Free Markets, Free People

Crime

Because The LA Prosecutor Should Be Spending His Time Pursuing Bin Laden

A rather long title to introduce probably the single most absurd rationalization for not bringing Polanski to justice I’ve yet read.

You have to read it just to understand how intellectually bankrupt some people can be.  The false premises and pretzel logic in this particular article is remarkable.  So is the moral relevance.  And notice too how he avoids the real charge (rape) in favor of a charge that was never made (statutory rape).  Note too he completely avoids the problem of lack of consent from the girl. All the way through you continue to think, “this has to be a farce”.  Frankly, for a while, I thought it was.  But it clearly isn’t.

I have no idea who George Jonas is, but I do know that’s the last article of his I’ll ever bother reading.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day

Jonah Goldberg reminded me of this beauty by Harvey Weinstein concerning Hollywood’s defense of rapist Roman Polanski:

In an opinion piece in London’s the Independent, Weinstein Co. co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who is circulating the pro-Polanski petition, wrote: “Whatever you think about the so-called crime, Polanski has served his time. A deal was made with the judge, and the deal is not being honored. . . . This is the government of the United States not giving its word and recanting on a deal, and it is the government acting irresponsibly and criminally.”

In an interview, Weinstein said that people generally misunderstand what happened to Polanski at sentencing. He’s not convinced public opinion is running against the filmmaker and dismisses the categorization of Hollywood as amoral. “Hollywood has the best moral compass, because it has compassion,” Weinstein said. “We were the people who did the fundraising telethon for the victims of 9/11. We were there for the victims of Katrina and any world catastrophe.”

If Hollywood is the best moral compass, then there is no such thing as moral magnetic north.

While doing fundraising is appreciated, it shows much less of the needed compassion in those situations than a small rural church in Georgia which pools the resources of its parishioners, drives to coastal Mississippi, buys supplies from Home Depot and rebuilds houses for those made homeless by the hurricane.

Nope – the moral compass of this country resides where it always has, and those who possess it are calling BS on the Polanski charade.

~McQ

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The Polanski Thing

I don’t get it.  Where’s NOW?  Where are all the women’s groups?  Where are all the agitated ladies yelling “no means no!”  Where are the children’s rights organizations demanding Polanski’s extradition?

And what in the world is going on in Hollywood?  If ever anyone wanted to point to the decadence in our country this provides the example.

Here, let’s let Kate Harding provide a little clarity, shall we:

Roman Polanski raped a child. Let’s just start right there, because that’s the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in “exile” (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never — poor baby — being able to return to the U.S.).

Got that? He raped a child. He plead guilty to a lesser charge, but in fact he raped a child. Then he fled. You tell me, if it was some poor Wal-Mart frequenting, no-name red-neck who had done that 30 years ago and then taken off and hidden out in a double-wide for all this time, Hollywood would be having benefits for the victim and howling for the blood of the rapist. The women of The View would be demanding justice. Dr. Phil would be on Oprah telling the world of the long-term trauma and effect this sort of event can cause. Nancy Grace would be pounding the podium and telling the world this isn’t about the forgiveness of the victim, but justice.

Instead, as Harding points out, we’re hearing every excuse in the book from the glitterati (not necessarily the one’s I’ve named) as to why Polanski should skate. He’s been in “exile” for 30 years. Really? He’s lived in France. Although some may consider that to be a form of “exile” few prisoners convicted of rape would consider living there, fathering 2 children and generally enjoying the lifestyle of the rich and famous to be “exile”, much less punishment.

Instead, what it all boils down too is he’s an artist and artists are different than the little people and should be treated differently. I mean, don’t you know they don’t have to follow the rules?  Haven’t you watched the awards shows or followed their lives on Entertainment Tonight? It is they who get to define what is good or right, or so they believe. They can ignore the rules and flaunt them, because, you know, they have a talent which millions enjoy. That makes them special and certainly more special than some floozy 13 year old child who’s life has come to  nothing in comparison.

