Allahu Akbar, Once Again

When I first saw the CNN coverage of the Munich massacre this afternoon, I noticed that the broadcasters went out of their way, with exactly zero evidence, to suggest that the killer might have been a right wing extremist, not a Jihadist.

Tonight's CNN story has this buried after the tenth paragraph:

A witness who will only be identified as Lauretta told CNN her son was in a bathroom with a shooter at the restaurant.

"That's where he loaded his weapon," she said. "I hear like an alarm and boom, boom, boom... And he's still killing the children. The children were sitting to eat. They can't run."

Lauretta said she heard the gunman say, "Allahu Akbar," or God is great. "I know this because I'm Muslim. I hear this and I only cry." 

Still, at least the network was honest enough to report:

Many children were among the casualties. Police said 16 people remain hospitalized.

The shooting comes as recent terror attacks have put Europe on high alert.

This week, a teenager who said he was inspired by ISIS stabbed passengers on a German train before police shot him dead. Only eight days earlier, 84 people were killed when a man drove a large truck through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France.

If Donald Trump wins the election, those who will be most frantic might want to reconsider their years of complacent, tongue-clucking-and-teddy-bears "plan" for confronting Jihad.

Do Black Lives Matter More to Trump?

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Heather MacDonald has a post-Trump acceptance speech wrap-up in the City Journal that suggests that The Donald's remarks reflect a stronger interest in preserving black lives than the President, Hillary Clinton, the media or the Black Lives Matter movement itself.  "As Trump said: "[Y]oung Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson . . . have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child America." Hint to the media: He was referring to black children in those cities, such as the ten children under the age of ten killed in Baltimore last year; the nine-year-old girl fatally shot while doing homework on her mother's bed in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2015; and the nine-year-old boy in Chicago lured into an alley and killed by his father's gang enemies in November 2015, writes MacDonald.  
Kent wrote here about Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's blanket order restoring the voting rights of about 200,000 felons in that state.  This afternoon, the Virginia Supreme Court nullified McAuliffe's order.

Full participation in democracy is, in the abstract, a good thing.  And doing what we can to bring back into the system felons who understand the wrongfulness of their behavior and have corrected it is part of that.  Restoring the vote for those who continue to believe (and, often, to act) as if law is for other people, and rules are for suckers, is a different matter. That would certainly seem to be more an abuse than a use of this aspect of executive power.

At the end of the story linked above, Gov. McAuliffe is reported to have said he would effectively defy any court order contrary to his liking:  "I will sign 206,000 orders. They will have their rights back that day."

He is welcome to proceed, as far as I'm concerned.  Signing 206,000 orders in a day will obviously reflect exactly the mass "consideration" the Court forbade today, and thus will earn McAuliffe a contempt citation.

UPDATE:  As the first commenter points out, I failed correctly to link the WTOP story.  I apologize for this error, which I have rectified.  That said, the story states, as I quoted, "I will sign 206,000 orders. They will have their rights back that day."  In other words, it makes crystal  clear that McAuliffe intends to attempt to do by poorly disguised indirection what the Court has forbidden, to wit, grant a mass  pardon.

Cheever Follow-Up

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Today's News Scan notes the affirmance by the Kansas Supreme Court of the death sentence of Scott Cheever for the murder of Sheriff Matt Samuels in the performance of his duty.

This case was decided on remand from the United States Supreme Court.  The first time out, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the conviction.   That court found a Fifth Amendment violation in the requirement that Cheever submit to a mental examination when he claimed a "mental disease or defect" defense.  The U.S. Supreme Court reversed unanimously in an opinion by Justice Sotomayor.  CJLF filed an amicus brief in the case.

On the first round, the Kansas Supreme Court considered only the penalty phase issues likely to arise on retrial because the case was going to be retried anyway.  On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, they needed to consider in full whether to affirm the penalty.

One of the issues was whether the defendant was entitled to an instruction that the defendant need not prove his mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.  The Kansas court had held that the Eighth Amendment requires this, but that holding was reversed last January by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Carr.  CJLF also filed a brief in that case.  The state court can, and did, hold that the instruction is still required by state law.  However, because Cheever did not request the instruction a different standard of review applies, and the absence of the instruction was not so detrimental as to require reversal in this case.

Affirmance of this entirely just sentence is a good result, but long overdue.  It took so long because the Kansas Supreme Court erroneously decided two issues of federal constitutional law.  Kansas has the worst system of any state for appointing Supreme Court judges -- the State Bar is the gatekeeper to the bench -- and it shows.  Reform of this process should be top priority in that state.

