Life in Prison as Defined by Jerry Brown

From the Los Angeles Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to set himself apart from past governors when it comes to giving criminals a second chance, telling the Legislature on Friday that he rejected only a small portion of the hundreds of convicted killers cleared last year for release from prison.

The report follows Brown’s disclosure that he pardoned 128 people last year, mostly expunging the records of felons who had served their time.

The governor signed off on parole for 377 convicted killers who have been serving life sentences, according to numbers provided by his staff. That’s 81% of those the parole board endorsed for release.

Brown approved a similar portion of parole grants the year before, in contrast to earlier governors, who rejected almost all release recommendations for murderers.

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Long Live the End of the World

Tenured doomsayer Paul Ehrlich is at it again.

From Theodore Dalrymple:

Being in France again, I read Le Monde. On Saturday 9 February, my eye was caught by a little notice at the top of the front page of the Ideas & Culture section advertising an article on pages 4 and 5 in the same section. The notice read:

Paul Ehrlich preaches in the wilderness: the American biologist predicts the collapse of our civilisation. Studies that agree are multiplying. But no one does anything.

Could this be the same Paul Ehrlich who, in 1968, wrote ‘The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines, hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programme embarked on now’? Reader, it could be, and it is.

This set me thinking about the typology of pessimists. Naturally I prefer pessimism to optimism, largely because optimists have no sense of humour; and since I have a sense of humour, I must be a pessimist.

But of course it does not follow from the fact that people with a sense of humour are pessimists that pessimists have a sense of humour. This is because there are two main types of pessimist, the existential and the apocalyptic. The former is pessimistic because he knows that Man is an imperfect being, inclined to do wrong for its own sake, often blind where his own best interests are concerned, ridiculous, self-destructive and self-defeating, and endowed with contradictory and incompatible wishes and desires. He knows that life will never be right.

The apocalyptic pessimist is different. He is so earnest that he could almost be an optimist. He believes that the end of the world is nigh, and secretly is rather pleased about it. If he is of a scientific bent, he does the following: he takes an undesirable trend and projects it indefinitely into the future until whatever is the object of the trend destroys the world. For example, he might take the fact that Staphylococci reproduce exponentially on a Petri dish to mean that, within the week, the entire biosphere will consist of Staphylococci and nothing else. Man will be crushed under the weight of bacteria.

Paul Ehrlich is of that ilk. His belief in the end of the world precedes his belief in any particular cause of it. When the end fails to happen as previously announced, his faith is undented. The End of the World has not happened. Long live the End of the World!

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Ben Carson for President

From The Wall Street Journal:

Whether this weekend finds you blowing two feet of snow off the driveway or counting the hours until “Downton Abbey,” make time to watch the video of Dr. Ben Carson speaking to the White House prayer breakfast this week.

Seated in view to his right are Senator Jeff Sessions and President Obama. One doesn’t look happy. You know something’s coming when Dr. Carson says, “It’s not my intention to offend anyone. But it’s hard not to. The PC police are out in force everywhere.”

Dr. Carson tossed over the PC police years ago. Raised by a single mother in inner-city Detroit, he was as he tells it “a horrible student with a horrible temper.” Today he’s director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and probably the most renowned specialist in his field.

Late in his talk he dropped two very un-PC ideas. The first is an unusual case for a flat tax: “What we need to do is come up with something simple. And when I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe, God, and he’s given us a system. It’s called a tithe.

“We don’t necessarily have to do 10% but it’s the principle. He didn’t say if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithe or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you’ve got to get rid of the loopholes. Some people say, ‘Well that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10.’ Where does it say you’ve got to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him. It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here building our infrastructure and creating jobs.”

Not surprisingly, a practicing physician has un-PC thoughts on health care:

“Here’s my solution: When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed—pretax—from the time you’re born ’til the time you die. If you die, you can pass it on to your family members, and there’s nobody talking about death panels. We can make contributions for people who are indigent. Instead of sending all this money to some bureaucracy, let’s put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care. And very quickly they’re going to learn how to be responsible.”

The Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon may not be politically correct, but he’s closer to correct than we’ve heard in years.

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Clinging to Gun Laws and Leftism

From Charles C. W. Cooke:

It seems that the president has finally noticed that his hometown of Chicago is a hotbed of gun violence. Consequently, the Chicago Tribune records:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

It might strike some as peculiar that the president will be visiting a city with some of the strictest gun laws in the country in order to make the case for stricter gun laws. But not everybody. Chicago’s police superintendent appears not to have noticed the laws, nor their effect on his city’s remarkable crime rate. Per Mediaite:

“One of the things that I would like to again try to clear up, and I ask you to please stop adopting the rhetoric of the gun advocates,” McCarthy said. “Chicago does not have strict gun laws.”

“The state of Illinois does not have strict gun laws,” McCarthy continued. He said mandatory sentencing would reduce the use of firearms that come into the city from outside Chicago’s limits.

Illinois very much does have “strict gun laws.” They are so strict, in fact, that Illinois is the only state in the union with no provision for citizens to carry concealed weapons — an egregious omission that in December was deemed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to be in violation of the Second Amendment. Illinois was given 180 days to get its act together.

Chicago’s laws are even worse. According to the New York Times:

Not a single gun shop can be found in this city because they are outlawed. Handguns were banned in Chicago for decades, too, until 2010, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that was going too far, leading city leaders to settle for restrictions some describe as the closest they could get legally to a ban without a ban. Despite a continuing legal fight, Illinois remains the only state in the nation with no provision to let private citizens carry guns in public.

And yet Chicago, a city with no civilian gun ranges and bans on both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, finds itself laboring to stem a flood of gun violence that contributed to more than 500 homicides last year and at least 40 killings already in 2013, including a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday.

Gun controllers might consider the president’s visit a “victory for all of us,” but it’s difficult to see why. If a president were to find an appropriate city in which to announce his support for the liberalization of gun laws, Chicago would be his best choice. That he is doing precisely the opposite defies belief.

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