Why people hate lawyers (and the traitors they represent)

Bradley Manning got into some unknown type of dispute with his prison guards and ended up having to sleep in the buff for seven hours!!!  Are you outraged?  Or, like me, are you giggling at the fact that this story actually made the news?

The lawyer for an Army private suspected of giving classified material to WikiLeaks says it’s inexcusable that that his client was forced to sleep naked in his cell at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

The Marines confirmed Friday that Pfc. Bradley Manning was made to relinquish his boxer shorts for about seven hours Wednesday night due to what 1st Lt. Brian Villiard calls a “situationally driven” event.

And yes, I know that Manning isn’t a convicted traitor, he’s merely a “suspected” traitor.  Considering the information available, I’m pretty damn sure that this little guy, in a fit of pique, tried to use his access to classified information to bring America to its knees.

My object all sublime . . . to let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime….

If you’re a Mikado fan, you know the source of my post title:

The song came to mind because of two stories today, both of which left me wondering whether the punishment fit the crime.

One story you may already have read:  an Iraqi living in Arizona was convicted of 2nd degree murder for intentionally running his daughter over with a car because she had become too “Westernized.”  (Of course, if he was worried about that happening, a logical person might ask why he decided to move to the West in the first place.)  A second degree murder conviction carries with it a sentence that can be as long as 22 years.

The other story just broke recently:  the former head of a California mental hospital was sentenced to 248 years for sexually abusing his adopted son over an eight year period.

Both are heinous crimes, but does it seem to you that a deliberate murder is being treated more lightly than it should be?

When I was back and law school, a Crim Law professor liked to make a big deal out of two murder cases:  when was a garden-variety bar killing that ended in a death sentence; the other was a torture-murder that ended with life imprisonment.  His point was that the death sentence isn’t fair.  My takeaway message, though, was that, if you’re planning a crime, you might want to pick a jurisdiction that allows you to get away with it, so to speak.

England’s greatest generation

As the younger citizens limit their involvement to videotaping a crime in progress (“Oooh, won’t this look cool when I show it to my friends”), a 71 year old grandmother, Ann Timson, acts with extraordinary — and effective — courage:

You can read more about Timson here.

I now pronounce the Archbishop of Canterbury officially insane

The Archbishopric of Canterbury used to be a pretty important job.  The guy who held that position, going back to the earliest Middle Ages, was the premier leader of the English church, whether that church gave allegiance to Rome or the British Monarch.  The current Archbishop, Rowan Williams is, as best as I can tell, insane.

A few years ago, he made a place for himself on the radar by supporting sharia law which is (a) anti-Christian and (b) antithetical to Western notions of human rights.  I don’t need to tell any of you that, under sharia law, Christians and Jews, if they are allowed to live, are second class citizens; women are prisoners of men and can be beaten or murdered with impunity; homosexuals are routinely murdered by the State; and the whole theocratic tyrannical institution seeks world domination.

Williams’ apparent comfort with the idea of creating a vast prison for the entire world population may stem from the fact that his view of prisoners is, to say the least, unique.  He thinks that even the worst of them should be entitled to the full panoply of rights, including the right to vote.  Yes, this is true.  The Archbishop of Canterbury would be comfortable giving, say, Charles Manson or the Yorkshire Ripper a voice in electing government officials, determining government spending, creating laws controlling citizens, etc:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today said prisoners should get the vote, backing an axe killer whose campaign has been endorsed by European courts.

John Hirst, who hacked his landlady to death, yesterday boasted that he was on the verge of forcing the Government to ‘wave the white flag of surrender’, as MPs prepare to vote on the move tomorrow.

The leader of the Church of England Dr Rowan Williams today said that prisoners should keep their dignity – and that their rights should not be put in ‘cold storage’ while they are behind bars.

‘We’re in danger of perpetuating a penal philosophy and system which actually leaves everybody as victims,’ he said.

He told a Commons committee that the country should move beyond ‘a situation where the victimising of the prisoner by the denial of those basic civic issues is perpetuated.’

‘The prisoner as citizen is somebody who can on the one hand expect their dignities as a citizen to be factored into what happens to them.’

That the lunatics who have taken over the EU asylum would like to perpetuate their power by giving the vote to those who have, through their conduct, blatantly violated the social compact is, sadly, understandable. What’s so deeply disturbing here is that it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who has slipped his moorings and is advocating the same inversion of morality and decency.  This is the man, after all, who is supposed to stand for the highest Christian traditions — traditions that include respect for the sanctity of life and law.  For him to treat an axe murderer in  precisely the same way he treats the shopkeeper on the street corner is a travesty of the notions of grace, decency and ethics.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Chicken or egg? Different crime stats in different Arizona counties

Small Dead Animals notices something interesting:  the crime stats in Sheriff Dipstick’s county, as compared to Sheriff Arpaio’s county, are appalling.  Appalling that is, assuming you’re a law abiding citizen and not a criminal.  If you’re a criminal, they’re pretty darn good.

My only question is whether the lousy sheriff caused the bad stats, or whether the community is a loopy loo liberal land that would naturally elect someone who couldn’t be tough on crime if his life depended on it.  I.e.:  bad sheriff or bad voters?

Cold water on hysteria

The media does hysteria well.  It’s about the only thing it does well.

It hysterically accused Palin and Beck and Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers of being complicit in mass murder despite a few readily known and very salient facts:  (1) the absence of a single quotation that can be attributed to any of those people or groups that can reasonably be interpreted as an incitement to violence; (2) the fact that Loughner’s political tendencies, if any existed in that damaged mind, hewed Left; (3) the fact that Loughner had been stalking Giffords since 2007, long before Palin, Beck and the Tea Partiers were twinkles in conservatives’ eyes; and (4) Loughner’s manifest stark, raving insanity.

When the American people rightly rejected this particular brand of hysteria, the media launched a new, two-pronged attack.  The first was to try, once again, for gun control.  I was once a gun control advocate (that was back in my Democrat days).  I soured on it when I figured out a few facts:  (1) Totalitarian governments always disarm their citizens.  The Nazis disarmed the Germans, the Soviets disarmed the Russians, Castro disarmed the Cubans, etc.  (2) Outside of totalitarian states, where the only ones allowed to commit violence belong to the government, gun bans result in higher crime.  The NRA was right:  in a moderately free society (because it’s not truly free if only the government is armed) when guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.  (3) As Katrina graphically demonstrated, with the best will in the world, police are usually there after the crime, not during the crime.

Let’s hope the Second Amendment survives this next round of attacks — but to those who refused to vote for McCain, let it be on your head if Obama somehow gets lucky and is able to replace a conservative Supreme Court justice with a liberal one.  I hope it won’t happen, but it can.

The other attack hysterics are mounting is the one that seeks to wrap our elected representatives in bullet proof bubbles.  As to that, John Stossel offers the following bracing, cold common sense (emphasis mine):

This week’s endless media coverage of the Arizona shooting implies that members of Congress are more important than “ordinary” citizens.  They are not.  All lives are equally valuable.

In other words, “Hey, if s/he gets a body guard and security system, I want one too.  And indeed, if I’m unlucky enough to live in South Central or some other crime hot spot, I deserve it more than s/he does.”

How awful! *UPDATED — OFTEN*

My sincerest condolences to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ family and friends.  What a horrible tragedy.  My thoughts are also with the others who were shot during this massacre.

UPDATE (11:49 a.m. PST):  Five seconds ago, Breakingnews.com tweeted that she might still be alive:

Update: Conflicting reports about Giffords – Reuters now reporting she’s alive and in surgery less than 5 seconds ago via breakingnews.com

UPDATE (12:29 p.m. PST):

Update: Hospital spokeswoman tells Reuters Rep. Giffords is in surgery. “She’s alive.” less than 5 seconds ago via breakingnews.com

UPDATE (1:10 p.m. PST): Having thought about all this for awhile, there are two comments I’d like to make. First, sadly, if Gifford was indeed shot point-blank in the head, being alive may not mean more than breathing — with assistance. I hope that being alive means much more, but I’ll reserve my cheers until we know what happened.

Second, speaking of knowing more, beyond knowing that the shooter was young and white, last I heard we know nothing about him. He could be (a) crazy; (b) Left wing; (c) Right wing; (d) religious; (e) irreligious; (f) a stalker without any familiar motive; and (g) none of the above. Speculation at this time is both foolish and dangerous.

UPDATE (1:11 p.m. PST):  While Rep. Gifford clings to life, US District Court judge John M. Roll has died.  My condolences to his family and friends. Also, the shooter has a name: Jared Laughner Loughner of Arizona, born September 1988.

