Wednesday, 03 April 2013

PROSECUTING GUN CRIME

Ken Berwitz

Frank Miniter, of Human Events, has written a very interesting piece about a racially tinged op-ed commentary in the Washington Post and, more generally, about how gun murders are presented by media.  This blog concentrates on the latter point.

Here is what I think to be a particularly telling excerpt - especially the last sentence, which I have put in bold print:

Consider that in 2012 a total of 532 people were murdered in the city of Chicago, according to statistics compiled by the website Crime in Chicago (log on here for their names and stories: ).

One thing the Post should be addressing is that in 2012, while Chicago earned the gruesome distinction of being the murder capital of the U.S., the Windy City also rated dead last in federal prosecutions of gun crimes.

David Burnham, co-director of Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data-gathering and research organization run by Syracuse University, says they found that on a per-capita basis Chicago ranks dead last for prosecuting gun crimes. Burnham says that according to case-by-case U.S. Justice Department information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by TRAC, there were 52 prosecutions in Illinois North (Chicago) in 2012, or 5.52 per million in population. By this measure, compared with the 90 federal judicial districts in the U.S., the prosecution rate in Chicago was the lowest.

So the city with the highest murder rate also has the lowest federal prosecution rate for gun crimes yet the mainstream media thinks this isn't a story?  Could it be that they're afraid that such a discussion would inevitably show that the left's anti-gun-rights ideology doesn't work in practice?

That question is a very, very important one, because it bears directly on the fact that there are two separate (albeit related) issues here:  gun control laws (which, as regular readers know, I mostly have no problem with and would like to be stricter than they currently are), and gun violence.

How many of those 500 or so murders in Chicago do you figure were committed by people who legally carry guns?  Your answer, I would hope, is that all but a tiny fraction of them were committed by people who do not; i.e. people who ignore gun laws.  So how would additional gun laws prevent those murders from taking place?

There is a huge black market in illegal guns.  Obviously - inherently - laws do not prevent its existence.  Thus common sense tells us that adding new laws to the ones already being ignored won't prevent its existence either.

The politicians who tell you that such laws will prevent gun violence, therefore, are either gullible, and/or ignorant, and/or lying to their constituents.  And the constituents who believe them are being made fools of.

Here's a thought:  if you want to make a gun-related law that means something, how about a mandatory 5 - 10 year prison term for anyone committing a crime while in possession of a gun - regardless of whether the gun is used

Would that make it worth a criminal's while to not carry a gun at least some - maybe most or all - of the time?  I suspect it would.  In any event, I suspect it has one hell of a lot more likelihood of causing a criminal to think twice before doing so than banning the sale of a gun he/she either already has or can easily get on the black market.

What do you think?

free` Ken, I think most states already have an enhancement for committing a crime while in possession of a firearm. (04/03/13)

Zeke ..... ...... .... is this your thought: all but a tiny fraction of them are committed by . " ILlegal " . gun users . . . . . Rarely addressed in this debate: 1) how many gun deaths are gang bangers . . . ? 2) how many gun deaths from LEGAL guns? . . . 3) how many deaths from "assault" rifles ? [ rifles of all types are involved in 2% of gun deaths ] . . . 4) HOW MANY crimes are STOPPED by honest citizens with legal weapons ? .... (04/03/13)


THE OBAMACARE MIDDLE CLASS SURPRISE

Ken Berwitz

Do you like surprises?  If you're a taxpayer (as opposed to the rapidly growing percentage of tax takers who have proliferated during the Obama administration) I bet you won't like this one.

Excerpted from John Hayward's piece at redstate.com:

Let's see if I've got this straight: when you fill out the 15-page form to apply for the subsidy needed to buy Barack Obama's ridiculously expensive health insurance, you've got to estimate what you're going to make in the coming year, and hope to God you don't get a raise, or find a more lucrative job.  No, sorry, back up: you've got to estimate what you and your spouse will be making.  If you get it wrong, or leave the ObamaCare commissars to estimate your subsidy based on last year's tax returns, you may well end up with a "surprise tax bill" to recover the subsidies you didn't deserve for the health insurance you can't really afford.

