Day: March 6, 2018

Guns, Men, and Murder: The Data


I love guns.  I’ve been around them all of my life, and I currently own several – for hunting and self-defense.  One of my most memorable gifts growing up was a single-shot 410 shotgun (that I got for Christmas when I was 12).  Before I was old enough to own a real gun, my friends and I were quite skilled in using all sorts of scrap wood, duct tape, nails, and so on to manufacture the most magnificent replicas.  Back then, if I was not playing with some sort of ball, I was in some sort of battle.

Not all of my experiences with guns have been pleasant.  One of the toughest moments in the life of my family happened when I was 17.  At the time, my 13-year-old brother was hunting turkeys near our home.  A tragic accident with a faulty double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun cost him his right arm.

Nevertheless, soon after he had healed from having his arm amputated, my brother was learning to shoot – even long guns and compound bows…


My brother shooting a compound bow – with one arm.

…with one arm.  (He also played high school baseball and football with one arm.)  Now in his mid-forties, he still hunts (and fishes).  In other words, even enduring a traumatic and tragic accident involving a gun as a young teenager, neither he nor the rest of us close to him ever let a fear or a hatred of guns creep into our psyche.

After another horrific shooting at a “gun-free” government school, those corrupted by a liberal worldview would have all of us share their fear and hatred (warning: language) of guns, or at least their hatred of guns in the hands of those who stand opposed to a liberal, big-government agenda.

Thus, instead of more good guys with guns, time and again, liberals insist that the answer to stopping those bent on doing evil with powerful weapons is to take guns from the good guys.  The infamous Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, Fla. again made this foolish argument – tragically, to “thunderous applause” – when debating the NRA’s Dana Loesch.

Pushing Democratic talking points to a (mostly) like-minded audience, Israel told the Parkland crowd, “You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them.  You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less [sic] weapons.'”  Of course, fewer weapons means fewer guns, and “fewer guns” means elect more Democrats so we can have – among many other terrible outcomes – a bigger government with more “gun control” laws.  As the data reveal, in the United States, fewer guns or more gun control laws do not equal less murder.

Last year, it was widely reported that the vast majority of murders in the U.S. occur within a very small portion of the country.  More than half of all murders in the U.S. occurred within just two percent of the counties.  Over two thirds (68 percent) of the murders in America occurred within only five percent of the counties.  (There are 3,141 counties, or county equivalents, in the U.S.)

This table shows the worst three percent of counties, in which almost 60 percent of the murders occur.  Almost all of these counties are in large urban areas, where Democrats rule.  Of course, large populations will typically have more murders.  What we should consider in this debate is the murder rate in these counties.

Of the ten worst counties for the number of murders, five of them are also among the worst when it comes to murder rate.  Of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, 19 of them are in the worst three percent for total number of murders.  Whether one considers the sheer number of murders or the murder rate, the other telling and significant piece of data in our debate is the presence of guns in these areas.

City-Data lists the top 101 counties when it comes to “lowest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes” and “highest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes.”  As the table linked above also reveals, of the three percent of counties – 95 total counties – with the highest number of murders, 43 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Only 19 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to highest rates of gun ownership.  Of the ten counties in the U.S. with the most murders, all are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Additionally, as this table reveals, the overall murder rate for the top 101 of highest and lowest rates of gun ownership is virtually identical.  The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the highest rates of gun ownership is 6.28 per 100,000.  The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the lowest rates of gun ownership is 6.15 per 100,000.  Also, of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, nine of them are in the top 101 of lowest rates of gun ownership, while five of them are in the top 101 of highest rates of gun ownership.

At the state level – where data is more readily available – the numbers reveal the same: there’s no correlation between the presence of guns and the rate of murder.  The average murder rate for the first 25 states (lowest half of gun ownership rates) is 5.0.  The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states (upper half of gun ownership rates) is 4.9.  For the bottom ten and top ten, the average is 4.2 and 4.3, respectively.

The average murder rate ranking for the first 25 states is 24.4.  The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states is 27.6.  For the bottom ten and top ten, the average is 22.8 and 23.7, respectively.  Put simply, more guns does not mean more murder.  And inversely, fewer guns does not mean fewer murders.  Put another way, more laws against gun ownership has done almost nothing to reduce the rate of murder in America.

The only way to reduce murder is to recognize that it is an act of evil that must be dealt with from a proper political and spiritual perspective.  Men murder because their hearts are dark.  To stop them, we must meet force with force.  To change men, we must get to their hearts.  Sound legislation can work to protect us, but focusing on the weapon of murder and attempting to legislate away evil by targeting a tool is the height of folly.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the 
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

I love guns.  I’ve been around them all of my life, and I currently own several – for hunting and self-defense.  One of my most memorable gifts growing up was a single-shot 410 shotgun (that I got for Christmas when I was 12).  Before I was old enough to own a real gun, my friends and I were quite skilled in using all sorts of scrap wood, duct tape, nails, and so on to manufacture the most magnificent replicas.  Back then, if I was not playing with some sort of ball, I was in some sort of battle.

Not all of my experiences with guns have been pleasant.  One of the toughest moments in the life of my family happened when I was 17.  At the time, my 13-year-old brother was hunting turkeys near our home.  A tragic accident with a faulty double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun cost him his right arm.

Nevertheless, soon after he had healed from having his arm amputated, my brother was learning to shoot – even long guns and compound bows…


My brother shooting a compound bow – with one arm.

