Free Markets, Free People

Crime

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Stray Voltage

As Venezuela slowly starves and the economy has all but shut down, guess who the richest person in the country might be?

The daughter of Hugo Chavez, the former president who once declared ‘being rich is bad,’ may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports.

The figure would make Gabriela Chavez wealthier than media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, whom Forbes named the wealthiest Venezuelan earlier this year with $3.6billion in assets.

I know … purely a coincidence.  But it does prove, if true, that socialism does pay … those in charge (I’m sure this wasn’t something he saved up from his army pay).  The rest?  They get stores with nothing on the shelves and hyper-inflation.  Brilliant.

Jazz Shaw is thinking Hillary may shrug off email flap (he’s speaking purely in a political sense, not if someone grows a pair and actually arrests and indicts her):

The bottom line is that there are a significant number of Americans out there – mostly Democrats, but not all – who seem to be telling us, yes, you’ve made your point. Hillary is all those things you said she was. But what the heck. I’ll vote for her. And one of the major reasons for this is that this email server story simply isn’t resonating with people.

Well, to be fair, it’s not resonating with those people.  The reason it isn’t resonating with other people is they really haven’t heard much about it thanks to the media.  But for those that have, they want the allegations investigated.  Look, yellow dog Democrats are going to vote for their particular yellow dog – regardless of the cur’s pedigree, problems or evidence against it.  In this case I think Clinton will find a minion to take the fall, and, in effect, will shrug it off.  But that doesn’t change Shaw’s point … even if she’s in prison orange, those people will vote for her.

Megan McArdle talks about the nonsense that is going on at colleges everywhere.  That is the cosseting of the student body who have become so fearful of ideas that they don’t like that they invoke “safety” as their concern.

Students demanding that campus life be bowdlerized to preserve their peace of mind seem to believe that the best way to deal with trauma is to avoid any mention of it. But Lukianoff and Haidt argue that this is exactly backward; chronic avoidance breeds terror. The current climate on campus is a recipe for producing fearful adults who are going to have difficulty coping in an adult world. It’s as if we were trying to prepare the next generation of American citizens by keeping them in kindergarten until the age of 23.

I’m not sure that anyone should be surprised.  These are the kids who come from the era of everyone gets a trophy and we don’t keep score so the other team won’t feel bad.  Why in the world would any one expect anything else from them.  When they finally gain the halls of ivy, they’re conditioned to eschew competition.  So the idea of competing ideas, especially ideas they’re not comfortable with, is terrifying.

They’ll do great in the real world, won’t they?

Meanwhile, on another planet:

If Vice President Joe Biden makes the leap into the Democratic presidential race, he could promise that he would serve just one term in the White House, journalist and author Carl Bernstein said Friday.

“And one thing that I keep hearing about Biden is that if he were to declare and say, because age is such a problem for him if he does, I want to be a one-term president. I want to serve for four years, unite Washington. I’ve dealt with the Republicans in Congress all my public life,” Bernstein told CNN’s “New Day.”

“I think there’s a conversation going on to that effect among his aides and friends,” he said. “It could light fire to the current political environment.”

It would be a back-fire, if anything.  Anyway, the circus could use one more clown.

~McQ

Almost half of all Federal criminal charges are made in 5 southern border districts, but we don’t have a border security or illegal immigration problem

41.7% of all Federal criminal charges come from 5 districts that are on the US southern border.  In one district, West Texas, the US attorney filed 5,832 cases.  That’s more than all the cases filed for the entire length of the US norther border (5,257).  The southern district of Texas ranked 2nd, followed by Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California.

And that’s not all:

“In addition to criminal cases brought before United States district judges, the United States Attorneys also handle a considerable criminal caseload before United States magistrate judges,” explained the U.S. attorneys’ statistical report for fiscal 2013. “The utilization of magistrate judges varies from district to district in response to local conditions and changing caseloads.”

“Magistrate judges are authorized by statute to perform a variety of duties as assigned by the United States district judges, including presiding over misdemeanor trials, conducting preliminary hearings, and entering rulings or recommended dispositions on pretrial motions,” said the report.

In fiscal 2014, according to the Table 2B, 67,401 criminal defendants were determined to be guilty in magistrate proceedings. Of those, 63,253 — or 93.8 percent — were in the five districts along the U.S.-Mexico border.