And besides, Polanski escaped justice long enough, thanks to our friends in France who refused to extradite an admitted child rapist, that he’s should be allowed to slide, or so his defenders rationalize.

The fact that she’s forgiven him (since justice was never done, what other choice did she have but bottle it up and let it poison her life?) and wants to avoid the publicity is understandable.  Her mental health has demanded she find a way to put this behind her because the justice system was never able to bring her any sort of satisfaction or closure.

However, this isn’t really about her anymore – it’s about child rape and the simple fact that it is never right, never excusable and is always punishable, no matter how long it takes to track the perp down. That’s justice. You can’t drag Bubba out of the trailer and put him in jail for however long is appropriate if you can’t drag Polanski back from Switzerland and do the same.

~McQ

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Census Bureau and ACORN Part Ways

And given ACORN’s history and recent problems I say none too soon. The plan had been to have the ACORN be an integral part of the Census Bureau effort in 2010. But ACORN’s past has caught up with it (the little sting operation in MD and DC probably didn’t help) and the Census Bureau, bowing to the public’s concern, is cutting the organization loose.

“Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts,” read a letter from Census Director Robert M. Groves to the president of ACORN.

“Unfortunately, we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices. For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership,” the letter said.

Now the next goal ought to be to find a way to defund the organization, i.e. pull all of its federal funding. If it want to engage in “community organizing” let it fund itself the old fashioned way – beg for money.

Meanwhile, it appears MD has decided it may prosecute the filmmaker who exposed ACORN.

~McQ

9/11

I never watch morning TV. I can’t stand all the caffeine fueled happy talk on the morning news shows and anyway I’d rather ease into the news cycle the old fashioned way – with a newspaper. But on September 11th of 2001 I happened to be listening to the radio when I heard a report that it was believed that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

I walked over and turned on the TV. I forget which channel or network it was but I remember the anchor talking about what was then thought to be a horrific accident. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes later that the second tower was hit.

I stood in horrified amazement. I realized it was no accident but I didn’t understand yet what it all meant. Then the report came in about the Pentagon. Finally I realized that it was an orchestrated attack. I wouldn’t hear about the plane that crashed in PA for a while.

I remember doing something I never do – sitting in front of that TV all day. It was like the earth stood still. I watched the towers burn. I watched the people flee. I watched in horror as others jumped. I watched the towers collapse one by one. I watched as fire and police rescue headed into the disaster area as civilians fled. I watched as ash, like a volcanic explosion might bring, cover that portion of the city. And I watched as New Yorkers fled the city on foot over clogged bridges.

It was a stunning day – an almost visceral feeling of anger finally descended on me as I began to understand the full implications of what happened.

9/11 is certainly a day that will live in infamy as we were the victim of a cowardly attack that cost the lives of 3,000 people. But, as is often the case with Americans, there were a lot of heroes that stepped up that day. And the basic decency of our fellow countrymen was also evident as businesses and individuals did what was necessary to help and comfort those who had been able to flee those towers.

9/11 is a day for remembrance. Not a day for “community service” or whatever it is that some are trying to turn it into. It should be a somber day in which we remember those who died, recognize that we have enemies in the world who will stop at nothing to strike us and redouble our commitment to protect our homeland from such attacks.

And to all those who lost their lives on that day, we should dedicate at least a portion of this one to their memory.

~McQ

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The Case Against “Not Enough Regulation” Causing Financial Meltdown

The case against?

Bernie Madoff, of course.  A man who bilked investors of some 80 plus billion dollars over a couple of decades knew how to fool the regulators and was not shy about passing on that information to those who worked for him.

Money quote (no pun intended):

“You know, you don’t have to be too brilliant with these guys because you don’t have to be …”

Apparently the regulation regime, which should have easily have caught Madoff, failed too because regulators got to cozy with him:

“The guys . . . ask a zillion different questions and we look at them sometimes and we laugh, and we say, ‘Are you guys writing a book?’ ” he said.

