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More On Prisons


Derb – They’re actually a somewhat recent here too. In the West, there were very few prisons in the 19th century for understandable reasons. There were few buildings, few people, few resources etc. There were jails, of course. But that’s where you hold people before they’re sentenced, not after. I remember hearing somewhere that in the Old West there were over 200 crimes punishable by death including barn-burning, horse stealing etc. That illustrates nicely how absurd so much of the anti-death penalty blather is — at least as a matter of constitutional law.



“A total of 97 vials-including those with labels consistent with the al Hakam cover stories of single-cell protein and biopesticides, as well as strains that could be used to produce BW agents-were recovered from a scientist’s residence.”" Al Hakam was Saddam’s largest bioweapons facility.


Criminology 101


Jonah: Roger on your last. I had a colleague in England circa 1980 who had
been a prison probation officer in a previous life. I remember the
following from our conversations. (1) There are three kinds of people doing
time in prison: the sad, the bad, and the mad. (2) Prison serves four
social purposes: punishment (you did something bad to us, now we’ll do
something bad to you), incapacitation (locked up in here, you are no threat
to free citizens), deterrence (free citizens who may be thinking of a career
in crime see how it ends up) and rehabilitiation (we’ll have a shot at
making something decent out of you, if you seem willing). He also told me
that imprisonment was a recent invention, historically speaking. Most of
the great ancient civilizations–Rome, China, etc.–held very few prisoners.
The usual punishments for antisocial acts throughout most of human history
were exile, mutilation, or death. Imprisonment is a pretty new idea.

Web Briefing: October 14, 2014

Derb Did Dixie


OK, back in the saddle here. Sorry no post Tuesday–I was staying in a
motel in Clanton, Alabama which knoweth not the Internet. Wednesday I was
at a party in Virginia, yesterday came home to find 534 e-mails were waiting
on my main e-address, 261 on my hotmail. Around half are total junk.

Nothing but happy memories from a week in Alabama. I don’t think I heard an
unkind word nor saw a frown. That’s some state you guys have down there.
Special thanks to the NASCAR volunteers at Talladega, to the lady in
Birmingham who, when I asked the way to Dreamland, told me to just follow
her car (“It’s not out of my way at all,”–so why was she food shopping
three miles away?), to the farm lady in a pickup truck who got me back on
route 22 when I was lost, to the National Park Service officer at the
Horseshoe Bend military museum who stayed after hours so I could mooch
around the site, to various other curators in Montgomery, Georgiana, Selma
and Mobile, for their patient instruction, to the Federalist Society for
hosting me, to Atty. General Bill Pryor for his time and a great deal (I
feel pretty sure) of help behind the scenes, most of all to Mike Debow and
Jack Park for their unfailing generosity and hospitality.

If you had done a word-association test on me two weeks ago using “Alabama”
I would have come up with something like: George Wallace, Martin Luther
King, Bull Connor, Hank Williams, coon dogs, shotgun shacks, and bugs. Now,
as Johnnie Cash said in that song, “I come away with a different point of
view.” Travel really does broaden the mind. I’m sorry I missed seeing the
Coon Dog Cemetery at Tuscumbia, though.

Now back to the e-mail mountain.


Even More Kay


The team found lab equipment hidden in a mosque. You gotta wonder! There is more good stuff. People should read it, they really should. And I’ll be the full report is full of goodies.

Won, Lost. Twins, Yankees.


Um, sorry. Have a few too many windows open here. I know the Twins lost last night. In fact, I commuted home last night with many a happy drunk Yankee fan last night, having timed my trip at the same time as the game let out. Apologies–especially if you were living under a rock and just came out to falsely think the Yankees lost due to an erroneous headline.

More Kay


“Saddam, at least as judged by those scientists and other insiders who worked in his military-industrial programs, had not given up his aspirations and intentions to continue to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Even those senior officials we have interviewed who claim no direct knowledge of any on-going prohibited activities readily acknowledge that Saddam intended to resume these programs whenever the external restrictions were removed.” Remember that before September 2002, the proposal on the table was to remove sanctions after UN inspections. This was the French line right up to the war. Go back to status quo ante-1991, and allow Saddam to ramp up his capabilities.

Estrich Defends Arnold, Blasts La Times


Temps to The Rescue


A White House official I spoke to was particularly pleased by the increased hiring of temporary workers, which he sees as a good sign about robust economic growth to come.

Where’s The Headline?


From Kay: “Saddam Husayn remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons.” Sounds like a headline. Is it? You know in these days of web access there is no excuse for any American who is interested in this topic to not read the 11 page report itself instead of the news media’s reductions, or just listen to Democratic talking points. It’s all right here folks!