The Law and Order Candidate

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When was the last time a presidential candidate made law and order the lead theme of his acceptance speech?  I can't remember.  The reason it has been so long is that we were so successful in bringing down crime rates that the issue dropped off of voters' radar screens.  It's back.

The Trump campaign has released a helpfully annotated text of the speech.  The facts on crime are substantially correct, regardless of what the WaPo fact checkers say.  I may have more to say on that later.  Here are some key lines.

The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.
Yup, I've been saying that for some time.

News Scan

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KS High Court Upholds Death Sentence:  The Kansas Supreme Court upheld on Friday the capital murder conviction and death sentence of a man who gunned down a sheriff during a drug raid over a decade ago.  Amy Renee Leiker of the Wichita Eagle reports that the state's high court rejected Scott Cheever's claims that two errors occurred during the guilt-phase of his trial.  In January 2005, Cheever fatally shot Greenwood County sheriff Matt Samuels as he attempted to serve an arrest warrant on drug charges.  Cheever, 34, was convicted in 2007 of capital murder for Samuels' death, four counts of attempted capital murder for firing at other officers, criminal possession of a firearm and manufacturing methamphetamine, and was sentenced to death.  The case prompted law changes, known as the Matt Samuels Act, that made it harder to purchase ingredients used in making meth, including some allergy medications.  Cheever's death sentence is the second to be affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court.  No one has been executed in the state since 1965.

Overall Crime up in L.A. for 2nd Straight Year:  The Los Angeles Police Department is reporting an increase in overall crime at the year's midpoint, for the second consecutive year.  Ben Poston and Kate Mather of the LA Times reports that through July 16, overall crime rose 6.3% when compared to the same point last year, with violent crime spiking 15.9% and property crime increasing by 3.8%.  Of the violent crimes, the largest increases were aggravated assaults, jumping 19.2%, and robberies, jumping 16.8%.  LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says that although some improvements have been observed since implementing new strategies in March, such as shifting more officers to the four South L.A. divisions with the highest crime rates and moving in Metro officers, he contends that his department is struggling to rein in property offenses, strong-arm robberies and aggravated assaults.  He also notes that violent and property crime totals have steadily climbed citywide since March even though the changes have resulted in decreases in some crimes.  The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also reported an 8.4% rise in violent crime and a 6.8% jump in property crime through the end of June.  Officials have cited a variety of factors believed to be attributing the the problem, including gang violence, a rising homeless population and Proposition 47.
William Horobin and Inti Landauro report for the WSJ:

The man who killed 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day appeared to be planning the attack since last year and had the help of several people, France's top antiterror prosecutor said Thursday.

Investigative magistrates on Thursday were interrogating five people suspected of providing support to 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, said Paris Prosecutor François Molins, who laid out a timeline suggesting the attacker and his suspected accomplices had embraced Islamic extremism as early as the Charlie Hebdo attack in January of last year.

The details disclosed by Mr. Molins threaten to fuel public anger at French President François Hollande and his ministers, who have spent days defending their handling of the terror attack.

The new evidence appears to contradict claims made by top French officials immediately after the rampage that Lahouaiej Bouhlel was radicalized in a matter of weeks, leaving security services little chance of stopping him when he plowed through throngs of revelers on Bastille Day with a 21-ton truck.

Instead, Mr. Molins suggested Lahouaiej Bouhlel may have conducted surveillance on his target a year before he acted and communicated more than a thousand times with suspected accomplices.
Accomplices who share the specific intent are just as culpable as the triggerman.  Presumably some of them will be caught.  What will France do then?   Will they do like Norway with Anders Breivik and sentence them to less than four months in prison per life taken?

Are you really sure you don't want capital punishment, mes amis?
Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert has this op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, responding to an earlier piece by Ron Briggs.  Unfortunately, it is behind the Bee's paywall.

The reason that no executions have occurred in California for 10 years is the state's delay in drafting regulations for a method of execution. Otherwise, there could have been at least 15 sentences carried out during the past decade. It's outrageous that victims' families were forced to sue the state to draft these regulations. Proposition 66 will prevent biased and unsympathetic politicians and government bureaucrats from interfering with this process.
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Briggs believes abolition will benefit victims' survivors by closing cases and sparing them further "wounds." That is offensive and presumptuous. In our experience, most survivors want "justice" for the murderers of their family members. Repealing the death penalty will not heal these peoples' wounds; it keeps them permanently open.

