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Race Huckstering at Its Finest

I won't even try to characterize the depth of contempt for America and the extent of the guilt-mongering going on in this article from the Economic Policy Institute.  The title is, "Where Do We Go from Here:  Mass Incarceration and the Struggle for Civil Rights." So far as I can make out, its thesis is that no one, and in particular no African American, is responsible for his criminal behavior, and that it's only Jim Crow Amerika, now and forever, that causes people to be imprisoned:  Prison, you see, is merely the midwife of racist oppression.

If readers think that's an exaggeration, I invite them to read the piece and describe how else it might fairly be characterized.

My reason for posting something like this is to alert those who have a better opinion of the country and of the criminal justice system about what, exactly, we are up against. 
A:  He didn't.  It wasn't an oversight.  His absence was a deliberated decision.  Byron York in the Washington Examiner explains why, and I'll get to that, but I want to say just a word first about how the White House has handled this.

Essentially, there has been no explanation.  The press secretary said it was a mistake, and has kind-of-sort-of suggested that arranging security quickly would have been a problem.  But to say it was a mistake is not to explain why it happened, and the notion that security could not have been arranged is preposterous (which the traveling press corps knows, accounting for the fact that it isn't really being pushed).

So why did Obama stay put while the heads of state and prime ministers from 40 other countries took part?  As York writes:

The administration no-shows were not a failure of optics, or a diplomatic misstep, but were instead the logical result of the president's years-long effort to downgrade the threat of terrorism and move on to other things.

"The analogy we use around [the White House] sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant," Obama told the New Yorker magazine in a January 2014 interview. The president was referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but was also suggesting in a broader sense that a number of post-9/11 offshoot terrorist organizations aren't worth the sort of war-footing mobilization that took place in the George W. Bush years.


Fast forward to January 2015. The attackers at Charlie Hebdo magazine and the Hyper Cacher kosher market in Paris would undoubtedly qualify as JV-level terrorists under Obama's new classification. But their work was enough to shock Europe and motivate more than a million people to gather behind dozens of heads of state at the unity rally Sunday. 

Looking Inside the Bubble from the Outside

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I've noted more than once (for example, here, here and here) that there exists in some precincts of the literati and academia such an unhinged anti-American attitude that it's hard for normal people to grasp.  Every now and again the public gets a glimpse (as when some Harvard, Columbia and Georgetown law students loudly announced they felt too infuriated by America's awfulness in the Ferguson and Staten Island cases to take their scheduled exams), but generally it remains out of public view.

One of the reasons I follow ideologically diverse legal blogs is that I like to see just how into the Twilight Zone this anti-American, anti-police attitude extends.  Doug Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy does us the favor of giving an illustration today by noting this new piece at The Nation by Willie Osterweil.  As Doug says, it "serves as a review of sorts of a book by historian Naomi Murakawa titled The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison in America."  Here is the first excerpt from the article, as quoted by Doug:

In her first book, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison in America, historian Naomi Murakawa demonstrates how the American prison state emerged not out of race-baiting states'-rights advocates nor tough-on-crime drug warriors but rather from federal legislation written by liberals working to guarantee racial equality under the law.  The prison industry, and its associated police forces, spy agencies and kangaroo courts, is perhaps the most horrific piece of a fundamentally racist and unequal American civil society.  More people are under correctional supervision in the United States than were in the Gulag archipelago at the height of the Great Terror; there are more black men in prison, jail or parole than were enslaved in 1850. How did this happen?

And that is where I get off the ship.  America, the "prison state" (when 0.7% of the population is incarcerated, virtually all because of their own greedy or violent choices; 99.3% of the population is not).  "Race-baiting" conservatives (when essentially all of the race-baiting and its allied race-based bullying is done by Mr. Osterweil's buddies).  "Spy agencies and kangaroo courts" (when spying has next to nothing to do with criminal convictions, and the courts provide process to the point that it's overtaken substance).  "The most horrific piece of a fundamentally racist...society" (It's not just that Amerika stinks, it's that it's horrific).

I don't know if liberals/libertarians take this stuff seriously, but I thank Doug for putting it up on his blog to remind us once more of just what a bunch of unhinged so-called thinkers we have to deal with.  That it even gets noticed by people at, say, the top of the Justice Department is astonishing.  And ominous.

Wars Have Casualties

On August 9 this last summer, police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, a 6'4" 292 pound unarmed 18 year-old who had just forcibly robbed a convenience store of some trivial items.

From that day to this, there has been a media and cultural war on the police. They are, we are variously told, racist, thuggish, unaccountable and over-militarized. You will have missed it only if you've been living in a cave.  C&C has covered it extensively.