UPDATE (1:15 p.m. PST):  Judging by his YouTube channel, choice (a), above (i.e., crazy) may be the correct identifier for Laughner Loughner.  In the 1950s, he would have been talking about Martians and mind control.  In the 1700s, he would have been concerned about witches and the devil.  This video is more evidence of his profound reality disconnect.  Also, from his YouTube site, check out some of the books that informed his reality (emphasis mine):


I had favorite books: Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Wizard Of OZ, Aesop Fables, The Odyssey, Alice Adventures Into Wonderland, Fahrenheit 451, Peter Pan, To Kill A Mockingbird, We The Living, Phantom Toll Booth, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Pulp,Through The Looking Glass, The Communist Manifesto, Siddhartha, The Old Man And The Sea, Gulliver’s Travels, Mein Kampf, The Republic, and Meno.

UPDATE (1:59 p.m. PST): And even as credible evidence emerges that the gunman was a loony toons (see above), MSNBC is out of the gate with an article that strongly suggests that the forces arrayed against ObamaCare are behind the shooting. What makes this article even sleazier than its lack of any factual foundation is the fact that, at the end, after having waffled on about threats to Dems — threats that went nowhere, although the writer doesn’t say so — the writer, in a disingenuous display of non-evenhandedness, mentions that Republicans complained about violence too, but adds that their complaints were invalid. This is sleazy, drive-by journalism writ large.

UPDATE (2:27 p.m. PST):  My liberal friends on the “real me” facebook, people I know through school, work, and community, are already implying or saying explicitly that Loughlin’s crime is tied to “right wing” thinking.  Who needs facts?  Who needs reality?  Who needs logic?  They’re ideologues, and their doctrines will see them through anything.

UPDATE (3:08 p.m. PST)Tweets from someone who claims to have been a classmate of his, and who may or may not be a reliable source.  These tweets, if true, show that Loughner’s mania was fed from the Left side of the political spectrum.  (H/t Sadie)

UPDATE (9:28 p.m. PST):  If my facebook is a guide, the Left is indicting Sarah Palin as the shooter’s inspiration.  Some are explicit.  Some are a little more discrete, and refer to the dangers of hate speech.  Next time one of the liberals makes a comment about “hate speech” (with the obvious implication that the hate emanates from the Right), agree with the liberal, coyly adding that the killer seemed to be inspired by Obama’s statement that, “If they [his opponents] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

UPDATE (9:38 p.m. PST):  Yeah — what Michael Ledeen says about the massive amount of misinformation emanating from the media, much of it irrationally hostile towards conservatives.

UPDATE (9:41 p.m. PST):  The British paper The Daily Mail has a surprisingly good hodge podge of info about Rep. Giffords and about the shooting generally.  That paper is a rag, but it’s a quality rag, if you don’t mind the oxymoron.

If you’re interested, others blogging about this are:

The Anchoress


Ed Morrissey

Ed Driscoll

American Thinker

Michelle Malkin

It’s no fun, being an illegal alien *UPDATED*

Life can be tough when you break the law.  The people who murdered Annie Mae Aquash discovered this fact when they were arrested and tried for murder 35 years after killing Aquash.  Sara Jane Olson, an SLA terrorist during the 1970s, discovered that when her quiet, suburban life in Minnesota was revealed and she spent several years in jail, despite the fact that she had three children.  My sister’s friend discovered this tough rule when he was hauled off to jail after unwittingly having had sex with an underage girl.  (That is, he wasn’t a predator.  Except for the absence of gray hair, the girl looked older than I do.)

Open today’s paper (I don’t care which paper; any paper), and you will read about someone who committed a crime and got hauled off to jail — and that is true whether the crime was old or new, whether the person acted knowingly or unknowingly, and whether the person had children or not.  As to that last, it’s worth noting that our American prisons are crawling with people who have left children outside.

How different is the story when the lawbreaker comes from Latin America, illegally, and drives around the streets of America, illegally.  That person, we are assured, is a law abiding citizen, other than all that illegal activity, and it’s just so unfair that such a person, not to mention his or her children, has to pay the for this illegal activity.  I’m not making up this maudlin outrage.  It comes courtesy of a front page story in today’s New York Times online (complete with illustration of one illegal lady hugging her daughter and, to amp up the emotions, her grown niece too):

It was just another suburban fender-bender. A car zoomed into an intersection and braked too late to stop at a red light. The Georgia woman driving it, an American citizen, left with a wrecked auto, a sore neck and a traffic fine.

But for Felipa Leonor Valencia, the Mexican woman who was driving the Jeep that was hit that day in March, the damage went far beyond a battered bumper. The crash led Ms. Valencia, an illegal immigrant who did not have a valid driver’s license, to 12 days in detention and the start of deportation proceedings — after 17 years of living in Georgia.

Read the rest here.  Depending on your political orientation, come prepared with either a handkerchief or a barf bucket.  The article’s push is to get driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, because it’s so unfair that they’re currently out on the road, unlicensed, and running the risk that their illegal driving might reveal their illegal status.

This post, obviously, ties in with my earlier post about the DREAM Act which, while it takes into consideration the needs of children raised in this country, totally ignores the fact that it is an open incitement to illegal behavior.

Honestly, if one gets to pick and choose with impunity the laws with which one wishes to comply, why have laws at all?  This, by the way, is a familiar plaint on my part, since I routinely see judges, when ruling on a given case, decide who the underdog is and then proceed to rule in that party’s favor, regardless of the controlling law.

I’ve worked on a lot of those cases, and I’ll concede that my clients aren’t always nice or good, and the person on the other end is sometimes suffering a real hardship.  Having said that, though, on such cases, my client is totally within his rights under the law, and the other person doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on.  I’ll also concede that our common law has always had an “equitable” side that leans towards abstract fairness, but this ancient principle was always meant to flex the letter of the law, not ignore it entirely.

The problem with our modern approach, which views the law as an impediment to justice, is that it leaves us as a society in which there is no rule of law.  Our whole system of statutes and cases is just a pretense, since any given judge does what he or she wants at any given time.

Of course, without a system of laws, one inevitably descends into anarchy.  Laws may sometimes have harsh outcomes, but if they’re reliably enforced, people can actually plan to avoid those outcomes.  In a “legal” system in which the most pathetic person always wins, the only thing people need to do with their lives, whether in the world of contracts or the world of crime, is to plan on being pathetic losers.  You lose — you win!  This is no way to run a functioning, predictable, reliable, successful society.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE: Sadie sent me a link that’s perfectly apropos.

The morality of education and the DREAM Act

I don’t see Harry Reid having the political umph to pass the DREAM Act, but I also never imagined back in 2007 that Barack Obama would be President, so what do I know?

I do know that I have a problem with the DREAM Act, and that’s despite the fact that there are some very pragmatic reasons to pass it.  Michael Gerson articulates them well:

The legislation would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have gotten a GED. They would be given a conditional legal status for six years, in which they must complete two years of college or serve at least two years in the military.

It would be difficult to define a more sympathetic group of potential Americans. They must demonstrate that they are law-abiding and education-oriented. Some seek to defend the country they hope to join. The Defense Department supports the Dream Act as a source of quality volunteers. Business groups welcome a supply of college-educated workers. The Department of Homeland Security endorses the legislation so it can focus on other, more threatening, groups of illegal immigrants.

Critics counter that the law would be a reward for illegal behavior and an incentive for future lawbreaking. But these immigrants, categorized as illegal, have done nothing illegal.

You can read the rest here.  Many of his points are good.  And it certainly would be good for the GOP to integrate more with the Hispanic community which has core values much more consistent with conservatives than with Progressives.  But….  There’s always a but….

Before I get to my “but,” though, let me clarify one thing.  I would be entirely for the DREAM Act if it was limited to young people who serve in America’s armed forces.  That service is an entirely giving thing — giving to ones chosen country — although I do think those who serve take something away too, in terms of skills, discipline, and self-respect.  If you’re willing to risk dying for this country, something I, fortunate enough to be born here, was not willing to do, you deserve citizenship.

My sticking point is the education thing.  Yes, it’s nice to have an educated population, although it’s useful to remember that education lately has little to do with the three “Rs” and a whole lot to do with politically correct thinking that’s often extremely hostile to America.  (Indeed, it seems that those pushing hardest for the DREAM Act are the ones most hostile to America and her values, and the ones who feel much more strongly affiliated with Latin America and Leftism.)  Still, even the meanest school teaches some minimal form of literacy and math . . . maybe.  However, the primary beneficiary of education is the student.  This student has a better chance of success in our world, and it’s nice to have successful people.

Also, I disagree with Gerson’s conclusion that adding yet another incentive to the pile of incentives we already offer to illegal aliens won’t have an effect on the decision-making process some poverty-stricken soul, living in the failed state of Mexico, makes as he looks at his growing family.  After all, it’s a great deal:  Sneak over the border, and your kids get a better life.  I’d do it for my kids if I was in those shoes.  But it’s not a great deal for us.  In California, for example, the children of illegal immigrants get first dibs on university slots over out-of-state students who are legally in America.  (It’s also not a good deal for the Mexicans who remain behind, since their government uses the money sent back by illegal immigrants, and the safety-valve of the emigration itself, as a way to prop up a government that is overwhelmingly dysfunctional, not to mention dangerous.)

