Friday, July 10, 2020

Well, Duh!

a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds a press conference in Chicago, June 15, 2020.

The mayor of Chicago discovers that if you let criminals out of jail, crime increases.  Who woulda thunk it?

Over the last few years and accelerating in recent months, is the trend to go soft on crime.  Crime rates had been at historic lows, particularly after policies such as "broken window" policing, stop-and-frisk, mandatory minimums, and three-strikes-you're out were instituted. Were these policies abused?  You bet.  Did they also deter crime?  You bet, also.

A funny thing - when you lock up criminals, there is less crime.  The "three strikes" law was created to avoid the "revolving door" effect with some criminals.  Some criminals, believe it or not, like being criminals and don't see what they are doing as wrongSociopaths or Psychopaths, if you will, or just very lazy people, or people who just give up on life.   The rest of us got fed up with them, as they would commit one crime after another and eventually get caught, sent to jail, let out, and then commit another crime - until one day they are gunning down a liquor store clerk.

Mandatory minimums are scary - young men can be sent away for decades for dealing small amounts of drugs.   Don't deal drugs, is my advice.   The reason those laws came into effect was that some judges were letting some defendants go with light sentences, particularly if the defendant was young, rich, and white.   It was a perverse way of enforcing fairness in application of the law.

Broken window policing was based on the simple notion that when you have cops on the beat, people feel more secure and less inclined to commit crimes.  When a neighborhood is clean and graffiti-free, people feel that someone is watching and on-the-ball and are thus less likely to commit petty crimes - or even serious ones.   Fixing broken windows and cleaning up neighborhoods is a good thing, but some would argue otherwise - that the grittiness of a ghetto is some sort of cultural value to be treasured.  I don't buy that.  No one likes gritty.

Stop-and-frisk has a lot of Constitutional issues.  The idea was that in high crime areas, if you saw a bunch of shady characters loitering about as if they were dealing drugs or in a gang or something, you could frisk them for weapons and drugs.  Since these stop-and-frisk incidents take place in poor neighborhoods, guess what?  Minorities end up being frisked more than whites.  No one is stopping a frisking a lady on 5th avenue wearing a designer dress, if only because it doesn't appear that she is a member of a gang or selling drugs.  Nevertheless, there are issues with this - there is sketchy "probable cause" to stop and search someone based on perception.  All that being said, it did cut down on crime.

Of course, you could do a lot of things to cut down on crime that we choose not to do because we feel that "freedom" is more important than absolute fairness.   We hobble the police to a large extent, because we don't want them just searching our homes randomly or busting our doors down without a warrant (or even with a warrant).   We could live in a police state (and no, we don't live in one, by a long-shot.  Save your overheated rhetoric for the leftist page) but we choose not to.   If you don't believe this, go visit North Korea and assert your Miranda rights, sometime.

So the question is, how much policing do we want, and what are the limits of police powers?  As I noted before, police powers are awesome powers if you think about it.  We ask these civil servants to be our minders and our teachers - to tell us when we are doing wrong and "arrest" - literally restrain us - and haul us off to prison if we are bad.   And we do this, because we realize that we are bad on occasion and need to be restrained and even jailed for our actions.  We do this because we want a civilized society where our basest instincts are restrained, and those who cannot restrain themselves are forcibly restrained.

In recent years, there have been calls on both the left and right to rethink some of these measures.  Many on the left are criticizing "three strikes" as well as "stop-and-frisk" and "broken window" policing.   Many on the right are agreeing with the left that "mandatory minimums" are draconian and make no sense - particularly when your own children or children of your friends in the country club are being locked up.  Yea, that.  Don't think the Republicans are getting all weepy about some kid in the ghetto locked up for selling drugs.  They are alarmed that Biff was sent away for ten years for providing coke at the prep-school graduation party.  And I don't mean Coca-Cola, either.  They want mandatory minimums abolished so friendly judges can let the rich kids go.

But in addition to these movements, there have been others.  Abolishing bail, for example, or making it so people don't have to pay fines.    There are a plethora of Netflix series (little else there these days) which take an old court case and argue that someone was unjustly imprisoned, which is easy to do if you present half the data, make up other data, and then present it in a dramatic way with moody music.   You can convince people of anything that way - video is indeed evil.  How do you think conspiracy theories get started these days?  Compelling video isn't always true video.

Of course, you can do the same thing in a newspaper article, provided you accompany it with gloomy pictures.

Recent events have accelerated this trend.   People argue the whole criminal justice system is racist, because the results show that more black people are incarcerated per capita than whites. Again, confusing correlation with causation. More blacks are incarcerated because they commit more crimes, and that is because they are more likely to come from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods.   Some argue - with a straight face - that criminality is part of "black culture" and should be excused.   Those making that argument are often white and haven't had a gun shoved in their face or been chased by a gang of youth with lead pipes, hell-bent on beating their brains out.

Like I've said before, every "Antifa" or liberal college protester is one ten-speed-being-stolen from becoming a law-and-order Republican.  It happens.  You struggle to get ahead in life and then some asshole steals your stuff and the cops say, "eh, property crime, who cares?  Lock up your shit!"  Or your struggle to pay back your student loans and your neighbor somehow gets away without having to pay back his.  A lot of things that made sense on a college campus, readily collapse once you start living real life.

The Covid virus has accelerated this trend. People are being let out of jail so they won't catch the virus, even as the death rate of the virus hovers around 1-3%.    The media dutifully reports that death row inmates, many in their 70's, 80's, and even 90's are dying from this virus, as if it was an outrage that a man who murdered little girls should die from a virus at age 90 - because otherwise he would live forever (living forever is the underlying narrative of all the media - "but for" some intervening cause, we would all be Methuselahs).   But of course such sympathy extends only to criminals and not to their victims, who likely did something wrong and "had it coming" anyway.  Another media narrative, and a favorite of defense attorneys.