Briggs naively touts life without parole as a sufficient alternative to the death penalty. He forgets that the last murderer executed in California, Clarence Ray Allen, was sentenced to death for the murder of three people, which he planned while already serving a life sentence for murder. Life imprisonment was not enough to protect the public from Allen.

Moreover, victims' families will always be haunted by the specter that an inmate sentenced to life without parole will suddenly ask the governor to reduce a sentence - as happened recently in the case of a Fresno murderer who waited 36 years and applied for clemency. As long as an inmate sentenced to life without parole lives, the governor could reduce the sentence and a murderer may be released on the streets.

News Scan

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7 Charged for Aiding FL Murder Suspect's Escape:  Several people have been charged as accomplices for assisting a Florida murder suspect and death row inmate escape from a crowded courtroom last Friday.  The AP reports that Francine Mesadieu, 31, provided prisoner Dayonte Resiles, 21, with a wig, clothes and colored contact lenses to disguise himself, while Paige Jackson, 18, helped to plan the escape through three-way jail phone calls.  Resiles was sitting in the jury box when he slipped out of his shackles, jumped a courtroom barrier and ran past two unarmed bailiffs towards downtown where a car was waiting for him.  Fellow inmate, Walter M. Hart II, 22, has also been charged for holding Resiles' shackles while he manipulated them along with Resiles' girlfriend, LaQuay Stern, 18, who was driving the getaway car.  Resiles has been rearrested.  Sheriff Scott Israel stated that armed deputies will now accompany maximum-security inmates in the courtroom.  Resiles is accused of binding Jill Halliburton Su, 59, at both the hands and feet and stabbing her to death during an attempted burglary in 2014. 

Death Penalty a Possibility for CA Man who Killed Toddler:  San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe is considering seeking the death penalty against a California man accused of sexually abusing and murdering his girlfriend's toddler last year.  The SF Examiner reports that David Contreras, 28, faces charges of murder and felony child abuse, among other charges, for the August 2015 sexual molestation and beating death of his girlfriend's 17-month-old daughter, who he claims died after falling from a changing table.  He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Tuesday, and a pretrial conference is scheduled for early December.  .

White House to Review Ban on Military Gear for Police:  Two police organization directors said Thursday that the White House has agreed to review last year's ban on the transferring of riot gear, armored vehicles and other military-grade equipment from the U.S. armed forces to police departments.  Julia Edwards of Reuters reports that Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, and Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, along with eight other police organization chiefs, met with President Obama and Vice President Biden on July 11, just days after a shooter gunned down five police officers in Dallas and days before three Baton Rouge officers were ambushed and killed, to urge reinstatement of military equipment to the police.  Under a May 2015 executive order, military equipment like helmets, grenades and tracked armor vehicles were banned amid public outcry of their use during protests in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri.  "The White House thought this kind of gear was intimidating to people, but they didn't know the purpose it serves," said Pasco.  White House chief legal counsel Neil Eggleston will review the ban.
And yet another wrongly maligned prosecutor is exonerated.

AP reports from Manassas, Virginia:

For much of the last 15 years, Justin Wolfe was both a death row inmate and a cause célèbre. His supporters, as well as a federal judge who heard his appeal, believed he was a victim of malicious prosecutors who covered up the truth in an effort to execute an innocent man.

Now Wolfe's 15-year legal saga -- which at one point had him days from execution and later on the brink of total exoneration and freedom -- has concluded with a 41-year prison sentence and an admission that prosecutors had it right all along.
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After years of denying responsibility for the 2001 murder of Daniel Petrole, Wolfe on Wednesday apologized to Petrole's family in a packed Manassas courtroom.

Blanket Restoration of Felon Voting

"No person who has been convicted of a felony shall be qualified to vote unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority."  -- Virginia Constitution, Article II, Section 1.

This provision is clearly intended to allow the Governor to restore voting rights, among other rights, upon an individualized determination that the person has actually "gone straight."  Is it limited to that?  Former Governor Tim Kaine (D) thought so.

Or does it empower a governor to effectively repeal the disqualification provision by entering a sweeping restoration of voting rights to all felons?  Present Governor Terry McAuliffe (also D) thinks so.  The WSJ has this editorial.

Why does Governor McAuliffe want more criminals to vote, whether they are rehabilitated or not?  Simple.  Criminals perceive -- correctly -- that on the whole Democrats are more likely to favor their interests as opposed to the interests of law-abiding people.  That tendency has been somewhat less pronounced in recent years than it was in earlier years, but the difference is coming back, as noted Bill's and my posts of Monday. 