Rush also said when he tells the story he will tell more than you want to know. All boiled down: Hold on. Details to come. Please withhold judgment.

Good News Is Good News


At least sometimes. Markets had apparently expected the unemployment rate to get worse; instead it held steady at 6.1 percent. The payroll survey showed 57,000 jobs being created in September. (Oddly enough, the household-survey number, which some Republicans have been touting as more important because it had been telling a better story, went down.) Manufacturing is down another 29,000. Government employment–state, local, and federal–is also down, which appears to be driven by education. The markets are going up.

Worth Remembering


Today is the ten year anniversary of the “Black Hawk Down” raid in Somalia.

Rush On Rush


Rush is on right now and is not saying much of anything about the Enquirer allegations. Here’s some of what he said, some paraphrasing: I’m not sure what I’m dealing with here … but I don’t want to fill you in yet until I know more. … when I do know the details I will tell you everything .. I’m frustrated that I have not gotten to the bottom of what this is all about …. I am very desirous to talk to you about it … I dont want to deal with hypotheticals and what’s being talked about in the press … it makes no sense for me to go there now .. just trust me on this … when I find out all that’s behind this, then you are going to be among the first to know …

Alumni Interviews


This is the time of year that many alumni are asked to help interview prospective candidates for admission to their alma mater. And, college admission offices these days being what they are, no doubt alumni will get hints—if not instructions—to look with special favor on applicants with the right ethnic stuff. If any NRO readers are among these alumni, our first choice would be for them to resist such pressure. For those who cannot and who then wish to assuage their consciences, our second choice is that they make generous—and tax-deductible—contributions to organizations that are fighting this kind of discrimination. Organizations like, oh, say, the Center for Equal Opportunity [link:], where I work.

The Kay Report


Did anyone catch Nancy Peolosi’s statement on the Kay report? She looked startled, like maybe she heard something on the classified side of the brief (if there was one) that came as a big surprise. And did you notice how she kept stressing that there was no imminent threat posed by Iraqi WMDs? Not “no threat” but “no imminent threat?” Meaning, of course, there was a threat, but now the argument is over degree of threat. Also, did anyone notice this gem in Kay’s statement, that they discovered “A prison laboratory complex, possibly used in human testing of BW agents?” Kind of makes the gassing of Kurds at Halabja look improvised. This is Dachau-level stuff. Any banner headlines spotted?



I’m with Ramesh on this one. But I’ll let him fight his own fight. Still, a word or two on rehabilitation. I’m all in favor of it — when it is possible and possible at an affordable price. Surely, spending a billion dollars to turn around one criminal is too much, even if it would work. No one’s proposing spending a billion dollars per prisoner, but the point remains the same. Limited resources factor into the debate. Which is one reason I always take outrage that white collar criminals get softer treatment at so-called country clubs with a grain of salt. White collar criminals are not only less of a danger but they are more rehabilitatable than, say, hardened rapists.

More importantly and speaking of rapists, prison is the bad people place. Bad people go there because they are bad. This isn’t very complicated. The dichotomy of rehabilitation versus punishment leaves out one of the most important benefits of incarceration: the more bad people there are in prison, the fewer bad people there are on the streets. As my old boss, Ben Wattenberg used to say, a thug in prison can’t shoot your sister. Studies support this. We now know that most crime is committed by a small minority of bad people. Their ranks do not refill automatically once emptied, contrary to the logic of many liberals and New York Times reporters. Just as career accountants are people who spend their lives committing accountancy, career criminals are people who spend their lives committing crimes.

In a sense both punishment and rehabilitation are often — but not always — just short of luxuries designed to satisfy the moral expectations of one constituency or another. Some of us like the idea of punishment. Others like rehab. Most of us like a mix of the two — and both approaches have serious public policy benefits for deterring crime. But keeping the bad people away from the good people is often more important than either.

At least that’s my two cents.

Rush’s Accusers, Hoo Boy


See today’s Palm Beach Post for an idea of how much fun James Carville would have if the Clines were accusing a Clinton…criminal records, tax evasion, child support evasion… and the drug-ring prosecutors have never heard of them.

The “Imminent” Claim


About David Kay’s report on WMDs in Iraq, the New York Times’s David E. Sanger writes, “. . . nothing found so far backs up administration claims that [Saddam] Hussein posed an imminent threat to the world.”

Here’s what President Bush said, in his State of the Union address, January 28, 2003, shortly before he took us into Iraq: “Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations will come too late.”

If you’re interested in a handy way of knowing what the president himself has said, in the months and years since 9/11, try NR’s new compilation, “We Will Prevail”: President George W. Bush on War, Terrorism, and Freedom, available here.

How’s that for a little item that combines Times-bashing and salesmanship?

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