Russia & the Church

In a development noting Communist control of religion in Russia (which we covered in our 2013 book: Catholicism, Communism & Criminal Reformation, this article in First Things brings it up to date.

Each one of our books is a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available at Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=david+h+lukenbill

An excerpt from the First Things article.

In Orthodox Easter, just weeks before Russia’s 70th Victory Day celebration, Russian Patriarch Kirill addressed scores of the faithful, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He likened the resurrection of Christ—who, in Orthodox parlance, “trampled down death by death”—to the Russian, née Soviet, victory over the Nazis.

“When spiritual heroism becomes the substance not only of the individual but of an entire people . . . the nation acquires enormous spiritual strength, which no disasters or enemies are capable of overcoming,” he told those gathered in Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. “The truth of these words is evidently attested by the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, achieved by the self-sacrificing heroism of our people.”

Kirill’s religious praise of Soviet victory is nothing new. Under Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union tried tapping into the nation’s “enormous spiritual strength” by reviving the Orthodox Church in Russia, albeit in a limited capacity. Realizing the power the church had to unite Russia and its near abroad—and seeking to bring Nazi-controlled territory back under Soviet influence, Stalin reinstated an institution he had once tried to destroy.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Soviet policy had driven the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia to near extinction. The Church had faced systematic oppression since the rise of the Communist state in 1917. Anti-religious campaigns in the 1920s and 1930s eliminated tens of thousands of clergy and shuttered theological schools, monasteries and most churches. Aside from the state-sanctioned “living church”—founded as part of a rapprochement with the Soviet state in 1922—religious activity went underground.

Yet, the German advance into Russia saw a religious revival—not least among communities harboring anti-Soviet, pro-nationalist, or even pro-Nazi views.

The church’s transition from outcast to strategic tool began almost immediately after the Germans began moving east, when then-Acting Patriarch Sergey, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan of Moscow, proclaimed the church’s support for the Soviet war effort. Stalin, a former seminarian, was no fan of religion, but he sought to unify those who weren’t inspired to take up arms for the cause of Marxism-Leninism, and to eventually reorient these territories back toward Russia.

The church gathered hundreds of thousands of rubles to fund the war effort. State agencies oversaw and sanctioned the printing of religious materials that were to be distributed in occupied territory. There were even word-of-mouth stories that religiosity had increased among soldiers, as well as one story that claims the icon of Our Lady of Kazan was put on a plane and flown around Stalingrad to celebrate the Soviet victory there.

The goal of reviving the church was multifold. It showed the West that Russians were free to practice religion. It also provided an inclusive narrative. When church publications, such as The Truth About Religion in Russia, called for Russians to take up arms, they rarely spoke of defending the Soviet state or the Marxist-Leninist system. Rather, the war was a holy war for a fatherland that was not Soviet but Russian.

Not all were thrilled about returning to the sphere of Soviet, or even Russian, influence.

“This presented the Soviets with a problem as they recovered these territories because these churches were nationalist, non-Russian. Some of them, particularly in western Ukraine, [were] ardently Ukrainian nationalist and strongly opposed to the return of Soviet power,” Steven Merrit Miner, author of Stalin’s Holy War and a professor at Ohio University, told me. “You want to get those clergy out and replace them with people who would be more obedient. That’s what the Russian Orthodox Church did. It’s a function to some degree of re-occupation of this swath of the Soviet Union that has undergone German occupation.”

So, on September 4, 1943, Stalin summoned Orthodox authorities in the dead of night to re-institute the office of the Moscow Patriarchate, which had been vacant since Patriarch Tikhon’s death in 1925, and prior to that, since Peter the Great. Days later, thousands poured into a Moscow cathedral to see Metropolitan Sergey be named patriarch. The atheistic USSR now had a church that operated under the watchful eye of the state.

Retrieved May28, 2015 from http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/05/putins-taking-his-cues-on-religion-from-an-unlikely-source

 

Lock up Fewer People?