“These guys, they work for five years at the commission then they become a compliance manager at a hedge fund now.”

Yeah – we need more regulations. That’s the ticket. More. That’ll fix it.

The regulations were there – the regulators, however, failed to enforce them. My guess is that a close examination of why we ended up in the financial pickle we did had less to do with the lack of regulation and more to do with what let Bernie Madoff skate for so long – a criminal lack of oversight by regulators as authorized by law.

~McQ

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What If Chappaquiddick Had Happened Today?

Eric Zorn does a little “what if” in the Chicago Trib, wondering if Ted Kennedy could have survived Chappaquiddick in today’s news environment.

If we’d had insatiable 24/7 cable news networks in July 1969, the accident on Chappaquiddick Island in which a passenger in a car driven by Sen. Edward Kennedy drowned would likely have dominated the national consciousness for months.

Zorn then proceeds from the premise that Kennedy’s life and work after that event make the point that it is a good thing we didn’t have the 24/7 news cycle because we’d have lost a giant among legislators.

Of course, you have to accept his premise that Kennedy’s life and work after Chappaquiddick were worthwhile to sign on to the premise. I, for one, don’t.

I mean this is a guy who, as he schemed to figure out a way to become president, tried to make a deal with the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov, to undermine Ronald Reagan and gain politically.

So there are probably just as many out here who might have welcomed such coverage if it had had the desired effect of running Kennedy out of public life.

“Politically, Kennedy wouldn’t have survived that kind of media bombardment,” said Bruce DuMont, president of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications and host of “Beyond the Beltway,” a national weekly talk-radio show. “It wouldn’t have just been a spotlight, it would have been a heat lamp. On him, on all the investigators, on everyone connected to the story.

The cable networks turned Scott and Laci Peterson into household names, DuMont said. “Just think what they would have done with Ted and Mary Jo. Remember all the coverage they gave to the [1999] plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr.? Multiply that by 10.”

Two things argue against this scenario. One – Scott and Laci Peterson didn’t have the upper hand with an adoring media. The Kennedys have always seemed larger than life because the media made them that way. One also has to remember the media of the time knowingly covered up brother Jack’s infidelity. 24/7 news coverage or not, that same sort of mentality was at work with any Kennedy. Expecting a critical look at this particular event is simply not something one can assume – especially given the fact that it never really got it at the time.

Two – Ted Kennedy was shameless. There was nothing that would run him out of public life, to include his cowardly act which led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Had it been otherwise, the facts surrounding the incident at Chappaquiddick and the amount of coverage it did receive should have been sufficient to do what Zorn claims only 24/7 coverage would have accomplished now. But Kennedy waved it off, ignored it and plowed on.

So while I find Zorn’s point about today’s news cycle (and talk radio) to be interesting, I also find it to be a flawed rationalization for keeping certain bad actors in place supposing that some will become “Ted Kennedys” if we don’t run them off. In fact, he says as much:

Or, as I believe, is the nation — particularly our disabled and disadvantaged residents — better off for the 40 years of service he was able to render after that terrible night?

The momentary satisfaction of destroying Ted Kennedy for his failings would have had a significant price. Something to keep in mind when the next fallen figure, Democrat or Republican, stumbles into the heat lamp.

Zorn’s argument is that justice delayed or belayed might turn out for the better in some cases. That’s an incredibly silly notion. And again you have to agree with the premise that Kennedy’s “40 years of service” were worth Kopechne’s life. Zorn is arguing it is. And he’s not the only one.

Joyce Carol Oates attempts to push the very same premise under a different guise:

His tireless advocacy of civil rights, rights for disabled Americans, health care, voting reform, his courageous vote against the Iraq war (when numerous Democrats including Hillary Clinton voted for it) suggest that there are not only “second acts” in American lives, but that the Renaissance concept of the “fortunate fall” may be relevant here….Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?

