Clarice Feldman imagines the revelry as Washington’s trial lawyer establishment looks forward to the hefty retainer checks flowing from Obama Administration scandals.
After running an errand at the Courthouse, I decided to pop into the Barrister Bar and Bistro for a quick bite. The place was packed and Charlie, the maitre d’, shrugged his shoulders apologetically. “There’s a huge party here this afternoon, but I can seat you at the bar if you don’t mind.”
I didn’t mind and was happy to see that my favorite bartender, Joe, was at work,
“Place is jammed. I’ve never seen it so packed. What’s up?” I asked as Joe placed my vodka tonic in front of me. “Looks like every former U.S. Attorney in town is here.”
He pressed in closer so that he wouldn’t be overheard.
“Celebration of the scandals. They are about to make more money defending these clowns than they ever dreamed of. Second terms are always more lucrative for them than first, but this is the ultimate jackpot. Like winning the Powerball.”
The bar was mirrored so even with my back to the crowd I could see what was going on. In the center of the room at a round table sat one of the president’s biggest campaign bundlers, an extremely well garbed man—hand-tailored navy suit, lustrous silk tie, crisp shirt and glittering cufflinks—with a great haircut. He was seated with a group of well-sloshed men and women all of whom were drinking heartily.
Suddenly everyone stood up for the toast.
“Here’s to George,” began his colleague. “We asked why we should support Obama after that disastrous first term and he said, ‘Cast your crumbs upon the water and you’ll get fig newtons back.’”
“And he was right!” came a shout from the rear and a wild round of applause followed.
Aside from the circular table in the middle where George and his cronies sat, there were seven tables.
“What are the colored badges for?” I asked.
“They signify which scandal defendants they are representing so they can exchange useful procedural and related information without disclosing who they are representing or breaching client confidentiality. The orange tag means the attorney is representing someone in the Benghazi scandal.”
“I see seven—probably Petraeus, Clinton, Rice, Donilon, Brennan, Nuland, Rhodes. And the blue badge?” I asked, sipping the drink.
“IRS scandal,” George whispered, wiping the counter to appear more inconspicuous.
“Hmm,” I thought, “Shulman, Ingram, Miller, Lerner, and some others to be named at a later date. And the red badge?”
“Small table—must be Justice officials on the Associated Press scandal.”
NBC News’ David Gregory apparently defied the (absurd) District of Columbia law forbidding anyone “to possess [&c.] any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” by openly holding in his hand and displaying an empty 30-round magazine during a Meet the Press program in which he confronted NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre.
Anne Althouse elucidates the semiotics that drove NBC News to turn to open, on-the-air, defiant commission of a crime.
If possession of that high-capacity magazine was a crime, and the NBC folk knew it and had even contacted the police and thus even knew they’d created rock-hard evidence that they knew it, why did they go ahead and have Gregory flaunt that illegal possession on television? They had to have thought it was a devastatingly powerful prop. My first guess was that they imagined that viewers — some viewers, at least — would find the object itself scary. ...
I’m not sure exactly why that jogged my thinking, but suddenly I understand the drama Gregory (and his people) were trying to enact. It’s a deep psychic memory of childhood. Gregory sought dominance over his interlocutor, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the idea — in the act of picking up that magazine and beginning an interrogation about it — was that Gregory would become (subliminally) a parent figure who would push LaPierre into the subordinate role of the little boy, the cowering child confronted with undeniable evidence of his wrongdoing. What’s THIS I found in your room?
The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He’d look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.
The scenario didn’t play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He’s not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily.
Naturally, all this has inevitably provoked considerable discussion about whether Mr. Gregory should really be prosecuted and potentially convicted, sentenced, and treated as a criminal for an action obviously involving no real threat of any kind to anyone, for a purely technical violation of an obviously extravagantly far-reaching provision of a law aimed in intent at curbing authentic violent crime.
A lot of people have made good arguments and intelligent points. Even NRA President David Keene argued that Gregory’s “crime” should simply be overlooked.
Mark Steyn, however, decided to swim against the tide of general opinion, and argues that David Gregory ought to be held to the same irrational regulatory standards as everybody else.
This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”
So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI, and the ATF take out NBC News and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.
But, even if we’re denied that pleasure, the “dumbest media story of 2012” is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.
To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?
Walter Olson argues that Judge Bork lost the battle for his own Supreme Court Confirmation but, while the liberals weren’t noticing, has been winning the war of constitutional interpretation on behalf of fideism.
