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How Gun Ownership Saves Lives

In the United States, burglars generally try to break into homes that are unoccupied. We tend to take this fact for granted, but it isn’t true everywhere. There are advantages to breaking into residences when the owners are home: you can force them to tell you where valuables and drugs are kept, rather than having to search. And if a woman is present you may choose to assault her. This is why, in countries where gun ownership is rare, invasions of occupied homes are much more common.

Last week the Telegraph reported: “Half of burglaries on occupied homes as thieves grow bolder.”

Half of burglaries in Britain now take place while householders are inside their homes, as thieves become emboldened by police inaction.

Figures show 58 percent of burglaries happen at occupied properties, as campaigners said criminals no longer feared being caught in the act.
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Analysis of the most recent Office for National Statistics crime figures shows the proportion of burglaries targeting properties when someone is at home has soared in recent years. The Crime Survey for England and Wales found such incidents made up 44 percent of raids in 2004-2005, but have since shot up to 58 percent in 2016-2017.

How do the numbers compare in the United States? It is surprisingly hard to find up to date data; this 2010 report by the Department of Justice doesn’t seem to have been superseded. The DOJ report found that the household was occupied in 28 percent of residential burglaries. In 26 percent of burglaries where someone was present, one or more individuals were physically harmed by the burglar or burglars.

So burglars are around twice as likely to invade occupied residences in the U.K. than in the United States. Why is that? Certainly not because the American police are any more likely to interrupt a burglary in process. The obvious answer is that hardly any homeowners in the U.K. possess firearms, while gun ownership is common in the U.S. Bluntly put, a burglar who invades an occupied residence in the United States takes a not-immaterial risk that he may be shot by his intended victim. As, for example, here, here, here and here.

The conclusion: if gun-grabbers get their way and the Second Amendment is effectively nullified, many more Americans will be terrorized by home invasions; more will be injured or killed; and more women will be raped.

Back in the Saddle

We returned last night from 11 days of vacation in England, so normal posting will resume as soon as I have had a chance to catch up on the news. In particular, I need to figure out how the Democrats plan to impeach President Trump on the ground that he used his own money as consideration for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Danials (and, I take it, one other woman). That could take a while.

Meanwhile, just two observations about our time abroad. First, we were in England during a time of political crisis. Prime Minister May suffered a severe repudiation by the House of Commons as her government was held in contempt, and it appears likely that the Brexit plan she has negotiated with the EU will go down to defeat next week, with consequences that at this point are unknown. These are serious matters–infinitely more serious than Trump’s relationship with Stormy Daniels–and the newspapers were hysterical. And yet, in the conversations we had with Brits–or overheard, for that matter–politics was almost entirely absent. I suspect that a foreign visitor to the U.S. would likewise find that the American people are not convulsed by the doings of Bob Mueller and the Democrats.

Second, the English seem to celebrate Christmas, at least publicly, at least as enthusiastically as we Americans. London is decked out for the season, and the big hotels and many other businesses are beautifully decorated. This is a random street:

A more major shopping street:

The Ritz Hotel:

A giant snow globe at the Savoy:

I keep hearing that Christianity is dying in Europe. Maybe so, but Christmas is thriving, at least in the U.K.

Trouble in dystopia

Heading downtown Minneapolis several times a week, we watched a so-called homeless encampment grow on a small strip of land along Hiawatha Avenue just before it funnels traffic downtown onto Seventh Street. A tribute to the broken-windows theory of policing, the encampment grew up virtually overnight. Bordering a subsidized Native American housing complex, residents of the encampment reflect the Indian tilt of their neighbors. At one point we saw teepees join the tents.

As the encampment turned into a shithole, municipal authorities jumped to it. They moved four port-o-potties onto a fringe of the strip. That didn’t do anything to clean up the detritus of addiction that littered the grounds. It was something like an attractive nuisance.

The encampment is illegal. Nevertheless, as Chris Serres noted in the Star Tribune last week: “From the beginning, Minneapolis city and Indian leaders made a strategic decision to embrace the encampment as part of a wider effort to combat homelessness, and to avoid punitive measures that would only drive people further into the shadows.”

The encampment is not only illegal, it is an open-air drug den. Between September and November four residents of the encampment died of overdoses. The Star Tribune quoted the father of one of the deceased: “It’s a drug house without walls and everyone knows it.” Yet the encampment continued to grow, spilling over the small strip of land on which it originated.

The Star Tribune has provided sympathetic coverage supporting the encampment since it first started reporting on it. The paper portrayed the encampment as providing a collegial environment that residents were unable to find in homeless shelters. The residents looked out for each other. Despite appearances, it was a supposedly beautiful thing.

Late last week, however, the Star Tribune found trouble in dystopia. Serres reported “Aid workers, others at Minneapolis homeless camp say they are fearful.” They are fearful of Natives Against Heroin, a nonprofit organization that seems to be ruling the roost in a most uncollegial manner.