If education is an incentive, imagine how great an incentive education plus citizenship would be?  So it’s foolish for people to say that “the kids are already here.”  Yes, they are here.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Enact the DREAM Act and tomorrow more and more kids will be here, as we create one more incentive for the suffering of Mexico to disregard our border laws.

As for the argument that “they’re only children and it’s not fair that they suffer,” that’s a camel’s nose that, once allowed in the tent, brings in the whole camel.  You see, the sad fact is that it’s always the children who suffer.  Dad’s committed a crime?  We don’t let the fact that it will destroy the family stop us from convicting him and sending him to jail — unless, of course, Dad’s crime was sneaking over the border.  Mom’s an alcoholic or a narcissist or a histrionic personality who is turning her children into front-of-the-line candidates for a psychiatrist’s couch?  As long as she can take care of them in a basic way, they have to suffer.  For some, life is pain.

It is a cruel fact of life that we cannot right all wrongs parents do to their children.  Further, as in the case of children whose parents are “ordinary,” as opposed to politically correct, criminals, we make no effort to protect the children from the effects of their parents’ wrongdoings.  The best thing we can do is enforce the law as written, so that parents don’t subject their children to this suffering in the first place.  After all, they knew when they came here that they were consigning their children to a shadow world.

Yes, I know I sound heartless.  I am heartless.  My children are lucky enough to be in a stable, loving, legal home, and I am grateful for that fact.  I am terribly sad for those children who are not similarly situated, but I am also sufficiently invested in my own children that I have no desire to turn our whole society upside down and, possibly, destroy it, to remedy a wrong that can never really be righted.  I know that I shouldn’t malevolently visit the sins of the father on the child, but the fact remains that not all sins can be avoided, without enormous destruction flowing from that avoidance.

So far, as I hope you’ve all surmised, I’ve been speaking of obvious ills flowing from giving a free pass to illegal immigrants.  Those ills are more illegal immigrants, with all the attendant economic, social and national security risks.

There’s a more subtle ill, though, that flows from rewarding an illegal act, and that’s the lesson we teach our children:  Cheating pays, especially when it comes to education.  This is not an inconsequential lesson.  You see, if the illegals can cheat — and win — everybody should be able to cheat and win, an approach that pretty much destroys education as we know it (not to mention just about anything else we can think of). 

I blogged a few weeks ago about a New York Times publication for children that commented on the prevalence of plagiarism thanks to the internet (although the writer could not make himself offer any opinion about the immorality of that cheating).  It turns out that this rot runs much deeper than “blocking and copying” someone’s paragraph off of the internet (although that is bad enough).  A recent edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education has a very disturbing article detailing the shadowy world of college level papers — including doctoral theses — written by people who are virtually illiterate.  As the writer, who publishes anonymously, explains, he’s produced a lot of product, and he’s only one of many offering the same services:

In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper.

I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor’s degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I’ve written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I’ve attended three dozen online universities. I’ve completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.

The article is rightly written as a scathing indictment of the education system, one that churns out illiterate, ill-informed youngsters, and teachers who cannot, or will not recognize the chasm between the unintelligible, illiterate youngster in their presence and the polished paper that same youngster offers as his own work.  It’s also a scathing indictment, however, of a moral system that says cheating is fine.  Sure, if you’re caught blatantly cheating, you might get in trouble, but the fact remains that the illegal alien sitting next to you is also cheating, but he (or she) still gets welfare, health care, public education, preferential college admission and tuition, etc.  If some cheaters not only prosper, but do say blatantly with government encouragement, it’s reasonable for all of us to abandon our stuff propriety and give dishonesty a try.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

Acknowledging REAL heroes

One of the things I hate about our culture is the way in which it cheapens the notion of heroism.  To me, a hero is one who puts his safety, or even his life, on the line, to protect others.  It’s that simple.  There are people who are altruists, which is also very virtuous, but it’s not the same as a hero.  Being a hero involves, not just moral, but also physical courage.  Yet in our culture, every two bit movie star or bouncy athlete is hailed as a “hero.”

Within 50 miles of my home, two men were real heroes, because they intercepted a psycho who was in the process of raping a 2 year old.  It’s an absolutely horrible story, and raises several important questions about our society, both its rewards and its punishments.  Zombie retells the story and asks the questions.

A couple of AP articles that caught my eye, both for what they say and for what they don’t say *UPDATED*

I was very surprised to see an AP wire story reporting that Islamic militants (as opposed to mere “militants” or “insurgents”) were holding “Christians” (as opposed to mere “people”) hostage.  Even more surprising, the AP reported that the Islamic militants were probably affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq, an entity one apparently couldn’t acknowledge during the Bush years.

Just as I was thinking to myself, “Well, that AP worm has certainly turned, with this surprisingly honest report,” I read another wire story about the Chandra Levy murder trial.  You remember that story, right?  A decade ago, Rep. Gary Condit’s career was destroyed when an affair he had with Levy (which was definitely an unprincipled, immoral thing to do, since he was married), got morphed by the media into an unofficial murder charge.  Now, the probable actual murderer is on trial.

This is what the AP says about the defendant:  “Ingmar Guandique, a native of El Salvador, is on trial for the murder and attempted sexual assault of Levy nearly a decade ago.”

Now I, not having been born yesterday, verbalized yet another thought to myself:  “What are the odds that Guandique is an illegal immigrant?”  Turns out the odds are 100%.  Somehow, though, the AP just couldn’t bring itself to put that adjective out there.

Let me remind the open borders crowd that one of the virtues of having legal as opposed to illegal immigration, is that it enhances our government’s ability to weed out the killers before they cross our borders.

UPDATE:  This Philip Terzian post about the WaPo best seller list seems like an appropriate coda to a post on media bias.  I especially like the way Terzian describes the media’s inability to recognize its own bias:

One of the inherent difficulties of defining left-wing bias in the press to journalists is that it is something like describing the ocean to fish: It is so pervasive, and such a comfortable, nurturing environment, that it is hardly noticed.

Yeah — what he said.

Did you know that Yelp is a shake down operation?

When I’m in a strange down, I frequently rely on Yelp to help me find a decent eatery.  Turns out I shouldn’t.  Turns out I should delete Yelp from my iPhone entirely.  It’s not a peer review forum, it’s a shakedown operation.

“It’s not just about his mental state, it’s about justice being done.”

I arrived in England months after Peter Sutcliffe, the terribly brutal “Yorkshire Ripper,” had been arrested.  His last victim had been killed around the corner from the apartment in which I was to live for a year.  Although I was happy and felt safe where I lived, only once did I walk down the road where her body was found.  Once was enough.  I’m not superstitious, truly, but there was a terrible feeling of grief and fear at that spot.

Sutcliffe has been in high security prison since his conviction, but that may be about to change:

The Yorkshire Ripper could be released from Broadmoor to a less secure unit after doctors reported a dramatic improvement in his mental health.

A tribunal judge has ruled that Peter Sutcliffe, 63, should be moved to ‘conditions of lesser security’, where he could even be eligible for day release.

The debate over a downgrade in Sutcliffe’s security status emphasizes the gaping divide between the ideologically driven mental health and pro-prison rights crowd, and those who believe in justice for the dead. On the one hand, you have an old-fashioned judge, apparently untainted by any excessive concern for the murder, as opposed to the victim:

Mr Justice Mitting likened Sutcliffe, who butchered 13 women and tried to kill seven others between 1975 and 1981, to a terrorist, saying the ‘brutality and gravity’ of his crimes meant he should never be released.

On the other hand, however, you have the mental health crowd, which is just thrilled that Sutcliffe isn’t, in their humble estimation, as mentally ill any more as he once was:

But last week a mental health tribunal assessing his condition came to a different conclusion, with doctors saying he was in ‘complete remission of his positive symptoms’ of paranoid schizophrenia after treatment ‘contained’ his mental illness.

Richard McCann, whose mother Wilma was Sutcliffe’s first victim, distills everything down to three simple sentences:

‘This is very unsettling. It would make a mockery of the justice system if this were to happen.

‘It’s not just about his mental state, it’s about justice being done.

Justice, however, is in short supply in the P.C., bleeding heart Leftist world, one that will always side with the living killers against the dead victims.

Preparing for mob rule in Oakland *UPDATED*

Last year, an Oakland transit police officer, Johannes Mehserle, killed Oscar Grant, in a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station.  Grant was being, to put it mildly, obstreperous.  Mehserle’s defense is that he meant to taser Grant but, instead, shot him.  Video footage made at the time indicates that Mehserle did indeed make a terrible mistake, and never intended to shoot Grant.  For that reason, trial watchers assume that the jury, if honest, will acquit Mehserle.

