Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Unexpectedly! Bail 'Reform' Turns Into a Bonanza for Repeat Offenders

The gameshow in my mind goes like this today:

Contestant: "Alex, I'll take 'Least Unexpected Things to Happen in Democrat-Run Places' for $400, please."

Alex Trebek: "And the answer is: 'Catch and release and catch and release and catch and release.'"

Contestant: "What happens when you eliminate bail for most suspected criminals?"

Trebek: "Correct, and that's another $400 to your total."

The latest story of the Big Fail known as bail reform comes from New York. There, 21-year-old MS-13 gang member Eusebio Jax-Mejia was arrested on January 1, then released two days ago -- only to be arrested the very same day for the very same crime.

My friend Ashe Schow reports that Jax-Mejia was arrested the first time "after stealing a vehicle from Dutchess County and then giving Walton police a fake name." The charges were pretty serious according to WBNG, including "criminal possession of stolen property in the 3rd degree, a class D felony and false impersonation, a class B misdemeanor."

It sure seems like somebody knew how to ring in the new year in a big way, but Jax-Mejia wasn't quite done. Mere hours after his bail-free release, Jax-Mejia was in police custody once more for stealing yet another car, this time from right outside the Delaware County Public Safety building. The new charge, filed it seems while the old charges were still warm, was for class-D felony "grand larceny in the 3rd degree."

The Democrat-dominated New York State Assembly passed the reform last year as part of the state's annual budget, and it was signed into law by reform proponent Governor Andrew Cuomo. The new law eliminated "cash bail and pretrial detention for most low-level offenses." What that means is, many accused criminals are now free to hit the streets before their arraignment or trial based on nothing more substantial than their signature.

When a law-abiding citizen attaches their signature to something, be it a check to the utility company, a mortgage, or a business loan, it's supposed to mean something. But what does a signature mean to someone who steals cars (or worse) for a living?

Not much, which comes as zero surprise to anyone but progressive lawmakers.

On Saturday, the New York Post ran a crime story headlined: "Controversial bail reform springs serial robbery suspect — who then pulls off fifth heist." Gerod Woodberry was under arrest for his suspected involvement in no fewer than four bank robberies. Released under the new law, Woodberry -- you guessed it! -- (allegedly) robbed another bank the day after his release. He's still wanted by police, who will only have to release him again should they catch him again. According to a Fox News report by Talia Kaplan, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said that "one of the most concerning things" is that law enforcement wastes resources rearresting people on the catch-and-release system.

Or maybe police will just shrug their shoulders and ask "Why bother?" about catching known crooks who will be right back out on the street in a day or two?

Also in New York this week, Jonathan Flores-Maldonado was killed by a repeat drunk driver, Jordan Randolph (allegedly). Randolph had been released without bail following his arrest for tampering with a court-mandated ignition interlock device. The device was supposed to prevent him from driving drunk, for which he'd already been convicted three times. Keeping his ass in jail would have prevented him from driving at all.

Here's yet another report from WLNY:

Eugene Webb, a 26-year-old homeless man, wasn’t smiling when cops arrested him for two separate unprovoked attacks on women within hours of each other, including a 23-year-old too terrified to show her face. The attack was so violent it knocked out a tooth.
“I got pushed from the side and then attacked again and I was punched in the head,” she said.

Webb might have been smiling today because under the new criminal justice reform laws, he was released without bail despite the fact that there was a warrant for his arrest for not showing up in court to face charges from a similar attack in September.

The situation has gotten so bad, so quickly, that Governor Cuomo is already backing away from the law he once supported, but hasn't yet committed to anything in particular.

In Democrat-dominated California, they didn't just eliminate most bail, under last year's Prop 47 they reclassified stealing anything under $960 and other nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors rather than felonies.

Can you guess what happened next? Of course you can.

Luis Miguel reported for The New American:

Voters made Prop 47 a reality by a large margin. Its proponents told the public that it would free up resources so police officers and prosecutors could focus on violent offenders.
But in places such as San Francisco, the policy has resulted in the creation of well-organized crime rings that sell shoplifted goods on the black market.

In fact, among the nation’s 20 largest cities, San Francisco now has the highest rate of property crime, which encompasses theft, shoplifting, and vandalism.

And it isn't just smalltime thieves taking advantage of lax laws. Miguel also spoke with Del Seymor from the non-profit group Code Tenderloin, who told him that "many of the criminal fences are internationally based, with fencers coming in from Mexico or Guatemala and smuggling stolen goods across the border." And that "many of these retail heists take place in the light of day and in full view of City Hall."