And yet this administration has, for its entire tenure, ignored the crisis on the border and even encouraged illegal immigrants to enter the country. While some may buy into the argument that the fault lies with Congress (and, more specifically the GOP) for not passing immigration reform legislation, the problem at the border is a law enforcement problem.

Law enforcement is not a Congressional duty, but instead, the job of the Executive branch.  However, despite their being laws on the books concerning illegal immigration, this administration refuses to enforce them and has, in fact, has defied them.  Compound that with blue cities offering sanctuary to illegals (again, in defiance of existing law) and you have a situation out of control.

While it is certainly true that some form of immigration reform needs to be legislated, that doesn’t excuse the lax or non-existent enforcement of existing laws by the administration.  It is clear to most that this crime wave that has engulfed the southern border is squarely the responsibility of the Obama administration, and no amount of attempted blame shifting will change that.

~McQ

A thug is a thug and race has nothing to do with it

Apparently the left is now involved in an attempt at ginning up speech codes, redefining words and then trying to prohibit their use because … “racism”. The latest attempt is to equate “thugs” with “n*igger”. That’s right, if you call a rioter a “thug” it’s the same as using the “n-word”.
Here’s a pretty descent response:

In ascribing racial animus to “thug,” the left is actually asserting a moral and logical vertex between “thug” and “black.” The only people who seem to be fixated on a racial undertone are the liberals. I believe the textbooks call that “projection.” Hey Democrats: not all looters are black. And you’re the only ones who seem to think otherwise.

Precisely. And here’s the point (and difference between social activism (ala MLK) and thugs):

If you looted, stole, robbed, assaulted and/or set fire to something/someone in Baltimore, you’re a thug. Torching the neighborhood pharmacy doesn’t make you a revolutionary. Stealing Air Jordans from the local shoe store is not a cry of freedom. And throwing trash cans at passersby will not release you from the bonds of – whatever bonds you believe are holding you back.

A coordinated effort to resist the increasingly militarized storm troopers employed by the government to crush the life out of liberty is social activism. Throwing a brick at tourists who made a wrong turn on the way to Inner Harbor is not.

There’s no nobility in wanton destruction. And pretending otherwise diminishes the sacrifices made by those who were actually motivated by the greater good. Looters, thieves and violent savages not only deserve no respect, attempts to suggest otherwise elevate them beyond their station at the expense of those who manage to challenge the forces of tyranny without looting the Sports Mart. Acting as if Thuggy McThuggerston pinching Pringles from the Quik-E-Mart is “sticking it to the Man” makes a mockery of those who “stuck it to the Man” without knocking over a convenience store.

The fact that the majority of those doing these things were black doesn’t change the fact that their actions were those of thugs – exactly how the context of the word has always been understood, and what race the thugs were was completely irrelevant. Anyone who does the above is a thug.

What is most abhorrent about this debacle in Baltimore is listening to the “leadership” trying to explain this behavior away.

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (Democrat):

It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot, and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children thugs. They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.

If they’re your “children” then you, sir, are an utter failure. They are not misdirected, they’re undirected. They’re under the influence of thugs. And they’re doing exactly what you’d expect a thug to do in such a situation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s likely a duck. And these “children” are indeed thugs. What Mr. Young wants to do is downplay the seriousness of the rioting and looting, play it off as just the work of some “misdirected children” and absolve himself and others of responsibility. After all, kids will be kids and we need to understand their “hurt” and “suffering” as they loot drugs and burn out a CVS.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Democrat):

“I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”

The infantilizing of rioters.  They’re just “kids” that are “acting out”.  No, Ms. Rawlings-Blake, they’re criminals who are engaged in criminal activities which by that very definition makes them thugs.  Looting beer from a store you’ve broken into isn’t “social activism”, it’s theft!  And thugs are thieves.

Unfortunately she goes on:

“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” she said.

There is NO right to “free speech” that involves the destruction of property or looting someone’s property.  Those, again, are criminal activities.  Those that engage in those sorts of criminal activities are and will always be identified as  … thugs. So she chose to indulge the thugs at the expense of the citizens of Baltimore.

It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.