Oakland’s Communists and, therefore, Oakland’s merchants are making the same supposition.  To that end, the Communists are working hard to foment riots and the merchants, aware of that fact, are working hard to protect themselves in advance.

Zombie has a photo-rich post documenting precisely what is going on in Oakland:  both the Communist efforts to ensure a riot, and the merchants’ hard work, both physical and psychological, to protect their property and their employees.

I have to admit to being a bit nervous about the whole thing.  I’m fairly far away from Oakland, but quite near Richmond, which nestles immediately on the east side of the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge.  Marin, of course, is on the west side of that same span.  Richmond is a pure Democratic city, with a desperately high crime rate.  A significant part of Marin’s crime, especially shop lifting and car theft, originates in Richmond.

If Richmond explodes along with Oakland, who knows what will travel across the bridge?  I’m hoping that our Marin police are paying attention and not just assuming “it can’t happen here.”

And a little bleg:

UPDATE: Mehserle convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Two serious storm warnings, one national, and one local *UPDATE*

There are two storm warnings I want to give you, one of which requires action on your part, the other of which, depending on where you live, falls into the “sit, watch, and thank God you’re far away” category.

First warning:  Drastic cuts to the military, courtesy of Bawney Fwank, that noted military expert.  (And yes, I am being incredibly sarcastic describing him as such.)  The Navy Times provides some details:

Cut two carriers and 40 percent of new ballistic-missile subs, then slash the fleet to 230 ships and eight air wings. Terminate the F-35, Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and V-22 Osprey. Drop down to six expeditionary strike groups, eliminate the maritime prepositioning force and place greater emphasis on surging smaller naval groups as needed.

These are but some of the eyebrow-raising recommendations provided to Congress on June 10 by the Sustainable Defense Task Force. The group was formed at the request of Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.; and Ron Paul, R-Texas; and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. The task force proposal amounts to $1.1 trillion in defense cuts over 10 years. Slightly more than half of that amount comes from personnel budgets; the rest comes by cutting research, development and procurement of weapons systems.

And that’s just cuts to the Navy.  As I understand it, the proposals are far-reaching, and involve drastic cuts to every aspect of our military.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea how the military feels about these cuts.  Maybe they worked with this committee, and honestly tried to trim out deadwood made unnecessary by technological advances.  However, given the committee’s composition, and given the Navy Times own raised eyebrows, I have a suspicion that the military might be less than sanguine about those suggestions, especially given that the world’s bad guys, seeing a weak man in the White House, are acting up like crazy (that would be Iran, Russia, Venezuela, China, the Norks, Syria, etc, etc, etc).

Given my suspicion that the military may have its own ideas about the virtue of these cuts, and the coming storm they may bring about, it occurred to me that concerned citizens might want to make sure that groups that have the military’s interests at heart are sufficiently funded to make their presence known on Capitol Hill.  As you know, my pet group is the Navy League, a non-profit organization dedicated, in significant part, to “foster[ing] and maintain[ing] interest in a strong Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine as integral parts of a sound national defense and vital to the freedom of the United States.”

As I said, the proposed cuts may still leave us with a “strong” military as part of a sound defense for a free United States, but, well, I’m just not so sure.  I therefore urge you to join the Navy League or, if you have a pet military organization that provides a voice for the military before Congress, by all means, send money to that organization.

The second storm warning is for Oakland, California, residents.  If you remember the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, you might want to batten down the hatches in case similar rioting strikes in Oakland.  Here’s the problem, as Zombie describes it:

Nearly everyone in the Bay Area agrees that a major Oakland riot is brewing if the verdict in the trial of policeman Johannes Mehserle, accused of murdering BART passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, 2009, comes back anything other than “GUILTY!” The problem for Oakland’s sense of security is that Mehserle is almost certainly not guilty of murder, and the jury is likely to give him a comparatively light sentence or even let him go completely.

You should, of course, read Zombie’s entire article, which goes to the impending lawlessness in Oakland, a city on the verge of cutting 80 positions from its active duty police officers.

UPDATED:  It doesn’t quite belong here, but since there is a storm brewing in the Gulf, this seems like the best place to put Ace’s post about the way in which overreaching government bureaucracy destroys all functioning.  One of the stepping stones on my journey across the Rubicon to conservatism was Phillip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America, in which he describes the way in which government bureaucracy, by aiming for some elusive perfection and by working to keep itself funded, destroys efficiency, innovation, and basic functionality.

The fallacy of the “everybody does it defense”

I have to boast just a little bit.  Despite driving for more than thirty years, I’ve never had a moving violation.  I have heard, however, that if the highway patrol pulls you over for speeding, it’s no defense to point to the traffic passing you and the officer by, while exclaiming, “But everybody is speeding.”  The officer’s appropriate response is “But you’re the one I caught.”

We all know this.  And we all understand intuitively that having a society with a critical mass of criminal violations doesn’t mean the law is no longer valid.  It may certainly mean the law should be revisited, because it’s damaging to have on the books a law practiced more in the breach than the observance.  Nevertheless, if the law is on the books, if you’re the one caught, well, tough.

Someone needs to teach this to the whiners in the White House, who, having had their hands caught in the swampy depths of the Sestak and Romanoff scandals, are now complaining that “Reagan did it too.”  Aside from the fact that Jake Tapper has exposed this “defense” for the blatant lie it is, the fact is that Reagan is dead and buried, and his alleged crimes, even if they had been true, are buried with him.  Attention whiners:  “We caught you.  Tough.”

The way to stop a culture of corruption isn’t simply to have a pretty boy candidate promise that he’ll have a transparent administration.  Nope.  The way to stop a culture of corruption is to slam people who are corrupt.  Let’s start slamming.

The “shoot to wound” proposal in New York

When I was in law school, one of my classmates was a lovely man who had decided to go to law school after several years as a police officer in Oklahoma.  I forget the context of our conversation, but he once told me that, in law enforcement, you never shoot to wound.  Shooting is binary.  Either you don’t need to shoot at all, or if you need to shoot, the only way to ensure a safe outcome for both officer and innocent bystanders is to shoot to kill.  In other words, by the time you’re firing, the time for some hypothetical “shoot to wound” has already passed.  As part of that point, my friend told me that, unless you’re a sharpshooter, in a chaotic, adrenalin filled situation, you can’t shoot for delicate targets such as a hand, foot or knee.  You go for the big target — the torso — or the second biggest target — the head, and then you shoot to kill.

Despite his long, long years as a lawyer, I have no doubt that my friend is shocked and horrified, as are New York cops, at the new rule the Legislature is mulling over, one that requires them to shoot to wound:

City cops are livid over a legislative proposal that could handcuff the brave officers involved in life-and-death confrontations every day — requiring them to shoot gun-wielding suspects in the arm or leg rather than shoot to kill, The Post has learned.

The “minimum force” bill, which surfaced in the Assembly last week, seeks to amend the state penal codes’ “justification” clause that allows an officer the right to kill a thug if he feels his life or someone else’s is in imminent danger.

The bill — drafted in the wake of Sean Bell’s controversial police shooting death — would force officers to use their weapons “with the intent to stop, rather than kill” a suspect. They would be mandated to “shoot a suspect in the arm or the leg.”

Under present NYPD training, cops are taught to shoot at the center of their target and fire their weapon until the threat has been stopped.

“These are split-second, spontaneous events — and officers have to make a full assessment in a fraction of a second,” said an angry Michael Paladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association. “It is not realistic, and it exists only in cartoons.

“It’s moronic and would create two sets of rules in the streets if there is a gunfight. This legislation would require officers to literally shoot the gun out of someone’s hand or shoot to wound them in the leg or arm. I don’t know of any criminal who doesn’t shoot to kill. They are not bound by any restrictions.”

Read the rest here.

This one is right up there with the medal the military is contemplating for courageous restraint — an honor, Rush Limbaugh says, correctly, will surely be awarded only posthumously.

Is there anyone else out there who thinks it utterly insane that we, as a society, blithely assume that our troops and police should take all of the risks on our behalf, while we systematically strip them of their right to defend themselves against the bad guys?  Oh, wait.  Of course it makes sense.  I’m just looking at this whole thing wrong.  If you’re a Progressive, the troops and police are the bad guys.  It’s the ones on the receiving end of the evil cop and evil American soldier guns who are poor, misunderstood victims of the man, of America, of white imperialism, etc., and it’s only right and proper that they have the upper hand in any engagement.