Hence, criminals -- especially those who have not gone straight -- will vote for the Democratic Party in greater proportion than law-abiding people do, and in a close election the criminal vote may tip the scale.  After 2000, the Florida recount, and all that, we must recognized that such matters could have serious consequences.

The editorial notes that the Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments on the question Tuesday.

News Scan

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KS Officer Shot and Killed:  A Kansas City, Kan., police officer was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon while responding to a report of a drive-by shooting.  Fox News reports that Capt. Robert David Melton, 46, a 17-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department, responded to a reported drive-by shooting and was shot and killed about a half-hour after the initial call when he pulled his vehicle up to a person matching the description of one of the suspects that had fled the scene earlier.  The suspect shot Melton multiple times before he could exit the car.  That suspect along with another are currently in custody and being questioned.  Melton's death marks the second time this year that a Kansas City police officer has been shot in the line of duty.  A police spokesman said it is too early to determine whether Melton's death is connected to the recent ambush attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Suspect in CA Homeless Attacks Could Face Death Penalty:  San Diego police made an arrest Friday of a man accused of attacking five homeless men, killing three of them, and prosecutors announced Tuesday that he could face the death penalty if convicted.  KPBS reports that Jon David Guerrero, 39, began his spree of assaults on July 3, brutalizing his victims as they slept on roadsides, in open areas and under freeway bridges.  In two cases, he set the victims on fire.  After Guerrero's arrest, which occurred shortly after the latest attack, detectives discovered physical evidence at the scene of the crime and at his residence linking him to the attacks and murders.  He is charged with three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, along with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders.  Because of the special circumstance, he could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if found guilty. 

Growing Number of Children caught in Gang Gunfire:  The list of young children across Chicago who have been shot continues to grow amid a year of surging homicides and shootings, with many of the incidents connected to gangs.  Don Babwin of the AP reports that through the end of June, 15 children younger than the age of 10 had been shot, seven more victims than at the same point last year, and four more have been shot since the start of July.  They are being shot doing "normal kid things" such as drawing on the sidewalk, playing with sparklers, walking hand-in-hand with their mother or sitting on the porch with their family.  Miraculously, no child has died as a result of the shootings across a city that has seen over 330 people killed in homicides this year.

CA's Elderly Parole Program Could Shorten Kidnapper's Sentence by 400 Years:  The convicted sex offender who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard could have his sentence shortened by some 400 years under California's elderly parole program.  Shirin Rajaee of CBS Sacramento reports that Phillip Garrido, 65, was sentenced to 431 years behind bars for the kidnapping and sexual assault of Dugard, who he abducted in South Lake Tahoe in 1991 and held captive at his Antioch home for 18 years.  But in February 2014, a federal court ordered the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to implement a new parole program that made state prisoners who are 60 or older and have served at least 25 years of their sentence eligible for parole hearings.  Although Garrido will have to wait until 2034 for his first parole hearing, Dugard may then be forced fight it, as if she hasn't been through enough because of this man.
Station WOIO reports from Cleveland:

Hundreds of protesters and police took over Public Square in downtown Tuesday afternoon.
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Activists from Black Lives Matter, Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK were in the square and, at one time, were said to be throwing urine at each other.
We probably shouldn't laugh, but I will anyway.  And I will take the Mercutio position on that dispute.

Other interesting nuggets:

Actor Billy Baldwin marched down Euclid Avenue with some protesters. He said he supports police and Black Lives Matter.
Huh?  How do you support one group of people and at the same time support a second group that openly calls for the murder of the first?

The Stand Together Against Trump group was expected to parade Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. A total of 0 protesters showed up. There were 15 media members, 17 preachers and several police instead. The group had a parade permit for up to 5,000 people.

The Collateral Consequences of Acquittal

Those who see criminals as victims tend frequently to complain about the collateral consequences of conviction.  And while it's true that there are likely to be such consequences if you're found guilty of, for example, being a smack pusher, con artist, strong arm or thief, etc., our opponents misapprehend the true source of the problem.  

It's not that the offender has an adverse adjudication (although certainly that's in the mix). It's the behavior that led to the adjudication in the first place. An adjudication of criminal conduct provides a prospective landlord or employer with a more reliable than usual indication of potential problems any sane person in that position would want to know about  --  and, in this day and time, probably has to know about to avoid liability if an employee whose, shall we say, behavioral anomalies the employer could and should have learned about through due diligence  --  but didn't  --  goes on to harm a co-worker or customer.