What absolute SJW drivel that is. So her priority was to protect the thugs from “cars and other things that were going on” and to ensure those who wanted to burn cars and businesses as well as loot property had the “space to do that as well”.  Serve and protect the citizens of Baltimore?  Nope.  Serve and protect the thugs. And make excuses for them.

She needs a little dose of recall election quickly. She’s a disgrace.

But the bottom line?  No, “thugs” isn’t the same as the n-word unless the n-word now means “criminal”.  And no, I won’t stop calling thieves and the like thugs just because some idiot on the Baltimore City Council wants to equate it with the n-word.   He and his council are failures.  The mayor is a failure.  And all they are trying to do, unsuccessfully I might add, is divert attention under the auspices of “damage control”.

~McQ

The “entitled” who would be president

Yes, today I’m going to talk about Hillary Clinton, who does indeed feel entitled and also seems to believe that the law is only for “the little people”.  There are others who feel entitled to the presidency (on both sides) that I don’t want anywhere near it as well, but this is one person who would essentially be an Obama third term if she were to win … and her actions prove that.

Right now we have a man in the Oval Office who is, frankly, a scofflaw. If a law is inconvenient, he simply ignores it, or issues his own in the guise of an executive action or, working through his “executive agencies” sees that unelected bureaucrats produce regulations that do his will, all without Congress.  Or oversight. Or the Constitution for that matter.

Now we have a contender for his position who has demonstrated the same sort of inclination to ignore the rules and laws that are designed to keep our elected and government officials on the straight and narrow and provide a vital record of their doings.

Hillary Clinton, did, with malice aforethought, conspire to work around the law and the rules that required her to do government business on a government email account.  There’s no disputing this.  The email server is in her home.  It was set up prior to her becoming Secretary of State.  And we know, thanks to a hacker, that she received highly sensitive emails from various cronies and State Department personnel on that account.  An account that wasn’t at all secure enough for such traffic (that point made obvious by the hack).

Then there’s this:

Just last week, the Washington Post shocked the public with the news that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments” during Hillary’s “tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” In and of themselves, these gifts were highly abnormal.

But, as Charles Cooke continues:

“Rarely, if ever,” the Post noted drily, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.” But the infringement is made even worse when one acknowledges that these donations were never so much as reviewed for eligibility by the powers that be within the State Department. There really is no other way of putting it than to record bluntly that, while she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was making private deals with foreign governments via private e-mail, and then declining to request the requisite approval from the U.S. government.

So, let’s see if we have this straight.  Private email account, knowingly refusing to use the government one, and soliciting foreign governments for donations while Secretary of State?

That’s definitely, at a minimum unethical and an abuse of office.  So who does she think she is?

Cooke answers that:

The answer to that question is as it ever was: She is Hillary Clinton, and she believes, with some justification, that she will get away with anything and everything she tries. “Why,” supporters grumble, “knowing full well how effective the charge of elitism can be during a presidential campaign, does she continue to take $300,000 per speech?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “Why,” others inquire, “when tempers are still hot and nerves are still frayed, does she continue to take money from the outfits that are widely blamed for the financial crisis of 2008?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “How could she possibly believe that her ex-president husband’s temporary inability to buy a multi-million-dollar house rendered her ‘dead broke’”? Because she’s Hillary Clinton, and she has a sense of entitlement that would make Imelda Marcos blush. And so, having been championed and overpraised for years, lionized more for her immutable characteristics than for any concrete achievements, and allowed to pretend that her few successes have been the product of her own ability and not her husband’s uncommon political talent, Clinton has of late fallen disastrously deep into the professional celebrity’s most pernicious trap: She has begun to believe her own hype. How long can it be before her fellow disciples begin to lose faith in more than just the small hours of the night?

Supreme arrogance, and a willingness to take a chance that this will all come to nothing. After all, we’re talking about the era of politics and government where no one is really held accountable for anything. The smartest woman in the world probably also figured we’d never put two and two together (i.e. private email, foreign donations). And if we did? Heh … they tried that out yesterday and it failed miserably:

The strongest argument in favor of this behavior — legally, at least — is that Clinton is a clueless, confused, and out-of-touch old woman who struggles to grasp basic technological concepts, and that she therefore had not the first idea what was expected of her. In the immediate aftermath, this was the first defense offered. It’s “worth remembering,” a former Clinton administration staffer assured me quickly on Twitter, “that Hillary didn’t have email until she was in her forties. She was clueless.” “I just mean,” he added, desperately, that “she’s no dummy — except possibly with computers — where she kinda is.”