One is to think that there isn’t equal justice for all, that some are more privileged and apparently valuable than others. And certainly any future accomplishments, if good, are simply pure luck, even if you agree they’re “good” . We have no way to look into the future and decide that someone will contribute to society in a grand way.

But we can look into the the interior of a ’67 Oldsmobile, see a woman left to drown through the sheer cowardice of the driver who was more concerned about his political career than her life, and draw certain conclusions then.

To some, such as Zorn and Oates, they see a redeemed person who did well with the second chance. Others, such as myself, see such thinking as rationalization for making an exception of Kennedy where they wouldn’t make one for anyone else (despite the lip service). “Second acts” or second chances, where I come from, occur after a price has been paid for the act in question. Kennedy never paid that price.

What Zorn and Oates are really saying here is since it turned out well in their opinion, the ends justify the means. As I see it that’s not justice, it’s elitism on steroids.

~McQ

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Darn Right-Wing Militias

Via The Jawa Report, a little “domestic terrorism” update. First St. Louis:

A federal search warrant obtained by the Post-Dispatch connects a former Democratic campaign strategist to a Clayton bombing last year that seriously injured an attorney.

About two months after the October bombing, federal law enforcement officials searched the downtown loft of Milton H. “Skip” Ohlsen III, seeking “evidence related to the planning, execution, and/or cover-up of the bombing in Clayton, Missouri, on October 16, 2008.” Ohlsen in recent weeks has been at the center of a swirling political scandal that is threatening the political careers of at least two Missouri Democratic legislators.

Then, Austin, Texas:

A Texas woman faces trial this month in Austin on charges she threatened to kill a government informant who infiltrated an Austin-based group that planned to bomb the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., last fall…

…Crowder and McKay were part of a group of activists that had gone to the Twin Cities to take part in street demonstrations. The FBI had infiltrated the group with Darby. Crowder and McKay built eight of the gasoline firebombs but didn’t use them, a fact law enforcement officials credited to Darby.

Members of the Austin protest community heaped scorn on Darby, saying he had betrayed longtime friends and colleagues.

I’m headed over to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website to see what they have to say about these right-wingers and their hate crimes …. oh, wait …

~McQ

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An Interesting But Apparently Obscure Health Care Fact

One of the questions constantly posed as the debate over health care insurance reform rages is, “if we have such a great health care system, why is our life expectancy lower than countries with socialized care?”

Well apparently it is our propensity to murder each other and die in car accidents which obscures the fact that with those factored out, we actually enjoy the longest life expectancy. James Joyner provides the numbers and a handy little chart.

But the bottom line is when you remove homicide and car crashes, we jump from number 15 with a life expectancy of 75.3 to number 1 with a life expectancy of 76.9.

So we must be doing something right in the medical field wouldn’t you say – certainly more so than anyone else if you want to hang your hat on life expectancy data that only focuses on what medicine can help.  Drive safely and avoid getting on the losing side of a gun fight and you can expect to be around for longer than any of those in the so-called “more advanced” countries.

And, as Dodd points out, there’s even a way to improve the homicide numbers:

Homicide, however, we could impact immediately and irrevocably right now simply by decriminalizing most (or all) currently illegal drugs. Remove the artificial, government-created scarcity, and the profits and incentive to engage in underworld violence that goes with it, and the homicide rate would fall significantly. More of our young men would survive to middle adulthood, hundreds of thousands of prisoners would be freed (or never created) to engage in productive work, and our life expectancy at birth would jump immediately and permanently. All without the government having to nationalize one-sixth of the economy and expropriate trillions more dollars from the private sector to pay for the hope that the outcome will be improved.

He’s right, of course – remove profit, remove incentive. The drug market today is a government created market. And it reacts to the distorted incentives prohibition introduces into such a market.

