Free Markets, Free People

Crime

Accountability? Not requiring it or enforcing it leads to corruption

It really is that simple. And you don’t need a PhD to figure that out. It is a “Human Nature 101″ course. If there’s no incentive for you to behave correctly and every incentive not to (i.e. no punishment), then why behave correctly?

Now, consider the government we have today and all the various scandals. Who is the last person who blatantly violated the public trust that you’ve seen frog-marched to jail? Hmmm. But it takes a bunch of academics to again remind us that human nature still rules:

In a new study, Stern School of Business assistant professor of economics Vasiliki Skreta and co-authors, Karthik Reddy of Harvard Law School and Moritz Schularick of the University of Bonn, examine statutory immunity provisions that obstruct or limit the criminal liability of politicians, and which exist throughout much of the modern democratic world.

…The researchers quantified the strength of immunity protection in 74 democracies and verified that immunity is strongly associated with corruption on an aggregate level. They also developed a theoretical model that demonstrated how stronger immunity protection can lead to higher corruption. The model suggested that unaccountable politicians under immunity protection can enhance their chance of re-election by using illegal means, namely supporting interest groups through lax law enforcement, non-collection of taxes, and other forms of favoritism that will go unpunished.

Where’s Charley Rangel? Chris Dodd? Barney Frank? Oh, enjoying retirement. Turbo Tax Tim Geithner? Well, not in jail.

And how about Lois Lerner? From what does she want immunity? Well in reality, she wants immunity from accountability.  There’s no other reason to seek immunity otherwise.

Unfortunately, she’ll probably get it and we’ll watch the level of corruption within government continue to grow, and grow and grow.

You want to know why people don’t trust government?

That’s why.

~McQ

How government creates and abets “crime”

I’m always a little taken aback that normally intelligent people just don’t seem to get the fact that for the most part, without government, there can be no “blackmarket”:

Indiana’s cigarette tax is relatively low. Chicago has been complaining for some time that people will go to the Hoosier State, buy a few cartons, then come back to Chicago and sell them at prices undercutting Illinois rates, but still make money. Kentucky, though its tax isn’t too high, also finds its citizens crossing into Indiana to buy their tobacco to sell them cheaper back home. It’s called the black market and high tobacco taxes foster this criminal enterprise.

Now California wants to hike taxes to some of the highest rates in the country.

Democrat State Senator Kevin De Leon has introduced a plan to hike cigarette taxes (SB 768 ) in order to pay for more state spending. But this idea is nothing new and has been defeated several times before. Even law enforcement has been against these tax hikes because such plans embolden dangerous criminals

States with high tobacco taxes like New York have reported higher levels of black-market smuggling, a big source of money for gangs and organized crime. By one 2011 estimate three of every five cigarettes smoked in the Empire State was purchased illegally.

If government doesn’t a) make something “illegal” or b) tax it to the point that other sources of a wanted commodity from states which tax it less become attractive, how would a blackmarket form among voluntary traders?

~McQ

Don’t expect to see something like this in the MSM anytime soon

It’s just an inconvenient truth that they don’t want anyone to be aware of at the moment – i.e. you are your own best self-defense and you should be equipped to handle that responsibility.  This happened last year.  Did you hear about it?  The MSM is invested on the side which says “guns are bad”:

A citizen with a gun stopped a knife wielding man as he began stabbing people Thursday evening at the downtown Salt Lake City Smith’s store.

Police say the suspect purchased a knife inside the store and then turned it into a weapon. Smith’s employee Dorothy Espinoza says, “He pulled it out and stood outside the Smiths in the foyer. And just started stabbing people and yelling you killed my people. You killed my people.”

Espinoza says, the knife wielding man seriously injured two people. “There is blood all over. One got stabbed in the stomach and got stabbed in the head and held his hands and got stabbed all over the arms.”

Then, before the suspect could find another victim – a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. “A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith’s grabbed him.”