I used to live in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood way back when, and sure the streets had more than their fair share of homeless and hookers and pushers. But the little locally-owned stores and restaurants weren't the constant victims of international shoplifting rings, either.

In San Diego, NBC-7's Jackie Crea reported on a similar crime wave last November. Crea quoted a local 7-11 franchise owner complaining that shoplifting has become "unbearable. It’s out of control. You will have the same guy coming in five times a day, picking things out." The owner, Jassi Dhillon, described it as "a lifestyle" because "we can’t do anything much except take the loss." El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells told NBC-7 that on the off chance that a police officer actually does ticket a shoplifter, the ticket "usually ends up in the trashcan" because criminals know that they can't be treated as criminals under Prop 47.

Rob, rinse, repeat.

Just another case of Blue State voters getting what they asked for, good and hard.


Nigel Farage: I'm not sure I can face another uphill battle against our corrupt Establishment

With just 20 days to go until the UK leaves the European Union, some might say Nigel Farage ought to be in high spirits. The bill allowing the UK to leave the EU passed its third reading in the House of Commons this week, with a 99 majority. Instead, for the Brexit Party MEP, it feels like an aptly bumpy end to a turbulent chapter. As a British MEP of more than 20 years’ standing, his Brussels contract will officially expire in February. And his mainstream political career will end as it began in the 1990s – with him as a defiant and undecorated outsider.

Guffawing in his Westminster office at the Government’s decision not to bestow him with a New Year Honour for his vital role in getting Brexit done, Farage insists that he couldn’t “give a damn about peerages”. He means it. There is Burlesque Nigel Farage the marionnette-smiled political performer. And there is Unvarnished Nigel Farage, who tells you how it is while looking at you jabbingly in the pupils. Today, I am definitely talking more to the latter. As he lists all of the rotten aspects of the peerage system and the many times ministers tried to buy him off with one, his voice is clipped with canny self-reflection rather than contrived defiance.

With the Brexit saga entering a new phase, Farage now seems to be in the business of writing his exit scene as one of modern history’s biggest rebels against Westminster – “unless the Government drop the ball again”. Farage has certainly had time to mull things over of late; in recent days, he has been in recovery from a fairly invasive operation. “It was nothing life-threatening,” he chirps, poking his stomach. “Just a bit of carving about. I got very badly hurt in a plane crash in 2010.

There are big things to do after a thing like that, and there are little things. The fact that I am now dealing with little things hopefully means I’ve reached a moment in my life that a line is being drawn.” Eleven days on from his operation, Farage has lost none of his fire. That his office reeks cheerfully of tobacco somehow doesn’t come as a surprise. “Fitness is back on the agenda,” he insists, however. “Drinking less and exercising more.” And smoking? “A bit less,” he mutters, ferreting in his satchel for a piece of paper beneath a cigarette packet.

One thing Farage certainly isn’t cutting down on is polemical attacks on his rivals. Today, he is particularly withering of the “late middle-aged stuck-up Tory toffs” of the European Research Group (ERG). He believes some of its members have been telling Tory MPs they should not attend the £100k “Brexit Celebration Party” that Farage is organising for January 31 – a ticketed knees-up in Parliament Square where revellers will be able to raise a glass as Big Ben strikes 11pm, signalling that we have officially left the European Union.

(Within hours of an official site going live this week, more than 10,000 people had registered.) “What sad little lives they must live,” he booms, adding that, ever since Maastrich, they have been consistently useless as Eurosceptics in defeating the government of the day: “Would I want to stand next to any of them in a muddy field in France under fire? Forget it!”

On Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission, who replaced Jean-Claude Juncker last month, he is no less forgiving: she is “living in an Alice-in-Wonderland PC world”. The EU is now “run by nobodies” and even more “disconnected from European voters” than it was when Farage was elected to it some 20 years ago. He insists he won’t miss Brussels “in the slightest”, and that Boris Johnson’s divorce deal is “dreadful”.

But, still, between the punchlines, I detect that Farage is not so much tired, as resigned. He knows that his days as the EU’s most thunderous opponent are numbered, and decisively predicts that “Brexit will go from front-page news to City page news by the summer”. It seems a shrewd assessment: the Brexit withdrawal bill passed in Parliament this week with little fanfare. “Do I personally want to take on the Establishment again, to which opposition to me is 90 per cent? Do I want to spend the next 15 years fighting an uphill battle? I don’t really know the answer to that,” he says, adding that he sees himself moving away from day-to-day politics to doing more commentary and writing books.

