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  • Archive for the 'Crime and Punishment' Category

    HOWTO: improve a historic document via committee

    Posted by L. C. Rees on 4th July 2014 (All posts by )

    How the Declaration of Independence evolved from its first draft by Thomas Jefferson (blue) to the revised draft by the Committee of Five (John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman (red) to the final changes made by the Continental Congress as a committee of the whole (bold black) (source):

    A Declaration of the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled. In Congress, July 4,1776. The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.
     
    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a People to advance from that Subordination, in which they have hitherto remained, one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the Ppowers of the Eearth the equal and independant Station the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Rrespect to the opinions of Mmankind requires that they should declare the Ccauses which impel them to the Change separation.
     
    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which that among these are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. tThat to secure these Ends rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the Cconsent of the governed; t.—That whenever any Form of gGovernment shall become becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Rright of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Ffoundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Ccauses; and accordingly all Eexperience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to Ssuffer, while Eevils are Ssufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of Aabuses and Uusurpations, begun at a distinguish’d Period and, pursuing invariably the same oObject, evinces a Ddesign to reduce them under absolute Power dDespotism, it is their Rright, it is their Dduty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient Ssufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Nnecessity which constrains them to expunge alter their former systems of government. The history of his present Majesty, the present king of Great Britain is a history of unremitting repeated injuries and usurpations, among which no one Fact stands Single or Solitary to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, all of which have having in direct object the Eestablishment of an absolute Ttyranny over these Sstates. To prove this let Ffacts be Ssubmitted to a candid Wworld., for the Truth of which We pledge a Faith, as yet unsullied by falsehood.
     
    He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
     
    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has neglected utterly to attend to them.
     
    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accomodation of large Ddistricts of Ppeople unless those Ppeople would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a Rright inestimable to them, and formidable to Ttyrants only.
     
    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public rRecords, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
     
    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly and continually,for opposing with manly Ffirmness his Iinvasions on the Rrights of the Ppeople;
     
    He has refused, for a long Space of Ttime after such Ddissolutions to cause others to be elected, whereby the lLegislative Ppowers, incapable of aAnnihilation have returned to the People at large for their Eexercise, the sState remaining, in the mean Ttime meantime, exposed to all the Ddangers of Iinvasion from without, and Convulsions within.
     
    He has endeavoured to prevent the Ppopulation of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for nNaturalization of fForeigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Mmigrations hither, and raising the Cconditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
     
    He has suffered obstructed the Administration of Justice totally to cease in some of these Colonies, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
     
    He has made our Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Ttenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their Ssalaries.
     
    He has created a Mmultitude of nNew oOffices by a Self-assumed Power, and sent hither swarms of oOfficers to harass our Ppeople, and eat out their Ssubstance.
     
    He has kept among us, in Ttimes of Ppeace, Standing Armies and Ships of War without the cConsent of our legislatures..
     
    He has affected to render the mMilitary independent of and Superiour superior to the cCivil Ppower.
     
    He has combined with others to subject us to a Jjurisdiction foreign to our Cconstitution, and unacknowledged by our Llaws; giving his Assent to their pretended Acts of pretended Legislation:
     
    fFor quartering large Bbodies of armed Ttroops among us:
     
    fFor protecting them, by a Mmock Tryal Ttrial from Ppunishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
     
    fFor cutting off our Ttrade with all Pparts of the Wworld;
     
    fFor imposing Taxes on as without our Consent—fFor depriving Uus in many cases of the Bbenefits of Trial by Jjury;
     
    fFor transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
     
    fFor abolishing the free sSystem of English Llaws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an aArbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these cColonies:
     
    fFor taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable lLaws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government:
     
    fFor suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Ppower to legislate for us in all Ccases whatsoever.
     
    He has abdicated Government here withdrawing his Governors, and by declaring us out of his Allegiance and pProtection, and waging war against us.
     
    He has plundered our Sseas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our Ppeople.
     
    He is at this Ttime transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete compleat the Wworks of death, Ddesolation, andTtyranny, already begun with Ccircumstances of Ccruelty and Pperfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nnation.
     
    He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Iinhabitants of our Ffrontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rrule of Wwarfare is an undistinguished Ddestruction of all Aages, Ssexes, and Cconditionsof existence.
     
    He has incited treasonable Insurrections of our Fellow Citizens, with the allurement of Forfeiture and Confiscation of our Property.
     
    He has constrained others our fellow citizens taken cCaptive on the high sSeas, to bear arms against their cCountry, to become the executioners of their friends and bBrethren, or to fall themselves by their hHands:
     
    He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and Liberty in the Persons of a distant People who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into Slavery in another Hemisphere, or to incur miserable Death, in their Transportation thither. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.
     
    He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Market where Men should be bought and sold, and that this assemblage of Horrors might want no Fact of distinguished Die.
     
    He is now exciting those very People to rise in Arms among us, and to purchase their Liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the People upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off, former Crimes committed against the Liberties of one People, with Crimes which he urges them to commit against the Lives of another.
     
    In every stage of these oOppressions wWe have pPetitioned for rRedress, in the most humble tTerms: oOur repeated Petitions have been answered by repeated Iinjury.
     
    A Prince whose Ccharacter is thus marked by every Aact which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Rruler of a People who mean to be free people. future ages will scarce believe, that the Hardiness of one Man, adventured, within the Short Compass of twelve years only, on so many Acts of Tyranny, without a Mask, over a People, fostered and fixed in the Principles of Liberty.
     
    Nor have wWe been wanting in Aattentions to our British Bbrethren. We have warned them from Ttime to Ttime of attempts of by their Llegislature to extend a an unwarranted Jjurisdiction over these our States us. We have reminded them of the Ccircumstances of our Eemigration and Ssettlement here no one of which could warrant so strange a Pretension. That these were effected at the expense of our own Blood and Treasure, unassisted by the Wealth or the Strength of Great Britain; that in constituting indeed, our Several Forms of Government, we had adopted one common King, thereby laying a Foundation for Perpetual League and Amity with them; but that Submission to their Parliament, was no Part of our Constitution, nor ever in Idea, if History may be credited; and wWe have appealed to their Nature, native Jjustice and Mmagnanimity and we have conjured them by as well as to the Tties of our common Kkindred to disavow these usurpations which were likely to would inevitably interrupt our Correspondence and Connection connection and correspondance. They too have been deaf to the Vvoice of Jjustice and of Cconsanguinity. and when occasions have been given them by the regular Course of their Laws of removing from their Councils, the Disturbers of our Harmony, they have by their free Election, re-established them in Power. At this very Time too, they are permitting their Chief Magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our common Blood, but Scotch and foreign Mercenaries, to invade and deluge us in Blood. These Facts have given the last Stab to agonizing affection, and manly Spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling Brethren. We must endeavour to forget our former Love for them, and to hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We might have been a free and a great People together but a Communication of Grandeur and of Freedom it seems is below their Dignity. Be it so, since they will have it: The Road to Happiness and to Glory is open to us too; we will climb it, apart from them We must therefore and acquiesce in the Nnecessity which denounces our eternal Sseparation and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
     