Whoa, that can’t be right can it?  Guns kill people.  Guns are dangerous.  Guns should be banned.  Guns are terrible.

Anyone want to guess what those who were threatened and stabbed in this particular instance might say about the gun wielding man?

Maybe, “thank you?”

Oh:

By the time officers arrived the suspect had been subdued by employees and shoppers. Police had high praise for gun carrying man who ended the hysteria. Lt. Brian Purvis said, “This was a volatile situation that could have gotten worse. We can only assume from what we saw it could have gotten worse. He was definitely in the right place at the right time.”

Key phrase: “By the time officers arrived …”  It could have ended with “the man had stabbed a dozen people” or “had killed 3″ or, well, any of a number of much worse endings huh?

But, you know, you can’t be trusted with guns.

~McQ

Dorner and the Wallets (plural)

Deranged serial killer, Christopher Dorner, may be blossoming into a cause celebre of the moronic and ill-informed, but the official manhunt leading up to his alleged death is spawning plenty of conspiracy. There’s plenty of overlap to be sure. However, one aspect of this case that spurs skepticism is that Dorner’s wallet was found in three different places: San Diego’s Lindbergh Field; the San Ysidro Point of Entry near the US-Mexico border; and in the rubble of the cabin he apparently burned to death in.

So how could this be? Cord Jefferson at the Gawker hazards a guess:

Though he botched a number of things in the course of his warpath—a bungled boat robbery, wrecking his truck and smashing its axle, etc.—Dorner seemed better prepared than most spree killers, which might explain why he had multiple wallets and multiple IDs (perhaps he was trying to throw authorities off his track). Another possibility is that press outlets made mistakes during their reporting, thus leading the public to wrongly believe that Dorner’s wallet was in three places at once.

That sort of seems plausible, except if you’re going to go through the trouble of manufacturing several ID’s and carrying several wallets, why would you have all of them bear the same name, much less your own name? Carrying an ID for “Christopher Dorner” during this manhunt would not be much of an advantage, would it?

No, the more simple explanation (also suggested by Jefferson) is that the media screwed up.

First of all, the only official mention of Dorner’s ID and wallet being found is in the criminal complaint and affidavit filed by the US Marshal Service (see paragraph 7(b)):

“Detective Anschick later found DORNER’s personal belongings, including his wallet and identification cards, near the U.S./Mexico border at the San Ysidro Point of Entry.”

Yet, according to the most recent reports from the scene of the final conflagration, after being cornered in a cabin near Big Bear Lake, California:

He never emerged from the ruins and hours later a charred body was found in the basement of the burned cabin along with a wallet and personal items, including a California driver’s license with the name Christopher Dorner, an official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Did you notice that this info was from an anonymous source? Again, the only official report about a wallet and/or ID being found is the one cited in the federal complaint.

How about the claim that his wallet was found at Lindbergh Field? Well, that seems to come from this NBC San Diego report:

An LAPD badge and a wallet with the suspect’s personal identification were discovered Thursday by an airport shuttle driver near San Diego’s Lindbergh Field.

This particular nugget of info is unsourced, and doesn’t really make much sense. Would a cop who was fired in 2008 still have a badge in 2013?

Even if he did, there is still only one official report of Dorner’s ID/wallet being found, and that’s contained in the federal complaint filed on February 7th.

Ergo, the flowering conspiracy theories are almost entirely fed with media fertilizer. Once again, our intrepid press, with its professional journalists and layers upon layers of fact checkers, have proven themselves the modern equivalent of a sewing circle.

MLK is spinning in his grave

I wonder what Martin Luther King would say on the day  a black president is sworn in for his second term – a day that also celebrates King’s birth. You hope he’d be pleased. But my guess is, since he was more concerned with the content of your character than the color of your skin, that might not be the case.

Why? Because of the ongoing assault on our rights. For instance the gun control distraction that involves an Attorney General who is possibly the greatest hypocrite and biggest criminal in Washington.