…with one arm.  (He also played high school baseball and football with one arm.)  Now in his mid-forties, he still hunts (and fishes).  In other words, even enduring a traumatic and tragic accident involving a gun as a young teenager, neither he nor the rest of us close to him ever let a fear or a hatred of guns creep into our psyche.

After another horrific shooting at a “gun-free” government school, those corrupted by a liberal worldview would have all of us share their fear and hatred (warning: language) of guns, or at least their hatred of guns in the hands of those who stand opposed to a liberal, big-government agenda.

Thus, instead of more good guys with guns, time and again, liberals insist that the answer to stopping those bent on doing evil with powerful weapons is to take guns from the good guys.  The infamous Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, Fla. again made this foolish argument – tragically, to “thunderous applause” – when debating the NRA’s Dana Loesch.

Pushing Democratic talking points to a (mostly) like-minded audience, Israel told the Parkland crowd, “You just told this group of people that you are standing up for them.  You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less [sic] weapons.'”  Of course, fewer weapons means fewer guns, and “fewer guns” means elect more Democrats so we can have – among many other terrible outcomes – a bigger government with more “gun control” laws.  As the data reveal, in the United States, fewer guns or more gun control laws do not equal less murder.

Last year, it was widely reported that the vast majority of murders in the U.S. occur within a very small portion of the country.  More than half of all murders in the U.S. occurred within just two percent of the counties.  Over two thirds (68 percent) of the murders in America occurred within only five percent of the counties.  (There are 3,141 counties, or county equivalents, in the U.S.)

This table shows the worst three percent of counties, in which almost 60 percent of the murders occur.  Almost all of these counties are in large urban areas, where Democrats rule.  Of course, large populations will typically have more murders.  What we should consider in this debate is the murder rate in these counties.

Of the ten worst counties for the number of murders, five of them are also among the worst when it comes to murder rate.  Of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, 19 of them are in the worst three percent for total number of murders.  Whether one considers the sheer number of murders or the murder rate, the other telling and significant piece of data in our debate is the presence of guns in these areas.

City-Data lists the top 101 counties when it comes to “lowest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes” and “highest percentage of residents that keep firearms around their homes.”  As the table linked above also reveals, of the three percent of counties – 95 total counties – with the highest number of murders, 43 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Only 19 of these counties are in the top 101 when it comes to highest rates of gun ownership.  Of the ten counties in the U.S. with the most murders, all are in the top 101 when it comes to lowest rates of gun ownership.

Additionally, as this table reveals, the overall murder rate for the top 101 of highest and lowest rates of gun ownership is virtually identical.  The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the highest rates of gun ownership is 6.28 per 100,000.  The murder rate for the top 101 counties with the lowest rates of gun ownership is 6.15 per 100,000.  Also, of the 30 counties with the highest murder rate, nine of them are in the top 101 of lowest rates of gun ownership, while five of them are in the top 101 of highest rates of gun ownership.

At the state level – where data is more readily available – the numbers reveal the same: there’s no correlation between the presence of guns and the rate of murder.  The average murder rate for the first 25 states (lowest half of gun ownership rates) is 5.0.  The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states (upper half of gun ownership rates) is 4.9.  For the bottom ten and top ten, the average is 4.2 and 4.3, respectively.

The average murder rate ranking for the first 25 states is 24.4.  The average murder rate ranking for the last 25 states is 27.6.  For the bottom ten and top ten, the average is 22.8 and 23.7, respectively.  Put simply, more guns does not mean more murder.  And inversely, fewer guns does not mean fewer murders.  Put another way, more laws against gun ownership has done almost nothing to reduce the rate of murder in America.

The only way to reduce murder is to recognize that it is an act of evil that must be dealt with from a proper political and spiritual perspective.  Men murder because their hearts are dark.  To stop them, we must meet force with force.  To change men, we must get to their hearts.  Sound legislation can work to protect us, but focusing on the weapon of murder and attempting to legislate away evil by targeting a tool is the height of folly.

Trevor Grant Thomas: At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com
Trevor is the author of the 
The Miracle and Magnificence of America.
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com



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Does President Trump Know What a Radical Environmentalist He Picked in Peter Navarro?


The strange case of Peter Navarro became curiouser and curiouser this week.

As the president’s pitchman for tariffs, Navarro was all over the airways this week with visions of new factories for steel and aluminum, all through the magical elixir of raising taxes on imports.

Maybe it will work.  Maybe it won’t.

But if one of California’s most visible advocates of No Growth Environmentalism to stop jobs, housing, and growth of all kinds – and that is who Navarro was before he discovered the evils of China and Trump discovered him – can become the chief spokesman for more jobs, housing, and growth, then anything is possible.

Many Trump-supporters in San Diego are still amazed at how this leader of  a liberal cabal of Southern California environmentalists rose so quickly to such great heights in Trump’s conservative regime.  They still remember when Navarro arrived in San Diego in the 1980s and formed his no-growth group called PLAN: Prevent Los Angelization Now.

The idea was that building new homes creates the demand for new homes, and that would fill San Diego up with more people than anyone wants.

It’s an “if they don’t build it, they won’t come” kind of thing.  As for the kids who grew up to want homes of their own, they would just have to go somewhere other than here.

Soon after Navarro’s plan was on the ballot, so was he, running for mayor of San Diego.  Twice he tried.  Twice he won the primary.  Twice he lost the general election.  After a similar defeat as a Democrat running for Congress, Navarro moved on, leaving San Diego to start writing books about the Chinese menace from his new post at the University of California, Irvine.