    We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress aAssembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these States Colonies, reject and renounce all Allegiance and Subjection to the Kings of Great Britain, and all others, who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; We utterly dissolve and break off, all political Connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us and the People or Parliament of Great Britain, and finally we do assert solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be fFree and iIndependent States; that they are Absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as fFree and iIndependent States, they shall hereafter have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which independent States may of Right do. And for the Ssupport of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honour Honor.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, History, Holidays, Rhetoric, Systems Analysis, Tradeoffs, USA | 3 Comments »

    Book Review: That Hideous Strength, by C S Lewis

    Posted by David Foster on 24th June 2014 (All posts by )

    That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis

    —-

    This was the first thing Mark had been asked to do which he himself, before he did it, clearly knew to be criminal. But the moment of his consent almost escaped his notice; certainly, there was no struggle, no sense of turning a corner. There may have been a time in the world’s history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But, for him, it all slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men.

    Mark Studdock is a young on-the-make sociologist, a professor at Bracton College, in an English town called Edgestow. He is is far more interested in university politics than in his research or teaching. and as a member of the “progressive element” at the college, he strongly supports Bracton selling a tract of property to a government-sponsored entity called NICE. The NICE is the National Institute for Coordinated Experimentation,which Lewis describes as “the first fruits of that constructive fusion between the state and the laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes of a better world.”  What excites Mark most about the NICE is this:

    The real thing is that this time we’re going to get science applied to social problems and backed by the whole force of the state, just as war has been backed by the whole force of the state in the past.  One hopes, of course, that it’ll find out more than the old freelance science did, but what’s certain is that it can do more.

    Trigger Warning: There is something in this book to offend almost everybody.  It contains things that will offend technologists and believers in human progress…social scientists…feminists…academic administrators…bioscience researchers…and surely many other categories of people.  It will probably also offend some Christians, for the way in which Christian theology is mixed with non-Christian magic. By the standards now becoming current in American universities, this book, and even this book review, should be read by no one at all.  But for those who do not accept those standards…

    The Basic Story. Mark has recently married Jane, a woman with strong literary interests and with vague plans for getting an advanced degree. She has recently started having disturbing, indeed terrifying, dreams, which suggest that she has a clairvoyant ability to see distant events in real time. Afraid that she is losing her mind, Jane seeks advice, and is told that her dreams are actually visions, they are very real, will not stop, and are of utmost importance:

    “Young lady,” said Miss Ironwood, “You do not at all realize the seriousness of this matter. The things you have seen concern something compared with which the happiness, and even the life, of you and me, is of no importance.”

    Miss Ironwood warns Jane that extremely evil people will seek to use her gift, and that she would do well–both for her own interests and those of the entire human race–to join the community of which Miss Ironwood is a part, located at a place called St Anne’s. Jane responds quite negatively to the invitation, afraid that membership in the St Anne’s group will limit her autonomy. She is not interested in the dreams’ meaning; she just wants them to go away.

    Mark, on the other hand, responds enthusiastically when he is invited to take a position at the NICE, temporarily located at an old manor called Belbury.  One of the first people he meets there is the Head of the Institutional Police, a woman named Miss Hardcastle (picture Janet Napolitano), nicknamed the Fairy, who explains to Mark her theory of crime and punishment:

    “Here in the Institute, we’re backing the crusade against Red Tape.”  Mark gathered that, for the Fairy, the police side of the Institute was the really important side…In general, they had already popularized in the press the idea that the Institute should be allowed to experiment pretty largely in the hope of discovering how far humane, remedial treatment could be substituted for the old notion of “retributive” or “vindictive” punishment…The Fairy pointed out that what had hampered every English police force up to date was precisely the idea of deserved punishment. For desert was always finite; you could do so much to the criminal and no more. Remedial treatment, on the other hand, need have no fixed limit; it could go on till it had effected a cure, and those who were carrying it out would decide when that was.  And if cure were humane and desirable, how much more prevention?  Soon anyone who had ever been in the hands of the police at all would come under the control of the NICE; in the end, every citizen.

    Another person Mark meets in his first days at Belbury is the acclaimed chemist William Hingest…who has also come down to investigate the possibility of a job at Belbury, has decided against it, and strongly advises Mark to do likewise:

    “I came down here because I thought it had something to do with science. Now that I find it’s something more like a political conspiracy, I shall go home. I’m too old for that kind of thing, and if I wanted to join a conspiracy, this one wouldn’t be my choice.”

    “You mean, I suppose, that the element of social planning doesn’t appeal to you? I can quite understand that it doesn’t fit in with your work as it does with sciences like Sociology, but–”

    “There are no sciences like Sociology. And if I found chemistry beginning to fit in with a secret police run by a middle-aged virago who doesn’t wear corsets and a scheme for taking away his farm and his shop and his children from every Englishman, I’d let chemistry go to the devil and take up gardening again…I happen to believe that you can’t study men, you can only get to know them, which is quite a different thing. Because you study them, you want to make the lower orders govern the country and listen to classical music, which is balderdash. You also want to take away from them everything that makes life worth living and not only from them but from everyone except a parcel of prigs and professors.”

    Nevertheless, Mark decides to remain at Belbury, and is drawn ever-deeper into its activities–which, as only those in the innermost circles of that organization realize, are not only consistent with the goals of the 20th-century totalitarianisms, but go considerably beyond them.  The NICE seeks to establish a junction between the powers of modern science and those of ancient magic, accessing the latter by awakening the medieval wizard Merlin and using him for their purposes.  At the same time, Jane–despite her reservations–becomes increasingly involved  with the company at St Anne’s and is entranced with its leader, a Mr Fisher-King. (His name comes from the Wounded King in Arthurian legend.)  The St Anne’s group is aware of the truth about NICE and its ultimate goals, and exists for the primary purpose of opposing and, hopefully, destroying that organization.