Who do you think will be on the hook for that?

But I digress.  Those showing the most concern about the collateral consequences of conviction oddly show none at all about the just-in-the-news collateral consequences of acquittal.

Now you might be saying:  Hold on there.  How can there be collateral consequences when you're acquitted?

Amending the Bill of Rights

The WSJ has this editorial, titled Clinton to Madison: Get Me Rewrite.

"Today, I'm announcing that in my first 30 days as President, I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people--all of us--the chance to reclaim our democracy," Mrs. Clinton said in a taped speech to the Netroots Nation conference of progressives. First 30 days? Who knew the 225-year-old First Amendment was in need of such urgent revision?
Is amending the Bill of Rights fair game?  How about getting rid of the defendant's privilege not to testify in a criminal case?  Can we give it the heave-ho?  Probably not.

But those who agree with Mrs. Clinton would say her amendment does not change the real First Amendment, just a misinterpretation of it by the Supreme Court.  Fair enough.  Let's have an amendment to scrape off all the barnacles attached to the criminal law and procedure provisions of the Bill of Rights that were not included in those amendments as originally understood.

First over the side is the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule.  Miranda is next. 

Dump that stupid rule that the prosecutor cannot comment on the defendant's failure to testify.  Have you seen the prosecutor's closing argument in the BBC series Broadchurch?  Great fun.  Don't try this at home.  Almost makes you want to move to England.  Except for the wigs.

Selective Mourning

We're often admonished by the Left not to draw conclusions until all the facts are in. That's sound advice, in the abstract.  The problem is how it gets applied.  When a Jihadist engages in mass murder shouting "Allahu Akbar," we are told not to "jump to conclusions" about his motives.  But when a white policeman shoots an African American, it is assumed on the spot that the motive is racism.  This itchy eagerness to smear the cops was nowhere better illustrated  --  and its injustice nowhere more evident  -- than with Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO.  It is being repeated full bore with the shooting episodes in Baton Rouge and in Minneapolis, even though in each of those cities, as was the case early on in Ferguson, the full facts are not yet known.

The Washington Times reports that Hillary Clinton has nonetheless met with the family of the man shot in Minnesota, Philando Castile, as part of a campaign swing.

Question:  Has Ms. Clinton met with the families of any of the eight policemen assassinated in Baton Rouge and Dallas?

Answer:  Not that I've heard about.  I will stand to be corrected if I'm wrong.

Question:  Why not?

Answer:  Partly because, facts or no facts, she's goosing the BLM vote, but has (understandably) given up on the police vote.  Mostly  --  and let's just say  it out loud  -- because she could care less.
Well, this is different.

One of the big cases, and big disappointments, of the last Supreme Court term was United States v. Texas, 15-674.  Texas challenged the Obama Administration's deferred action program for illegal immigrants.  Texas won in the Fifth Circuit, and the Supreme Court, minus the late Justice Scalia, divided 4-4.  That means the Fifth Circuit decision stands, but no Supreme Court precedent is established.  It is as if the high court had never taken the case up at all.

Now the Acting Solicitor General has filed a petition for rehearing asking for "rehearing of this case before a full nine-Member Court."  But who knows when the Supreme Court will have nine Justices again?  Is this a "springing" rehearing petition, filed now but activated only when a ninth Justice is confirmed?  Sounds like some dimly remembered nightmare from property law class.

The Sentencing Reform Movement, Distilled

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Atlantic magazine features an article in which David Frum interviews Steve Teles, a liberal but thoughtful professor of political science at Johns Hopkins.  The article encapsulates Teles's new book (with co-author David Dagan) Prison Break, in which Prof. Teles describes "why conservatives have turned against mass incarceration."

It's not mass incarceration (zero point seven percent of the population is imprisoned), and conservatives haven't turned against it (although some prominent and/or libertarian-leaning and/or Beltway-centered conservatives do support sentencing "reform"). Still,the article is worth your time for its delicious insights about how the sentencing reform movement is organized and financed.  But the most revealing paragraph, I thought, is this one:

The openness of conservatives to rethinking criminal justice is, to a significant degree, a function of the declining salience of the issue. Voters since the late 1990s simply haven't cared about it as much, as the great crime decline started to register. Voters will still tell you in polls that they think that our criminal laws aren't severe enough, but they also don't care about it as much. And that lack of strong concern creates space for politicians to move without fear of reprisal, and to be more entrepreneurial in their framing of the issue.

