Currently viewing the category: "Law and order"

Here’s the latest podcast with Sheldon Richman. In it we kind of expand on last fortnight’s chat about limited government, and delve this time into decentralization. We cover some of the uncomfortable clashes between practicality and morality there, and some weird libertarian clashes between federalism and what is wrong, period — using eminent domain and Kelo vs. New London as an interesting example — but as usual, just begin to touch the subject when the hour is mysteriously up. Check it out, and check out past chats on Liberty.me including my moderation of the left libertarianism debate between Richman and Walter Block.

Further reading material: the Roderick Long piece that Sheldon Richman used as a jumping off point for the talk.

  • Obama pardoned 46 drug offenders, and will continue to do the right thing — albeit excruciatingly slowly — on this American human rights disaster.
  • Conor Friedersdorf raises some fair concerns, but he had to be wrong about something. That something is legal polygamy. 
  • One time I tweet-asked Jon Ronson if I should stop trolling Bill Kristol and he responded “haha.” So I feel like I have his permission to keep being an asshole there. Generally speaking, Ronson continues to advocate for nuance and humanity in our dealings with other humans and is therefore awesome. And he had a really good conversation with Joe Rogan recently, in which they discuss THEM and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Watch it! It’s really long, though, and I am not done yet. In general, though, it’s really depressing that so many people responding to Ronson seem to be personally offended that he wants us to have empathy and information before we turn another person into the number one trending topic.
  • Tavi Gevinson definitely gets why old poetry is embarrassing. 
  • If you’re somehow not tired of Donald Trump yet, Matt Welch and Jesse Walker wrote some delightfully damning pieces about him and his Freedom Fest speech debacle. Welch in particularly pulls out some of that too-often-hidden disdain. 
  • S.E. Cupp is a dope while writing about criminal justice issues. Yes, a felon who had a gun is NOT inherently a violent criminal. Let Familie Against Mandatory Minimums help you with that.
  • Martha Gellhorn. Margaret Bourke-White. My old adviser who worked for CNN. None of these women are manly enough for this author to bemoan that their day has ended. (Oh, and journalism-wise: Gellhorn>Hemingway. Even if fiction-wise it is a different story.)
  • Rand Paul disappointingly opposed to the Iran weapons deal.

Today’s video: The summer, 2003 ABC Family show The Brendan Leonard Show gave us many great moments. This is just one of them:

I realize now that I tolerate slapstick when it comes from Buster Keaton, and when it happened on this show. Deadpan is a necessary part of slapstack, otherwise it just makes me cringe into a tiny ball of sadness. Anyway, this show actually airing on cable news was a beautiful moment in early aughts history.

waco_fireIn honor of this jam-packed day in American history — and in case you ever assume that yes, finally we all get it that Waco was horrific — please check out some of the depressing stuff I’ve written in the past few years about April 19.

More people, including liberals overly terrified of cults and militias, do kind of get it now. More than they did at the time, certainly. But a former fed who was there for the siege is still the official law enforcement go-to guy on MSNBC. And CNN appears to believe that the entire incident was sad because it made federal agents cry.

If I were feeling particularly daring, I might suggest that you read Timothy McVeigh’s “Essay on Hypocrisy.”

Terrorists are horrible, but they are often correct when they compare their actions to state actions. They see through some of the bullshit which excuses violence if it’s done by a state, or at least the proper type of seemingly well-intentioned state. Unfortunately, terrorists obviously manage to destroy their moral high ground by being violent assholes who kill innocent people en masse.  Still, reading the words of terrorists will help us understand them. No matter how much the Rudy Giulianis of the world try to pretend it, explaining violence is not the same thing as excusing it. So, McVeigh did a monstrous thing. If you know my work at all, you don’t need me to say that. That doesn’t mean he didn’t express one or two disturbingly pointed things worth paying attention to.

So read these, watch Waco: The Rules of Engagement, and realize that yes, there are paranoid, irrational people in the world who believe crazy things. And sometimes those crazy things at least seem to be confirmed by real world events. I blame the government for conspiracy theories as much as I blame people’s inability to grasp what is proven, and what is most likely.

(And hey, you know about Waco. Do you know about MOVE?)

(And government, I am researching this for a fictional purpose as well. I swear.)

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

We should take his guitar so we can be REALLY tough on crime!

Oh, hey, look at me over at The Daily Beast!

In which I try to talk to people who are overly focused on private prisons, but have the right idea of “something is wrong with the American prisons system.” There is a libertarian kicker at the end.

In the last few years, as a surprisingly bipartisan backlash against American over-criminalization has grown, many justice reformers have noticed, and rightfully critiqued, private prisons. The stalwart American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is uncomfortable  with the idea of profiteering from mass incarceration and notes that the industry’s bread and butter is putting and keeping people behind bars. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches, and some Catholic dioceses, are starting to come out in opposition to the multibillion-dollar private prison industry. Liberal outlets like Think Progress and Alternet publish fearful exposes about these powerful, amoral corporations.

And they have good points, these upset people. They note how private prisonsheld 128,195 people back in December 2010. That’s only about 5.5 percent of the total population behind bars (including county jails); but that number shot up 37 percent between 2002 and 2009. Critics point to Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison corporation, which employs eight lobbyists and have waged multimillion-dollar efforts to influence laws and politics.