Despite the recent efforts of the local media in San Diego to recast Navarro as some kind of early Trumponian populist, that is not who he was.  Navarro’s friend and foe alike agree on that.  He was green through and through – no matter how many jobs or factories or homes had to be stopped, abandoned, or otherwise sacrificed.

As a San Diego reporter, I had written about Navarro and his band of merry enviros on several occasions.  Later, I did opposition research on him.  He was pretty much what he appeared to be: an econ professor with a few books, a handsome face, a winning personality, and a determination to put out of a job everyone in San Diego who carried a hammer on his belt.

His supporters loved that about him.

This is not something I am saying for the first time.  I told him and his gang that every weekend for several years as a panelist on a public affairs TV show that Navarro produced and hosted.

I liked Navarro.  A lot of people did.  But that did not stop me from telling him and his friends the same things I told my friends and clients in the San Diego building industry.  He will never support one single thing you do to create jobs and homes.  And he will load up your projects with so many costs that they will quickly become impossible to build.

Navarro would dispute that: he and his ilk often did just that as they patiently explained why they would really love to support the new jobs and new homes, but they would have to study proposals for five years, or they would support it if you would just move your project five miles away (butterflies, you understand) or if you would just consent to add $300,000 in costs to your new homes by accepting ridiculous new regulations.

Want to know why tract homes are selling in San Diego for $1.5 million?  Ask Navarro.

I got a chance to know Navarro and his friends.  Many times we played golf together, or visited an Indian casino on Thanksgiving (he was not a gambler), or we all sat together at his house, while I enjoyed the rolling bars of his massage chair.

This brings us to the great irony of the Navarro-Trump plan to save American aluminum and steel plants with tariffs: there is simply no way Navarro and his green buddies would support the construction of new steel plants and aluminum plants of any kind.  Anywhere.  For any number of jobs.  For any reason whatsoever.

No way in hell.

Ditto for the wall.

Neither will they recognize what anyone who has been to China knows: tariffs or no tariffs, China has the best factories in the world.  Maybe tariffs will help us catch up.  Or make us fall farther behind.

Either way, the environmentalists will talk a good game in theory, but when it comes time to approve the plans, move the dirt, raise the walls, install the machinery, and actually put people to work, Navarro’s crowd (with or without him in the lead) are going to be raising holy hell about the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees and the evil developers and even worse operators who are killing the world with pollution just to make a few bucks with their nasty steel and aluminum.

And besides, they will tell us, as if they just discovered it, we can get all of our steel and aluminum from China –  cheaper and cleaner.

Colin Flaherty is a award winning reporter and author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry.  More on Navarro at the Colin Flaherty podcast.

The strange case of Peter Navarro became curiouser and curiouser this week.

As the president’s pitchman for tariffs, Navarro was all over the airways this week with visions of new factories for steel and aluminum, all through the magical elixir of raising taxes on imports.

Maybe it will work.  Maybe it won’t.

But if one of California’s most visible advocates of No Growth Environmentalism to stop jobs, housing, and growth of all kinds – and that is who Navarro was before he discovered the evils of China and Trump discovered him – can become the chief spokesman for more jobs, housing, and growth, then anything is possible.

Many Trump-supporters in San Diego are still amazed at how this leader of  a liberal cabal of Southern California environmentalists rose so quickly to such great heights in Trump’s conservative regime.  They still remember when Navarro arrived in San Diego in the 1980s and formed his no-growth group called PLAN: Prevent Los Angelization Now.

The idea was that building new homes creates the demand for new homes, and that would fill San Diego up with more people than anyone wants.

It’s an “if they don’t build it, they won’t come” kind of thing.  As for the kids who grew up to want homes of their own, they would just have to go somewhere other than here.

Soon after Navarro’s plan was on the ballot, so was he, running for mayor of San Diego.  Twice he tried.  Twice he won the primary.  Twice he lost the general election.  After a similar defeat as a Democrat running for Congress, Navarro moved on, leaving San Diego to start writing books about the Chinese menace from his new post at the University of California, Irvine.

Despite the recent efforts of the local media in San Diego to recast Navarro as some kind of early Trumponian populist, that is not who he was.  Navarro’s friend and foe alike agree on that.  He was green through and through – no matter how many jobs or factories or homes had to be stopped, abandoned, or otherwise sacrificed.

As a San Diego reporter, I had written about Navarro and his band of merry enviros on several occasions.  Later, I did opposition research on him.  He was pretty much what he appeared to be: an econ professor with a few books, a handsome face, a winning personality, and a determination to put out of a job everyone in San Diego who carried a hammer on his belt.

His supporters loved that about him.

This is not something I am saying for the first time.  I told him and his gang that every weekend for several years as a panelist on a public affairs TV show that Navarro produced and hosted.

I liked Navarro.  A lot of people did.  But that did not stop me from telling him and his friends the same things I told my friends and clients in the San Diego building industry.  He will never support one single thing you do to create jobs and homes.  And he will load up your projects with so many costs that they will quickly become impossible to build.

Navarro would dispute that: he and his ilk often did just that as they patiently explained why they would really love to support the new jobs and new homes, but they would have to study proposals for five years, or they would support it if you would just move your project five miles away (butterflies, you understand) or if you would just consent to add $300,000 in costs to your new homes by accepting ridiculous new regulations.

Want to know why tract homes are selling in San Diego for $1.5 million?  Ask Navarro.