Bulltacos. There have been countless stories and battles over the use of official emails that this is a complete non-starter. As Cooke notes, it’s “desperate”.  This wasn’t some technodunce-granny completely befuddled by this new age.  This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to circumvent the system:

Digging a little into the story today, Business Insider’s Hunter Walker recorded today that Clinton did not so much inadvertently continue to use her previous account as she had her team build and configure an alternative system over which she had full and unadulterated control.

Exactly.  And now, she should pay the price.

If anyone can find it in themselves to hold people like Hillary Clinton accountable for her misdeeds.

I certainly have no qualms about doing it.  At a minimum, she should be shamed, shunned and dismissed from public life.  She’s demonstrated she isn’t fit to hold the highest office in the land.  And we certainly don’t need and probably couldn’t survive an Obama 3rd term anyway.

~McQ

Stray voltage

More subjects than one can conveniently throw a stick at … so we’ll throw several sticks.

Have you seen the latest Brookings Institute poll on Obama’s “greatness” as a President?  It is interesting.  They decided to poll the American Political Science Association.  Their “consensus”?

First, President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.

Well there you go.  Even a liberal leaning think tank polling liberal leaning academics can’t manage to put lipstick on a pig.  18th overall?  Hilarious.

Remember we were told that Iraq was “poorly thought out” and that “armed intervention” was a mistake?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone applied the same standard to Libya?  Yesterday we got to see what some of the result of that awful decision when 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS.  And the White House reaction?

The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.

Can’t even get up the gumption to identify who the “Egyptians citizens” were.  They weren’t beheaded for being Egyptians, folks.

We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat.  We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.

Because, you know, Obama and the boys kind of broke the last government.

Meanwhile in Oregon, the Democratic governor resigns in disgrace, a victim of corruption in the “green energy” field.

It is a safe bet that Kitzhaber’s implosion has sent the rest of the nation’s Democratic governors, and even a few officeholders in Washington, scrambling to review their affairs. It is the very nature of green energy that its unprofitability ensures that it is only viable in the marketplace if it is subsidized at taxpayer expense. The political class’ favorability toward clean energy and the media’s deference to the project of green technology have created the perfect conditions where corruption can thrive.

Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer is deeply implicated in all of this.  I wonder if he’ll get the “Koch brothers” treatment by the media.

You can read on when you stop laughing hysterically.

Oh, and here’s another in a long line of damning reports about ObamaCare.

On another subject, I’m old enough to remember friends crippled by polio and the “iron lung”:

“We are at a stage where people have no memory of just how dangerous pathogens used to be. There is no visceral fear of viruses and bacteria. Children in wheelchairs as a result of polio are a thing of the past because the United States has been polio free since 1979 as a result of vaccines. The only people I’ve ever met who were hobbled by damage from polio were older than me. . . . I do not expect an innumerate and unscientific public to become more trusting of medical organizations that support vaccination. In some communities herd immunity has already been lost and it will be lost in more other communities. This trend will continue until an old disease comes sweeping thru and racks up lots of damage and fatalities.”

On the other hand, the government has reported for 40 years that cholesterol was going to kill us and then, recently said, “never mind”.  But they still want us to believe their science about “global warming”.  That said, one small pox plague and I’d bet everything would change.  Its hard to be fearful when you’ve never had to live with the results of awful afflictions like polio.   I remember that being the greatest fear of many parents.  Now, well, now they don’t even give it a second thought.  That’s because of a vaccination, for heaven sake.  Same with small pox.  But then anti-vaxxers are using the same sort of science that warming alarmists do, so you shouldn’t be particularly surprised.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin (not surprisingly, Madison, WI) 30 homes were spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.  My guess is the White House would characterize the act as “a random act by some juvenile delinquents”.  I’m still in awe of the spineless characterization of the victims in the Kosher Deli in Paris as some “folks” in a random incident.  But then, this is the same administration that for years characterized the Ft. Hood shootings as “workplace violence”, so it really isn’t a big surprise.  Back in Madison, don’t even begin to believe that the vandalism will ever be classified as a hate crime.  That is reserved for favored minorities only.