The rest here

Three writers who have seen a bit of police excess in their lives and reporting adventures discuss Ferguson, media, and what it would take for the rest of the country to demand real reform of the po-pos.

Host: Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for VICE.com, Antiwar.com, Rare.us, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag

Guests: Michael Tracey, reporter for VICE, The American Conservative, The Nation, Salon; @mtracey

Justin Glawe, reporter for The Daily Beast, VICE; @justinglawe

Not Ed Krayewski, because his tech failed.

Pittsburgh, a city of about 305,000, is a safe and relatively crime-free city, right?

Ferguson, Missouri, is lawless and crime-ridden and needs an aggressive police force to keep its citizens in line, right?

But let’s look at some boring numbers.

The St. Louis County city’s population of 21,000 – roughly 65 percent black and 35 percent white — has 54 cops.

All but 3 are white, which has caused black leaders and the media to assume that the disproportionate number of black people stopped by police is a result of racism.images

Maybe.

It could be that Ferguson’s cops had so little real crime to worry about they, like many of their brethren in all-white and super-safe suburbs across the land, concentrated on petty traffic stops and harassing teenagers.

Without a real breakdown on actual “crimes” and such statistics as the ages of the races (old white folks are less likely to be stopped by police, while young black males on foot or in cars will be targeted, etc.) and the profiles of the convicted criminals, the numbers thrown around by the media and idiots like The Rev. Al Sharpton mean nothing.

Statistics can lie and confuse but they can also illuminate.

For example, Pittsburgh’s population is about 25 percent black. Its crime stats – particularly the 41 homicides in 2012 – were like most big cities heavily skewed by the black-male-on-black-male drug-gang wars on its streets. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is an incredible safe town, at least as far being a murder victim is concerned.

But as we watch Ferguson’s nightly riots and lootings (mostly performed by out-of-town trouble-makers), let’s not feel so smug, Pittsburghers.

Below, courtesy of city-data.com, are the crime stats for Ferguson and the city of Pittsburgh.

In 2012, the last year city-data.com offers, Pittsburgh’s murder rate per 100,000 people was higher than Ferguson’s. So was its rape rate and robbery rate. Pittsburgh’s assault rape was twice as high.

Ferguson’s bad guys did more burglaries, stole more cars and committed more thefts per 100,000 people, but Pittsburgh blew Ferguson away on arsons – 249 to 0, though the virtual absence of arsons  in Ferguson from 2000 to 2012 is highly suspicious.

Over all, according to city-data’s numbers anyway, Ferguson commits more crimes per capita than Pittsburgh.

The average crime rate for the United States is meaningless, since it includes virtually crimeless places like Vermont and there is no such place as Average Town, USA.

But in 2012 the U.S. average was 301.1, while Pittsburgh’s was 358.3 and Ferguson’s was 381.1. Chicago, where there were 500 murders in 2012 (most of them black males killed not by white cops but by other black males), the crime rate per 100,000 people was 562 in 2011 (the latest year city-data offered) when the national rate was 214.

So, to sum up the shocking news, Ferguson’s crime rate is only slightly higher than Pittsburgh’s but Chicago’s crime spree makes both cities look like daycare centers.

Here are the crime charts for 2011 and 2012.

Crime rates in Pittsburgh by Year
Type 2011 2012
Murders 44 41
per 100,000 14.3 13.1
Rapes 67 47
per 100,000 21.7 15.1
Robberies 1,126 1,134
per 100,000 364.9 363.3
Assaults 1,239 1,125
per 100,000 401.5 360.4
Burglaries 2,686 2,537
per 100,000 870.4 812.8
Thefts 6,897 7,610
per 100,000 2234.9 2438.2
Auto thefts 480 544
per 100,000 155.5 174.3
Arson 195 248
per 100,000 63.2 79.5
City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 301.1) 368.2 358.3

 

Crime rates in Ferguson by Year
Type 2011 2012
Murders 5 2
per 100,000 23.5 9.4
Rapes 6 3
per 100,000 28.2 14.1
Robberies 45 38
per 100,000 211.5 178.9
Assaults 47 37
per 100,000 220.9 174.2
Burglaries 263 247
per 100,000 1235.9 1163.0
Thefts 649 699
per 100,000 3049.8 3291.3
Auto thefts 85 95
per 100,000 399.4 447.3
Arson 0 0
per 100,000 0.0 0.0
City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 297.5) 433.0 381.1

 

Crime rates in Chicago by Year
Type 2010 2011 2012
Murders 432 431 500
per 100,000 15.2 15.9 18.5
Rapes 1,372 1,459 N/A
per 100,000 48.4 53.9 N/A
Robberies 13,757 12,408 13,476
per 100,000 485.5 458.8 497.6
Assaults 14,213 13,975 12,272
per 100,000 501.6 516.8 453.1
Burglaries 26,203 26,420 22,748
per 100,000 924.7 976.9 839.9
Thefts 74,764 72,373 72,717
per 100,000 2638.5 2676.1 2684.9
Auto thefts 19,446 19,078 17,001
per 100,000 686.3 705.4 627.7
Arson 519 503 N/A
per 100,000 18.3 18.6 N/A
City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 301.1) 554.3 562.0 N/A

Ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald is the author of Dogging Steinbeck, which exposes the truth about “Travels With Charley” and celebrates Flyover America and its people. Blogs, photos, a 1960 Steinbeck/”Charley” trip timeline and more are at TruthAboutCharley.com.