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  • Archive for the 'Crime and Punishment' Category

    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.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    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.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    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.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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

    Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and the US Trafficking in Persons Laws

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 1st November 2012 (All posts by )

    The Human trafficking scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) raises further questions about the Obama Administration’s troubling record of selectively enforcing American law for political gain, and the Main Stream Media’s active cooperation with that agenda.

    The Drudge Report broke a scandal involving Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) going to a tier 3 Human Trafficking nation — the Dominican Republic — to visit prostitutes. According to the State Department here These are the following U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in jeopardy from —

    1. The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (P.L. 106-386),
     
    2. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (H.R. 2620),
     
    3. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 (H.R. 972), and
     
    4. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 7311), also known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

    The TVPA laws are set up for easy extra-territorial law enforcement as they are laws where guilt is a matter of fact and not intent.

    Statutory Rape Laws are an example of a law of fact. It does not matter if you didn’t know the person you were sleeping with was under age. If you slept with him or her, you are guilty. Being drunk or any other excuse only applies to the penalty phase, not the guilt or innocence of a felony sex offender conviction.

    Similarly, under the TVPA, if you are an American citizen and sleep with a 15-year old prostitute in a Tier 3 nation like Thailand or the Dominican Republic. You are going to be in jeopardy not just for sleeping with a prostitute, but the American age of consent applied to you over seas. Even if the local age of consent is very much under that of the American state the visiting American is legal resident of. [Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) is subject to age provisions of New Jersey Permanent Statues, Title 2C, Chapter 14, Section 2]
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Anglosphere, Crime and Punishment, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Politics | 17 Comments »

    Six Hundred Million Years in K-12

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd July 2012 (All posts by )

    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 Lott: But 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 | 17 Comments »

    Horrific Act Of Violence

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st July 2012 (All posts by )

    The media has been buzzing the last few days with news reports about a terrible mass shooting at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie. Those of us who are not directly involved, who were not in the theater or do not know anyone who was, can have no idea of the pain and anguish that such an act leaves behind. Hundreds of people will never be the same again.

    That aside, the question that will inevitably be asked is if there was any way to prevent such a crime.

    My very strong impression is that the suspect, who was arrested outside the theater just moments after allegedly committing mass murder, was obviously a deranged individual who can never be trusted to be set loose amongst the innocent public again. But he was also an extremely methodical, clearly intelligent, and very resourceful individual who spent months planning his big day.

    Case in point are the reports of his earlier life, which are filled with tales of his academic prowess. You don’t get accepted to a reputable PhD science program unless you have some brains.

    The second indication of his drive is how he spent months assembling his arsenal. Not only guns and ammunition, but also body armor, tear gas grenades, a gas mask, and ingredients for the improvised explosive devices he used to booby trap his apartment. All of that gear would have cost thousands of dollars, and the fact that he didn’t blow himself up when preparing to rig his home with explosives and incendiaries shows that he must have spent some time carefully researching the correct way to assemble his bombs.

    It is inevitable that the Left will take up the call for increased gun control, but I think it is very clear that such laws would have done nothing except slow down the timetable a bit.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 46 Comments »

    Obama now claims executive privilege

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 20th June 2012 (All posts by )

    This morning, moments before a House vote on Contempt of Congress by Eric Holder, the Attorney General, the White House announced that President Obama is invoking executive privilege. Holder requested the action in a letter to Obama.

    He said making the documents public “would have significant, damaging consequences,” but he did not disclose whether Obama has been briefed or had another supervisory role in Fast and Furious.

    This raises the question of whether there are Obama fingerprints on the policy. Some documents have been released and some others, including incriminating e-mails, have been leaked to the committee. So far, Obama’s name has not been found in the documents. His action will now raise suspicion and will force news media, that have minimized the scandal, to inform incredulous readers that it is a big deal after all.

    Richard Nixon could have ignored the burglary of the DNC offices in 1972. We now know that nothing was found that would have tarnished his reputation. It was the coverup that damaged him fatally. The election is coming in 5 months. The Watergate story did not really break until after the 1972 election. This seems to be breaking much sooner and its effect on Obama’s chances are hard to predict. The coming Supreme Court decision on Obamacare may overshadow this story.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked how Obama could assert executive privilege “if there is no White House involvement?”

    A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Obama’s move “implies that White House officials were either involved in the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation or the cover-up that followed.”

    “The administration has always insisted that wasn’t the case. Were they lying, or are they now bending the law to hide the truth?” Brendan Buck said.

    It doesn’t sound like it is going to subside anytime soon. It will be interesting to see if more leaks appear. The White House leaks like a sieve and not all are Obama fans, it seems.