That is the strategy given in a recent article from the New York Times; http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/24/opinion/sunday/how-to-lock-up-fewer-people.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=1   but, as this story from the Crime & Consequences blog notes, that would not be a good idea as the strategies of broken windows policing and three strikes sentencing have caused an unprecedented crime decrease over the years of their implementation, with violent crime dropping from 47.7 per 1,000 population in 1973 to 15.0 per 1,000 population in 2009, as noted in the dramatic graph from the U.S. Department of Justice included in the Crime & Consequences story.

An excerpt.

We keep hearing from the sentencing “reform” movement that our criminal justice system is broken.  We heard it once more today in an op-ed in the NYT.

Is it true?  Is our criminal justice system broken?

I stumbled across the graph below doing some research.  Judge for yourself.

My own view is easy to state.  The claim that the criminal justice system is broken is not just misguided or poorly informed.   It’s a point-blank lie.  The number of victims of violent crime aged 12 and over, per 1000 population, has dropped by two-thirds in one generation.  That is a spectacular success by any conceivable measure.  Whatever we’re doing, we should do more of.

Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2015/05/the-broken-criminal-justice-sy.html

Capital Punishment as Catholic Teaching: “A Matter of Prudence”?

A recent article from Catholic News Agency about the sentence of death given the Boston Bomber again drags out the old chestnut of capital punishment being “a matter of prudence for Catholics.”

I disagree with the use of “prudence” as used in this sentence in the article attributed to Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., dean at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.: “So the death penalty, when, if, and how it is applied, is a matter of prudence for Catholics, which means that Catholics can in fact disagree with even papal teaching on this” Retrieved May 21, 2015 from http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/boston-bomber-gets-the-death-penalty-how-should-catholics-respond-91800/

My Oxford Dictionary defines prudent as “Characterized by or proceeding from care in following the most politic and profitable course; having or showing sound judgement in practical affairs; circumspect, sensible.”

The doctrine of capital punishment is part of the Covenant with Noah, holding for all time, it is not prudent “following the most politic and profitable course” as liberal Catholics (including recent popes) may wish it to be, it is an indisputable and irrevocable contract between God and humans, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

ARTICLE 5

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

You shall not kill.

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, “You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.

2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”

  1. RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE

The witness of sacred history

2259 In the account of Abel’s murder by his brother Cain, Scripture reveals the presence of anger and envy in man, consequences of original sin, from the beginning of human history. Man has become the enemy of his fellow man. God declares the wickedness of this fratricide: “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”

2260 The covenant between God and mankind is interwoven with reminders of God’s gift of human life and man’s murderous violence:

For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning. . . . Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.

The Old Testament always considered blood a sacred sign of life. This teaching remains necessary for all time.

Retrieved may 21, 2015 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm

 

California Violent Crime Rates Down?

Nope, though local press has been saying they are down in California due to Realignment, the real story is a bit different, as this Press Release from the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation notes:

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2015

Michael Rushford, President

(916) 446-0345

LEGAL GROUP CALLS REALIGNMENT REPORT MISLEADING

On Tuesday, May 19, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) released its report, Realignment, Incarceration and Crime Trends in California, which concluded that releasing thousands of prison inmates into communities has not increased the rate of violent crime.

The report focused on the April 2011 adoption of AB109, a 423-page bill called the Public Safety Realignment Act.  That bill allowed for the reduction of roughly 30,000 prison inmates over the next two years.  It also reduced supervision for most released inmates from state parole to county probation.  The measure further prohibited prison sentences for new convictions of most felonies, including assault, auto theft, commercial burglary and drug dealing, requiring instead that offenders serve time in county jails, home detention, or rehabilitation programs.

In a statement released today, the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation questioned the validity of PPIC’s conclusion.

The PPIC report acknowledged that violent crime in California increased in 2012, but noted that according to FBI statistics for 2013, violent crime did not increase that year.  The report also found that the state prison population leveled off in 2013.

The Foundation pointed to a Los Angeles Times investigation last August which discovered that the Los Angeles Police Department had under-reported a significant number of violent crimes in 2013, misclassifying nearly 1,200 beatings, stabbings, robberies, and aggravated assaults as “low-level felonies.”  When those crimes are counted, the violent crime rate in Los Angeles was 14% higher.