That has a bit of academic lingo, so let me try to distill it:  "Now that policies of increased incarceration have helped us succeed in reducing crime, we can relax and go back to failure."

News Scan

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In One Day, Two Dead and 12 Injured in Chicago Shootings:  From afternoon until evening on Monday, two people were killed and 12 others wounded on Chicago's South and West sides.  The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the first shooting occurred at about 1 p.m. and the last at 11:48 p.m.  Among the victims were an injured 14-year-old boy, who was shot while standing on a sidewalk, and a 17-year-old boy, fatally shot in the street.  All of the other victims were young men in their 20s.

CO and Inmate Dead in PA Prison:  An altercation at a Pennsylvania prison Monday night left a correctional officer and an inmate dead.  The AP reports that the inmate has been identified as Tracy Gilliam, 27, who was serving time at Luzerne County Correctional Facility in Wilkes-Barre for failing to register as a sex offender.  The name of the officer has yet to be released, as requested by the family. The prison has been on lockdown since the incident occurred and both the district attorney's office and the police department are investigating the incident.

CA AG Offers two Definitions of Rape as Violent Crime: 
California Attorney General Kamala Harris' recently released annual crime report revealed that violent crime jumped 10% in 2015 from the previous year, with a 36.1% increase in rape; however, another Harris document regards rape as a nonviolent crime.  Dan Walters has this piece in the Sac Bee saying that the other Harris document -- her official summary of Gov. Jerry Brown's criminal sentencing measure on the November ballot -- "merely parroted Brown's wording" and shows that she "didn't do her homework on how it starkly conflicts with her own agency's definition of violent crime."  Brown's measure would offer an easier path to parole for anyone convicted of a crime that is not classified as a "violent felony," including some forms of rape.  The measure limits its definition of  a "violent felony" rape to "sexual intercourse" by force, violence, extortion or threat but excludes several other forms of rape that Harris' crime report considers violent crimes, such as rape with a foreign object.  Walters criticizes Harris for playing "political games with slippery definitions of violent crime."

Culture, Cops, and President Obama

Myron Magnet has this article at City Journal.  The title is "The Anti-Cop President," but I think the points he makes about culture are even more important than the points about the police.

Any hopes that the nation's first black president could uplift the nation's black underclass went up in smoke Sunday when Barack Obama doubled down on his blaming of America's police for the recent cop massacres that amount, as Heather Mac Donald rightly says, to a war on cops.
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The same spirit of elite racial contrition made generous welfare payments, with virtually no questions asked, seem like appropriate reparations for the long mistreatment of African Americans. In this way, government ended up enabling the spread of out-of-wedlock childbearing, which the culture had legitimated. But those fatherless welfare families proved far from ideal for raising successful, law-abiding children. What came to be called the cycle of poverty--single parenthood, school dropout, drug use, crime, non-work, welfare dependency--went into overdrive.
Legal academia is famous for its criticism of prosecutorial high-handedness. Employing the power of the state to serve the social or political goals of the prosecutor gets scorched as the fast road to, at best, arbitrary government  -- and, at worst, tyranny.

This view is 100% correct. I've said this before, albeit in a context not necessarily beloved by liberals.  Prosecutors are servants of the law, not vice versa.

What are we to make, then, of this remark from law professor and former public defender David Jaros of the University of Baltimore's School of Law (quoted in the Washington Post concerning Marilyn Mosby's conduct of the "no-convictions-anywhere" Freddie Gray prosecutions):

If [a prosecutor] believes a crime was committed and they believe they're sending a valuable message to the community about the value of a poor black man's life or what is appropriate responsibility for a police officer, there are benefits of this trial that can't be measured in convictions and acquittals. 

How's that?  Legal guilt is over there somewhere?  The important mission is for the prosecutor to decide what's "appropriate responsibility?"

Gads.  And here I spent 18 years as an Assistant US Attorney and never realized the extent of my Regal Portfolio.  

As Bill noted earlier today, the theme of the opening day of the Republican National Convention is Make America Safe Again.  Is America unsafe?  Is a change of direction needed?  Consider two graphs (click on them for larger views):


Biased fact-checkers have assailed Donald Trump's emphasis on law and order, quoting experts citing the data in the first graph, as noted in this post.  Yes, crime has fallen since 1993.  It is half what it was at the peak, although still far above the golden years of the Ozzie and Harriet era.  You don't see an uptick at the end of the graph, do you? 