    I will not here describe the war between the forces of Belbury and those of St Anne’s (in order to avoid spoilers), but will instead comment on the characters of some of the protagonists and some philosophically-significant events in the novel, with appropriate excerpts. Hopefully this will be enough to give a sense of the worldview that Lewis is presenting in this book.

    Mark Studdock. His character is largely defined by his strong desire to be a member of the Inner Circle, whatever that inner circle may be in a particular context.  The passage at the start of this review where Mark agrees to engage in criminal activity on Belbury’s behalf is proceeded by this:

    After a few evenings Mark ventured to walk into the library on his own; a little uncertain of his reception, yet afraid that if he did not soon assert his right to the entree this modesty might damage him. He knew that the error in either direction is equally fatal.

    It was a success. Before he had closed the door behind him all had turned with welcoming faces and Filostrato had said “Ecco ” and the Fairy, “Here’s the very man.” A glow of pleasure passed over Mark’s whole body.

    That “glow of pleasure” at being accepted by the Belbury’s Inner Circle (what Mark then thinks is Belbury’s Inner Circle) is strong enough to overcome any moral qualms on Mark’s part about the actions he is being requested to perform.  Lewis has written a great deal elsewhere about the lust for the Inner Circle, which in his view never leads to satisfaction but only to a longing for membership in another, still-more-inner circle. In That Hideous Strength, there are concentric Inner Circles at Belbury, which Mark does penetrate–and each is more sinister than the last.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Bioethics, Book Notes, Britain, Christianity, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Leftism, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy | 12 Comments »

    SWOT, One Year On

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 15th April 2014 (All posts by )

    A year ago I was dispassionately composing my analysis. Today, when I left the Sprint campus and drove east on 115th Street to turn north on Nall toward I-435, there were TV news vans with telescoping antennae lining the street at the entrance to the Jewish Community Center.

    Coincidentally the number of dead is identical. There are, however, no (physically) injured survivors, and the motivation for the attack was similar only in that it was intended to draw attention to a cause. I fear that the perpetrator is cunning enough to succeed in that; his previous notoriety was due to legally forcing some radio stations to briefly carry Nazi ads during an election campaign season. Much has been made of the gentile – and indeed seriously committed Christian – identity of the victims, but I believe that was unimportant to him. What mattered was that he seize a mechanism for dissemination of conspiracy theories, and now, given the administrative blockheadedness of the American justice system and the puerile conventions of American journalism, we are all too likely to be subjected to many hours and tens of thousands of words of exceptionally vicious, totalitarian propaganda, varying portions of which will be heard by tens of millions of people. This guy knew exactly what he was doing.

    I could tell that from the video snippets of his arrest, just as I could tell, hours before it was officially confirmed, that he would turn out to have come from rural Missouri (Aurora is nearly a 3-hour drive from Overland Park; he had to have cased both facilities beforehand) and would turn out to be a southerner with prior Klan involvement. It was completely obvious from his accent, his tone of voice, and his attitude on camera. He is now operating inside the American institutional OODA loop. Our entirely proper determination to grant a scrupulously fair trial – when we’re not piling on the charges in order to ram a plea bargain through, that is – will be roughly equivalent to giving him not airtime for advertisements, but his own highly rated nationwide radio network.

    Fortunately, he is also sufficiently sui generis that copycat attacks are unlikely, at least in the immediate future. Should an American Dolchstoßlegende catch on, however, things may deteriorate sharply. The general case is to scapegoat a relatively small, easily-identified minority: it was the “1%,” or twenty-five guys on Wall Street, or the Koch brothers – or George Soros, or Obama/Pelosi/Reid, or the leftist academics on their Long March through the institutions – or (of course) Jews, or Latino immigrants or Asians stealing our jobs. If we just expropriate, or deport, or exterminate them, and everyone like them, the story goes, our country will be purified, and Utopia ensue. The ideology may be Nazi or Communist; either will do in a pinch, as Hayek wrote nearly three-quarters of a century ago: its adherents are uncertain, and know only that they hate Western liberal civilization.

    Just to make things more complicated, tolerance can definitely be taken too far. Interviews with the perpetrator’s neighbors in Lawrence County, Missouri, immediately elicit idiotic postmodernist comments to the effect that he seemed like a nice enough guy but had some opinions that they didn’t agree with. Great. Your assigned reading is here, you nitwits.

    So when blood ran in the streets of my city, did I follow my own advice in the ostensibly-uplifting conclusion to my analysis of a year ago, and immediately redouble my efforts on whatever it is I was supposed to be doing? Well, it was a Sunday, so there was somewhat less of that, although I tend to devise more projects for my spare time than I could possibly execute anyway. But in the event, whatever it may say about me, I felt tremendously violated, as though the murders had occurred in my driveway rather than six miles away. And what I actually did was drink rather more cheap boxed red wine than usual and break down a couple of times. I don’t have any particular aversion to weeping, but I don’t need to do so very often. Turns out I needed to on Sunday evening. The question of how I will react should much larger-scale events occur in even closer proximity remains unanswered.

    The problem, of course, is that this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen here … which is a rather hypocritical sentiment in light of the actual statistics on violent death locally. A couple-three people a week get murdered in this town, three-quarters of them in an area covering only one-tenth of the municipality of KC, Mo., and a tiny fraction of the area of the entire MSA. Assuming that the said area (34 mi²) has the same population density as zip code 64130 (of which it largely consists), a moment with a calculator establishes that the homicide rate in question – the southwestern boundary of that area reaches to within two miles of my house – is nearly 80 per 100,000 per year, making it one of the most dangerous places in the Western world, and also as dangerous as Iraq before the Surge, which the media thoughtfully informed us at the time was the Worst Thing Ever. Gallivanting off to Haïti is all very well, but perhaps I should find a more local ministry to volunteer with while I’m at it.

    But it really isn’t supposed to happen here, and not just because Overland Park is a world away from the East Side. Side-by-side, indeed inextricably mixed, with the ongoing mayhem five minutes’ drive from my doorstep is a deep reservoir of peace and contentment. God damn it, we just want to listen to jazz and eat barbecue. In its best moments, there is no gentler place on Earth. The lives of those taken on Sunday bear witness to that.