The Foundation also noted that a June 21, 2014 LA Times story found that the state’s prison population began increasing in 2013, as more criminals were convicted of serious or violent felonies which, even under Realignment, carry prison sentences.  The story also reported that state prison costs had increased by $2 billion since Realignment became law and were projected to increase by $3 billion this year.  Finally, the Foundation pointed to a March 24, 2015 statement by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reporting that violent crime was up in his city by 26% so far this year.

“One wonders how a group purportedly monitoring crime in California could have missed this information.  Taking it into account certainly contradicts the notion that Realignment is not impacting the safety of the law-abiding public,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.

CJLF President Michael Rushford is available for comment at (916) 446-0345.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

2131 L Street, Sacramento, CA  95816 * (916) 446-0345 * Fax (916) 446-1194

Web page: http://www.cjlf.org  * Blog: http://www.crimeandconsequences.com

George Will on Capital Punishment

Good one from Washington Post.

An excerpt.

Without a definitive judicial ruling or other galvanizing event, a perennial American argument is ending. Capital punishment is withering away.

It is difficult to imagine moral reasoning that would support the conclusion that an injustice will be done when, years hence, the death penalty finally is administered to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon terrorist who placed a bomb in a crowd and then strolled to safety. Sentencing to death those who commit heinous crimes satisfies a sense of moral proportionality. This is, however, purchased with disproportionate social costs, as Nebraska seems to be concluding.

Nebraska is not a nest of liberals. Yet on Wednesday its 49-member unicameral legislature passed a bill abolishing the death penalty 32 to 15. Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, vows to veto it.

This comes at a time when, nationwide, exonerations of condemned prisoners and botched executions are dismayingly frequent. Nebraska’s death penalty opponents, including a majority of Nebraskans, say it is expensive without demonstrably enhancing public safety or being a solace to families of murder victims. Some Nebraska families have testified that the extended legal processes surrounding the death penalty prolong their suffering. That sentiment is shared by Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son was killed by Tsarnaev.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether one component of a three-drug mixture used in lethal injection executions — and recently used in some grotesquely protracted ones — is unreliable in preventing suffering that violates the Eighth Amendment proscription of “cruel and unusual punishments.” States use the drug in question because more effective drugs are hard to acquire, partly because death penalty opponents are pressuring drug companies not to supply them.

For this, Justice Antonin Scalia blamed a death penalty “abolitionist movement.” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. asked, “Is it appropriate for the judiciary to countenance what amounts to a guerrilla war against the death penalty, which consists of efforts to make it impossible for the states to obtain drugs that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain?” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wondered, “What bearing, if any, should be put on the fact that there is a method, but that it’s not available because of opposition to the death penalty? What relevance does that have?”

Retrieved May 21, 2015 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/capital-punishments-slow-death/2015/05/20/f3c14d32-fe4f-11e4-8b6c-0dcce21e223d_story.html

 

Incarceration & Crime Reduction

Common sense and the opinions of most people actually working on the front lines of criminal justice reveal to us the simple fact that more criminals in prison equals less crime on the streets; but academics have been trying to find a way around this for years using the Marxist-themed term “mass incarceration” but their best results so far are inconclusive and not even very suggestive, as this article from the New York Review of Books indicates.

An excerpt.

More than 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated in US jails and prisons, a 500 percent increase over the past forty years. Although the United States accounts for about 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. The per capita incarceration rate in the US is about one and a half times that of second-place Rwanda and third-place Russia, and more than six times the rate of neighboring Canada. Another 4.75 million Americans are subject to the state supervision imposed by probation or parole.

Most of the increase in imprisonment has been for nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession. And even though crime rates in the United States have declined consistently for twenty-four years, the number of incarcerated persons has continued to rise over most of that period, both because more people are being sent to prison for offenses that once were punished with other measures and because the sentences are longer. For example, even though the number of violent crimes has steadily decreased over the past two decades, the number of prisoners serving life sentences has steadily increased, so that one in nine persons in prison is now serving a life sentence.