I got a chance to know Navarro and his friends.  Many times we played golf together, or visited an Indian casino on Thanksgiving (he was not a gambler), or we all sat together at his house, while I enjoyed the rolling bars of his massage chair.

This brings us to the great irony of the Navarro-Trump plan to save American aluminum and steel plants with tariffs: there is simply no way Navarro and his green buddies would support the construction of new steel plants and aluminum plants of any kind.  Anywhere.  For any number of jobs.  For any reason whatsoever.

No way in hell.

Ditto for the wall.

Neither will they recognize what anyone who has been to China knows: tariffs or no tariffs, China has the best factories in the world.  Maybe tariffs will help us catch up.  Or make us fall farther behind.

Either way, the environmentalists will talk a good game in theory, but when it comes time to approve the plans, move the dirt, raise the walls, install the machinery, and actually put people to work, Navarro’s crowd (with or without him in the lead) are going to be raising holy hell about the birds and bees and the flowers and the trees and the evil developers and even worse operators who are killing the world with pollution just to make a few bucks with their nasty steel and aluminum.

And besides, they will tell us, as if they just discovered it, we can get all of our steel and aluminum from China –  cheaper and cleaner.

Colin Flaherty is a award winning reporter and author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry.  More on Navarro at the Colin Flaherty podcast.



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The Broward County Superintendent's Corrupt and Dangerous Agenda


There’s little doubt Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie’s rabid implementation of his “no arrest” policy in 2011 helped Nikolas Cruz to stay “in the classroom and out of the courtroom,” a phrase Runcie often repeated when touting his signature PROMISE program. 

Runcie’s plan served as an exemplary model for 50 participating school districts across the country, affecting 6.35 million children.  In a July 2015 White House conference attended by Runcie and his former boss in Chicago, education secretary Arne Duncan, the superintendent received high praise for leading the nation in reducing student arrests. 

But according to many outside reports, by 2015, the Obama-directed school discipline guidelines were creating chaos in the country’s classrooms.  After Oklahoma City instituted the new discipline policies, teachers referred violent students to the administration, only to have them returned to the classroom a short time later.

From the Oklahoman Editorial Board, November 2015:

“It is amazing the district reports to the local news media that the disciplinary/referrals issues have gone down when that is not the case at all,” one teacher wrote.  “Teachers are being abused physically[;] there is total defiance from students as early as 1st-2nd grade.”


We were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood,” one teacher said. 


We have written many times about the demographic challenges the district faces.  Yet no teacher, when asked what the job is really like, should ever describe it this way: “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors.”

After the Valentine’s Day horror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, where the “suspension” threshold of “blood” was met, the Department of Education, under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, has been inundated with calls to rescind Obama’s school discipline policies. 

Mr. Runcie has declined to comment.  In many of his post-shooting interviews and during his rock star performance at the CNN town hall on February 21, Mr. Runcie has steered clear of any questions about his collaborative agreement with the political, legal, and educational establishment of Broward County to keep kids out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

The superintendent’s silence on the issue is deafening. 

Not only is Runcie refusing to accept any responsibility for his part in putting his agenda first and student safety last, but his recent statements suggest that Broward County schoolchildren are as vulnerable as ever with him in charge. 

In a chilling March 1 tweet praising the anti-NRA, anti-Trump student-activists, Runcie wrote: “Why are the Parkland students so good at this?  Their public schools prepared them for it.”  The same could be said of Nikolas Cruz.

The superintendent’s tweet links to a Slate magazine article that states that most of the #NeverAgain student-protesters were MSD’s “theater kids,” who have benefited from the school’s “exceptional drama program.”  According to Slate, the county also has a system-wide debate program in every middle and high school.

From Slate:

Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.

Instead of making sure his schools have state-of-the-art security systems in place, Runcie pushes a gun control agenda on to the same children victimized by his PROMISE fiasco.  The superintendent has also voiced his opposition to arming teachers. 

We don’t need to put guns in the hands of teachers.  You know what we need?  We need to arm our teachers with more money in their pocket.

Teachers shouldn’t count on Mr. Runcie’s altruistic rhetoric.  He typically sees money as the answer to his school district’s problems.  However, under Runcie’s management, the district has been plagued with financial malfeasance.

In 2014, voters passed an $800-million renovation bond referendum for repairs on school buildings that included mold and mildew problems and crumbling walls and ceilings.  The superintendent promised that repairs would begin in 2015, but by August 2016, projects were stalled because of “so many blunders, planning errors, and employee shakeups,” as reported by the Sun-Sentinel.  In 2017, investigators found that only one percent of the projects had been started and cost overruns were potentially reaching the half-a-million mark.  When a school board member asked Runcie about the cost overruns, he stated, “Oh, that memo that went out…that’s a change in the cost.  Those are not necessarily overruns of projects.” 

In 2016, a state audit found that Broward County Schools had improperly distributed $23 million in Title I federal funds designed to help low-income students.

Another administrative scandal happened in 2016.  This one involved a high school behavior support teacher plucked from obscurity by Runcie to manage a project of the Broward School Police Department Special Investigative Unit (SIU).  As a special assistant to the police chief, Jill Haring was in charge of a project revamping policies governing investigations of staff.  Haring received a salary increase despite having no law enforcement experience.  The police department at the time of Ms. Haring’s promotion was also facing a $3.5-million shortfall.  She eventually came under fire and stepped down from her position.  The shakeup caused the SIU police chief and other officials to resign.