    “The new thing — the thing which we had not known — the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.” – Harry S. Truman, Radio Report to the American People on the Potsdam Conference, 9 August 1945

    “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now.” – Harry S. Truman, to reporters, 13 April 1945

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, History, Judaism, Law Enforcement, National Security, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 3 Comments »

    You Know, I Always Wondered …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th April 2014 (All posts by )

    … about the egregious Al Sharpton, whom I will not dignify with the title of reverend, first because there is no record of the fat, illiterate, race-baiting rabble-rouser ever having attended a seminary of any sort, and secondly because … oh, good lord, just look at those old pictures of him from the 1970s and 80s; jheri-curled, velour track suit and gold pendant the size of a man-hole cover. People, trust me when I tell you that I require a smidge more dignity from those who hold churchly office in any denomination, a standard from which Al Sharpton fell so far that he would need a bucket-truck with a three-story-tall extension even to get close.
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    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Diversions, Media, Society, The Press, Urban Issues | 22 Comments »

    Nagin Set To Go To Jail

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Much has been written both here and elsewhere about Hurricane Katrina, and one of the last chapters was written in court yesterday.

    Ray Nagin, the ex mayor of New Orleans, who we saw pointing fingers, yelling, cursing, and giving us the “woe is us” routine for days and weeks on end after Katrina, was convicted on seven million counts of bribery, wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and setting fire to children. Well, not that last part.

    Many of the crimes were from his pre-Katrina days as the standard, run of the mill mayor scam in New Orleans. I imagine these crimes are the tip of the iceburg but I will take it. He will be spending the next 15 plus years in jail.

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, New Orleans Tragedy | 22 Comments »

    History Friday – The Man With a Past

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th January 2014 (All posts by )

    It was one of the clichés in the old Wild West – that part of it which featured in dime novels, silent serial movies, Wild West Shows, and television shows – the crooked lawman. It did have some basis in fact, though; the recently established cow-towns and mining towns were tough places. Very often the natural choice for keeping the local bad-hats in some kind of seemly order was to co-opt the biggest, meanest baddest bad-hat of them all to administer order as sheriff. Not infrequently, said bad-hat was also a gambler, owned a saloon or an establishment of negotiable affections, and alternated between managing said establishment or the cards and keeping law and order. Other law officers started off on the side of the angels and went to the bad – such as the sheriff of Bannock, Montana, Henry Plummer, who was hanged by the local Vigilante organization in Virginia City. (The vigilantes were convinced by evidence that he was the head of a gang of road-agents, stock thieves and murderers.) In other words, the path wavering back and forth between the darkness and the light was a pretty well-trodden one, and so was the one-way path from light to darkness. But for one who walked from darkness of a criminal life, into the light of upholding the law – and remained there for most of his life, nothing quite comes close to the life of one particular lawman.
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    Posted in Americas, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, History | 5 Comments »

    History Friday: The Great Adventure of Captain McNelly

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd November 2013 (All posts by )

    (I’m off to a book event today – the Christmas Market, or Weihnachtsmarkt, at the conference center in New Braunfels, for the launch of The Quivera Trail. In the mean time, another thrilling frontier adventure. The details and the quotes are taken from Walter Prescott Webb’s history of the Rangers, which is so powerfully testosterone-laden that I have to keep it sectioned between a couple of … milder-themed books which have a sedating effect.)

    After the debacle of the Civil War, the Texas Rangers barely existed as an entity – either in Indian-fighting, or law-enforcing. The Federal government would not countenance the organization of armed bodies of volunteers for any purpose. Combating Indians or cross-border bandits was the business of the regular Army; interested semi-amateurs need not apply. But a Reconstruction-Republican governor, E. J. Davis, did institute a state police force in 1870, the existence of which was lauded as necessary for the preservation of law and order – such as it was. The state police under Davis was relatively short-lived and unadorned by laurels during its brief term, being dissolved at the end of his administration – but one of their officers had such a sterling reputation that when the Texas Rangers were formally reorganized, he was charged with heading one of the two divisions. One was the Frontier Battalion, dedicated to the Ranger’s traditional mission of fighting hostile Indians. The other – the Special Force – was charged with generally upholding law and order, shortly to become the Ranger’s modern raison d’être. Leander Harvey McNelly served for only a brief time in the interim of the change from Indian fighting to upholding law and order – but his leadership inspired many of those Rangers who took note of his personal example to heart.
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    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, History, War and Peace | 1 Comment »

    The End of Camelot

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th November 2013 (All posts by )

    So – coming up on another one of those Very Significant Anniversaries, I see – being reminded by the perfect flood of stories reflecting back on Jack and Jackie and that fateful swing through Texas in 1963. My – fifty years, a whole half-century … yes, it’s time again to go back to those heartbreaking days of yesteryear and recall the blighted promise, the towering intellectual and romantic splendor of the Kennedy White House, the space race to the moon, Jackie’s unerring sense of style and taste … also little things like Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, eyeball to eyeball with the Soviets, immanent thermonuclear war, speedball injections from Dr. Feelgood, and the Kennedy men porking anything female who was unwary enough to stand still for a moment. Why, yes – I was never really a Kennedy fan, per se. Nor were my family, since Mom and Dad were your basic steady Eisenhower Republicans, and maintained a faint and Puritan distrust of anything smacking of glamor, or media-generated BS. Which they were correct in, as it eventually emerged in small discrete dribbles and decades later, that practically everything about the Kennedys was fake, except for Jackie’s taste in fashion and interior decoration.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Diversions, History | 22 Comments »

    Six Hundred Million Years in K-12

    Posted by David Foster on 30th August 2013 (All posts by )

    (This rerun is in honor of the beginning of the new school year…indeed, many kids have now already been in school for 3 weeks or even more.)

    Peter Orszag, who was Obama’s budget director and is now a vice chairman at Citigroup, thinks it would be a good idea to cut back on summer school vacations for kids, arguing that this would both improve academics and reduce obesity.

    I’m with Jeremy LottBut to look at the vast wasteland that is American public education — the poor teaching, the awful curriculum, the low standards, the anemic achievement, the institutional resistance to needed reform — and say that the real problem is summer vacation takes a special sort of mind.

    I wrote about the war on summer vacation back in 2006, after stopping at a store in Georgia on the first day of August and discovering that this was the first day of school for the local children. In this post, I said:

    The truth is, most public K-12 schools make very poor use of the time of their students. They waste huge proportions of the millions of hours which have been entrusted to them–waste them through the mindless implementation of fads and theories, waste them through inappropriate teacher-credentialing processes, waste them through refusal to maintain high standards of performance and behavior.

    When an organization or institution proves itself to be a poor steward of the resources that have been entrusted to it, the right answer is not to give it more resources to waste.