Wars have casualties.  Today we heard about some in the Washington Examiner.  Its story is headlined, "Police deaths soar 24% in 2014 with ambush attacks leading cause."  It starts:

Law enforcement fatalities in the United States rose 24 percent in 2014 to 126 and ambush-style attacks were the No. 1 cause of felonious officer deaths for the fifth straight year, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The NLEOMF report said 126 federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty this year, compared to 102 in 2013. The number of officers killed by firearms in 2014 -- 50 -- is up 56 percent from the 32 killed last year.

Fifteen officers nationwide were killed in ambush assaults in 2014, and the recent shooting deaths of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have attracted national attention and contributed to tension between police and the city's elected leaders.

The total of 15 ambush assaults matched 2012 for the highest total since 1995.

The hate war against the police is not directly responsible for most, or perhaps any, of this.  At the same time, those insisting that hate has no consequences are lying to themselves and to us.

Rape Hoaxes Galore

The assassinations of two New York policemen have gained fully warranted attention in recent days, and have knocked out of the headlines the University of Virginia/Rolling Stone rape hoax.  

Today I want to re-visit that story, both for its own lessons, and because it's related to the hate campaign against the police  --  that is, against a group consisting largely of white males.  The rape hoaxes and the "Police Are Nazis" crusade have the same general goal, that being to whip up disabling guilt among Those Who Enjoy Privilege (whites, men, the One Percent, fraternity members, people in uniform, etc.  -- anyone who's not among the Politically Correct will do well enough).

The reasons for whipping up guilt among the non-politically correct are multifaceted, but there's one in particular that stands out for purposes of this blog:  To sap the moral confidence needed to enforce criminal law.  Once we become convinced that policemen (e.g., Darren Wilson) are hooligans, and white frat men (e.g., "Jackie's" alleged attackers) simply walk past the punishments that would apply to others, we come to doubt both the fairness of the system and, thus, our own moral standing to enforce its rules.  Their enforcement then becomes irresolute.

Q:  Who will most directly benefit when that happens?

A:  Criminals.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the point.  Don't be fooled.

The rape hoaxes (not including the infamous Duke case) are here

Edmund Burke, Barack Obama and Cop Killing

The title of this entry is taken from a thoughtful and disturbing essay by Paul Mirengoff.   It quotes Yuval Levin on the origin of the great divide in American politics, a divide on vivid and bitter display in the reaction to this weekend's police murders.  

It starts with Levin's description of the essence of how Burke viewed the fragility of civilization:

We cannot be simply argued out of our vices, but we can be deterred from indulging in them by the trust and love that develops among neighbors, by deeply established habits of order and peace, and by pride in our community or country. And part of the statesman's difficult charge is keeping this balance together, acting rationally on this understanding of the limits of reason. 

But pride in community and country is under attack. As Paul writes:

[President] Obama and [Attorney General] Holder look for occasions to pontificate in ways that undermine mutual trust and trust in institutions that maintain order. They seized, for example, on the unfortunate but justified killing of a thug who attacked a police officer in Missouri as the pretext for claims that law enforcement in this country is systematically unjust to African-Americans.

Shortly after this, they seized on what appears to have been an unjustified, but non-racially motivated, killing in Staten Island as the basis for pressing their divisive theme. And the mayor of New York chimed in by announcing that he warns his bi-racial son, in effect, that the police may be out to get him because of his color.

My experience as a prosecutor taught me that two things broadly separate criminal thinking from the thinking of law-abiding people:  Empathy and self-restraint.  These qualities are grounded in confidence in society's right and power to make rules and enforce them fairly.  It is Obama's and Holder's dishonest undermining of that confidence, more than anything else, that is the most corrosive component of our present "national conversation." 

What's Different About Today's Police Bashing?

Howard Safir, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department from 1996-2000, gives the answer in his short Time magazine essay:

When Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley brutally executed Officers Ramos and Liu he did so in an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement. The rhetoric this time is not from the usual suspects, but from the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and even the President. It emboldens criminals and sends a message that every encounter a black person has with a police officer is one to be feared. Nothing could be further from the truth. We will never know what was in the mind of Brinsley when he shot officers Ramos and Liu. However we do know that he has seen nothing but police bashing from some of the highest officials in the land.

I disagree with Mr. Safir in only one respect.  We do know what was in Brinsley's mind.  He told us shortly before the murders when he wrote on his Instagram page, "I'm putting wings on pigs today...They Take 1 Of Ours ... Let's Take 2 of Theirs."

Race Relations Tank

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An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll published four days ago showed that, as our "national conversation" about race gets pumped by Eric Holder, Al Sharpton and like-minded opinion leaders, Americans view race relations as having hit their lowest point since the last century.

The reason for this seems evident to me.  The "national conversation" is not designed to promote understanding, cooperation or "healing"  --  the usual goals we get lectured about.  It's designed to promote anger, resentment and grievance. The poll suggests it's succeeding.