Superintendent Runcie’s promotion of a leftist agenda and his questionable financial practices come as no surprise.  Runcie’s close connections to the Department of Education during the Obama years included not only his old college friend, Arne Duncan, as the head of that agency, but also his brother, James Runcie.  Obama appointed James chief operating officer of the $1.3-trillion Federal Student Aid program beginning in 2011, the same year his brother, Robert, left Chicago to head up Broward County schools.  Robert “Bob” Runcie came to Broward well insulated and well connected.

James Runcie, who appears to have inherited the same mismanagement gene as his brother, resigned in May 2017 after it was discovered he had received over $400,000 in off-the-books bonuses.  Additionally, Judicial Watch reported that under his leadership, $6 billion in improper payments were made to federal student aid programs.  The Obama appointee was scheduled to testify before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations on May 25 but resigned shortly before the hearing.  In his resignation memo, James Runcie stated he “had not heard a single compelling reason” why he should appear before the committee.  His brother, Robert, possesses the same lack of accountability, even in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting.

As if the tragic loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas weren’t bad enough, a few months before Feb. 14, 2018, the Broward County School Board voted in favor of extending Robert Runcie’s employment as superintendent until 2023.

Image: MSNBC

There’s little doubt Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie’s rabid implementation of his “no arrest” policy in 2011 helped Nikolas Cruz to stay “in the classroom and out of the courtroom,” a phrase Runcie often repeated when touting his signature PROMISE program. 

Runcie’s plan served as an exemplary model for 50 participating school districts across the country, affecting 6.35 million children.  In a July 2015 White House conference attended by Runcie and his former boss in Chicago, education secretary Arne Duncan, the superintendent received high praise for leading the nation in reducing student arrests. 

But according to many outside reports, by 2015, the Obama-directed school discipline guidelines were creating chaos in the country’s classrooms.  After Oklahoma City instituted the new discipline policies, teachers referred violent students to the administration, only to have them returned to the classroom a short time later.

From the Oklahoman Editorial Board, November 2015:

“It is amazing the district reports to the local news media that the disciplinary/referrals issues have gone down when that is not the case at all,” one teacher wrote.  “Teachers are being abused physically[;] there is total defiance from students as early as 1st-2nd grade.”


We were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood,” one teacher said. 


We have written many times about the demographic challenges the district faces.  Yet no teacher, when asked what the job is really like, should ever describe it this way: “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors.”

After the Valentine’s Day horror at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, where the “suspension” threshold of “blood” was met, the Department of Education, under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, has been inundated with calls to rescind Obama’s school discipline policies. 

Mr. Runcie has declined to comment.  In many of his post-shooting interviews and during his rock star performance at the CNN town hall on February 21, Mr. Runcie has steered clear of any questions about his collaborative agreement with the political, legal, and educational establishment of Broward County to keep kids out of the school-to-prison pipeline.

The superintendent’s silence on the issue is deafening. 

Not only is Runcie refusing to accept any responsibility for his part in putting his agenda first and student safety last, but his recent statements suggest that Broward County schoolchildren are as vulnerable as ever with him in charge. 

In a chilling March 1 tweet praising the anti-NRA, anti-Trump student-activists, Runcie wrote: “Why are the Parkland students so good at this?  Their public schools prepared them for it.”  The same could be said of Nikolas Cruz.

The superintendent’s tweet links to a Slate magazine article that states that most of the #NeverAgain student-protesters were MSD’s “theater kids,” who have benefited from the school’s “exceptional drama program.”  According to Slate, the county also has a system-wide debate program in every middle and high school.

From Slate:

Coincidentally, some of the students at Stoneman Douglas had been preparing for debates on the issue of gun control this year, which explains in part why they could speak to the issues from day one.

Instead of making sure his schools have state-of-the-art security systems in place, Runcie pushes a gun control agenda on to the same children victimized by his PROMISE fiasco.  The superintendent has also voiced his opposition to arming teachers. 

We don’t need to put guns in the hands of teachers.  You know what we need?  We need to arm our teachers with more money in their pocket.

Teachers shouldn’t count on Mr. Runcie’s altruistic rhetoric.  He typically sees money as the answer to his school district’s problems.  However, under Runcie’s management, the district has been plagued with financial malfeasance.

In 2014, voters passed an $800-million renovation bond referendum for repairs on school buildings that included mold and mildew problems and crumbling walls and ceilings.  The superintendent promised that repairs would begin in 2015, but by August 2016, projects were stalled because of “so many blunders, planning errors, and employee shakeups,” as reported by the Sun-Sentinel.  In 2017, investigators found that only one percent of the projects had been started and cost overruns were potentially reaching the half-a-million mark.  When a school board member asked Runcie about the cost overruns, he stated, “Oh, that memo that went out…that’s a change in the cost.  Those are not necessarily overruns of projects.” 

In 2016, a state audit found that Broward County Schools had improperly distributed $23 million in Title I federal funds designed to help low-income students.

Another administrative scandal happened in 2016.  This one involved a high school behavior support teacher plucked from obscurity by Runcie to manage a project of the Broward School Police Department Special Investigative Unit (SIU).  As a special assistant to the police chief, Jill Haring was in charge of a project revamping policies governing investigations of staff.  Haring received a salary increase despite having no law enforcement experience.  The police department at the time of Ms. Haring’s promotion was also facing a $3.5-million shortfall.  She eventually came under fire and stepped down from her position.  The shakeup caused the SIU police chief and other officials to resign.