    Orszag and similar thinkers seem to have no concept that good things can happen to children’s development outside of an institutional setting. Plenty of kids develop and pursue interests in science, literature, art, music…plus, there is plenty to be learned simply by interacting with friends in an unstructured environment.

    Would the world be better off if Steve Wozniak and Jeri Ellsworth..to name only two of many, many examples..had their noses held constantly to the school grindstone rather than having time to develop their interests in electronics?

    Lewis E Lawes, who was warden of Sing Sing prison from 1915 to 1941, wrote an interesting book titled Twenty Thousand Years in Sing Sing. The title refers to the aggregate lengths of the sentences of the men in the prison at a typical particular point in time.

    Lawes:

    Twenty-five hundred men saddled with an aggregate of twenty thousand years! Within such cycles worlds are born, die, and are reborn. That span has witnessed the evolution of the intelligence of mortal man. And we know that twenty thousand years have seen nations run their courses, perish, and give way to their successors. Twenty thousand years in my keeping. What will they evolve?

    Following the same approach, the aggregate length of the terms to be spent in K-12 schools by their current students is more than 600,000,000 years. What proportion of this time is actually used productively?

    And how many of the officials who supervise and run the public schools, and the ed-school professors who influence their policies, think about this 600,000,000 years in the same serious and reflective way that Lawes thought about the 20,000 years under his supervision? Some do, of course, but a disturbing percentage of them seem to be simply going through the bureaucratic motions.

    And the politicians and officials of the Democratic Party are the last people in the world who are ever going to call them on it.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Education, Politics, USA | 7 Comments »

    When Nixon Meets RICO, Obama’s Real IRS Problem

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 21st May 2013 (All posts by )

    Over the week end of May 18-19 2013 the Obama Administration official Dan Pfeiffer went out and spun the IRS scandal saying “The law is irrelevant”. On the contrary, the law is very much relevant to the IRS scandal, including prohibitions against specific acts by IRS personnel and more general laws of which the ones to watch concern private civil actions for damages under the federal Racketeering, Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act (18 USC 1961, et seq.) and Civil Rights Act (42 USC 1983, et seq.). There is every possibility that the victims of the IRS’s suppression of Obama political opponent free speech rights will sue the IRS and individual IRS employees under the civil rights and civil RICO laws for a $150-to-$650 million legal payday.

    Remember, _THE IRS CONFESSED_. There is no argument that it admitted some of its actions concerning Tea Party organization tax-exempt applications were unlawful, i.e.., illegal. It is obvious that the IRS and its staff engaged in an organized multi-work unit, multi-state, plus Washington DC Headquarters, wide conspiracy to suppress the Tea Party. The IRS unlawfully applied special rules to Tea Party applicants that it did not to others and that conspiracy prevented them from exercising their free speech rights for the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

    It also is very clear that the IRS — via the questions it was asking the Tea Party and other religious non-profits — was busy creating a quite extensive Nixonian/Ailinskyite ENEMIES LIST for future use in intimidation and the depriving Obama Administration political opponents of their Constitutional Rights.

    Those are classic CONSPIRACY AGAINST RIGHTS (18 USC 241) and DEPRIVATION RIGHTS UNDER COLOR OF LAW (18 USC 242) violations.

    See these criminal federal civil rights statutes, whose violation gives rise to civil liability for damages too:

    Conspiracy Against Rights (18 USC 241)
    If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

    If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

    and

    Deprivation Rights Under Color of Law (18 USC 242)
    Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both;

    and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

    That is the criminal side of things.

    The problem AG Holder is going to suffer obstructing discovery in civil rights and civil RICO lawsuits against the IRS is that criminal prosecutions and civil suits for damages proceed in tandem. The civil suits aren’t stayed by criminal prosecutions on the same subject, let alone by criminal “investigations” short of prosecutions.

    The IRS “Special Group’s” delay of tax exempt status prevented Tea Party NGO’s from fund raising and participating in two political cycles (2010 and 2012) by educating “low information voters” as to the political issues of the day, like the National Rifle Association does. The NGO’s whose applications for tax-exempt status were slow-rolled can claim “trade and business” damages under Civil RICO provisions of Federal law. And the Supreme Court of the USA decided decades ago that criminal acts by the Federal government “under the color of law” do not qualify for sovereign immunity under the Federal supremacy clause of the constitution.

    To quote a lawyer I know –
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Elections, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Obama, Politics, Tea Party, The Press, Uncategorized | 24 Comments »

    Heed the Voices

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th May 2013 (All posts by )

    IRS Intimidation Forced Founder to Shut Down Tea Party Group.

    Progressive Group: IRS Gave US Conservative Groups’ Confidential Documents.

    IG report: ‘Inappropriate Criteria’ Stalled IRS Approvals of Conservative Groups.

    During the 2012 election cycle the Internal Revenue Service did not act as an objective, nonpartisan arm of government subject to the rule of law.

    Instead the Internal Revenue service acted as an arm of the Democrat Party, engaged in harassment, intimidation and opposition research for partisan political purposes.

    The result of the most recent Presidential election, in the key state of Ohio, was impacted, possibly decisively, by this intentional, partisan, coordinated, unlawful activity.

    Yet this entity, the Internal Revenue Service, will imprison you if you disobey it.

    There are “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity … that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”

    Heed the voices.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Politics, Public Finance, Tea Party, USA | 6 Comments »

    Obama’s IRS Management Problem

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th May 2013 (All posts by )

    The Obama administration has a huge “management problem” with its spin of the nakedly partisan and highly illegal IRS denial of Tea Party non-profit tax status. One that makes the IRS scandal an “on-going criminal conspiracy” in the RICO sense and places “Nixon offense” impeachment charges in Pres. Obama’s future.

    This is the IRS Tea Party Case Timeline Courtesy of ABC News:

    http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Appendix%20VI%20and%20Appendix%20VII.PDF

    This is my list of the Cincinnati, Ohio and IRS HQ management positions involved in Tea Party cases by title, location and first date mentioned from the linked document.