And whom are we locking up? Mostly young men of color. Over 840,000, or nearly 40 percent, of the 2.2 million US prisoners are African-American males. Put another way, about one in nine African-American males between the ages of twenty and thirty-four is now in prison, and if current rates hold, one third of all black men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes. Approximately 440,000, or 20 percent, of the 2.2 million US prisoners are Hispanic males.

This mass incarceration—which also includes about 800,000 white and Asian males, as well as over 100,000 women (most of whom committed nonviolent offenses)—is the product of statutes that were enacted, beginning in the 1970s, with the twin purposes of lowering crime rates in general and deterring the drug trade in particular. These laws imposed mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment on many first offenders. They propounded sentencing guidelines that initially mandated, and still recommend, substantial prison terms for many other offenders. And they required lifetime imprisonment for many recidivists. These laws also substantially deprived judges of sentencing discretion and effectively guaranteed imprisonment for many offenders who would have previously received probation or deferred prosecution, or who would have been sent to drug treatment or mental health programs rather than prison.

The unavoidable question is whether these laws have succeeded in reducing crime. Certainly crime rates have come down substantially from the very high levels of the 1970s and 1980s that gave rise to them. Overall, crime rates have been cut nearly in half since they reached their peak in 1991, and they are now at levels not seen in many decades. A simple but powerful argument can be made that, by locking up for extended periods the people who are most likely to commit crimes, we have both incapacitated those who would otherwise be recidivists and deterred still others from committing crimes in the first place.

But is this true? The honest answer is that we don’t know. And it is this uncertainty that makes changing the status quo so difficult: for, the argument goes, why tamper with what seems to be working unless we know that it isn’t working?

There are some who claim that they do know whether our increased rate of incarceration is the primary cause of the decline in crime. These are the sociologists, the economists, the statisticians, and others who assert that they have “scientifically” determined the answer. But their answers are all over the place. Thus, for example, a 2002 study by the sociologist Thomas Arvanites and the economist Robert DeFina claimed that, while increased incarceration accounted for 21 percent of the large decline in property crime during the 1990s, it had no effect on the similarly large decline in violent crime. But two years later, in 2004, the economist Steven Levitt—of Freakonomics fame—claimed that incarceration accounted for no less than 32 percent of the decline in crime during that period.1

Levitt’s conclusions, in turn, were questioned in 2006, when the sociologist Bruce Western reexamined the data and claimed that only about 10 percent of the crime drop in the 1990s could be attributed to increased incarceration. But two years after that, in 2008, the criminologist Eric Baumer took still another look at the same data and found that it could support claims that increased incarceration accounted for anywhere between 10 percent and 35 percent of the decrease in crime in the 1990s.

As these examples illustrate, there is nothing close to an academic consensus on the proportion of the decrease in crime attributable to increased incarceration. Last year, a distinguished committee of the National Research Council, after reviewing the studies I have mentioned as well as a great many more, was able to conclude only that while most of the studies “support the conclusion that the growth in incarceration rates reduced crime…the magnitude of the crime reduction remains highly uncertain.”2

Most recently, in February 2015, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School published a study entitled “What Caused the Crime Decline?” that purports to show that increased incarceration has been responsible for only a negligible decrease in crime. One cannot help but be impressed by the sheer scope of the study. The authors identify the fourteen most popular theories for the decline in crime in the last few decades and attempt to test each of them against the available data.

Five of the theories involve criminal justice policies: increased incarceration, increased police numbers, increased use of statistics in devising police strategies to combat crime, threat of the death penalty, and enactment of right-to-carry gun laws (which theoretically deter violent criminals from attacking victims who they now have to fear might be armed). Another four of the theories are economic in nature, involving changes in unemployment, income, inflation, and consumer confidence. The final five theories involve environmental and social factors: aging population, decreased alcohol consumption, decreased crack use, legalized abortion, and decreased lead in gasoline (which theoretically reduces the supposed tendency of lead fumes to cause overaggressive behavior).