    Powerline writes that It won’t prevent Holder form being held in contempt.

    Whether these consequences and concerns form the basis for a valid assertion of executive privilege is another matter. I’m no expert on the subject, nor do I know all of the ins-and-outs of the dispute between Holder and Issa’s Committee. However, when Congress has a sound basis for believing that the Executive branch lied to it over material matters as part of a coverup in the course of a legitimate congressional oversight investigation, regard for a proper balance in the relationship between Congress and the Executive argues strongly in favor of enabling Congress to obtain all documents relevant to the coverup, including those generated during the process through which the cover-up is reasonably believed to have occurred.

    It will be interesting and may affect the election.

    National Review Online has a piece that may explain the program.

    an e-mail sent on July 14, 2010. After the operation, former ATF field operations assistant director Mark Chait e-mailed Bill Newell, then ATF’s Phoenix special agent in charge of Fast and Furious, to suggest a possible way to use Fast and Furious:
    Bill — can you see if these guns were all purchased from the same (licensed gun dealer) and at one time. We are looking at anecdotal cases to support a demand letter on long gun multiple sales. Thanks.

    This “demand letter” refers to the push for a policy that would require U.S. gun shops in southwestern states to report the sale of several rifles or shotguns to a single buyer. According to CBS, “Demand Letter 3 was so named because it would be the third ATF program demanding gun dealers report tracing information.”

    This may have begun as an attempt to require licenses for long guns.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Elections, Law Enforcement, North America, Obama, The Press | 9 Comments »

    Obama and amnesty

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 16th June 2012 (All posts by )

    On Friday, as is often the case, Obama announced a new executive policy to impose a two year moratorium on deportation of young illegals if they can show they were brought here as children and have finished high school with no encounters with the law. They must be under 30 and were brought here before age 16. He promised that citizenship was not included and did not mention if family members were affected. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security announced that this was the new policy but there has been no confirmation of an executive order.

    I don’t have a real problem with this policy but it avoids Congress and legislation, a problem that even Obama acknowledged last year. It is a transparent ploy to appeal for Latino votes. Everyone knows that.

    It also will close an opening for compromise.

    Obama’s decision probably reduces the likelihood that the scenarios of greatest concern to me will come to pass, especially if Obama is re-elected. Irate Republicans are even less likely than before to cooperate with the administration on this issue now that it has acted so high-handedly and in such a patently political manner. As Marco Rubio, who is planning to sponsor some sort of DREAM Act, said today, by imposing a new policy by executive order, Obama has made it harder in the long run to reach consensus on “comprehensive policy,” i.e., one that gives illegal immigrants additional benefits and a path to citizenship.

    The attraction of the action taken by Obama may have been that it would trump a possible Republican compromise on this topic. Now, suspicion has grown that amnesty and voting rights are the next step. The use of executive order for such a change in policy has been attacked as illegal.

    So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices. That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

    Even Obama said the same a few months ago in explaining his then inaction. “I wish I could wave my magic wand,” Mr. Obama said. “Until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again… At the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself. We’re going to have to get Congress to act. I know Nancy Pelosi’s ready to act. It’s time to stop playing politics.”

    Well, playing politics is the order of the day and the Republicans should focus on the illegality of doing it by executive order and not on the policy, itself. With proper safeguards, the policy is a good idea although there may be backlash from semi-skilled unemployed who just got a million new competitors. Certainly the unemployment figures should now be adjusted for all the new legal job seekers.

    The distraction of the Daily Caller reporter interrupting the president was an amusing sidelight. Had Obama demonstrated humor and a benign manner, it might have been a good moment for him. Instead, he showed anger and the incident will probably lead to more interruptions as it seems to be the only way to ask this president a question.

    Posted in Big Government, Crime and Punishment, Cuba, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Politics, Speeches | 26 Comments »

    Tinley Park followup

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 23rd May 2012 (All posts by )

    It sounds like there were no good guys in that melee in the Ashford House, called “an Irish restaurant” in the article. The diners were associated with Stormfront, a white nationalist bunch. Of course, innocent bystanders were hurt so I hope the book is thrown at the vandals.

    The people injured identified themselves as members of the Illinois European Heritage Association, which Cook County prosecutors said is affiliated with Stormfront, a group identifying itself as a White Nationalist umbrella group.

    The mayor said the attackers were affiliated with a group called the Anti-Racist Action network, which was started in 1988 in Minneapolis and has clashed with neo-Nazi, fascist and white-supremacy groups.

    Well, I’m glad I wasn’t trying to eat lunch there.

    Posted in Chicagoania, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment | 13 Comments »