Superintendent Runcie’s promotion of a leftist agenda and his questionable financial practices come as no surprise.  Runcie’s close connections to the Department of Education during the Obama years included not only his old college friend, Arne Duncan, as the head of that agency, but also his brother, James Runcie.  Obama appointed James chief operating officer of the $1.3-trillion Federal Student Aid program beginning in 2011, the same year his brother, Robert, left Chicago to head up Broward County schools.  Robert “Bob” Runcie came to Broward well insulated and well connected.

James Runcie, who appears to have inherited the same mismanagement gene as his brother, resigned in May 2017 after it was discovered he had received over $400,000 in off-the-books bonuses.  Additionally, Judicial Watch reported that under his leadership, $6 billion in improper payments were made to federal student aid programs.  The Obama appointee was scheduled to testify before the House Subcommittee on Government Operations on May 25 but resigned shortly before the hearing.  In his resignation memo, James Runcie stated he “had not heard a single compelling reason” why he should appear before the committee.  His brother, Robert, possesses the same lack of accountability, even in the aftermath of a deadly school shooting.

As if the tragic loss of life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas weren’t bad enough, a few months before Feb. 14, 2018, the Broward County School Board voted in favor of extending Robert Runcie’s employment as superintendent until 2023.

Image: MSNBC



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Pity a Poor Liberal Activist


If you haven’t noticed in the last week or so, our liberal friends seem to have taught just about every young head full of mush how to do “protest.”  In the liberal universe, activism and protest are the highest forms of human social interaction.  When liberals enact a day of marches, or a town hall full of baying students, this is seen by all as a triumph of the progressive will and faithfully recorded by our modern Leni Riefenstahls.

But is it really such a good idea?  Is all this activism really going to lead to fundamental transformation?  Suppose it leads to a backlash.

“Backlash,” by the way, is a term liberals invented back in the ’60s to stigmatize average Americans who really didn’t like what the Kids and their Movement and their Protests were doing to America.  When you go to Wikipedia, you find that they are a bit vague about it all.  I wonder why.

Over at American Greatness, Mytheos Holt notes that there is a gaping hole at the middle of the current liberal #Resistance.  The Resistance is all about complaint; there is no attempt to paint a glorious picture of what the #Resistance will bring to America.  Yes, I wonder why.

Could it be that the left really doesn’t have vision of paradise – only a mechanical notion of doing activism, any activism, in the blind faith that the arc of history will bend toward justice?  It wouldn’t be the first time that a religion regressed into mindless ritual without thinking about what it all means.

How should we understand the quandary of our liberal and progressive friends?  I’d say their problem is that, according to them, nothing has changed.

The left has spent 150 years advocating for the workers, and guess what: a job is still a job.  Moreover, it doesn’t do to look too carefully at the results of all that pro-labor legislation.  It priced workers in heavy industry out of a job, and now it is bankrupting state and local government.

The left has spent 70 years advocating for women and minorities, and guess what: women and minorities are still hardest hit, even though the landmark legislation banning racial and sexual discrimination was passed 50 years ago.  How could this be?  What kind of vile cisgendered white male conspiracy could make women less happy than they were in the 1950s and make minorities eternally outraged that the cops were cracking down on their home-grown thugs and murderers?  This is all supposed to be the fault of white supremacists.  But if we are all gap-toothed Alt-Right über-fascistic neo-Nazis, how could we possibly succeed in our evil plan against the evolved, educated, activist, woke progressives and their willing kiddies?

The answer is staring us in the face.  It is that the leftist movement is a Great Reaction back to the past, with its identity politics a neo-tribalism and its welfare state a neo-feudalism.  No wonder everything the left has focused on has turned to stone.  Its ideas and its methods are a return to the grueling days of top-down agricultural hegemony, the era of misery and recurring famines that the ruling-class priesthood thoughtfully attributed to acts of God.

These days, our secular priests in the media blame ruling class failures on the National Rifle Association and modern trends in the design of hunting rifles.

Well, I wish the diviners would look up from their tea leaves and divine this.  How come after all the activism that was put into the working class over the last century, it is dying of despair in the United States?

How come after all the activism in favor of women, they are miserable, and how come blacks are angry, and falling behind other minorities like the Mexicans, who seem to be the only guys building condos and apartments here in Seattle, and the South and East Asians, who are racing to the top of tech?

How could this be?  How could all the activism and all the protest and all the comprehensive and mandatory legislation require the activists to escalate their non-negotiable demands and encourage their willing accomplices in social media to de-platform anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

How come all the administrative state entitlement programs designed and administered by experts and academics are broke, and the educational programs are buried under a bramble of administrative incompetence?

No wonder our progressive friends are switching into witch-hunting mode, lashing out at individual citizens and voluntary associations of patriotic citizens.  It cannot be true, it must not be true that the politics and the activism of the global educated elite are an utter failure.

Really, if our rulers and their supporters were not such a threat to our lives and our jobs and our sacred honor, we could just sit back and laugh at their pathetic antics.

Christopher Chantrill (@chrischantrill) runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com.  Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

If you haven’t noticed in the last week or so, our liberal friends seem to have taught just about every young head full of mush how to do “protest.”  In the liberal universe, activism and protest are the highest forms of human social interaction.  When liberals enact a day of marches, or a town hall full of baying students, this is seen by all as a triumph of the progressive will and faithfully recorded by our modern Leni Riefenstahls.

But is it really such a good idea?  Is all this activism really going to lead to fundamental transformation?  Suppose it leads to a backlash.