Top of his list is a controversial tome on political corruption, tackling allegations of voter fraud within ethnic communities in key constituencies, to the “rotten” peerage system. To this end, Farage intends to rebrand his Brexit Party as “the Reform Party” – to campaign for electoral reform, to expose postal-vote fraud and to take on the “retrograde” House of Lords.

Rather than tearing down the Establishment, he wants to chip away at its crooked foundations. “I’ve thrown up some ideas. I think that voting intimidation, and the whole system of patronage, particularly with respect to the House Lords, needs tackling.” Farage thinks some kind of radical, reforming movement on the Right will be needed to hold the “fuddy-duddy” Government’s feet to the fire.

He is sceptical about the authenticity of Dominic Cummings’ war on Whitehall: “Is this the same fight that says that the next ambassador to the USA must be a current civil servant?” he snickers. This week, Whitehall announced it was looking for a new man in Washington. Given his warm relationship with Donald Trump, Farage had long been been touted as an ideal person for the job, someone who could lead cordial post-Brexit trade deal negotiations with the United States.

From Farage, I detect a sliver of bitterness, adeptly slicked over with acid bewilderment. But, as usual, his criticism of the Government is pertinent: “The decision guarantees that nobody in the White House will even speak to whoever gets the job. How can you have Trump and his movers and shakers meeting a career diplomat? They won’t even speak the same language.” 

So does Farage think this is an early warning sign that Boris Johnson is not as quite as committed to forging a glorious new relationship with the United States as many Leavers hope? “Right now, Trump will be astonished that Boris has this week been on the phone to the Iranian president, backing the Iran nuclear deal,” he says, adding that he hopes the Prime Minister’s “timidity doesn’t get in the way”.

Even if Farage is ambivalent about Johnson’s authenticity, musing that, in Britain, “the Left has more moral courage than the Right”, he still thinks that populism has a powerful global future. He is adamant that Trump will win a second term, even though places such as Pennsylvania may not fall to the Republicans as easily as they did in 2016. Farage’s chemistry with the president is clearly a source of personal pride. A framed picture of that photograph with the pair in a glittering gold apartment lift sits on his windowsill.

But he is not planning on ditching Britain for the States any time soon, despite the constant swirl of rumours. Instead, he wants to spend time with his family, who have “been neglected massively over the years”. Fame has been “inhibiting” factor when it comes to family day trips, he admits, adding that: “It is difficult to do a lot of normal things.” Farage also has a heap of books on his shelves that he is determined to get through, starting with Sir David Starkey’s history of the Magna Carta, “one of the first flashes of British populism”, when the general public rose up against an unpopular king and revolting barons.

The crisp winter blue skies might even tempt him back onto the golf course, although pre-existing injuries have affected his swing. But perhaps the hardest thing that he has to do is face that his front-line political career is nearing its end. “Nobody in this country has come closer than me to smashing the system,” he says. “I succeeded in one way, and failed in another. It’s not everything I want – but victory never is.”


Religiously driven, anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers are replacing Planned Parenthood

The Obria clinic in Whittier, California:  For most of its existence, this clinic has been known as the Whittier Pregnancy Care Clinic, a religious ministry that offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds in the hopes of dissuading women facing an unplanned pregnancy from having an abortion. The clinic provides lots of things: free diapers and baby supplies, and post-abortion Bible-based counseling. What the clinic has never provided is birth control.

When the Whittier clinic was strictly saving babies for the Lord, its refusal to dispense even a single condom was a private religious matter in the eyes of its funders. But today, the clinic is part of Obria, a Southern California–based chain of Christian pregnancy centers that in March won a $5.1 million Title X grant to provide contraception and family planning services to low-income women over three years. Created in 1970, Title X is the only federal program solely devoted to providing family planning services across the country. Congress created the program to fulfill President Richard Nixon’s promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” It serves 4 million low-income people nationwide annually on a budget of about $286 million and is estimated to prevent more than 800,000 unintended pregnancies every year.

Historically, federal regulations required that any organization receiving Title X funding “provide a broad range of acceptable and effective medically approved family planning methods.” But as I discovered during my visit to Whittier and other Obria clinics last summer, the organization’s clinics refuse to provide contraception. Nor do they refer patients to other providers for birth control.

Obria’s founder is opposed to all fda-approved forms of birth control and has privately reassured anti-abortion donors that Obria will never dispense contraception, even as she has aggressively sought federal funding that requires exactly those services. “We’re an abstinence-only organization. It always works,” Kathleen Eaton Bravo told the Catholic World Report in 2011. “And for those single women who have had sex before marriage, we encourage them to embrace a second virginity.”