[T]he confirmation critique that makes it into every Bork obituary [is] Ted Kennedy’s blowhard caricature, intended for northern liberal consumption, of “Robert Bork’s America” as “a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, school children could not be taught about evolution,” and so on.
Never in memory had a judicial nomination been fought in such language. Why?
As a constitutional law scholar, Bork had distinguished himself even among conservatives for his scathing critique of the Warren Court, which he accused essentially of having made up constitutional law as it went along. ...
Within a few years, presidents of both parties were taking care to pick nominees with schmoozy as opposed to prickly personalities — and willing to submit to coaching on how to give off that oh-so-important empathetic vibe without actually committing to anything.
Ideologically predictable though some of these folks might be, they lacked the intellectual heft and daring paper trail of a Richard Epstein on the right, a Cass Sunstein on the left or a Richard Posner somewhere in between. ...
But with regard to the Warren Court, it’s looking as if he’ll have the last laugh. Obama’s high court nominees are just as eager as George W. Bush’s to decry the practice of making up the constitution as one goes along, while “liberal originalism,” which takes seriously the insistence of critics like Bork that judges must adhere to what’s actually in the founding document, is making headway among scholars at places like Yale Law School.
Not such a bad legacy.
David Frum also remembered the distinguished jurist as a man who believed in personal modesty and who exercised official responsibility with objectivity and restraint.
Pessimistic as he was, however, Robert Bork was in no way bitter or angry. “Mordant” is the word I think I want to describe his conversation. His bleak assessment of his fellow human creatures was based upon hard experience. He was used to hearing his ideas distorted, and his best actions distorted and vilified. Before his nomination to the Supreme Court, Bork was best known as the man who fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Bork’s two immediate superiors in the Department of Justice had resigned rather than execute the presidential order. Bork didn’t approve the order any more than the others did. But he also understood that the order was a legal one, and that somebody sooner or later was going to have to carry it out. This unpleasant duty had to be done, and since it had to be done, Bork’s sense of responsibility required him to do it.
The whole domain of law and judging was bounded, in Bork’s view, by a like sense of responsibility. Laywers and judges, as he saw it, were not knight-errant righters of wrong, not freelance agents of abstract justice, but fallible people no wiser than anyone else, entrusted only with certain defined powers to settle certain kinds of disputes. Those judges who claimed greater power received more applause than Robert Bork ever drew, but they did not deserve. Their actions were power-grabbing and their motives were arrogant. Bork made this case powerfully and vividly in the best book of his later years, Coercing Virtue.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, who arrived with a reputation for being “too aggressive,” lived up to her reputation by announcing on Monday that she would not bring the matter of the shooting of Trayvon Martin before a Grand Jury at all, and would decide herself on whether to bring charges.
The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
A news agency report predicted that the prosecutor’s job would not be easy.
The prosecutors must prove Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was rooted in hatred or ill will and counter his claims that he shot Martin to protect himself while patrolling his gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. Zimmerman’s lawyers would only have to prove by a preponderance of evidence – a relatively low legal standard – that he acted in self-defense at a pretrial hearing to prevent the case from going to trial.
There’s a “high likelihood it could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case,” Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby said.
Ben Smith quotes an unnamed conservative lawyer who offers a simultaneously cynical and whimsical explanation of exactly why Obamacare is toast.
You have built an imaginary mansion, with thousands of rooms, on the foundation of Wickard v. Filburn — the 1942 ruling that broadened the understanding of how the Commerce Clause could be used to regulate economic activity.
We aren’t being asked to radically revise the Commerce Clause and throw out seven decades of law, and we won’t. But we know the founders never intended the Commerce Clause to allow the Federal Government to regulate everything on the planet. So we are going to accept Randy Barnett’s basically spurious exception to that basically spurious idea, and throw out the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the Commerce Clause regulates “activity” (which we don’t really believe), but not “inactivity” (because, why not draw the line somewhere?).
This is to say: You have built a fantasy mansion on the Commerce Clause. You can hardly blame us if, in one wing of this mansion, down a dusty corridor, we build a fantasy room called “inactivity,” lock the door, and don’t let you in.
Stuart Schneiderman mercilessly rubs in what has become increasingly obvious this week: the chosen representative of our nation’s establishment elite is really an ignoramus who’d flunk basic questions from a high school Civics course.
America’s thinking class saw Barack Obama as a light shining in the wilderness.
In deep despair over the coarsening of public discourse during the Dark Ages of the Bush administration, American intellectuals saw Barack Obama as one of their own, someone who could restore their exalted social status and raise the level of deliberative democratic debate.