Violence in Chicago has exploded in recent weeks, which is a neat trick, as violence has been explosive in the windy city for years now.   How a great city has fallen!  The mayor of the city noted that the Covid virus is partly to blame as they are letting criminals out of jail, and hence there is more crime when there are more criminals on the street.  I think she let one slip there!  Sounds like something an evil Republican would say!  Criminals don't cause crime, society does!  Get with the program, Mayor!  (I am sure she has issued a retraction by now, as well as a contrition, and an offer to resign her post - that is the new norm for speaking out-of-turn).

But therein lies the problem.  The violence in Chicago doesn't affect those in Lake Forest or any of the tony suburbs surrounding the city.  It affects inner-city blacks the most.   A lot of this "defund the police" nonsense is coming from young white protesters trying to out-black each other.  Push-back against this blanket vilification of the police might not come from whites, but from blacks, who see the real effects of crime ravaging a community.   An illegal killing of a suspect by a Police Officer is indeed a serious crime.   Dozens of people gunned down by gang members in a single weekend is even moreso.

Another person of color being harassed by the Jacksonville PoliceKaren, real revolutionaries don't wear yoga pants to a riot.  Sheesh!

UPDATE:  Note how Karen demonstrates proper mask use!  Try putting it over your nose, too!

Right now, the hysteria on the left is such that it could be that Trump is re-elected.   When it comes down to it, most Americans (and remember, 72% are white and live in the suburbs or rural areas) will vote for law-and-order over rioting and lawlessness and endless pointless protests orchestrated by pampered white youth.

As this Atlantic article illustrates, it has gotten to the point where good decent people are being castigated, not for failing to support Black Lives Matter, but failing to support it enough.  When you resort to damning and shaming, it means you've run out of ideas.  And the people doing the damning and shaming are not blacks, but well-off liberal whites.  They see this as a time for an ideological purge - such as occurred in Stalin's Russia or Mao's China - where those who are not pure of thought are expelled from the party.  If the perception is that Biden is going along with this, he may likely lose in November.   America just isn't that radical - left or right.   It is 1968 all over again, and all Trump has to do is play the law-and-order card, with negative ads showing unwashed white protesters rioting, overlaid with ominous music, and text implying that Biden is somehow part of this.

Like I said before, protesting is fine and all, but there has to be an end-game.  What are the demands that are to be met?  Are you really protesting for change, or just because it is fun to protest - or to set fire to things?   White people from the suburbs really need to look inwardly and figure out what their real motivations are - do they really care about Black Lives Matter, or are they just letting loose after a month of lockdown?   Or is this just an opportunity to show your leftist credentials to your peers?

As I noted before, racism exists in part in everyone.  And one of the dirty little secrets of leftists, is that as soon as the blacks have left the room, they play the parlor game of making fun of made-up black-sounding names like Jonthany or LaZagna.   Freakonomics, the darling of NPR, did an entire chapter in their book about this, and so as not to appear too racist, threw in a few paragraphs about trailer trash names like Tiffany and Crystal.   Hey, making fun of the poor isn't racist, so long as you make fun of poor people of all colors.    Elitist?  Well, you betcha, which is why Trump is so popular with the rural set.  They don't listen to NPR.

There will be push-back and it will be hard, and it will come from places you don't expect.   People on the Right just don't give damn and are not intimidated by protesters or Facebook shamers.  What will really be the push-back though is from people on the left, who, as The Atlantic piece illustrates, are being shamed for not being left enough.  You can't force people to adopt your opinions and values.  Well, you can try, but it will boomerang on you in short order.  Maybe some small bookstore in Denver (bookstores still exist?  How quaint!) can be cowed into toeing your party line.  The rest of America - the part that thinks, will tell you to go fuck yourself and stuff your political correctness in your pants.

This fall, there is an election - an event far more powerful and meaningful than all the protests combined, and even more important - far more important - than this over-hyped virus.   There are two possible outcomes.  If protests and rioting continue, and "blue State" governance is shown to be weak and ineffective in controlling this violence (as well as continual occupation of entire city blocks), Trump may win.   Democrats may take the Senate, and there could be a stalemate for the next four years.  On the other hand, at the mid-terms, the GOP may make strides, if this pointless lawlessness continues, along with the shaming and damning.

The other outcome is that the middle class and middle-of-the-road voters will elect Biden (Karen Stretchpants probably never even registered to vote), and the Democrats may even take the House and Senate.   But as history shows, when one party controls both houses of Congress and the White House, often not much gets done, or what gets done is half-baked as much of Obamacare was. Senators and Representatives hold out for pork spending and pet projects, or in the case of AOC, stupid and unworkable policy positions.   In the mid-terms in 2022, the GOP will make gains (again, this is an historical pattern) and we have gridlock for the remainder of the Biden Presidency.

Both outcomes sound bad, but actually, gridlock works.  It prevents one side from enacting a radical agenda, and pushes politics toward the center - where the majority of Americans (who are not protesting or rioting) want it to be. The difference between the two outcomes may seem trivial at first, but what is really key isn't the dramatic changes which the left and right pine for, but the small, incremental changes in policies, which, when added up over time, amount to a large change - which Trump has managed to do in three short years.

Sadly, the all-or-nothing mentality of many on the left may mean we end up with nothing.  Because the vast majority of Americans aren't in favor of these rioters and leftists, and they certainly aren't going to go along with being told what to think.