Wednesday morning stuff *UPDATED*

A few things have crossed my radar this morning that I hope you’ll find as interesting as I did:

Is Michelle Obama depressed?  One of my friends thinks she is.  That is, she thinks Michelle has moved beyond anger and arrogance and landed in sheer misery.  She sent this link along as an example of Michelle’s current lack of happy fizz.  My friend may be right.  Michelle Obama, who has presented herself over the years as an angry person who feels that, both personally and by race, she’s always had the short end of the stick, probably believed that, when she got to the White House, she would suddenly be fulfilled and happy.  However, wherever you go, there you are.  Whether living in Chicago or the White House, Michelle is still Michelle — and she’s a person who has made a lifestyle out of angry grievance.  She doesn’t know from happy, and she’s probably more unhappy than ever now that she’s discovered that the White House isn’t a cure all for the anger that ails her.

As you know, I’ve been opposed from the beginning to inquiries into Elena Kagan’s private life.  Whether she is lesbian is irrelevant to her politics, which are defined by her liberalism, not her sexuality.  Michael Kinsley, however, has gone the other way.  He thinks that we ought to start savaging other justices private lives.  His first target:  Antonin Scalia, who has nine children:  “Why does Justice Antonin Scalia, by common consent the leading intellectual force on the Court, have nine children? Is this normal? Or should I say ‘normal,’ as some people choose to define it? Can he represent the views of ordinary Americans when he practices such a minority lifestyle? After all, having nine children is far more unusual in this country than, say, being a lesbian.”  If I was in the same room as Kinsley, this is what I would say:  “It’s true that so many children isn’t the norm, but having children is the norm, both biologically and culturally.  And fortunately we’re still enough of a freedom loving country that we allow people to figure out how many of the norm they want in their lives.”  (H/t:  The Anchoress)

In my post the other day about liberal illogic, I noted the illogic that has American blacks hostile to the police, even though blacks are most likely to be the victims of black-on-black crime.  I acknowledged that blacks in the past had good reason to fear the police, who did harass, assault, arrest and even kill them as form of sport.  But I said, the past is past.  Well, it turns out that, for American blacks, the past is not the past, because the liberal media is a well-spring of misinformation.  The media makes much of the fact that police target minorities more, without stating (a) that minorities commit more crimes and (b) that minorities are actually understopped relative to the amount of crime they commit.  Here’s the cause and effect question for you:  If minorities were targeted proportionate to the amount of crime they commit, might they be deterred from committing more crime?  And as you think about that question, do keep in mind that minority criminals commit the majority of their acts against their fellow minorities.

Peter Beinart says that, if we really love Israel, we should beat up on her more.  To which I say:  wife-beaters.  There comes a point where “I love her” is a justification for abuse, not a declaration of true feelings.  Beinart’s attitude would be more palatable, of course, if people loved the Palestinians, Saudis, Iranians, Egyptians, etc., enough to criticize them constantly too.  But they don’t.  It’s only Israel who comes in for this violent, destructive, sometimes deadly “love.”

UPDATEDavid Solway on the scary cipher in the White House.

The Mexican President, whose country is home to some of the most restrictive immigration laws in the world, blasts Arizona from trying to enforce America’s much laxer federal immigration laws.  I know why he’s upset.  If America really tightens her borders, Mexico will have to clean its own house.  It will no longer have a safety valve for the unemployed and the criminal, nor will it have the billions of dollars these “immigrants” (none of whom are committed to America) routinely send to float the Mexican economy.  Obama should have slapped him where he stood.  Instead, he essentially supported Calderon’s swipe at our national sovereignty.  Barack Obama, you are a very bad man; a very bad man (see at 1:08; 1:20; 2:17; 3:35)

UPDATE IIA blast from the past.  I don’t know why, but I’ve always found it cool to peer backwards through time and really look at the people.  They are so like us — as the reconstructed image shows — and yet so very, very different in their world view.

UPDATE III:  Obama, no matter how careful he is, exposes his incoherence and bias.

Best ever reason for not blogging — showing up for jury duty

I did my duty as a citizen today, when I left bright and early and headed up to the local courthouse.  Although it was a profoundly boring day, it was also an interesting experience.  You see, despite many years of lawyering, I’ve never sat on a jury, nor have I ever been part of selecting a jury.  (I’ve done a lot of behind the scenes work for jury selection, but I’ve never actually been in court for the process.)  What fascinated me was the way in which people’s attitudes changed during the day.

The system is set up so that about 50 people file into the courtroom.  Eighteen of them are seated in the jury box, with the hope that this group can be winnowed down to 12 jurors and 2 alternates.  The people in the box answer general information questions about themselves, and then provide more specific information related to the case.  First thing in the morning, anybody who could get out, tried to do so.  Once “cause” vanished (obvious conflicts such as knowing one of the lawyers or one of the defendants), the next most popular excuse was bias.  Basically, this boiled down to “Yes, I’ve had a similar experience/known someone similarly situated to the defendant/known someone similarly situated to the prosecution’s witnesses and, under those circumstances, it would be very hard for me to be unbiased in my approach to the evidence.”  As these people were excused, more people would be called to take their places.

What was so interesting was that, as the day progressed, fewer and fewer people tried to use bias as an excuse.  You’d hear the same factual offerings (similar experience or personal knowledge of people similarly situated to those in the case), but people asserted firmly that they would not be biased.  I understood why they did that.

In the morning, I’d invested minimal time in the process and just wanted out.  By the time I left 5 hours later (without ever having gotten within speaking distance of the jury box), I’d invested a lot of time in the matter and wanted to see how it ended.  It was supposed to be a short case and, thanks to the voir dire questions, I’d figured out the defense strategy.  I therefore wanted to see what the arresting officers would say, and how the lawyers for both the State and the defendant would handle the evidence.  Had I been asked about my biases, I would have stated the facts and disavowed the biases, just as everyone else did.

As it is, when I walked away, I left the story in the middle of the beginning.  Even though it had the potential to be interesting, I was denied the opportunity to find out how it would progress and then, finally, end.  So, for the first time in my life, I’m kind of looking forward to my next jury summons!

Liberals don’t believe natural consequences should apply to illegal acts *UPDATED*

One of my favorite parenting tools is “the law of natural consequences.”  For example, on a cold day, I can force my older child to wear a jacket, which engenders a big fight and a lot of lingering resentment.  Alternatively, I can advise my child that it’s cold and suggest that a jacket will be a good idea.  If my child ignores my advice and spends a miserable day — voila! a natural consequence.  I don’t have to play the heavy, and my child learns a valuable lesson about hard information (“it’s 50 degrees out there”) and taking advice from someone trustworthy.

Natural consequences arise a lot if you intentionally take a risk or break a rule.  If I speed on the highway, I know that, statistically, I’m not likely to be caught.  However, I also know that, if I’m caught, I have no recourse.  “You pays your money, and you takes your chances.”

Except that, if illegal immigration activists have their way, the whole deal about natural or inevitable consequences becomes irrelevant  because “it’s not fair.”  You see, if you come to this country illegally, knowing that you might get kicked out, and you marry and have children, still knowing that you might get kicked out, and you get caught — you shouldn’t get kicked out:

Immigrants’ rights advocates brought forth a family of five Monday to illustrate what they called the human consequences of San Francisco’s deportation crackdown: a Muni driver, his Australian wife and three children soon to be separated because a 13-year-old boy punched a schoolmate and stole 46 cents.

“I feel like they’ve taken my right to have a family,” Charles Washington, 42, said at a news conference in the San Francisco office of the Asian Law Caucus.

Beside him sat his wife of 11 months, Tracey Washington, holding her 5-year-old son. With them were Washington’s 12-year-old daughter from a previous marriage and his 13-year-old stepson, his wife’s child.

On Friday, Tracey Washington and her two children are scheduled to be deported to Australia for staying in the United States after their legal status expired in May. They applied for legal residence in December based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen, but a lawyer said those hopes were doomed by the 13-year-old’s schoolyard folly and the city’s crackdown.

If this “it’s not fair to the family, even tho’ I knew going in that this was a risk” argument is the new gold standard for illegal activities, I think it ought to be applied in other areas as well.

“Yes, I knew it was illegal for me to commit armed robbery, but it’s not fair to the family if I go to jail.”

“Yes, I knew it was illegal for me to assault Nancy Pelosi, but it’s not fair to the family if I go to jail.”

“Yes, I knew it was illegal for me to run an illegal and dangerously explosive meth lab out of my home, but it’s not fair to shut it down, because it’s how I support my family.”

And, as always, the Jews have a joke for it:

What’s the definition of chutzpah?  The man who murders his parents and then throws himself at the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.