What am I talking about?

Attorney General Eric Holder and his Department of Justice have asked a federal court to indefinitely delay a lawsuit brought by watchdog group Judicial Watch. The lawsuit seeks the enforcement of open records requests relating to Operation Fast and Furious, as required by law.

Judicial Watch had filed, on June 22, 2012, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious and “specifically [a]ll records subject to the claim of executive privilege invoked by President Barack Obama on or about June 20, 2012.”

The administration has refused to comply with Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, and in mid-September the group filed a lawsuit challenging Holder’s denial. That lawsuit remains ongoing but within the past week President Barack Obama’s administration filed what’s called a “motion to stay” the suit. Such a motion is something that if granted would delay the lawsuit indefinitely.

I don’t care what anyone says what happened with Fast and Furious was criminal. And the ongoing cover-up is also criminal.  The “most transparant administration ever” is, in fact, the most opaque.

As for the hypocrisy, well that’s easy, especially given Fast and Furious.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the government will consider “imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals” while talking about gun control to U.S. mayors.

ERIC HOLDER: And to consider a series of new federal laws imposing tough penalties on gun traffickers who help funnel weapons to dangerous criminals.

Who is the biggest “gun trafficker” we know of?

Eric Holder.

~McQ

Perspective: Are firearm murders a significant statistic?

We’ve been told for some time that violent crime in America is actually at its lowest point since the 1970s.

But we’re also being told by a certain element that gun deaths are out of hand and we need to reconsider tightening our gun laws.

So lets take one of those “perspective” looks shall we? 

First a chart that takes us through 2004 showing murders by firearms:

 

500px-Ushomicidesbyweapon.svg

 

As an aside, the Assault Weapons ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004.  Assault weapons would be found under “other guns”.   You’ll note that “other methods” and knives, for the most part, were involved in more murders than “assault weapons” (further note that not all “other guns” were “Assault Weapons”, but may have been hunting rifles or shotguns).  Rifles of any sort just aren’t the usual weapon of choice for murders.

Also note that murders of all types have been trending down over the  years.  If you hit the link in the first sentence, it will show you that in 2004 the number of violent crimes per 100,000 was 463.2 and in 2010 it had fallen to 403.6.

If you add handguns and “other guns” from the chart in 2004, you see approximately 10,500 to 11,000 murders by firearms.

The latest stat available?

The most recent FBI figures show just 358 of the 8,775 murders by firearm in 2010 involved rifles of any type.

By the way, the article that was pulled from noted that in 2010, more people were beaten to death by fists (758) than were killed by “other guns”, aka rifles of any sort.

Michael Wade does the math:

So, based on these two sites (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_households_are_in_the_US)(http://www.gallup.com/poll/150353/self-reported-gun-ownership-highest-1993.aspx) there were approximately 115 million households in 2010, and between 41% and 49% (depending on how you do the numbers) had firearms in them.

That’s a minimum of 57.5 million arms (if we assume one firearm per household, which we know isn’t even close to the right number).

If we then assume that each of the 8,775 murders was committed by a separate firearm from a different household each time (again, an assumption we know is wrong but increases the number of households involved), then approximately 0.015% of American households who owned guns were involved with murder by firearm in 2010.

Again, these assumptions make that percentage much higher than it actually is since (a) undoubtedly more households have firearms but don’t report them, (b) households with firearms will typically have more than just one, and may have several, (c) one firearm likely accounted for more than one of the 8,775 murders, and (d) the vast majority of the murders were likely committed with firearms that were illegally possessed!

Even so, slightly more than one one-thousandth of one percent of gun owners is the highest amount you are going to be able to implicate in murder by firearm, despite all the generous assumptions made in favor of the gun control side.

That does not speak to a winning argument IMHO.