We know how to regulate such markets legally. We do it fairly successfully with alcohol. And we don’t have booze gangs shooting it out in turf wars or finding bunches of bodies from bootleg deals gone wrong.

Why we don’t consider reform in this area is beyond me. Life expectancy numbers would certainly see an increase if we did. So would our freedom and liberty numbers.

~McQ

Racism and Crying Wolf

As we discussed on the last podcast, as well as in various posts here at QandO, the biggest missed opportunity in the whole Gates kerfuffle was to draw attention to the civil liberties issues. By immediately crying racial profiling, Prof. Gates clouded an otherwise sympathetic view of his standing as a homeowner. Of course, if he hadn’t behaved the way that he did (calling Sgt. Crowley a racist cop), then he likely would never had been arrested in the first place. Nevertheless, what we should have taken from the l’affair Gates was that scenes such as the following are all too familiar:

Pepin Tuma, 33, was walking with two friends along Washington’s hip U Street corridor around midnight Saturday, complaining about how Gates had been rousted from his home for not showing a proper amount of deference to a cop. “We’d been talking about it all day,” said Tuma. “It seems like police have a tendency to act overly aggressively when they’re being pushed around,” Tuma recalled saying.

Then the group noticed five or six police cruisers surrounding two cars in an apparent traffic stop on the other side of the street. It seemed to Tuma that was more cops than necessary.

“That’s why I hate the police,” Tuma said. He told the Huffington Post that in a loud sing-song voice, he then chanted, “I hate the police, I hate the police.”

One officer reacted strongly to Tuma’s song. “Hey! Hey! Who do you think you’re talking to?” Tuma recalled the officer shouting as he strode across an intersection to where Tuma was standing. “Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?” the police officer said, according to Luke Platzer, 30, one of Tuma’s companions.

Tuma said he responded, “It is not illegal to say I hate the police. It’s not illegal to express my opinion walking down the street.”

According to Tuma and Platzer, the officer pushed Tuma against an electric utility box, continuing to ask who he thought he was and to say he couldn’t talk to police like that.

“I didn’t curse,” Tuma said. “I asked, am I being arrested? Why am I being arrested?”

It should come as no surprise that, in fact, Tuma was arrested on a charge of ‘disorderly conduct”:

D.C.’s disorderly conduct statute bars citizens from breaching the peace by doing anything “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others” or by shouting or making noise “either outside or inside a building during the nighttime to the annoyance or disturbance of any considerable number of persons.”

[…]

Tuma spent a few hours in a holding cell and was released early Sunday morning after forfeiting $35 in collateral to the police, he said. A “post and forfeit” is not an admission of guilt, and Tuma doesn’t have a court date — but the arrest will pop up if an employer does a background check.

So, adding insult to injury, Tuma gets arrested for expressing his opinion on a public street, spends the night in jail, and then is “legally” pickpocketed by the police. This is a problem, just as it was with the Gates mess, and is the real issue that should be discussed.

Forget racial profiling and other obscurants for a moment and contemplate just how much power has been granted to the police here. Is that a wise decision? Surely we want the police to be able to use their judgment in a given situation, but when a law is drafted so broadly as to provide cover when a cop feels insulted then such law flies in the face of constitutional protections.

Furthermore, situations like this really undermine the concept of police being “professionals”. Having the power to arrest someone because they get a little mouthy is not a power any real professional should want or need. Being a professional means being able to negotiate the situation through one’s abilities, not through one’s grant of extraordinary power. I mean, could you imagine if lawyers had the ability to throw people in clink for insulting them? Who would be safe?

The fact of the matter is that there are just too many laws to begin with. Cut down on number if infractions cops are expected to enforce, and you will cut down on the number of incidences where the police overstep their authority. When the only thing in danger is a cop’s feelings, then I think it’s safe to say that incarcerating anyone is a monumental waste of time and resources that could be better spent going after real criminals.