The primary findings of the Brennan study are that “increased incarceration has had little effect on the drop in violent crime in the past 24 years” and has “accounted for less than 1 percent of the decline in property crime this century.” To reach these striking results, the authors rely (as did most of the earlier studies cited above) on the social scientist’s favorite method, a multivariable regression analysis that “controls for the effects of each variable on crime, and each variable on other variables.” But as anyone familiar with regression analysis knows, it rarely speaks to causality, as opposed to correlation; and even to show correlation, the analysis involves a lot of educated guesswork. The authors admit as much, but seek to downplay the level of uncertainty, stating: “There is always some uncertainty and statistical error involved in any empirical analysis.” But when you are dealing with matters as difficult to measure as how much of the decrease in crime can be attributed to everything from decreased alcohol consumption to increased consumer confidence, your so-called “estimates” may be little more than speculations.

In an attempt to adjust to this difficulty, the authors state the percentage of crime decrease attributable to each given factor as a range, e.g., increased police numbers accounted, according to the study, for between 0 percent and 5 percent of the decline in crime between 1990 and 2013. But if you take the low end of each of the ranges, the fourteen factors analyzed in the Brennan study collectively accounted for as little as 10 percent of the decline in crime over that period; and even if you take the high end of each of the ranges, the various factors still accounted for only 40 percent of the decline in crime. Under any analysis, therefore, either the decline in crime in the last twenty years or so was chiefly the product of forces that none of the leading theorists has identified, or (as seems more likely) the regression analysis used by the authors of the Brennan study is too imperfect a tool to be of much use in this kind of situation.

My point is not to criticize the Brennan study. It is in many respects the most ambitious and comprehensive study of its kind undertaken to date. But as the National Research Council report points out in discussing the many similar studies that, as noted, led to a wide range of results, there are simply too many variables, uncertainties, estimates, and challenges involved in the question to rely on a regression analysis that is little more than speculation dressed up as statistics. The result is that one cannot fairly claim to know with any degree of confidence or precision the relative role of increased incarceration in decreasing crime.

Retrieved May 14, 2015 from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/may/21/mass-incarceration-silence-judges/

Broken Windows Policing Reduces Prison Population

Though that is not what you will hear from those who would roll back broken windows policing; but one of  the originators of broken windows, George Kelling, writes describing how that happens in this article from the New York Post.

An excerpt.

From the beginning, Broken-Windows policing had its critics.

“Experts” — many of whom had never been in New York City when Broken Windows was being implemented, never walked a New York beat, never rode in a patrol car — pontificated: New York was “cooking the books”; Broken Windows was criminalizing the poor; broken windows had no impact on crime; New York City was not unique, since crime was declining in many cities that did not practice Broken Windows.

In spite of the fact that virtually all of these criticisms have been proved invalid, today’s activists repeat many of them.

There is no denying that the prevailing narrative of police misbehavior is powerful and contains elements of truth. Some police have been abusive to poor and minorities; racist practices do still exist in some police departments; some departments have dubbed high-arrest programs as “broken windows” policing; some citizens, especially African-Americans, have been pointlessly killed.

But indiscriminately attributing all of the ills displayed in recent events in cities to Broken Windows risks taking us back decades in our attempts to improve public safety and quality of life for all citizens.

In fact, the policing actions involved in recent incidents either ignore or misrepresent the Broken-Windows approach that we conceived either in theory or in policy and practice — or both.

There’s every reason to believe de-policing high-crime minority neighborhoods would be a disaster. We tried it in the past, and it’s taken decades for us to regain control of public spaces, and even now some neighborhoods remain under threat.

Similarly, we experimented with decriminalization in New York City from the 1960s through the 1980s, most memorably in the subway.

The transit police at the time, using their discretion, decriminalized farebeating by not enforcing the law. The result was a disaster — with 250,000 people a day not paying their fare and creating chaos in the subways.

The real issue is to do policing,, including Broken-Windows policing, right. Here’s how.