No it sure doesn’t, not that they won’t try anyway.  Additionally, when you do the math about chances of being a victim of firearm murder, the figure 312.8 million is what you need to divide into the 8,775 yielding a terrifying 0.000028% chance of being a victim of a firearm murder in 2010 (if you’re a gambler, though, move to Chicago and you can quickly reduce the odds). 

In fact, you’re much more likely to die from one of these causes than a gunshot murder:

Chance of dying from any kind of injury during the next year: 1 in 1,820
Chance of dying from intentional self-harm: 1 in 9,380
Chance of dying from an assault: 1 in 16,421
Chance of dying from a car accident: 1 in 18,585
Chance of dying from any kind of fall: 1 in 20,666
Chance of dying from accidental drowning: 1 in 79,065
Chance of dying from exposure to smoke, fire, and flames: 1 in 81,524
Chance of dying in an explosion: 1 in 107,787

Life is perilous, but for the most part, not because of guns.

As someone recently said, we don’t need gun control, we need idiot control.  Not sure how we control the idiots, but I’m sympathetic to the idea.  Statistically though, the number of firearm murders per year simply doesn’t justify any renewed call for banning or restricting the sale or possession of firearms.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Speculation: Aurora shooter an OWS guy? (Update)

At this point, I see it as mostly rumor, but I wonder how the left will react if this is true:

As speculation mounts about the motive behind the mass shooting, one private investigator has claimed that Holmes may have been part of Occupy Wall Street’s most violent faction Occupy Black Bloc.

Bill Warner told how the Batman movie portrays the OWS crowd in a negative vein, leading him to believe that may have been a cause behind the shooting.

Again, note the word “speculation”.  We’ll learn more as the investigation continues.  Interesting that I read this first in the foreign press.

I have to wonder, then, if this indeed turns out to be true, whether authorities will continue to state that he had no ties to known terrorist groups.

That said, my profound sympathies to the families of the victims of this kook’s madness.

UPDATE:  Interesting little back and forth on Twitter about this post among friends and colleagues essentially trying to convince me that I shouldn’t “go there”. 

I disagree.  The possibility exists and this being a news source which clearly identifies the point as “speculation” based on what it gathered from one “private investigator”, I see nothing wrong with posting it.  They obviously found something credible in what the investigator said, credible enough to include it in the story (but obviously not willing to cast it beyond “speculation” until they can find a corroborating source).  I present it as they have.

Never said or directly implied in the back and forth was the “sensitivity” of the recent massacre or the apparent assumed time one must let pass before “speculating”.  We speculate about motive all the time on really fresh crimes (see recent bus bombing in Bulgaria).  The size of this one is the only real difference.   It was a heinous act – agreed.  Got it.  So are green-on-blue murders in Afghanistan, be we don’t assume a waiting period on those.  We discuss them.  We speculate on motive, etc.  Talking about it or what may have motivated the crime won’t make it any less heinous.

Should the source choose to retract, I’ll note that.  Other than that, this is something to be considered in the mass murders this yahoo perpetrated.  Call it what you will, I see it as news.   And if you don’t believe this should be “politicized”, that ship sailed hours ago.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

UAVs, extrajudicial and targeted killings

If you haven’t wondered about the morality of this or its legality, I’d be surprised.

It’s easy to overlook, after all it’s the “good guys” doing it, right?

While I usually ignore most of what the UN says, I think there’s some substance here:

The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama’s attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

In his strongest critique so far of drone strikes, Heyns suggested some may even constitute "war crimes". His comments come amid rising international unease over the surge in killings by remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

A lot of times I apply the “what if some other country was doing this to the US” standard to things we do.  Take Fast and Furious.  What if Mexico had run that operation on us?  We’d be “furious”.  We’d condemn them roundly.  We’d be seeking redress.  We’d be initiating some sort of action.

Now given, in certain of the cases with UAV’s, governments of countries effected are cooperating and, in some cases, even giving permission.  But that isn’t always the case as we well know.  In fact, many times this country just executes an extra-judicial and/or targeted killing without the knowledge or consent of the government of the state in which it takes place.