UPDATE: Eric Odessit makes an extremely important point about the facts of this case, and I agree with every word he says:

I think this is the first time when I happen to disagree with you. I am not a lawyer, but, as a naturalized American, I am somewhat aware of the issues involved. From the article you linked to it seems that this family did follow the rules. Apparently the immigration authorities told them that there was no deadline to apply, and that was why they waited, just saving the money. Now, as a natural consequence of belated Government crackdown, they are being penalized for playing by the rules. The Government needs to demonstrate action in the aftermath of the murder of that family in San Francisco by the illegal alien gang member. So, they are doing the easiest thing possible: going after people who are out in the open, those filling out applications. Reminds me of another story, right after 9/11. Back then they were also demonstrating action and went after a British woman who was married to an American killed in the Towers. She did have a Green Card, but the first 2 years of marriage a Green Card is conditional: the marriage has to last longer. But the guy was killed before the 2 years were up, so they were deporting her. There was also a similar situation fairly recently in Massachusetts: a woman was married to a soldier that was killed in Iraq. Luckily, in that case someone helped her and their baby, so they were allowed to stay in the US.
This is in no way a defense of illegal immigration. But ridiculous enforcement of the rules and a situation when sneaking into the country illegally is easier than immigrating legally are a big part of the overall problem. And I completely agree with David’s comment above.
By the way, I don’t like calling those who come to this illegally or legally country and then refuse to assimilate “immigrants”. Here is my proposal for solving the problem:

However, now that I’ve said I agree, let me add here my response to Eric, because I was actually focusing like a laser (admittedly a slightly blinkered laser) on a different notion, which is the way in which advocates for illegal immigrants, rather than trying to fix what’s broken about the law, want to do away with it entirely, and how they use the aberrant sob stories to achieve this goal:

You make an excellent point, Eric, about this specific case and the others in which people get entangled in bureaucracy and then attacked. As you know, I hate bureaucracy, considering it an invariably trap for the unwary, as well as an unconscionable expense and drag upon the body politic and economic.

The problem, though, is that these legitimate exceptions are always used as a wedge issue to drive through the liberal agenda.

A personal tragedy nevertheless makes for a funny news story

The gal’s life is sad, but the news story, at least in the first three paragraphs, is still funny:

A Mill Valley lawyer was charged Thursday with breaking into a hotel refrigerator to steal yogurt, authorities said.Patience Nooney Van Zandt, 43, was booked into the county jail early Thursday morning after an incident at the Mill Valley Inn at 165 Throckmorton Ave. Mill Valley police were called to the hotel after the staff reported that a woman had wandered onto the property, burglarized a refrigerator and taken the food.

“She did have evidence of yogurt on her nose,” said Mill Valley police Capt. Jim Wickham.

Justin Flake, the manager of the hotel, said the stolen yogurt included six Yoplaits of unknown variety. The refrigerator sustained minor damage during the burglary.

Another victim of liberal policies that keep crazy people on the streets

One of the reasons I started souring on liberalism a long time ago, was its insistence that manifestly crazy people couldn’t have their civil rights infringed by institutionalizing them.  (And yes, I know de-institutionalization started out from both the political left and the political right, but by the 70s, the Left, especially the ACLU, owned it.)  I thought it was an insane policy because people who are paranoid and delusional might not be capable of making smart decisions.  If you think you’re being attacked by Martians, it might make sense to you to eat out of garbage cans, never bathe, drink and do drugs, and live on the streets, periodically attacking bypassers who might be those Martians.

Aside from being insanely cruel (pun intended) to people incapable of caring for themselves, the policy has been dangerous for others.  Here is just the most recent case in point:

A homeless man with a history of violence has been arrested for allegedly attacking a stranger on Market Street who died hours after being assaulted, San Francisco police said Monday.

Matthew A. Adams, 38, was found dead Saturday night in his room at 1169 Market St. by his girlfriend.

The woman told police that a man attacked Adams without provocation as the couple were walking near Seventh and Market streets at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, said Lt. Mike Stasko of the police homicide detail.

Adams refused medical treatment at the scene, police said.

“He said he was OK,” Stasko said, “and he walked home from where he was assaulted.”

Adams’ girlfriend left later that morning. When she returned to his room about 8:30 p.m., Adams was dead.

The man who attack Adams was a murder waiting to happen:

Stasko said Holloway has a history of attacking people on the street without provocation. He also has a long criminal record in Los Angeles and San Francisco for theft, drug offenses and public intoxication, the lieutenant said.

In March, police arrested Holloway on suspicion of felony assault after he allegedly hit another homeless man in the leg with a baseball bat and slammed a can of beer into the side of his head, authorities said. The district attorney’s office dismissed the case because the victim was unavailable to testify against Holloway, records show.

Holloway was arrested again later in March on Sixth Street for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon, but prosecutors discharged the case “in the interest of justice,” records show.

In May, Holloway was arrested on a domestic violence charge stemming from an incident at Turk and Taylor streets in which he allegedly stabbed a former girlfriend in the hand in a dispute over $30, records show.

I know that what we, as kids, used to call “insane asylums” were often horrible places, in which the inmates were neglected and abused. Still, some inmates were there for very good reasons — both for their own protection and for society’s safety — and it would have made infinitely more sense to improve the asylums, rather than to do away with them altogether. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

A brief warning about an effective, sneaky credit card scam

By now, all people, young and old, know better than to give their credit card information out over the phone.  The thieves, knowing that this well has gone dry, have a new approach, which has them conning you into giving out the card security number.  Although this approach has been around for at least seven years now, it’s new to me, so I’m passing it on to you.  Check it out and be aware.

Britain outlaws a homeowner’s self-defense against intruders

One of the most basic principles of Anglo-Saxon common law is a homeowner’s right to defend himself against intruders.  Oh, wait!  That’s not quite true anymore.  In England, which practically gave its name to the notion that “a man’s home is his castle,” homeowner self-defense is against the law (emphasis mine):

Myleene Klass, the broadcaster and model, brandished a knife at youths who broke into her garden – but has been warned by police that she may have acted illegally.

Miss Klass, a model for Marks & Spencer and a former singer with the pop group Hear’Say, was in her kitchen in the early hours of Friday when she saw two teenagers behaving suspiciously in her garden.

The youths approached the kitchen window, before attempting to break into her garden shed, prompting Miss Klass to wave a kitchen knife to scare them away.

Miss Klass, 31, who was alone in her house in Potters Bar, Herts, with her two-year-old daughter, Ava, called the police. When they arrived at her house they informed her that she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon” – even in her own home – was illegal.

Mind you, the above rule is separate from the fact that the UK’s strict anti-gun laws have cut off completely one way in which homeowners can defend themselves against intruders.  The inevitable, is that burglars feel free to break and enter occupied houses, since they needn’t worry about staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel.  (Crime, too, has sky-rocketed.)  What’s different about the rule announced in the above article, is that it isn’t just about removing the homeowner’s most effective instrument of defense; instead, it’s about destroying entirely even the thought of self-defense.

I think Miss Klass is to be highly commended for doing whatever she could to defend herself and her daughter against these intruders.  After all, if she ever cracks open a paper in England, or turns on the news, she knows that Yob violence is out of control.  Britain has successfully turned itself into Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange-vision of a nation equally divided between compliant victims, on the one hand, and brutal psychopaths, on the other.

Thank goodness that, at least in Oklahoma, people are still allowed to defend themselves against home intruders.  Otherwise, one very brave and frightened woman, instead of having successfully and with great physical and moral courage defended herself, could be as dead as the average British homeowner:

(You can hear the whole 33 minute long 911 call here.)

All the stuff I can pack into a single post — and weekend *UPDATED*

Every year, there’s that one December weekend when every event converges.  This past weekend, which really ended only yesterday, was that weekend.  Friday we went to the Cirque du Soliel.  I’ve seen every show since the Cirque burst onto the national scene in the mid-1980s.  This show was exquisitely beautiful, with some of the most charming and amazing costumes I’ve ever seen.  The music was often very good.  The acts, however, weren’t consistent.  The comedy act was dreadful, some of the acts were ordinary, some were really good, and some superb.  In other words, although I enjoyed myself a great deal, it wasn’t up to the Cirque‘s usual standards.  I still recommend seeing it, though since the really good and the superb acts alone were worth the price of admission.

Saturday was another busy day, partly because of the planned activities, partly because of the weather and partly because of my own inefficiencies.  My son’s choral group was having its big performance Saturday, so I had to get him to the City by 11 for call time.  Normally that wouldn’t be a problem.  What made it challenging was that I had to gather my kids from their respective slumber parties, pack for a weekend away (more on that later), rendezvous with a carpool, and then drive through a heavy downfall.   I actually managed to get all that done, only to discover when I arrived in the City that I’d left our tickets at home.  So, instead of a leisurely time in the City, we turned right around, drove back home (same downpour), picked up the tickets, drove back into the City (same downpour), and went to pick up a friend who’d taken the train into the City to see the concert with us.  Despite having given myself 50 minutes for the 30 minute ride to the train station, I was still late:  the rain, the traffic, and the insane San Francisco “traffic flow” rules meant that it took over an hour to get to the train.  Then, of course, the 15 minute ride to the concert hall took another 30 minutes, and that didn’t even include the hunt for parking.  San Francisco is a challenging city.