Graeme Wood (read the whole thing) lays the wood to the cowardly among us who can’t find it in themselves to identify the enemy and the enemy’s foundation:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

Meanwhile, at the State Department and White House …

~McQ

The end of “tolerance?”

Probably not, but you’ll notice “tolerance” in quotes.  Tolerance, today, seems to mean that no one has a right to “judge” another culture or religion or ethnic group based on their actions or by their “prejudices” – you know, “white privilege” and all that.   That we should all understand that each of these are “equally good”, just “different”.

Thus what happened in France today is just a “different” way of reacting to certain “stimulus”.   We must “understand” what motivates these sorts of actions and …

Well, you can fill in the blank.  Isn’t that the natural end to that sort of “tolerance?”  Putting up with it?

The question is, have we seen enough of this sort of slaughter that we can bring ourselves, as civilizations, to say “that’s bad and NOT to be tolerated” and that all those who are a part of this should be exterminated from the face of the earth?  Hmmm?

Well, you’d think so – or at least you’d think there’d be some sort of an attitude change in general.  I’ll be interested to see how the French react.  The same country that let “youths” burn 10,000 cars a few years ago over the same sort of nonsense.  Props to the French for this time calling it what it is – terrorism.  Islamist terrorism.  At least they’re not trying to put the “workplace violence” tag that the political cowards here in the US draped on the Ft. Hood massacre by an Islamic extremist.

Meanwhile, even with the scope of the tragedy, there are those who would excuse the killers.

Via Hot Air, here is the Financial Times take on the situation:

Two years ago it published a 65-page strip cartoon book portraying the Prophet’s life. And this week it gave special coverage to Soumission (“Submission”), a new novel by Michel Houellebecq, the idiosyncratic author, which depicts France in the grip of an Islamic regime led by a Muslim president.

In other words, Charlie Hebdo has a long record of mocking, baiting and needling French Muslims. If the magazine stops just short of outright insults, it is nevertheless not the most convincing champion of the principle of freedom of speech. France is the land of Voltaire, but too often editorial foolishness has prevailed at Charlie Hebdo.

This is not in the slightest to condone the murderers, who must be caught and punished, or to suggest that freedom of expression should not extend to satirical portrayals of religion. It is merely to say that some common sense would be useful at publications such as Charlie Hebdo, and Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which purport to strike a blow for freedom when they provoke Muslims, but are actually just being stupid.

The other day I pointed out how feminists use the same tactics as the KKK.  This, on the other hand, hits me as the same thing as those who excuse rape by saying, “you know, if you hadn’t have worn that, you probably wouldn’t have been raped”.

Always entertaining to catch this type of a critic in the usual pretzel logic that, in another form, they’re sure to condemn.

Freedom ain’t free – and it is messy and dangerous.  More importantly, you have to fight for it.  And the first step in doing so is being intolerant of anyone who would limit it or take it away – and that includes the murderer’s fellow travelers as well.

~McQ

Here’s a point to ponder

What’s old is new again.

What you need to focus on is the way the feminists would have you take any rape allegation made, without exception.  That in the wake of any number of examples of false (Duke LaCross) and exaggerated stories (Dunham/UVa, etc.) and the propensity of certain institutions to ignore due process while having no qualms at all about forever branding the alleged perpetrator as a rapist for life.  Facts are not necessary, just an accusation in many cases.  No appeal.  No place the accused can present evidence or demand evidence be presented (I’m talking particularly here about universities and the so-called rape epidemic that feminists are trying to allege is happening).  If you’re accused, you’re condemned.  the accuser’s narrative is inviolate  (until it comes apart).

Guess who else used those sorts of tactics?

Automatic belief of rape accusations was a central principle of the KKK’s war on rape, too. This was one of the things that most shocked Ida B Wells, the early twentieth-century African-American journalist and civil-rights activist. ‘The word of the accuser is held to be true’, she said, which means that ‘the rule of law [is] reversed, and instead of proving the accused to be guilty, the [accused] must prove himself innocent’. Wells and others were startled by the level of belief in the accusers of black men, and by the damning of anyone who dared to question such accusations, which was taken as an attack on the accuser’s ‘virtue’. The great nineteenth-century African-American reformer Frederick Douglass was disturbedby the mob’s instant acceptance of accusations of rape against black men, where ‘the charge once fairly stated, no matter by whom or in what manner, whether well or ill-founded’, was automatically believed. Wells said she was praying that ‘the time may speedily come when no human being shall be condemned without due process of law’.