    1. Determinations Unit Group Manager (Ohio?) [1] — 1 Mar 2010
    2. Acting Manager, Technical Unit [1] (Ohio) — 16 Mar 2010
    3. New Acting Manager, Technical Unit [2] (Ohio) — 1 Apr 2010
    4. Determinations Unit Program Manager (Ohio?) — 25 Apr 2010
    5. Determinations Unit Area Manager (Ohio?)– 26 Oct 2010
    6. Technical Unit manager (Ohio) — 16 Nov 2010
    7. Senior Technical Advisor to the Director, EO (IRS Washington DC) — 13 Dec 2010
    8. New Technical Unit Acting Manager [3] (Ohio) — Jan 2011
    9. Acting Director, Rulings and Agreements [1] (IRS Washington DC) — 1 June 2011
    10. Director, EO. (IRS Washington DC) — 29 June 2011
    11. -Title or titles unknown- in EO function (IRS Washington DC) Headquarters office — 5 July 2011
    12. IRS Chief Counsel (IRS Washington DC) — 4 Aug 2011
    13. New Acting Director, Rulings and Agreements [2] (IRS Washington DC) — October 2011
    14. New Acting Group Manager “of the team of specialists” (Ohio?) — March 2012
    15. Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement (IRS Washington DC) — 8 Mar 2012
    16. Senior Technical Advisor to the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Mar 2012
    17. Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Mar 2012
    18. Senior Technical Advisor to the Acting Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Commissioner (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Apr 2012
    19. Director, Rulings and Agreements (May be same as #10 above, IRS Washington DC)– 17 May 2012
    20 -Title(s) Unknown- Quality Assurance Unit (Ohio?) — May 2012
    21 -Title(s) Unknown- Operations Unit (Ohio?) — May 2012
    22. New Acting Determinations Unit Group Manager [2] (Ohio) — 15 July 2012

    In August March 2012 then IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testified before Congress that the IRS was not harassing or making a special effort to deny Tea Party affiliated organizations their non-profit tax status. The above list either makes IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman a liar or a sock puppet for Obama administration IRS appointees who did lie. Douglas Shulman is going to need to lawyer up regardless.

    The fact that there were, by my count three different “Manager, Technical Unit” and two “Determinations Unit Group Manager” in Cincinnati, Ohio involved over several years makes this Tea Party witch hunt anything but a “local IRS unit run amok.” This was an on-going criminal conspiracy involving IRS senior management over a matter of years.

    A class action RICO lawsuit by the Tea Party against the IRS is very much on the table and the IRS won’t have sovereign immunity for “criminal actions taken under the color of law.” That point about federal government criminality was decided decades ago in various US Government high level nuclear waste dumping law suits before the Supreme Court.

    Impeachment of President Obama for IRS-related “Nixon Offenses” is now on the table.

    Note — This is the 3rd 4th Update of this post

    Posted in America 3.0, Anti-Americanism, Big Government, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, USA | 16 Comments »

    History Friday: The Haunting of Mason County

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th March 2013 (All posts by )

    The so-called Mason County Hoo-Doo War was one of those particularly impenetrable frontier feuds which mixed up all the classic western feud elements into one bloody and protracted mess; legal possession of land provided one cause for conflict, there was also a clash between cattle ranchers and local farmers and townsmen, wrangling over the ownership of cattle – branded and otherwise – ethnic resentment between German and native-born American or Anglo settlers, the passions of Unionist and Confederate partisans still at a simmer in the aftermath of the Civil War, and finally, that Mason County was situated on the far frontier, where enforcement of the law was a sketchy and erratically enforced thing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, History | 5 Comments »

    Progress in closing Guantanamo

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th March 2013 (All posts by )

    In his campaign, president Obama famously promised to “close Guantanamo Bay prison ” early in his administration. It didn’t happen. Then Eric Holder determined that he would try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in federal court in New York City. That didn’t happen.

    The death blow was struck by New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who had previously pledged his support to Holder. On January 27th, Bloomberg distanced himself from the Justice Department, saying that a trial in New York would be too expensive. For months, companies with downtown real-estate interests had been lobbying to stop the trial. Raymond Kelly, the commissioner of the New York Police Department, had fortified their arguments by providing upwardly spiralling estimates of the costs, which the federal government had promised to cover. In a matter of weeks, in what an Obama Administration official called a “classic City Hall jam job,” the police department’s projection of the trial costs went from a few hundred million dollars to a billion dollars.

    Eventually, the conservative movement relaxed and concluded that the idea of granting terrorists American style civil rights had lost. Not so fast.

    In another of those Obama fast moves, the concept of civilian trials just won the contest. As Mark Twain said, the lie is half way around the world, while the truth is still getting its boots on.

    In the blink of an eye, the second Obama term has turned the clock back to the pre-9/11 days, when al-Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem, not a national-security challenge.

    Of course, it was a Friday afternoon. That’s when Obama does his best work.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Law, Leftism, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama, Politics, Terrorism | 13 Comments »

    The Normalization of Abusive Government

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd February 2013 (All posts by )

    Consider:

    1) The Drug Enforcement Administration is attempting to seize a $1.5 million building owned as a retirement-investment property by a dentist and an engineer. Grounds are a $37 sale of pot ..to an undercover agent..by one of the building’s tenants, a medical-marijuana dispensary.

    As the judge in the case notes, the Obama administration (in 2009) sent a memo instructing federal prosecutors to not target medical-marijuana patients..before deciding to crack down and sending threatening letters to landlords. He even wondered aloud if President Obama would change his mind about marijuana again, after the building had already been seized.

    This, in a country whose current President pretty clearly was himself a marijuana user, not to mention former President Bill Clinton, who “didn’t inhale.” Neither Obama nor Clinton are in any danger of having their property seized, however.

    2) When financial questions arose regarding the Mountain Pure Water Company, Washington did not send a few staffers to inspect documents. Instead, last spring, some 50 armed Treasury agents breached the company’s headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. They seized 82 boxes of records, herded employees into the cafeteria, snatched their cell phones, and..according to reports..refused to let them consult attorneys.

    “We’re the federal government,” Mountain Pure’s comptroller, Jerry Miller, says one pistol-packing fed told him. “We can do what we want, when we want, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    3) In Alexandria, Virginia, a 10-year-old was suspended and arrested for bringing a toy gun to school

    4) In Tennessee, an Ohio couple was pulled over by  pair of black police SUVs. “They were very serious,” said the woman who was driving. “They had the body armor and the guns.”

    On the back of the couple’s car was a Buckeye leaf decal, similar to the one Ohio State players have on their helmets.

    “What are you doing with a marijuana sticker on your bumper?” asked one of the cops, who had apparently never heard of the First Amendment.