Trump’s tangled (campaign finance) web

Andrew McCarthy has a deep reading of the 40-page sentencing memo filed filed by New York prosecutors in the campaign finance case against Michael Cohen. Reading the memo with a trained eye, Andy explains “Why Trump is likely to be indicted by Manhattan US Attorney.” I posted the memo and summarized it in Cohen can and cant (1)” Andy goes much further than I was able to in making out the coming case against Trump that is to be inferred from the memo.

Reading the memo, I commented, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave…” That may be the only salient point in my summary. McCarthy draws out the picture that is in the process of assembly by the prosecutors.

Mueller’s theory: Trump defrauded voters

“Prosecutors’ Narrative Is Clear: Trump Defrauded Voters.” So declares the first part of the headline of a New York Times article by Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos. The rest of the headline asks “But What Does It Mean?”

Good question. It may mean that the prosecutors haven’t found a crime, but are still pissed off that Trump won the election.

I find odd the notion that Trump defrauded voters. No candidate in my lifetime ever painted a clearer, more vivid picture of himself for voters. For better or for worse, we knew what we were getting (and no, it wasn’t a Putin stooge).

Indeed, it’s difficult for me to treat Mueller’s theory seriously. I hope readers will forgive the (at times) flippant nature of what follows.

How does Mueller’s team say Trump defrauded voters? In two ways, apparently. First, he paid money to hide the fact that he had sex with a porn star. The Times explains:

The prosecutors made clear in their memo that they viewed efforts by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to squelch the stories as nothing less than a perversion of a democratic election — and by extension they effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.

When did it become the role of prosecutors to question the legitimacy of an electoral victory? This must be a recent development. The legitimacy of Barack Obama’s election went unchallenged by the law even though he wrote a fake autobiography and, before his second win, secretly (he thought) promised Russia to be more flexible once those reactionary American voters reelected him.

In 1992, Bill Clinton tasked a team of Arkansas operatives to cover-up his sexual indiscretions. John Kennedy conspired with the media to keep his quiet. Franklin Roosevelt covered up, as best he could, the fact that he couldn’t walk.

The second way Trump “defrauded” voters, according to the Times’ version of Mueller’s theory, was by “continuing to do business with Russia deep into his presidential campaign even as Russian agents made efforts to influence him.” The Times goes on to note that Trump’s operation was pursuing a proposed Trump Tower in Moscow until June 2016, whereas the campaign’s line was that the deal had collapsed in January.

Who were the “victims” of this “fraud”? Not the general electorate. There has been no indication that Trump was still trying to business with Russia when it voted in November 2016. And by then, surely it was a matter of indifference which month the attempts ended.

Republican primary voters? It’s heart-warming that Mueller’s team of lefty Democrats is so solicitous of our interests. Yet, I doubt many Republicans feel aggrieved. Few were worrying about whether Trump was trying to make a business deal with Russia.

I was one of the few, but Mueller need not go after Trump on my behalf. Assuming that Trump, as opposed to Cohen, said his business dealings in Russia ceased in January, this misrepresentation ranks far down in the annals of false campaign statements.

The Times acknowledges that its rendition of Mueller’s theory gives rise to a case for impeachment, not for indicting the president. But for House Democrats to assert such a theory — “we wuz robbed” — in an impeachment proceeding would only confirm that the whole business is simply an effort to relitigate an election the Democrats lost.

The Democrats might be better advised to reject the “we wuz robbed” refrain in favor of “wait til next year.”

Report: Mueller pressing hard on Trump Tower meeting

Rudy Giuliani says Team Mueller doesn’t believe President Trump’s claim that he was unaware in advance of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign officials and a Russian-connected lawyer. Giuliani concludes this from his understanding of the way Mueller’s team interrogated Paul Manafort.

I’m not sure I believe President Trump’s claim either. It’s not just that on the very day the meeting with the Russians was confirmed, Trump stated, “I am going to give a major speech. . .and we’re going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons” — a speech he did not give after the meeting with the Russians turned out to be a dud. It’s also that I have difficulty believing Trump wouldn’t have known about a meeting at which his team expected to obtain valuable dirt on Hillary.

It doesn’t matter, though, what I believe, or even what Mueller believes. It’s what he can prove that counts.

Trump’s statement that about the speech he would give, coupled with the absence of such a speech when the Ruskies turned out to be a dry hole, is suggestive — but that’s all. Does Mueller have anything more than this? I don’t know. It seems, however, that Manafort didn’t provide it.

Moreover, it’s not just a question of what Mueller can prove. It’s what he can prove that’s a crime.

Is it a crime to meet with Russians in the hope of obtaining information that will help one’s campaign? John Yoo and David Marston argue persuasively that it is not.

The problem is that, according to Giuliani, President Trump told Mueller’s team he did not know in advance about the meeting his son and other close advisers had with the Russians. If, in fact, Trump did know, then Trump has lied to the feds.

No wonder Mueller would want desperately to secure Paul Manafort’s testimony that Trump knew. No wonder he would make such testimony a condition for a sweet plea deal.

But if Trump did know, it’s more likely he found out from his son, Donald Jr., than from Manafort. Donald Jr. was the “mastermind” behind the meeting. Manafort may simply not know whether Trump knew.

The plot continues to thicken, but we have no way of knowing how thick it has become.