Obama hadn’t accomplished anything of note; he wasn’t really qualified for the presidency; but he was superbly intelligent, had presided over the Harvard Law Review, had professed Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School, and had authored two brilliant books. ...
A few days ago the curtain was drawn and people could see that the Wizard of Oz was not what he claimed to be.
In an effort to get personally involved in Supreme Court deliberations over his signature piece of legislation—Obamacare—our president made it appear that he did not understand the most fundamental doctrine in American jurisprudence.
The former president of the Harvard Law Review, former professor at the University of Chicago Law review managed to mangle an explanation of “judicial review.” As every high school history student knows the doctrine was adumbrated in 1803 by Chief Justice John Jay in the case of Marbury v. Madison.
Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.
As everyone but Obama knows, Marbury v. Madison established the right of the Supreme Court to strike down Congressional legislation that it deemed unconstitutional.
The Court has done just that on hundreds of occasions.
Increasingly [the] “rule of law” is just Big Government’s version of “social justice.” Heroes and villains are assigned their fates in accordance with the vanguard’s transgressive obsessions: income inequality, race, anti-Americanism, etc. The laws, rules and regulations proliferate until no one is invulnerable, reminiscent of Republican Rome’s death throes, when the emperor Nero (as Justice Antonin Scalia recounts in A Matter of Interpretation) posted his edicts high up on the pillars, rendering them impossible to read. Defendants are capriciously selected, made an example of, as much for what they represent as for what they’ve done. If you are a Democratic former National Security Adviser filching classified documents from the national archives or a Black Panther swinging a billy-club outside a polling station, you get our understanding. If you are Big Tobacco or Conrad Black, you’d better get counsel. Quaint notions of culpability are beside the point, because law is not about maintaining order but inculcating “our values.” Guilt and innocence are as irrelevant as the mordantly obvious question that rolled off my underwhelmed lips when the tobacco investigation was broached—How can there be fraud when the commercial activity is legal and everybody’s eyes are open to the risks?
Lord Black found out how, the hard way. He spent over thirty years building modest publishing enterprises into an international powerhouse that answered a market craving for professional reporting coupled with a right-of-center editorial voice. ...
Through grit and acumen, though, starting with a small paper he bought for $500, Black and his business partners put together a transcontinental dynamo that became a force in Anglo-American politics and created nearly $2 billion in value.
That delighted most of the shareholders, but not all of them. And here we come to this wrenching tale’s first wolf in sheep’s clothing: the “corporate governance” movement, waving the Orwellian banner of “shareholders’ rights.” In a free market, personal profit is not a sin but an objective, and notions of “value” vary widely—some seeking to maximize quick financial gain, others in a business for the long haul, prioritizing reasonable returns and growth. Economic liberty accommodates this diversity, and the small but salient role of law enforcement is to guard against theft and extortion, while the civil courts referee contractual disputes and tortious misbehavior.
Corporate governance, as the racket styles itself, is a euphemism for the imposition of one-size-fits-all ethics regulations on business practices. It coerces conformance with the vanguard’s professed ideals, subordinating the creation of wealth to trendy, expansive notions of “fairness” and a “good corporate citizenship.” It does this by worsening the metastasis of legal and administrative regimes, whose ominous presence engenders a climate wherein the mere suspicion of wrongdoing, let alone formal accusation, can be a profitable venture’s undoing. ...
Black… coins his own neologism to describe the dystopia he makes of modern America: a “prosecutocracy.”
When he finally got his day in court, Black and his co-defendants destroyed the foundation of the government’s case: There had been no fraud—much less tax fraud and racketeering, a charge the Justice Department usually reserves for hitmen. David Radler, the prosecution’s slippery star witness and Black’s estranged business partner, was ground to pulp in cross-examination. The self-serving amnesia of the independent directors proved incredible in the face of the countless times they were shown to have signed off on the purportedly secret management fees.
The jury acquitted the defendants on the fraud trumpeted by Breeden and echoed by the Justice Department. Yet the government had an escape hatch: the ever-elastic theory of denying “honest services.” ...
Black was convicted on three counts of this hopelessly vague offense.
Let’s hope that Lord Black’s comeback, when he is finally released this Spring, and revenge, will be as complete as those of Edmond Dantès.
It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a blue moon you actually find a liberal exhibiting intellectual honesty and standing up for real principles. George State Law Professor Eric Segall has the audacity to tell the readership of Slate that, yes, Elena Kagan really should be recusing herself from participating in the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. And he is dead right.