First, we should reaffirm and re-establish the understanding that Broken Windows is a tactic that must be implemented within the framework of community policing.

This requires that police seek the active and ongoing consent of and collaboration with local communities in the development of safe and secure neighborhoods.

It recognizes that police exercise substantial discretion in their work and in contacts with citizens. Such discretion requires appropriate training, guidance from leadership and experience in a community.

Second, police must focus on citizen priorities. Broken Windows as a policing tactic rests clearly upon the law, but policing activities should also be formulated in response to local citizen demands and priorities.

Citizens, especially African-Americans, want an end to police brutality, but they want quality policing and safe and secure neighborhoods at least as much.

Third, we must clear up confusion about certain police activities used today that do not represent Broken Windows, and instead detract from its value.

In particular, Broken Windows is a powerful tool but — contrary to public perception — it does not rest upon a policy of many arrests, which are a last resort.

Similarly, while some have argued that Broken-Windows policing results in higher incarceration rates, research indicates that police crime-prevention methods, including Broken Windows, have actually reduced mass incarceration.

Retrieved May 14, 2015 from http://nypost.com/2015/05/12/how-broken-windows-policing-empties-prisons-jails/

Coulter on Criminals & Politics

Abolishing prisons in one form or another is the latest political fad arising from the Marxist-themed “mass incarceration” meme, which sadly, even many conservatives are buying into.

However, thankfully, one of the most astute observers of the absurdity of most political thinking, Ann Coulter the incomparable, examines that in her new column.

An excerpt.

Bloomberg News ran a happy news story this week about the “surprising” development of Republicans joining Democrats in their effort to end our “incarceration generation” by the simple expedient of putting fewer criminals in prison. (Lots of good ideas involve ham-fisted, Johnnie Cochran-style rhymes.)

And Bloomberg wasn’t just talking about the media’s usual lickspittle, Sen. Rand Paul.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Texas governor Rick Perry have all called for “new” approaches to allegedly “non-violent” drug crimes — i.e., any approach other than prison.

Perry says: “You want to talk about real conservative governance? Shut prisons down. Save that money.”

Sen. Ted Cruz — along with lickspittle Paul — wants to end mandatory minimum sentencing. Yes, remember how much we trust judges to use their discretion wisely? The precise reason the public demanded mandatory minimums in the first place was because so many liberal judges had their own ideas about “alternatives to prison” — such as, again, not prison.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee suggests that, instead of prison, the government should “address character.”

Huckabee, for example, addressed the character of Maurice Clemmons — a career criminal who said he was deeply remorseful and was trying to be a good Christian — by granting him clemency. This allowed Maurice to rape a child and slaughter four police officers execution-style, in “the largest number of law enforcement officers killed by one man in a single incident in U.S. history,” at least according to Wikipedia.

(On the bright side, releasing Maurice saved Arkansas taxpayers all sorts of money — just as Perry predicted!)

Before sucking up to The New York Times, it would be really great if Republicans would read, so they’d know stuff.

Contrary to the assholery being pushed nonstop by the left, for example:

(1) No one is in prison just for possessing a joint; and

(2) So-called “non-violent” drug crimes that result in prison are generally committed by violent criminals.

Evidently, Americans need to patiently explain to elected Republicans — who are too busy hanging out with their Chamber of Commerce friends to have any idea how the world works — that no judge is going to waste prison space on a guy selling a joint.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 0.7 percent of all state inmates are behind bars for marijuana possession alone. Carnegie Mellon’s Jonathan Caulkins puts the figure at less than half a percent.

And these are the convictions of record.

Our pro-criminal media invariably cite the conviction of record, as if that’s the worst crime committed by the defendant. But, as the Times itself reports: “97 percent of federal cases and 94 percent of state cases end in plea bargains.”

Retrieved May 13, 2015 from http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2015-05-13.html

More on Fatima

This is a really good article from the National Catholic Register.

 An excerpt.

The apparition at Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917, is the only approved apparition in 2,000 years in which the entire Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph appeared at the same time. The three little shepherd children saw Our Lady with St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, both blessing the world, during the time tens of thousands of people were witnessing the sun miracle.