    5) In 2005, an Iowa couple purchased a small lot. When they began to lay gravel on the land, which is located in a residential neighborhood, they were hit by an order from the Environmental Protection Administration informing them that the property had been designated a wetland under the Clean Water Act. They were ordered to stop grading their property and were told that they would face fines of up to $75,000 per day if they did not return the parcel to its original state. When the Sacketts attempted to contest the order, the agency denied their request for a hearing.

    Last March, the Supreme Court overruled the EPA and stated that the Sacketts are entitled to appeal the EPA order, rejecting the agency’s claims to the contrary.

    “The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years,” said Mr. Sackett. See my post A Defensive Victory Against Administrative Tyranny.

    6) Bob Wallace and Marjorie Ottenberg, California residents in their 80s, started a business to make water purification devices for backpackers. Their enterprise has been crippled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and state officials, on grounds that iodine crystals–a key ingredient in their product–can also be used for methamphetamine production.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Law, Law Enforcement, Political Philosophy, USA | 28 Comments »

    Helter-Skelter

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th February 2013 (All posts by )

    I was a teenager when the Manson murders went down, in the autumn of 1969 – of course, the cruel and inexplicable murder of a movie star and several of her friends made all the headlines, and had lots of law-abiding citizens looking over their shoulders and being very careful about locking the doors and windows of their homes at night. It wasn’t until some time later that the associated murders of an elderly retired couple also hit the headlines of the LA Times, and other national newspapers. A blood-drenched, hippy cult with a weirdly charismatic leader had committed those murders in order – so they claimed – to trigger a devastating racial war, which they termed ‘helter-skelter’ from a Beatles song moderately popular at the time. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, History, Law Enforcement, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Urban Issues | 9 Comments »

    A Report From the Front Lines

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 5th January 2013 (All posts by )

    My friend and blogmate “Gerry from Valpo” just put up a very interesting and timely post at LITGM. I have received permission to re-post it here.

    As background, Gerry works part time at a retail store in northwest Indiana that deals in hunting and outdoor equipment and accessories, as well as firearms and ammunition. I thought the readers here would enjoy it as well and find it informative. Below is the post in full:

    In a recent email exchange about ammunition, Dan and Carl both referred to my reports “from the front lines”. After giving that some thought, it’s true.

    When I began my new job last July my intent was to stay busy, be among products I like and use, to be among like-minded individuals, to learn a bit more about hunting, firearms and ammunition and to make a few bucks on the side at the same time. Little did I know I would be thrust onto the retail front lines of freedom due to that recent unnecessarily violent human event that occurred in Connecticut and residual effects.

    Well before that horrific human event in Connecticut many customers were already buying a certain category of rifle that is cosmetically similar to and confused with those used by the military. They also wanted to buy the ammunition used to feed these rifles. They knew as well as I did, circumstances now place us all closer to losing more freedom and liberty with every news event that happens to come our way.

    Congruently many consumers were purchasing home and personal defense shotguns and handguns like never before. Seems they were all on to something.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, RKBA | 8 Comments »

    After Newtown

    Posted by TM Lutas on 2nd January 2013 (All posts by )

    After the Newtown school massacre, a lot of people feel unsafe and want changes. They are right to do so. But the changes we make should actually make us safer, not just make us feel good. So like any full review, we need to start by describing what we already have.

    The United States has the premier security system on the planet. It has the largest military, by far and has 50 state militaries in the national guard system. It has overlapping layers of federal, state, county, municipal and special purpose police (like the postal and railway police). It also has an amorphous, poorly documented, little discussed system called the unorganized militia. Naturally, the first thing to look at is the unorganized militia. Efforts to oversee and improve all the other parts are ongoing and permanent. We’re unlikely to squeeze major improvements out of those parts without major increases in expenses that we can’t really afford right now.

    The unorganized militia right now, for virtually no taxpayer dollars spent. Its costs are self-funded via license fees and members buy their own weapons, ammunition, and training. It is “bring your own device” defense and gives us somewhere on the order of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGU) per year according to the best guesses of the academics who study such things. That’s 2.5 million cases of robbery, rape, murder, and other mayhem that often don’t even make it to the FBI crime statistics because just the knowledge of an armed presence defused a situation and made potential criminals think better of what they were going to do.

    Any effort to change the rules under which the unorganized militia arms itself or gets rid of the unorganized militia altogether has to keep an eye on the DGU numbers so they either go up or the other portions of the system pick up the slack as the militia DGU numbers go down. Anything else and we are becoming less safe. This is why conservatives are mad at Sen. Feinstein. The gun control bill she is threatening to introduce will, very predictably, reduce the number of militia DGU and cause more innocent americans to be victims.

    cross posted FLIT-TM

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Political Philosophy, RKBA | 32 Comments »

    Caput lupinum

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 27th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Cynic that I am, I am deriving a great deal of amusement from some of the media-political-general public storms whipped up in the wake of the horribly tragic Newtown shootings, and the deaths of two firefighters in an ambush set by an ex-convict in upstate New York. As if the shootings weren’t horrible and tragic enough in themselves, now we get to enjoy the reflexive Kabuki dance of ‘we must ban those horrid gun-things!’ being played out – especially since some of the very loudest voices in this chorus are politicians and celebrities who live with a very high degree of security at their workplaces and homes, and whose children attend rather well-protected schools. Such choruses appear to be completely oblivious to the fact that for many of the ordinary rest of us, poor and middle-class alike, the forces of law and order are not johnny-on-the-spot in the event of an attempted robbery, rape, break-in or home invasion. To rely on the oft-used cliché, when moments count, the police are minutes away. In the case of rural areas in the thinly-populated flyover states law enforcement aid and assistance might be closer to being hours away.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Just Unbelievable, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, RKBA, Urban Issues, USA | 60 Comments »

    Prohibition: 16 Results

    Posted by leifsmith on 24th December 2012 (All posts by )

    When a law bans exchanges wanted by everyone directly involved a number of things happen:

    1) The exchanges continue;

    2) Prices of the banned items rise and wars to control turf begin;

    3) New criminals are created, including many people who are ordinary good people (like colored margarine seekers);

    4) New enforcement agencies and staff are created;

    5) New jails are built and new jailers are trained;

    6) Laws, lawyers and lawsuits proliferate;

    7) A new branch of law and its practitioners prosper and support further extension and complexification of regulations;

    8) A portion of the entire apparatus of enforcement and punishment is progressively corrupted;

    9) New agencies and staff are created to discover, eliminate or suppress the corruption;

    10) Many begin to support ever more drastic suppression and punishment;

    11) A profitable subliminal partnership emerges unifying the interests of violators and enforcers as the profits from the illegal trade are negotiated and distributed among them;

    12) The business engages all of the following: bad people buying and selling, good people buying and selling, police, judges, academics, enforcement trainers and suppliers, prison builders and suppliers, staff to support all of this, journalists to cover it, media organizations to sell the coverage;

    13) Completely uninvolved people are caught in crossfires, including taxpayers;

    14) The costs of controlling the new flourishing evil continue to grow seemingly without limit;

    15) The vast network of beneficiaries of the law applaud and lobby for its continuation, vilifying all opposition;

    16) Everyone gets more and more discouraged and inclined to hate all humanity. This list is probably too short.

