Free Markets, Free People

Law Enforcement

SCOTUS is a political branch, not a legal one

I pretty much agree with Andrew McCarthy:

Already, an ocean of ink has been spilled analyzing, lauding, and bemoaning the Supreme Court’s work this week: a second life line tossed to SCOTUScare in just three years; the location of a heretofore unknown constitutional right to same-sex marriage almost a century-and-a-half after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment; and the refashioning of Congress’s Fair Housing Act to embrace legal academe’s loopy “disparate impact” theory of inducing discrimination.

Yet, for all the non-stop commentary, one detail goes nearly unmentioned — the omission that best explains this week’s Fundamental Transformation trifecta.   Did you notice that there was not an iota of speculation about how the four Progressive justices would vote?There was never a shadow of a doubt. In the plethora of opinions generated by these three cases, there is not a single one authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, or Sonia Sotomayor. There was no need. They are the Left’s voting bloc. There was a better chance that the sun would not rise this morning than that any of them would wander off the reservation.

Indeed, if there is any speculation it centers mostly around Justice Kennedy and now, of all people, Roberts.  There’s not much of a doubt on any case that comes before the court as to how either the liberal bloc or the conservative bloc will vote.  Up for grabs, apparently, are only two votes.  And you can expect absolutely tortured verbiage and logic from those two (and others who believe in a “living Constitution”) in order to justify their vote.

Elizabeth Price Foley wants to lay it off on liberals:

Leftists believe that “law is politics,” so they’re not particularly interested in how they get there: What matters, to the political left, is simply getting there.  The ends justify the means

But we all know why Thomas, Scalia, Alito and, oh yeah, Roberts, ended up on the Supreme Court.  The conservatives believe “law is politics” just as much as the left – they just haven’t been as successful at it recently.  There is a reason there are veritable political wars about who gets appointed to the highest bench in the land.  This isn’t some sort of scoop.

It’s a pity though.  You expect politics in Congress, which is why it’s reputation is so … low.  You want a statesman in the presidency.  And you expect justice and law from the judiciary.

Instead, we have nothing but politics from all three.

And they wonder why the people’s view of government is at a nadir?

We all know what “politics” means … and it has nothing to do with integrity, justice, the law, statesmanship or what is best for the citizenry.

~McQ

 

This and that

Apparently the Orange County school district (Florida/Orlando) has plans to  monitor students’ social media messages in an effort to curb cyberbullying, crime on campus and suicide.  Because, you know, that’s what they’re there for:

Orange County Public Schools announced Thursday that it has acquired software to monitor social media “to proactively prevent, intervene and (watch) situations that may impact students and staff.”  The district has obtained an annual license with SnapTrends, software that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

The district said it plans to use the software to conduct routine monitoring for the purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues in which students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others.

OCPS said the company will assist district law enforcement and security personnel in monitoring publicly available social media communications that are relevant to school operations and personnel.

“This is a tool that gives the district intelligence into a situation that could possibly prevent something more serious from happening,” Orange County Public Schools Senior Director of Safety and Security Doug Tripp said.

“Safety in and around school campuses is the top priority for Orange County school leaders,” OCPS said in a news release.  “Recognizing social media is a major communication system, the district has acquired social media monitoring software.”

School officials acknowledge the online snooping might raise privacy questions. But board member Linda Kobert said the district is taking advantage of “new tools to protect our children.”

Might raise some privacy questions?  Well, social media are indeed made up of public postings.  But let me ask you a more important question?  Is this a role for a school district?  Or is this another example of a creeping bureaucratic mission?  And what will the school district do with any information it gleans from its “monitoring?”

Note again, that we have a public official putting “safety” over supposed privacy concerns.  Oh, and btw, do you suppose that potential or real cyber-bullies don’t know how to set up fake accounts?  And is this a good use of school funds with the literacy problems most public school districts face?  The questions are endless.

Some people feel they have to take everything to an extreme.  Why, I’m not sure.  And I’m also pretty sure I think this particular extreme is both unnecessary and provocative.  If there’s trouble, will it rise to the level of “incitement”?

Jon Ritzheimer is a former Marine, and he has no middle ground when it comes to Islam.

A T-shirt he wears pretty much says it all: “F— Islam.”

Ritzheimer is the organizer of Friday’s “Freedom of Speech Rally” outside the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix.

It’s the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofiattended for a time. They’re the men who drove from Arizona to a Dallas suburb to shoot up a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest there. Both were killed by police early this month.

Many Muslims consider any depiction of Mohammed to be blasphemous and banned by the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

“This is in response to the recent attack in Texas where 2 armed terrorist(s), with ties to ISIS, attempted Jihad,” the event’s Facebook page said.