Mara Gandal-Powers, director of birth control access at the nonprofit National Women’s Law Center, does not think Bravo’s stance “is in line with the intent of the Title X family planning program, but obviously they see it differently.”

Should the Trump administration survive another four years, Obria may represent the future of the Title X program. In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services instituted a gag rule that banned clinics getting Title X money from providing patients with referrals for abortions. (Federal law prohibits the program from funding abortions.) Seven state governments and Planned Parenthood, which served 40 percent of Title X patients, decided to drop out of the program rather than comply.

But even before Planned Parenthood was squeezed out, the White House had been pushing to redirect Title X and other federal funds to anti-abortion organizations like the Whittier clinic, which juggles its mandates of health care and family planning with pushing abstinence-only sex education, dissuading women from having abortions, and intro­ducing them “to the love of Christ,” as its website says. In July, hhs awarded Obria nearly $500,000 from its teen pregnancy prevention program to provide “sexual risk avoidance” classes.

While Americans’ opinions on abortion are mixed, only 4 percent think contraception is immoral, and 99 percent of women who have had sex have used it. Which raises a big question: Now that Obria has won millions in taxpayer dollars to provide anti-abortion family planning services, will anyone use what they are offering?

OBRIA IS THE brainchild of Kathleen Eaton Bravo, a devout Catholic who set out to build a pro-life alternative to Planned Parenthood. “I wanted to create a comprehensive medical clinic model that could compete nose-to-nose with the large abortion providers,” she wrote on the Obria Group website. Bravo may seek to emulate Planned Parenthood’s organizational model, but she holds a dim view of it otherwise. In a 2015 interview with Catholic World Report, she claimed Planned Parenthood promoted a “‘hook-up,’ contraceptive mentality among our young people. They teach children as young as 12 that they can have sex without consequences.” She went on: “Today, Planned Parenthood promotes oral sex, anal sex, and S&M sex.”

Bravo did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But she has said elsewhere that her involvement with the anti-­abortion movement began after having an abortion in California in 1980 amid the collapse of a first marriage. Afterward, she remarried, moved to Oklahoma, rediscovered her Catholic faith, and started volunteering at a pregnancy center that tried to convince women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term. Bravo has described driving to Kansas to pray in front of the clinic of Dr. George Tiller, who would be murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion extremist.

In Bravo’s public statements, there are echoes of the “great replacement” theory of abortion. Abortion, she told Catholic World Report, “threatens our culture’s survival. Take the example of Europe. When its nations accepted contraception and abortion, they stopped replacing their population. Christianity began to die out. And, with Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing. The US faces a similar future.”

In 2015, the company hired a Massachusetts-based ad firm to set up virtual “fences” around family planning clinics to target “abortion-minded women,” according to the Massachusetts attorney general. When women entered the clinics, their smartphones would trip the fence, triggering a barrage of online Realoptions ads that said things like “Pregnant? It’s your choice. You have time...Be informed.” The ads, which steered women to the pregnancy center’s site, would continue to appear on their devices for a month after their clinic visit. The Massachusetts attorney general secured a settlement with the ad firm to end the practice in 2017 after alleging that it violated consumer protection laws.

Bravo’s vision for an anti-abortion rival to Planned Parenthood is deeply rooted in the crisis pregnancy center world. Bravo has said she wants to transform cpcs from “Pampers and a prayer” ministries into a network of “life-affirming” clinics that provide many of the services Planned Parenthood does— sti testing, ultrasounds, and cervical cancer screenings, but without the birth control, abortion, or abortion referrals. “I would close my doors before I do that,” she told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal in 2015.

By the middle of 2006, Bravo had expanded Birth Choice to include four cpcs. She got the centers licensed and accredited as community clinics and installed ultrasound machines to increase their “conversion rate” by convincing abortion-minded women to stay pregnant. Grants from the evangelical Christian advocacy group Focus on the Family and the Catholic Knights of Columbus paid for the machines. In 2014, she rebranded the nonprofit chain as Obria (a vaguely medicalized name made up by a marketing firm, ostensibly based on the Spanish word obra, meaning “work”) and announced an aggressive expansion plan. Bravo became the ceo of a new nonprofit umbrella organization called the Obria Group and essentially turned the operation into a franchise.

