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Ranking Risks

Kevin_Williamson (1)

From National Review, Theatrical shootings aren’t the problem, hysterical reactions aren’t the solution, by Kevin Williamson:

These acts are dramatic because they are unusual (not as unusual as we’d prefer), extraordinary because they are unrepresentative of the contemporary experience rather than representative of it. Those of us who were around for the Clinton years do not recall them as a time of bloodthirsty savagery, but in terms of being shot to death, Americans are about twice as safe today as they were in the early 1990s. We are not, in fact, a polity dissolving into chaos. Our streets aren’t filled with blood — they’re filled with mediocrity. Politicians sell you emergency when they want to take something away from you. Terrorists are not the only people who know that a scared population is a compliant population.

We insulated moderns are not very good at ranking risks. We are fascinated and terrified by predator attacks, but in reality you are a hell of a lot more likely to be killed by a cow, a deer, a bee, or a moose than by a shark, a wolf, a bear, or a crocodile. But we love stories. We love them more than we love reality: The Republican party is not run by a secret cabal of warmongering billionaires; Barack Obama is a cookie-cutter Ivy League lefty, not a Kenya-born al-Qaeda plant; you’re going to die from emphysema or from being fat rather than from Ebola or a resurgent Islamic caliphate; the people who commit the murders are for the most part going to be ordinary criminals going about ordinary criminal business, and a fair number of the people they kill are the same thing.
Our ordinary crime is largely the result of ordinary failures: failed families, failed schools, failed communities, failed police departments, failed penal institutions, failed parole systems. Even our dramatic crimes are mostly rooted in ordinary failures: those failed families, again, failed mental-health practices, etc. A scary-looking rifle is visually arresting, a fact that tells us something about the weapon, and maybe something about us. It doesn’t tell us anything useful about the actual challenges facing the United States in 2015.

But if you are going to be worried about something, that ordinary crime — not the bloody pageantry of mass shootings — is the place to look.

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A Last Opportunity Denied

the wire

From Townhall Walter Williams writes The True Black Tragedy


The minimum wage law and other labor regulations have cut off the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Put yourself in the place of an employer, and ask: If I must pay $7.25 an hour — plus mandated fringes, such as Social Security and workers’ compensation — would it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate as to possess skills that enable him to produce only $5 worth of value per hour? Most employers view that as a losing economic proposition. Thus, the minimum wage law discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers, who are most often youths — particularly black youths.

The little bit of money a teenager can earn through after-school, weekend and summer employment is not nearly so important as the other things he gains from early work experiences. He acquires skills and develops good work habits, such as being prompt, following orders and respecting supervisors. In addition, there are the self-respect and pride that a youngster gains from being financially semi-independent. All of these gains from early work experiences are important for any teen but are even more important for black teens. If black teens are going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, they aren’t going to learn it from their rotten schools, their dysfunctional families or their crime-ridden neighborhoods. They must learn it on the job.


While many may benefit from a higher minimum wage certainly one group that will not is the black youth and other youth shut out of their first job.  That job is often the last opportunity to learn how the world works.


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Unpredicted Solutions


From the Economist, The curious case of the fall in crime:

There is no single cause of the decline; rather, several have coincided. Western societies are growing older, and most crimes are committed by young men. Policing has improved greatly in recent decades, especially in big cities such as New York and London, with forces using computers to analyse the incidence of crime; in some parts of Manhattan this helped to reduce the robbery rate by over 95%. The epidemics of crack cocaine and heroin appear to have burnt out.

The biggest factor may be simply that security measures have improved. Car immobilisers have killed joyriding; bulletproof screens, security guards and marked money have all but done for bank robbery. Alarms and DNA databases have increased the chance a burglar will be caught. At the same time, the rewards for burglary have fallen because electronic gizmos are so cheap. Even small shops now invest in CCTV cameras and security tags. Some crimes now look very risky—and that matters because, as every survey of criminals shows, the main deterrent to crime is the fear of being caught.


Liberals have predicted higher crime as a result of increasing inequality. Conservatives have predicted higher crime as a results of social decay.  Both have been wrong.  It is worth considering that much of our social policy fails because we are unable to predict trends and causes.  Solutions often are discovered without the heavy hand of government.

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An Impediment to Justice


Hate Crime legislation adds another dimension to a crime that is unwarranted.  The racialization of Zimmerman’s killing of Treyvon Martin brought race as an issue.  Without that issue as a wedge the political play was absent.  Our obsession with race is becoming an impediment to justice.

Was Zimmerman profiling.  Probably. We all do. We are suspect of someone in our neighborhood that does not look like he belongs there.  It may a black man in a white neighborhood, a tattooed Hispanic in a black neighborhood, a skinhead in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood,  or a seedy looking white man in a wealthy neighborhood.