As you might expect, there’s a lot of death of innocents that is euphemistically waved away as “collateral damage”.

Certainly the use of UAVs as a military asset that can both gather intel and be used to attack legitimate enemies makes sense.  But we’re into a very gray moral area with “extra-judicial” and targeted killings in other countries. 

The irony, of course, is the administration that arrogantly condemned its predecessor for secret jails and military tribunals and insisted that the judicial system be used in the war on terror instead now acts as judge, jury and executioner in these UAV killings. 

I just wondered what we’d think if Pakistan began flying UAVs into the US and knocking off politicians who supported UAV strikes in Pakistan, calling them “war criminals” and all?

Think we’d find that outrageous, a violation of our sovereignty and international law and be whining to the UN about what was being done by that country (not to mention beating the war drums here at home)?

Yeah, me too.

Would we have a legal or moral leg to stand on?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

New tone: How culpable is the news media and the left in this crime? (Update)

I ask because I have found the coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting and death to be sensationalist and, many times, based in rumor later found to be incorrect.

Or, to put a finer point on it, the coverage of the case has been anything but objective and fact based.

For instance, the original reports that said the incident was a white on black killing.  In fact, Zimmerman isn’t white.  He’s Hispanic.  ABC then published a video from the police station claiming there was no evidence of injury.  A closer look revealed ample evidence of injury, but that meme had already traveled the world twice.  MSNBC, not to be out done, made the claim that Zimmerman uttered a racial slur that was caught on the 911 tape.  Again, when examined more closely, it appeared clear that it wasn’t a racial slur at all, but a comment on the weather.

Meanwhile, the race baiters, attracted to the killing like sharks to chum, had picked up on the story as presented by the media and converged on Sanford FL, the site of the killing, to seek “justice” for Trayvon Martin.

Well, apparently some of it was served yesterday … in Mobile, AL:

Mobile police need your help to catch a mob that beat Matthew Owens so badly that he’s in critical condition.

According to police, Owens fussed at some kids playing basketball in the middle of Delmar Drive about 8:30 Saturday night. They say the kids left and a group of adults returned, armed with everything but the kitchen sink.

Police tell News 5 the suspects used chairs, pipes and paint cans to beat Owens.

Owens’ sister, Ashley Parker, saw the attack. "It was the scariest thing I have ever witnessed." Parker says 20 people, all African American, attacked her brother on the front porch of his home, using "brass buckles, paint cans and anything they could get their hands on."

And, according to Ms. Parker, as they were leaving something else occurred:

What Parker says happened next could make the fallout from the brutal beating even worse. As the attackers walked away, leaving Owen bleeding on the ground, Parker says one of them said "Now that’s justice for Trayvon." Trayvon Martin is the unarmed teenager police say was shot and killed February 26 by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida.

The left is fond of trying to blame the right for inciting incidents of violence.  The Gabby Gifford shooting is the most recent example. 

I have to wonder if the news media who sensationalized the Martin shooting and the race hustlers who inflamed the situation are willing to take the blame for this beating?

UPDATE: Ace points to two more beatings that appear to have been motivated by the Martin case.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman and the digital lynch mob

I have to admit watching this “discussion” over the who, what, when, where and how of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman with disgust.  I refrained from commenting on it when it first hit the news because I have learned enough over the years to recognize stories where one needs to let it develop a bit for all the facts to come out.

Of course that didn’t at all stop the usual suspects from pouncing on what seemed a perfect story with which they could push their favorite racial themes (Jesse Jackson’s “Blacks are under attack” for instance) and for others to involve themselves in something that they really have no business involving themselves in.

It has laid bare the polarization within this country and how extreme it has become.