    However all of these bad things may be balanced by the fact that creative people are engaged in producing media based on the things that happen because of the prohibition, and by watching and reading we all learn delightful new things about how the world works. (channeling Voltaire).

    It is not enough to simply ban exchanges that have consequences we don’t like. The costs of doing it should be compared with the costs of not doing it. Those costs usually dwarf the costs that would arise from unhindered transactions.

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, Political Philosophy, Society, Tradeoffs | 25 Comments »

    Tom Smith on Gun Control

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th December 2012 (All posts by )

    This is very well considered:

    Everybody wants to stop events like Newtown, but one suspects the gun control supporters want to do more than that: I think they want to promote an idealistic vision of “a peaceful society without guns” or something like that. I think that agenda is unrealistic on several levels — I don’t think a society without guns would be more peaceful and secure, unless you imposed a lot of other social controls that would not be imposed and you might not like if they were, and I don’t think such changes would be accepted by more than at best a bare majority of the American people, if that. It seems barely possible that sweeping anti-gun legislation could be shoved through Congress a la Obamacare after 2014, but such legislation would be very socially devisive.
     
    Another point — do we really understand how very widespread gun ownership fits into what you might call the political economy of public order in this country? To take another thought experiment: could there be any reasonable doubt that some sort of program (and I’m not saying mainstream gun-control advocates are calling for this, at least I hope not) that would require everybody to hand over any and all semi-automatic pistols and rifles they have to the government and own them no more, and was actually enforced (which would be very difficult) would result in unpredictable and possibly dangerous changes in the balance of forces between the law-abiding and the criminal in this country? I don’t know how much public order in this country is actually enforced by the latent threat of private citizens with guns, but I bet it’s a lot more than your typical well-meaning gun-control advocate would think, and I’m confident that she has not thought about that question in much depth. I bet you would find gun-control advocates live disproportionately in the safest, most heavily policed parts of this country, that is, relatively affluent, urban or suburban areas. Their cognitive biases I suspect lean against taking very seriously the personal security of people very unlike themselves in terms of social status, lifestyle and other such identifiers. All this points in the direction of legislation, if there is any, that is specific and targeted at the problem that needs to be solved. I have no confidence Congress is capable of this, as it is a hard problem and even easy problems seem beyond their ability to address sensibly, but one can hope.

    Worth reading in full.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Rhetoric, RKBA, Society | 44 Comments »

    The Connecticut Massacre

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 15th December 2012 (All posts by )

    There is information still coming to light about this awful case. Early reports, such as the name of the shooter and the alleged murder of the father, were predictably wrong. It turns out that the shooter, named Adam Lanza, a 20 year old with a history of odd behavior and some evidence of mental illness, such as autism, was living with his mother who was his first victim. There are a number of suggestive reports, that she decided to “stay home to care for” her 20 year old son.

    The treatment of severe mental illness in this country has been altered for the worse by a movement that began in the 1960s when mental illness began to be described as a “civil rights ” issue. Several books and movies described abuse of power in commitment of the mentally ill. The first such movie was “The Snake Pit” in which a young woman is committed for what sounds like schizophrenia. The treatment of the time (1948) can be seen as barbaric but there was nothing else available. She did recover, although we know that without adequate treatment, recovery from schizophrenia is unlikely.

    The movie that really devastated the mental hospital system was called “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starred Jack Nicholson.

    The movie was powerful in showing the Nicholson character as a guy who just is “different” and harmless.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Health Care, Privacy, Science | 31 Comments »

    Why I Own a Gun

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 7th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Sgt. Mom’s post from a few days ago reminded me of an incident I had some 8 or 9 years ago. It turned me into a proud gun owner quickly afterward. I have since moved from the place where this event happened.

    Like Sgt. Mom, I lived in suburbia in a pretty quiet neighborhood. This area isn’t as social as Sgt. Mom’s group – we would wave here and there to people we knew, but there was a general malaise as far as neighborhood associations and the like went.

    It was 4am and my doorbell started ringing over and over and over. I grabbed the baseball bat I kept in my bedroom for just such an occasion, told my wife to call 911 and slowly walked downstairs. I checked the back door first and there didn’t appear to be anyone out there so I slowly went to the front door, all the time the doorbell constantly ringing. I peeked through the glass pane on the side of the door and there was a guy ringing the doorbell with his nose.
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    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Personal Narrative | 70 Comments »

    A Touch of Murder in Suburbia

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 6th December 2012 (All posts by )

    Our neighborhood – the street that we live on – is in the news today because of a double murder last night. We didn’t know the victims personally, although we might have seen them now and again. We knew the house, as we walked by it frequently – like nearly every day. We definitely had talked casually to some of their close neighbors; this is the kind of neighborhood and street we live on. People know each other – and their dogs – by sight, wave to each other’s cars, take note of the condition of the yards … that kind of casual suburban thing.
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    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment | 15 Comments »

    A Twist On The Tragedy Of The Commons

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 8th November 2012 (All posts by )

    The tragedy of the commons is where there is a resource of some kind which is essentially free for all. This means that each individual who is in a position to profit from that resource brutally exploits it, until there is nothing left but a big mess. The fact that everyone will be worse off after the resource is gone doesn’t stop people from getting as much as they can, scrambling to haul away anything not nailed down, before the next guy comes along to grab what is left.

    The solution is to avoid unowned or collective resources.

    If an individual owns the resource in question, a resource that is worth money, then they have an extremely keen interest in making sure that the resource isn’t brutally exploited to the point where problems arise. This is not only because the resource will generate income over time, but also because the owner will be obligated to spend money in order to clean up the mess.

    But what if there is a privately owned commodity that isn’t generating income right this minute?

    There is a closed restaurant near my craphole apartment. Behind the shuttered building is an equipment shed.

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    Posted in Business, Crime and Punishment, Economics & Finance, Human Behavior | 5 Comments »