“Backlash,” by the way, is a term liberals invented back in the ’60s to stigmatize average Americans who really didn’t like what the Kids and their Movement and their Protests were doing to America.  When you go to Wikipedia, you find that they are a bit vague about it all.  I wonder why.

Over at American Greatness, Mytheos Holt notes that there is a gaping hole at the middle of the current liberal #Resistance.  The Resistance is all about complaint; there is no attempt to paint a glorious picture of what the #Resistance will bring to America.  Yes, I wonder why.

Could it be that the left really doesn’t have vision of paradise – only a mechanical notion of doing activism, any activism, in the blind faith that the arc of history will bend toward justice?  It wouldn’t be the first time that a religion regressed into mindless ritual without thinking about what it all means.

How should we understand the quandary of our liberal and progressive friends?  I’d say their problem is that, according to them, nothing has changed.

The left has spent 150 years advocating for the workers, and guess what: a job is still a job.  Moreover, it doesn’t do to look too carefully at the results of all that pro-labor legislation.  It priced workers in heavy industry out of a job, and now it is bankrupting state and local government.

The left has spent 70 years advocating for women and minorities, and guess what: women and minorities are still hardest hit, even though the landmark legislation banning racial and sexual discrimination was passed 50 years ago.  How could this be?  What kind of vile cisgendered white male conspiracy could make women less happy than they were in the 1950s and make minorities eternally outraged that the cops were cracking down on their home-grown thugs and murderers?  This is all supposed to be the fault of white supremacists.  But if we are all gap-toothed Alt-Right über-fascistic neo-Nazis, how could we possibly succeed in our evil plan against the evolved, educated, activist, woke progressives and their willing kiddies?

The answer is staring us in the face.  It is that the leftist movement is a Great Reaction back to the past, with its identity politics a neo-tribalism and its welfare state a neo-feudalism.  No wonder everything the left has focused on has turned to stone.  Its ideas and its methods are a return to the grueling days of top-down agricultural hegemony, the era of misery and recurring famines that the ruling-class priesthood thoughtfully attributed to acts of God.

These days, our secular priests in the media blame ruling class failures on the National Rifle Association and modern trends in the design of hunting rifles.

Well, I wish the diviners would look up from their tea leaves and divine this.  How come after all the activism that was put into the working class over the last century, it is dying of despair in the United States?

How come after all the activism in favor of women, they are miserable, and how come blacks are angry, and falling behind other minorities like the Mexicans, who seem to be the only guys building condos and apartments here in Seattle, and the South and East Asians, who are racing to the top of tech?

How could this be?  How could all the activism and all the protest and all the comprehensive and mandatory legislation require the activists to escalate their non-negotiable demands and encourage their willing accomplices in social media to de-platform anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

How come all the administrative state entitlement programs designed and administered by experts and academics are broke, and the educational programs are buried under a bramble of administrative incompetence?

No wonder our progressive friends are switching into witch-hunting mode, lashing out at individual citizens and voluntary associations of patriotic citizens.  It cannot be true, it must not be true that the politics and the activism of the global educated elite are an utter failure.

Really, if our rulers and their supporters were not such a threat to our lives and our jobs and our sacred honor, we could just sit back and laugh at their pathetic antics.

Christopher Chantrill (@chrischantrill) runs the go-to site on U.S. government finances, usgovernmentspending.com.  Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.



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9/11 and Parkland: When Systems Fail


Everyone paying attention knows now that the Parkland massacre by a severely troubled and dangerous young man was the result of a failure of a host of government institutions.  The FBI received several specific warnings and ignored them.  The Broward County sheriff’s department also ignored countless notifications, as did the local police.  Much of the inefficiency was probably due to sheer incompetence, people not doing the jobs they were meant to do. 

But much was the result of a truly ridiculous program invented by the Obama administration, the Promise policy.  Jack Cashill has written about this in depth, as the same program was also the reason Trayvon Martin was roaming the streets when he was killed.   The Obama administration wanted to end the racial disparity in the prison population and so bribed school districts and local law enforcement to simply not arrest minority kids in their schools, no matter how criminal their behavior.  This was meant to stop the “pipeline to prison” that  had been endemic among school-age minority kids. As a result, criminally-inclined kids became emboldened to escalate their illegal activity.  Nikolas Cruz bought ten guns and passed every background check because no one reported his accelerating criminality to the Feds.  And because of this nonsensical program, seventeen young people are dead.

For those who have not read Lawrence Wright’s outstanding book, The Looming Tower, tune into the series based on it now airing on Hulu.  It tells the story of how the terrorist attack of 9/11/01 was virtually allowed to happen thanks to a similarly catastrophic policy that banned intelligence agencies from communicating with one another.  The story bears much in common with the systemic failures that led to the Florida school murders.   In the days before 9/11, a “wall” of long standing was made higher and thicker that “prevented communication between intelligence agents and criminal investigators.”  This meant that the CIA could not, and would not, share information with the FBI.  It was Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General in 1995, who drafted a memo that made the existing law even more restrictive.  The original wall was built by Democrats who loathed the FBI and created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. 

After the WTC bombing in 1993, there was an obvious need for more cooperation between agencies.  Gorelick’s memo did exactly the opposite.  Counter-intelligence investigations were to be separate and distinct from criminal probes.  So whatever was uncovered by the CIA could not be shared or combined with the fruit of FBI investigations.  It was all about “appearances.”  That and the fact that the left at the time loathed the FBI; then-Director Louis Freeh was investigating the already long list of Clinton campaign crimes of raising money from numerous foreign sources.   How things change.  Today’s FBI has willingly sabotaged itself in service of the left, to protect the corruptions of the Obama administration and to cover up the decades of nefarious activities of the Clintons.