It was taken, of course, before the yesterday's avowedly racist police assassinations. 

Immediate Reaction to the Police Assassination

A couple of things we are certain to hear a few thousand times in the next couple of days:

1.  "These killings were a senseless act."  What nonsense.  It made plenty of sense to Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the man who did it.  He had it in for the cops, in part, as his Instagram entry all but proclaims, because of the intentionally whipped-up hatred against them, and acted on his hatred.  Nothing senseless about it.

2.  "We should come together in the face of this tragedy."  This will be said over and over by the people who used the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths to inflame racial antagonism and grievance as much as they could.

It's only fair, however, to note one thing we will not hear:  We won't hear Ivy League law students complaining that their distress makes it impossible for them to take their exams.
This happens.

The Washington Post story contains these paragraphs:

Several hours before the shooting, a man believed to be the gunman wrote, "I'm putting wings on pigs today" on his Instagram page, the Post reported. The images showed a silver handgun with a wooden handle and a pair of camouflage pants and blue tennis shoes that appear to match those worn by the suspect as he was circulated by the media that show him being transported to the hospital. The photos use hashtags for Michael Brown and Eric Garner and appear to indicate that the shootings were an act of revenge.

"They Take 1 Of Ours ... Let's Take 2 of Theirs," the post said, before adding, "This May Be My Final Post."

The people who have been waging a non-stop hate campaign against the police will of course disclaim any responsibility.  And it appears to be true that the assassin was unbalanced.  But we all know there are unbalanced people out there, and that hate can set them off.

I see just now in his news conference that Mayor De Blasio is doing his best to fake mourning, but not quite making it.

In a free country, peaceful protesters get to say what they want, see Snyder v. Phelps.*  While I think people who wallow in belligerent grievance are all wrong, in both doctrine and temperament, they have the right to speak what is in their minds and hearts.  Indeed, sometimes, I'm grateful they do, so that the rest of us can hear it without a filter.

This is one of those times.  Listen for yourself.

*  N.B.  This does not apply on college campuses.

"Hands Up," for Real This Time

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Those eager to tar the police as racist thugs made full use of the "Hands Up" meme in the Ferguson episode, pushing the idea that Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown as Brown had his hands up in submission, trying to surrender.

Forensic and credible eyewitness accounts showed this story was fabricated. Brown, who moments earlier had undertaken the strong-arm robbery of a convenience store, did not have his hands up.  Instead, after having scuffled with the officer and attempting to wrest control of his revolver, Brown came at the officer again.  It was at that point that Wilson shot him.

The truth most fortunately persuaded the grand jury, but is simply irrelevant to the race hustlers and police haters who have never given up their fake slogan and, indeed, used it all over the country in demonstrations this weekend

Attacking America's Strength

Tell me how much of this you've heard in the last few weeks:

--  The police are "over-militarized' racist assassins who bully and murder citizens for no particular reason, except perhaps that they're black or act disrespectfully.

--  The armed forces (except for Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley Manning) are rapists and thugs.  They sexually harass, abuse and brutalize whomever they want  -- and that's just in this country.

--  Most recently, the personnel in the CIA are torturers who do it for fun, then lie about it to Congress.

If you've been living outside a cave, you've head all of it, over and over. And some, though hardly all, of the people you've heard it from are country's "leaders."

Q:  What do the targets of this acid have in common?

A:  The police, the military, and the intelligence services are the people who protect us when the Holier-Than-Thou crowd goes clueless.

Q:  What happens when you pour acid on the people who protect you?

A:  Ummm.......well...................

Lies Piled Upon Lies, a/k/a the Culture War

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Let's face it, white males are a bunch of pigs.

Or so the Culture Warriors would have it.

The problem is that, unable to make this narrative stick by telling the truth, the thing to do is, ummm.......make stuff up.

The Internet ink was not dry on my last post about the Ferguson "hands up" hoax aimed at white police officer Darren Wilson when I found in my inbox this article from today's Washington Post.  It would seem that the breathlessly reported and appalling story of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity was also a hoax. The Post story does not use that word, but it leaves next to no doubt that a hoax is what it was.

What's going on?

When Pigs Fly

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I have often written about how psychological mush threatens to wash away the standards without which we are unlikely to continue to have a functional culture, much less a functional law, and still less a functional criminal law.

Some of the erosion has taken the form of the newly-minted Freedom Not To Be Offended (this replaces the very-old-fashioned freedom of speech).  Some of it has taken the form of simply Making Stuff Up and then protesting (or rioting) when you can't sell the Stuff You Made Up (see, e.g.,  Kent's Ferguson-related post titled, Truth Matters).  

But some of the washing away of anything a normal person might regard as sanity can show up in unexpected places, such as Seat 19D, now occupied by the "emotional support animal."

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