And you'll be spending those tax subsidies in "state exchanges" that most likely won't be ready when you need them, because the data processing infrastructure isn't there, and the Department of Health and Human Services is still frantically scribbling new regulations.

The 15-page ObamaCare form drafted by the IRS does not warn of the tax credit trap, but fear not, the Administration and its allies will be launching "a multi-million dollar campaign using social media, paid advertising, and grass-roots organizing" to educate us.  Great!  More millions wasted on this pile of ObamaCare garbage.

How much money are we talking about?  Of course, none of the clowns running the ObamaCare circus can answer that question with authority, but the AP tells us Congress has already raised the repayment caps by a cool $40 billion over the next decade.

$4 billion a year, taken straight from the hides of what used to be known as the "middle class.".  Congratulations, America.  Bet you can't wait until the next "surprise" lunges from this fetid swamp of legislative failure and sinks its teeth into your throat.

As you can see, Mr. Hayward is very angry about this.  Should he be?  More to the point, should you be?

Let's consider the obvious fact that ObamaCare could have been structured to lock in the subsidy rate, based on previous-year income.  In other words, no surprises:  you get that amount even if you are "unfortunate" enough to earn more money.  But doing so would a) make sense and b) prevent the government from extracting more $$$ from you at tax time.  So, this being the Obama administration, forget about it.

And should you at all be surprised that ObamaCare, which has been a monstrosity from day one - so much so that a majority of people in virtually every poll say they either want it changed or repealed outright - is going to cost more than Obama & Co. said it would? 

If so, why?  What does this administration ever say that turns out to be accurate or honest? 

Remember - one person's higher taxes is another person's raise.  Every dollar taken from a producer, is a dollar more for a taker.    And who gets soaked?  The most productive of us, every time - very much including the middle class Obama & Co. keep telling us they are going to protect.

How can you believe a word anyone from this administration ever says?


THE OBAMACARE MIDDLE CLASS SURPRISE

Ken Berwitz

Do you like surprises?  If you're a taxpayer (as opposed to the rapidly growing percentage of tax takers who have proliferated during the Obama administration) I bet you won't like this one.

Excerpted from John Hayward's piece at redstate.com:

Let's see if I've got this straight: when you fill out the 15-page form to apply for the subsidy needed to buy Barack Obama's ridiculously expensive health insurance, you've got to estimate what you're going to make in the coming year, and hope to God you don't get a raise, or find a more lucrative job.  No, sorry, back up: you've got to estimate what you and your spouse will be making.  If you get it wrong, or leave the ObamaCare commissars to estimate your subsidy based on last year's tax returns, you may well end up with a "surprise tax bill" to recover the subsidies you didn't deserve for the health insurance you can't really afford.

And you'll be spending those tax subsidies in "state exchanges" that most likely won't be ready when you need them, because the data processing infrastructure isn't there, and the Department of Health and Human Services is still frantically scribbling new regulations.

The 15-page ObamaCare form drafted by the IRS does not warn of the tax credit trap, but fear not, the Administration and its allies will be launching "a multi-million dollar campaign using social media, paid advertising, and grass-roots organizing" to educate us.  Great!  More millions wasted on this pile of ObamaCare garbage.

How much money are we talking about?  Of course, none of the clowns running the ObamaCare circus can answer that question with authority, but the AP tells us Congress has already raised the repayment caps by a cool $40 billion over the next decade.

$4 billion a year, taken straight from the hides of what used to be known as the "middle class.".  Congratulations, America.  Bet you can't wait until the next "surprise" lunges from this fetid swamp of legislative failure and sinks its teeth into your throat.

As you can see, Mr. Hayward is very angry about this.  Should he be?  More to the point, should you be?

Let's consider the obvious fact that ObamaCare could have been structured to lock in the subsidy rate, based on previous-year income.  In other words, no surprises:  you get that amount even if you are "unfortunate" enough to earn more money.  But doing so would a) make sense and b) prevent the government from extracting more $$$ from you at tax time.  So, this being the Obama administration, forget about it.

And should you at all be surprised that ObamaCare, which has been a monstrosity from day one - so much so that a majority of people in virtually every poll say they either want it changed or repealed outright - is going to cost more than Obama & Co. said it would? 

If so, why?  What does this administration ever say that turns out to be accurate or honest? 

Remember - one person's higher taxes is another person's raise.  Every dollar taken from a producer, is a dollar more for a taker.    And who gets soaked?  The most productive of us, every time - very much including the middle class Obama & Co. keep telling us they are going to protect.

How can you believe a word anyone from this administration ever says?


THE ATLANTA EDUCATION SCANDAL

Ken Berwitz

Do you remember the Atlanta education scandal that surfaced last year -- the one about a high level administrator who oversaw the falsifying of children's test scores to make them, and the children, look significantly better educated than they actually were? 

Well, this ugly story is coming to a head now, as seen in the following excerpts from a report  on CBS This Morning (click on the link to see the video):

Thirty-five Atlanta educators are expected to surrender Tuesday after being indicted in the biggest alleged cheating scandal involving standardized testing in American history. The list of suspects includes everyone from the former superintendent to principals and teachers.

Nearly 200 educators admitted to taking part in the massive scandal: they tampered with students' standardized tests and corrected answers to inflate scores. Some teachers had pizza parties to erase wrong answers and circle in the right ones. One principal allegedly handled altered tests wearing gloves to avoid leaving her fingerprints.

At one middle school, 86 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, compared to 24 percent the year before. Prosecutors say that progress was a criminal mirage.

Beverly Hall is Atlanta's retired school superintendent. Her system's turnaround won her national fame, awards, and more than $500,000 in performance bonuses. But investigators say she pressured teachers and principals to cheat, and punished those who refused. Hall, among those indicted, has denied the charges. A grand jury recommended her bail be set at $7.5 million.

Justina Collins says her daughter Nybria, now 15, has always struggled with reading. The single mother knew something was wrong when Nybria aced her standardized test in reading.

"Could someone explain to me how she could have passed or exceed a test, but fail throughout the whole entire year? ... When you hear it coming from the very ones that you look up to, to help educate your children, it's just sad and hurtful to know that we search and hope for the best for our kids, and that's what their oath is to provide the best education for them," Collins said.

Nybria is now a ninth grader reading at a fifth-grade level.

All 35 educators face racketeering charges.  The maximum sentence could be 20 years in prison.

So who were the "winners" and the "losers" here?  The "winners" (or so they may have thought) were:

-The school administrators, especially bevery hall, who received all those accolades, not to mention $$$, for what a great job they did overseeing the education of Atlanta's children;

-The teachers who supposedly made it all happen in the classroom;

-The politicians, from Mayor on down, who apppointed hall and, I would assume, were happy to bask in the glow of all that accomplishment.

And who were the "losers"?  Answering that is about as easy as getting one of those good test scores that were being manufactured: the children.

The idea of education is to educate.  When the children are learning well, you just keep doing what you're doing.  When the children have weaknesses - especially in core areas such as reading and math - you address those weaknesses so they can improve.

But what happened in Atlanta is that years and years of children with weaknesses in those areas not only were passed along, but have report cards showing how successful their learning has been. 

These are the children whose "education" will get them into colleges, and/or jobs, they are not qualified for and cannot hope to perform satisfactorily in.  That is the legacy of the Atlanta Education Scandal.

My heart goes out to Justina Collins - and, I am sure, many other parents like her - who knew her daughter, Nybria, struggled with reading, but was told, via doctored test scores, that everything was just fine.  Now Nybria is in 9th grade - with 5th grade reading skills because, since the test scores were just fine, she was not helped. 

Should Ms. Collins be angry?  Are you kidding?  She should be beyond outraged.  Look at what they did to her child.

