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Good Times for Criminals, with America in Decline

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How does a civilization choose decline?

In many ways, one of which is by deciding to go easier on its criminals.  With serious consideration of slashing even minimum drug penalties, attacks on any imposition of capital punishment, clemency for heroin pushers, dumbed down sentencing across the board, psychobabble defenses, and the ubiquitous snarl of "racism!" to banish any thought of accountability  -- decline is what America, with its current enervated and morally blase' Administration, is choosing.

I am reminded of this by an op-ed in the New York Times, which notes both the fact of America's shriveling and our citizens' understanding of it.  I was aware of something like this last month, when I opened my talk to the Republican Senate Policy Committee by comparing our willingness to cashier a sentencing system we know works to our willingness to watch in lazy half-regret as the Russian military devours the Ukraine.

I was particularly struck by this line in the op-ed:

A thoughtful college junior I know told me that while he didn't envision a richer American economy in his future or a mightier American role in the world, he looked forward to a country with a warmer embrace of diversity, including gay marriage in every state.

My first thought was: What a complete fool.  I wonder how this "thoughtful" young man will react when the next bunch of Matthew Shepard killers gets off with the "warmer embrace" of a criminal justice system that has gone all fuzzy in order to disguise its loss of confidence and will. 

3 Comments

I think the analogy between drug sentencing policy (or criminal punishment policy in general) and the military response (or lack thereof) to the Ukraine crisis is a bit of a reach.

The Ukraine problem is not our problem nor can we do anything about it. It would be like Russia trying to stop US from annexing Baja California. Militarily impossible. And quite frankly our Nato allies need to pick up the slack.

Criminal sentencing policy is something we can control, and you lay out a strong case for the continuation of the reforms enacted since the 1980s.

I wasn't putting it out there so much as an analogy of action than one of atmosphere.

The feeling I get right now is that the country is no longer willing to shoulder the heavy burdens that safety at home and abroad requires. This is especially evident in the criminal law debates that go on in this and other blogs. We tell ourselves that prison is impossibly expensive, and doesn't do all that much to reduce crime anyway.

Both of these things are salves, and both are false. The amount of the federal budget going to crime is miniscule, certainly compared to the big returns we're getting. And the notion that taking criminals off the street has little or nothing to do with the amount of crime is facially preposterous. But we hear it all the time from those whose real agenda is to weaken the country -- a country they view as deserving to be weakened because of its long list of sins.

Quote: "A thoughtful college junior I know told me that while he didn't envision a richer American economy in his future or a mightier American role in the world, he looked forward to a country with a warmer embrace of diversity, including gay marriage in every state."

I am reminded of one of my favorite Reagan anecdotes. He left a campaign stop to a protest from a bunch of college kids. When in the limo, one pressed a sign to the window that stated, "We are the future!" Reagan calmly wrote on a piece of paper and held it up to the glass. It read, "I'm selling my bonds!"

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