The author of this article goes on to say that at least no lynching is going on today. I disagree.  There are all sorts of “lynchings” going on, they just don’t result in the death of the accused.  But it certainly results in his reputation being lynched.

I can hear the feminists now – “how dare you compare us to the KKK”!?

I’m not.  I’m comparing your tactics to those of the KKK.  You can draw your own conclusions from there.

~McQ

 

How do you argue a point with a side which hasn’t a clue how the real world works or what a logical “non-sequitur” is?

I think we all know which side that is.

Here’s the premise put forth by an article in The New Republic:

“Libertarians Who Oppose a Militarized Police Should Support Gun Control”

Here’s a sketch of the argument:

There is indeed agreement between many liberals and libertarians that the militarization of the police, especially in its dealings with racial minorities, has gone too far. But this consensus may crumble pretty quickly when it’s confronted with the obvious police counter-argument: that the authorities’ heavy firepower and armor is necessary in light of all the firepower they’re up against. At that point, many liberals will revert to arguing for sensible gun control regulations like broader background checks to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons and the mentally ill (the measure that police organizations successfully argued should be the gun control movement’s legislative priority following the Newtown, Connecticut shootings) or limits on assault weapons and oversized ammunition clips. And liberals will be reminded that the libertarians who agree with them in opposing police militarization are very much also opposed to the gun regulations that might help make the environment faced by police slightly less threatening.

But it doesn’t “crumble” at all.  You have to buy into the premise that it is a more lethally dangerous out there for police than it appears to be.  But it isn’t:

The number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms in 2013 fell to levels not seen since the days of the Wild West, according to a report released Monday.

The annual report from the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund also found that deaths in the line of duty generally fell by 8 percent and were the fewest since 1959.

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide this past year, compared to 121 in 2012.

Forty-six officers were killed in traffic related accidents, and 33 were killed by firearms.

The number of firearms deaths fell 33 percent in 2013 and was the lowest since 1887.

And the drop is credited to bullet proof vests, not SWAT Teams and MRAPS. Pretending that the threat is any higher now than it always has been seems obviously wrong, given the facts.  Certainly there are toxic cultures within our society who believe that violence is the answer to whatever they encounter as a problem. And yes, police have to face that potential threat all the time.  Do I think police should be armed adequately?  Yes, but that doesn’t at all begin to cover what we see among today’s police forces in terms of both equipment and tactics.  In fact, I believe it is all of these “wars” on everything from drugs to terrorists which have had a hand in helping to militarize the police.

That said, agree or disagree with that point, gun control is essentially not only been shown to be ineffective but is a non-sequitur in this “argument”.  See Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC for proof the ineffectiveness of the ban.  But you have to ask, who in this day and age but a clueless journalist would even begin to believe that “broader background checks” are going to keep guns out of the hands of “violent felons?”  Have they in the past (their answer is they just haven’t be stringent enough)?  Honestly, do they really believe a felon is going to waltz into a gun store to buy what he wants knowing full well he’ll have a background check run?  Really?

Have these rubes never heard of a black market (they can buy guns from Mexican cartels, thoughtfully provided by the DoJ)?  Do they not realize that any “violent felon” who wants a gun isn’t going to even try to get one legally?  So, knowing that, why in the world would any libertarian grant the absurd premise knowing full well that doing so only limits the freedom of the law abiding citizenry?  It’s absurd on its face.  And, logically, it is a non-sequitur to any libertarian (again, libertarianism isn’t about shrinking rights and freedoms for heaven sake).  How does making it more inconvenient for citizens who aren’t “violent felons” to buy a gun for self-protection going to stop a felon from obtaining his gun illegally?  It isn’t.

Because, of course, that’s not what they really want (i.e. incremental change via “broader background checks”).  They want a total ban on guns, for government and felons to be the only people with guns and to essentially outlaw then outright.  Obviously they are oblivious to the danger of only government having guns and they certainly don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the fact that felons aren’t going to pay any attention to the law.  Nor will the black market in illegal guns.  So why, again, should anyone grant this argument credence?

