.

But he insists he’s not a killer, let alone a serial killer.

“For the rest of my life and beyond, I’m going to be known as a serial killer,” he said. “It’s out there. It can never be taken away.”

———

© 2018 the Detroit Free Press

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Gay man who was denied marriage license by Kim Davis loses primary bid to overthrow her in Kentucky

Three years after being denied a marriage license by Rowan County clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky, David Ermold has been edged out of the running for challenging Davis; despite out-earning the primary opponent who beat him by at least $200,000 from 48 states.

Davis consumed the news cycle in 2015 after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs, and memorably served five days in jail rather than give in to court 0rders demanding her compliance.

No Republican is challenging Davis in her current run.

Ermold’s campaign also reportedly received some Hollywood help in his bid for public office, with Susan Sarandon and Amy Schumer both contributing to his campaign.

But Davis hasn’t raised funds or spent any money on her reelection efforts.

In a video from September 1, 2015, Ermold and his partner, David Moore, confront Davis at her office with a crowd of news media. Moore pleads for an explanation from Davis, saying “I pay your salary. I pay you to discriminate against me, right now. That’s what I’m paying for,” after telling her that she’s denying the couple the same rights that she has.

“Would you do this to an interaction couple?” Moore asks Davis. To which she replies: “A man and a woman? No.”

Moore and Ermhold eventually wed after 17 years together.

The winner in Tuesday’s Democratic primary was Elwood Caudill, who will face Davis in November’s election.

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Columnist warns NFL that a ban on kneeling would be “hollow”

The NFL has a league meeting this week, kicking off today, where they will discuss a number of items relating to the rules of the league and various business interests. One possible item on the agenda has to do with the National Anthem protests which several players were still engaged in last season. It’s possible that the league may reverse its previous stance of leaving personnel decisions to the individual teams and place a ban on kneeling covering all 32 teams. That would be a total flipflop on the part of Roger Goodell if it happened, but it’s far from a sure thing.

Weighing in on the subject is Jarrett Bell, NFL correspondent for USA Today Sports and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Bell clearly has some strong feelings on the subject and he implores the league to do precisely nothing. He questions whether or not the league really “gets it” when it comes to the Anthem protests and then goes on to declare that any such ban would be a “hollow” gesture now that the two main antagonists (Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid) are no longer employed.

[A]n anti-kneeling policy would seem rather hollow with Colin Kaepernick and his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, safety Eric Reid, out of work as they pursue collusion cases against the NFL. That Kaepernick, a quarterback in his prime, can’t land a job in a league with a fair share of sorry passers, is about as un-American as it gets. Reid’s only legitimate sniff on the free agent market abruptly ended when he wouldn’t promise Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown that he wouldn’t kneel to further protest police brutality and other social injustices victimizing African-Americans.

The NFL is fashioned as a meritocracy, open for the best players to claim jobs based on competition. Yet in the case of Kaepernick and now Reid, we know better. Whether they can prove collusion or not, this is what being blackballed looks like.

While it may come as a surprise, Bell and I are pretty much on the same page as to what the NFL as a whole should do, though we obviously come at the question from completely opposite perspectives. Bell goes on for an additional dozen paragraphs railing against the unfairness of it all and how players who use the platform of the playing field to espouse their own personal politics shouldn’t be “blacklisted.” He shrugs off the idea that the protests are bad for business without offering any other explanation for football’s tanking ratings over the past two seasons. He further insists that it’s somehow an invasion of a player’s privacy to ask them how they plan to behave (with regards to the Anthem) during hiring interviews. Apparently, the business interests of the franchise are of no consequence in Mr. Bell’s view.

As to what the author would like to see done by Goodell this week (aside from the aforementioned “nothing”), he curiously suggests that Goodell avoid a new position where, “teams can devise their own anthem policies.” That’s an odd reading of the rules from an expert. As we discussed back when Eric Reid was bringing his grievance, NFL rules simply state that the league “takes precedence in the event of ‘conflicting club rules.’” But when there is no rule in place at the league level, the teams are free to run their operations as they see fit. The NFL has no rule about Anthem protests, so the situation Bell seeks to avoid is actually already the status quo.

And that point brings me back to where we started. Though for very different reasons, I too feel that Roger Goodell should “do nothing” about Anthem protests at this point. The time to do so would have been when Kaepernick first started this entire mess. But too much water has gone under the bridge at this point and Goodell lacked the spine to bring the situation under control when it would have counted. Now it would look like cowardice or failure finally drove him to do his job.