The story, if you’ve taken time to research it, is nothing like the cut and dried “whitey killed a black man because he was black” meme the race baiters are pushing.   In fact, if you’ve bothered to research the story, it appears that race had little if anything to do with this tragedy.  It is not a racial issue, even if it has been portrayed as such by the Al Sharptons, Jesse Jacksons and Louis Farrakhans of this world. 

George Zimmerman, if anything, appears to have been an overzealous neighborhood watch person with a history of calling in suspicious activities he saw in his neighborhood.  Treyvan Martin, who lived 250 miles away from that neighborhood, was apparently acting suspiciously (rummaging through garbage cans, etc.) when Zimmerman spotted him.  I doubt that Zimmerman cared one whit what Martin’s skin color was at the time.   Apparently somewhere during that time, a confrontation took place, a fight ensued and Zimmerman killed Martin with a shot to the chest.

A witness has come forward saying he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman punching him in the face. Martin, aged 17 and 6 foot 3, was not the innocent “child” the media has tried to portray.   He was a probably bigger than Zimmerman and was on a 10 day suspension from school.  Obviously that doesn’t justify killing him but it sheds a little different light on the situation.

I can’t get inside the heads of either of these people but is it reasonable to assume, given the situation, that Zimmerman might have feared for his life?   Possibly.  I don’t know – and neither does anyone else.

Does that justify the shooting.  Again, I don’t know.

But of course all the race pimps do. Just ask them.  And so they’ve essentially initiated a vendetta against George Zimmerman, who, by the way, isn’t white even though that assumption was immediately made by many given his name.  Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian and of Indian stock. 

An example of the thoughtless incitement that is going on can be found with none other than Spike Lee who, uninformed jerk that he is, published Zimmerman’s address on Twitter.    Numerous threats to Zimmerman have been published on Twitter as well.  The New Black Panthers have put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head.  Louis Farrakhan tweeted that the “law of retribution may soon be applied”, a not-so-veiled threat against Zimmerman.

The irony, of course, is this is a typical lynch mob mentality being stirred up here.  These are calls for violence outside the law. 

No one is claiming that George Zimmerman isn’t at fault here.  He may very well be. We don’t know yet.   That’s for a court of his peers to decide.  Certainly not a marginally informed and inflamed mob.  If something happens to Zimmerman before his day in court, you can most likely look to the digital lynch mob for the source.  I’ve always considered the racist white lynch mobs of the past to be one of the most horrific and disgusting manifestations of the racism of the past.  I find what is happening now no less horrific or disgusting.

There’s also another reason this is on the national radar.  And it has nothing to do with race.  I’ll let my favorite leftist hack columnist at the New York Times lay it out for you:

Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy — and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

If you are inclined to want to see guns controlled or banned and citizens required to flee any sort of confrontation vs. defending themselves, Paul Krugman is right there with you and has the goods on this now “infamous” law.

Except, as usual, it is a mish-mash of half-truths and innuendo cobbled together to make you think that corporate America is actually the villain in all of this.

We talked about this case on the podcast last night.  What is going on right now is all too predictable.  And it again points out how polarized this country is.  And it isn’t getting less polarized.

Final thought.  As I recall, President Obama was supposed to be the “post-racial” President, or that was his claim.  Yet he has inserted himself in two local incidents that I know of (the Skip Gates incident being the first) and inflamed the incidents with his remarks.  That, my friends, is not leadership. 

But then, he’s not a leader, and those of us who have actually been in leadership positions in our lives have known that from the beginning.   Instead he has difficulty denying his liberal roots and not succumbing to their siren call.

He’s an agitator.  And, as usual, he’s stepped in on something he should have stayed out of and made it far worse.  Inserting himself has given impetus, cover and justification for the Frarrakhans, Lees, Jacksons, Sharptons and the New Black Panthers to do what they’re doing.  Instead of calming the waters and talking about trusting the legal system and letting it do its work, he’s done exactly the opposite.

Congrats, Mr. Prez.  If anything happens to Zimmerman, you’re on the hook too as far as I’m concerned.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO