Category Archives: Justice System

A Lesson from Ferguson: Our Criminal Justice is Broken

This is just astounding:

Ferguson is a city located in northern St. Louis County with 21,203 residents living in 8,192 households. The majority (67%) of residents are African-American…22% of residents live below the poverty level.

…Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of $2,635,400. In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court disposed of 24,532 warrants and 12,018 cases, or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.

Was Brown stopped just so the police could write a revenue-generating ticket?  That is something we need to determine as the investigation goes on – regardless of how the shooting is ruled or what happens to the police officer.

It has been growing on me for years now that we are massively over-law’d in the United States. There are too many laws, too many fines – and the police and prosecutors have too much discretion in deciding whom will enter the meat grinder of our criminal justice system.  Of course, as long as you have money, you’re going to be ok – OJ Simpson, after all, got away with double murder because he had the scratch to hire an all-star defense team. But for some poor body in the inner city who gets pulled over for a traffic violation or gets picked up for minor drug possession?  Forget it: he’s screwed…and once the criminal justice system gets hold of him, it won’t let him go.  Remember, if you don’t appear in court (and maybe you don’t because you have a job you can’t get out of – or have children you can’t find a sitter for and the judge won’t let you bring them into court), you get a warrant for your arrest…and if arrested, you’ll get more fines on top of the original fine.  And if you can’t pay, then you just get in more trouble.

Things like this really make me wonder – do murders go unsolved because there’s no revenue upside for the city?  Are high crime areas ill policed because the cops are out writing tickets? Last time I got a ticket (figured that STOP meant Short Tap On Pedal) the officer was about 20 minutes writing me up.  Twenty minutes he wasn’t out patrolling the streets. He writes 10 tickets per shift and how much time does that leave for the actual job of the police?  Additionally – when we hear someone has a criminal record, does that mean he’s a murderer, or just someone who got busted for pot?

We really need to rethink this – most importantly, the fact that the revenues from fines goes to the municipality which issued the ticket. There’s just too much incentive for cash-strapped cities and counties to see fines as a means to revenue rather than a tool for law enforcement. Maybe make fewer fines and more community service, instead?  I don’t know, but we need to think about this – and I think we might have a situation where the poor, especially the urban poor, are caught in a bind.

Progressives Were For Religious Freedom Before They Were Against It!

Of course, this comes as no surprise – the flip flopping of Progressive (pRegressive) politicians who will say anything for political expediency. pRegressive politicians and their Praetorian Guard in the mainstream media have their panties in a bunch over the correct Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision. Driven by either agenda or ignorance, they don’t even remember that at one time they were all champions of the same religious freedom they are now against.

The SCOTUS ruling is NOT about contraception. Instead, it affirms a law dating back to 1993 – The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This law, “to protect the free exercise of religion,” according to the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the purpose of the law is “to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is burdened by government.” That is the crux of the Hobby Lobby claim. Congress passed this law almost unanimously.

The RFRA was introduced following an unpopular SCOTUS decision curbing the religious freedom of Native Americans to use peyote. Congressman Charles Schumer introduced the bill in March 1993, a time when liberals were strongly in favor of religious freedom. The bill was cosponsored by many of the same pRegressives screeching the loudest about the SCOTUS decision, including Rosa DeLorio, Luis Gutierrez, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters. The Senate passed this bill by a vote of 97-3.

I am sure you will recognize some of the names:
Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. HATCH, Mr. BENNETT, Mr. BOND, Mr. BRADLEY, Mr. BUMPERS, Mr. CAMPBELL, Mr. DANFORTH, Mr. DASCHLE, Mr. EXON, Mr. FEINGOLD, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. HARKIN, Mr. HATFIELD, Mr. JEFFORDS, Mrs. KASSEBAUM, Mr. KERRY, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. METZEN- BAUM, Ms. MIKULSKI, Ms. MOSELEY-BRAUN, Mr. MOYNIHAN, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. PACKWOOD, Mr. PELL, Mr. REID, Mr. RIEGLE, Mr. SPECTER, Mr. WELLSTONE, Mr. WOFFORD, Mr. KOHL, Mr. SARBANES, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. DECONCINI, Mr. SASSER, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. BROWN, Mr. COHEN, Mr. KEMPTHORNE, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. KERREY, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. DODD, Mr. DURENBERGER, Mr. AKAKA, Mr. GLENN, Mr. GREGG, Mr. NICKLES, Mr. COATS, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. BREAUX, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, and Mr. MACK) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

What a difference a new pResident and a new agenda make (despite the fact that the Constitution has remained the same)! Senate Weasel Harry Reid was in favor of religious freedom before he was against it. Voting FOR the RFRA in 1993, he is now indignant that the SCOTUS upheld the same law he voted for. Ditto for Nancy Pelosi, who is fussing about “a gross violation of workers’ religious rights.” What religious rights are being violated (must be the fact that progressivism and intrusive government is a religion to these people)? Are the Hobby Lobby employees members of a religion with a commandment, “Thou shall be provided abortifacients paid for by someone else”? Or is it the employer whose religious rights are being violated – “Thou shalt not kill” – by making him or her purchase these drugs for the employees?

Hillary Clinton also found the Hobby Lobby decision “deeply disturbing.” How ironic that her co-president husband, in November 1993, signed the RFRA into law, and when upheld 20 years later, she finds it “disturbing”. At the signing, then-President Bill Clinton remarked, “We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom.” He also noted that “our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.” Commenting on the Founders, he observed that they “knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.”

Protecting “religious freedom” was politically expedient 20 years ago. But now the dumbed down talking point is the “war on women”. It serves its purposes for speeches and fund-raising, especially when you have a captive audience of mindless drones. The RFRA passed almost unanimously, while obamacare barely passed along party lines in the House and was rammed through the Senate using budget procedural methods rather than proper voting procedures.

Don’t expect the Praetorian Guard (media) to acknowledge the flip-flops by our pRegressive politicians – after all it is an election year. The must mindlessly continue the propaganda.

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.

 

 

 

Too Big to Punish

Ever heard of HSBC?  I’ll bet most haven’t, but it is one of the largest banks in the world.  Founded in the 1860’s in Hong Kong (“HSBC” stands for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) in part to finance the growing opium trade with China, the bank is currently headquartered in London (the bank fled Hong Kong when the Japanese arrived in 1941) and has offices and branches pretty much everywhere in the world.

It turns out that HSBC decided it could turn a tidy profit by money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist States/groups.  The actions taken by HSBC in these efforts were pretty brazen and eventually they came to the attention of the United States government and legal action was started.  And HSBC faced what amounted to a “death penalty”.  The criminal activity was so pervasive that the criminal penalties would have demanded an end to HSBC’s activities in the United States and probably a bunch of other nations where it is alleged the “rule of law”is prevalent.

But, in the end, all HSBC got hit with was a $1.9 billion fine.  Don’t get me wrong, that is a pretty hefty chunk of change, but with a market capitalization of nearly $196 billion, it is the merest chump change as  far as HSBC is concerned.  They’ll probably make it up by moving their money laundering operations to some backwater where US writ doesn’t run and just add a surcharge to the drug lord’s monthly fees.   No directors of the firm were arrested or charged, nothing else is going to happen.  A gigantic criminal enterprise which makes the mafia pale in comparison and all that happens is a fine.  The likely reason they got off with a wrist slap?  Taking down HSBC would have roiled the financial system with incalculable effects:  it might have been something like a Lehman Brothers.

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Supreme Court Oral Arguments on ObamaCare – Open Thread

The Supreme Court is halfway through its 3 days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, highlighted by this reaction from Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a possible swing vote for the court, was rigorously challenging Verrilli. Kennedy said he needed to answer a “very heavy burden of justification” to show how the Constitution authorizes Congress to require that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty.

At one point, Kennedy said the mandate changes the relationship between citizens and the government “in a fundamental way.”

Lots of news on this, and judicial bloggers are having a field day.  Good time for an open thread.

Obama’s Re-election Strategy

Is Obama trying to lose the election?  The current disconnect with reality and desire to pander to every far left cause has me wondering if Obama is trying to lose, is he just this clueless, or, as Rush noted recently, is he simply confident that he has bought enough votes to assure his re-election?

The keystone pipeline was a no brainer, and could have boosted consumer confidence to a new level resulting in higher approval numbers for Obama, not to mention bringing unemployment down, creating good paying jobs, and stimulating the local economy of many towns along the way, but Obama chooses to pander instead to environmental extremists.

The recent constitutional over reach with respect to religious liberties was another bone-headed move and not very well thought out, although it appears the move may be the first broadside in an effort to shift the political conversation away from abortion to “the GOP wants to ban contraception”.  I guess we’ll find out in a few months if that’s a viable strategy.

The fact that Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth with respect to the individual mandate in Obamacare, on one hand calling it a tax, and on the other calling it a fine, depending on the audience, was largely overlooked by the MSM. But then his budget director got caught on camera saying this.  So either the OMB Director committed perjury before Congress or the Solicitor General will be perjuring himself before the Supreme Court.  Either way, it should be interesting.

Obama’s allegiance to AG Holder and turning a blind eye to Fast and Furious, would be a huge controversy were it not for complicity of the MSM. To date, no one has been fired, much less prosecuted.

The recent call for significant nuclear disarmament at a time when the threat level is at a post-Cold War high, and the continued indifference to the action in Egypt, Syria, etc., may pander to the far Left, but the majority of Americans have to see these actions as detrimental to America’s future.

Obama proves once again that he is not a serious president by submitting a budget with a deficit that adds another 1.3 trillion of debt, when it was just 4 years ago while campaigning he called Bush unpatriotic for much smaller deficits. When the GOP finally lands on a nominee, the conversation will be about Obama, and not only can he not defend his record, his own words will be used against him to a point that everyone will finally realize that he is not a serious president.

America is slipping into a malaise of mediocrity under his guidance and if he is reelected, we may have federal school officials checking our kids’ lunch boxes for the proper nutrition ……… Oh wait.

This president has abdicated leadership and is the most partisan president this country has ever had. The only things Obama has improved in the last three years are his bank account and golf game.

Thanks to Cluster for most of the content for this post.//RS