As for punishment?  Everyone involved in this deserves it.  But, in my opinion, some level of consideration should be given to the teachers involved - maybe even principals - if they truly were pressured to do what they did.  That doesn't make it right, but it makes it a bit more understandable. 

Regarding whomever did the pressuring?  No mercy at all.  Too many lives have been damaged for that. 

Let me end with a truly sobering thought:  if this happened in Atlanta, and it is as extensive as we know about - maybe even a lot more extensive based on information yet to come - how likely is it to be happening elsewhere?  How many children in other cities are being similarly abused? 

What a depressing thought.

Zeke ..... .... This is -- C O R R U P T I O N . -- . . . . It results in the populace losing faith in their government .... and the institutions that bind us together as a nation. - - - (04/03/13)


WHEN AN IDIOT IS IN CONTROL OF A MILITARY STATE

Ken Berwitz

What do you get when an idiot is in control of a military state? 

Here's your answer, excerpted from Jung Ha-Won's article for Agence France Presse:

North Korea dramatically escalated its warlike rhetoric on Thursday, warning that it had authorised plans for nuclear strikes on targets in the United States.

"The moment of explosion is approaching fast," the North Korean military said, warning that war could break out "today or tomorrow".

Pyongyang's latest pronouncement came as Washington scrambled to reinforce its Pacific missile defences, preparing to send ground-based interceptors to Guam and dispatching two Aegis class destroyers to the region.

Tension was also high on the North's heavily fortified border with South Korea, after Kim Jong-Un's isolated regime barred South Koreans from entering a Seoul-funded joint industrial park on its side of the frontier.

In a statement published by the state KCNA news agency, the Korean People's Army general staff warned Washington that US threats would be "smashed by... cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means".

Last month, North Korea threatened a "pre-emptive" nuclear strike against the United States, and last week its supreme army command ordered strategic rocket units to combat status.

This week, the North warned it would reopen its mothballed Yongbyon reactor -- its source of weapons-grade plutonium. It was closed in July 2007 under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament accord.

The US-Korea Institute at John Hopkins University said Wednesday that a satellite photograph seen on March 27 appeared to show construction work along a road and near the back of the reactor was already under way.

Experts said it would take at least six months to get the reactor back up and running, after which it will be able to produce one bomb's worth of weapons-grade plutonium per year.

kim jung-un is an idiot.  I do not say that sarcastically or exaggeratedly, I mean it literally.  He is a 28 year old nothing who - by accident of birth - is in complete command of a military state where, if given a choice of acquiring weapons or having people starve in the streets, people will starve every time.

Now, having made a series of increasingly belligerent statements, he has escalated to announcing he is not just ready to launch nuclear missiles at the USA, he is on the cusp of ordering the attack.

One commentator (I don't remember who - my apologies to him/her), worries that, even if this idiot did not actually intend to launch the missiles, he may have become "a captive of his own words" - i.e. he may feel compelled to fire missiles so he can save face with his people. 

If he does, even if the attempt is unsuccessful, we will be compelled to strike back.  No President can allow a military state to fire at its sovereign territory without a response.  Let's hope it doesn't come to this.

Oh, one other thing:  didn't I just describe exactly the situation Israel is faced with virtually every day?  Except the weapons and the people threatening to use them, are not thousands of miles away, but on Israel's border.  And they are being fired into Israel every day.   

Think about it.

free' Unfortunately for North Koreans all kim jung-un has to do is show a map of the USA with dots on it where NK bombed us. The people there will never know it is a lie. (04/03/13)


THE QUOTE OF THE DAY

Ken Berwitz

From Jay Leno's monologue on Tuesday's Tonight Show:

"And in a groundbreaking move, the Associated Press, the largest news gathering outlet in the world, will no longer use the term 'illegal immigrant.'  That is out.  No longer 'illegal immigrant.'  They will now use the phrase 'undocumented Democrat.'"

A combination of humor and truth like that deserves quote of the day status.  So I award the honor, such as it is, to Mr. Leno.

Besides, how many more Tonight Shows will there be for Leno to do a monologue and provide any quotes at all?  Not many, I suspect.....


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