It seems clear that in both cases, and most likely thousands of others unknown to the public at large, the ever-growing power and reach of government plans and policies implemented under the cover of darkness, (the Gorelick memo only came to light during the 9/11 Commission) and often for purely political purposes have put millions of law-abiding citizens at great risk.  Such power, imperiously put into effect and stupidly abused, led to 9/11 and the three thousand plus deaths that occurred that day and those that came after among the first responders.  And such power is reliably responsible for the seventeen deaths in Parkland.   Big government is failing us, which most likely explains Trump’s victory in 2016. 

Eight years of the Obama administration’s fundamental transformation of our country left a majority of us depressed and branded as “deplorable.”  The left does not suffer opposing views, it criminalizes them.  While the primacy of the race/class/gender meme has long prevailed as de rigueur on university campuses,  it now rules nearly every aspect of America life, from restroom edicts to making race and gender a matter of choice.  Black Lives Matter and the LGBT movements now have more power than our churches, businesses, and all other traditional institutions.  The rest of us are expected to cower and submit before the leftist dictates of the new American culture and to dispense with the values once held dear. 

Victimhood rules.  If one is not a victim, then he or she is an oppressor.  That is how it is.  That is how Nicolas Cruz was able to buy ten guns.  That is how the Saudi terrorists were able to take down the WTC.  Consequences be damned.

Everyone paying attention knows now that the Parkland massacre by a severely troubled and dangerous young man was the result of a failure of a host of government institutions.  The FBI received several specific warnings and ignored them.  The Broward County sheriff’s department also ignored countless notifications, as did the local police.  Much of the inefficiency was probably due to sheer incompetence, people not doing the jobs they were meant to do. 

But much was the result of a truly ridiculous program invented by the Obama administration, the Promise policy.  Jack Cashill has written about this in depth, as the same program was also the reason Trayvon Martin was roaming the streets when he was killed.   The Obama administration wanted to end the racial disparity in the prison population and so bribed school districts and local law enforcement to simply not arrest minority kids in their schools, no matter how criminal their behavior.  This was meant to stop the “pipeline to prison” that  had been endemic among school-age minority kids. As a result, criminally-inclined kids became emboldened to escalate their illegal activity.  Nikolas Cruz bought ten guns and passed every background check because no one reported his accelerating criminality to the Feds.  And because of this nonsensical program, seventeen young people are dead.

Mount Tamalpais High School students at a memorial for Parkland shooting victims. // Credit: Fabrice Florin  CC BY-SA 2.0

For those who have not read Lawrence Wright’s outstanding book, The Looming Tower, tune into the series based on it now airing on Hulu.  It tells the story of how the terrorist attack of 9/11/01 was virtually allowed to happen thanks to a similarly catastrophic policy that banned intelligence agencies from communicating with one another.  The story bears much in common with the systemic failures that led to the Florida school murders.   In the days before 9/11, a “wall” of long standing was made higher and thicker that “prevented communication between intelligence agents and criminal investigators.”  This meant that the CIA could not, and would not, share information with the FBI.  It was Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General in 1995, who drafted a memo that made the existing law even more restrictive.  The original wall was built by Democrats who loathed the FBI and created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978. 

After the WTC bombing in 1993, there was an obvious need for more cooperation between agencies.  Gorelick’s memo did exactly the opposite.  Counter-intelligence investigations were to be separate and distinct from criminal probes.  So whatever was uncovered by the CIA could not be shared or combined with the fruit of FBI investigations.  It was all about “appearances.”  That and the fact that the left at the time loathed the FBI; then-Director Louis Freeh was investigating the already long list of Clinton campaign crimes of raising money from numerous foreign sources.   How things change.  Today’s FBI has willingly sabotaged itself in service of the left, to protect the corruptions of the Obama administration and to cover up the decades of nefarious activities of the Clintons.

It seems clear that in both cases, and most likely thousands of others unknown to the public at large, the ever-growing power and reach of government plans and policies implemented under the cover of darkness, (the Gorelick memo only came to light during the 9/11 Commission) and often for purely political purposes have put millions of law-abiding citizens at great risk.  Such power, imperiously put into effect and stupidly abused, led to 9/11 and the three thousand plus deaths that occurred that day and those that came after among the first responders.  And such power is reliably responsible for the seventeen deaths in Parkland.   Big government is failing us, which most likely explains Trump’s victory in 2016. 

Eight years of the Obama administration’s fundamental transformation of our country left a majority of us depressed and branded as “deplorable.”  The left does not suffer opposing views, it criminalizes them.  While the primacy of the race/class/gender meme has long prevailed as de rigueur on university campuses,  it now rules nearly every aspect of America life, from restroom edicts to making race and gender a matter of choice.  Black Lives Matter and the LGBT movements now have more power than our churches, businesses, and all other traditional institutions.  The rest of us are expected to cower and submit before the leftist dictates of the new American culture and to dispense with the values once held dear. 

Victimhood rules.  If one is not a victim, then he or she is an oppressor.  That is how it is.  That is how Nicolas Cruz was able to buy ten guns.  That is how the Saudi terrorists were able to take down the WTC.  Consequences be damned.



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