If Martin was white or any ethnic group other than black we would have heard nothing about this trial.  If Zimmerman was black we would have heard nothing.  Yet, as much as Zimmerman’s actions may have instigated the tragedy, do you think he would have acted differently if the guy who was hitting him was a fellow Hispanic or white?

The rationale behind hate crime legislation is that such motivation creates harm beyond the victim, but the harm that hate crime legislation creates is that politics gets injected into the courtroom.

Hate crime legislation is distinct and is part of the original prosecution if the prosecutors elect to pursue it.  It is different from the double jeopardy that the accused is subjected to when he is subjected to civil prosecution after he is acquitted of the original crime.

While Hate Crime charges were not brought against Zimmerman (hate crime is much more than mere profiling), hate crime legislation is a part of and a cause of the racialization of justice.

The political motivation in a criminal trial is a chilling prospect.  It seemed clearly at play in the Zimmerman trial.  A true liberal should be outraged.

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Politicizing Crime

John Fund writes in The National Review, Injudicious Criminal Justice in Florida
The prosecutorial misconduct in Zimmerman’s trial reveals a judicial system run amok:


Recall that the investigation of Trayvon Martin’s shooting was taken out of the hands of local authorities and placed with an appointed special prosecutor named Angela Corey. She said her job was to rise above public pressure to indict Zimmerman, but within weeks she claimed her job was “to do justice for Trayvon Martin.” She quickly decided to charge Zimmerman with second-degree murder, a charge that may have satisfied public opinion but which required her to prove that the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer harbored ill will and spite against Trayvon Martin, whom he had never met until minutes before the shooting.

The Florida Bar’s rules state that the government’s attorneys shall “refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause . . . [and] make timely disclosure to the defense of all evidence or information known to the prosecutor that tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense.”

Angela Corey flagrantly violated those standards. Her prosecutors waited months before giving the defense photos showing the extent of George Zimmerman’s injuries the night of the shooting. Ben Kruidbos, the information-technology director for the state attorney’s office, was shocked when he learned that prosecutors hadn’t turned over to the defense evidence of photos and text messages that Kruidbos had recovered from Martin’s cell phone. The photos included images of a pile of jewelry on a bed, underage nude females, marijuana, and a hand menacingly holding a semiautomatic weapon.

Kruidbos feared he would put his job in jeopardy if he came forward with this information, but he also was concerned about a possible miscarriage of justice, so he directed his attorneys to alert Zimmerman’s defense team about the withheld evidence. He turned over the photos in late May, and the state placed Kruidbos on administrative leave until this past Friday, the day the Zimmerman case went to the jury. That morning, according to the Florida Times-Union, he received a hand-delivered letter from Corey informing him that he was fired and that he “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.” The treatment he received for telling the defense about government misconduct will discourage others from becoming whistleblowers.

In addition, Corey’s deputies interviewed key witnesses with Trayvon Martin’s family present. Jonathan Turley, a self-proclaimed liberal and a law professor at George Washington University, called such behavior “a highly unusual and improper practice.”


Some have criticized the judge for questioning Zimnmerman about his decision to testify but this judge explains why he supports her action:

from Glenn Harlan Reynolds’  Instapundit:


Conservative commentators (like Mark Levin) and bloggers are completely wrong to criticize the trial judge in the Zimmerman case for questioning the defendant to ensure his decision not to testify is knowingly made. Here’s why.

A defendant’s decision whether to testify is personal to him, just like his decisions whether (1) to plead guilty or not guilty and (2) to have a jury trial or a bench trial. His attorney can and should advise him about his decision to testify, but that decision remains the defendant’s to make.

Many cases have arisen in which convicted defendants have filed postconviction petitions claiming their rights were violated because they wanted to testify and their attorneys wouldn’t let them. Similarly, many other cases have arisen in which convicted defendants claim that they never wanted to testify but their lawyers forced them to. An often troubling aspect of these cases is that what the defendants allege is true because their lawyers, out of ignorance, did not know that the decision about testifying is personal to the defendant.

As a judge on the Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court, I wrote a decision 14 years ago urging trial judges to make a record regarding a defendant’s decision to testify precisely as the trial judge did with George Zimmerman, which, of course, must take place out of the presence of the jury. (See People v. Frieberg, 305 Ill. App. 3d 840, 852, 238 Ill. Dec. 964, 973, 713 N.E.2d 210, 219 (4th Dist. 1999).) I’m gratified to report that trial judges throughout Illinois are following my advice and admonishing defendants accordingly.


This case is a shallow victory and the tragedy remains.  It is a cold reminder to those of us who carry guns to understand that the empowerment you have should not replace the judgement to avoid violence when you can.

I am no lawyer, but I have a problem knowing that when acquitted that he could still face civil prosecution.  It seems like double jeopardy, no matter how it is explained. Recall that OJ Simpson was also tried and convicted on civil charges after he was acquitted of his wife’s murder. I also had a problem then.