Some 600 people say they’re attending.

It is one thing to hold an event in another part of the state and end up being attacked by people/terrorists who chose to travel there and do so.  It is another thing to go to a group’s home and intentionally antagonize and invite an attack by showing up uninvited and attempting to provoke a response.

Other reports have said the group will be heavily armed, quoting Ritzheimer as saying they are going to exercise their First Amendment rights and back them with their Second Amendment rights.

I support both rights, but I think this is foolish, stupid and deliberately antagonistic as well as being unnecessary.  The point has been made.  It will continue to be made.  But this is not the right way to make it again.

Nice economic growth we had in the first quarter, no?  Apparently adjustments have seen the reported GDP numbers fall from 0.2 growth to a 0.7 contraction.  Economists want to argue that its just the way the government computes this stuff:

Economists, however, caution against reading too much into the slump in output. They argue the GDP figure for the first quarter was held down by a confluence of temporary factors, including a problem with the model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal fluctuations.

Economists, including those at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, have cast doubts on the accuracy of GDP estimates for the first quarter, which have tended to show weakness over the last several years.

They argued the so-called seasonal adjustment is not fully stripping out seasonal patterns, leaving “residual” seasonality. The government said last week it was aware of the potential problem and was working to minimize it.

I’m sorry, boys and girls, since when is 0.2 growth in any quarter “good news”.  Its sort of like the unemployment figures.  Mostly fudged.  And apparently that’s precisely what the government will now attempt to do to show better numbers.  These bad numbers just don’t help the government tell you how well it’s doing, do they?  What’s this, our 6th or 7th “summer of recovery?”

Excellent Kevin D. Williamson article about the old and discredited ideas of Bernie Sanders, which he ends with a caution that we should all understand by now:

Senator Sanders may insist on living in the dark ages, and his view is not without its partisans. But those views are crude, they are backward, and they are, objectively speaking, incorrect about the way the economic world works. They are barely a step above superstition, and they merit consideration for only one reason: “Voters — all they gotta be is eighteen.”

And if they’re illegal, the Democrats say, “meh”.

Meanwhile in liberal bastions, things are just going swimmingly.  Detroit:

No getting around it: Filling up your gas tank at certain stations in Detroit can be hazardous to your health.

Police Chief James Craig said at a Tuesday media conference that he’d avoid getting gas late at night in the city unless he had to, and he urged residents to be careful at the pump, according to Tom Greenwood of The Detroit News.

“I wouldn’t, but if I had to, I would,” Craig said. “But I’d probably be very aware of my surroundings.”

Craig’s commented after a driver was killed early Monday evening while trying to flee a carjacking attempt at an east-side gas station.

A wasteland run by Democrats for decades.

Baltimore:

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray’s death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.

Ten of May’s homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

Non-fatal shootings are spiking as well – 91 so far in May, 58 of them in the Western District.

The mayor said her office is “examining” the relationship between the homicide spike and the dwindling arrest rate.

I’m sure they are “examining” it – and they’ll likely conclude its a matter of racism at some level.  While she is “examining” the relationship, she should ponder the statistic that says child victims of shootings are up 500% this year.  Well done!

NYC:

While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it’s a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.

The mayor blames it on gangs.  Why have gangs again become a problem?

Of course each of these cities can look to the midwest and say, “hey, at least we’re not Chicago.”

~McQ

Exactly how often do cops shoot people?

Well, actually, we really don’t know.

D.Brian Burghart is the editor of the Reno News & Review, the city’s alt-weekly. Driving home one day, he came across the aftermath of a police shooting, and became curious about it. So he started to look for the figures on how often officer-involved shootings happen. And he couldn’t find them. Anywhere.

Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know “best practices” for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

So, he decided to create one. He’s spent the last two years building a crowd-sourced database of officer-involved shootings at Fatal Encounters. And it hasn’t been easy, as he explains:

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

Frankly, I find this all too easy to believe. After all, a database of officer-involved shootings would be an enormously useful thing to have for the police, in order to draw lessons about best practices. But, an even more important use is for the public to use the data to provide better visibility and accountability for police operations. And the latter reason, I strongly suspect, is precisely why the police don’t want such a database. The police interest in coming up with best practices is far outweighed by their interest in preventing increased transparency.

The attitude of the police seems to be that of Colonel Jessup in “A Few Good Men”:

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

But, here’s the thing: The very essence of a free society is the open ability to question the manner of how those we entrust to defend us provide that defense. It’s what prevents us from becoming a police state. I would argue that we’re already on the cusp of becoming one.


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