Ultimately, all of the hassles were worth it, because the concert was just lovely.  I’m a sucker for youth choral groups (I love the sound), and I’m a sucker for Christmas music.  Put the two together, and what could be better?  The only problem, really, was the Benjamin Britten collection of Christmas carols, which was drab and atonal.  I wasn’t surprised, although I know the two aren’t connected, to discover from the program that Britten was a total Leftie politically.  (As an aside, it turns out that my daughter’s choral group is going to be performing precisely the same Britten piece at its holiday concert.  Aagh!)

From the concert, we headed out of town for a social/business dinner.  (That is, the dinner was social, but we knew the people through business.)  Stopping only long enough to drop the kids off at a friend who was kind enough to babysit, my husband and I drove further into the rain to go to a two star Michelin restaurant.  I’ve never been at a restaurant of this caliber, and have to say that it was impressive.  The food wasn’t to my taste (I have simple tastes), but the service was extraordinary.  Every dish was presented simultaneously, with a server behind each diner whispering what the dish was.  These whispers were necessary, since the restaurant sure didn’t rush its customers.  By the time my third dish came, 2.5 hours after ordering, I’d completely forgotten what I’d ordered.  I wouldn’t eat at this restaurant again, since both the price and the food weren’t my thing, but I’m glad I had the experience.  Add to that the fact that our dinner companions were delightful, and it was certainly an evening for the memory books.

The very next day, I got up at 6, collected the kids from our friend, and  drove to Oakland, where my son was performing with his choral group again.  Unfortunately (a) it was raining and (b) they were performing outdoors.  The kids performed valiantly, but everyone was cold, wet and tired when it ended.  The only antidote — at least as far as my kids were concerned — was a shopping trip.  So we descended into my idea of hell:  the Nordstrom Rack, on a sales day, two weeks before Christmas, with two tired, excited children.  We survived the experience, though, and the kids left the store satisfied that they had gotten the best clothes possible, clothes that would satisfy not only their basic requirement for protection from the elements, but also their need to fit in socially.  Yay.

Next stop, not home, but a party.  This was an excellent party, hosted by a couple in my book club.  I’ve never belonged to a book club before, but this one is special:  we’re all political conservatives, so we don’t read mushy, Oprah-esque books.  It’s also special because the people in the book club are wonderful:  smart, informed, verbal, charming.  No surprise, then, that this couple would host a good holiday event.

At the party, I met one man there who especially delighted me.  Like me, he is an ex-liberal who woke up after 9/11 to realize that the answer to America’s ills does not lie with either liberalism nor the Democratic party.  It helps that, like me, he’s fiercely pro-Israel (and, unlike me, he’s actually a religious Jew).  He’s incredibly courageous.  Although he didn’t boast about it, another guest told me that this man attended an anti-War rally, set up a table and, all by his lonesome, handed out leaflets explaining why the war was a good thing.  Considering how violent the peaceniks are, this was brave almost to the point of insanity.  Oh, and did I mention that he’s gay?  He and his partner (also conservative) were there with their darling baby.  In other words, this is a man who is able to pit his innate principles against every group with which he’s associates:  Jews, the liberal world of the Bay Area, and gays.  As to each, he recognizes his place within the group, but doesn’t allow them to set his moral compass.  I like that in a person.

And then, finally, the weekend ended yesterday when I skipped ahead two belts in martial arts.  I didn’t skip because I’m so wonderful.  I skipped because they forgot to give me a belt a few months ago when I earned it.  Yesterday, I simply leapfrogged into my rightful belt status.  Considering how hard I work at martial arts, and how much pleasure it gives me, you can imagine how happy I am.

And all of the above is why I haven’t been blogging.  (That, and paid work, of course.)  As I get back to speed, here are some things to chew on:

John Hawkins, at Right Wing News, got word from a well-placed source that the Senate won’t be able to pull off ObamaCare before the new year.  Considering that the bill is grossly expensive, that it will decimate the middle class, that it provides an economic disincentive to marriage, that it will further bankrupt Medicare (and that’s despite Reid’s yanking the bizarre buy-in plan he floated), and that it will inevitably result in government rationing, one hopes he is correct.  I get nervous, though, when Lieberman, who’s been the only rock on this, starts waffling.  If the rock moves, the slender reeds left behind will be of no use whatsoever.  Considering the public’s well-thought out disgust with ObamaCare, I have to admit to my own disgust with nanny state politicians who are so certain that they know what’s right that they are willing to ignore the people’s will entirely. I like Jennifer Rubin’s take on the whole thing, which is that the Democrats are suffering from a mass delusion.

Is anyone surprised lately when Al Gore is wrong again?  He’s wrong so often.  On the Wednesday show before Thanksgiving, Rush aired a recording of a 1992 TV talk show (maybe Ted Koppel’s?) on which he and Al Gore were guests.  Already then Gore was bloviating about the world coming to a boiling hot end.  I didn’t realize his hysteria started so early in time.  So did the lies.  When Rush said that scientists did not all agree with this global warming theory, Gore said, “That’s a lie.”  Well, of course, the only lie was Gore’s, since there have always been scientists who disagree with the human induced global warming theory.  It’s just that, until ClimateGate, no one but Gore and a few others fully understood how the scientific establishment, in precisely the same way as the Inquistitorial Church in the Middle Ages, was systematically and brutally stifling all dissent.  Rush also predicted on that same 1992 show that the whole thing was meant to fund Third World nations, decrease U.S. power, and make a lot of people rich.  Smart man that Rush.  Dumb man that Gore.

Speaking of Al Gore and that 1992 date, am I imagining it or was Gore pretty damn silent, or at least ineffective, about global warming when he spent 8 years as second man in the White House?  The moment he got actual power, or close to actual power, it ceased to be a pressing issue so far as I know.  I mean, I wasn’t as politically aware now as I was then, but I still paid attention.  It was only when Gore was a politician-in-exile that he suddenly got hysterical again.

Okay, no links here, just a question:  Do any of you think that it makes sense for the Obama team to remove the radical Islamic Gitmo detainees from the indubitable comfort and control of the Gitmo facility, and place them in an ordinary Chicago prison, where their creature comforts will be substantially diminished, where they’ll have access to the full panoply of civil rights granted to the American prison population, and where they’ll have the opportunity to indoctrinate and radicalize fellow prisoners?  As to the last, let me remind you (again) what my cousin, the prison chaplain, had to say:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

In other words, the very nature of a prison population makes it a perfect breeding ground for the spread of radical Islam.

More to follow.  Check in later.

UPDATEInteresting article in the WSJ about the problems the big New York firms are having with recruitment, and that’s despite sweetening the pot to an incredible extent.  What’s really amazing is that law school grads have figured out without even going to the big firms how dreadful it is to work for them.  Sure, the pay is sweet, but the stress and boredom are astronomical.  Big firms also aren’t the stable work places they used to be.  Both the big firms I worked at after law school have vanished from the face of the earth, as have the big firms I clerked at while in law school.  They survived for 50, 70 or 100 years, but they all vanished in the late 90s and early 21st century.  That’s also a hint that the whole big firm paradigm may be over.

I was speaking with a liberal this weekend who was bemoaning the costs that pension plans put on Cities.  I suggested that there might be a problem with unions.  “Oh, no,” he said.  “Employees are being abused by giant corporations.”  Nevertheless, having made this blanket liberal statement, he agreed that SEIU is a completely corrupt outlet and that government unions are a terrible drain on the economy.  When he made that last statement, he hadn’t even read this, as yet unpublished, article:

San Francisco voters may soon have the opportunity to decide major changes to the city’s pension and retiree health care systems – both of which have seen their costs skyrocket as the city grapples with consecutive years of major budget deficits.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, with support from Mayor Gavin Newsom, will introduce a charter amendment at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting that would drastically reshape the city’s pension system.

Ten years ago, the city paid $383.7 million to health insurance for active and retired workers, retirement contributions and Social Security. This year’s tab is $890 million, a 132 percent increase. In fiscal year 2013-14, the projected amount is $1.4 billion.

Read the rest here.

A chilling reminder why we need to preserve our Second Amendment rights

Perhaps because they often tend to live in tightly packed urban environments, when it comes to the gun debate, liberals always forget that the cops cannot be relied upon to be there at the moment a crime is happening.  In a city it’s entirely possible that there are lots of police patrolling a small geographic area who can then respond immediately to a 911 call.  In areas that see cops stretched thin by geography (a sprawling county) or crisis (Katrina), citizens are on their own.  This video of a woman in an isolated area facing off a rabid intruder is a perfect reminder of the fact that arms protect citizens:

It’s obvious by the end of the video that the woman is absolutely shattered by the experience, but I came away impressed by her clear-thinking courage.  I also appreciated the 911 dispatcher’s compassion and good advice.