But look at the scale.  The official numbers are notoriously slow in coming out.  The scale ends at 2014.  What about the last year and a half?

The graph on the right represents crime in the first quarters of 2015 and 2016.  It shows violent crime up in every category and a nearly seven percent jump in a single year.  These numbers are from the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a recent entrant in the crime statistics business.  Their only prior numbers are for 2014 v. 2015, which also showed an increase in all categories except robbery.  The major cities included cannot be assumed to be representative of the country, but they include the places where a large portion of our people live and work.

Seven percent in one year is a dramatic jump, and combined with a broad increase, although smaller, in 2015, it is likely not a fluke.  The major increase in California, noted here, a state that gone full bore in softening its approach to crime, further supports the idea that a general softening is a significant contributing cause.

While I might quibble with the wording of the theme, the renewed attention to law and order is appropriate and welcome.  We must not forget and repeat the errors of the past.

Amanda Lee Myers reports for AP:

Minutes after former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca acknowledged failing the public by lying to federal authorities investigating jail beatings, a judge overseeing his corruption case shocked a packed courtroom Monday by rejecting the ex-lawman's plea agreement as too lenient.

News Scan

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CA Gang Member on PRCS Arrested for Triple Homicide:  A documented gang member freed under California's AB 109 law was arrested last week for fatally shooting three people, including a nine-year-old, on July 8.  Doug Saunders of the San Bernardino County Sun reports that Trayvon Eshawn Brown, 26, was arrested last Thursday at the office of his probation officer for gunning down a nine-year-old boy, his father and another man outside a liquor store, allegedly motivated by an ongoing violent history between brown and one of the men.  Brown was on Post Release Community Supervision at the time of the shooting, stemming from a June 2013 conviction for an attempt to evade a peace officer with reckless driving.  Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said, "We're finding it's a reoccurring thing that we're making contact with these people who are freed on probation."  Brown was booked on suspicion of murder.

Judge Rails on Prop. 47 During Sentencing:  During a sentencing hearing for a man with a 20-year criminal history that escalated to a 2013 shooting that nearly killed a police officer, a San Diego judge voiced his strong opposition of Proposition 47, the California measure passed in 2014 reducing several felonies to misdemeanors.  Dana Littlefield of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Superior Court Judge Frederic Link said during Ignacio Canela's sentencing hearing that reduced penalties for drug crimes is "like taking the teeth out of the tiger."  Canela, 33, has a lengthy criminal history including convictions for auto theft, assault, burglary, drug possession for sale and, now, attempted murder.  However, because of Prop. 47, Canela was deemed to be entitled to some of the relief the measure provides and was allowed to have some of his lower felony convictions reclassified, resulting in a 54-year sentence instead of life in prison.  "This defendant is the perfect reason why Prop. 47 does apply and shouldn't be the law," said Link.

Hillary Fans the Number One BLM Hoax

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The Black Lives Matter movement took root principally in the shooting death of a an 18 year-old African American, Michael Brown, by white Ferguson, MO, Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson was tried in the press and convicted of racist murder:  The narrative was, "Hands Up, Don't Shoot": Wilson gunned him down in cold blood while Brown had his hands up in surrender.

It was a pack of lies.  Brown, who had just committed a small-time robbery of a convenience store and shoved the clerk (half his size) on the way out, did not have his hands up and was not trying to surrender. (The tape of the robbery is here; the shoving episode is at 0:27 to 0:33).  To the contrary, moments before the shooting, Brown had tried to wrestle Wilson's gun away, and was on his way back to the patrol car.  This is not the finding of Fox News; it's the finding of a grand jury convened by Barack Obama's Justice Department.

Brown was 6'4" and weighed 292 pounds.  That is bigger than the average NFL player.

Showing the extent of her embrace of the venomous BLM movement, Hillary has now invited Brown's mother to the Democratic National Convention.  The story is here

If there is a reason any police officer in the country would trust Hillary with the Presidency, I hope some reader will tell me what it is.

Summer of Blue Bloodshed

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We are at war, and Black Lives Matter is the enemy, says Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who brilliantly took down Don Lemon in this heated exchange last night on CNN following the deadly ambush of three Baton Rouge police officers.  In this piece on The Hill, which includes a longer version of the exchange, Clarke writes:

Americans watching the news of the murders of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are observing a civil war unfold within our borders. A war between rule of law and anarchy-seeking hate.