Doing the right thing is easy when nothing important is at stake. Doing the right thing is much harder when there is a lot to lose. Elena Kagan is a loyal Democrat who owes her Supreme Court appointment to President Barack Obama.* She is poised to review the constitutionality of Obama’s health care statute, which, if invalidated, might do serious damage to his re-election campaign as well as the Democratic Party. Even though it would be a hard decision to make, Elena Kagan should recuse herself from hearing challenges to the act.
So far it appears that only Republicans and conservatives want Kagan to recuse herself from hearing the case, while liberals and Democrats take the opposing view. I have been a liberal constitutional law professor for more than 20 years, and a loyal Democrat. I believe the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and that it would be truly unfortunate for the country (and the party) if the court strikes it down. I also recognize that there is a much greater chance of the court erroneously striking down the PPACA if Kagan recuses herself. That said, I believe that as a matter of both principle and law, Kagan should not hear the case.
But what are the odds that she has as much integrity as he does?
“An unwarrantable act without vicious will is no crime at all.”—4 Bl. Comm. 21.
‘Historically, our substantive criminal law is based upon a theory of punishing the vicious will. It postulates a free agent confronted with a choice between doing right and doing wrong and choosing freely to do wrong.’—Pound, Introduction to Sayre, Cases on Criminal Law (1927).
The Wall Street Journal yesterday published an important article describing the impact of the ever-expanding number of federal crimes, commonly resulting from feel-good legislation passed recklessly with little serious consideration, on one of the fundamental principles of justice, genuine intent.
Even in Classical Antiquity, Roman justice recognized the principle that a defendant needed to possess actual intent to commit a crime to deserve conviction and punishment. In today’s United States, however, citizens cannot possibly be familiar the entire body of federal law and regulation, so the basic principle of mens rea, “a guilty mind,” is commonly eliminated by the dilution of standards.
For centuries, a bedrock principle of criminal law has held that people must know they are doing something wrong before they can be found guilty. The concept is known as mens rea, Latin for a “guilty mind.”
This legal protection is now being eroded as the U.S. federal criminal code dramatically swells. In recent decades, Congress has repeatedly crafted laws that weaken or disregard the notion of criminal intent. Today not only are there thousands more criminal laws than before, but it is easier to fall afoul of them.
As a result, what once might have been considered simply a mistake is now sometimes punishable by jail time.
Some of the cases described will make your blood boil with indignation.
This is the kind of article which proves the crucial importance of the Wall Street Journal to American society. The Journal commonly substitutes effectively for all the rest of the media combined in addressing the serious issues. Read the whole thing.
The same Supreme Judicial Court that concluded a few years ago that the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 mandated Gay Marriage has recently concluded that the Bay State can enhance its revenues by charging drivers for contesting traffic tickets.
Motorists issued a traffic ticket in Massachusetts will have to pay money to the state whether or not they committed the alleged crime. According to a state supreme court ruling handed down yesterday, fees are to be imposed even on those found completely innocent. The high court saw no injustice in collecting $70 from Ralph C. Sullivan after he successfully fought a $100 ticket for failure to stay within a marked lane.
Bay State drivers given speeding tickets and other moving violations have twenty days either to pay up or make a non-refundable $20 payment to appeal to a clerk-magistrate. After that, further challenge to a district court judge can be had for a non-refundable payment of $50. Sullivan argued that motorists were being forced to pay “fees” not assessed on other types of violations, including drug possession. He argued this was a violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, but the high court justices found this to be reasonable.
“We conclude that there is a rational basis for requiring those cited for a noncriminal motor vehicle infraction alone to pay a filing fee and not requiring a filing fee for those contesting other types of civil violations,” Justice Ralph D. Gants wrote for the court. “Where the legislature provides greater process that imposes greater demands on the resources of the District Court, it is rational for the legislature to impose filing fees, waivable where a litigant is indigent, to offset part of the additional cost of these judicial proceedings.”
The court insisted that allowing a hearing before a clerk-magistrate instead of an assistant clerk, as well as allowing a de novo hearing before a judge constituted benefits that justified the cost. Last year, the fees for the clerk-magistrate hearings generated $3,678,620 in revenue for the courts. Although Sullivan raised the issue of due process during oral argument, the court would not rule on the merits of that issue.
It’s easy to see why Elizabeth Warren is a viable candidate in that state.
A man lies injured on the ground in Ealing, west London. He was beaten by rioters for attempting to put out a fire.
SayUncle produced the best line: What’s the cause of the riot? I’m guessing lack of incoming fire.