Jarrett Bell sings the praises of the NFL for traditionally being a meritocracy, where the best players claim jobs through a process of competition. But there’s more than simple, raw numbers of completed passes, yards gained, tackles or interceptions which go into deciding which player is the best fit for each team. The teams should be left to pick who they want to start and, in the same spirit, be able to make their own rules about player behavior on the field. Then, as in a true meritocracy, the fans will vote with their wallets and television viewing habits as to who got it right.

The post Columnist warns NFL that a ban on kneeling would be “hollow” appeared first on Hot Air.

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It Didn’t Use to Be This Way

One telling detail keeps escaping the men and women of words who would end school shootings by one expedient or another: gun control, better security, the arming of teachers, more careful vetting of potential gunmen and so forth.

The detail of which I speak: We didn’t use to endure this horror. It didn’t happen.

The urgent question that flows from this detail: Why not?

Well, to start with, because things were different, prior to the shooting fests, which break so many hearts and generate so much despair.

Right, yes — but different in what way?

I will take a crack at this: Our culture (as we have come to call the circumstances of daily life) was cooler, calmer, less emotional, more orderly than it has become since then — which is not the same as saying pre-massacre culture (what a term) was cool, calm, and unemotional. It was not. Those personally familiar with that culture know better, I hope, than to indulge in nose-honkings over the joys of the past.

Still, massacres, explosions of personal rage, were rare and generally connected with mental disorder, such as the case of Howard Unruh, the World War II vet who went wild in New Jersey in 1949, gunning down people on and off the street, including a barber and his 6-year-old customer. There were guns enough out there, no doubt; nevertheless, few thought of using them in today’s ghastly, almost customary, way.

We didn’t use to endure this horror. It didn’t happen (or, save for Howard Unruh, hardly ever).

I am still taking a crack at this thing, with no more deleterious effect, I hope, than would flow from an attack on the Second Amendment. I submit that the factor at which we should look for explanation is social control: its widespread presence in pre-massacre time and its absence in the present day.

I do not mean that the secret police ran life back then. I mean institutions did, more or less, and with a touch far lighter and more helpful, in most cases, than today’s advocates of liberation would admit under coaxing from a liberally applied cat o’ nine tails. Whee, we’re free! So goes the general apologia for the removal of rules and guidelines of all kinds.

Free we are, or there wouldn’t have been much point to America. Yet Americans, according to the manner of their (generally) British culture, acknowledged not just opportunities but obligations. Institutions took these obligations, and their (normally) gentle enforcement, with great seriousness and sense of duty.

Mothers and fathers were supposed to impart to children a sense of… well, plain old decent behavior would likely cover it. Churches posited their own senses of duty and right belief — often overlapping the teachings of parents. Schools, as virtually anybody who attended one in the pre-massacre era can testify, necessarily exerted forms of control. If they hadn’t, no teaching would have taken place.

Was it all done perfectly? Who’d make such a ridiculous claim as that? Of course it wasn’t done perfectly. Sometimes it was done wretchedly.

But we didn’t use to endure the horror of mass massacres. People didn’t fear taking their children to school. Now they do.

The real horror of the matter is the hand-waving futility the massacre debate engenders. No one can believe, with any depth of conviction, that tighter gun control laws would make life as safe as a public library story hour.

The rebuilding and refitting of our weakened institutions, public and private, is the only path toward peace. But how to bring that about? Through change in beliefs and commitments: which is where the heavy lifting begins, as old formulas for human flourishing (e.g., the indispensability of the two-parent family) are reinserted into the common life. Or, through human folly, not reinserted.

The fact is that too few acknowledge the unmatched power of benevolent institutions to shape character, maintain the general peace, and impart dignity to human life — as well as keep it safe and free. But they do. Or rather, they did: here, there — yes, and in Santa Fe, Texas.

William Murchison is writing a book on moral restoration.

COPYRIGHT 2018 CREATORS.COM

The post It Didn’t Use to Be This Way appeared first on The American Spectator.

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The UK owes Russia an explanation over Skripal case, and an apology

Ever since the suspected poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on British soil, for which the Kremlin has been duly blamed, the recovering pair has not been seen. Russia says the Skripals are being held against their will. If ever the world needed the likes of a Sherlock Holmes to help solve a crime, now is certainly the time. But even London’s legendary super sleuth would have trouble cracking the case of the missing Skripals – Sergei and his daughter, Yulia – and not least of all because their story is deeply fraught with political intrigue and skullduggery. Indeed, not only does the British government refuse to share information on the case with Russia – despite the fact that it involves an apparent murder attempt on two Russian citizens – it has even refused to allow family members from visiting the victims in England.

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