I swear, you just wonder at times what goes on between their ears all day, because it certainly has nothing to do with the real world or reason.

~McQ

Delusional

How else to describe this president when he makes remarks like this:

President Barack Obama claimed Monday night during a Democratic Party fundraising dinner that the United States is ‘stronger’ than it was when he assumed office in January 2009.

His statement, though, appears to be at odds with key economic indicators, America’s sliding reputation abroad, and the American public’s estimation of the direction the country has taken under the Obama administration.

‘In all sorts of ways,’ Obama told Democratic partisans who paid between $15,000 to $32,400 to hear him speak, ‘we are not just stronger than when we – where we were when I first came into office.’

‘It’s fair to say that America has the best cards when you look at other countries around the world.  There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States.’

‘Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions,’ he said.

The unspoken implication here is since we’re “stronger”, he’s made all the “right decisions”.  Of  course that absurd implication can be confronted factually at all sorts of levels.

Take the economy:

Grove City College economics professor Tracy Miller wrote Monday in an op-ed for The Daily Caller that ‘[o]ver the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of World War II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year.’

Unemployment:

The percentage of working-age Americans who are part of the U.S. workforce has reached the lowest level since 1978, with one out of every three staying on the sidelines and not working.

Debt:

And the federal government’s debts have ballooned by $7 trillion since Obama took office, a sum larger than the accumulated U.S. debts between 1776 and the end of the Clinton administration.

Consumer confidence is at -17.  That’s right, minus seventeen according to Gallup’s recent Economic Confidence Index.

Great success.

You don’t even have to cite the debacle his lack of foreign policy has wrought (or his lack of leadership on the illegal immigration flood) to make the point that he’s either lying through his teeth or he’s delusional.  He seems be reading a script from spin doctors and seems to be nothing but a propaganda mouthpiece now. An empty suit.  The “face.”  He doesn’t seem to even care.  Most of the recent optics (vacation after vacation while the world is in crisis) are simply not what anyone who cared would do if in a leadership position.   But he seems to think he’s entitled and we peasants should just suck it up and cope.  “Imperial presidency” doesn’t even begin to describe this crew.

Credibility?  Not much:

By a 20-point margin, they believe the nation is weaker under Obama’s leadership, according to a Fox News poll released in June. Just 35 per cent told pollsters they agreed with what Obama said Monday night.

The “Monday night” refers to the bucket of slop above that he served up to those true believers paying 32K for dinner.

And that has led to this from a CNN poll:

The poll also indicates that the public’s trust in government is at an all-time low.

Frankly, you won’t find me lamenting this particularly, but it is an illustration as to how poorly this administration had done its job (Remember, one of Obama’s stated goals was to increase trust in government).  Gallup piles on with this:

Many more Americans now mention a non-economic issue — such as dissatisfaction with government, immigration, or ethical and moral decline — than an economic one as the top problem.

This presidency has been a disaster.  And it continues, without seeming end, to make all the wrong decisions almost without exception.  The fact that the public seems to finally be waking up to it tells me a lot about how this presidency and administration have benefitted from a press reluctant to lay it all out as it happened.  The problem the press faces now is it has become so bad that their credibility (such that it is) is at risk if they continue to ignore and/or attempt to explain away what has become obvious to almost everyone.  That and the “Bush is to blame” blanket excuse has expired for all but the sycophants (although Obama again tried to deploy it this week when denying responsibility for the problems in Iraq).

This has been an awful era for this country.  Almost everything this president promised has been found to be either nonsense, demonstrably false or a lie.  Instead of the “most transparent” administration in history, it has become the most opaque.  We see indications of criminal conduct by apparatchiks every day (really, 20 people under suspicion all had their emails destroyed?  Really?).  We see a “Justice” department that ignores the law and/or selectively enforces it depending on whether the group in question is a favored one or not (New Black Panthers and video of voter intimidation?  Nah.  Vote ID laws?  You bet.). We see executive department bureaucrats assuming powers and making rules that are beyond their scope (just about everything the EPA has done).  And, in fact, we see an administration that has mostly ignored the Constitution and the limits on power it imposes on the executive.