———————————————————————————— Roger de Hauteville yesterday posted a 2 minute video showing a small line of 8 British riot police retreating from a mob of looters who are hurling the long boards and other pieces of traffic barriers at them. The police line withdraws backward in the direction of another line of police, luckily for them I expect, continuing to face in the direction of the mob and maintaining something resembling a line. Had they turned and run, the mob would probably have been on them. Amazingly, the second line of police never made any move to come to their assistance. At around 1:23 the mob begins to turn back, for no obvious reason that can be discerned from the video. The police make no effort to pursue the now retreating mob.
I’d say that the police response was lacking. Here you have a mob of hoodlums engaged in looting and vandalism making unsafe a public street and attacking police. When the two lines of police consolidated, there were at least 16 cops, a number quite adequate to form a line capable of presenting a solid front. 16 men, armed with nightsticks, carrying shields, and armored by the force of authority, with justice on their side, should have had no problem clearing that street and driving an unorganized crowd comprised of criminal scum right out of there.
If a representative of the criminal element should attempt to use some form of terrorist weapon like a Molotov cocktail, the police ought to shoot him.
All this demonstrates just how thoroughly the political leadership of Western democracies has become unmanned by the anti-morality of the Left. Criminals and looters are now disenfranchised victims of society equipped on the basis of their alleged grievances and resentment with anti-moral authority more powerful than the badges and uniforms of police or the titles and powers of elective office.
———————————————————————————— Roger de Hauteville responded to all this by reflecting that the Riot Act in Britain, from 1715 in the time of George I until it was repealed (alas!) in 1973 during the age of imbecility, permitted mayors, bailiffs, or justices of the peace in situations in which twelve or more persons were “unlawfully, riotously, and tumultuously assembled together” to read aloud the following:
Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!
If anyone remained on the street after one hour of the proclamation, the act provided that the authorities could use force to disperse them. Those assisting in the dispersal were specifically indemnified against any legal consequences in the event of any of the rioters being injured or killed.
The act also made it a felony punishable by death for rioters who had been read the proclamation to cause (or begin to cause) serious damage to places of religious worship, houses, barns, and stables.
———————————————————————————— John Derbyshire is so disgusted, he says: Let it burn!
Why does the British government not do its duty? Because it is the government of a modern Western nation, sunk like the rest of us in trembling, whimpering guilt over class and race.
Through British veins runs the poisonous fake idealism of “human rights” and “sensitivity,” of happy-clappy multicultural groveling and sick, weak, deracinated moral universalism — the rotten fruit of a debased, sentimentalized Christianity.
When not begging for forgiveness and chastisement from those who rightfully despise him, the modern Brit is lost in contemplation of his shiny new car or tweeting new gadget; or else he has given over all his attention to some vapid TV production or soccer team.
I treasure my faint, fading recollections of Britain when she was still, for a few years longer, a nation.
Today Britain is merely a place, a bazaar. Let it burn!
Left-winger Brendan O’Neill, amusingly, is equally indignant, and sounds exactly like a conservative.
[I]t’s more than childish destructiveness motivating the rioters. At a more fundamental level, these are youngsters who are uniquely alienated from the communities they grew up in. Nurtured in large part by the welfare state, financially, physically and educationally, socialised more by the agents of welfarism than by their own neighbours or community representatives, these youth have little moral or emotional attachment to the areas they grew up in. Their rioting reveals, not that Britain is in a time warp back to 1981 or 1985 when there were politically motivated, anti-racist riots against the police, but rather that the tentacle-like spread of the welfare state into every area of people’s lives has utterly zapped old social bonds, the relationship of sharing and solidarity that once existed in working-class communities. In communities that are made dependent upon the state, people are less inclined to depend on each other or on their own social wherewithal. We have a saying in Britain for people who undermine their own living quarters – we call it ‘s****ing on your own doorstep’. And this rioting suggests that the welfare state has given rise to a generation perfectly happy to do that. ...
There is one more important part to this story: the reaction of the cops. Their inability to handle the riots effectively reveals the extent to which the British police are far better adapted to consensual policing than conflictual policing. It also demonstrates how far they have been paralysed in our era of the politics of victimhood, where virtually no police activity fails to get followed up by a complaint or a legal case. Their kid-glove approach to the rioters of course only fuels the riots, because as one observer put it, when the rioters ‘see that the police cannot control the situation, [that] leads to a sort of adrenalin-fuelled euphoria’. So this street violence was largely ignited by the excesses of the welfare state and was then intensified by the discombobulation of the police state. In this sense, it reveals something very telling, and quite depressing, about modern Britain.