The Obria Group doesn’t provide any medical services or even start new clinics. Rather, it’s a marketing arm that recruits existing cpcs to join the Obria network. Affiliated clinics pay a licensing fee to use the Obria name, but they remain separate legal entities with their own nonprofit status. (Bravo’s Birth Choice clinics are now a separate nonprofit called Obria Medical Clinics of Southern California, and she is no longer employed there or on its board.)

Bravo is politically well connected. On the Obria website, she brags that she “has built a network of high-powered supporters over the decades to include former U.S. presidents, Washington lawmakers, senators, prominent mega-churches, spiritual leaders and thousands of behind-the-scene players who move mountains to get things done.” Catholic World Report ran a prominent photo of her with President George W. Bush in 2010, when a Catholic business group presented them each with a Cardinal John J. O’Connor pro-life award. Obria’s advisory board was a who’s who of the pro-life movement, including Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family; Kristan Hawkins, a former official in Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services who worked on Trump’s pro-life advisory council during the 2016 campaign; and David Daleiden, ceo of the Center for Medical Progress, who was criminally charged in San Francisco for making undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood selling tissue from aborted fetuses.

The Catholic Church and wealthy Catholic donors have provided much of Obria’s funding, including a $2.5 million grant from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for Obria’s expansion plans. But Bravo has also secured public funding. In 2005, Birth Choice nabbed a $148,800 congressional earmark to fund three pregnancy centers. Between 2009 and 2016, the Orange County Board of Supervisors gave the Obria Medical Clinics of Southern California more than $700,000 for abstinence-only sex-ed programming, money that had previously gone to Planned Parenthood. Obria has even scored help from Google, which in 2015 gave Obria $120,000 worth of free ads through its nonprofit grant program.


California Now Pushing Free Health Care for Illegal Immigrant Seniors

California is at it again with a proposal to extend free health care to illegal immigrant senior citizens.

Last July, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that would extend Medicaid coverage to low-income illegal immigrants 25 years old and younger.

President Donald Trump, who made the border wall and stopping illegal immigration a central plank of his 2016 presidential campaign, took a jab at this policy.

“If you look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people, they don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants,” Trump said in a speech at the time. “So at what point does it stop? It’s crazy what they’re doing. It’s crazy. And it’s mean, and it’s very unfair to our citizens.”

Trump is right. California has waged a war on the concept of citizenship by essentially sidestepping the will of the American people and intentionally undermining immigration laws.

Worse, by extending social welfare to those illegal immigrants, the state is signaling that the concept of citizenship itself is meaningless.

It’s clear that California’s craziness doesn’t stop, as Newsom and the state’s Democrats have doubled down to extend free health care coverage to even greater numbers of illegal immigrants.

Newsom’s latest proposed budget now aims to extend free health care coverage to illegal immigrants 65 years old and older as a part of the state’s Medi-Cal program. This would add $80.5 million to the budget this year and $350 million annually once fully implemented, according to Politico.

Newsom has made a push to extend health care coverage to everyone in the state, including those who aren’t legal citizens.

“We believe universal health care lowers the cost for everybody,” Newsom said. “We believe the evidence bears that out. We believe it’s the right thing to do morally and ethically. We also believe it is the financially responsible thing to do.”

Is this the responsible thing to do? Beyond the issue of ignoring federal law, there is obviously a price to pay for covering the cost of health care for what could be millions of illegal immigrants.

Right now, California is flush with cash, in part because the American economy is booming and the tech sector is bringing in a huge amount of capital to the state. But what happens when there is a downturn with this explosion of future financial liabilities?

Remember, less than a decade ago, California’s politicians sought a bailout from the federal government to deal with a massive budget hole.

And a lot of the wealth the state needs to fund its massive tax-and-spend ways may simply dry up.

Many businesses in the state already have pulled up stakes rather than deal with onerous taxes and regulations.

Middle-class Californians are leaving the state in droves or say that they want to leave. The pressure to do so will be even greater if jobs dry up.

On top of that, the state has been hit with a massive homelessness crisis, a jarring sign of dysfunction when contrasted with notable pockets of opulence.

To that point, although California is doing its best to encourage illegal immigration and add newcomers to the dole, it’s also finding ways to kill jobs for people looking to make ends meet.

Recently enacted legislation has made freelance work nearly impossible, and represents the kind of lunacy that has gripped the political and intellectual powers that be in the Golden State.

For those wealthy enough to enjoy the fruits of California’s many notable benefits—wonderful climate, beautiful landscape, and interesting cities—things are going fine.

But for those not so fortunate, the state is becoming increasingly inhospitable, the result of a toxic stew of bad laws, failed promises, and misplaced blame.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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