The murders in Baton Rouge, and before them Dallas, were not acts of domestic terrorism but guerrilla urban warfare against the police - who represent law and order - against the Constitution, and against the American way. The police, the men and women whom I as the Sheriff of Milwaukee County ask to put their lives on the line, are on the front lines of this war.

He continues:

The targeting of police for hate and for murder is by Black Lives Matter and their accomplices [and], in actuality, the targeting is our rule of law. Groups like Black Lives Matter, blessed by the progressive left and most recently our own President Obama, need to be exposed and condemned for their true aims: revolution.

Black Lives Matter organizers hold the same values of America's age-old enemies, who have always fought the ideals of our Constitution and our nation. That they have now taken on as their costume a false concern for Black America only adds to their depravity.

Make America Safe Again

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The title of this post is the theme of opening night of the Republican National Convention. Although I have not been shy about criticizing Donald Trump on any number of fronts, I have to give him credit for insight, if not clairvoyance, in choosing tonight's theme.

Yesterday, we saw, for the second time in recent days, the ambush murder of policemen by a killer fueled the the kerosene that Black Lives Matter has been pouring over the country for months.  President Obama seems alternately to show fascination and muted regret that he holds the match.

I have seen media criticism that tonight's Republican theme is incendiary and opportunistic, e.g., this NYT article. It's not impossible to imagine that a friendlier source would see the subject as "timely" and "contributing to a needed national conversation." Don't hold your breath on that one.

As ever, though, my main concern is not tone but substance.  The truth is that America is indeed in need of being made safe again.  As both Kent and I have noted, violent crime is surging in a way not seen in more than a generation. Murder in our most populous cities is up by the largest amount in decades.  Murder of police officers is up 44% just this year (not counting yesterday).  We are giving back years of hard-won gains.

Among the speakers tonight will be four of the best, Sheriff David Clarke, Tom Cotton, Rudy Giuliani, and Jeff Sessions.  I look forward to their remarks.

Dear Ms. Mosby: Give It Up and Go Home

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This morning, the highest ranking police officer of the six charged in the Freddie Gray case, Lt. Brian Rice, was acquitted on all charges.

That makes the record of the State's Attorney, Marilyn Mosby, perfect.  She has tried four officers on several counts each, ranging from homicide to dereliction of duty, and has failed to secure a single conviction.  In 18 years in a prosecutor's office, I do not recall even one time that we charged multiple defendants in one episode and could not convict any defendant on any count.

I was one of the few conservatives who was willing to give Ms. Mosby a chance, notwithstanding her inauspicious beginning, starting with a glitzy courthouse "news conference" that resembled a campaign rally more than anything else.  The circumstances of Gray's death were too suspicious and too fraught for me to conclude ab initio that no charges were warranted.

I now confess error.  I suppose it's still possible that there was criminal wrongdoing somewhere in the police handling of Freddie Gray, but Ms. Mosby is too ideological, too inbred in a culture of racial snarling, and, frankly, too much of an amateur to prove anything.
Many readers will already have heard about the episode today in which a "protester's" response to the police "murder" of Alton Sterling became, ummm, overly enthusiastic, resulting in an unfortunate situation that we could have avoided if the cops would finally own up to their years of racist oppression.

That, at least, is my first draft of the forthcoming Black Lives Matter press release.

What actually happened, obviously, is that several police were lured to an ambush murder.  Thus far the number dead is three.  Three others lay wounded.

I should perhaps be more circumspect so soon after this incident, but I've found that "circumspection" has become liberal code for "keep your mouth shut until we figure out the spin this time."  Today, I'm not biting.

BLM and its allies and enablers, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and a goodly chunk of (almost all Republican) libertarian politicians have spent years putting out sulfuric condemnation of the police.  Sometimes the hatred just underneath is decently well concealed; other times, not so much. Criticism, of course, is fine.  Skepticism is fine. But when it's hatred  --  and more and more, that's what we're seeing, no matter its skimpy disguise  --  there will be an outcropping. We saw the outcropping in Dallas. We see it today in Baton Rouge.  We'll see plenty more of it.

We have free speech in this country, for the moment.  Obama, Clinton, BLM and libertarian stump speakers can say whatever they want, as long as it's not direct solicitation. But it's time that they get called on the violence they encourage and abet. And that they take, rather than indignantly deny, their share of responsibility for it.
Pyramid schemes are illegal, but what exactly is a pyramid scheme?  Herbalife will not be called a pyramid scheme, according to its agreement with the FTC, but that will cost it 200 megabucks. That's a lot of protein shakes. 

David Benoit and Brent Kendall report for the WSJ.

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