Now we’re engaged in redefining what “stronger” means.  Apparently, in Obama Newspeak, stronger is really “weaker and poorer”.  If that’s what he was striving to accomplish, then he can claim to have been remarkably successful in making us “stronger”.

~McQ

Government abuse: not surprising, not unexpected, but certainly something that needs to be stopped – now!

This has been in the news recently and now it is getting some Congressional attention.  It has to do with possible illegal activities involving the NSA and DEA.  As you know, the NSA’s job is to focus outside the US, not inside, and primarily on enemies of the United States, not it’s citizens:

Eight Democratic senators and congressmen have asked Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about a Reuters report that the National Security Agency supplies the Drug Enforcement Administration with intelligence information used to make non-terrorism cases against American citizens.

The August report revealed that a secretive DEA unit passes the NSA information to agents in the field, including those from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and Homeland Security, with instructions to never disclose the original source, even in court. In most cases, the NSA tips involve drugs, money laundering and organized crime, not terrorism.

Five Democrats in the Senate and three senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee submitted questions to Holder about the NSA-DEA relationship, joining two prominent Republicans who have expressed concerns. The matter will be discussed during classified briefings scheduled for September, Republican and Democratic aides said.

“These allegations raise serious concerns that gaps in the policy and law are allowing overreach by the federal government’s intelligence gathering apparatus,” wrote the senators – Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Why, other than the fact that the NSA has no charter or permission to pass its information about American citizens on to other agencies, is this important?

The Reuters reports cited internal documents that show how DEA’s Special Operations Division funnels information from overseas NSA intercepts, domestic wiretaps, informants and a large DEA database of telephone records to authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.

The documents show that agents have been trained to conceal how such investigations truly begin – to “recreate” the investigative trail to effectively cover up the original source of the information, raising questions about whether exculpatory information might be withheld from defendants at trial.

The internal documents describe the process of recreating the evidence trail to omit any reference to the Special Operations Division as “parallel construction.” For example, agents said in interviews, they act as if a drug investigation began with a traffic stop for speeding or a broken taillight, instead of a tip passed from the NSA. An IRS document describes a similar process for tax agency investigators.

Emphasis mine. So not only is passing such information to these agencies unauthorized, the government then instructs its agents on how to lie about the source of their information (a lie of omission). And, of course, it is also legitimate to ask whether or not exculpatory evidence could also have been available but not passed to these agencies.

Is this really the type government we want?  One that spies on us, intercepts our electronic messages and phone calls and uses them secretly by passing what should be private to various other government agencies and then lies about it?  Peggy Noonan addresses those questions quite directly today:

If the citizens of the United States don’t put up a halting hand, the government can’t be expected to. It is in the nature of security professionals to always want more, and since their mission is worthy they’re less likely to have constitutional qualms, to dwell on such abstractions as abuse of the Fourth Amendment and the impact of that abuse on the First.

If you assume all the information that can and will be gleaned will be confined to NSA and national security purposes, you are not sufficiently imaginative or informed. If you believe the information will never be used wrongly or recklessly, you are touchingly innocent.

If you assume you can trust the administration on this issue you are not following the bouncing ball, from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told Congress under oath the NSA didn’t gather “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” (he later had to apologize) to President Obama, who told Jay Leno: “We don’t have a domestic program.” What we do have, the president said, is “some mechanism that can track a phone number or an email address that is connected to a terrorist attack.”

Oh, we have more than that.

Almost every politician in America lives in fear of one big thing: a terrorist attack they can later be accused of not having done everything to stop. And so they’ll do anything. They are looking to preserve their political viability and historical standing. We, as citizens, must keep other things in mind, such as the rights we are born with as Americans, one of which is privacy.

Lord Acton nailed it when he said “Power corrupts …”.  We’re currently in the midst of watching exactly that happen to an even greater degree than in the past. If you give government power, it will do everything it can to expand that power – whether legitimately or illegitimately.  It is the nature of the beast.  And we have to put up a hand to stop it.

If you’re wondering why the Tea Party is characterized in such nasty ways by the establishment of both parties, it is because it does indeed attempt to put up a hand to stop these sorts of abuses and remove power from the abusers.  They threaten the very base of power the political establishment has worked so hard to build over the years.

~McQ

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