Hat tip:  Hot Air

A perk of military service — patriotic criminals

If it wasn’t in a news story, I’d actually think that this was an O. Henry story, because the ending is such a twist.  You see, it all started when a young man, walking down a dark street at night was mugged and robbed at gunpoint:

A Milwaukee Army reservist’s military identification earned him some street cred Tuesday, when he says four men who mugged him at gunpoint returned his belongings and thanked him for his service after finding the ID.

The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student said he was walking home from work about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday when he was pulled into an alley and told to lay face down and with a gun to his neck. Four men took his wallet, $16, keys, his cell phone and even a PowerBar wrapper from his pants pockets, he said.

But the hostile tone quickly changed when one of the robbers, whom the reservist presumed was the leader, saw an Army ID in the wallet. The robber told the others to return the items and they put most of his belongings on the ground next to him, including the wrapper, the reservist said.

“The guy continued to say throughout the situation that he respects what I do and at one point he actually thanked me and he actually apologized,” said the reservist, who asked not to be identified Tuesday because the robbers still had his keys.

The reservist said he asked the men, who all had hoods or hats covering their faces, if he could get up and they said he could before starting to walk away.

“The leader of the group actually walked back, gave me a quick fist bump, which was very strange,” he said.

Lest one get too excited by this heartwarming story of criminals gone good, they apparently robbed another man at gunpoint and, unimpressed by his credentials, happily absconded with his valuables.

Hat tip:  Sadie

Compassion for the perpetrator is cruelty to the victim

Not a big story, not an American story, but still a story perfectly illustrative of the cultural insanity that elevates perpetrator rights over the rights of ordinary citizens:

A teenage sex attacker kidnapped and raped a five-year-old boy eight days after a judge spared him custody for another rape, it has emerged.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a three-year community order in June for the rape of a seven year-old boy in Tameside.

The original sentence handed down by Judge Adrian Smith provoked an outcry from the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and a legal challenge.

Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard that just eight days later the boy committed an “appalling offence” against the five year-old boy, who he lured to his home and abused.

The sex attacker was arrested again and pleaded guilty to rape and child abduction. He has been given an indeterminate sentence for public protection.

The judicial system is acting now, but that’s scant consolation to a raped five year old.

Didn’t buy a policy? Go to jail.

Aside from being unconstitutional, I somehow doubt that the following is a winning formula as far as the American voter is concerned:

PELOSI: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail
JCT Confirms Failure to Comply with Democrats’ Mandate Can Lead to 5 Years in Jail
Friday, November 06, 2009

Today, Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp (R-MI) released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing – buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:

“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1]

– – – – – – – – – –

“If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply…” [page 2]

– – – – – – – – – –

“Criminal penalties

Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:

• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]

When confronted with this same issue during its consideration of a similar individual mandate tax, the Senate Finance Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to include language in its bill that shielded Americans from civil and criminal penalties. The Pelosi bill, however, contains no similar language protecting American citizens from civil and criminal tax penalties that could include a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.

“The Senate Finance Committee had the good sense to eliminate the extreme penalty of incarceration. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to leave in the jail time provision is a threat to every family who cannot afford the $15,000 premium her plan creates. Fortunately, Republicans have an alternative that will lower health insurance costs without raising taxes or cutting Medicare,” said Camp.

According to the Congressional Budget Office the lowest cost family non-group plan under the Speaker’s bill would cost $15,000 in 2016.

Modern England increasingly Darwinian

The other day, the Daily Mail ran an article about the exponential increase in stranger attacks in England, a byproduct of the public drunkenness that is increasing at an even faster rate than the violence.  I still remember when England was a remarkably safe, clean little country, except in the worst neighborhoods of the biggest cities.  Now, there is no time and no place in England that isn’t as randomly violent as a Third World country or a predator-filled jungle.

If you live in this kind of jungle, it pays to be prepared.  So here is a satisfying story about a BBC reporter who, after patiently enduring verbal attacks from two drunken yobs, turned on the physicality when the yobs tried to throw a punch.  (Did I mention that the BBC reporter is a black belt?)

Increasingly, England looks like a Mad Max culture.  How sad.

Don’t stop him; he serves a chance to kill again

If there was ever an example of misguided compassion, this story out of Britain must rank at the top of the list:

A psychopathic Satanist, given a ‘life means life’ sentence for strangling his cellmate whilst already serving life for murder, has had that cut to 20 years on appeal in order ‘to give him light at the end of the tunnel’.

The move came despite the admission that double killer Clement McNally described the murder as ‘better than sex’ and revealed he would kill again if the opportunity arose.

Father-of-one Anthony Hesketh, of Eastham Way, Worsley, who was in custody for a driving offence and facing drugs charges, was strangled with a T-shirt in September 2003. He was found dead on the floor of the Strangeways cell he shared with McNally.

McNally, 34 – a devil worshipper who decorated his cell with satanic symbols and suffers from ‘psychopathic, narcissistic, paranoid and obsessive-compulsive disorders, all mixed together’ – was serving a mandatory life term for stabbing to death his friend, Arthur Skelly, outside a party in Ashton-under-Lyne in July 2002.

He was given a life term, with a whole life tariff, for the second killing, after pleading guilty to manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility at Manchester Crown Court on July 12 2004.

But now the minimum term on his life sentence has been slashed to 20 years by Lord Justice Hughes, at London’s Criminal Appeal Court. The judge said it was not right that McNally should be denied a light at the end of the tunnel and never have a chance of release.


Lord Justice Hughes, sitting with Mr Justice MacKay and Mr Justice Davis, said of Mr Hesketh’s killing: ‘McNally had no particular grievance against his victim – he simply suffered an urge to kill him.

‘He said it was exciting – better than sex. He said Satan told him to do things and it was his job to do as he was told.

‘He said he was not in the least bit sorry for what he had done, but had derived a great deal of pleasure from subsequently thinking about it.

‘He suffers from compulsive homicidal urges and poses an exceptional risk to other prisoners. He made it perfectly clear that he would kill again if the opportunity arose and the urge to kill was of sufficient intensity.’

However the judge said it was wrong not to give McNally the chance of being freed if, at some point in the future, his mental state stabilises to the extent that the authorities no longer consider him a danger to society.

He told the court: ‘The life sentence was plainly correct as he was likely to represent a danger of the gravest kind, for a period which could not be determined.

‘However the imposition of a whole life tariff was a mistaken application of the process of sentencing.

‘The life sentence itself is designed to cater for a prisoner in whom it cannot be seen when, or if ever, they will cease to be a danger to the public.

It’s amazing how the judge doesn’t seem to realize that, for a man who murdered two people in cold blood, maybe a life without “a light at the end of the tunnel” is just the right prescription.

Maybe this is just the pendulum swinging.  England used to hang children for stealing a loaf of bread.  Now it freely contemplates giving a second start to an unusually cold-blooded killer.  I would suggest, though, that the fact that England was disproportionately punitive 200 years ago doesn’t mean it needs to be disproportionately . . . well, compassion isn’t the right word, because some innocent always gets hurt . . . but disproportionately stupid now.

With one of the Manson killers, justice is finally served

Manson follower Susan Atkins died in prison.  I mention this because there was a press from some liberals to get her out so that, like that Libyan dude (and he’s not dead yet, is he?), she could die in the arms of her family.  Considering the violent, brutal, grotesque murders she committed, compassionate parole would have been the greatest crime of all.  Fortunately, the California parole board, showing more sense than the British government (although I think bribery was more of a factor than sense when it came to the Brits), made sure that she truly got a life sentence.

Remind me not to send my teenage girls to school in England

I gave the post the above title because, in England, even a woman who is a convicted sexual predator gets to keep up her relationship with the victim:

A public school music teacher was today jailed for lesbian sex with a 15-year-old pupil – but was given an astonishing green light to continue the ‘affair’ when out of prison.

The court heard trumpet teacher Helen Goddard, 26, used sex toys and fluffy handcuffs on the ‘vulnerable’ child, helped weave a web of lies so the girl could stay in her flat overnight, and took her on a dirty weekend in Paris, where they joined a gay pride march.

But despite hearing from the girl’s parents the devastating effect the five-month sexual relationship had on the teenager, Judge Anthony Pitts rejected a prosecution request to ban the teacher from contacting her victim for five years, claiming it would be ‘cruel’ to the child.

Instead, she is allowed to write to her now, and will be able to see her in private the moment she is released from jail, likely to be just half-way through her 15-month sentence.

Goddard actually punched the air in victory in the dock when she realised her ‘relationship’ with her still-underage pupil could continue.