The Miracle of the Sun was one of the most spectacular miracles recorded in the history of the Church. It was heaven’s verification of the message that the Mother of God came to deliver to the world. A miracle had been foretold months in advance, as to its exact day and hour. While the nature of the miracle was not foretold, three things were foretold: “In October, I will tell you [1] who I am and [2] what I want, and [3] I will perform a miracle so that all may believe” (July 13, 1917).

It is not correct to say that Our Lady foretold the Miracle of the Sun. She simply foretold a miracle, without stating what kind. The miracles of Jesus in the New Testament were to bring people to faith with a response in love. Such, too, was the reason for the Holy Family miracle of Fatima.

Before the release of the third part of the Fatima secret in 2000, Pope St. John Paul II sent two Vatican representatives to Sister Lucia. She took that opportunity to tell them that she had written a book. She requested permission from Pope John Paul to have it published. That book is described as having a catechetical dimension — and in fact is a “catechism of Fatima,” in both senses of the word. In English, it is titled Calls From the Messages of Fatima. In the preface, we read: “The entire message of Fatima is a great call to holiness for the Church of our time.

“Lucia sees this call to holiness in some of the details of the apparition. The presence of St. Joseph in one of apparitions is a pressing invitation to the sanctification of the family, a key theme throughout Lucia’s book and also one of the essential currents and main preconditions of the magisterium of John Paul II.”

Sister Lucia entitled the 18th chapter of her book “The Call to the Sanctification of the Family.”

Most importantly, Fatima is for faith, hope and love — and Fatima’s message can help the family to live in holiness, professing the totality of true faith.

Retrieved may 13, 2015 from http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/fatima-is-for-the-holiness-of-families/

Our Lady of Fatima

Today is the feast day of the greatest apparition of the Holy Queen Mother, and a reminder to pray the rosary, as noted in this article from the National Catholic Register.

An excerpt.

Exactly 98 years ago, the simple solution to cure the world’s and our country’s freefall into turmoil was given to us. But how many have paid attention to the prescription or the instructions?

We have yet another chance to start this week. We have to pick up what St. Padre Pio called “the weapon.” Hint: It’s what Our Lady of Fatima, whose feast we celebrate on May 13, told us over and over to use for peace when she appeared in 1917.

This week, the Franciscan Daughters of Mary are leading the way, asking and hoping that scores of people will join them in a Rosary novena.

As our country and the world are in great need of peace, “the novena was inspired by Our Lady of Fatima, who told the shepherd children to pray the Rosary for peace and an end to war, said Mother Seraphina Marie from the sisters’ convent in Covington, Ky.

More on when the novena begins in a minute.

First, Mother Seraphina recalled that the guardian of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima recently reminded the faithful that, in 1917, Pope Benedict XV began a novena to the Queen of Peace for an end to World War I; and on the eighth day, in answer, she appeared for the first time in Fatima as Our Lady of the Rosary.

On that opening day, Benedict XV wrote that, since God’s graces “are dispensed through the hands of the Most Holy Virgin,” we turn our petitions “more than ever in this terrible hour” confidentially to the “Mother of God.”

Then Our Lady appeared at Fatima.

“Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war,” she instructed in that first apparition, on May 13, 1917.

In the third apparition on July 13, she again repeated the call for the daily Rosary, as she did in each of her appearances: “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain the peace of the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it.”

She called for sacrifices for sinners and said if her requests and directives were not heeded, a worse war would come. (We know it did.) She showed the children a vision of hell for our instruction. As one priest close to Fatima pointed out, “She came to tell us how to keep out of hell.”

In the sixth apparition, on Oct. 13, she again instructed them “to continue saying the Rosary every day” and said that people “must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord anymore, for he is already too much offended!”

Early on, Our Lady of Fatima gave a strong ray of hope, saying, “But in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

We as a world need to listen to her.

Retrieved May 13, 2015 from http://www.ncregister.com/blog/joseph-pronechen/ignore-this-one-solution-to-our-peril

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